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Aqua Teen Hunger Force' takes a final bow

Master Shake, Frylock, Meatwad, and Carl come back for one last season

It's been an emotional summer for "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" fans.

"Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever," the final season of the popular Adult Swim series, premiered June 21. And whereas fans were probably euphoric over the show's return, this season is the last they'll get to see of Master Shake, Frylock, Meatwad, and Carl.

"Aqua Teen" — originally a spinoff of another Adult Swim show, "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" — made its official debut in 2001. Since its creation, the show has aired 130 episodes, gained millions of viewers, and has been the first Adult Swim series to be adapted into a film: Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters.

Truthfully, the two minds behind the show, Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis, are just as bummed as everyone else that it's coming to an end. "I'm actually sort of shocked that the network stopped it," Willis says. "It was a money machine still in its prime," Maiellaro jokes.

After 14 years on the air, "Aqua Teen" has become the longest-running original series on Adult Swim. However, the show is not the only deranged — and strangely addictive — product that Willis and Maiellaro have created. Willis is the co-creator of the Adult Swim shows "Your Pretty Face is going to Hell" (which comes back for a second season this month) and "Squidbillies." Maiellaro is the co-creator of "Perfect Hair Forever," as well as "12 oz. Mouse."

"Aqua Teen" marked one of the first projects the two worked on together after "Space Ghost." "When we first started, we were just having fun with it," Maiellaro says. "We were enjoying something that we liked."

Apparently, Adult Swim fans liked it, too. The egregious incompetence and hilarity of Master Shake (voiced by Dana Snyder), Frylock (voiced by Carey Means), Meatwad, and Carl (both voiced by Willis) soon amassed a cult following. So much so that you can find countless websites devoted to certain episodes or quotes from the series. Carl's crass words of wisdom particularly are a fan favorite.

"Yeah, I identify most easily with Carl," Willis admits. "My favorite lines from the show are whenever Carl says, 'This don't matter.' Fans are always coming up to me saying that line. I guess the line is saying this weird existential thing about life laughs."

As fans of the show will attest, nothing is off limits with "Aqua Teen." The series has undergone various title changes including "Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1," "Aqua Something You Know Whatever," and "Aqua TV Show Show." Over the years, the setting of the show has shifted from Seattle to South Jersey and later to the fictional Seattle, N.J. Carl has been killed and eaten by Master Shake — only for both of them to appear unscathed in the following episode. But that's one of the things fans love about the show; the constraints of continuity and logic don't mean shit to Willis and Maiellaro. "'Aqua Teen' always felt like this creative outlet for whatever crazy ideas we have," Willis says.

This last season will be no different. In "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever," a court ruling has made divorce illegal in America, and heavily armed, unhappy couples across the continent are tearing each other apart. Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad will attempt to give them the marriage counseling they need.

Willis and Maiellaro feel they are ending the series on a strong note. "The way we end the show will be consistent with the way we made the show," Willis says. "It will feel earned."

"Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever" airs Sundays at midnight on Adult Swim.

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