It appears that a lack of self-drive promotes self-indulgence, because for my first blog post in weeks I want to delve into my eleven favorite moments from The Final Battle series. What is The Final Battle series?
Sheen is judging you for asking that.
For the unitiated, The Final Battle series is the longest Jimmy Neutron fanfiction series in existence and was written by yours truly. It consists of two main stories (The Final Battle & Pushing Through) and a third anthology book (The Lost Chapters) that focuses on different characters from the series over different periods of time. There is also a fourth story entitled A Trip to Loch Ness that takes place in the same universe as the previous three stories, but it doesn’t relate to the plot of those books.
I’ve written before about these stories and the rest of my fanfics, but I’ll quickly sum up this series once more. Spanning over 300,000 words, the three core books in The Final Battle series begin on the eve of seventh grade. After a relaxing last day of summer vacation turned into a battle on the moon against Eustace Strych, Jimmy Neutron and his friends return to Earth to find that all of Retroville’s adults have been kidnapped once more. The kids of course assume that the Yolkians are behind the attack and set off to rescue them. Older and wiser, however, Jimmy Neutron realizes how lucky he and his friends were to thwart the Yolkians without weapons before. He enlists Nick Dean to help arm and train the group in firearms and sets off to Yolkus to finish their fight once and for all. This culminates in a Yolkian-Human war that threatens to bring both species to extinction.
It should of course be noted that this series is far from perfect.
Jimmy smiled back. “We do make a good team.”
Their well-deserved congratulations were cut short by the sound of voices at the far end of the hallway. They both looked down it and saw a stairway that led to a lower level.
“What was that?” a Yolkian’s voice asked.
Why do Yolkian ships have staircases? They don’t have feet they hover Ryan!
Aside from misunderstandings of the relationship between Yolkian anatomy and architecture, these books weren’t extensively edited. The Final Battle, the first book in the series, is especially rife with spelling errors, poor descriptions, and the kids occasionally acting out of character. I think I did much better with the next two books, but they’re still not publishable. (I mean aside from the fact that they’re based on a licensed property.) But at the end of the day, I’m still proud of all of them.
From the beginning of this series, I wanted to tell a vast and epic story. I dreamed of taking all the aspects of Jimmy Neutron that I loved and kicking them up several notches: the theme of friends becoming family, the battle sequences, the romance…I wanted to explore what Jimmy Neutron would be like if it wasn’t constrained by a TV-Y7 rating. I did my best to fill these series with constantly evolving characters, tough moral choices, incredible and lifelike action scenes, and a steadily evolving mythos. Again, I didn’t nail all of these aspects 100%, but I’m still proud of what I created. So in order to ease myself back into blog writing, I want to spend a few hours discussing a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, even if I’m the only one who loves this blog post.
So let’s dive into my 11 favorite moments from this series. But before I do, a special thanks to everyone who’s helped me with this series. Thanks to my friends/readers/great reviewers Brandon, Ed, Saundra, Sanjana, and Brandon. Thanks to my wonderful girlfriend Louise who helped encourage me to write Pushing Through. And lastly, thanks to Keith Alcorn and Mike Gasaway – two awesome members of the Jimmy Neutron crew who always answered all my questions about the show and helped me get into screenwriting by trying to revive it.
#11 – Jimmy & Nick Fight Back to Back
“Ike, Betty, Brittany, Jacob!” Nick shouted into his own headset. “Does anyone read us?” Jimmy and Nick looked to each other as there was only silence.
“Jimmy, what is happening on that ship?” Libby asked, just as confused as Jimmy and Nick.
Suddenly, the ship’s loudspeakers buzzed on. Jimmy and Nick stared up at the ceiling, and a low, menacing laugh surrounded them.
“This is freaking me the hell out!” Nick shouted while pulling out his gun. Jimmy did the same, and they stood back to back, their guns leveled at the ceiling.
Let’s get this out of the way: yes, this moment was heavily inspired by Master Chief & The Arbiter in Halo 3.
