Follow TV Tropes


Reality Ensues / SpongeBob SquarePants

Go To

SpongeBob SquarePants is a show that typically plays fast and loose with logic and realism, so it can be particularly jarring when it suddenly decides to follow the rules it so often disregards. Most of the time it's Played for Laughs.

  • Pretty much every time SpongeBob tries and fails at his boating tests. He begins to freak out once he gets in the driver's seat and as a result, crashes instantly. This is also the main reason Mrs. Puff barely tolerates him.
  • In "Pressure", Sandy Cheeks is dared to eat a Krabby Patty in one bite. She takes the patty, opens her mouth wide, and splatters it all over her diving helmet.
    • In the same episode, Sandy is dared to breathe under the sea without her helmet on (which she destroyed out of anger). She struggles to do so and loses her oxygen, and finds a nearby pickle jar to help her breathe properly under the sea again.
  • Plankton turns Krabs into a baby in "Goo Goo Gas", but he still needs SpongeBob's help to get the door to the Krusty Krab open. While SpongeBob is reaching for the door with the key, Plankton gloats about his plan in a close-up. The camera then pulls back to show that SpongeBob heard the whole thing, on account of him being a foot away, and the yellow fry cook promptly yells for the police.
  • When Patchy the Pirate decides to throw a party in "Party Pooper Pants", he sends some invitations for SpongeBob and Patrick. However, when they do receive them, they can't read it because the ink smeared underwater. Then they decide to throw the invitations into a fire.
  • Advertisement:
  • The episode "To Love a Patty" features SpongeBob falling in love with a patty and refuses to let anyone eat it. By the end of the episode, the patty is completely rotten.
  • In the episode "Good Neighbors", when Squidward's house causes a lot of property damage to the town, Squidward is forced to do community service every Sunday for the rest of his life. SpongeBob and Patrick also have to do service, because they were in the house and made no effort to stop it (at least as far as the public knows).
  • In "Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy V", SpongeBob, Squidward, Patrick, and Sandy borrow costumes with equipment to stop the villains. Since they didn't practice the powers that the suits had, the team is completely unprepared for battle and bring their downfall on themselves.
  • In the episode "Krusty Towers", Mr. Krabs turns the restaurant into a story high hotel after staying at a hotel and greatly enjoying his experience, along with discovering how much they charge. However, Mr. Krabs' impulsiveness overlooks how impractical it is to have a hotel in the same place as the restaurant since (as pointed out by Squidward) the Krusty Krab is almost in the middle of nowhere, so there isn't a chance of people coming to stay in the hotel. Plus, nearly every person who comes to the restaurant wants food. A fish goes in the Krusty Towers and tries ordering a Krabby Patty, but Krabs tells him he would have to order a room as well. This is incredibly inconvenient for the guy, since he's on lunch break, and he leaves without buying anything. Ultimately, the only customers the Krusty Towers serve are Patrick, who's stupid enough to buy a room for himself, even though he lives nearby and doesn't need one, and Squidward who, after being forced to endure Patrick’s ridiculous requests, quits his job and checks himself in as a guest to give Mr. Krabs a taste of his own medicine.
  • In "Mrs. Puff, You're Fired", Mrs. Puff is fired after SpongeBob fails his driving test again. She is replaced by a violent Drill Sergeant Nasty-type teacher who scares off all of the students except for SpongeBob. He subjects SpongeBob to difficult tests, and SpongeBob soon learns how to drive when blindfolded. However, when Mrs. Puff's boss goes to see SpongeBob take his first driving test after working with this teacher, SpongeBob tries to put on his blindfold on (since that's the only way he learned to drive) but his teacher refuses to let him do so because it's illegal and dangerous. When SpongeBob drives without a blindfold, he panics and destroys the school and the city. When someone's taught something one way and forced to do it in a different way, then they will most certainly end up failing.
