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Sponge Bob Square Pants / Tropes A to C

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  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Happens every once in a while to random characters.
  • Absent Animal Companion:
    • The episode "Wormy" has Sandy with several pets, including the titular Wormy, a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. However, later episodes don't show Sandy with any pets.
    • Squidward gets a pet racing snail named Snellie in "The Great Snail Race". Once the episode is over, Snellie is never seen again.
    • "Plankton's Pet" Involves Plankton getting a pet amoeba, Spot, to train to be a guard dog and to steal the Krabby Patty formula. Spot isn't seen again until two seasons later, in the aptly named "Spot Returns" - which is less about him and more about Plankton training his pups to steal the formula - before disappearing again.
    • In "A Pal for Gary", he gets a new pet named Puffy Fluffy. Later, Puffy turns into a monster and goes on a Godzilla-esque rampage. He eventually runs away.
  • Absentee Actor: Excluding the titular protagonist, each of the main characters have missed far too many episodes to name. Only the movies and some special episodes feature the entire main cast. The series tends to leave out characters if they're not relevant to the story, even when it would make sense for them to be in the setting. For example, "Just One Bite," "Grandma's Kisses," and "Big Pink Loser" prominently feature the Krusty Krab, yet Mr. Krabs doesn't appear. There have also been several episodes where Squidward doesn't appear, but his Easter Island Head house does (e.g. "The Secret Box," "Burst Your Bubble"). Squidward also misses a few episodes that prominently feature the Krusy Krab (such as "Aargh!" and "Neptune's Spatula".
    • In almost every Krusty Krab episode that doesn't focus on Plankton or Karen, the Chum Bucket is obviously missing from its spot across the street and isn't mentioned at all. It's rare for Plankton and Karen to appear outside of the episodes that focus on them.
    • "Mall Girl Pearl" and "Whale Watching" (both centered around Pearl) are the only episodes to date where SpongeBob makes only a cameo appearance. As described by the showrunner Vincent Waller on Twitter, the writers like to give Pearl the spotlight whenever they can, as she's able to carry her own stories without SpongeBob.
    • Although SpongeBob himself is the only character to appear in all of the episodes, he did not appear in all of the shorts. In "The Algae's Always Greener", he only appears in the Alternate Universe when Plankton switches lives with Mr. Krabs.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Mr. Krabs' is a Zigzagged example due to Depending on the Writer. In some episodes his treatment of Pearl from has been pretty neglectful and callous: The episode "Whale of a Birthday" in fact shows that he intentionally makes her birthday parties miserable by being a cheapskate despite his richness. He even sometimes demonstrates that he may love money more than Pearl, as shown in "The String" and "Selling Out." In other episodes though he goes to great lengths to make sure Pearl is happy and safe like in "The Chaperone" and "Whale Watching", and ironically enough Pearl is the probably the person he is most likely to give money to without complaint as shown in "Tutor Sauce".
    • A throwaway line in "Home Sweet Pineapple" reveals that Patrick was permanently kicked out of his parents' house.
    • Squidward's grandmother is mean and stomps his foot with her walker multiple times in "Chum Fricassee."
  • AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle:
    • In "Bossy Boots", Pearl changes the Krusty Krab's menu to provide salads as the main dish instead of Krabby Patties. SpongeBob sees this and wonders out loud "What in the name of Davy Jones' locker is a SAL-lad?" Later in the episode, he remarks about how much the customers are enjoying their "sah-LADS." Oddly, he pronounces it correctly when he reads it on the new menu that Pearl hands him.
    • A more obvious example is that SpongeBob pronounces "karate" as "ker-ra-TAY."
  • Accidental Dance Craze: In "Slimy Dancing", Patrick starts the dance move "the Cramp" by being mistaken for the only competitor in a dance competition to not use a partner.
  • Accidental Marriage:
    • In "Truth or Square", Sandy and SpongeBob act out a marriage, without telling the very real priest it was just a play.
    • In "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy", a delusional, senile Mermaid Man, a confused SpongeBob and the warden of Shady Shoals take part in this hilarious exchange.
    Mermaid Man: Listen up you villains, I wanna eat my meat loaf! Now if you don't get out of here, then by the power invested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife!
    Mermaid Man: (Talking to the warden, pointing at SpongeBob) You may kiss the bride!
    Patrick: (SpongeBob is thrown out of Shady Shoals and rolls home, where Patrick is waiting for him) Did you reunite our heroes?
    SpongeBob: No. But I'm married.
  • Accidental Truth:
    • In the first episode "Help Wanted", Mr. Krabs' test for SpongeBob to find a seemingly nonexistent hydrodynamic spatula to make him a fry cook was all just to shoo him away out of spite. It turns out said spatula is real, and there was only one in stock.
    • In "One Krab's Trash", Mr. Krabs sells a soda drink hat to SpongeBob, and then, after finding out that it's apparently worth a million dollars, attempts to scare it off SpongeBob by telling him the hat is cursed and unless he returns it to the grave of its previous owner, Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen, he himself will be cursed. Imagine his surprise when he finds out that not only is Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen real, but the hat really was his when he was alive.
    • In "Yeti Krabs", Mr. Krabs tries to scare Squidward and SpongeBob into working harder by making up a story about a Yeti Krab who tracks down and eats lazy workers, along with anyone in the vicinity. A real Yeti Krab shows up by coincidence after he leaves (not to eat SpongeBob and Squidward for being lazy, but to buy a Krabby Patty) and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Accordion Man: Patrick briefly becomes one in "Naughty Nautical Neighbors", causing Squidward to laugh to the point where he chokes on the soufflé he's eating. This also happens to SpongeBob in "A SquarePants Family Vacation" when he gets whacked by a slide.
  • Acid-Trip Dimension:
    • The Fly of Despair from "Shanghaied"
    • Squidward's locker in "Squidward in Clarinetland".
    • The titular location of "SpongeBob in RandomLand".
  • Acting Unnatural:
    • "Life of Crime". SpongeBob and Patrick are panicking because (they think) they stole a balloon. SpongeBob advises, "Just act natural," and, whether out of nerves or sheer stupidity, both of them start gibbering and acting crazy. They are immediately surrounded by a crowd who mistake them for street performers.
    • In the episode "Boating School", when SpongeBob is asked to act natural, he gets on all fours and starts grazing like a cow.
    • Inverted in the episode "The Bully", once SpongeBob believes Flats will come searching for him in the bathroom, he says he must "act natural". Cue him floating around in the toilet looking like a real kitchen sponge.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are voiced by Ernest Borgnine (at least until his death in 2012) and Tim Conway (Before his death in 2019), respectively, who famously starred in a different nautical-themed comedy series in the '60s. In one of their final speaking appearances, their real names are revealed to be Ernie and Tim, as a tribute to them.
    • The narrator for "Krusty Krab Training Video" is Steve Kehela, who has done voice work for real training videos previously.
    • In "Whirly Brains," after SpongeBob exclaims that he and Patrick have "lost their minds," Patrick's response is "*sinister snicker* M. O. O. N. *snicker* THAT SPELLS MOON! HAHA! AHAHAHAHAHA!!!"
    • In the German dub, the alias "Harold Flowers" which Mr. Krabs used to fool the Flying Dutchman is changed to "Benjamin Blümchen" ("Blümchen" means "little flower"), a referent to an iconic children's audiobook/cartoon character voiced by the same voice actor, Jürgen Kluckert. He even appropriately changes his voice to Benjamin Blümchen's.
  • Adam Westing:
    • The Movie: "I'm David Hasselhoff!" "Hooray!"
    • Also an actual case with Adam West and Burt Ward playing the younger versions of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy who are usually played by Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway respectively, in an obvious homage to The 1960's Batman.
    • Pun-happy film critic Gene Shalit appearing as pun-happy food critic "Gene Scallop" in "The Krusty Sponge". In the SpongeBob universe, Gene is a harsh critic whose review can make or break a restaurant.
  • Adults Dressed as Children: Invoked on Mr. Krabs in "Money Talks", in which his anthropomorphic dollars demand they be spent on various objects, some of which include fairy tale outfits and diapers. Cue Mr. Krabs dressed in just that at the mall.
  • Aerith and Bob: The show has quirky creative names like "SpongeBob" and "Squidward" alongside more normal sounding names like "Patrick" and "Sandy".
  • Afraid of Doctors: In the episode "Suds", Patrick tells SpongeBob that the doctor's is a horrible place to go. Of course, while SpongeBob believed him, he asked if Patrick could be his doctor, but that didn't help cure the suds. As Sandy took SpongeBob to the real doctor for the sponge treatment, he realizes that it isn't such a bad place after all and was given a lollipop. Proven wrong by this, Patrick asks for the sponge treatment, but he was proven right as the treatment didn't turned out to be so well.
  • Ageless Birthday Episode:
    • In the episode "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler", SpongeBob celebrates his birthday among several other parties he planned on the same day. Even though he has a revealed birthday, his age isn't revealed.
    • SpongeBob is invited to his grandmother's birthday in "Pet Sitter Pat." All that is said about her age is that she's "turning... even older this year."
    • "Feral Friends" celebrates Sandy's birthday but once again never says which.
    • Double subverted in "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout." SpongeBob's age is never stated in the episode, but Patrick asks him how old he is. He replies, "Well, as of today, I am-" before getting cut off.
  • Agony of the Feet: Quite often.
    • Squidward stomping on SpongeBob's hat with a lead brick hidden inside in "Employee of the Month."
    • The toenail scene in "House Fancy." Squidward and SpongeBob have to move a couch, but SpongeBob accidentally drops it on Squidward's toenail. He then pulls it out, and jams one of the table legs into Squidward's toes. Squidward slips on his toenail and breaks the couch in half.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Nearly anything technological that SpongeBob or Squidward buy is bound to work wrong in some manner, like Le Spatula or Squidward's house security system.
  • Air Quotes:
    • Patrick does this during the season 7 episode "Yours, Mine and Mine":
    [SpongeBob dances with a Happy Meal toy]
    Patrick: Am I interrupting?
    SpongeBob: Oh, hi, Patrick. Have you met my new toy?
    Patrick: Don't you mean our new toy?
    SpongeBob: Our new toy?
    Patrick: It came from the meal that we're "sharing".
    • Squidward in "Imitation Krabs", when he meets Plankton's robot replica of Krabs.
    Squidward: You're not Mr. Krabs.
    Robot Krabs: Hey, why don't you take the rest of the day off?
    Squidward: Ha-ha! Well, whatever you say, "Mr. Krabs".
    • In "Bossy Boots", SpongeBob tells Pearl that he'll pretend to "fire" her after he was sent by Mr. Krabs to actually fire her, and finding out she was actually trying to get fired.
    • In "The Lost Mattress" when Squidward is explaining his plan for retrieving the mattress from a guard worm in the dump to SpongeBob and Patrick.
    Squidward: You two will sneak in there and retrieve the mattress out from under the guard worm without "waking the worm".
    • Mr. Krabs also does this when SpongeBob asks if he can still work at the Krusty Krab for free.
    Mr. Krabs: Yeah, I looked into that. Apparently, it's "illegal". And I'll lose my "vendor's license" Blah Blah Blah...
  • The Alcatraz: SpongeBob and Patrick wind up on one of these in one episode, rather than summer camp. They love it.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Or in this case, all snails are cats and all (or at least most) worms are dogs. For some reason, we get a snail which howls like a wolf in "Food Con Castaways".
