These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Does he just want to be friends with Squidward/sees him as a brother-figure, or does he have a legitimate crush on him?
Is SpongeBob naÔve in his torment to Squidward or is he pretending to be naÔve so that he can get away with tormenting Squidward?
When faced with a life-or-death situation, is he really just annoying, or does he act deliberately annoying so his captors will release him? "The Tattletale Strangler," "Born Again Krabs," and "Welcome to the Chum Bucket" imply that this is one of Spongebob's clever tactics to escape from danger.
Does he completely hate Spongebob, or does he care about him deep down?
Mr. Krabs can be a decent boss who cares slightly about SpongeBob, or otherwise a greedy Jerkass. Does he have a Freudian Excuse for his actions?
It is highly possible that Patrick is suffering from low self-esteem and lack of confidence, if episodes "Big Pink Loser", "No Hat For Pat" and "Sing a Song of Patrick" are anything to go by. This might explain some of Patrick's behaviour.
Some people suspect that Patrick is a sociopath who knowingly does dumb, stupid and often assholish things just because he knows his low intelligence (Or facade of it) will keep him from punishment.
There's a throwaway line in "The Card" that supports this:
Patrick: Spongebob, you can't always expect my usual brand of stupidity. I like to mix it up; keep you on your toes.
The townspeople of Bikini Bottom: Friendly and good-natured citizens, with occasional jerk moments, but nice people overall or group of callous and unpleasant individuals who bully each other and have sadistic tendencies and possibly hate Sandy because she is a land animal?
The policemen of Bikini Bottom: Honest and well-intentioned cops, but sometimes a bit gullible and with few shades of Good Is Not Nice or useless and corrupt assholes who do not help others or respond to any crimes and instead pick on innocent people and punish them for minor things?
Animation Age Ghetto: Mostly averted. In fact, this is one of the few, if not the only, still-running children's cartoons you will hear people openly obsess about without being mocked. The show itself also manages to include very questionable content (see the Nausea Fuel page for details).
"Plankton's Regular", where Plankton gets one single costumer, but Mr. Krabs is so greedy that he doesn't want to let Plankton have one single customer and uses unethical methods to get the same customer and the same customer hated Plankton's food in the first place and Mr. Krabs laughed at Plankton's misery, is considered one of the worst episodes of the series. But after that episode debuted episodes "Chum Bucket Supreme" and "Chum Caverns", where Plankton gets a lot of costumers and Mr. Krabs is not evil as he was in "Plankton's Regular". Although episodes end with Plankton losing and he lost because of his own mistakes (In "Chum Bucket Supreme" he called his customers fools) While Plankton still loses, the fact remains that he got a lot of customers in those episodes and that Krabs competed ethically against Plankton, not sabotaging his chance of success like in "Plankton's Regular".
And speaking of Spongebob being disgusted by Mr. Krabs' actions, in "Plankton's Regular" Spongebob fully supported Mr. Krabs and was just as bad as him, but after that episode came episode "The Krabby Kronicle", where Spongebob was disgusted at Mr. Krabs, due to the latter forcing him to write lies about his friends and working him to death on the newspaper under a threat that he will lose his job, but Spongebob wrote and article about Mr. Krabs' torture and in later episodes where Mr. Krabs is the villain, Spongebob is disgusted at his actions and is not as big a doormat as he was in previous episodes, or not being a doormat at all. In "No Hat For Pat" he was furious at Mr. Krabs for exploiting Patrick and making him injure himself for profit, in "Greasy Buffons" he objected to Mr. Krabs selling greasy food and became absolutely furious when Patrick was poisoned, in "The Cent Of Money" he was absolutely furious at Mr. Krabs for exploiting Gary just to get money, and in "One Coarse Meal" he even attempts helps Plankton get revenge on Mr. Krabs when Krabs exploits Plankton's fear of whales to torment Plankton to the point of suicide although this is negated at the end when he betrays Plankton anyway.
"The Cent Of Money" and "Treats!" are also possible examples of Author's Saving Throw since Spongebob was extremely caring of Gary (unlike in "A Pal For Gary"). The former has SpongeBob being enraged at Mr. Krabs for abusing Gary, while the latter shows SpongeBob literally circling the globe looking for Gary's favourite pet food.