  • In "For Here or to Go", Plankton manages to win a free Krabby Patty from a contest at the Krusty Krab, but he has to eat it inside the restaurant. After he eats the Krabby Patty, Plankton runs back to his headquarters to have Karen extract it from his stomach and analyze the ingredients so they can replicate it and put Mr. Krabs out of business. However, since the food was partially digested in Plankton's stomach, Karen accidentally listed stomach acid as part of the ingredients. As a result, the patties taste terrible, and all of Plankton's customers run away from the Chum Bucket in disgust.
  • During his power trip after becoming Hall Monitor in "Hall Monitor", SpongeBob tries to lead traffic and causes multiple accidents. Then he breaks into a family's home in an attempt to teach them about "the dangers of open windows". While it's rather ridiculous and is initially Played for Laughs, SpongeBob is wanted by the police shortly afterward.
  • In "Nature Pants", SpongeBob gives up his job to live among the jellyfish in the wild, which he romanticizes. Instead, he gets stung repeatedly by said jellyfish, ends up hungry, cold and alone and proceeds to get infested with poisonous sea urchins.
  • "Snooze You Lose" has a minor example; when Squidward falls asleep and won't wake up, one of SpongeBob and Patrick's plans to wake him up includes pouring coffee down his throat. Because it was freshly boiled, the coffee just scalds Squidward's lips and throat. And it fails to wake him up anyway.
  • While he can be a bit unnecessarily rude, Squidward's attitude towards his job at the Krusty Krab is a realistic portrayal of how any employee of a minimum wage job would feel if they were constantly overworked, underpaid, and mistreated by their boss.
    • Additionally, there had been several episodes where Squidward either leaves during his shift or quits his job entirely when he gets fed up with SpongeBob and/or Mr. Krabs' behavior.
  • While Played for Laughs, "Can You Spare a Dime?" is centered around the realistic consequences of quitting your job, being unable to find one, and taking advantage of someone's hospitality.
    • Similarly, when Squidward quits his job at the Krusty Krab, he assumes he'll be able to find a new job overnight. Naturally, securing a new job is a much more lengthy and difficult process than that, especially when your skill set is limited to minimum wage professions, and Squidward ends up homeless as a result.
  • In the episode "Opposite Day", Squidward has had enough of SpongeBob and Patrick's antics and decides to sell his house. He tricks them into thinking that it's Opposite Day so that they make a good impression on the realtor This ends up backfiring horribly, and when the realtor sees that SpongeBob and Patrick are annoying, she refuses to put Squidward's house up on the market. No realtor would allow someone who's buying a house to deal with annoying neighbors when the original owner can't even stand them either.
  • In the episode "Rock-a-Bye Bivalve," SpongeBob and Patrick become parents to a baby clam. The episode portrays the good side of parenthood (with SpongeBob and Patrick spending time bonding with the baby and what not), but it also shows the hardships. Due to Patrick "working" all day and being a Lazy Bum when he's home, SpongeBob ends up doing all the housework and consequently feels overworked due to cleaning and cooking while also caring for a baby 24-7. This is most definitely Truth in Television for stay-at-home parents.
  • The episode "Feral Friends" revolves around the majority of the sea creatures in Bikini Bottom (save for Sandy, who is a land creature) getting turned into non-anthropomorphic versions of themselves and said creatures behaving like how real life sea creatures would behave.
  • In "SpongeBob's Last Stand," after Plankton's highway destroys Jellyfish Fields, the jellyfish, which are implied to be hardy adaptable animals, end up taking over Bikini Bottom and become pests.
  • In "Life of Crime", SpongeBob and Patrick go on the run, thinking they're wanted for stealing and popping a balloon (on Free Balloon Day). At night, they huddle near a fire, until Patrick points out the fire shouldn't be able to work underwater; the fire then goes out. However, when Patrick kicks the log the fire was on during a fight with SpongeBob, it comes back and burns his foot.
    • In the same episode, SpongeBob and Patrick discuss what they can do now that they are "fugitives"; SpongeBob says that now they can fly and jumps off a cliff, but falls down screaming.
      SpongeBob: (from the bottom of the cliff) Okay... we still can't do that.