  • Alliterative Title: SpongeBob SquarePants.
  • All Just a Dream: The episodes "Procrastination" and "Doing Time". It is taken to the extreme in the latter. Post-movie examples are the episodes "The Main Drain" and "The Night Patty".
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Do you want to know what anti-sea-rhinoceros undergarments look like? Just play the Camping Chaos! game based on "The Camping Episode."
    • Puffy Fluffy, the seemingly cute but dangerous pet in "A Pal For Gary", is a nudibranch.
  • All There in the Script:
    • The shark drill sargent that replaces Mrs. Puff is named Sargent Roderick, according to the credits.
    • Mr. Fitz's first name is Gunther.
    • The ghost pirate captain who rivals the Flying Dutchman is named Lord Poltergeist.
  • Alpha Bitch:
    • Pearl acts like this sometimes, primarily to fit in with her female peers.
    • Squilliam is a rare male example of this trope, as he is a rich person with a condescending attitude towards Burger Fool Squidward.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: Rip Slyme wrote a new ending theme song for the Japanese version. You can find it here.
    • Starting with Season 10, the Japanese version uses a new ending theme titled "ONE WAY" by the band BOYS AND MEN. It can be heard here.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • Canned bread, seen in "Squidville" and "Atlantis SquarePantis," really does exist.
    • In "Bubble Buddy", SpongeBob enthusiastically celebrates "Leif Erikson Day" ("hinga-dinga-dürgen!"), since, for him, every day must be a holiday. Presumably the writers were not aware, since the whole joke is that he had to make the holiday up, but Leif Erikson Day is in fact a real holiday. It's October 9.
    • "Livin' in the Sunlight, Lovin' in the Moonlight" by Tiny Tim, which is played in the pilot when SpongeBob is making patties, did not originate from this show. It was released back in 1965. In fact, Tiny Tim died three years prior to SpongeBob's debut.
    • Some might be surprised to learn that "Sweet Victory" didn't originate from this show, either.
  • Amateur Film-Making Plot: "Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy VI: The Motion Picture" involves SpongeBob attempting to make a film for Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy to compete with the new modern movie coming out. After much Hilarity Ensues, the movie is made... but turns out to be absolutely terrible. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, however, are just happy to know they still have some "action" within them.
  • Ambiguous Disorder:
    • SpongeBob himself is a manchild who is so utterly obsessed with working at the Krusty Krab that having to take a vacation from his job is enough to make him suffer from a major Sanity Slippage. And despite having to capability to drive, he is too anxious to do so.
    • Patrick is a societally codependent Lazy Bum with such low self-esteem that he can get riled up to Ax-Crazy levels; just observe his behavior in the episodes "Nature Pants" and "Valentine's Day", both of which feature him going on major rampages in pursuit of his way.
    • Squidward is so depressed and antisocial to the point of mood swings and deranged thoughts that often lead to him trying to get SpongeBob deliberately killed.
  • Amnesia Episode: "What Ever Happened to SpongeBob?" where SpongeBob loses his memory by hitting himself on some rocks. He goes to New Kelp City and accidentally provokes a gang who hate bubbles, and ends up defeating them. SpongeBob is crowned mayor after this, and doesn't want to return to Bikini Bottom. He loses his memory again, hit by Squidward's fancy egg, and things return to normal.
  • Amusing Injuries:
    • Somewhat justified on occasion, as SpongeBob is, well, a sponge.
    • In "Krabby Land", SpongeBob hurts himself to amuse children for Mr. Krabs.
    • Or the episode where SpongeBob offers to "lend a hand". Cue him pulling off one arm with the other, only have have another pop out instantly until the ground is covered with yellow arms. The same thing happens later in the episode when Squidward is telling SpongeBob a scary story about a man who chopped his hand off with a knife, and SpongeBob doesn't understand that fish's arms don't grow back like his (even Squidward is shocked it doesn't hurt SpongeBob at all).
  • Amusingly Short List: In the episode "Something Smells", SpongeBob takes out a long list of things to do, in which all the items are "go to work". He realizes that he needed the list for Sunday, an index card that says "say 'hi' to everyone in Bikini Bottom".
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The fate of SpongeBob and Squidward in "Squid On Strike": working at the Krusty Krab for eternity.
    • At the end of "Mimic Madness" when Patrick, Squidward, Sandy, Mr. Krabs and Plankton end up mimicking SpongeBob, Squidward (and presumably everyone else) is shown to be trapped within his mind, unable to do anything while the SpongeBob persona is active.
  • Animal Lover: SpongeBob cares very much for his pet snail, Gary. He also treats wild jellyfish with respect and likes to play with them.
  • Angrish: "Ah regga fregga smelinolin Mr. Krabs! Yugga hugga hollin wallet! Zibby mibby spibb! Yolla holla MR. KRABS WALLET!!!"
    "I had no idea SpongeBob had such a colorful vocabulary..."
  • Annoying Laugh: SpongeBob's infamous "dolphin cry" laugh, which Tom Kenny accomplishes by putting a hand to his throat and shaking it up and down as he holds a high note. Lampshaded in "Something Smells" when he wonders why everyone is suddenly avoiding him.
    Patrick: Maybe it's your voice.
    (SpongeBob delivers his longest, most annoying laugh ever for several seconds, then stops suddenly, looking completely unamused at Patrick.)
    —> SpongeBob: (deadpan) Good one, Patrick.
  • Anti-Advice: In "Pizza Delivery," when SpongeBob and Squidward get lost together, SpongeBob predicts which way to go using his pioneering skills. Squidward goes the opposite way. The camera then pans over to show that another city is just over a ridge in the direction SpongeBob wanted to go.
  • The Anti-Grinch:
    • "Christmas Who?" has SpongeBob learn about Christmas from Sandy, and proceeds to get the entire town excited about Santa. Everyone except Squidward, who ends up having to play Santa when the real one doesn't show up.
    • In "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!", Plankton tricks SpongeBob into feeding everyone fruitcake laced with jerktonium, which turns anyone who eats it into a jerk. SpongeBob is unaware of this, assuming that everyone is just being overenthusiastic, but he himself is immune to the effects because he's too stupid and innocent.
  • Anti-Interference Lock Up:
    • In "Employee of the Month", SpongeBob and Squidward use several variations of this to sabotage each other's efforts of making to the Krusty Krab early and winning the Employee of the Month award.
      SpongeBob: Hey, Squidward. Going somewhere?
      Squidward: I'm going to wring you dry when I get out of here! Now, get me out of here!
      SpongeBob: Okay, Squidward. I'll stop by after work.
    • In "Party Pooper Pants", this is inverted when SpongeBob hosts a party that proves to be boring and by-the-book, so the guests lock him out of his house so they can throw a real party.
  • Anything but That!: When Squidward finds out about SpongeBob's splinter and threatens to tell Mr. Krabs about it so he'll have to leave work early in "The Splinter"
  • Apathetic Clerk: Shows up a few times over the course of the series:
    • Squidward is the cashier at the Krusty Krab, and he hates every minute of it. Along with having SpongeBob annoying him from the kitchen, he has to deal with indecisive customers and watch them gorge on unhealthy, lowbrow food. He treats everyone with contempt and speaks in a deadpan monotone while at work, never smiling; the one time he smiled at work was when the Krusty Krab was briefly rebranded as the Krabby O'Mondays in "Selling Out" and he was forced to smile, lest he be sent to Human Resources (a big scary thug).
    • In the beginning of "Party Pooper Pants", he starts talking to an cashier who isn't happy to see him. During this exchange, SpongeBob pulls out a picture of how the cashier looked on his first day, happy and cheerful, in contrast to his current behavior.
    • "Night Light" has a cashier who didn't react at all to SpongeBob running and crying in and out of the store as he kept coming back for more nightlights.
    • "Penny Foolish" has a cashier calmly putting up with Mr. Krabs attempting to use several expired coupons on his purchase.
  • Appease the Volcano God: "Sponge-Cano!" revolves around a volcano that pops up in Bikini Bottom. The sacrifice that must be made appears to be "the most miserable person," which equals Squidward. Squidward's house clogs up the volcano due to a bursting pipe that causes it to fly in, and the sacrifice is revealed to be "the most miserable person's house."
  • Appointment Television: In "Appointment TV", SpongeBob is excited for a new episode of Mermaid Man and gets prepared to watch it. After work, he rushes home, only to be distracted by his friends' requests. In the end, SpongeBob misses the episode; his friends realize how devastated he is and put on a play re-enactment of it for him, which he enjoys a lot.
  • April Fools' Plot: "Fools in April" revolves around SpongeBob's persistent Annoying Laugh accompanied by his many prank pullings.
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: In "Shanghaied":
    Flying Dutchman: I am the Flying Dutchman!
    SpongeBob: That's it! Squidward, this ship belongs to the Red Baron!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Plenty of times.
    • When SpongeBob thought (incorrectly) that Sandy had tried to get the jump on him at work, as part of their friendly karate (or "ka-rah-tay" as some call it) sparring:
      SpongeBob: Thought you could sneak up on me at work, did ya? Well, ya can't! 'Cause I'm fast, I'm mean, and I can do THIS! [clasps hands together and wiggles arms]
    • Squidward tempting fate during the episode "Pizza Delivery," after he implored SpongeBob to make the delivery drive, telling him to first back up the boatmobile (despite SpongeBob's protests that he's still in boating school and shouldn't be driving). Of course, it goes hilariously wrong:
      SpongeBob: Backing up! Backing up! [backs up... for miles, until the car dies] ... backing up.
      Squidward: Well... ya backed up. And you know what?! I think we're out of gas! And you know what else?! We're in the middle of nowhere!
      SpongeBob: And you know what else else? I think the pizza's getting cold.
      Squidward: [feigned gasp] AND the pizza's cold! The pizza's cold! Not the pizza! Oh, how could it get any WORSE?! [kicks boatmobile, which somehow takes the tank from "Empty" to "Full." The boatmobile drives off into the distance without them.]
    • SpongeBob describing an Alaskan Bull Worm.
      SpongeBob: It was big! Scary! AND PINK!
    • SpongeBob describing the bath scene.
      SpongeBob: My best friend, my ex best friend, and...RUBBER BATH TOYS!
    • From The Movie, Plan Z:
      Plankton: It's evil! It's diabolical! IT'S LEMON SCENTED!
    • From "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V"
      1. I want to be treated like a superhero not a sidekick.
      2. I want to be called "Barnacle Man".
      3. I want an adult sized Krabby Patty.
    • When Mrs. Puff is stealing SpongeBob's new boat, he's not letting go for giant clams, cheese graters, and... EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION!? OH NO!
    • From "Life of Crime": "We're not talking about some dumb mail fraud scheme or hijacking here...WE STOLE A BALLOON! And they're gonna lock us up forever!"
    • In "Graveyard Shift";
      Squidward: He cut off own hand by mistake! [...] He replaced his hand, with a rusty spatula...And then! He got hit by a bus! And then! At his funeral... they fired him!
    • "Krabs a la Mode", after Mr. Krabs finds out that Plankton was the one who froze his restaurant.
      Mr. Krabs: Ya gone too far this time, Plankton! You can pummel me employees, try to destroy me restaurant! But nobody messes with me thermostat!
