One day when SpongeBob goes to see his favorite hero, Mermaid Man, he's told terrible news: Mermaid Man has passed away.
Mortal Man was written in memoriam of Ernest Borgnine, Mermaid Man's voice actor, who died in 2012. It deals with SpongeBob's grief over his friend's death.
Mortal Man provides examples of:
- Brick Joke: Barnacle Boy is surprised when Spongebob expresses worry about Patrick potentially not knowing about Mermaid Man's death, noting that it was all over TV, to which Spongebob admits that Patrick "mostly watches the Eating Channel". When Spongebob is finally about to tell him, Patrick responds by revealing he already knows...because apparently they were talking about it on the Eating Channel.
- Dark Fic: Mortal Man is a serious fanfic about coping with grief.
- Innocently Insensitive: Patrick makes a comment about how, even if Mermaid Man is gone, they've still got Barnacle Boy. Spongebob cringes a bit at the comment's tactlessness, but he also understands that Patrick was only trying to help.
- Never Say "Die": A worker at Shady Shoals tries to invoke this trope, but his euphemisms go past SpongeBob's head.Frank: "Mermaid Man he, uh, checked out last night."SpongeBob: "Oh. That's OK. I'll wait for him to get back."Frank: "No, kid, I mean he's gone to a better place."SpongeBob: "Rococo Reef Rest Home?"Frank: "Mermaid Man is dead."SpongeBob: "Is that some kind of metaphor?"
- Oh My Gods!: "Neptune give me strength".
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The day after Mermaid Man's death, SpongeBob turns up for work two minutes late. Normally, he opens up the restaurant himself. This is Mr. Krab's first sign that something's up.
- Original Flavor: Though it tackles unexpected subject matter, the story still feels a lot like an episode of the show, albeit a Very Special Episode.
- Pet the Dog: Mr. Krabs, learning what happened, tells Spongebob that he may need some time off and sends him to Shady Shoals so he can get some closure.