But beyond the inherent badassness such a pose carries, this scene absolutely solidifies Jimmy and Nick as friends, brothers, and a deadly force to be reckoned with. I’ve long said that my favorite part of The Final Battle series is the growing Nick/Jimmy bond – it beats out the Jimmy/Cindy romance, the epic battle scenes of Pushing Through, and every other facet of these books. There is something just so satisfying about watching the coolest and nerdiest kids in class learn to not just work past their differences, but acknowledge how important and necessary they are. Jimmy needs Nick’s strength, fighting skills, and natural ability to lead. Nick needs Jimmy’s brilliance and moral compass. They started out this series as nothing more than classmates, but by the end of the first book they were true friends. By the end of Pushing Through they would become brothers.
#10 – “I need you even if they don’t.”
“It’s time to get that big brain of yours back in the game, Jimmy. Because the fact is, there’s a town full of people here who’ll need you if the Yolkians come back.”
Cindy stared into his eyes for a second longer before looking down at the ground.
“Cindy?” Jimmy quietly asked.
Cindy knew what needed to be said. She took a tiny breath and slowly released it before looking back up at Jimmy. She’d already told Jimmy that she loved him on the Yolkian cruiser. And she’d already told him that she needed him on Yolkus three years ago. But the words that filled her heart; they seemed to mean so much more than either of those things. Yet as she squeezed his hand and looked up into his eyes one last time, she had no doubt that they were true.
“And I need you even if they don’t.”
This was one of my favorite moments to write in Pushing Through; I still remember how satisfied I was typing up that final line. This short segment of Pushing Through’s fifth chapter greatly advanced two of the series’ overall themes: Jimmy struggling to work through his guilt for killing Eustace and Goobot, as well as Jimmy and Cindy’s romance.
As evidenced by the very first chapter in The Final Battle, Jimmy knows that killing is wrong and will do whatever he can to avoid it. Yet after Sheen is seemingly killed on the journey to King Goobot’s ship, Jimmy finds that he can no longer fully temper his desire for vengeance. When Goobot is cornered, Jimmy does stay strong enough to offer him a way out. He repeatedly asks Goobot to confess to his apparent crimes and reveal where the kids’ parents are hiding. But when he refuses, Jimmy executes him.
When Jimmy realizes that Goobot was not behind the adults’ kidnappings, he can’t bring himself to kill Eustace. Even after Eustace tortures Jimmy and shoots Cindy, he can’t quite bring himself to pull the trigger one last time. Not until he sets his sight on the growing pile of blood from Cindy’s abdomen. Fury once again causes him to kill one of his foes.
It actually wasn’t the first time Jimmy mercilessly dispatched one of his foes. On another note, change the background, switch the watch for a gun, and this scene perfectly captures Jimmy killing Eustace aboard Goobot’s ship.
Weeks later, Jimmy can’t get over the guilt he harbors for such actions. He understands that killing foes who have repeatedly tried to kill him, who had shunned every opportunity to reform and would always keep trying to hurt those he loved, was the reasonable choice. But he can’t forgive himself for taking lives in a fit of rage. This moment from Cindy is what allows him to forgive himself and start turning back into the boy he once was. He doesn’t forget the choices he made in executing his nemeses, but he no longer hates himself for them.
Of course, on a much fluffier note, I always found this line utterly adorable to read. At this point in the series, Jimmy and Cindy had already admitted that they loved each other. But to me, this sincere admission from Cindy holds even more weight than those three treasured words. You can just tell that she is baring all of how she feels for Jimmy right here; that she’s letting him know how much he means to her and how she’ll do anything to help him.
One last reason I’ve always loved this moment is that it reminds me of my favorite scene from the Jimmy Neutron film, where Cindy urges Jimmy to forgive himself in Yolkus’ cell.
Last time I post this clip for a while, I promise.
Any chance I get to do an homage to that wonderful moment is worthy of being on this list.
#9 – “Together.”
“Guys?” she weakly croaked out. Everyone faced her, and she barely managed to whisper, “How do we get through this?”
Libby was struggling to keep the tears at bay. Sheen was whispering in her ear while squeezing her hand. Carl put a trembling hand on her knee. Cindy was stroking her hair. He saw the love in each of their actions and, in spite of his sadness, suddenly felt tremendous peace.
“I know how,” he calmly offered. Everyone turned to face him, and he gave his friends a warm smile. “The same way we’ve always gotten through everything.”