  • Art Attacker: In "Frankendoodle", an artist's pencil which can bring to life a disgruntled duplicate of SpongeBob falls into Bikini Bottom. The pencil and eraser are both used to attack and defend.
  • Art Evolution: Being a Long Runner, the show's animation has changed drastically over the years.
    • Season 1 is the only season to be animated using traditional hand-painted cel animation. From season 2 onward, it switched to the now-standard digital ink-and-paint process, which is how it's been animated ever since.
    • Starting with season 9th "Lost in Bikini Bottom," the animation became far more deranged and expressive. Season 10 even moreso, thanks to an influx of former Ren & Stimpy artists (including storyboard artist and character designer Bob Camp and animation director Bob Jaques).
    • The main characters' model sheets were updated for both movies. This is especially noticeable in the sequel.
  • Art Reflects Personality: Squidward often paints pictures of himself, showing that it's all about him.
    • In "Artist Unknown", when a curator visits his art class to see what pieces have been made, he dismisses all of them because they're all focused on Squidward ("I call this one, 'Bold and Brash'." "More like 'Belongs in the trash!'"), except for a Greek statue that SpongeBob made. Meanwhile, SpongeBob had been creating perfect pieces of art with little to no effort and he only joined for fun, whereas Squidward wanted people to look up to him as well as hoping to get rich and famous off of it. When SpongeBob starts taking Squidward's advice, he fails to recreate his success and makes terrible pieces of art. At the end, Squidward throws a tantrum and accidentally makes a beautiful statue without realizing it. The Aesop of the story is do your hobbies out of fun and passion, not because you want to get rich and famous.
    • In "The Masterpiece", Mr. Krabs asks Squidward to make a statue. Squidward has Mr. Krabs pose for his statue and makes it unflattering (spiky and cold) because it reflects how he feels about working at the Krusty Krab (cold, miserable, hopeless). Mr. Krabs isn't pleased, partly because of that and because the statue was supposed to be for children to climb on.
  • Art Shift:
    • Many in "Truth or Square": The opening is redone in really trippy stop-motion (with a new theme by Cee-Lo), a sequence made to look like an old 1950's-esque TV commercial, and another Retraux sequence made to look like an old 1920s Mickey Mouse cartoon that shows SpongeBob going to work, and every single thing has a face. "Atlantis SquarePantis" also features several, including the 3D bus interior, an old video game, and several different painting styles.
    • "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!" and "The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom" are animated in stop-motion, with the latter also featuring a much brighter, looser and all round trippier animated style when the Flying Dutchman goes inside SpongeBob's mind.
    • "Karen's Virus" also takes on a different look with Karen's internals being rendered in full 3D.
  • The Artifact: Certain seasons just barely acknowledge the fact that Bikini Bottom takes place underwater. Some episodes contain underwater thunderstorms, for example.
  • Artistic License – Education: Common with Mrs. Puff's Boating School:
    • SpongeBob has failed his driver's test multiple times, and yet he hasn't been kicked out of the class, which is Justified in that Mrs. Puff refuses to give up on any of her students. Although, considering how much stress he causes for her, she should probably do it just this once to get SpongeBob out of her hair.
    • Boating School appears to be just one classroom, despite having a hallway with lockers. Any new students end up in SpongeBob's class, and Mrs. Puff is the only known teacher.
    • Mrs. Puff has been sent to jail on many occassions (Mostly for things that weren't her fault), and most real life schools will not hire a teacher with such a criminal record.
  • Artistic License – Law: In "Restraining SpongeBob," where Squidward finally wises up and gets a restraining order against SpongeBob, but at the end of the episode, he decides to replace his name with Patrick's since he caused him more misery than SpongeBob did throughout the episode. While it is completely legal to get a restraining order against someone who has caused you serious injury, you cannot just nullify it on a whim or add someone else's name to it.
  • Artsy Beret:
    • The episode "Frankendoodle" has an artist at sea who wears a beret and apron, with only a pencil as his medium. The narrator gives advice on bringing a spare pencil and a sharpener when one drops a pencil.
    • In the episode "The Googly Artiste," Squidward has his beret revoked after a critic is not pleased with his sculpture. It is then given to Patrick, who simply glues googly eyes to a rock.
    • Plankton wears a beret while painting in "Sweet and Sour Squid" and "Plankton's Old Chum."
  • Ascended Extra: Bubble Bass, only appearing for about a minute during his first appearance, becomes the antagonist of a Season 11 episode called "Moving Bubble Bass." Since season 9, he has appeared semi-frequently, with supporting roles in "Bulletin Board" and "Squid Noir" and another major appearance in "Swamp Mates".
  • Ascended Meme:
    • "Are You Happy Now?" seems to have been inspired by the "Squidward's Suicide" creepypasta.
      • A much more obvious reference to Squidward's Suicide is featured in the episode "Spongebob in Randomland" involving a parallel Squidward who looks as similar to the infamous image of the pasta as the TV-Y7 rating would allow.
    • A much tamer Ascended Meme occurs in the SpongeBob vs. Patrick Splatfest news in Splatoon:
      Callie: [Patrick] thinks mayonnaise is a musical instrument.
      Marie: Well, sure... but he's just so adorable.
    • This meme's gone full circle: Patrick's and SpongeBob's memetic surprised expressions from The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie are brought back in "Scavenger Pants".
    • "SpongeBob in Randomland" has a reference to the Red Mist creepypasta, with Squidward opening a Mind Screw-y door only to be Jump Scared by a less bloody version of the infamous Red Mist Squidward thumbnail.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Squidward time travelling into the middle of nowhere.
  • Aside Comment: Squidward will occasionally make one of these. "That SpongeBob is such a crybaby. Lucky me, I get to work with him all day."
  • Aside Glance: From "Missing Identity":
    SpongeBob: Have you forgotten what we're looking for knee-deep in yesterday's Top 40 songs?!
    Patrick: ... yes.
    SpongeBob: I'll give ya a hint. First word: "My." Second word: "Nametag."
    Patrick: ... could I have another hint?
    SpongeBob: [turns slowly and stares directly at the camera in disbelief]
  • Asinine Alternate Activity: Weenie Hut Jr. is a classic example. Its bright colors and geeky customers frustrate Spongebob into trying to get into the Salty Spitoon again.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • You could make an entire season out of episodes that involve Squidward being a total jerk then spending the rest of the plot being punished profusely for it. Though this is infamously averted in quite a few episodes, where Squidward is abused without actually doing anything mean.
    • The Tattletail Stranger is a cruel criminal who wants to beat up Spongebob after being busted because of him. The unintentional misery Spongebob puts him through is throughly deserved.
  • Ass Shove:
    • Implied. While Patrick is wearing a pair of shorts with a built in pay-phone/walkie-talkie.
    Disembodied techno-female voice: If you would like to make a call, please insert twenty-five cents. [SpongeBob produces a quarter]
    • This scene in "My Pretty Seahorse":
    Scooter: Hey, look! Mr. Krabs put in a kiddie ride!
    Lloyd: Why don't you try it out?
    Scooter: ...I can't find the coin slot! ...Here it is!
    Mystery: [Whinnies and kicks Scooter]
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: The Ice Cream King in "Patrick's Coupon" is a tubby pink starfish with a waffle-cone skirt and pink pimples with a single hair in it. It makes him look like a strawberry cone with cherries.
  • At Arm's Length: Frequently done by Mr. Krabs when his microscopic business rival Plankton attempts to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula. Instead of holding him at arm's length, however, Krabs simply picks him up and tosses him bodily back to the Chum Bucket — sometimes by creative means, such as blowing him through a straw.
  • Attack Backfire: In "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy", Mermaid Man mistakes SpongeBob for evil and attacks with his trademark Water Balls. SpongeBob enjoys it.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!:
    • SpongeBob, when he and Squidward "discover" that Mr. Krabs is a robot:
    Squidward: [panicking] What do we do now?!
    SpongeBob: I don't know... hey, a nickel!
    Squidward: [angrily] SpongeBob!
    SpongeBob: Sorry!
    • In "Dying for Pie", Mr. Krabs drops a small piece of a pie-bomb (which he and Squidward think is a real pie) while attempting to taste it. It causes a large explosion and blows a hole clean through the back of Mr. Krabs' office, but the rest of the pie-bomb remains on his desk. When SpongeBob enters the office to see what happened, the pie distracts him from the fact that the back wall in Mr. Krabs' office is missing.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: In-universe, at least. In "That's No Lady", all of the men in Bikini Bottom (except for SpongeBob) are instantly infatuated with Patrick when he dresses up as a lady (Patricia), especially Squidward and Mr. Krabs. When they find out who he really is, they get really embarrassed.
  • Author Appeal: The show's original conception was born out of a handful of Stephen Hillenberg's personal interests, the most obvious being his background as a marine biologist influencing the setting and character, but also his love of Jerry Lewis-style slapstick. He also does mixed media sculptures, which influenced the show's frequent Medium Blending.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: At the end of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, SpongeBob saves the brainwashed citizens of Bikini Bottom by playing a song on his guitar and firing laser beams at their helmets.
  • Autocannibalism: Played for Laughs; SpongeBob scarfs down a bucket of his own severed arms (they regenerate) like popcorn during Squidward's Ghost Story.
  • Award-Bait Song:
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy have an invisible boatmobile... that they struggle to find more than once, since it's invisible. Barnacle Boy has also accidentally, and painfully, sat on the gear lever ("I told you we should have got the automatic"), and has been burned by the tailpipe while unknowingly standing behind it.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Mr. Krabs is often a step away from this because of his extreme obsession with the money. Watch the episode "Clams".
    • The Tattletale Strangler as well.
    • Also, Squidward in the episode "Squid's Day Off" becomes so anxious over the potential tragedies that SpongeBob could be doing in his absence that he starts to become hallucinatory about it and keeps checking up on him every 5 seconds.
    • Patrick goes a complete rampage in both "Valentine's Day" and "Nature Pants" because he didn't get his way.
    • And Psycho for Hire Dennis from The Movie.

  • Baby Morph Episode: "Squid Baby", in which Squidward slips on one of SpongeBob's infantile toys and gets hit by a passing truck, culminating in a concussion by having his head smashed into the mail box. At this point he degenerates into his toddler state, incapable of independence, and so SpongeBob and Patrick take him in as Designated Parents. He reverts back to normal at the end by having his head smashed into the ice machine.
    • A more traditional example is "Goo Goo Gas", where Plankton creates a gas that turns those affected into babies, which he uses as both a spray and a grenade. He also comes up with one that turns people into senior citizens, and when he himself is hit with the gas he simply shrinks to microscopic size.
  • Babysitting Episode: A few.
    • "Bubble Buddy Returns" is a Sequel Episode to "Bubble Buddy," in which SpongeBob babysits Bubble Buddy's son, Shiny.
    • In "Squid Baby," Squidward gets a head injury and turns into a baby, causing SpongeBob and Patrick to babysit him.
    • "Whale Watching" is about Squidward watching Pearl and preventing her from sneaking out to a party.
    • "Sandy's Nutty Nieces" has SpongeBob taking care of Sandy's nieces.
    • In "Biddy Sitting", SpongeBob and Patrick have to take care of an old lady who they believe is a baby.
  • Backing Away Slowly: Such a moment occurs in "Arrgh!".
    Patrick: I'm so loyal, I haven't bathed in weeks!
    SpongeBob: But we've only been gone a few hours.
    Patrick: I know.