Many fans see "Plankton's Pet" as a big Throw the Dog a Bone moment for Plankton after "Plankton's Regular" and "One Coarse Meal".
Sandy Cheeks, to a limited extent. In Seasons 1-3 she was the squirrel version of Chuck Norris, and did things such as lift buildings and throw them. During the Seasonal Rot, they started focusing more on her Gadgeteer Genius side. She's not all that weaker a character, but she's nothing spectacular.
The live-action "old folk from a soda commercial" gag seen in "Sun Bleached". Done in a similar style to a Family GuyCutaway Gag.
The werewolf scene from "The Great Patty Caper". Came out of nowhere? Check! Added nothing to the plot? Check! Was never mentioned again? Check!
In-universe (or meta) example from "I Had an Accident" that involves a gorilla with no real build up to the gorilla, and the fact the gorilla and some zebra were up to something made it more of a BLAM. The meta example comes in at the end where the family is sitting there dumbfounded and they turn off the TV, though at least it was Lampshaded.
The perfume department scene in "Shanghaied".
During a scene in "The Chaperone" in which the prom is dancing (and injuring themselves) trying to do "The Sponge", one of the fish gets chased by a giant apple. The apple was never shown before or after the scene in question, and was most likely included for Rule of Funny.
The episode of "All That Glitters". Once SpongeBob becomes naked to pay for a high-class spatula, he stays naked for the rest of the episode it's never acknowledged by him or anyone else, not even at the end when he reunites with his old spatula.
Broken Aesop: "Walking Small" has the apparent moral that "you have to choose between being assertive and being nice, because there is no in-between."
"Tea at the Treedome" asserts that if you need something, you should ask for it. Fair enough, except that Spongebob did ask for some water, only to have Sandy ignore his request completely.
Broken Base: Over whether post-movie episodes are even worth watching.
Canon Sue: Jim from the episode "The Original Fry Cook." He's extremely rich, everyone loves him (including Squidward), and he's better at being a fry cook than Spongebob (who, if one remembers, was so good that he almost became a god).
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: In 'Little Yellow Book', none of the characters are even remotely likable from Squidward being a massive Jerkass to Spongebob by reading his diary and bragging it towards everyone, the citizens of Bikini bottom giving Squidward a Disproportionate Retribution for reading it and being massive hypocrites throughout the episode and Spongebob being an idiot for leaving his own diary unguarded.
"Demolition Doofus" has Ms. Puff trying to murder Spongebob for rupturing her inflation sac in an accident. While she is portrayed as too Ax-Crazy to sympathize with, Spongebob makes light of crippling her by calling her "Ms. Pop", doesn't understand why she flew into a rage from this, and thinks that she looks better deflated.
Spongebob himself in the episode Stuck in the Wringer, where he is chewed out by the townspeople for getting rightfully angry that Patrick glued him into a wringer and showed little sympathy towards Spongebob's plight.
Plankton used to be an ordinary and fairly competent villain, but now that Mr. Krabs has been Flanderized into a Jerkass and Plankton has suffered Villain Decay, one can't help but side with Plankton.
A good example is in "Chum Fricasse", sure he was a bit quick to rub his competitive edge in Krabs' face, but it's hardly enough to make him a villian. Taking Krabs' employee can be said to be mean, but Squidward did leave out of his own free will. The only bad thing that can be said is that he maybe should have resisted more or outright refused when Squidward told him to undercook the chum, but it was still, ultimately Squidward's idea in the first place.
The mob in "Bubble Buddy".
For context, it was a Real After All plot twist. But the Fridge Horror of this means that Bubble Buddy really did let a man drown, and hold up the bathroom for a couple of hours. Granted, screwing over Mr. Krabs might not be too damning, but the crowd still had plenty of reason to be mad.
Plankton. While he has gotten more sympathetic post-movie, a lot fans knowingly dismiss much of his pre-movie antics, either downplaying them or making them Fanon Discontinuity. It doesn't help that they did a poor job of making him seem villianous, even back then. What with his debut episode canonically establishing him as being only 1% evil, and the many episodes that showed the agony he puts up with from being a plankton.
