Trivia / SpongeBob SquarePants

Trivia Tropes

  • Actor Allusion
  • Actor Existence Limbo: Since Ernest Borgnine's death in 2012, Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy haven't spoken a word and are reduced to cameos and costumes.
  • Adored by the Network: One of the two note  poster children for this trope, and by far the most notorious example. Still Nickelodeon's top show after 15 years note , and they've obviously decided to milk it for all its worth. Today, Nickelodeon's typical schedule (not counting the Nick Jr. or Nick @ Nite blocks) is comprised almost entirely of either SpongeBob or The Loud House. It's gotten so bad, the animation fandom (particularly Pan of Rebel Taxi) has even coined the term "The SpongeBob Principle": If a new Nick cartoon comes out and it isn't a smash hit, Nickelodeon will just ignore it, never give it reruns, never promote it, move the premier dates around and dump the last few episodes on their much less popular channel Nicktoons Network while they replace it with more SpongeBob reruns.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: Within its first 10 years, SpongeBob made over 8 BILLION DOLLARS in revenue, and is no doubt still making more. In fact, it's estimated that 60% of the station's annual revenue come from SpongeBob alone!
  • Casting Gag: Flats the Flounder is voiced by Thomas Wilson, who's known for playing The Bully Biff Tannon (who also has a perchance for the word "butt") in the Back to the Future films.
  • Creator Backlash: Creative director Vincent Waller claimed that he isn't too fond of "Dunces and Dragons". He doesn't hate the episode, but he felt it didn't benefit from its two part length and that its comedy would've been better suited to an 11 minute format.
  • Cross-Dressing Voices:
    • Patrick and Mermaid Man are voiced by Ikuko Tani (an old lady) in Japanese; Plankton, however, is voiced by Chie Matsuraa, a young woman who doesn't even try to match Plankton's English voice.
    • Zig-zagged with Mermaid Man in Japan; he has been voiced by Ikuko Tani (Patrick), but also by Rokuro Naya (Squidward) and Keijin Okuda (Mr. Krabs).
    • It was played straight, but later averted with Mr. Krabs' mother. She was originally voiced by writer Paul Tibbit, but she then became voiced by Serena Irwin.
  • The Danza:
    • In "Mermaid Man Begins", the real names of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are revealed to be Ernie and Tim. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are voiced by Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway, respectively.
    • Carl from "Selling Out" was voiced by Carl Greenblatt. Yes, the animator who once worked on the show and would best be known for Harvey Beaks, Chowder, and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
  • Defictionalization:
  • Descended Creator:
    • Potty The Parrot was voiced by series creator Stephen Hillenburg in the early episodes. Series producer Paul Tibbit soon took over. Per word of Vincent Waller, it's because Stephen simply doesn't want to voice Potty anymore.
    • It was played straight, but later averted with Mr. Krabs' mother. She was originally voiced by writer Paul Tibbit, but she then became voiced by Serena Irwin.
  • Development Gag: Mr. Lawrence originally auditioned for the role of Spongebob, using the same voice he'd eventually use for Plankton. That deep, heroic voice Spongebob occasionally dips into? That's Tom Kenny imitating Lawrence's original voice for his own amusement.
  • Edited for Syndication: Since the mid-2010's, reruns of Seasons 1-3 on Nickelodeon have their audio sped up slightly, to make room for more commercial time. This does not affect Nicktoons airings.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Tom Kenny actually was very sick when recording Spongie's sniffly, sneezy dialogue in "Suds."
  • Executive Meddling:
  • Fan Nickname: Those less than fond of the series have taken to referring to the show and its title character as "SpongeKnob".