Jimmy scooted towards Libby and placed his right hand on top of hers. He gave Carl and Sheen a warm smile, and then gave Cindy a kiss on the cheek. The five friends sat there, huddled together in the moonlight, as Jimmy said the one word that they all knew to be true.
The most important theme throughout this series was always the importance of friendship. For all of the romance, comedy, and action, friendship is shown time and again to be the lynchpin that holds the Jimmy Neutron gang together and keeps them alive.
There’s not much else to say about this scene. I simply wanted to hammer home how important the 8 members of the JN gang (and especially the 5 core members from the show) are to each other and how that will never change. In their darkest moments, each of these kids knows that any of the others will always have their back. And no matter what struggles they face, that will always be enough.
#8 – Jimmy and Libby Inside Walmart
Jimmy stared into her brown eyes and smiled. “When did it get like this?” Jimmy asked, feeling more at peace than he had in a long time. “You and me?”
Libby smiled back. “Remember elementary school, how all I ever did was make fun of you until fifth grade was halfway done?” Jimmy nodded slowly. “Sorry about that, by the way. I blame peer pressure. Cindy was a bad influence.”
Jimmy laughed at that. “When did you stop being a stupid girl who helped Cindy berate me at every turn?”
Libby smiled once more. “And when did you stop being the nerdy boy who needed his ego kept in check at every turn?”
Jimmy stared at Libby’s face and truly studied it for the first time. The beautiful brown eyes. The wide smile that always came so easily. The jet-black hair tied into beautiful braids. He wondered if in another life they may have been more than friends. But then he thought of Cindy’s green eyes that always seemed to pull him into a whirlpool of love, her blonde ponytail that tickled his neck when they hugged, and the angry tone that always drove him to be the best he could be. There could be no comparison between the two. Cindy was his; it was always meant to be that way.
Jimmy and Nick may have been my favorite friendship of this series, but the Jimmy/Libby relationship takes a close second. Many other Jimmy Neutron fanfiction writers chose to expand upon the Jimmy and Libby friendship which was barely featured in the show. To me (and I assume them), these two characters had so much potential. While Libby of course mocks JImmy in the show, she also shows real trust in him when the town faces danger. She also shows on several occasions that in spite of her teasing, she really does care for Jimmy.
Such as when she nervously asks Jimmy if he’s really willing to risk Goddard in a bet with Eustace.
In The Final Battle, I had Jimmy and Libby realize that they never really got to know each other despite hanging out together nearly every day. They promise to rectify that after saving their parents, and in between the first and second book of this series they share an unseen shake at The Candy Bar and finally learn more about each other. In Pushing Through, their friendship continues to blossom and becomes a bit more flirtatious.
I do think that in another life Libby and Jimmy could have been a couple. She’s intelligent enough to at least share an interest in his inventions, and she could expose Jimmy to a whole creative world he’s spent his life closed off too. In this scene both characters come to see this while simultaneously realizing that they are happier with their respective partners (Sheen and Cindy). I think it’s a lovely look at what might have been while cherishing what is.
#7 – The Death of Barak Neroma
Jimmy stared deep into Barak’s lone eye and smiled wearily at his friend. “You’re forgiven.”
Barak felt tears build as Neutron’s words lifted an immeasurable burden off of his soul. He looked into Neutron’s kind eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, James,” he softly said. Then the beam of light smashed through his visor, tore through his brain, and caused all life to drain from his eyes.
Barak Neroma, the Yolkian sympathizer who ultimately betrayed his species to save humanity, was always a favorite character of mine. I did my best throughout Pushing Through to have both the JN gang and the reader constantly question his true motives. Ultimately, it was revealed that Barak was indeed planning on betraying Jimmy and his friends. However, I tried hard to make him have a very good reason: he was handing the kids over to King Veras to satiate the Yolkians’ bloodlust. Barak truly believed (and was indeed promised) that by doing so he would guarantee the safety of the billions of other humans on Earth.
