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The Lich (character)

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The Lich
The Lich King
Name The Lich
Sex Male
Species Lich (Formerly)
Humanoid
Relatives Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig (adoptive parents as of "Escape from the Citadel")
Introduced in "His Hero"
Latest appearance "Escape from the Citadel"
Voiced by Ron Perlman
Ethan Maher (baby form)[1]
Featured

The Lich (formerly known as the Lich King) used to be a powerful undead being and a former major antagonist in Adventure Time. His first appearance is in "His Hero" during a flashback about the adventures of the great hero Billy. In "Mortal Folly" and "Mortal Recoil," he possesses and nearly kills Princess Bubblegum. The episode "His Hero" showed that Billy cast him down, and "Mortal Folly" shows that he was ultimately imprisoned in a large glob of amber in the ancient tree that serves as the castle of the Candy Kingdom until being freed by a possessed Snail. After being defeated again in "Mortal Recoil," the Lich continued to inhabit the body of the waving Snail, who appears in every episode. Some time before the episode "The Lich," he killed Billy and wore his skin to trick Finn into helping him to unlock the true secret of the Enchiridion. This was confirmed by Prismo in "Finn the Human." In "Wake Up" and "Escape from the Citadel," he kills Prismo and is taken to the Crystal Citadel, where he releases all the dangerous criminals. He is later turned into an oversized, human-like baby when Finn splashes him with the Citadel Guardian's blood and is abandoned on Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig's doorstep, who choose to adopt him.

Appearance

His first design had a more flattened, simplified look with larger eyes, upward-pointing horns and a different crown and robe. The design used in the series has a helm with curled horns, one of which has broken off, horrific green lights as pupils peering out of his empty eye sockets, and pale undead skin pulled tight against his nose-less skull. His skin is frayed away from his lips revealing a wicked and perpetual grin. His robe is in multiple layers and is large and baggy showing that the Lich may have woven it himself unevenly. He has a large cape that is severely torn at its end. His arms are bare bones with various decayed tissues, and his skeletal hands burn with an eerie fire when he casts fire spells. The Lich is also remarkably large. In the flashback in "His Hero," the Lich was shown to rival Billy in size. Before the Lich was struck down by Billy, both of his horns are intact, so it is possible that it got broken off sometime during or after the fight. He also has intact horns in Princess Bubblegum's vision. As of "Escape from the Citadel," the Lich is transformed into an over-sized human-like baby and appears to be harmless.

Abilities

Aside from his immortality, the Lich has a medley of unholy powers. The most commonly used is his ability to summon green flame-like energy around his hands and fire it at his opponents. Early on, it was revealed that the Lich has the power to control people's minds, either through telepathy or spoken commands. The Lich's influence was so great that he posed a threat to anyone nearby, even while he was still trapped in the Candy Castle. The Lich can breath a black, lethal gas as seen in "Escape from the Citadel" when he kills Prismo.  Moreover, he has the ability to possess other people, as seen when he possessed Princess Bubblegum. He has the ability to fly. The Lich also seems to exude an aura of death and rot around him. Whether this is done consciously is unknown, but living creatures and objects have been seen to rot and die as they come in contact with him or his general presence. This is shown when trees died as the Lich passed through a forest, and when he crossed Iceberg Lake, fish died in his path. The Lich also possesses great physical abilities as he was able to quickly dodge Finn's energy attack with Billy's gauntlet. Later, he easily caught Finn's punch bare handed and shattered the gauntlet into pieces. He is also able to implement necromancy, as seen when he uses the bodies in his lair to attack Finn and Jake. While the Lich was possessing Princess Bubblegum, he shows powers of pyrokinesis when he sets her room on fire with his mind.

The Lich sustains his massive strength by drinking from his Well of Power, a noxious, magic pool of glowing green liquid located in the depths of his lair. After he had possessed Princess Bubblegum, he substituted his original well with a mixture of toxic chemicals such as gasoline, lighter fluid, bleach, and plutonium that he (appearing as the Princess) ordered Finn to retrieve.

