Literature / The Ugly Barnacle
The most unforgettable scene from The Film of the Book.

"Once, there was an ugly barnacle. He was so ugly that everyone died. The end."
The story.

This is an Oral story by Patrick Star within the Spongebob Squarepants series. Patrick improvised "The Ugly Barnacle" in an attempt to cheer up Spongebob who believed himself to be suffering from a case of The Ugly (He in fact simply had a bad case of halitosis after eating a home-made "sundae" of sorts). Unfortunately, the tale failed to console him in any manner whatsoever.

Compare to "Hemingway's Six Word Story", another tale famous for its ultra-minimalist prose.

This short story provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Ending: We don't know exactly what happens to anyone in the story: the barnacle's victim(s) could have easily just come back to life. Plus, the story doesn't tell us anything about what happens to the barnacle at the end.
  • Ambiguous Situation: A number of tantalizing details are left out. We aren't told, for instance, how or why everyone dies, nor whether or not that includes the barnacle itself. Similarly, the barnacle's relationships with the rest of the cast are quite vague.
  • Animalistic Abomination: The titular barnacle. He's apparently so ugly that he can kill everyone just by being ugly!
  • Antagonist Title: If you interpret the Barnacle as a villain.
  • Apocalypse How: Could be Species Extinction, could also be Total Extinction. Since it was "everyone" and not "everything", most audience members conclude Species Extinction.
  • Artistic License Biology: The barnacle is referred to as male, yet most actual barnacles are hermaphrodites.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The Barnacle caused the death of everyone, and the minimalist structure implies the effort was also minimalist.
  • Beige Prose: The barnacle's plight is narrated in the most blunt manner possible.
  • Beyond the Impossible: It shouldn't be possible for someone to be so ugly that everyone dies, yet that's exactly what happens.
  • Black Comedy: To some, the story is a hilarious nihilistic take on children's stories.
  • Brown Note: The most common interpretation of how everyone dies.
  • Character Death: Everyone dies at the second sentence of the story.
  • Character Title: The titular Ugly Barnacle.
  • Dull Surprise: Patrick maintains the same incredulous facial expression and tone of voice throughout the entire story, even while delivering the Wham Line.
  • Eldritch Abomination: How else to describe a being that can apparently kill everyone by its mere appearance and/or presence?
  • The End: The words that conclude the story.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The barnacle isn't given a name within the work, being given an adjective and species name.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a story about a (maybe the) barnacle that is ugly.
  • Flash Fiction: It's an extremely short story, clocking in at fifteen words and, within the story of Spongebob Squarepants, was created extemporaneously.
  • Gut Punch: From a meta-story perspective, because the story was created to help someone who felt they were ugly feel better about themselves, you'd expect the story to be uplifting... and then everybody dies.
  • The Grotesque: The barnacle.
  • Informed Deformity: We're told that the protagonist is ugly, and we're told of the ramifications of his ugliness, but it is never made clear exactly what features he has that make him so ugly. It's possible that if we were told, we would die.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: Patrick doesn't include many non-essential details about the cast.
  • Love It or Hate It: From a meta-story perspective, Patrick loved it while SpongeBob didn't think it helped at all.
  • Mood Whiplash: At first, it sounds like a charming fairy tale. At first.
  • No Dialogue Episode: At no point in the story does a character speak.
  • Nominal Importance: The story's protagonist, the ugly barnacle, is the only character to get a name.
  • No Name Given: The main character is simply known as "the barnacle" or "the ugly barnacle".
  • Once Upon a Time: Averted. The closest the story comes to using the phrase is "Once there was an ugly barnacle."
  • Protagonist Title: The titular barnacle is also our only character, therefore a protagonist by default.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Name one other story with a barnacle as a protagonist. Ironically one of the main reason barnacles rarely appear (their ugliness) is a central part of this story.
  • Short Story: The story is only 15 words long, and has exactly 59 letters.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: The death of everyone (and sudden ending) is surprising because the story was written to cheer someone up.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: The actual story, discounting the "The End" tag, is exactly thirteen words long, and you can't get much unluckier than having everyone die.
  • Troperiffic: The story is only 13 words long (15 if you count The End), but it has 37 tropes, plus another 40 under YMMV, 37 character tropes, and 9 on the Trivia page, approximating to 17 tropes per word. There are more subpages of The Ugly Barnacle than there are words in the story.
  • Twist Ending: Be honest: Were you expecting the barnacle to kill everyone?
  • Wham Line: One near the very end that completely changes the direction the story was heading.
    He was so ugly that everyone died.

"That didn't help at all!"

You just read 37 tropes on a joke from SpongeBob SquarePants. Good job wasting a good 15 minutes or more.
  • Referenced by...: In Super Scribblenauts, one can type in "Nuclear Ugly Barnacle", which creates an ugly barnacle, and then everybody dies.