    (SpongeBob slides away)
  • Badge Gag: In the episode "Scavenger Pants," SpongeBob and Patrick show their adoption certificates to Squidward. Patrick holds his upside down.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The Salty Spitoon. Also mocked in The Movie with The Thug Tug.
  • Bad Job, Worse Uniform:
    • When Pearl turns the business into the Kuddly Krab, SpongeBob is made to wear a crab costume and is mocked by passing-by fish.
    • Squidward is made to do his job while wearing a ridiculous SpongeBob suit in "The Krusty Sponge".
    • In "Krusty Dogs", Squidward doesn't like the Krusty Dogs replacing the Krabby Patties because he has to wear a hot dog costume while standing outside and advertising them. When the Krabby Patties return, he has to do the same while in a Krabby Patty costume.
  • Bad Moon Rising: "Feral Friends" plot revolves around "Neptune's Moon" rising once again after 100 years. The moon bathes Bikini Bottom with a Sickly Green Glow and "devovles" everyone for two hours. And then there's "Neptune's Sun" which devolves every land creature it bathes in it's bright red glow.
  • Bad Omen Anecdote: One of the more famous scenes invokes this; the mysterious tale of The Ugly Barnacle.
    • In "Frozen Face-Off", Mr. Krabs turns out to have already encountered the vicious Abominable Snow Mollusk currently terrorizing them all long ago as a young captain. SpongeBob assumes he defeated the monster single-handedly, or at least managed to pull off a daring escape, but in fact, not only did he and his crew get eaten whole, they had to wait to come out the old-fashioned way...
  • Bad Samaritan: Granny from "Have You Seen This Snail?" She takes Gary in when he's lost on the streets and takes care of him. She seems like a nice old lady until Gary opens up her closet and finds it full of old snail shells. Given the many parallels between this episode and the story of Hansel and Gretel, Granny is almost certainly evil.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • When Mr. Krabs is about to eat the moldy patty an ambulance races by. Turns out Mr. K. had yet to eat it and when he does...
    • One episode has SpongeBob making a sundae, but he's all out of nuts. To get more, he goes to the bathroom, approaches the toilet to-get the peanut plant on his window sill.
  • Bait-and-Switch Accusation:
    • In "The Smoking Peanut", the police finally come to SpongeBob's house and interrogate him, drilling him with multiple pieces of incriminating evidence. The police say that they've got all they need, and to book him. So they put handcuffs...on Patrick.
    Patrick: Wow, you guys are good. I'm the last person I would have suspected, but I was looking for me all the time! It's the perfect crime!
    Mr. Krabs: Flippin fish fossils! look what you did!
    SpongeBob and Patrick: (begging) Mr. Krabs, were so sorry! Have mercy! Don't de- butt me!
    Mr. Krabs: Sorry? You dusted all my knickknacks! That was really nice. Great Barrier Reef!! What's this?!
    SpongeBob and Patrick: (still begging) Accident! Accident! Accident! Accident!
    Mr. Krabs: Oh, and I suppose the floor molding just painted itself on its own. (wall is decorated with tiny ships) That's what I call craftsmanship. CRIMINY JIMJAM!!! You messed up my Dollar... (goes to a stack of dolls) ...Rama!!! All the dolls in this Doll-a-Rama were perfectly aligned! (straightens one doll)
  • Balloon-Bursting Bird:
    • In the Valentine's Day Episode, SpongeBob's gift for Patrick is a hot air balloon made of chocolate. Sandy is to fly it to the carnival but is delayed when scallops (which act as birds on the show's setting) try to eat the balloon.
    • The final shot of "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost" features Squidward encased in a giant bubble floating in the sky, surrounded by sea gulls.
  • Banana Peel:
    • In the episode "Funny Pants" Patrick keeps managing to slip on the same banana peel repeatedly.
    • In the episode "The Bully" the garbage truck Flats is driving to chase SpongeBob manages to slip on a banana peel and winds up rolling over injuring Flats.
    • In the episode "Unreal Estate" one of the houses Squidward offers to SpongeBob is a giant banana, but he finds he cannot leave the house without slipping on a peel.
  • Barbershop Quartets Are Funny: One episode has the prehistoric counterparts of Spongebob, Patrick, and Squidward encounter fire for the first time. In a parody of the "Dawn of Man" sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the prehistoric Spongebob very slowly realizes the potential usefulness of the fire as the Ominous Latin Chanting of "Lux Aeterna" by Gyorgy Ligeti plays - but the ominousness turns comedic when we see that the choral piece is being sung by a live-action barbershop quartet.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie:
    • Parodied in the episode "Arrgh!". SpongeBob and Patrick quickly come to believe their pirate quest is a scam (and that Mr. Krabs has gone Cloudcuckoolander) finding out the treasure map is just a game board they used earlier in the episode. Chance kicks in as they do find the treasure according to the map (the game board) with the remarks of SpongeBob saying "It really IS based on a true treasure map!" The Flying Dutchman comes in to take his treasure back, willing to share with SpongeBob and Patrick. But much to the dismay of Mr. Krabs, he only gains a piece from the game board, and gets replied "But it's based on a REAL treasure chest!"
  • Bathtub Mermaid: A live-action segment showed Patchy the Pirate talking to a mermaid guest at his house party sitting in a comically small inflatable pool, stating that if she stood up, she'd die. Patchy accidentally sticks his hook hand into the pool, deflating it.
  • Batty Lip Burbling: In "No Free Rides", SpongeBob does this when he finds out that the person trying to steal his new boat-mobile was Mrs. Puff.
  • Beach Bury:
    • SpongeBob buries a beach goer, Scooter, and then asks Bubble Buddy, his inanimate friend, to unbury him before the tide raises. We later see him as an angel. Harsher in Hindsight: When you realize Bubble Buddy was alive (not inanimate) the whole time and just let Scooter die.
    • In the episode "Ripped Pants", a whale is buried in the sand.
  • Beach Episode: A few episodes take place at Goo Lagoon. These include "A Life in a Day" and "SpongeGuard On Duty."
  • Beautiful Singing Voice: Spongebob has been shown to have a fantastic singing voice that other characters are amazed by, especially in episodes like "Ripped Pants" and "Band Geeks", which of course employs the use of Non-Singing Voice. But the episode "Choir Boys" shows that SpongeBob's normal singing voice is quite angelic as well, enough to make him qualify to join the Bikini Bottom Men's Choir, much to Squidward's dismay.
  • Bedtime Brainwashing: In "Fear of a Krabby Patty", SpongeBob needs therapy after hallucinating of Krabby Patties. The psychiatrist hypnotized SpongeBob to sleep and goes on to do this. Being Plankton in disguise, he subliminally tries to tell SpongeBob to explain the recipe of Krabby Patty. But it fails, since SpongeBob instead gets a dream where he regains his resolve to make patties again.
  • Bee Afraid: Being underwater, jellyfish fill the role of bees. They have painful stings that often leave victims with red or pink welts, early episodes show them living in cartoon-style beehives, they produce jelly like bees produce honey (or actual honey in the episode "Married to Money"), and they have both queens and kings.
  • Befriending the Enemy: In the episode "F.U.N." SpongeBob tries to befriend Plankton and ask him to play with him after seeing how Bikini Bottom treats him badly and calls him "a loser". Plankton decides to go along with it, and use it as an opportunity to steal the Krabby Patty formula. After sharing a Friendship Song together Plankton does become his friend for a time, but ultimately chooses to betray SpongeBob and steal a Krabby Patty at the end of the episode because "evil is just too fun". This kind of scenario has been recycled several times in the show usually with Plankton trying to exploit SpongeBob in a new scheme.
  • Beige Prose: SpongeBob in "Krab-Borg":
    SpongeBob: Oh, Squidward! It's terrible! Mr. Krabs! Talking to radio! Beeping sounds! Strange dancing! ... robot!
  • Being Watched: During the episode "Jellyfish Hunter":
    SpongeBob: [while being followed by a jellyfish] It feels like someone... wants to sell me something! [turns around quickly to find no one behind him]
    [camera cuts to two salesmen in business suits, hiding behind a rock]
    Salesman 1: I told you he was onto us!
  • Berserk Board Barricade: Squidward creates these in "I Was a Teenage Gary" and "Squid's Day Off", to keep SpongeBob out and himself in, respectively. He fails at both objectives.
  • Berserk Button:
    • In Sandy's case, don't talk smack about Texas, or you will die (possibly in a fiery explosion after she lassos you into the distance).
    • Walk into the Krusty Krab and say anything at all about customers getting so much as a discount on anything, let alone getting anything FREE (and yes, that actually includes napkins, water, and ice— "No free napkins?" is actually SpongeBob's first guess when asked what the most important rule is at the Krusty Krab). If that's not good enough, try mentioning an employee earning overtime, taking a break, or, Neptune forbid, receiving a day off. If Mr. Krabs hears, he's liable to literally blow the roof off of the restaurant in anger.
    • Don't ever tamper with the Krabby Patty formula in front of Mr. Krabs, for that matter. Unless he finds out that it's a way to make more money.
  • "Best Of" Anthology: The Best of Nickelodeon: Summer Adventures contains SpongeBob SquarePants, All Grown Up! and Rocket Power episodes.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: SpongeBob is innocent, caring, and naive to the point where he can be manipulated and taken advantage of for a VERY long time if one chooses to abuse his kindness. He doesn't have a short temper by any means, but like everyone, he does have a limit, and when he reaches it, no one is safe.
  • Bewildering Punishment: In "The Camping Episode", the fifth time the sea bear mauls Squidward it's for seemingly no reason.
    Squidward: What did I do that time?!
    SpongeBob: I don't know, maybe he just doesn't like you!
  • Big Ball of Violence: Happens in "Plankton Retires." SpongeBob answers the phone from the top of the dust cloud.
    SpongeBob: Hello? Krusty Krab, may I take your order? No, Mr. Krabs is unable to come to the phone right now. He's trapped under a dust cloud brawl. Yeah, he'll have to call you back.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • SpongeBob in the very first episode, when Squidward and Mr. Krabs are attacked by a sea of hungry anchovies.
    • The zookeeper in "The Smoking Peanut", revealing the actual culpret was Mr. Krabs and Clamu was crying because he stole her pearl (actually an egg).
  • Big Damn Movie: Three of them: The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Sponge Out of Water, and Sponge on the Run.
  • Big Little Man: The Reveal at the end of "BlackJack."
  • Big "NO!":
    • SpongeBob in "Employee of the Month" when he imagines Squidward in the empty frame.
    • Squidward in "Opposite Day" when he sees the realtor's boat.
    • Patrick in "Texas" when a furious Sandy lassos him.
    • "Something Smells":
    Patrick: Maybe it's just because you're ugly.
    SpongeBob: Ugly?! [sticks finger in mouth, slides it across his eyebrows, then says in a suave tone] You gotta be kiddin' meh.
    Patrick: Better try the reflection test. [holds up a mirror in front of SpongeBob]
    SpongeBob: (to reflection) Hi! [SpongeBob's reflection grabs a hammer and breaks itself after smelling SpongeBob's breath]
    Patrick: Uuuuuuglyyyyyyy....
    SpongeBob: OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
    • Also used in "Bubble Buddy", in dramatic slow-motion and with added vowel screwing around with.
    • And used twice in "Frankendoodle".
    • As well as "I'm With Stupid".