Was Barak wrong to betray the kids? Not even Jimmy knows – he can’t be sure which decision he would have made. The impossiblity of this choice, combined with Barak’s clear regret, is what persuades Nick to spare Barak (more on that later) and Jimmy to let him fight by the kids’ side once more. With the possibility of appeasing King Veras with a sacrifice gone, Barak commits himself fully to the humans’ cause. Unfortunately, this results in his death.
There are several things I love about this scene. Barak disappeared from the story for a decent amount of time prior to him saving the kids with the Sagittari gunship – this hopefully means it was a real shock when he saved the day. There’s the fact that he is so utterly desperate to earn James’ forgiveness but understands that it may take a long to do so. Going along with that, there’s the pure relief in his voice when James does forgive him. I hate that Barak had to die, but I love that he went out with a peaceful soul. Lastly, I love how this moment came a mere one chapter after Miranda’s death. I don’t think many readers expected to lose two major characters in as many chapters.
#6 – “I want you to kiss me.”
“I want to kiss you,” he whispered.
Cindy couldn’t believe what Jimmy had said. More accurately, she found it utterly impossible to process his words. There could simply be no way that Jimmy was saying those things to her. It wasn’t feasible. So she simply stared at him blankly and watched as he averted his gaze to the ground between them.
Say something, Cindy’s voice quickly spoke inside her mind. Cindy’s heart began to slam against her chest so hard she knew it was leaving bruises. She slowly swallowed and saw the hope drain out of Jimmy’s eyes. Say anything! Her voice screamed. Cindy gulped once more and opened her mouth. “I…I…” Cindy felt tears begin to burn her eyes. She didn’t know whether they were forming out of frustration or fear or desire or all three, but she knew if she didn’t speak she would break down, and she would not allow that to happen.
“I…I want you to kiss me,” she managed to whisper.
Jimmy and Cindy’s first kiss, as well as their first declarations of love, don’t make it on this list. And while I did of course find Cindy’s assertion that she needs Jimmy worthy of a spot in this post, this heartfelt moment between the two of them barely edges it out for my favorite Jimmy / Cindy scene of the series.
I’ve always loved when children simply act like children. In any creative medium featuring kids, but especially in action/adventure tales like this series, it’s easy to write children as though they were adults. Part of this phenomenon is due to the stressful situations the characters are placed in and having to do anything they can to survive. But sometimes (and definitely more than a few times in this series) it’s simply a lapse in writing. That’s why I love this scene so much: it simply shows two kids struggling to admit their feelings. It’s something I can picture happening in the cartoon or between two twelve year-olds in real life, and that’s why it just seems so satisfying to me.
#5 – The First Battle of Yolkus
A second passed and then Nick ducked back down and stared at his friends. “This is where we split up,” he told them, racing through his words. “Miranda, Jimmy, with me. Everyone else?” He gave Ike, Sheen, Cindy, and Betty a quick glance. “Give them hell. We’ll see you at the elevator.”
Everyone nodded and jumped to their feet before heading in three different directions.
One of my biggest regrets of The Final Battle was the lack of epicness in its fight scenes. These battles were far from absent – multiple chapters consisted of Sheen routing a Yolkian mining vessel by himself and Jimmy & Cindy infiltrating Goobot’s capital ship. But at the end of the day every one of these fights consisted of one or two characters engaging single squads of only a few enemy soldiers. Where were the all-out war scenes? The massively choreographed battles you’d see in a summer blockbuster? They simply weren’t there, and I wanted to remedy that in Pushing Through.
This entry on my list is kind of a cheat because this “moment” is most of chapter 15. The First Battle of Yolkus accounts for nearly 10,000 words and is by far the biggest fight scene I have ever written. All ten members of Jimmy Neutron’s gang fight an all-out war to get from the royal docking bay to the elevator that will carry them to King Veras’ chambers. The kids are first broken off into four groups; many readers also enjoyed that these groups consisted of character pairings they didn’t expect. This is the chapter where I would learn that writing action scenes is one of my favorite things to do as a writer and is probably one of my biggest strengths. The biggest thing that I learned is that breaking the action into smaller scenes featuring different groups of characters, as well as frantically switching focus between them, makes a battle scene chaotic and wholly enjoyable.