  • Flip-Flop of God: Regarding the Krabby Patty Secret Formula. On the very first Spongebob DVD release, Tom Kenny said that the Formula is a real thing, and that revealing it was a fireable offense. But years later, current show director Vincent Waller said that the formula is "an idea, it isn't a thing"—in that it's strictly a plot device and that even the writers don't know what the formula and its details are.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: David Bowie as Lord Royal Highness in Atlantis SquarePantis. He's the only character that doesn't have his own musical number in that episode.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The uncut version of "Just One Bite" (which includes the infamous deleted scene of the burglar alarm). It aired uncut for a while, but it was censored after a few reruns in 2002/2003 due to complaints from Moral Guardians. It hasn't aired uncut on American television (be it Nickelodeon or Nicktoons) for almost 15 years. Don't push your luck trying to find it on VHS and DVD, as they have the censored version. The only way to see it uncut is if you live in Canada or if you own an old VideoNow release of the episode.
  • Missing Episode: Due to being holiday-themed, "Scaredy Pants," "Valentine's Day," and "Christmas Who?" only air a few times a year around their respective holidays. Consequently, the first two's sister episodes, "I Was a Teenage Gary" and "The Paper," are also rarely seen.
  • Non-Singing Voice:
    • Ever wonder why Mr. Krabs sounds so weird when he sings in "Welcome to the Chum Bucket"? Yes, that's Dee Bradley Baker singing, not Clancy Brown though he does his own singing in all other episodes.
    • Baker also subbed for Brown for the "Very first Christmas to me!" lines in "Christmas Who", since Clancy was unable to hit the high notes needed. Clancy did do his own singing for Krabs one other line in the song, though.
    • Though SpongeBob often sings in his normal voice, on special occasions he shows off a fantastic singing voice that sounds nothing like him, with him being voiced by a different guest singer every time.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Man Ray's first appearance in "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy III" was voiced by John Rhys-Davies. Man Ray's subsequent appearances have been voiced by Bob Joles.
    • The voices of the background fish change a lot.
    • In the SpongeBob video game Battle For Bikini Bottom, Mr. Krabs and Mermaid Man were voiced by Joe Whyte instead of Clancy Brown and Ernest Borgnine for unknown reasons.
    • Speaking of Mermaid Man, in Lights, Camera, Pants! Ernest Borgnine is again absent, being replaced by Joe Alaskey. Also in that game, Charles Nelson Reilly returned to voice the Dirty Bubble once again, having voiced him for his initial appearance in "Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy II" (Tom Kenny has since taken over the role).
    • Patrick's original German voice, Marco Kröger, was fired in 2013 after Kröger complained that he and his colleagues were getting underpaid, and he was replaced by Fritz Rott. Due to Author Existence Failure, Squidward's Chinese, German, Brazilian and Japanese voice actors had to be replaced as well.
    • Paul Tibbit was the original voice for Mrs. Krabs. Serena Irwin then took on the role.
    • Potty was voiced by Stephen Hillenburg before Paul Tibbit took over in season 4. As of "Feral Friends", Potty is now voiced by Mr. Lawrence, presumably because of Paul Tibbit resigning as showrunner to focus on the third movie.
  • Old Shame: Downplayed a little, but Casey Alexander has stated that (the guest-animated numbers aside) "Atlantis SquarePantis" was his least favorite episode out of all the ones he worked on, due to how overly complicated the story became with having to service SIX character arcs, plus musical numbers.
  • Production Posse: Many of the writers, artists and actors Stephen Hillenberg had become friends with through Rocko's Modern Life migrated over to this show with him.
  • Real-Life Relative: Karen may be married to Plankton in the show, but her voice actress, Jill Talley, is married to Tom Kenny. Unfortunately, their characters hardly ever interact with each other.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • "Reef Blower" was completely pantomime because of a faulty sound system.
    • Tom Kenny's acting in "Suds" wasn't just acting — according to an interview in Nick Magazine, he was actually very sick when he recorded the dialogue.
  • Recursive Adaptation: The Tie-In Novel For the Love of Bubbles was adapted into the episode "What Ever Happened to SpongeBob?" which was in turn adapted into the tie-in novels WhoBob WhatPants? and My Name is CheeseHead.