    Marty: And you taught him to sing!
    • SpongeBob during the Overcrank in "As Seen on TV".
    • Two of them in "New Digs", one by SpongeBob when he is late, one by Squidward when Mr. Krabs evicts SpongeBob from living at the Krusty Krab.
    • In the movie, Plankton lets one loose when SpongeBob began zapping the mind-controlling helmets off of the Bikini Bottom residents using The Power of Rock. Mindy also screams three of them (coupled with Plankton's Big "YES!") as Mr. Krabs is about to be executed.
    • SpongeBob in "Best Day Ever" when Squidward's concert ends right when he takes a seat, which is the last straw for him.
    • Gary does this in "Treats!"... with a big long meow as a substitute.
    • SpongeBob lets out another big "NO!" in "Yours, Mine and Mine" when Patrick eats Patty Pal, which in turn immediately summons Mr. Krabs over to resolve their feud.
    • SpongeBob, Squidward and Sandy scream one in unison in "Squidtastic Voyage" when Patrick pushes the "grow" button.
    • In "Single Cell Anniversary", this is exchanged with a Big "YES!" when Karen uploads the formula only for her Tears of Joy to short her out.
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: Squilliam Fancyson.
    Squidward: How's the unibrow?
    Squilliam: It's big and valuable. [wiggles unibrow smugly]
    • In "House Fancy", he has a giant sculpture of his unibrow made of gilded doornobs.
  • Big "WHY?!": "Ripped Pants" when SpongeBob appears to have drowned but is just setting up another ripped pants joke, the lifeguard does a particularly hilarious one.
  • Bigger on the Inside:
    • SpongeBob's, Squidward's, and sometimes Patrick's houses. Also the Krusty Krab, the Chum Bucket, the tree dome, pretty much any building.
    • The locker from the acid trip of "Squidward in Clarinetland".
    • Gary's shell.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • In "Pizza Delivery", SpongeBob hallucinates actual Korean words on the gearshift of the boat, which really mean "forward" and "reverse".
    • A restroom sign in "Krusty Krab Training Video" reads Lave Las Aletas (Spanish for "wash your flippers").
    • SpongeBob speaking German in "Sold!" is actually correct. He says, "Oh! Good morning. My name is SpongeBob. I have come to visit my old home."
  • Birthday Episode:
    • SpongeBob's in "Waiting" and "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout."
    • SpongeBob's grandmother in "Pet Sitter Pat."
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Puffy Fluffy and those of his species from "A Pal For Gary". As cute as they may seem, they hate being around other pets — snails especially, and once they're home with you, it doesn't take long for their true colors to appear as long as another pet is around. And once they have that pet all alone...
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    Stanley: Wow! A TV! Uncle Sherm never let me watch TV back at home.
    SpongeBob: Why not? *The TV explodes*
    Stanley: That's why. *runs off* What's that?
    SpongeBob: Oh, it's okay. There's nothing good on television anyway. [turns to camera] Nothing.
    • "The Krusty Sponge" may be this, regarding the series' wild success and Nickelodeon's subsequent milking.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • In "The Chaperone", SpongeBob and Pearl get kicked out of the prom, but Pearl doesn't care, since she's had a fun time with him.
    • In "Opposite Day", Squidward doesn't get to sell his house, but he DOES get to chase SpongeBob and Patrick into the distance with a bulldozer.
    • In "I'm Your Biggest Fanatic", the Jellyspotters turn on Kevin and give his Crown-Shaped Head to SpongeBob, but he turns down the offer to join, having learned it's the jellyfish that makes it fun.
    • In "Porous Pockets", SpongeBob loses all his wealth and had to go back to his old life, but the good news is he's made up with Patrick.
    • In "Enchanted Tiki Dreams," the Tiki Land burns but Squidward gets to knock SpongeBob and Patrick over with a boat swing at the end.
    • "Keep Bikini Bottom Beautiful": Squidward manages to one-up Squilliam, but gets a littering ticket for the umpteenth time.
    • "Gary in Love": Gary loses his lover Mary to another fancy snail, but the bully snail makes up with him and they become friends, and go off to spend time together.
  • Bizarchitecture: "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?" Answer: SpongeBob SquarePants
    • The other giant objects that the characters live in. Although they're only giant in comparison with the characters, according to the movie.
    • Most of the important buildings follow a sort of a theme, in that they're the sort of things that might appear as decor in fish tanks. Moai, rocks, treasure chests, etc.
  • Black Comedy:
    • This show contains a surprising amount of dark humor. For example, the entire comedy of "Nasty Patty" comes from SpongeBob and Krabs believing that they've killed the health inspector (he was just unconscious).
    • Then in "No Free Rides," Mrs. Puff imagines SpongeBob running over a family, complete with sound effects, after she graduates him.
    • Pretty much "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler", but there's one scene where SpongeBob tries to climb on the Strangler's shoulders.... come from nowhere, he appears wearing a pair of shoes with sharp celats, he jumps and his shoes went directly inside the Strangler's eyeholes... "I'm trying, but my cleats are stuck in your corneas!!!"
    • In "The Camping Episode" Squidward gets his poor body beaten several times by the sea bear. If you think that a slapstick routine can't be considered as dark comedy, you wait to see how physically destroyed the sea bear left Squidward's body, only to beat the shit out of him over and over (at one point, in SpongeBob's opinion, because the sea bear "Just doesn't like [Squidward]"). And that's funny only because he's an unlikable, antagonistic character who's getting his comeuppance.
    • During one episode, Mr. Krabs' mother says she saw a new hat in town that she wanted, and then later reveals that her new boyfriend bought it for her. Krabs gets jealous and reveals that he also "bought" her a hat, and by "bought," he meant "snuck into a funeral parlor and stole the hat off of a deceased fish" (after all, Mr. Krabs isn't gonna go out and spend money on anyone but himself... with rare exceptions). And the worst part is that this isn't the first time Mr. Krabs has robbed a dead body for a hat. See Accidental Truth above.
  • Black Comedy Cannibalism: In "Frying Cook Games", Patrick accidentally splatters fryer water onto a portion of the fish audience, turning them into fried fish sticks. With that, a salesman comes by, puts a dollar sign beside them and chants "Fish sticks!" for anyone to buy.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: After the movie.
  • Bland-Name Product: The pet food Snailpo is a recurring example. Also the restaurant Krabby O'Monday's in "Selling Out."
  • Blanket Tug O' War: Not with a blanket, but with Patrick's rock in "Home Sweet Pineapple."
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: Sandy threatens SpongeBob with a single drop of hot sauce to the tongue. A drop of hot sauce that talks.
    "By the powers of naughtiness, I command this particular drop of hot sauce to be really, really hot!"
    • After SpongeBob surrenders, she casually starts gulping the stuff down like it was lemonade.
  • Blind Driving: SpongeBob had to learn a driving course blindfolded as part of a Drill Sergeant Nasty's Training from Hell. Unfortunately, he can't drive without being blindfolded afterwards.
  • The Blind Leading the Blind:
    • "Your Shoe's Untied", where Patrick buys shoes, but doesn't know how to tie them. SpongeBob tries to teach him how, but realizes he's never learned himself.
    • Patrick often gives SpongeBob this kind of misguided advice. For example, one episode has Patrick teaching SpongeBob how to be mature, with tips such as growing sideburns, puffing out his chest, and developing an appreciation for freestyle jazz. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Since they're both mentally six, they're occasionally known to do this to themselves-devoid of anyone to provide them with questionable advice, they'll attempt to deduce the proper course themselves and arrive at exactly the wrong answer through some of the unsoundest logic it's possible to come across.
    • In the 'pilot' episode where SpongeBob meets Sandy for the first time, SpongeBob goes to Patrick for advice about the mysterious concept of "air." Patrick claims she means "putting on airs," (which is an actual phrase that Patrick defines correctly, to his credit) or fancy talk. His advice is to go to Sandy's and "When In doubt, pinky out'. This causes SpongeBob, an aquatic animal, to slowly dry out in Sandy's water-less "treedome." Patrick enters at one point, and the duo end up completely dehydrating, but Sandy saves them with water-filled helmets (which become standard attire when visiting her). So, not only is Patrick's advice misguided, it's dangerous.
  • Blowing a Raspberry:
    • One episode, SpongeBob goes to Rock Bottom, where everyone speaks in raspberries. When he asks for directions, a Rock Bottomite can't understand his "accent" until SpongeBob starts adding raspberries between words.
    • SpongeBob also does this to Mr Krabs in The Movie, angry about not getting the job of Krusty Krab 2 manager:
    SpongeBob: ["hungover" from an ice-cream bender]' Well I am 100% MAN! And this MAN has got something to say to yooouuu! [blows a very long raspberry] There! I think I made my point!
  • Boats into Buildings: The show Plays With the trope where it overlaps with Shipshape Ship Wreck. The homes and businesses of the underwater city of Bikini Bottom all have a nautical theme to them, naturally including boats and parts of boats (alongside other maritime flotsam, jetsam, lagan and derelict) in the construction. Most of the buildings appear to be made from old smokestacks, but there are examples of structures made from repurposed boats:
  • Body Horror:
    • The show's not shy to display internal organs, limbs ripped off, Eye Scream, etc.
    • "Krabby Patty Creature Feature" has almost everyone in Bikini Bottom turn into creepy fish-Krabby Patty hybrids as a result of eating Krabby Patties that Sandy genetically modified.
  • Boomerang Comeback: SpongeBob's plan to use a "boomerang pet ball" to lure Gary into the tub in "Gary Takes a Bath" fails because of this trope. A trope which also applies to the box the toy came in, as SpongeBob finds out when he throws it away in annoyance.
  • Boot Camp Episode: When SpongeBob gets Mrs. Puff fired after failing the boating exam once again, her replacement is a drill instructor named Sarge. A drill instructor who just so happens to be Zaeed Massani
  • Boredom Montage: "Squidville": Squidward moves into a new neighborhood where everyone has the same interests and hobbies as he does, and gradually gets sick of it, as the Boredom Montage gradually shows him appearing less and less interested, based on the look on his face as the montage goes on. And then he loses it BIG TIME. He attacks people with a reef blower, sings songs, and acts just like SpongeBob used to. At the end of the episode, Squidward uses the reef blower as a jetpack while laughing madly (underwater, no less). It then shows SpongeBob and Patrick, who were searching for Squidward, unable to find him because everyone looks the same. They then hear Squidward laughing, look up, and say "Well at least we know one thing; it SURE isn't that guy!" Episode ends.
  • Bottle Episode:
    • "Gary Takes a Bath." It's shorter than the typical 11 minutes, features only one voice actor, features two main characters other than a brief Mr. Krabs cameo and most of it takes place inside SpongeBob's pineapple.
    • "Reef Blower" is also considered as such, even though it lasts for almost 3 minutes. Completely no dialogue, the whole place takes in Squidward's and SpongeBob's backyards, two songs play throughout the whole episode... What's interesting is this episode was originally supposed to have dialogue but the sound equipment broke, so no one tried to work on the episode's voice acting another day and the episode went on to be as it is.
  • Bowdlerise: The episode "Someone's in the Kitchen with Sandy", which involved Plankton stealing Sandy Cheek's pelt and using it as a disguise to try and steal the Krabby Patty formula, was infamous for ending with Sandy getting arrested for public nudity even though she still had her bikini on. What most people don't know, though, is that the original storyboards actually had Sandy get naked, but she ended up keeping her bikini on in the final version of the episode. Not only does this change explain why the citizens of Bikini Bottom considered her to be naked even though she still had clothes on, but it also explains how Plankton had a bikini on Sandy's pelt as well.
  • Box-and-Stick Trap:
    • One Nickelodeon Magazine comic had SpongeBob and Patrick try this as one of their attempts at catching the Sea Leprechaun, with a Bland-Name Product version of Lucky Charms as the bait. It fails thrice: first it catches Patrick ("I got hungry."), then Mr. Krabs ("I can't resist a free breakfast"), then Plankton ("If Krabs has it, I want it!"). They then decide they need a new plan.
    • In "It's a SpongeBob Christmas", Patrick attempts to catch Santa Claus using one. He then forgets about his plan and goes after the Christmas cookie he planted in it.
  • Brain with a Manual Control: In the episode "Plankton!", Plankton enters SpongeBob's head to make him bring a Krabby Patty to the Chum Bucket, so he can discover the Krabby Patty's secret formula. While no control room was found in the brain, Plankton did attach a device to the brain that allowed him to manually control SpongeBob.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Pearl complains a lot.
  • "Brave the Ride" Plot: In "Roller Cowards", Spongebob and Patrick head to Glove World to ride the coaster dubbed "The Fiery Fist O' Pain". While initially excited, the two get scared when they actually see it in action and keep making excuses to each other to keep from riding it. They finally do get on when the park is closing but the ride seemingly breaks down before they get the chance and both reveal their apprehension in trying to ride it. However before they can get off, the operator reveals he fixed it and the two end up riding it for real and actually like it.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In "Can You Spare a Dime?" SpongeBob tries to guess what job Squidward (who had quit the Krusty Krab) is now doing, in a callback to earlier in the episode:
    SpongeBob: Hmmm, I see you've been working on that mustache. The tattered clothes, the awful're a football player!
    Squidward: No.
    SpongeBob: A spaceman! A king!
    Squidward: No.
    SpongeBob: A football-playing king in space?
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In "Dying for Pie", SpongeBob's friendship list consists of showing Squidward to everyone in town, telling knock-knock jokes, walking backwards, and open-heart surgery.
  • Break the Cutie: This happens to SpongeBob quite a bit. For example:
    SpongeBob: [grabs Mr. Krabs from behind his desk and lifts him into the air with ease while strangling him] Listen, you crustaceous cheapskate!! Squidward has been living in MY HOUSE driving me CRAZY!! AND YOU'RE NOT GONNA HIRE HIM BACK ALL BECAUSE OF A STUPID DIME?!?!
  • Break the Haughty: Squidward in "Can You Spare A Dime?". After he quits his job at the Krusty Krab, within two weeks he's lost his house, his belongings, has been forced to live on the streets and beg for change, and had to eat all of the art that he made because no one would buy them. And this is all coming from the most self-centered character on the show that's convinced he's the greatest man under the sea.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The realistic dummy SpongeBob makes of himself in "The Chaperone". He manages to swap out himself with it in the middle of Pearl's meltdown and near the end when Mr. Krabs accuses he and Pearl of almost stepping on his flower.
    • "The Great Snail Race" has one. SpongeBob, who's training Gary, calls him a lady to "humiliate and demean him". Cut to Sandy, who says "I don't know why, but I think I'll kick SpongeBob's butt tomorrow.". The next day, at the end of the episode, Sandy comes out of nowhere, kicks SpongeBob off screen and yells "That's for yesterday SquarePants!".
    • In the beginning of "The Smoking Peanut", Mr. Krabs is seen abusing the concept of Free Day, taking everything he can. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the oyster got upset because her pearl was stolen. Guess who stole it?
    • In the "Nasty Patty" episode: SpongeBob reveals that Mr. Krabs wears hair curlers to bed. Remember what Mr. Krabs "borrowed" from Mrs. Puff in the "Life of Crime" episode? Her hair curlers (although it was a gift, supposedly).
    • In "Something Smells", Patrick says that he has no sister. Several SEASONS later, "Big Sister Sam" focuses around Patrick meeting up with his long-lost sister.
    • Remember how "Every Villain Is Lemons?" Plan Z is lemon-scented.
    • In "The Two Faces of Squidward", Squidward's handsomeness gives a fish the ability to fly, and while doing so, his untied shoe falls off. Towards the end of the episode, when Squidward becomes even more handsome, that same shoe falls through the roof of the Krusty Krab, prompting SpongeBob to push Squidward out of the way and slam him into a pole, which causes him to lose his handsomeness.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • "Squirrel Jokes" is supposed to be about racist jokes being uncool. However, when SpongeBob does another stand-up routine at the end of the episode, while he doesn't tell any more squirrel jokes, he tells jokes about different sea creatures instead, sponges included. The crowd eats it up just as much as they did the squirrel jokes. So the message comes off less as "don't tell racist jokes" and more as "if you're gonna tell racist jokes, do it for as many races as you can, and throw in some Self-Deprecation for good measure".
    • In "I Had An Accident", SpongeBob decides to stay inside forever after having a painful sandboarding accident; naturally, Sandy and Patrick try to convince him that going outside is healthy, necessary, and usually perfectly safe. Leaving aside that becoming a shut-in seems to have no negative impact on SpongeBob's life (he has friends, even if they are inanimate objects, he can still work from home, and since he can filter feed, he has no need to worry about running out of food), the outside world proves to be every bit as dangerous as he was worried it would be; Patrick gets stung horribly by jellyfish, and the only reason SpongeBob has to go outside in the end at all is to save Sandy and Patrick from a gorilla attack. When he does, the gorilla literally tears him in half; SpongeBob only manages to save himself and his friends by accidentally scaring it away. As far as the episode shows, all three of them would have been better off never going outside again.
  • Broken Smile:
    • Mr. Krabs at the end of "Squid on Strike", when he sees that SpongeBob destroyed the Krusty Krab.
    • Squidward also gets this in "Artist Unknown" after SpongeBob's second attempt at "sculpting" the marble. Cue Rage Breaking Point.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: Mr. Krabs' "new security system" in "Just One Bite". It's a bucket over the door... full of gasoline. A robot arm lights the pile and sends the whole dining area ablaze. And then there's the second one in the kitchen. It turned into a Deleted Scene, especially in the United States, and replaced with Squidward looking through the doors before a panning shot goes into the kitchen to show the vault. Squidward then walks in unharmed.
  • Bug Catching: SpongeBob and Patrick go jellyfishing all the time.
  • Burger Fool: Subverted — SpongeBob loves his job. Squidward, on the other hand...
  • The Bus Came Back: Numerous One Shot Characters made a single appearance early on in the series, only to return much later:
    • Bubble Buddy in "Bubble Buddy Returns";
    • The Alaskan Bull Worm in "My Leg!";
    • Bubble Bass in "Plankton's Good Eye", before becoming a fully recurring character from "Goodbye, Krabby Patty?" onwards;
    • The conman from "Chocolate With Nuts" returns in "20,000 Patties Under the Sea" before becoming a Recurring Extra from "Snooze You Lose" onwards.
    • Mary and her disheveled, skeletal mother from "Chocolate with Nuts" both return in "Biddy Sitting", with the latter becoming an Ascended Extra for the episode.
  • Butt Cannon: In "Spy Buddies," Patrick is given a special pair of pants that had this ability. This was used for SpongeBob and him to break into the Chum Bucket.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Most of the cast have their share of bad luck, but Squidward and Plankton are the most consistent examples. Almost everything is out to get them, and is merciless in execution.
    • Entire episodes revolve around Squidward trying desperately to get away from SpongeBob and Patrick. He also has had houses land on him, had a shrunk submarine grow back to normal size while inside his body (with SpongeBob and Patrick in it), had a NUCLEAR BOMB thrown directly in his face (which promptly exploded), had his house repeatedly destroyed... well, you get the idea. And these only the instances invoked by people who LIKE him. Outside of that, generally a large amount of Bikini Bottom's residents, animals and inanimate objects seem to bear an instant grudge towards Squidward, usually expressing it in somewhat violent or hurtful ways. At least the majority of abuse SpongeBob and Patrick inflict is completely accidental.
    • Squidward's rival Squilliam Fancyson treats him like this at all times, and according to Squilliam, Squidward was also a butt monkey in high school, having been voted "Most likely to suck eggs."
    • There's also the unnamed health inspector from "Nasty Patty".
    • If there's an episode that primarily focuses on SpongeBob himself, chances are something terrible is going to happen to him.
    • The Tattletale Strangler spends nearly the entire time span of his only appearance being a butt monkey because of SpongeBob's clumsiness.
  • Butt Sticker: In the episode "Kracked Krabs", when SpongeBob gives a quarter with a string to a very large employee, he pulls it back along with the employee and he lands on SpongeBob. He then turns around revealing SpongeBob stuck to his backside.

  • Call-Back:
    • In "Bubble Buddy Returns", Bubble Buddy returns. Mr. Krabs unsurprisingly recalls that Bubble Buddy still owes him money.
    • In "As Seen on TV," SpongeBob walks in on Mr. Krabs making some calculations about saving money by firing someone. In "Bummer Vacation," Mr. Krabs forces SpongeBob to take a vacation in order to not get fined for overworking his employees, at the end of the episode Mr. Krabs reveals that the fined would have been 5 cents, which SpongeBob exclaims that it's more than he makes in a year. In "SpongeBob You're Fired," Mr. Krabs fires SpongeBob because he would be saving 5 cents from the restaurant's budget.
  • Call of the Wild Blue Yonder: The Lost Episode depicts SpongeBob longing to fly with jellyfish. After a few failed attempts at building a flying machine, SpongeBob gains the ability to fly by accidentally inflating his pants. Unfortunately, everyone takes advantage of his flight which leads to his pants being destroyed. However, SpongeBob gets his wish when the jellyfish give him a ride.
  • The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House: "The maniac's in the mailbox!"
  • Calvinball:
    • From the episode "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost":
    SpongeBob: Hike Patrick, hike! [drops rock, which breaks in two]
    SpongeBob: You just lost 3 points! [climbs up a piece of coral three times, counting one number with each climb]
    SpongeBob: 1, 2, 5! [stands on his head at the top of the coral and blows a bubble in the shape of "G7"]
    SpongeBob: G7!
    Patrick: G7?! King me, king me! [runs and smashes into coral]
    Patrick: I lose!
    SpongeBob: But it's not Tuesday, Patrick!
    Patrick: Tartar sauce!
    Squidward: What are you two invertebrates doing?!
    Patrick and SpongeBob: ... we don't know.
  • The Cameo: In "SpongeBob vs. the Big One", the Flying Dutchman is is sent down to Davy Jones' Locker. As in, Davy Jones from The Monkees.
    • At one point in "Goons on the Moon", Squidward runs into his voice actor, Rodger Bumpass while trying to find a way out of the crater he's trapped in.
  • Camera Abuse:
    • SpongeBob crashes into the undersea documentarian and his camera at the beginning of "No Free Rides."
    • "Cave Dwelling Sponge" ends with Spongy Spongy smashing the camera with his club.
    • Patrick smacks into the camera at the end of "The Nitwitting."
  • Camp: Squidward.
  • Camping Episode: "The Camping Episode" and "To Save a Squirrel."
