Quality Over Quantity: King Neptune challenges SpongeBob to a frycooking competition where whoever cooks the most Krabby Patties wins, but he concedes to SpongeBob when he finds out that his mass-produced Patties are terrible while SpongeBob's singular Patty made with love is superior.
One episode has a giant clam behaving this way. Everyone thinks it was because a peanut had been thrown at it; turns out Mr. Krabs stole its egg.
There was also one episode in which Gary is entirely unruly and goes around biting people. Turns out it was from a piece of Squidward's makeshift security fence, almost making this example a parody, as the thorn was the size of a tree.
Rashomon Style: In "Friend or Foe?", Mr. Krabs claimed the moment his friendship with Plankton ended was when Plankton went mad with power. ("I'm ruling their stomachs, and soon I'll be ruling their minds!") However, Plankton appears and claimed their friendship actually ended when Mr. Krabs went mad with greed. ("First, I'll rule their stomachs, and then...their money!") But then Karen (who was just starting out as a security system at the time Mr. Krabs and Plankton started their own restaurant) shows up and revealed they didn't attract any customers at all. In fact, the only customer they did have got poisoned by the burger. Krabs and Plankton then blame each other and fought over who gets to fix the recipe, leading them to start their own separate restaurants. Notably, all three versions of the tale involved the two tearing their original recipe in half.
In the episode "The Great Snail Race", SpongeBob puts Gary through Training from Hell to win the titular race. At one point, he maxes Gary an "energy drink" which includes raw eggs, simply "because it's a cliche!"
Also, in "MuscleBob BuffPants", Spongebob mentions that he "starts off with twenty raw eggs everyday".
Sandy: Here Patrick, have a Krabby Patty. Psst! There he is, Patrick, say your line! Patrick: (whimpering) Why, thank you, Sandy. I would love one. "[TAKE PATTY.]" (Takes patty) Too bad SpongeBob isn't here. These are his favorites. I sure wish he'd come home. "[TAKE...BITE...]" (Bursts into tears)
Patrick: I'm sorry, SpongeBob, but Gary's with me now. You had your chance and you failed. You have to stop living in the past. Face it SpongeBob, you're only hurting yourself. It's what Gary wants, and what Gary wants is me!
Removable Shell: Gary has sometimes, depending on the episode. Sometimes the shell lifts up to show something hidden inside; sometimes the shell is Bigger on the Inside and SpongeBob is able to crawl into it; and sometimes cracking the shell exposes Gary's veiny, throbbing innards.
Rich Boredom Mr. Krabs sells the Krusty Krab for a lot of loot. It's not long before he runs out of things to do in his retirement, goes on a rampage that destroys the Krusty Krab, buys the destroyed restaurant back, and it's all fixed up the next time we see it (in the next episode).
SpongeBob: What kind of monsters are we? That poor creature came to us in his hour of need, and we failed him. Squidward's always been there for us when it was convenient for him. Evelyn, when your little Jimmy was trapped in a fire, who rescued him? Evelyn: A fireman. SpongeBob: And Larry, when your heart gave out from all those tanning pills, who revived you? Larry: Some guy in an ambulance. SpongeBob: Right. So, if we can all just pretend that Squidward was a fireman, or a guy in an ambulance, then I'm sure that we can all pull together and discover what it truly means: to be in a marching band. Harold (in Australian accent): Yeah, for the fireman! All: Hooray!
Rule of Three: In the first season episode "Jellyfishing", Patrick helping an injured Squidward hold a jellyfish net.
Patrick: Firmly grasp it in your hand. (Patrick places the pole end on Squidward's bandaged hand, but it falls off because he can’t grab it. Patrick picks it up)Firmly grasp it. (He does the same thing again and the results are exactly like before. Patrick gets angry) FIRMLY GRASP IT!(Patrick jams the net through Squidward’s bandaged hand. He groans in pain) That oughta do it.
The music that plays in this video. It's the 'generic' Spongebob creepy music.
It also plays during the sequence in "Squid's Day Off" where we see Squidward going insane and blocking off his door to his house to prevent him from going back to the Krusty Krab to check up on Spongebob.
The "I DON'T NEED IT" scene in "Tea at the Treedome". Spongebob's dried up face is zoomed in on in terrifying detail, complete with an unnerving heartbeat sound.
Scenery Censor: Mermaid Man in one episode, with Gary blocking his crotch until he can get a towel on; spoofed with SpongeBob in the episode "Nature Pants", as he has nothing to hide and in fact spent some...er, most shots without his crotch obscured
Screwed by the Network: On their Nicktoons channel, as it only airs when most people are asleep. You were probably confused when you saw this trope on this page if you don't get Nicktoons. (That's probably because they don't need to air it on Nicktoons.)
Spongebob: I mean anything! Watch. I can turn into a skyscraper. [transforms into the shape of a skyscraper] Going up! Eh? [sees that Patrick is unresponsive; looks dull] I can make... a million of me! [changes back to his normal shape and size, this time with a million copies of himself] Eh? Eh? [the clones disappear] Ah, tartar sauce. I'm going to a different dream.
Second Person Attack: In "Pizza Delivery", when the fish ordering the Krusty Krab pizza refused to pay for the pizza because Spongebob and Squidward forgot to bring him his soda, Squidward comes back at his door and shoves the pizza in the customer's face, saying "Well, this one's on the house!"
Secret Ingredient: Plankton's schemes revolve entirely around discovering the secret ingredient of the Krabby Patty at business rival Mr. Krabs' The Krusty Krab. At one point (after overtaking the restaurant with the help of his millions of hillbilly brethren), Plankton finds out that the secret ingredient is actual plankton (Plankton and his family do not take the news well), but Mr. Krabs reveals that it wasn't the real secret ingredient, just a fake one used to dupe Plankton. Another episode involves the entire restaurant going into lockdown as the secret ingredient is air-lifted in.
Series Continuity Error: In "Something Smells" Patrick says he doesn't have a sister. In "Big Sister Sam", Patrick's sister comes to visit.
Shaggy Dog Story: "Procrastination." SpongeBob finally gets his essay done, but when he turns it in the next morning, Ms. Puff tells him the assignment has been canceled.
In "Glove World R.I.P.", SpongeBob and Patrick do everything they can to save the Glove World amusement park from being torn down, only for it to be pointless as the reason for the demolition is that Glove Universe, which is bigger and better, is being built in its place.
The Chum Bucket is in the shape of a giant bucket.
She Is Not My Girlfriend: Patrick had to go undercover (because he thinks someone is going to kick him out of town), so he dressed up as "Patricia". SpongeBob had to tell a few folks "she" wasn't his GF.
Shockingly Expensive Bill: Mr. Krabs receives a restaurant bill of $100 after taking Mrs. Puff on a date, and claims it "can't possibly by correct". The waiter apologizes and hands him his real bill…of $100,000.
Mr. Krabs (shouting in response to Sandy about why there's only one fast-food restaurant in Bikini Bottom) "...There can be only one, drylander!" (Mr. Krabs is Clancy Brown, who played The Kurgan in Highlander).
Mr Krabs: There are 13 bad words you should never use.
Squidward: Don’t you mean they’re only seven?
Mr Krabs: Not if you’re a sailor.
In "New Student Starfish", Patrick's climb up the mountain of light bulbs has a brief shout out to The Price Is Right's Cliff Hanger Game, complete with yodeling and lederhosen.
In "The Camping Episode", Spongebob and Patrick end up smashing a guitar and a drum set, respectfully. Okay, quite a few Rockers Smash Guitars, so that could be a Shout Out to any of those bands, right? Fast forward to the episode "Sweet And Sour Squid" where Squidward and Plankton are clearly singing a parody of "Pinball Wizard", and it seems to indicate that at least one writer among the crew is a fan of The Who, meaning that in the Camping Episode Spongebob and Patrick were most likely immitating Pete Townshend and Keith Moon, respectfully.
During the tenth anniversary special, Robin Williams asked Patchy if he knew Captain Hook. Granted, this is Robin Williams we're talking about, so that line was likely to have been ad-libbed, but still...
In "Squidbob Tentaclepants," Sandy's teleportation device bears a striking resemblance to Brundle's telepods.
"Bye Squidward! Bye Mr. Krabs! Bye, Squidward." "You said "Bye, Squidward" twice." "I likeSquidward."
"Karate Island" is one long shout out to Game of Death, complete with Sandy wearing the famous yellow tracksuit Bruce Lee wore in said movie.
The second half of "Squeaky Boots" parodies Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", where Mr. Krabs steals the rubber boots he gave to Spongebob and hides them under the floorboards of the Krusty Krab, only to still be driven mad by the squeaking.
The most recent episode "Squid Defense" has a big reference to the episode of Avatar The Last Airbender called "The Southern Raiders".
Shrunken Organ: In one episode, Squidward breaks his "laugh box" (an organ he thought he made up), which has to be removed. The doctor remarks that it's the most dried-up, underused laugh box he's ever seen; it's in a jar the size of a salt shaker. Inversely, Spongebob has a laugh box so big that he was able to donate half of it to Squidward while still retaining the capacity to do some laughing of his own.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Interestingly this is a concept that slowly drifted from one to the other. The show was originally cheerful and vaguely sentimental, but has nowadays become harsher and darker in its comedy.
Snapback — About every other episode, especially in the earlier seasons. Otherwise, SpongeBob would have been the proprietor of the Krusty Krab for the last eight years or so.
The above issue has been Hand Waved, as the episodes supposedly don't happen in the exact order they come out in. This is at least the case for The Movie, which is the official ending for the series despite having been produced years ago. SpongeBob eventually becoming manager of the Krusty Krab 2 is firmly canon.
The newer seasons are by no means immune. One early post-movie episode, Wishing You Well ended with Mr. Krabs being wished away and almost eaten. He was fine in time for the next episode.
Potty sometimes serves just to make Patchy's life miserable. Squidward also counts in most episodes.
Gary also counts, judging by SpongeBob's reactions to his meowing.
Snipe Hunt: Mr. Krabs sends SpongeBob on one of these in the first episode, on Squidward's advice he'd make a terrible fry cook. However, SpongeBob returns to save the Krusty Krab from some hungry anchovies with a real hydrodynamic spatula with port and starboard attachments and turbodrive, which prompts Mr. Krabs to hire him.
Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Both SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs refuse to accept anyone can hate Krabby Patties (the plot device for Just One Bite and arguably Plankton's Regular).
Though in the former episode, Spongebob was aiming more for Squidward to just try it and when Squidward (falsely) proclaims he hates it, Spongebob does accept it and realize he was wrong to be so forceful. The latter episode does play it straight, however.
Special Edition Title: "Christmas Who?" (done as The SpongeBob Christmas Special), "Whatever Happened to SpongeBob?" (done as WhoBob WhatPants), and "Truth or Square" (done with a remade version of the theme song and stop-motion animation).
Species Surname: Mr. Krabs (Eugene H. Krabs) is a crab. Plankton also has this trope; "Plankton's Army" revealed that his full name is Sheldon J. Plankton.
Springtime for Hitler: It's theorized that all episodes after The Movie are this, as it was Stephen Hillenburg's intention to end it after the aforementioned movie.
Just look at the list of episodes on the 10 Happiest Moments DVD. Only one of them is from a season above season three...
Word Of God has now stated that The Movie is the final episode, and the episodes we're seeing on TV are prior to the movie. Which explains a lot of things, like the Krusty Krab 2 and why Neptune is very old and balding in the movie but in the shows he's very young.
Start My Own: In "Friend or Foe", it's revealed that Krabs and Plankton started a restaurant together as a retaliation when the owner of another restaurant wouldn't accept them as customers. Also, before Krabs started to make Krabby Patties, Plankton broke the partnership to start his own restaurant because nobody liked the patty the two of them made together.
Also, Spongebob started running his own stand for his "Pretty Patties" after being made fun of(for making Pretty Patties) by Mr Krabs and Squidward.
Status Quo Is God: Squidward loved Krabby Patties after trying them for the first time but then he hates them again (ex: Sir, I hate everything on the menu). Though it is possible the fact he ended up exploding from eating them made him continue to hate them.
After "Friend or Foe" it is possible that Mr. Krabs and Plankton stayed friends as kids for a brief time (ex-shown pulling the main drain at the end)
Oh god, how has nobody mentioned "Bumper to Bumper" yet? Spongebob finally obtains his driver's license for real... only for a cop to point out that because Mrs Puff crossed the county line, thus setting off her security cuff, the test results were null and void and he then proceeds to TEAR UP THE LICENSE!
Stealing From The Hotel: Exaggerated in the episode "Kracked Krabs". Mr. Krabs starts "exaggerating" (stealing) from the hotel room, and Spongebob helps him. They steal the toiletries, the furniture, the wall.... They stole the entire room! As a hotel worker inspects their suitcase, the entire room pops out.
Utilized in universe in "I'm With Stupid". When his parents come to visit, Patrick asks Spongebob to act like a brainless loser in front of them so he will look less like a deadbeat in comparison. The scheme works too well, since Patrick, who himself is a hopeless variant of the trope to Spongebob, actually starts to believe the act himself, and turns into a condescending bully towards Spongebob.
Stupid Crooks: SpongeBob and Patrick deliberately attempted to rob a bank in order to try and break Mrs. Puff out of jail from the inside. For masks, both characters wore socks over their heads, which covered their eyes and didn't allow them to see where they were going, and the bank teller treats the entire ordeal as a normal exchange, asking SpongeBob for his name and ID (which he gladly hands over), pulling up his checking and savings accounts, and bluntly informing SpongeBob that he has no money in either account.
The title card for "Hall Monitor" has similarities to the theme for the late '60s/early '70s action show The Mod Squad.
Swallowed a Fly: In "Nasty Patty", the health inspector swallows a fly before he can take a bite of the 'Nasty Patty' that Spongebob and Mr. Krabs fixed up. They believe that they killed him when they see him lying on the floor.
Synchronized Swarming: Plankton rallies his extended family to aid him in finally stealing the Krabby Patty secret formula.
Synchro Vox: Used in the opening with "Painty the Pirate", who starts the theme song.
Take A Third Option: In the episode where Plankton is trying to build his Chum Bucket Mega Bucket in the Goo Lagoon, he tells Spongebob that nice guys finish last, and that only aggressive people conquer the world. Spongebob kindly retorts with "What about aggressively nice people?"
Take That: "Krabby Land" is an episode-long potshot to McDonald's. Mr. Krabs' quote at the end clinches it:
Mr. Krabs: The children? I don't care about the children! The fact that feeble minds are easily manipulated by cheap playgrounds and talentless clowns is no skin off my nose! Survival of the fittest, SpongeBob! Survival of the fittest!
Teeth Flying: SpongeBob has to impersonate Mr. Krabs at his Navy reunion. One of Krab's buddies asks to punch him in the "armor abs", resulting in one of his teeth coming loose. The others are disappointed that he only lost one tooth, until he spits out a few more, and then his skeleton and the others declare, "Now that's manly!"
Temporarily A Villain: The show has barnacle boy switching sides over not getting enough food and respect.
