Air date: October 13, 2008
When SpongeBob runs away after ending up as a nuisance to his friends, he ends up with amnesia and becomes the mayor of New Kelp City.
"Whatever Happened to SpongeBob?" contains examples of:
- And Call Him "George"!: SpongeBob hugs Gary so hard that he accidentally breaks his shell, angering the snail.
- An Aesop:
- Moderate your behavior towards other people.
- Don't be mad at someone who means no harm to you and is trying their best to be good to you.
- The Atoner: SpongeBob's friends (except for Squidward) try to bring him back home out of remorse for calling him "idiot boy".
- Blatant Lies: Squidward purposefully destroys Sandy's Sponge-Tracking device with a mallet. Mr. Krabs and the others don't buy his lie for an instant.Squidward: (holding the mallet while panting heavily like a maniac) Oops, I dropped it.
- Break the Cutie: Happens to SpongeBob after his friends call him an "idiot boy" for screwing things up. Later happens to Patrick and Sandy after SpongeBob runs away because they called him an "idiot boy".
- Cats Are Mean: Gary who gets mad at SpongeBob for breaking his shell and starts attacking him. Then when SpongeBob decides to leave Bikini Bottom, he hisses at him. He regrets it shortly after SpongeBob leaves, however.
- Chekhov's Gun: The egg Krabs promises Squidward. After Squidward receives it, he slips (on a greasy spatula SpongeBob drops, no less) and the egg hits SpongeBob, causing him to regain his memory.
- Continuity Nod: When Sandy cries, her helmet fills up her tears, just like in "Texas".
- Curse Cut Short: This happens with the construction fish from New Kelp City in the end:Construction fish: If I ever see Mayor Brown Pants again I'm gonna grab his little, yellow head and literally rip his!— *screen changes to "We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties. Please Stay Tuned."*
- Deconstruction: Of SpongeBob's usual Idiot Houdini role. Unlike other cases, he actually notices the trouble he causes and how frustrated he makes everyone, and leaves town feeling guilty about it.
- Description Cut:SpongeBob: Isn't life great, Gary? Oh, what a beautiful day. I have the best friends...
(at Squidward's house)
Squidward: Ah, stay away! Oh, another SpongeBob nightmare.
SpongeBob: The best job...
(at the Krusty Krab)
Mr. Krabs: He's already 10 seconds late! I'm docking him a month's pay for this.
SpongeBob: And, of course, the bestest pet.
(SpongeBob squeezes Gary in a hug, which causes Gary's shell to break, which made him angrily attack SpongeBob)
- Easily Forgiven: After regaining his memory, SpongeBob doesn't show any hard feelings toward his friends for their harsh scoldings.
- Easy Amnesia: The main plot of the episode.
- Either/Or Title: This episode is also entitled "WhoBob WhatPants", which was the title used in advertising and the original episode premiere (the original airing cuts out the title card).
- Everybody Cries: Subverted. After Patrick and Sandy show SpongeBob's runaway note to Mr. Krabs and Squidward, the former two begin to cry, regretting having been mean to their friend for the accidents he caused. It seems like Squidward is about to cry too, but he resorts to his typical joy over SpongeBob being gone. The only other character who doesn't cry is Mr. Krabs, who, after a brief moment of remorse, hastily shoves out the customers and closes the Krusty Krab until SpongeBob is found.Mr. Krabs: (panicked) What am I gonna do without me fry cook?
Patrick: What am I gonna do without my best friend? I never should have been mean to you! (sobs)
Sandy: I should have never kicked you out of my house! (cries, with her tears filling up her helmet)
Squidward: (near tears) If I knew that was the last time I've seen SpongeBob (happily) I would have slammed the door in his face even harder! (laughing)
- Exact Words: Squidward only agrees to bring SpongeBob back after Mr. Krabs offers him a rare Faberge egg he needs to complete his collection. When Sandy, Squidward and Patrick bring a still amnesiac SpongeBob to the Krusty Krab, he decides to leave again but Squidward still claims his prize because he did bring SpongeBob back. Mr. Krabs sadly agrees. It promptly backfires on Squidward when he then slips on grease, causing the ornament egg to fly out of his hands and hit SpongeBob on the head, making him regain his memory.
- The Extremist Was Right: The Bubble Poppin' Boys turn out to be right about bubbles being dangerous.
- Eye Awaken: When SpongeBob wakes up with amnesia.
- The Film of the Book: The episode is based on the Tie-In Novel For the Love of Bubbles.
- Greaser Delinquents: The Bubble Poppin' Boys (the leader being voiced by Ray Liotta).
- Gross-Up Close-Up: "Look at me, Mister, look at me! Is there something wrong with me?!"
- Growling Gut: Happens to SpongeBob while in New Kelp City.
- Hypocritical Humor: Patrick calls SpongeBob an idiot boy, which is pretty ironic considering his stupidity throughout the series.
- Identity Amnesia: After SpongeBob loses his memory, the two fish name him CheeseHead BrownPants and later becomes the mayor of New Kelp City.
- Is That a Threat?:Mr. Krabs: If you don't find him, you'll be out of a job forever.
Squidward: Is that your version of a threat?
- Unlike Patrick, Sandy, Gary, and Mr. Krabs, Squidward feels no remorse for cruelly driving SpongeBob away and is instead delighted that he's gone. He goes far enough to sabotage the search efforts and even purposefully destroying Sandy's Sponge-Tracking device, proving how much he utterly hates the yellow sponge and would do anything to be rid of him short of flat-out murder. In fact, he only agrees to bring SpongeBob back because Mr. Krabs promised to give him a rare jeweled egg if he did.
- The citizen who SpongeBob runs into. First, he yells at him for bumping into him, then accuses him of stealing his money from his pockets, and lastly calls him a jobless deadbeat.
- The Bubble Poppin' Boys. They only beat up people for blowing bubbles.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Squidward was nearly going to cry with remorse for driving SpongeBob away...right before happily saying that he would have slammed the door on his face even harder.
- Malicious Misnaming: SpongeBob being called "idiot boy" by his friends, who become guilt-ridden when reminded of this in his farewell letter.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Patrick, Sandy, Gary, and Mr. Krabs have this after finding out SpongeBob has left Bikini Bottom forever because of their behavior towards him.
- Ocular Gushers: SpongeBob after all of his friends yell at him. Later, Patrick and Sandy after finding out that SpongeBob ran away because of their scoldings.
- Post-Stress Overeating: Gary binge eats his entire supply of Snail Food in depression from snapping at SpongeBob into leaving.
- Serious Business: The reason Bikini Bottom is in deep chaos is because customers are not getting their Krabby Patties with SpongeBob running away.
- Special Guest: Ray Liotta as the Bubble Poppin' Leader.
- Tears of Remorse: Patrick and Sandy break down in tears due to making SpongeBob run away.
- The Unapologetic: Played with. While Patrick feels bad for yelling at SpongeBob, he doesn't really apologize to him. Sandy and Mr. Krabs do apologize, the latter albeit sheepishly. Squidward, however, plays the trope straight.
- Voice for the Voiceless: The leader of the Bubble Poppin' Boys speaks for his gang, who don't speak at all.
- Was Too Hard on Him: Everyone, except Squidward, feels bad for driving SpongeBob away.