Squidward does have some redeeming qualities... at times, but he mentally and sometimes physically abuses Spongebob because it amuses him. His absolute worst behaviour was "Can You Spare A Dime" where he takes advantage of generosity and gets no comeuppance for it. However, people who (understandably) feel sorry for him due to his endless abuse and Butt Monkey status tend to ignore his Jerkass traits and think he's just an innocent martyr.
Mr. Krabs. While most fans make no excuses for his heinous acts of financial cruelty and unscrupulous pursuit of the almighty dollar at all costs, there does exist a very vocal minority that tries to defend him by pointing out that this was more mild mannered in the earlier seasons. It is indeed true that he became worse as the seasons progress, but these people ignore the fact that even early on he was a greedy scrub who would trade your well being for a nickel.
Everything that happened to Gary in "The Great Snail Race."
"The Bully" - from Spongebob getting threatened by a physically imposing student, to Mrs Puff absolutely not caring, to Flats abusing his father, to Puff threatening to beat up Spongebob at the end!
In-universe examples: Squidward's mean-spirited April Fool's Day prank, and Squidward hurting Spongebob's feelings in the original Christmas special.
In real life, the coming of every new April Fool's Day opens up old wound for fans, who become furious at Squidward all over again for hurting Spongebob's feelings. And this episode aired over ten years ago!
"Pet Sitter Pat" is just as bad, portraying Patrick's abuse of Gary as funny despite the fact that Gary is in obvious pain. Special mention goes to when Patrick chases Gary with a flamethrower and is about to dry him saying "Unfortunately, I couldn't get any salt", and the ending where everything magically goes back to normal and Patrick got off scot free.
"Summer Job" got a lot of hate for playing employee blackmail/abuse/harassment (pretty serious things in real life) for laughs.
"Plankton's Regular" also falls under this for some fans. It plays Krabs' greed up to sadistic levels because he (and Spongebob) is so greedy and selfish that he can't let Plankton have one single customer. Sure, it turns out in the end the customer never liked his food in the first place, but that only makes the episode worse.
Most of the suffering Mrs. Puff gets put through, like losing her "puff" and getting injured, especially when it's Played for Laughs. Regarding that, Spongebob's joke of changing Mrs. Puff's name from "Puff" to "Pop" after learning she could never to "puff" again can rub the wrong way.
In that same episode, Mrs. Puff literally plots to murder SpongeBob after this painfully insulting remark. First attempting to get him killed by demolition derby drivers and then trying to run over the sea sponge herself.
Squidward's Driven to Suicide moments in the infamous "Are You Happy Now?" episode. To add insult to injury, the ending shows Squidward going insane as he assaults numerous SpongeBob sculptures, while SpongeBob himself just says "he's so handsome".
Patrick's atrociously selfish behaviour in "Yours, Mine and Mine." It seriously makes a 3 year old kid look generous by comparison.
Squidward's extreme Flanderization in "Little Yellow Book", where he read SpongeBob's diary to embarrass him. He does get consequences, but they also count as this due to being ridiculously over-the-top (getting his house repossessed for example). And in the end, when he's arrested, he reads SpongeBob's PERSONAL diary, and even says the pain he is experiencing is totally worth it for making SpongeBob suffer. Also the townspeople, for acting like hypocrites (they laughed along with Squidward when he was reading the diary, but when SpongeBob ran out of the Krusty Krab crying, they suddenly turned against him).
The emotional and psychical abuse SpongeBob is put through in "Stuck in the Wringer", mostly due to Patrick gluing him to the wringer with his "Forever Glue". It's one of the very few post-movie episodes where fans actually feel sorry for him. Also, the townspeople acting like complete hypocrites and Family-Unfriendly Aesop at the end.
Sandy's harsh treatment about her nudity in "Someone's in the Kitchen with Sandy"
Mr. Krabs firing SpongeBob just to save a nickel in "SpongeBob, You're Fired!"
As well as Patrick referencing unemployment as the best gig he knows. This did not go well with the Nutrition Assistance Program.
In "To Love a Patty", SpongeBob kills a bunch of scallops trying to eat the Krabby Patty he falls in love with. This includes smashing them into pieces and RIPPING ONE IN HALF. This is pretty disturbing on its own, but couple in the fact that they spent an episode raising a baby scallop and it's just doubled.