  • Canon Discontinuity: Vincent Waller has stated that the video game tie-ins to the series are non-canon to the cartoons.
  • Canon Immigrant: The female mayor of Bikini Bottom that appeared in The SpongeBob Musical has now appeared in the actual show as of "Plankton's Old Chum" in Season 12.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Squidward, at least once (in the episode "Krab Borg").
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Squidward in "Fools in April" tries to apologize to SpongeBob for his nasty prank on him that made him cry, but because of his despise toward him, he has a hard time getting it out.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': "Procrastination."
  • Can't Stand Them, Can't Live Without Them:
    • It varies from episode to episode whether or not Squidward actually likes SpongeBob deep down or genuinely wants him dead, though usually if there is another person to take this role, Squidward is there to subvert it.
      • Subverted in "Nature Pants" Patrick tearfully tells SpongeBob, "Even Squidward misses you!"; cut to Squidward celebrating the fact that SpongeBob's gone.
      • Played straight in "Squidville". Squidward is initially delighted to live in a neighborhood where everyone lives and acts like him, but eventually is bored by it and starts playing with a reef blower like SpongeBob.
  • Can't Take Criticism: In "The Algae's Always Greener", during his review at work, SpongeBob insists on being given some form of criticism so he can improve his work. Eventually, despite being assured he is doing perfectly, his boss relents and suggests to put less sauce in the burgers, leaving SpongeBob in a deranged, whimpering BSOD.
  • Captain Colorbeard:
    • "I'm Blindbeard the pirate!"
    • In one of the live-action sections of "SpongeBob's House Party", Patchy the Pirate introduces us to "Longbeard the Pirate".
    • And Mr. Krabs' grandfather is a pirate named Redbeard.
  • Captain Ersatz: MermaidMan's character is heavily based on the 1966 incarnation of Batman, but with a design more reminiscent of Aquaman.
  • Captain Obvious: Every word of dialogue from this incredibly underrated scene from "Wet Painters" where SpongeBob and Patrick make their last desperate attempt to get the the paint off of Mr. Krabs's first dollar (after attempting to machine-wash it, sand it, and spray it).
    SpongeBob: (brandishing baseball bat) NOTHING'S WORKING!!!
    Patrick: Wait, SpongeBob! We're NOT CAVEMEN! WE HAVE TECHNOLOGY...(smashes computer against desk six times, as hard as humanly possible, to try to get the paint off of the dollar) DUR DUR DUR DUR DUR DUR DUR!!!
    SpongeBob: It didn't work.
  • Cardboard Box Home: In the episode "Can You Spare a Dime?" a homeless Squidward is living in a cardboard box. That is, until the repo man comes to repossess it.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Hugely averted. Sharks and killer whales are portrayed as normal people, sea monsters are intellectual giants while fairly harmless creatures such as plankton and flounder are the show's main antagonists.
  • Cartoonish Supervillainy: Plankton is an example of this through and through, despite his minuscule size.
  • Cash Lure: In "Frankendoodle," SpongeBob does this to Squidward.
    • In "Goo Goo Gas" Plankton does this to Mr. Krabs.
    • In fact it seems Plankton does this to Mr. Krabs often, since he also lured him out of the Krusty Krab with a penny in "Imitation Krabs".
  • Casting Gag: Flats the Flounder is voiced by Thomas Wilson, who's known for playing The Bully Biff Tannen (who also has a perchance for the word "butt") in the Back to the Future films.
  • Catchphrase:
    • SpongeBob: "I'm ready!"
    • Parodied or given a nod numerous times throughout the series. In "Pretty Patties", after Mr. Krabs trades the Krusty Krab to SpongeBob for his Pretty Patties food stand, he excitedly exclaims "I'm ready! I'm ready! I'm ready... for me money!"
    • The episode "Pre-Hibernation Week" has a small fish attempting to impersonate SpongeBob so Sandy will get off everyone's backs (she's desperately looking for him, and he's hiding from her). She protests that "SpongeBob is square," at which point a muscular fish molds the small fish into a shape resembling SpongeBob's. The small fish says "I'm ready! I'm ready!" Sandy replies "No, you ain't."
    • Mr. Krabs has a tendency to shout at his employees to "Get back to work!"
    • [Plankton] went to college! [is thrown out of the Krusty Krab and crashes through the door of the Chum Bucket (or into its exterior)] ... ouch.
    • "MY LEG!!!" for Fred.
    • Rube's is "Amazing!"
  • Celebrity Power: The movie, with David Hasselhoff.
  • Chaos Architecture: SpongeBob's pineapple, Squidward's Easter Island home, and Patrick's rock are constantly subject to change depending on the episode. Patrick's rock is justified on account of Patrick making most of the furniture out of sand. The interior of the Krusty Krab is rather consistent, although the location of it is subject to change as well.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Parody:
    • "Atlantis SquarePantis" has shades of this.
    • Mr. Krabs Takes A Vacation could also qualify.
  • Chekhov's Gag: A very subtle but impressive example occurs with the relationship between Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. Throughout the first couple of seasons, Barnacle Boy clearly takes exception to being called "Boy" (he's a senior citizen, after all), and the way Mermaid Man treats him like a child (ordering kids' meals for him at the Krusty Krab, telling the server at their retirement home to give him extra broccoli, etc.), and most of all, the fact that he's a sidekick and not viewed as Mermaid Man's equal. This all comes to a head in the Season 3 episode "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V", during which Barnacle Boy is fed up with everything and defects to the side of evil.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The starfish that was on Mermaid Man's face since his first appearance turns out to be the thing giving him the ability to breathe. Mermaid Man is narrating. Then again, all of the origin stories are wacky and unreliable, so who's to say...
    • First shown in Season One's "Tea At the Treedome", SpongeBob & Patrick's ability to be brought back to life from dehydration comes in handy in The Movie.
    • In "Sandy, SpongeBob, and The Worm", SpongeBob tries to convince Sandy that a paper clip attached to a piece of string is her tail. Later, that same paper clip and string save their lives as they run from the giant Alaskan Bull Worm.
    • The pebble that remains as the only remnant of SpongeBob's house after it's been eaten (or drank, sort of...) by nematodes.
    • In "Imitation Krabs", as part of his evil plan, Plankton uses a penny to distract Mr. Krabs, who chases after it when it rolls out of the front doors of the Krusty Krab. Eventually, it finds its way back into the Krusty Krab with Krabs still chasing it. At the end of the episode, SpongeBob (unknowingly) uses it to defeat Plankton when all seems lost.
    • In "Ditchin'", SpongeBob pretends to have a Potty Emergency so he can ditch class and get his Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy book signed, and Mrs. Puff gives him a bathroom key which he must return once he comes back, or else. Later on when SpongeBob is trapped in the tar pits on the way back, the thought of the bathroom key is what saves him from his Disney Death and escapes.
  • Chewing the Scenery:
    • 'CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!invoked'
    • "I lost my name tag! POURQUOI?!!"
    • This gem from Squidward in season 9: "You say you're an introvert? What a coincidence! I'M AN INTROVEEEERT!" *followed by applause from a random crowd*
  • Chirping Crickets: Played with in "Squirrel Jokes": SpongeBob's first joke produces dead silence from the audience, except for a cricket chirping (which is shown on-screen via a loop of a real-life cricket chirping). On his second joke, even the cricket doesn't bother to make noise (shown by the same cricket simply standing there doing nothing).
  • Christmas Episode: Christmas Who? and Its A Sponge Bob Christmas. "Goons on the Moon" combined this with Space Episode.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Squidward's recurring rival Squilliam Fancyson appeared numerous times throughout the early seasons, but vanished without explanation following a brief cameo in season 7's "Back to the Past" and, barring a brief reference in "Code Yellow", hasn't appeared in person since.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: In "SpongeHenge," SpongeBob creates a stone statue of himself, complete with holes, to distract the jellyfishes who are attracted to the sound coming from SB's holes when the wind blows through them (it's a very windy day). Turns out that one small statue doesn't work, and then SB creates more, bigger ones and arranges them in a circle. It works very well, with the stones even creating music.
  • Circling Birdies: Seen in "Survival of the Idiots", when Sandy hits Patrick in the head and then sees chicken drumsticks floating around his head.
    Patrick: Hot...wings.
  • Clam Trap:
    • Sandy is introduced fighting a giant clam in her debut episode "Tea at the Treedome".
    • In "Valentine's Day", Sandy is flying a hot air balloon made of chocolate when a flock of scallops tries to eat it, in a underwater variation of Balloon-Bursting Bird.
    • In "Clams" a giant clam eats Mr. Krabs' millionth dollar. In trying to get it back, he gets eaten by it, but fights it and gets back his dollar... at the cost of the lower half of his body ("Nothing important").
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    Mr. Krabs: I didn't want to say this in front of Patrick, but that hat makes you look like a girl!
    SpongeBob: [glowing] Am I a pretty girl?
    • Patrick lampshades this in SpongeBob's case during an episode.
    • Patrick too, though to a lesser extent.
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: The episode "Sailor Mouth" has Mr. Krabs letting off a long string of swears, all censored with the various sound effects used to cover them beforehand.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: At the end of "Krusty Love", SpongeBob lets out a stream of...gibberish that is obviously intended to be interpreted as cursing.
    Mrs. Puff: I had no idea SpongeBob had such a colorful vocabulary!
    Mr. Krabs: ... (Gaping in shocked silence with his jaw on the ground)
  • Clutching Hand Trap: In "Squid's Day Off", Mr. Krabs gets his claw stuck in a pipe after grabbing a dime. When SpongeBob tells him he needs to let go of the time to free himself Mr. Krabs him "I can think of ten good reasons to never let go of a dime, boy." They're forced to try to pull him out by his hips but only wind up ripping his arms from the sockets... again.
  • Cobweb of Disuse: In "Patty Hype", the Krusty Krab is covered in cobwebs when business gets slow. When SpongeBob tries to clean one, a spider immediately makes another. Later, Mr. Krabs opens his mouth to reveal cobwebs and a spider inside.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Seen more than once, especially the episodes "Idiot Box" and "The Paper", both involving Squidward. In "Idiot Box" in particular, Squidward watches TV to get his mind off of SpongeBob and Patrick playing in a box, only to find a channel about boxes being assembled, two fish giving each other boxes as presents, and a math equation involving a box. He switches to boxing... which also turns out to have boxes in it.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Everyone, to disturbing levels.
  • Comically Cross-Eyed: SpongeBob sometimes takes on a goofy, cross-eyed expression, complete with Fish Eyes and/or a Maniac Tongue.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Mrs. Puff in "The Bully", whom doesn't seem to notice Flats' threats of violence against SpongeBob. When SpongeBob asks Mrs. Puff to settle it, she claims that it's part of Flats's tradition, once again failing to realize Flats's ultimate goal. At the end of it all, the blame all goes to SpongeBob.
    • SpongeBob repeats a similar act in "A Pal for Gary".
  • The Comically Serious: Squidward.
  • Comic Trio: Variant between SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The baby scallop who SpongeBob and Patrick raises in "Rock-A-Bye-Bivalve." He starts out as a baby, and leaves SpongeBob and Patrick at the end of the episode to live on his own.
  • Community-Threatening Construction: In "SpongeBob's Last Stand," Plankton builds a new highway through Jellyfish Fields.
  • Company Cross References: In "Truth or Square", there is a scene where Patchy the Pirate is out on the street, standing right in front of some street posts depicting Dora the Explorer and Aang.