  • Recycled Script:
    • A few old episodes of the show seem to have recycled plots from other Nicktoons. "Toy Store of Doom", for example, has essentially the same plot as the Rugrats episode "Toy Palace" (they get locked in a closed toy store and are afraid the toys will attack them), while "Banned in Bikini Bottom" (Krabby Patties are outlawed and Mr. Krabs starts selling them at SpongeBob's house secretly) is similar to the CatDog episode "Just Say CatDog Sent You".
    • "Picture Day" has a recycled script from an episode of a Disney show: the Recess episode "One Stayed Clean". "Big Pink Loser" is also extremely similar to "Copycat Kid".
    • "Squid Defense" is very similar to the Hey Arnold! episode "Mugged".
    • "Face Freeze" is similar to season 1 episode "Hooky", wherein SpongeBob and Patrick are tempted to do something Mr. Krabs told them not to.
    • "The Legend of Boo-kini Bottom" has some similarities to the season one Halloween Episode "Scaredy Pants", mainly since the episode involves SpongeBob being horrified of the scary part of Halloween and ends with him scaring the Flying Dutchman.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Prior to becoming a film director, Tim Hill worked as a writer for SpongeBob up until 2006.
    • Phineas and Ferb co-creator Dan Povenmire was a writer and storyboard artist for SpongeBob in it's first three seasons.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: Due to issues with certain musicians leaving APM (the company SpongeBob gets its stock music cues from) over time, there are several music cues in the older episodes that can't be used in any newer episodes (i.e. Oyster Girls).
    • The DVD release of "The Complete 1st Season" in particular got hit pretty hard by this. Since Nickelodeon refused to pay royalties for some of the music tracks, some episodes had some tracks replaced ("Employee of the Month", "Karate Choppers", "Sandy's Rocket", "Culture Shock", and "Rock Bottom"). And, most infamously, "Help Wanted" was not included in the boxset due to Tiny Tim's "Living in the Sunlight" playing in the climax. All of these episodes were rereleased on several compilation DVD's with the original soundtracks and "Help Wanted" was eventually released as a special feature on "The Complete 3rd Season" DVD.
  • 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 and ironically because they don't need to air it on Nicktoons.)
  • Shrug of God: According to Vincent Waller, even the writers don't know what the Krabby Patty Secret Formula is and consider its details irrelevant to its purpose as a plot device. The only detail Stephen Hillenburg would give about it is that there is no animal protein in the formula.
    "The secret Krabby patty formula is an idea, it isn't a thing."
  • Spoiler: The Dish Network description for "Doing Time" is "Ms. Puff imagines going to jail for SpongeBob," which spoils the ending.
  • Talking to Himself:
    • Tom Kenny doing many additional voices can usually result in this. The episode "Gary Takes a Bath" is basically 11 minutes of Tom Kenny talking to himself.
    • In the Swedish dub, there is Squidward with Squilliam and SpongeBob with his cousin Stanley.
  • Trope Namer:
  • Un-Cancelled: SpongeBob SquarePants initially ended production in February of 2002 on request of Stephen Hillenburg and Derek Drymon, who wanted to focus working on The Movie. Nickelodeon tried so hard to convince Stephen to resume production with the series but Stephen and Derek denied the option. Around 2003-2004, there were negotiations to revive the series and Paul Tibbitt agreed to step in as showrunner for the new seasons. The series went back into production in 2004 and with the completed movie finished to screen into theatres (designated to be the series finale of the original run), the show's new episodes began airing in 2005.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The pre-movie episodes, especially the first season which makes references to the pre-cell phone era. Many early episodes also reference the Krusty Krab being closed on Sundays at a time where many American businesses were also doing the same thing.
  • Urban Legend of Zelda:
    • There is a rumor that in "I Was A Teenage Gary", that there was a scene that depicted Squidward transforming into a snail that was only shown on the first airing. Vincent Waller eventually debunked the rumor on his Twitter, pointing out that the scene was never even storyboarded.
    • Rumors exist that the original airing of "Hooky" featured a dead fish being strung up by his shoes.
    • A popular image macro floating around shows an alleged Getting Crap Past the Radar moment in "As Seen on TV" where SpongeBob is buried with his nose sticking out from the concrete with Mr. Krabs replying, "Please tell me that is your nose," while pointing at SpongeBob's nose. Of course, the dialogue is fabricated.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Apparently Spike TV asked if the creator would be willing to make a Darker and Edgier SpongeBob show on their network, where Patrick and SpongeBob would be a gay couple, ala Ren and Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon. He declined.
    • SpongeBob's spot in the Nicktoons roster was originally meant for another cartoon, one that never happened due to the creator leaving Nickelodeon over office politics. That cartoon? Sniz and Fondue of KaBlam!.
    • Early production sketches indicate the cast was originally human.
    • SpongeBob was originally designed to resemble an actual sea sponge, but Stephen Hillenberg couldn't do an appealing caricature of one. He went with a synthetic sink sponge instead to give the character a "squeaky clean nerd" appearance, as well as to imply that he's "a square peg trying to fit into a round hole."
    • The creator also wanted to call him Sponge Boy until he learned the name was trademarked. This appears in a Mythology Gag where Mr. Krabs says "Sponge boy, me Bob!"
    • The name of the Krabby Patty was originally going to be the Barnacle Burger.
    • "Reef Blower" was originally intended to have dialogue, but became a dialogue-free episode due to the sound equipment being damaged.
    • Mr. Lawrence auditioned for the role of SpongeBob, using the same voice he'd later use for Plankton.
    • The show was going to have a completely different intro with a more action-styled music piece, still images, and no lyrics. The intro was later changed to fit the show's style.
    • Storyboards for the controversial episode "Someone's in the Kitchen with Sandy" actually had Sandy getting naked as opposed to just her bra and panties.
    • The infamous TV Movie "Atlantis Squarepantis" was originally intended to be an 11-minute SpongeBob and Patrick episode, until Nickelodeon asked the team to turn it a TV Movie about going to Atlantis, which would explain the rushed quality of the "film".
    • The original draft of "Something Smells" had SpongeBob gaining his rancid breath from onion-flavored ice cream, but the writers decided that having it be self-inflicted was funnier.
    • Barnacle Boy was originally a character called "Barnacle Bill", a salty old sailor who's body is a piece of log with his head sticking out, similar to Seamus from Family Guy. While he never appears in the show, he's the titular character two-part comic "The Ballad of Barnacle Bill" in the SpongeBob comic.
  • Word of God:
    • Stephen Hillenburg has made it perfectly clear that SpongeBob does not feel sexual attraction. He also adds that SpongeBob has a chaste crush on Sandy.
    • In terms of the series itself Word of God also states that in spite of the series continuing to this day, the original team members and the Hillenburg himself say that the first theatrical movie is the end of SpongeBob's story.
    • According to Vincent Waller, Stephen does not want the subject of who Pearl's mother was to be brought up on the show.
    • Vincent Waller's stance on the two different King Neptunes (the one in the series and the one in the first movie) is that they serve the same figurehead and are basically interchangeable with each other, so the staff doesn't bother distinguishing between the two.
    • Vincent Waller has also stated that the video game tie-ins (i.e. Battle for Bikini Bottom) are non-canon to the cartoons.
  • Writer Revolt: According to Mr. Lawrence, the show was at least partially conceived out of Stephen Hillenberg's frustration over having several gags and stories he'd come up with during his tenure on Rocko's Modern Life get vetoed.
  • Write What You Know: In addition to his history as a marine biologist influencing the show's universe, Stephen Hillenburg based the Krusty Krab on an actual nautical-themed burger joint he worked at as a teenager, with his "old sea dog" boss serving as the inspiration of Mr. Krabs. The call-and-response theme song was based on one of the restaurant's gimmicks where the wait staff dressed up as sailors and lead the children in sea shanties, usually beginning with "Are you ready kids!" to which the children were expected to respond "Aye aye, captain!"

Other Trivia


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