While his power is truly a force to be reckoned with, the Lich has a few known vulnerabilities. His main weakness is the Gauntlet of the Hero, a magical weapon previously owned by Billy that fires intense energy blasts. This weakness is now moot as the Lich destroyed the gauntlet with ease when he grabbed Finn's arm and caused the gauntlet to disintegrate. Another item able to work against the Lich is the sweater Princess Bubblegum gave to Finn. Imbued with the power of "liking someone a lot," the sweater protected Finn from the Lich's flames and was later used as a weapon. With it, Finn was able to attack the Lich by assaulting his head and eyes with the sweater, causing his body collapse into dust and force his essence to have to find a new host. However, the sweater does not seem to affect the Lich when he is possessing Princess Bubblegum. The Lich is also unable to control a person's mind if he/she is wearing a certain type of magical jewelry. While generally impervious to physical attack, traditional methods may have some limited effect on the Lich, as seen in the flashback where Billy cast him down with a kick to the face.

Personality

The Lich is driven by a rather single-minded goal to destroy all life and appears to show little interest in anything that does not further his ambitions towards this dark end.

He is viciously cunning and quick to learn from his mistakes. He methodically targets people and things that have proven a problem for him in the past by either destroying them outright such as in the case of the Gauntlet of the Hero or using them as pawns to further his own agenda in the case of Billy to manipulate Finn. As shown in "The Lich," he is highly skilled at deception, as he was able to fool Finn and Jake into helping him while disguised as Billy. At the end of the episode, he tauntingly thanks Finn for opening the portal for him. He is a quick thinker, pretending to be horrified when Finn tried to smash the Enchiridion, even though that would cause the portal to open.

The Lich is rather taciturn and speaks only in brief statements. Because he seldom speaks, his words carry great gravity. An example would be when the Lich calls Ice King "a weak fool." This could be because nearly anyone that came near him wore a protective gem in "Mortal Folly" and was weakened in "Mortal Recoil." In the episode "The Lich," he was able to talk freely with Finn and Jake. In spite of his intractability, he is visibly shocked when Finn survives his fire attack, and he laughs heartily when Finn attacks him with the sweater provided by Princess Bubblegum. He was also visibly confused when Jake altered his wish. He has only raised his voice once, when Finn asked the possessed Princess Bubblegum if everything was all right. He also has an apparent hatred for all living things, as Princess Bubblegum said that his only desire was to destroy life, and his wish to Prismo was "for the extinction of all life."

The Lich's most notable flaw is his arrogance and his driven single-minded nature. In each case his defeat has been at the hands of opponents towards whom he was derisively dismissive. He laughed at Finn's attempts to stop him and shrugged off the Ice King as a fool yet it was through the combined efforts of these two individuals that he was dealt a crushing defeat and forced to possess the body of a lowly snail to escape at the end of "Mortal Recoil." After regaining his strength the Lich manipulates Finn into opening a portal into the heart of the multiverse. Once again he falls prey to his arrogant and single-minded nature when he ignores Jake grabbing onto him with a dismissive grunt and continues onward towards his final goal rather than dealing with the two stow away heroes he is dragging into the portal with him. This oversight later proves to be the undoing of his masterful plan, leaving him stranded in Prismo's time room with his one wish already spent thanks to the two meddling heroes and some friendly help from Prismo.

Given that the Lich is the direct product of a mutagenic doomsday weapon unleashed during the Mushroom War, it may explain why his sole purpose appears to be "the extinction of all life."

The Lich's forms

Princess Bubblegum

PBP

When the Lich possesses Princess Bubblegum, she has pale blue/gray skin, dirty bubblegum pink hair, black eyes with green pupils and speaks with a frail voice. In "Mortal Recoil" she asks Finn to bring toxic chemicals to her (he did not know what their purpose was), which she consumes to turn into a giant monster. Finn manages to destroy the monster with the Ice King's help, and the Candy Kingdom's doctors manage to save the uncorrupted parts of Princess Bubblegum, transforming her into her younger form.