  • Compressed Abstinence: "Grandma's Kisses" centers on SpongeBob (and Patrick) rejecting all their normal activities and acting as adults (which boils down to becoming "Stop Having Fun" Guys... and wearing sideburns). Patrick caves first, basically declaring that Growing Up Sucks.
  • Confusing Multiple Negatives: In "Opposite Day", after Squidward cleans up after SpongeBob and Patrick, who turned the pineapple house into an eyesore:
    SpongeBob: I don't get it: I made my house a mess which was making it clean, which made Squidward clean my yard, but that really means he's messing it up. But the opposite of clean is filth, which means filth is clean. That means Squidward's really making my yard a wreck, but I'd normally wreck my own yard, which means Squidward's being the opposite of Squidward, which means he's SpongeBob. A-ha! I understand everything now! I must be the opposite of SpongeBob by being...
    [SpongeBob imitates Squidward's voice] Squidward.
  • Congruent Memory:
    • In "Skill Crane," "Be the crane!"
    • SpongeBob practices driving while blindfolded. When it comes time for him to take his driving test, he finds he can't drive without the blindfold. Oddly, this one provides a justification for his unrealistically terrible inability to drive normally: when he can see what he's doing, it terrifies him.
    • "Missing Identity" had him forget where he put his nametag. So he repeats his morning routine ad infinitum, exactly, hoping that this'll help him remember where it is.
  • Conjoined Twins: Has happened several times: in the movie, we meet two conjoined twins in a bar. In "SquidBob TentaclePants", SpongeBob and Squidward are conjoined because of one of Sandy's experiments.
  • Conspicuously Light Patch: In "Krusty Krab Training Video," the door Squidward opens and closes in the bathroom is much lighter and less detailed compared to its surroundings.
    • One particularly egregious example is the episode "Can You Spare a Dime?", where SpongeBob pokes Squidward's animated nose, and the entire rest of his head is a much darker matte painting (see 9:34-9:40 here).
  • Contemporary Caveman: The episode "Cave Dwelling Sponge" has SpongeBob use hot chocolate to help get Patrick's tongue unstuck from a wall of ice, unintentionally thawing out a cave-sponge in the process.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the Season 1 episode "Karate Choppers," SpongeBob exclaims that a conspicuous pile of cans on the ground is Sandy's "worst disguise yet." Sandy appears in the background, holding a plastic squirrel mask, and says "No, it's not, SpongeBob! This is!" That exact same mask appears to be the one that SpongeBob uses when impersonating Sandy's father during the Season 2 episode "Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm".
    • One of the thugs that wants to enter the Salty Spittoon tells about how he ate a bowl of nails for breakfast. "Without any milk!" In The Movie, one of the thugs in the bar is shown eating a bowl of nails. And yes, without milk.
    • In the April Fools episode, Patrick mistakenly says a depressed SpongeBob was "impressed" by Squidward's prank. In Squidward's Tiki Land, Patrick mentions a time he was feeling "impressed".
    • The villain, Man Ray, was cryogenically frozen in tartar sauce for a number of years before being unwittingly thawed out by SpongeBob and Patrick, thus he is still in his physical peak. In a much later episode, Manray recognizes an old lady as someone he went to high school with. There was even an episode where SpongeBob and Patrick travel back in time and accidentally stop Man Ray from being frozen originally, thus creating a Bad Future where Man Ray is the ruler. Hilarity Ensues.
    • The episodes "New Leaf" and "Spy Buddies" featured the robot Krabs suit from an earlier episode "Imitation Krabs".
    • In "Chum Bucket Supreme", Patrick gives the Chum Bucket a slogan. Said slogan is later seen on a billboard in "SpongeBob's Last Stand".
    • In "Rock a Bye Bivalve", Patrick is always seen watching a show where someone gets hit in the head with a coconut with music playing. In "The Thing" Patrick and SpongeBob are watching TV and the music for the show plays again, with Patrick saying he thinks he seen this before and this part is real funny.
    • In "Whelk Attack", SpongeBob remembers the time that he got "suds".
    • In "Born Again Krabs", Mr. Krabs is going to be thrown into Davy Jones locker with his gym socks. In SpongeBob SquarePants vs. The Big One The Flying Dutchman locks him self in there by accident and the actor Davy Jones throws the socks at him.
    • In "SpongeBob SquarePants vs. The Big One", Sandy has a helicopter. That exact helicopter is seen later in "The Krabby Patty that Ate Bikini Bottom" and "Single Cell Anniversary".
    • In Patrick's dream in "Home Sweet Rubble", Patrick has pictures on the wall that were pictures of him from "Squidward's School for Grown Ups".
    • In "SpongeBob You're Fired," we see a Freeze-Frame Bonus of a patty with pickles tucked in, similar to the competition with Neptune in a much earlier episode. Also, the snail food company is mentioned again, by name.
    • SpongeBob missing the bus numerous times in "The Abrasive Side" is very similar to the situation he was in at "Rock Bottom".
    • In "Mall Girl Pearl," several one-off characters are seen walking around the mall, including the ice cream eel from "Walking Small," the didgeridoo player from "Something Smells," the comedian Dougie Williams from "Squirrel Jokes," the mime from "The Sponge Who Could Fly," and Carl from "Selling Out."
    • In "Sharks vs. Pods," a picture of SpongeBob's hydrodynamic spatula from the pilot on the wall in SpongeBob's house.
    • In "The Legend of Boo-kini Bottom" Halloween Special, the Flying Dutchman is incredulous that anything SpongeBob could do can scare him. Plankton, who has been converted into the Ducthman's follower, warns him that SpongeBob's mind is a scary place, and he should know; he went there in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Averted when Mr. Sun lights the room on fire in "Best Day Ever."
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: In season 2's "No Free Rides", when SpongeBob catches Mrs. Puff, who's wearing a ski mask to conceal her face, stealing his boat, SpongeBob tries to pepper spray her but accidentally sprays himself. Mrs. Puff takes advantage of this by kicking him out of the boat, although it doesn't stop him from chasing her.
  • Coordinated Clothes: In "Big Pink Loser", Patrick starts dressing up like SpongeBob as part of an attempt to be a winner just like him. SpongeBob finds it a little creepy, but flattering.
  • Cope by Pretending: In "Gone", SpongeBob wakes up to find all of Bikini Bottom completely deserted, except for him. His immediate response is to imitate everyone in town, giving up only when he realizes the task is impossible.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: SpongeBob in "Something Smells" and "Pretty Patties".
    • In the for he wants to make Sunday sundae. He makes it with ketchup, onions, and the peanut plant he's been growing on his bathroom still (along with the dirt and pot they were in).
    • In the later, his Pretty Patties taste great but somehow causes misfortune to everyone who eats them, like having your face turn purple or having your tongue glow in the dark.
  • Couple Theme Naming: Gary once has a girlfriend named [[Mary.
  • Courtroom Episode: "Krabs vs. Plankton." Krabs lands in hot water when Plankton sues for negligence as Mr. Krabs was too cheap to buy a wet floor sign.
  • The Cover Changes The Species: For the movie, Motörhead re-recorded one of their older tracks, "You Better Run," with new sea lyrics as "You Better Swim."
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: In "Sailor Mouth", a mother octopus uses her tentacles to cover her children's ears so they can't hear SpongeBob's swearing. Since she has more children than tentacles, she settles for jamming a soda cup onto the last one's head.
  • Cowboy Episode: "Pest of the West" is a flashback starring SpongeBuck, SpongeBob's cowboy ancestor.
  • Crack Defeat: In the episode 'The Great Snail Race' had SpongeBob, Squidward, and Patrick's pet snails (Gary, Snellie, and Rocky respectively) pitting against each other. Snellie, who is a pure-breed snail, would've won, but she forfeited and comforted an overworked Gary. So the winner? Rocky! It needs to be said that Rocky was an actual rock. How it legitimately got to the finish line was never explained.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Despite its cartoony appearance, Bikini Bottom is a city full of grumpy people, jerkasses, idiots and tend to be incredibly racist, being prejudiced against mammalian species (like squirrels) and even each other by skin color (see episode "Sun Bleached" ). Most inhabitants have callous and sadistic tendencies, such as in episodes like "No Hat For Pat" and "Spongicus" where several residents of Bikini Bottom, frankly naturally seem to enjoy the pain of others and killing as entertainment!
  • Crazy Consumption: Squidward eats Krabby Patties until he blows up. He also swells to at least ten times his normal size as SpongeBob repeatedly makes Krabby Patties, slips on his untied shoelaces, and sends each sandwich flying into Squidward's mouth with uncanny, and likely accidental, accuracy.
  • Crazy-Prepared: During the episode "The Algae's Always Greener", Plankton tells SpongeBob that he needs two Krabby Patties for "bun inspection." SpongeBob politely protests, on the grounds that the patties are for the customer, but immediately produces two more Krabby Patties, saying that he made them "On the off-chance that you decided to do some bun inspection, sir."
  • Crossover: Patchy the Pirate appears in the Big Time Rush special "Big Time Beach Party".
  • Cross-Popping Veins: Squidward does it towards the end of both "Tentacle-Vision" and "Squid's Visit." In "Keep Bikini Bottom Beautiful," they spell out "I AM ANGRY."
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Happens at the end of "The Bully"; Flatts, the flounder who's terrorizing SpongeBob, faints from exhaustion prompting SpongeBob to make a heroic speech, ending with a fist raised in triumph. At that moment, Mrs. Puff enters, sees SpongeBob with his fist up in front of a fainted Flatts, and punishes him for beating him up, which he didn't.
  • Crying a River:
    • In "Grandma's Kisses", Spongebob is told that he's babyish for eating cookies, being given homemade sweaters, and being kissed by his grandma, so he cries about not wanting to grow up and his tears fill his grandma's house.
    • In "The Chaperone", Pearl runs into the Krusty Krab crying because her date stood her up and floods the place with her tears.
    • Pearl does this again in "Married to Money", where she floods the Krabs house with her tears after telling Mr. Krabs that she doesn’t want a stepmother like the ones she saw in the movies because then she won't get her "Prince Charming". They are later drained by a cork stopper by Mr. Krabs, leaving some puddles behind.
    • In "SpongeBob You're Fired", SpongeBob's reaction to getting fired by Mr. Krabs causes him to cry so much that he floods the Krusty Krab with his tears. Squidward then drains them off by making a hole with a cranking hole maker.
  • Crying Critters: All the main characters cry, despite not being humans. This is a plot point in "A Day Without Tears" when SpongeBob is bet that he can't go a day without crying, and "Krab Borg", when Mr. Krabs cries (as well as demonstrates affection and mentions laughing) which proves he isn't a robot.
  • Cuteness Overload: Happens word for word to Karen in "Spot Returns" when Karen coos over Spot's massive amount of puppies.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Plankton. He is a scientific genius, capable of creating time machines and the like, (among other things that could be tweaked to benefit all ocean life) and yet he insists on working his way up to the top by running a dingy restaurant whose food is Human Resources. Oh, and trying to steal the Krabby Patty recipe, despite the fact that as long as Krabs is also in business, he'll get all the customers because of the aforementioned dinginess of his restaurant. This was worked around in Plan Z, which would have worked if he had tried this ingenious plan from the beginning, before Krabs hired SpongeBob, instead of using countless plans that were doomed to fail.


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