  • In "Ripped Pants", when SpongeBob accidentally rips his pants and sees that everyone thinks it's funny, he starts to make jokes about it. However, he ends up doing it so much that people get tired of it. It all comes to a head when he appears to drown at a surfing contest, but reveals that he was only pretending so he could make another ripped pants joke. Needless to say, nobody is amused by this, and they leave, angry at SpongeBob because they actually thought he was dying.
    • Similar to the above, "Fools in April" has Squidward becoming exasperated by SpongeBob's constant April Fools jokes so he decides to pull an elaborate prank of his own. Said prank is proven to be painful and humiliating in contrast to SpongeBob's harmless pranks, which results in SpongeBob running away in tears and everybody angry at Squidward for it.
      Fish: April Fools, jerk!
  • The episode "Sand Castles in the Sand" begins with SpongeBob and Patrick taking a bus to Goo Lagoon. On the bus, SpongeBob and Patrick squish other people with the overload of stuff they brought for the beach, are loud and disruptive, and at one point start singing. This leads to the two getting kicked off the bus, conveniently at Goo Lagoon.
    • Similarly, in the episode "The Fish Bowl", Sandy was kicked off the bus when she invaded the privacy of other passengers and repeated their actions to a recorder.
  • In "The Wreck of the Mauna Loa", SpongeBob and Patrick find an old shipwreck of a pirate ship called the Mauna Loa, and Mr. Krabs finds out on account of Patrick's non-existent secret-keeping skills. Mr. Krabs decides to hoard all the gold for himself, but discovers that the wreck is actually an amusement attraction based on the real Mauna Loa. Krabs still finds a way to make a profit from the "wreck" by turning it to a cheap "swinging ship" ride, but the age and unstable construction of the ride leads to the whole thing falling apart and injuring several people, who are furious at Krabs for his apathy towards them and lack of concern for their safety. Then, to hammer the reality nail even more, Mr. Krabs is arrested for his crimes (which is pretty surprising, considering that he's gotten away with a lot of other bad things in later seasons) and the ride is closed off to the public, upsetting SpongeBob and Patrick until they find the wreck of the real Mauna Loa.
    • Related to the above, the officer doing the arresting points out that if Krabs doesn't go to jail sooner or later, he'll have to deal with an angry mob and get sued.
      Guard: Honestly, I think you'll be safer in prison.
  • In "Pat the Horse", during SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs' horse race (with Patrick and Squidward as their horses), Mr. Krabs tries to slow SpongeBob and Patrick down by pretending to be a police officer and telling them to pull over, only for a real police officer to show up and tell Krabs and Squidward to pull over for impersonating one.
  • In "The Great Snail Race," the Training from Hell that SpongeBob put Gary through (without letting the snail rest) only results in Gary having no energy to perform well in the Snail Race.
    • Similarly, SpongeBob discovers that it's not a good idea to use sexism as a means to motivate someone to win a race when he gets his ass kicked by Sandy.
  • In "Born Again Krabs", Mr. Krabs refuses to let SpongeBob cook another Krabby Patty until the moldy patty SpongeBob found is sold. Unsurprisingly, nobody wants to buy the moldy patty, and Krabs' refusal to make more food leads to no one wanting to come to the Krusty Krab.
    • Mr. Krabs decides to eat the moldy patty himself after everyone refuses to eat it (and this is despite the fact that the burger's so rotten that it gains sentience). Once again, it's not surprising when Krabs ends up sick from food poisoning and dies in the hospital. Or at least he would have died, had he not managed to barter for his life with the Flying Dutchman.
      • Similarly, in "The Krusty Sponge", Mr. Krabs sells moldy Krabby Patties that resemble SpongeBob's skin, which causes everybody who ate them to get sick and turn yellow.
    • Then, when Krabs is confronted by the Flying Dutchman, he attempts the old "alias from something in the same room as you trick" and manages to fool the Dutchman. Unfortunately, Mr. Krabs didn't expect him to ask an offscreen nurse where Krabs is.