Every single time that Mr Krabs screws SpongeBob, his best and most loyal employee, out of money. The fact that many of the instances reflect things that sometimes happen to people in real life, with devastating effects on people's actual home lives, makes one wonder why anyone would think this was funny.
An utterly infamous episode is "Cephalopod Lodge", where Squidward gets kicked out of the titular lodge because Spongebob and Patrick followed him there. It ends with Squidward being kicked out again and having his tongue stung by a jellyfish.
Another infamous episode is "Smooth Jazz at Bikini Bottom", where Squidward wants to go to a Kelby G. concert. To sum it up, Patrick eats his Squidward's original ticket and his backstage pass (as well as Spongebob's backstage pass), forcing him to sneak backstage. SpongeBob is hired as a backup musician while Squidward gets dragged away for trying to play his clarinet on-stage.
Yet another infamous episode is "Boating Buddies", where Squidward is forced to attend the same boating school as SpongeBob. The latter is creepily attracted to Squidward...
Dombummel, a production music track that's been used once in nearly every season. You might recognize it from "Sleepy Time", "Shanghaied", "Mid-Life Crustacean", "Skill Crane"'s title card, "Roller Cowards", or "The Cent of Money".
A lot of the BGM can be considered this. Since the music plays multiple times throughout the series, you can easily associate the music with the places or characters they're associated with if you just listen to them.
One episode, SpongeBob shouts 'Holy Oil Spill!' as Mermaid Man's rivals appear.
In an earlier episode where Spongebob and Patrick steal a balloon, it pops and they panic. Patrick says this little gem right here:
Patrick: "We're not talking about some dumb mail fraud scheme or a hijacking! WE STOLE A BALLOON!" (A few months after the episode aired, 9/11, the anthrax letters and hijacking of Flight 793 occurred. Coincidence or foreshadowing?)
Sandy Cheeks has become one after a hurricane bearing her name tore through New Jersey.
In "SpongeBob vs. The Big One", The Flying Dutchmen gets sent Davy Jones' Locker. It then shows him sitting in a locker full of Gym socks with the musician Davy Jones(Of Monkees fame) standing next to him, taunting him. Considering who Davy Jones is in both maritime mythology and Pirates of the Caribbean, the Visual Pun becomes much darker after Davy Jones' death in 2012.
The "Remembering SpongeBob" montage from "The Sponge Who Could Fly" is heartbreaking if you think about it as remembering pre-Seasonal Rot SpongeBob.
In "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost", when Squidward is deciding where he wants his "throne" to be laid down, he complains that some spots are "too hot", "too wet", and "Toulouse-Lautrec", and then cuts to a painting of his re-done with fish.
"Shell of a Man" has a character by the name of Iron Eye. It turns out his "iron eye" was really made of formica. Quite an obscure thing to slip into a kid's show.
A meta example, but Spongebob crying in "Pizza Delivery" after getting yelled at by the mean customer may hit a nerve with viewers who have worked in customer service and dealt with similar customers. Situations like the one Spongebob dealt with are, sadly, very common in real life.
In the early episode "Patty Hype", Mr. Krabs panics when he mistakes SpongeBob's green "Pretty Patty" for a spoiled burger and immediately torches it, as a responsible restaurant owner might. In later episodes like "Born Again Krabs" and "The Krusty Sponge", Mr. Krabs is more than willing to sell tainted patties for a profit.
Given how extreme bullying has become recently the early episode of "The Bully" can be more unsettling than funny.
The scenes where Mrs. Puff refuses to help Spongebob and when Spongebob is mistakenly punished are especially cringeworthy.
Try watching "Best Frenemies" or "Friend or Foe" after "One Coarse Meal".
In recent years, Plankton's Catch Phrase ("I went to college!") has been adopted by many Millennials, who grew up watching this show, as a cynical bit of Gallows Humor referencing the declining worth of Bachelor's Degrees in The New Tens job market.
During the Truth or Square Special, Patchy was shown escorting Robin Williams away somehwere. To which Williams remark, "...this is where careers go to die." Sadly he took his own life five years after the special...
The loud buzzing sound that came with the live-action deerfly close-ups in the episode "Wormy".
In "SB-129", Squidward travels through time and ends up in a blank white void. He remarks to himself that he can finally be alone... which is when the word manifests itself as a colorful caption. Then a series of disembodied voices start saying the word "alone", accompanied by more colorful representations of the word, until Squidward finally snaps and tries to get out. Just those calm, echoing voices that repeat the word "alone".
This was the show that put Tom Kenny on the map as a, more-or-less, seriously regarded and acclaimed voice actor. Not only is his vocal range very impressive (high-pitched and giggly one minute, low and suave the next, impeccable French accent,) but unlike a lot of voice actors, Tom Kenny can actually cry very convincingly. Any scene that involves Spongebob crying is heartbreaking because of Tom Kenny's poignant voice acting. Kudos to him!
A little credit should be given to Mr Lawrence, too! The voice actor of Plankton was actually a writer and storyboard artist on the show before landing the role of Plankton- and what an impressive voice it is!
Like Tom Kenny, Roger Bumpass displays superb emotional range when he lends his voice to the character Squiward. His voice acting in episodes like "Dying for Pie" really pack an emotional punch.
In "Squidtastic Voyage", Patrick thinks that the world growing is more likely than the sub he and Spongebob are in shrinking. Well, in an episode of Phineas and Ferb, the Reset Button of Baljeet's watermelon (and Candace) being 50 feet tall is pressed via a gas that makes everything grow 50 times their normal size affecting the universe.
In "Sandy's Rocket", when SpongeBob tries to convince Sandy that there are aliens on the moon, his "evidence" of aliens' existence consists of cowlicks, ninety-nine cent stores, and Atlantis. Four seasons later, in "Atlantis SquarePantis", he and Sandy, and a few others, would later visit Atlantis, and the people there are an alien race that traveled to Earth to protect a bubble.
In "Can You Spare A Dime?", Squidward justifies quitting his job at the Krusty Krab by stating that he can be anything he wants, like "a football player, or a king, or a spaceman". Spongebob answers by combining all three suggestions into "a football-playing king in space", which would later come to be a pretty accurate description of one Shun Daimonji.
In "As Seen on TV," Mr. Krabs questions the second Krusty Krab that Squidward is using in the commercial.
In "Wet Painters", SpongeBob and Patrick are misled by Squidward to believe that hurting themselves will attract customers. In "No Hat for Pat", Patrick hurting himself actually turns out to be what attracts customers.
The villain in the episode "Frankendoodle" is named Doodlebob, not Frankendoodle (he was also called "Doodleboy" and simply "The evil doodle").
The neighborhood Squidward moves to in "Squidville" is never referred to by that name. It's called "Tentacle Acres."
Idiot Plot: "The Nasty Patty" It is even lampshaded at the end of the episode.
Narrator: Well, that's our story. Yes, they are all idiots aren't they?
Other notable examples include "Stuck in The Wringer" (Spongebob uses a wringer instead of a towel, then gets glued in by Patrick in an incomprehensible display of stupidity) or "To SquarePants or Not to SquarePants" (Spongebob is compelled to start a new life because Patrick doesn't recognize Spongebob while he's wearing round pants). It's safe to say that most plots pushed forward by Patrick will end up like this.
Squidward may be a cranky next door neighbor to Spongebob and Patrick, but it's hard not to feel sorry for him when he is bothered rather unnecessarily, especially when his misery isn't bought upon himself.
Plankton can also count as this, because his evil plans came off as ineffectual, and sometimes was unnecessarily harassed by Mr. Krabs, his rival.
Mrs. Puff. Her husband was killed and turned into a lamp by fishermen, she was forced to skip town to Bikini Bottom at some point, her run-ins with Spongebob repeatedly lead to her being put in jail, getting fired or put in the hospital because of his stupidity... she might have gone off the deep end but its not hard to see why.
Magnificent Bastard: Plankton has shades of this in earlier episodes, when his plans come pretty close to working. Brilliantly shown in F.U.N., where he nearly manages to fool Mr. Krabs.
Krabs: "Maybe the lad is right... Maybe Plankton has turned strait."
Krabs: "Or maybe scallops are flying out of me pants!"
Magnum Opus: If the internet is anything to go by, the first three seasons were the pinnacle of the show. Of these episodes, "Band Geeks" is widely considered to be the best episode of these seasons, if not the series.
Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: Sandy Cheeks (a Texan squirrel) is particularly popular with people from Texas and southerners in general. It helps that she's a genius, and isn't portrayed negatively in spite of being a caricature of southern culture.
Moe: Spongebob frequently thanks to his big, sparkly blue eyes, long girly eyelashes, and adorable, fun-loving personality.
Patrick lapses into this sometimes, though not to the extent of Sponge.
Sponge and Pat as babies.
ANY of the cast as babies from the episode "Goo Goo Gas." That episode was made to be as cute as possible.
Mr. Krabs is always a miserable cheapskate, but throughout the series he became much worse and has done many cruel actions. He crosses the MEH in "One Coarse Meal" when he started exploiting Plankton's fear of whales by dressing as his daughter, Pearl, and threatening to eat him. He harassed Plankton so much, he was suicidal afterwards and after he found out that Plankton was ready to commit suicide, he simply laughed at Plankton's misery.
Granny crosses the line in the episode "Have You Seen This Snail?", when Gary discovers that she has killed other snails (most likely they died from sheer overeating and then Granny simply ate them herself, though it's not made clear), and then she tries to do the same with Gary. In fact, unlike the examples of Mr. Krabs, her Moral Event Horizon is not played for laughs and in the same episode, the things got very serious.
Plankton brainwashing and enslaving Bikini Bottom in The Movie. In addition, he was willing to want to killSpongeBob, and Patrick in some scenes.
Mrs. Puff entering Spongebob in a demolition derby in hopes that he will die, and then later actively trying to kill him in "Demolition Doofus".
The members of the Cephalopod Lodge kicking Squidward out of the lodge, simply because Spongebob and Patrick were following him. In a manner of speaking, SpongeBob was right in saying that it was the lodge leader's fault for kicking Squidward out.
In "The Krabby Kronicle," there's the scene near the end where Mr. Krabs is exposed for making fake stories for his newspaper. Considering how Krabs was acting throughout most of the episode, this scene should provide some satisfaction...except it's easy to get distracted by one female fish whose voice actress is delivering her lines in an extremely over-the-top manner.
Female Fish: "HOW CAN YOU DO THAT TO SUCH AN INNOCENT CHILD?! IT IS SICK AND INHUMANE!!!"
For the show itself, the toenail scene from House Fancy. Whenever people are complaining about the show's declining quality, that scene is almost always brought up as the straw that broke the camel's back.
Probably one of the only shows to feature this for a location; Rock Bottom has only been visited in one episode in the first season (of nine), but a level based on it appears in almost every video game based on the series and has a roller coaster themed around it in the Mall of America.
The Jerkass fish who falsely insisted that he had ordered a drink with his pizza in the Pizza Delivery episode is very remembered for making Spongebob cry and causing Squidward to shove the thing in his face. One of the most unpleasant people in the series, only one major appearance.
With Ascended Memes ranging from Spengbab in "Face Freeze", to borderline Dude, Not Funny! by Ascending the creepypasta, "Squidward's Suicide" in "Are You Happy Now?", it's becoming increasingly obvious in the new seasons that the writers want to appeal more to its adult base and seems to forget most of the time that they're supposed to be writing a children's show.
In the irony of this, the show became more childish than the pre-movie ones, relies on disgusting, crude jokes instead of ridiculous jokes that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults with some surreal stuff.
Periphery Demographic: College students, even more so in recent years due to the teens/adults who grew up watching the show as kids. This led to SpongeBob and friends becoming prime memetic material.
Spongebob gets this sometimes. Although he has been flanderized into an annoying, obnoxious man-child, he can still be a nice guy, depending on the episode, yet some fans demonize him even when he doesnít cause trouble.
Mrs. Puff is this and the Draco in Leather Pants. Fans hate her, ignoring the fact that Spongebob has landed her in the hospital and she has no reason to like or respect him, while other fans actually wanted her to succeed in killing Spongebob.
Squidward gets this and the Draco in Leather Pants treatment (even though he isnít a villain without any redeeming qualities). Some fans hate Squidward because of the way he treats Spongebob and Patrick, ignoring the fact that Spongebob and Patrick annoy him to no end and wonít let him have any breathing space, when all Squidward wants to do is relax. Plus, some of them think that he deserves his Butt Monkey status simply because he doesn't like Spongebob and Patrick. Other fans treat him like a saint because he is a Butt Monkey and gets endless abuse, forgetting the fact that he acts like a jerk sometimes and does indeed deserve at least some of the abuse that is handed to him, depending on the episode.
Plankton is also subjected to this ANDDraco in Leather Pants. While he has done some genuinely bad things, there are those who make it like he's always acting so terrible and ignore the episodes where he's hardly villainous, if at all. Sure, he does bad things some times, but it's okay to notice when he's doing things like, say, saving Karen's life, competing more legitimately with Krabs (albiet, often gloating over small victories), showing that he has standards, or treating Squidward like an actual, valued employee. He's not wholly on the side of good or anything, but far from the monster his detractors make him out to be.
Rooting for the Empire: More fans would sympathize with Plankton because of Mr. Krabs' constant bullying towards his failures, and actively trying to make Plankton as miserable as possible ("Plankton's Regular").
To a more varied scenario, fans would root for Squidward ever since he's become more prone to Kafka Komedy; with SpongeBob and Patrick making his life a living hell.
Mr. Krabs, in spades. Many fans just want to see him suffer a truly horrible fate, like he almost did in the movie. Recent episodes have seen his rivalry with Plankton devolve into making his life hell just for fun, feeding poison or rotten food to his customers intentionally for the sake of an extra dollar, or extorting and abusing his employees. The fact that he gets away with these at least 80% of the time doesn't help.
Patchy gets extra points for being a Scrappy since the early days.
Mrs. Puff to some, especially since "Demolition Doofus".
Patrick full stop, and this was even in the early day when most fans found the show good. While it was at least mild and tolerable he was a pretty bad friend in certain episodes (Hooky, I'm With Stupid and Life of Crime to name a few) it got tons worse in recent season. The episode, The Card, probably being the most infuriating to most fans as Patrick flat out admits his stupidity is on purpose.
Seasonal Rot: Fans consider much of the show's quality, humor, jokes and comedic-timing to have degraded considerably, turning into mean-spirited attempts to ape Ren and Stimpy. Season five is considered the peak of the Dork Age, especially with the Three Shorts formula which didn't pan out and was gone by the next season. But a lot of fans thought it actually declined as early as its 2005 revival (Season 4-onwards). For some fans, the show's seasonal rot began to kick in either near the end of season 3, or start of season 4.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Spandy (Spongebob and Sandy) fans and all of the Spongebob slash-fans seem to constantly be at each other's throats whenever people start to discuss the pairings that they like and don't like (or at least the very militant ones are). The slash fans tend to ignore that Word of God said at one point that Spongebob had a chaste crush on Sandy, the Spandy fans often ignore all of the Ho Yay, and everybody seems to ignore the fact that Word of God has also stated that Spongebob's Asexual. It's gotten so bad that usually the Spandy fans are generally assumed to be idiotic and either homophobic or anti-gay, and that the slash fans are similarly assumed to be heterophobic porn-addicts who act like they're better than the others.
Snark Bait: The post-movie episodes are prime targets.
Season 7. Kind of averages out. Some episodes, like "Mystery With a Twist-ery" and "Spongebob's Last Stand" are the best received episodes since at least Season 4. Some episodes, such as "Greasy Buffoons", "One Coarse Meal", and "A Pal for Gary" are considered the worst episodes of the series, even worse thanSeason 5 or 6.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Many fans of the earlier seasons claim that seasons 4 and onwards are downright awful because the mood of the show changed considerably due to changes in the staff.
They Just Didn't Care: In the early series when Squidward was the butt of jokes, it was because of how much he was a Jerkass to people like Spongebob and others. However, in most of the modern episodes, they think that how Squidward was in early episode carries on into the new episodes so they hardly put any effort in making Squidward a jerkass when he's the butt of jokes and have characters hate him for just being Squidward.
Bubble Bass could've been a good Arch-Enemy to SpongeBob, but he only appeared in the series three times, the latest one being a cameo in the episode where Plankton grows a second eye using Spongebob's DNA. "Pickles" is the only episode in which he has dialogue.
Kevin. He could have been an interesting Evil Counterpart to Spongebob, but he only appeared once.
Lord Royal Highness in Atlantis Squarepantis. A lot of people point out that the character voiced by David Bowie of all people is the one character to never get a song in a Musical Episode.
"Truth or Square" was nothing but this. You get to see Sandy and Spongebob married (sorry, you just get a play), Plankton has the perfect chance to steal the Krabby Patty formula (he shows up for less then five minutes and doesn't even have a plan) and learn the secret of the Krabby Patty formula (they cut it off). Everything that is not a wasted plot line is either an answer you wouldn't care about or a waste of time (and talent, given that most of the celebrities who made cameos did nothing).
In Spongebob vs. the Big One, they said in the episode and in the trailers that "one of you will not return." They all ended up returning safely. However, Jack Kahuna Laguna never said that someone would die nor did he say that nobody would make it back to the main land. Since he technically made it back to the main land with them, he's actually the one that "will not return" to his home, the island.
In Whatever Happened To Spongebob, had a decent plot of Spongebob running away after the people got angry and called him "Idiot Boy". Plus, it had a decent Easy Amnesia plot device in Spongebob but it was rushed and half-assed throughout the whole thing.
"Atlantis Squarepantis", according to some. It doesn't help that you have a Musical Episode where the character played by David Bowie doesn't even get to sing.
"Gramma's Secret Recipe" could have been Plankton sneaking into the Krusty Krab disguised as an old woman to steal the formula (he even has an Imagine Spot about it). But he makes the pointless decision of telling SpongeBob he's his great grammy-ma and wounds up spending time with him for the majority of the episode.
"Fools in April" and "Christmas Who" are this when you realize that both involve Squidward being a jerk to Spongebob and making up for it only for the apology to be diminished somehow. In the former, everything from Spongebob crying to the angry townspeople, was a bigger prank on Spongebob's end, and more than a few viewers felt a little cheated out of a genuine, sweet ending with Sponge and Squid. In the latter, Squidward doesn't actually apologize to Spongebob, but instead dresses as Santa Claus and brings Christmas to Bikini Bottom. Spongebob thinks that he's Santa, and when Sponge sees Squidward out of the disguise, he's not hurt by how much of an asshole Squid was to him earlier.
As many have pointed out about the episode "Spongebob, You're Fired", the plot involving Spongebob making top notch snail food could have made for an interesting turn of events, but instead is immediately dropped for a plot that ends in a nonsensical battle between Burger Fool mascots instead.
Baby Squidward in Goo Goo Gas, amongst many other things. His far-apart eyes make him look like a hei-tiki pendant.
Squidward, full stop. So he's not marketably cute like the rest of the cast, but he has more range in facial expression than any other character on the show and a hugely appealing design. And being a Perpetual Frowner, When He Smiles, it helps.
In "Stuck in the Wringer." Spongebob lashing out at him is supposed to be some kind of horrible, Moral Event Horizon, but considering Patrick was the cause of everything bad that happened in that episode many people would rather side with Sponge.
"Nature Pants" and "Valentine's Day." Patrick goes on scary rampages in both episodes because he feels abandoned by Spongebob.
Season seven. Not great like the pre-movie episodes, but a noticable increase in quality.
A lot of people seem to think Season 8 has really increased the quality. It has been one of the most well-received seasons in a while.
Season 9 continues this trend, with the majority of the episodes (aside from "Squid Baby", "Little Yellow Book", and "SpongeBob, You're Fired") getting positive reception.
Early fan reception to the second movie has been quite positive.
Even better: Stephen Hillenburg is returning to helm the series a month before the movie comes out. Bye-bye, Seasonal Rot! Well, hopefully at least, the man hasn't really written for the show proper (not counting the first movie) since the second season.
Spongebob has traits of this, (particularly in his season one era personality,) because of his Fragile Flower nature and the fact that he just doesn't understand that Squidward, and a lot of other people, despise him just for existing and being his eager, peppy self.
Patrick if you think about it. He's unemployed, everyone except for Spongebob regards him as being a total moron, he's disrespected constantly, and can't seem to be good at anything. The latter depresses him so much in one episode he vows to be good at something. Even his own parents think he's stupid! (They're right, but his feelings are still hurt by their bluntness.) In the later episodes "Sing a Song of Patrick" and "No Hat for Pat," this is explored in a bit more detail.
Gary, due to being the only sane person in the show and being abused in several episodes.