  • One could note that the form Princess Bubblegum takes while possessed looks strikingly similar to the evil Lub Glubs of the Beautopia episode.

Waving Snail

Snail S2E25

The waving Snail possessed by the Lich

Main article: Snail

The Snail is used by the Lich in "Mortal Folly" to free himself from his amber prison. The Lich does so by taking control of the Snail's mind and making him break open the prison. After the events of "Mortal Recoil" the Lich returns to the Snail's body. During Seasons 3 and 4, the Snail continues to appear in every episode in possessed form. In "In Your Footsteps," the Bear gives the possessed Snail the Enchiridion.

S4e26 face - half Lich half Billy

The Lich disguised as Billy

Billy

During the end of the fourth season, the Lich appears to Finn while disguised as Billy. Using his appearance as Finn's hero, the Lich manipulates Finn and Jake into gathering the gems of power needed to activate the Enchiridion. The events surrounding how the Lich assumed Billy's identity remained ambiguous until the Season 5 season premiere where it was mentioned by Prismo that the Lich was in fact wearing Billy's dead body as a macabre disguise. Upon meeting Finn and Jake, Prismo offhandedly refers to the Lich as "a ghost wearing a dead guy" not realizing the dead guy in question was a former friend of theirs.

Farmworld Jake

S5e2 Jake as the Lich

Jake the Lich

Shortly after Farmworld Jake comes in contact with the pool of green goo created by the Mushroom Bomb, he began to mutate into a Lich/Dog hybrid.

Humanoid

S6e2 Lich as humanoid

Humanoid

In "Escape From the Citadel," he is turned into an oversized, human-like baby when Finn splashes him with the Citadel Guardian's blood and is abandoned on Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig's doorstep, who choose to adopt him. He seemingly has no memory of previously being the Lich. 

Original pitch document

Lich king

Lich King page from Pen's Adventure Time network pitch

He was first alluded to in the early series pitch, and was the only other character described in those documents in addition to the main six: Finn, Jake, Princess Bubblegum, Lady Rainicorn, Ice King, and Marceline. The pitch document states in all caps, "THE LICH KING IS NOT FUNNY," and states that the Lich had been imprisoned within his castle (although this was later contradicted in "Mortal Folly"). According to the pitch document, he uses a legion of undead skeletal knights to aid in his battles.

Origin

The Lich's exact origins are ambiguous. However, he seems to originate from the explosion of the Mushroom Bomb (one of the last weapons dropped during the Mushroom War and the likely cause of the unnatural creatures of Ooo, such as Candy People, Sign Zombies, etc). When Finn wishes that the Lich never existed, he prevents the Mushroom Bomb from ever going off, thus creating the Farmworld alternate dimension. In the Farmworld dimension, Simon Petrikov (previous form of The Ice King) prevents the Mushroom Bomb from going off, sacrificing himself in the process and sending the world into a 400 year long Ice Age. After this Ice Age, life continued un-mutated for approximately 600 years, and characters such as Farmworld Finn were created.

But, due to Prismo's statement that Lich-possessed Billy was "a ghost wearing a dead guy," coupled with the fact that Farmworld Jake was transformed into a Lich-like monster when mutated, it is possible that only the Lich's former body was created by the Mushroom War and was possessed by the Lich, who had existed before. This is backed up by the fact that the Lich survived his destruction at the hands of Finn as a ghost (which then possessed Princess Bubblegum, the snail, and eventually Billy). From this, it can be said that his overall powers and abilities may differ based on what he uses as a host, but this remains to be clarified.

