I’ve said it before and I will certainly say it again: Marceline and Princess Bubblegum is one of the greatest romances of all time. They’re characters that fans of Adventure Time alternately love and, well, don’t love so much (though let’s be honest, Marcy gets way more love) at different times for a variety of reasons.
The fact that they are such different characters makes their romance arc one of the major successes of the show. They are introduced as fully distinct characters, they relate to Finn and Jake separately from each other for most of the first two seasons beyond a few group hangs here and there, and, spoiler alert, one episode that appears on this list. So as the show begins to develop their relationship, particularly their apparent past relationship, viewers get to see two of their favorite, or at least two of the most interesting, characters on the show get closer and make each other better.
With the duo’s special episode of Adventure Time: Distant Lands, ‘Obsidian’, set for release on November 19th, I wanted to take a look back at some of their best episodes from the original run of Adventure Time. There are too many episodes to count that give us fantastic moments from the two individually, so here I’m focusing on episodes that highlight their relationship and give us some of the greatest Bubbline moments the show has to offer.
10. Skyhooks/All of Elements (s9, e2 – e9)
Elements, the last of the three miniseries Adventure Time had in its later years, doesn’t contain nearly as much PB and Marcy content as the Stakes miniseries (more on that later), but it shows that Bubblegum and Marceline’s love can withstand almost anything.
In Skyhooks, the first episode of the miniseries, we see that Princess Bubblegum has been transformed into a giant spire of gum, having become pure candy elemental, and that much of the world around her has also changed into candy, including characters like Mr. Pig and Tree Trunks. This change has turned Marceline into Marshmaline the Campfire Queen, changing her body into marshmallows and altering her personality to become overly sweet. But this aggressive sweetness isn’t the real Marcy, and Bubblegum’s belief that she “fixed” everything and everyone by turning them into candy isn’t the real Bubblegum.
But while the two have been distorted into false versions of themselves, their love for one another remains. Marshmaline is candy elemental Bubblegum’s right hand woman, she clearly loves her spire monarch and is willing to fight her former friends Finn and Jake to make sure that Bubblegum can “fix” them by turning them into candy as well. While this definitely isn’t the nicest moment for the two, it’s an important part of the story for them and shows that no matter what they’ll stick by each other.
9. Go With Me (s2, e20)
Go With Me is the first episode to feature substantial screen time for both Marceline and Princess Bubblegum, though they don’t share much of that time together. The episode is special for how it sets them apart, which makes them getting (back) together that much more meaningful, and for giving us our first (very small) hint of their past relationship.
Finn asks PB to go to a couples-only movie night, but she says that she’s too busy. This leads Jake to (rather questionably) tell Finn that he just needs to help Bubblegum “realize” that she does actually want to go. Jake calls Marceline and asks her to help Finn by making Bubblegum jealous, and because she thinks it’ll be funny, Marcy agrees. There are a number of things Marcy tells Finn to “help” him get PB to want to go to the movie night with him – including wrestling PB because that’s “fun,” or releasing wolves into her bedroom because that’s “exciting” and, according to Marceline at least, girls love fun and excitement.
Unsurprisingly Bubblegum does not enjoy either of these things at all, and at the most basic level the episode serves to emphasize the difference in the PB’s reserved and proper nature with Marceline’s rowdier, more wild nature. But the one quick back and forth that the two have here, a somewhat loathing “hey Marceline” from PB and a teasy “Helloooo Bonnibel” with a wiggly finger wave from Marcy, hints at a larger past for the two of them and is fundamental for the relationship that we see develop throughout the show. It’s also the first time that we learn PB’s first name is Bonnibel, and as the show goes on Marcy is the only character to regularly call her by that name, another significant hint that the two have a more casual or even intimate past.
8. Wheels (s8, e16)
Wheels may seem odd on this list. Neither Marceline nor Princess Bubblegum have speaking parts in the episode, nor do they in any way have an impact on the plot. But I think that’s why Wheels always sticks with me as such a wonderful episode for them. Because they aren’t the focus, they’re just there with each other, presumably on a date, watching Jake and his granddaughter do some wild skating. At this point in the show, about the mid-point of season 8, the two seem to be firmly back together given what we see in some episodes that I’ll mention later on, and it’s nice that they can have what a fellow fan called a “nice subtle Bubbline cameo.”