Again, this chapter is far from perfect. But I thoroughly enjoyed mapping out a sizeable field and figuring out how to make the different fights in each of these environments unique. I loved showing how these kids interacted and fought with people they didn’t consider their best friends. I also loved having the different groups occasionally call on each other for aid in thier darkest moments. Lastly, I adore the final stand that the kids make while waiting for the elevator to descend and how Libby’s team bursts onto the scene to save the day with a rain of fire from above. This whole sequence took forever to sketch out, choreograph, and write, but to me it was well worth it.
#4 – Escaping the Force Field
“Then here we go,” he told everyone. “FIVE!” he shouted.
“Four,” Nick whispered to himself, relishing what could be his last moment on Earth.
“Three,” Cindy mumbled, focusing her mind and releasing all her fears with one heavy sigh.
“Two,” Sheen said under his breath; squinting his eyes and gripping the steering wheel.
“One,” Libby flatly whispered into her headset.
Here we go. “LIFTOFF!” Jimmy shouted as his rocket zoomed into the sky at an impossible speed.
As with most of The Final Battle, the writing in this section still needed a lot of work. But for some reason this final scene on Earth, the last moment before Jimmy leads his army out of the stratosphere and away from the control team, always stuck with me.
There’s the way each of the major characters counts down one of the numbers and prepares to face what is likely their death. There’s the way Jimmy settles into the role of leader and barks out orders to so everyone can activate their EMPs at the same time. And in what is my favorite part of this sequence, there’s the way it doesn’t work.
A brave charge towards looming death.
Jimmy’s inventions may screw up from time to time (or maybe more often than that), but when his friends’ lives are absolutely on the line, they always pull through. This time is different. His EMPs fail to tear down the force field, the kids’ rockets have no room to maneuver, and over a hundred children are about to crash to their deaths in a matter of seconds. Jimmy braces for the inevitable, but he doesn’t die. Somehow, the force field that has stayed on for two entire weeks snaps off just long enough to let the rockets through.
The kids think it’s a miraculous stroke of luck at first, but Jimmy quickly realizes that their survival means something more dire. The force field didn’t just turn off on its own, someone deactivated it to let him through. That means someone knows he is coming, is watching him, and wants him to get to Yolkus. With the force field back on and no way to return to Retroville, the kids agree to press on. But this one moment lets them know there is more at play in this story than they realize, and their mission won’t be as simple as they thought.
#3 – Nick Spares Barak
“It hurts to take a life,” Jimmy sadly warned. He did not want to kill Barak. But he knew it wasn’t up to him to make this decision. Nick had been the one to question Barak at every turn, and he had been right. Nick had earned the right to make his choice. “You can’t take it back.”
Nick felt his body tremble as he stared down at Barak. The alien stared at the ground beneath him, fully accepting his fate. Nick’s breaths came hard and fast as his leg shook. He lifted it over Barak’s brain, held it for a long moment, and angrily slammed it down onto the ground beside the alien.
Another Jimmy / Nick moment nearly tops my list. Throughout Pushing Through, Nick remained skeptical of Barak Neroma. He decided to go along with the Yolkian’s plan to kill King Veras because Jimmy vouched for him, but it turns out Nick was in the right all along. When the kids encounter Barak in their jail cell, they have a choice to make. Kill or spare him?
Jimmy would normally be the one to lead such a decision, but he recognizes he lost the chance to make such a choice. Nick was the one who saw through the Yolkian’s lies, who always conceded to Jimmy out of loyalty trust. Though Jimmy firmly believe Barak does not deserve death, he realizes it’s his turn to trust one of his friends. So he lets Nick decide. But not before giving that last piece of advice quoted above.
I’ve always loved when any show or book has good continuity, and I really strove for that in Pushing Through. Though Jimmy overcame the worst of his guilt for killing Eustace and Goobot earlier in this story, he hasn’t forgotten the pain it caused him. Neither has he forgotten to avoid making snap judgements with lasting consequences. He lets Nick decide whether or not to kill Barak, but he begs his friend to consider these lessons before doing so. In spite of the fact that Jimmy was wrong about Barak, Nick still trusts Jimmy enough to heed his advice.
This scene is another example of how close all members of the JN gang are, of the growth these characters experienced throughout the series, and how important it is to avoid acting out of anger and to do the right thing. That earns it the third spot on this list.
