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This Is Why Pendleton Ward Stepped Down as Showrunner of ‘Adventure Time’

The first time I watched Adventure Time was years ago before it hit Cartoon Network. Then I watched it again and again and then again with friends and, crap, Pendleton Ward’s website was ridiculous, this guy is a genius. When Adventure Time was finally picked up by Cartoon Network, it was the best thing to ever happen because it meant I didn’t have to keep watching the same episode over and over again. It also meant everyone else got to enjoy the incredible weirdness that surrounded Finn and Jake. Long story short, everyone loved it and it became one of the most popular cartoons ever. So it’ll be surprising to hear that Ward quietly stepped down as showrunner in the middle of seasons 5. Not surprising, however, is why. He explains everything in his Rolling Stone profile.

“To spend that extra energy and time you don’t have, to make something that’s worth making, to make it awesome, wears you out,” he says. A backward red cap hides the top of his head; a checkered shirt buttoned to the top conceals his plump body; and on his face, there is not so much a beard but a hair force field, keeping anything from penetrating the world he’s created for himself. “It’s a beast of a show. And the more popular it gets, the more the ancillary things – like the merchandise and games and everything – keep getting bigger.”

And so, Ward confesses, one day during Season Five, unbeknownst to his fans, “I quit because it was driving me nuts.”

He says this not with sadness or frustration, but with relief. “For me, having quality of life outweighed the need to control this project and make it great all the time.” So he stepped down from running Adventure Time to become simply one of the show’s writers and storyboard artists.

The important thing is Pen stayed on as a writer. I can only imagine the amount of good that comes from not having to manage everything. Now if I could just wrap my head around Finn hitting puberty and his deeper voice…

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