It’s the simplicity of seeing the two characters go somewhere and do something together that makes the episode one of my (and other fans’) favorites for them. There’s no good way to describe the way that seeing your favorite couple just go on a cute date warms your heart, but that’s exactly what this episode does.
7. Ketchup (s9, e11)
I’ve already written about Ketchup on my list of the best BMO episodes, and I maintain that it’s a near perfect episode simply by being the only episode to focus on BMO and Marcy, to say nothing of the four different animation styles that it moves through in its 11 minutes. But here I want to focus on the story that Marcy tells with her home-made puppets and one moment in particular that gives us that insight into their relationship I mentioned in the BMO list.
Marcy’s story seems to be a loose retelling of what happened in Ooo while Finn, Jake, and BMO were away on their Islands adventure. She tells the story of “Lollipop Girl,” “Rock Star Girl,” and the evil “Blue Tranch” (villain Patience St. Pim) who came to “Weekend City” to turn everyone into “Potato heads.”
The moment that gives us a glimpse into Marcy and Bubblegum’s relationship comes at the start of the story. We see Lollipop Girl and Rock Star Girl just hanging out together on opposite sides of a couch, Rock Star Girl starts playing a song and jumps closer to Lollipop girl to emphasize part of it, making Lollipop Girl lose the page of her book. Rock Star Girl then slowly walks away singing “I’m gonna go pee, sorryyy” leaving Lollipop Girl to read, and we see a very cute smile come across Lollipop Girl’s face.
But the story continues and shows us how much Marcy/Rock Star Girl loves PB/Lollipop Girl. After the Blue Tranch turns Lollipop Girl into a tower of potatoes, Rock Star Girl goes to the Blue Tranch to make her lift the curse, but when this seems impossible, she accepts that Lollipop Girl has been turned into a different person and turns into dust. Obviously the dust part isn’t quite what happened, but the emotional reality of accepting that PB has changed is real as we know from Elements.
6. Broke His Crown (s8, e1)
Broke His Crown is an extremely lore heavy episode, but we’re just here for Marceline and Bubblegum so let’s not worry about dinosaur Gunther or Santa.
The episode follows Marcy and PB as they attend a dinner party at Ice King’s place before his crown starts malfunctioning, leading them to enter the crown so that they can figure out the problem – as I say, it’s a lore heavy episode. Once in the crown, the two come across Ice King’s original personality Simon, who happily catches up with Marcy while annoying PB by assuming that she must be his fiancee Betty’s “little assistant.”
Like Wheels, what makes this episode feel special is that we get to see Ooo’s number one couple just doing couple things. Here we see them visiting a friend who’s really just friends with Marcy, and there are a number of moments here, both with Ice King and Simon, where Marcy finds her friend charming and funny while PB is skeptical or annoyed. This is real couple stuff and it’s nice to see that PB and Marcy have to deal with the same situations the rest of us do. It also has this very cute moment where Simon asks if Marcy’s “got a boyfriend yet” and she scoffs, laughs, and says a rather emphatic “no” as we see PB smile in the foreground.
5. Sky Witch (s5, e29)
Sky Witch is a key episode for Marceline and Bubblegum for a number of reasons. It shows that at this point in the show, in the middle season 5, almost exactly the halfway point of the show’s total run, the two are friends – or, should we say, friends again. They’re comfortable asking each other for help and going on adventures together, and it has one of the most important character moments for establishing how strongly Bubblegum feels about Marceline.
The episode starts with Marcy coming to Bubblegum for help getting to Maja the sky witch because of something “really really…really…really important” to her. Bubblegum agrees and the two go to find Maja. On the way Bubblegum uses science to help Marcy reach the sky witch’s home and we learn that Maja has taken Hambo, Marcy’s beloved stuffed animal. The two are separated after Marcy rushes off to find Hambo, leaving Bubblegum to investigate on her own.
Maja then reveals herself to Bubblegum. and Bubblegum makes a trade for Hambo. She trades her rock shirt, a shirt we know was a gift from Marceline, one that we can infer belonged to Marceline and that she gave to Bubblegum during their previous relationship, a shirt that Bubblegum sleeps in and sometimes lovingly inhales the scent of. Maja is thrilled by this offer as her power comes from the psychic resonance attached to loved items and apparently Hambo is nothing compared to the sentimentality attached to the t-shirt.
The trade doubly reveals how much Bubblegum cares about Marcy. If the psychic resonance on the shirt makes Hambo look like nothing, and Hambo is about eight “really”s worth important to Marcy, it must be an unbelievably loved item. The fact that PB was then willing to part with the shirt that she loves so much to get Hambo back for Marcy emphasizes to a wild degree how much she cares for Marcy and wants her to be happy.
4. The Dark Cloud/All of Stakes (s7, e6 – e13)
Stakes is easily my favorite of the three Adventure Time miniseries. It focuses on Marceline’s past, fleshing out her backstory even more, and really feels like a Buffy/Adventure Time crossover, which may be my platonic ideal of television. So yeah, I love it. Throughout the miniseries we get fun teamwork moments between the two, like when PB saves Marcy from the Empress vampire’s hypnotism in Empress Eyes, and tender moments, like when Bubblegum anxiously holds Marceline while she dreams in Take Her Back.
But The Dark Cloud, the final episode of the miniseries, stands out for one major reason here. After the big battle with the Vampire King, Marceline is once again a vampire and needs some time to recover. Bubblegum and the rest of the crew have set her up with all the red she could eat, as well as crosswords and sudoku puzzles to occupy her time while she rests. Finn asks Marcy how she feels about being a vampire again, and she says that she’s ok with it, she has “more empathy or something” and is “more grown up.” She then delivers one of the sweetest lines in the show: “Bonnie, thank you for helping me grow up. Now I guess we get to hang out together forever.” As Marcy says the second sentence, we see PB’s face as she blushes and smiles.
3. Varmints (s7, e2)
Varmints is one of the most genuine and grounded episodes of Adventure Time, if we focus on the conversation that Marcy and Bubblegum have and not on the giant varmints. But that’s where the heart of the episode is and what makes it so great. At this point in the show it seems like the two are back to being good friends but not quite partners again, and a lot of the conversation that happens here feels like groundwork for them getting back together.
There’s a lot of talk about misunderstanding and self-doubt, and some real apologizing for past harm. The heart of the episode is in Bubblegum’s mini monologue where she tells Marcy: “I tried, I really really tried. I just thought that if I shut everything out and just focused on work it would all be ok. But look where that landed me, all I managed to do was push everyone away. I pushed you away. I’m sorry Marceline, I’ve been a real dinger to you.” And Marcy’s response to this is the very kind “come on, what are you even apologizing for?”
This is miles from where they were in season 3 of the show (more on that in a moment) and shows huge growth for them both. It’s incredibly mature and emotionally intelligent dialogue for any TV show characters, and especially so for a conversation between a piece of sentient gum and a half-demon vampire. And to top it all off, the episode ends with the image above, of Bubblegum taking a nap on Marcy’s shoulder.
2. Come Along With Me (s10, e13)
Yes, I did include the series finale on my list of the best BMO episodes as well. As long as I’m writing lists about Adventure Time, it’s not likely that I will stop including this episode, because it’s simply a perfect forty minutes of TV and a perfect send off to a series I love.
Of course, what makes Come Along With Me so important here is the kiss. The moment that finally confirmed for all fans that Marceline the Vampire Queen and Princess Bonnibel Bubblegum were in fact in a romantic relationship. Throughout the episode, we see Marcy at PB’s side, and during the final battle, we see Marcy fight as hard as she ever has to defend Bubblegum.
And in the moment before their kiss, the two share a beautiful (if somewhat poorly phrased on PB’s part) back and forth about how much they care for each other and won’t ever leave each other. That conversation and the kiss are arguably the most important and emotionally satisfying parts of the finale because it finally brought the major romantic arc of the show to a perfect finish.
1. What Was Missing (s3, e10)
What Was Missing may be the obvious number one here, but there’s very good reason for that and I don’t think any of my fellow Bubbline fans will be mad at me for it. This is the episode that launched a thousand tumblr posts, the episode that gave concrete evidence that Marcy and PB have a past, and the episode that gave us “I’m Just Your Problem.”
I’m currently on my third watch of the series and knowing everything that follows, I now get chills when Marcy sings “I shouldn’t have to be the one; Who makes up with you, so; Why do I want to?” It’s one of the simplest and most beautifully potent lines in any song, written for a show or not, and Rebecca Sugar deserves all the praise that she has received for writing it. The line tells us how much Bubblegum has hurt Marceline, but that that hurt stems from a deep love and that even though Marcy has been so hurt, she just wants PB back in her life. Like I said at the start, theirs is one of the greatest love stories of all time.
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