      Flying Dutchman: I'm looking for a Eugene Krabs.
      Nurse: (cheerfully) Oh, he's in that room right there.
      Flying Dutchman: No, that's Harold Flower's room.
      Nurse: (In an "are you seriously that dense?" tone of voice) "Harold Flower"?
      [The Flying Dutchman returns to Mr. Krabs, pissed off]
      Flying Dutchman: So, Krabs, you thought you could fool the Flying Dutchman?
    • Upon being given a second chance to avoid going to Davy Jones' locker, Mr. Krabs starts acting overly generous, doing expensive nice things for his customers and employees, leading to Mr. Krabs losing a lot of money and ending up with nothing in the register.
    • Despite not having the best relationship with SpongeBob, Squidward is shocked and appalled at Mr. Krabs when he sells SpongeBob's soul for 62 cents. Anybody would be horrified to see something that sociopathic.
  • In "Selling Out", Mr. Krabs sells the Krusty Krab to a large corporation, but after he sees how the restaurant is being run, he regains control of it. However, he realizes that he may have acted a little impulsively and that his actions will have high reaching consequences when he tries to reopen the restaurant:
    Mr. Krabs: (to SpongeBob and Squidward) Well, we did it, boys. The Krusty Krab is ours again. Ya know, in a fit of maniacal rage, I may have destroyed the restaurant, (getting increasingly worried) scared away all our customers, and forced us into bankruptcy because I returned nearly every penny I sold this stink heap for, (cheerfully) but it was all worth it. And I got back the love of my dear friends.
    Squidward: Really, Mr. Krabs?
    Mr. Krabs: (angrily) No, not really. Get back to work! (he hands them a spatula and a mop)
  • This kickstarts the plot of "The Krusty Slammer": as part of another scheme to steal the Krabby Patty formula, Plankton paints demeaning images of Mr. Krabs all over Bikini Bottom in the hopes of making the citizens realize what a jerk Krabs is, only to get arrested by a police officer mid-Evil Laugh. When he protests that he didn't even try to steal the formula that time, Krabs promptly points out that vandalism is still a crime.
    • This also leads us to the ending of the episode. SpongeBob performs a "jailbreak-in" to get the prisoners back into the Krusty Krab, since they all missed how they were treated in there. The next day, Mr. Krabs is shocked and appalled that the prisoners are back and orders them to get out. This leads to Krabs being arrested since releasing prisoners early is a crime by itself. Since the Krusty Krab already has a full house, Krabs is instead taken to the Chum Bucket, where Plankton gets even with him for his earlier torment.
  • During an Imagine Spot in "High Sea Diving", SpongeBob imagines a statue of himself being made to celebrate him being the first sponge to dive up to the surface with a diving board. When a kid sees the statue, the statue says "Pretty cool, huh, kid?" to him. The kid promptly runs off screaming, as anyone would when suddenly confronted with a talking statue.
  • In "My Leg", the doctor tells Fred that he will lose his leg if it gets hurt again. A body part can only heal so many times until the injury is degenerative.
  • In "Fear Of A Krabby Patty", Plankton manipulates Mr. Krabs into having the Krusty Krab be open 24/7. Soon, with some further trickery from Plankton, Mr. Krabs ends up burning himself and Squidward out by forcing everyone to work non-stop without any sleep. The worst out of everyone is SpongeBob, who was tricked into making a large order of Krabby Patties, leading him to go crazy and suffer from hallucinations.
  • In "SpongeGuard on Duty", SpongeBob gets to live out his dream of becoming a lifeguard after Larry mistakes the ice cream on his nose as sunscreen. At first the role of a lifeguard is portrayed as just doing fun activities like building sandcastles and lifting weights while everyone praises you but right after SpongeBob agrees to take the second shift by himself, somebody is found drowning. Larry then proceeds to swim out and rescues the fish. Larry tells SpongeBob that the real job of being a lifeguard is saving people from a watery grave. SpongeBob, who can't swim, realizes he wasn't cut out to be a lifeguard.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: