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#FinishInfinityTrain Is Trending and I Wholeheartedly Agree

The Mary Sue logo The Mary Sue 4/29/2021 Princess Weekes
Ashley Johnson, Robbie Daymond, and Justin Felbinger in The Number Car (2020) on Cartoon Network's Infinity Train. © Provided by The Mary Sue Ashley Johnson, Robbie Daymond, and Justin Felbinger in The Number Car (2020) on Cartoon Network's Infinity Train.

Right now, #FinishInfinityTrain is trending online, and as someone who has loved the series since I was introduced to it by my best friend during the first season, I love to see it. Infinity Train is a rich, well-paced, well-thought-out story that has some of the best contemplations on grief, humanity, and mortality I’ve seen.

Created by Owen Dennis, the series was first picked up by Cartoon Network in 2016 and then eventually released in 2019. After the success of the first season, it was continued on as an anthology series, with seasons 3 and 4 landing on HBO Max.

Each season introduces us to a new character who awakens on the titular Infinity Train dealing with some sort of emotional crisis that they need to come to terms with in order to eventually leave the train. Their hands are marked with a green glowing number that tracks their emotional progress, and once it reaches zero, they can go home. Whenever I started a season of Infinity Train, I had no idea where it was going next. Dennis and his team are doing the kind of work that reminds me why I have always loved animation.

Animation as a medium can do so many things that live action can’t always. It can take you places and show you things that feel real because of how much care and life the animators take in making a bell seem like a person.

In August 2020, Dennis stated that, although he wanted to continue the series for a total of eight seasons, most of the crew had been laid off and the series was at risk of not being renewed.

Dennis spoke to io9 last year about the then-recent season three, which dealt some of the series’ darkest moments: “It’s pretty hard to sell the idea of, ‘Yeah, so we wanna make a story about these teens who lead a cult and don’t view anyone around them as living so they just kill and maim and destroy everything all time so that we can look at another angle of what the previous season talked about—and also we’re gonna grind someone in a gear. That’s cool, right?’”

For him, a show like Infinity Train was meant to appeal to both teens and children, something I think people forget. Animation is not just a children’s medium.

“I strongly believe that we can push animation into a more mature direction outside of the purely comedy space. If adults were able to finally understand that comic books aren’t just for children, then they’ll also be able to learn that animation isn’t either. Whichever studio produces the show or movie that finally breaks through and teaches that lesson, then that studio just got their own Marvel,” Dennis said.

My generation lived through some dark moments in animation: Rasputin getting his skin ripped out in Anastasia, the deaths of animated mothers and fathers, Clayton from Tarzan hanging himself by accident during the climax scene, Gargoyles exposing us all to the concept of genocide, etc.

Infinity Train is excellent because it speaks to all levels of development. Yes, there are dark moments, but just like in all dark moments before, they are the darkness before the light.

If there is any show that should be allowed to finish its vision, it is Infinity Train. Finish the ride.

(image: Cartoon Network)

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