Tempting Fate: A textbook example occurs in "Wet Painters," when SpongeBob and Patrick have to paint Mr. Krabs' house of valuable collectibles. Cue Murphy's Law, involving a giant paint bubble:
SpongeBob: Barnacles! What could be worse than a giant paint bubble?! Patrick: Ooh! I know! (produces a bubble wand, dips in into the paint, and blows another giant paint bubble)Two giant paint bubbles! SpongeBob: NOOOOOOOOOO! (the bubbles collide and form one MASSIVE paint bubble) SpongeBob: Patrick, I don't think this bubble can get much bigger! Patrick: Nonsense! (produces a bike pump to hook up to the paint bubble, inflating it further)
Also, in "Can You Spare a Dime?":
SpongeBob: Squidward is not a freeloader and he would never take advantage of me. Narrator: Three weeks later... SpongeBob: He's just having a hard time getting his confidence back. Narrator: Many months later... SpongeBob: I'm sure he's close to a breakthrough. Narrator 2:So much later that the old narrator got tired of waiting and they had to hire a new one... SpongeBob: *grunts as he crawls to the living room* Gary: Meow meow meow. SpongeBob: I know he's still not looking for work! DON'T RUB IT IN!
They Plotted a Perfectly Good Waste: A lot of post-movie episodes don't seem to rely much on a plot as they used to. One notable example is the episode "The Splinter", where SpongeBob gets, well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. This particular episode had no plot whatsoever and instead of some fancy way to get it out, we are treated to 11 minutes of Nausea Fuel, and near the end, Mr. Krabs simply pulled it out in a very anti-climactic way.
Their past counterparts in "SB-129" are far worse. They repeatedly attempt to play catch with a jellyfish, barehanded; Squidward intervenes to teach them how to jellyfish mostly because their agonized screams are disrupting his clarinet-playing.
Not just Pat and SpongeBob, the entire cast, including random extras, tend to do incredibly stupid things.
Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: In "Born Again Krabs" Mr. Krabs trades Spongebob's soul for 62 cents. Just as he starts to feel bad about it, the Flying Dutchman comes back to return Spongebob after being annoyed by his incessant chatter about his hobbies.
The Flying Dutchman gave Spongebob and Patrick up as slave crewmen in "Shanghaied" because they were incredibly bad at it. In a subversion, rather than letting them go, he planned to eat them, but they escaped. Then the Dutchman catches them, but he offers them three wishes before they're eaten. After accidentally using up two of their wishes, they use their final wish to turn the Dutchman into a vegetarian. But then they appear in a blender, somehow transformed into fruit, with the Dutchman preparing to eat them.
In a third Flying Dutchman example, namely "Scaredy Pants", Spongebob is shaved down by Patrick to make him rounder for a sheet he uses as a Flying Dutchman costume to try to scare everyone in the Krusty Krab for Halloween. He fails miserably, but as the entire restaurant is laughing at him the real Dutchman arrives, angered by Spongebob's insulting costume and about to steal everyone's souls. He takes a moment before doing so to explain the concept of being scary to Spongebob, then removes the sheet... and flies away screaming when he sees the sponge had been shaved down to facial features, a brain, and a "spinal cord".
Tradesnark: In one episode, SpongeBob and Patrick play Frisbee Small Plastic Disc That You Throw/Toss.
Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V proclaims the IJLSA as "a subsidiary of Viacom," Nickelodeon's parent company.
Troubled Fetal Position: Played for laughs with Squidward in "Band Geeks", after another screw-up by his slapdash marching band.
SpongeBob does this for a whole episode in which he becomes afraid to go outside, so he decides to live inside his house for the rest of his life. Thankfully, he got over it.
One episode had Kevin the Sea Cucumber sits in a fetal position and cry for his mommy and blankie when attacked by a King Jellyfish. The other Jellyspotters join in shortly until Spongebob saves them all.
Two Shorts Format: There are occasional episodes containing a third short — namely, the pilot and five of the fifth season's episodes.
Two Timer Date: Averted; you see, SpongeBob had three appointments booked for the same time, not two.
Umpteenth Customer: A customer gets this for giving Mr. Krabs his millionth dollar earned. He gets no prize; he and the others just get thrown out so that Krabs can enjoy the dollar in peace. He does reward his workers, though... with a fishing trip.