As seen in "Jake the Dog," the Lich seems to become more of a mutation rather than a magical being. When Farmworld Marceline and Farmworld Jake fell into the Lich's well, Marceline became a skeleton and Jake transformed into a version of the Lich itself. So the Lich's body was likely created when someone or something made contact with the Lich's well, but it also means it turns the host's abilities into his own. So this is why Farmworld Jake only attacked Farmworld Finn with its bare hands, not with magic spells or anything else, with the same applying to Billy. It is unknown if the Lich's body seen in "Mortal Folly" was his original body, or one he stole.

Comics

The following information is from the Adventure Time comic book series.
It may not be part of the same canon or continuity as the animated series.

The Lich somehow escapes the Snail's body by going into the Bag of Holding. The Lich begins to suck up all of Ooo into bag with the intention of throwing it into the sun. However, Finn and Jake caused a tear in the bag from the inside and, with help from Desert Princess, Ice King, Princess Bubblegum and Marceline, they were able to rip the bag open and free the planet. The Lich, however, ended up getting pulled towards the sun himself.

It is revealed in Issue 18 that when Ice King and Hunson Abadeer were making their dungeon, The Lich showed up and knocked them both out and built his own part of the dungeon called "Lich Land" where he left a part of himself to continue on. It trapped whoever went in there in a fantasy while the Echo and it's minions escape to destroy the world. When Finn, Jake and Ice King went to Lich Land, the Echo invaded their memories and put them in a fantasy world where it tried too kill them and break their minds and morale, especially Ice King's. However, they were able to defeat the Echo and put an end to the Lich once and for all.

Quotes

See The Lich (character)/Quotes

Trivia

  • The Lich is still referred to by his old name, Lich King, in various official episode summaries and clip descriptions on Cartoon Network's site, indicating that the name change may have been done very late in production.
  • In fantasy fiction, a lich is a powerful magician who has transformed himself into an undead creature to achieve immortality.
  • The Lich is the first world threat that Finn and Jake have dealt with, the second being Flame Princess and the third being Gunter.
  • The Lich was redesigned at least once; the creators felt that his original design was not scary enough.
  • The Lich's final design is similar to that of the Horned King from the 1985 Disney film The Black Cauldron, which is an adaptation of Lloyd Alexander's series of novels The Chronicles of Prydain.
  • The Lich's partially decayed arms resemble those of Blackwolf, the villain of the Ralph Bakshi film, Wizards.
  • Pendleton Ward originally wanted to cast Tom Waits as the Lich.[2]
  • In France/Belgium, there was a translation problem with Lich King's name. During his appearance in "His Hero," he is called "Le Roi sangsue," which translates to "Leech King." In Portuguese too, because his name was "Rei Lagarto," which translates to "King Lizard."
  • In "The Lich," when Jake asks the Lich (disguised as Billy) how many gems were left, he told him without speaking. This could be because the Lich could not talk to Jake since he was holding the power gems.
  • Despite being undead, he can apparently eat, as seen in "The Lich" when he was disguised as Billy.
  • In all of his appearances after "King Worm" (not including the Snail) the Lich's face is noticeably less detailed than it was in "Mortal Folly/Recoil."
  • When the Lich originally appeared he had 2 full horns, later one of his horns is broken.
  • Peppermint Butler seems to be capable of sensing the Lich's presence.
  • The Echo of the Lich is similar in nature to a lich's phylactery in common myth. The phylactery, like the Echo, is used to store away a part of the Lich to ensure his survival.
  • In the official Adventure Time Encyclopaedia, Hunson Abadeer admits the Lich is his only real rival, stating that, while he finds the Lich "pathetic," the fact that the Lich is capable of destroying all of Ooo causes Hunson to take their rivalry seriously and that, had Finn not defeated him, he would have taken matters into his own hands. (Note: This was written before the episode "The Lich" was made.)

Appearances in other media

  • The Lich is a playable character in Adventure Time Battle Party.
  • On CartoonNetwork.com, you can set your profile picture as the original Lich.

Episodes featured

Major appearances

Minor appearances

Mentioned

Gallery

Snail

Princess Bubblegum

Billy

References

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