#2 – Chaos Aboard The Flaming Justice
Cindy looked back at the catwalk to find Jimmy and Libby staring incredulously at her. “Jimmy! The reactors!” she screamed while ducking behind the wall near the hallway. Another Yolkian dash through, and she effortlessly dispatched it with her spear.
“Second reactor is set!” Jimmy shouted while racing to the last control panel.
“Jimmy!” Betty’s voice shouted. “What do I do after I select interface mode? Is Cindy okay?”
Libby opened fire once more as two crew members raced past Cindy carrying spears. She disabled them both, and Cindy immediately finished them off.
Jimmy groaned while finishing the sabotage. The ever-increasing roar of the two sabotage reactors was nearly drowning Betty out. “Choose the synchronization option and wait until the watch says the process is done. And she’s fine!”
“Jimmy!” Nick’s desperate voice shouted into his ear. “I don’t know how, but they’re cutting into the hull of ship! They’re going to burst through in half a dozen spots in a minute!”
It helps to listen to this while reading this chapter’s battle scenes. Or any battle scenes.
I think I did a pretty good job with the First and Second Battles of Yolkus in Pushing Through, but I’ll always love The Taking of the Flaming Justice the most. The First Battle of Yolkus had order to it in spite of the chaos. No one died, the kids had a solid idea of what they were getting into, and they were all armed with weapons they were comfortable with. The Second Battle of Yolkus saw the loss of Miranda, the need for stealth, and had a greater sense of desperation. But with The Taking of The Flaming Justice, every human knew this would be their last chance at survival.
Two allies had already perished, taking away the illusion that they were sure to survive because they had survived before. Nearly all of their own guns were dry on ammunition, forcing them to use alien arms for most of the fight. The kids were battered, bloody, and tired. If they won this fight, they would go home and survive. If they lost, Earth would eventually fall. The stakes had never been higher, their forces never weaker, and it all came down to a fight that rapidly dissolved into complete chaos.
This is where I put my previous lesson of rapid-fire, intercutting scenes to greatest effect. Towards the tail end of the battle each of the three groups of kids faces an enormous challenge and seeks help from Jimmy while he’s desperately trying to sabotage the ships’ reactors. Cindy urges him to focus on the job that needs to be done while leaping into action to save Libby and coordinate her allies’ efforts to stay alive. It’s a tense sequence made all the more frightful by the fact that the reader by now knows that any of these characters could easily die. Again, it’s not a perfect chapter (I know I made Cindy too subservient to Jimmy at the end of it), but I’m still really proud of this battle scene and hope the climax of my second real life novel is as good as this one was.
#1 – “We’re children!”
“We’re children!” he shouted in desperation as tears filled his eyes. “You kidnapped our parents, the adults who raised us and loved us! Your King Veras, the leader you all adored, wanted to torture us for entertainment, to kill us all! We’re children!” he cried out again.
This speech from Jimmy after taking The Flaming Justice is what ends the Yolkian-Human War. From when I started outlining Pushing Through I knew I would need to make this final plea from Jimmy utterly heart-breaking, desperate, and most of all, sincere.
While The Flaming Justice hurtles towards Yolkus and prepares to destroy its capital city in a nuclear explosion, Jimmy realizes that there is another way. After mercilessly killing Goobot and Eustace, he can’t bear to take more lives when there is a possibility for peace. So he takes it upon himself to contact Yolkus, threaten his way onto every video monitor on the planet, and plea directly with the people. He lays everything bare: the sins both species have committed, all that both sides of lost, and in the moment I’ve listed above, he finally breaks down at the realization of how utterly insane his journey has been.
Jimmy and his friends have been forced to learn how to fight and become an army. They’ve traveled across the galaxy to storm an alien world. They’ve seen their friends falls, nearly died dozens of times themselves, and been forced to kill. They’ve been forced to do all of this despite being children. Seeing how much of his and his friends’ innocence was lost because of this war causes Jimmy to crack and lets the Yolkians see the true extent of the suffering they’ve caused. This final moment in the war ties together many of the themes I strove to touch upon in this book. For tying everything together and showing the true emotional cost of these kids’ journey, it’s my favorite moment of the series.