Un-Cancelled: Originally, SpongeBob was scheduled to be cancelled, and WAS, after the movie's premiere date. Hillenburg and Nick called it quits, as they have had creative differences over the years on working for them. However, the movie was so successful and fans' outcry was so monumental, that Nickelodeon considered reviving the show, but talk/spoke to Stephen about producing new episodes. He declined, and refused the offer, so he gave the position to Derek Drymon, who didn't want to do it, so he gave it to Paul Tibbitt. And the series was uncancelled in 2005, airing its first new episode in May 2005. (Coincidentally, the same time of year and the same exact year and 6 days as/after the Family Guy revival premiered, which also got cancelled, but came back due to massive fan support)
Incidentally, creator Stephen Hillenburg remains an executive producer on the series so he hasn't completely abandoned the show.
Undies And Shoes: Spongebob goes to bed in his tighty whities, socks, and shoes.
Vague Age: SpongeBob lives on his own and holds down a job, yet is considered a "kid" by some. However, a few episodes give his DOB. Possibly justified when considering his mental age, or the long lifespan of actual sponges.
"Texas": when Sandy is chasing SpongeBob and Patrick. While carrying a lasso she fills the screen with her foot.
"Whelk Attack" where Mr. Krabs tries to give Krabby Patties to the whelks. He walks out the Krusty Krab with a plate full of Krabby Patties and walks towards the screen.
"Bummer Vacation" with SpongeBob accusing Mr. Krabs of replacing him.
"Squidward, the Unfriendly Ghost": When SpongeBob and Patrick about to clean Squidward's back room.
Patrick: "Oh, coming!"
Walk On The Wild Side Episode: In one episode, Squidward gets so fed up with Spongebob and Patrick's antics that he decides to move out into a gated community filled with other squids who share his interests. Inside, he finds that everyone else has a Easter Island head house, everyone else loves playing the clarinet, everyone else loves riding their paddlebikes, everyone else loves ballet dancing, and everyone else enjoys eating canned bread. He's thrilled at this, but soon gets bored of the same routine every day, to the point where he starts going out of control and just lets loose while playing around with a leaf blower. The other citizens filled a formal list of complaints, but Squidward tells them off by flying his leaf blower into the sky while screaming wildly.
What The Hell, SpongeBob?: In Karen 2.0, when Spongebob accidentally makes Plankton's computer wife Karen cry some more after Plankton dumps her, Mr. Krabs responds to this with this:
Mr. Krabs: (Angrily) Smooth, Spongebob. REAL smooth!
Squidward even calls Mr. Krabs out on selling Spongebob's soul for sixty two cents in Born Again Krabs. Even though he hated Spongebob with a burning passion of a thousand suns, even he was disturbed at what Krabs did.
In Stuck In The Ringer, the townspeople call SpongeBob out for yelling at Patrick. Even though it was Patrick who got him in that mess in the first place, at least he tried to help.
Who's on First?: "Good Ol' Whatshisname", in which Squidward tries to find out the name of a mystery customer.
Also, in "Shellback Shenanigans":
SpongeBob: When are we making this fresh batch of Krabby Patties, Mr. Krabs? Mr. Krabs: What? Plankton: Okay, now what'd he say? Karen: "What?" Plankton: I said, "What'd he say?" Karen: He said, "What?" Plankton: I have no idea, that's why I'm asking you what he said! Karen: I know that, and I'm saying he said, "What?" Plankton: I know that! Wait... oh, he said, "What?" Karen:' Yes!
Whos Watching The Store: Only three people operate the Krusty Krab, and all three are not always at work at the same time.
Whole Plot Reference: "Patrick Smartpants" is Flowers for Algernon. Patrick suddenly becomes smart after an accident in Jellyfish Fields. It turns out that after the top of his head was knocked off, Spongebob put a "brain coral" on Patrick instead of Patrick's real head.
X Must Not Win: While usually fine defending his own business, Mr Krabs is sometimes shown to have an unsettling grudge towards any minor success his rival Plankton gains, even so much as gaining one customer is enough for him to start on an obsessive vendetta in stealing Plankton's "business".
Yank the Dog's Chain: Some episodes tend to do this to both Squidward and Plankton. Used so often in the later seasons that it's almost the show's signature trope.
SpongeBob whenever he tries to get his driver's license.