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  • Jailed One After Another: In the episode "Shuffleboarding", Spongebob and Patrick accidentally injure Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, who were appointed to participate in the titular event. Spongebob and Patrick are tasked with becoming substitutes for the elderly duo, and are told to return after they're done Shuffle-boarding. Not only do the two friends disobey the order so they can fill in for the heroes full-time, but they do a bad job at it too as they arrest pretty much every single citizen in Bikini Bottom, young and old, for doing anything under the sun (such as getting on a kiddie ride, having shoelaces untied, or being to old). Even Man Ray is wrongly jailed, as he was just going to the laundromat. By the time the duo are done, the entire correctional facility explodes from the amount of citizens in there, who then set out to get revenge. Unfortunately, Spongebob and Patrick have returned their costumes, so the angry mob goes after the actual and innocent Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.
  • Jerkass:
    • Practically everyone in the show at some time or the other, with Mr. Krabs and Squidward being the most prominent examples, although it Depends On The Writer.
    • In "Keep Bikini Bottom Beautiful", a cop follows Squidward around and continuously slams tickets into his face for even being near a pile of garbage. Must be some slow days for that cop.
    • Dylan in "Whale Watching", after talking Pearl into sneaking out to a breach party(where everyone jumps out of the water and surfaces) once Pearl accidentally beaches herself, he(and everyone else at the party) immediately runs off, basically leaving her to die, good thing Squidward came along and him and Pearl got Dylan back at the end by torturing him with SpongeBob.
  • Jerkass Ball:
    • SpongeBob tends to grab these in the later seasons, especially in "A Pal For Gary".
    • Even the normally sympathetic Mrs. Puff becomes a jerk in "Demolition Doofus" as she tries to outright MURDER SpongeBob!
  • Jerkass Gods:
    • Neptune, especially in "The Clash Of Triton" where he traps his son in a cage for wanting to meddle in the lives of mortals instead of smiting them, but he gets better.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Arguably Squidward and Mr Krabs on their better days.
  • Joins to Fit In: Squidward's whole reason for leaving his own neighborhood and moving to Tentacle Acres.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: The dream version in the episode "Sleepy Time". Naturally, SpongeBob managed to ruin the dreams of everyone in Bikini Bottom, and he awoke to find a group of annoyed friends and neighbors, insisting he stay out of their dreams because they get enough of him during the day.
  • Jump Scare
    • "Hi, mailman!"
  • Just Friends:
    • SpongeBob apparently has a crush on Sandy. This isn't very noticeable within the show itself, but supplemental materials place special emphasis on it. A survival guide released in 2002 played with the fact, hinting at the crush being "secret".
    • Sandy's official biography states that she "is the only thing under the sea that SpongeBob likes better than his job at the Krusty Krab."

  • Karma Houdini:
    • These have popped up from time to time. Probably the most notable is Granny from the episode "Have You Seen This Snail?".
    • Another example happens in "Chocolate With Nuts" where SpongeBob and Patrick are trying to earn money by selling chocolate but are conned by a fish three times and he never gets any comeuppance.
    • We never saw who came up with the Kelpshake stands and if they ever got punished for selling addictive, toxic drinks to the population of the city.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: The fish who cons SpongeBob and Patrick out of their money multiple times in "Chocolate With Nuts" initially got off scot-free, but later appearances gave him some form of karma: his jewelry shop gets robbed in "The Getaway" and all of his automobiles are destroyed in "Sanitation Insanity".
  • Keet: SpongeBob is quite possibly Western Animation's most famous example of this trope. He's cute, hyperactive, and In Touch with His Feminine Side.
  • The Kiddie Ride: From Northern Leisure/Kiddy Rides UK, we have SpongeBob and Gary riding in the Krabby Patty Wagon. Also spawned unlicensed ripoffs.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The children of Bikini Bottom can be just as big jerkasses as the adults. An example being "Krabby Land".
    SpongeBob: Those kids seem to respond to me being in pain. They enjoy other people's misery.
  • Kids Prefer Boxes: "Idiot Box" revolved around SpongeBob ordering a giant screen television... simply so that he and Patrick could have the box to play in. Lampshaded by Squidward.
    Squidward: Just when I thought they couldn't get any stupider.
  • Kill the Lights: In "Jellyfish Hunter", the lights in SpongeBob's house go out when a blue jellyfish snips the electrical wires.
    SpongeBob: I guess Gary forgot to pay the electric bill.
  • Killer Gorilla: A live-action one appears in "I Had An Accident". It attacks Patrick, Sandy and later SpongeBob before SpongeBob questions how it can breathe underwater.
  • Kill It with Fire: In the castaway episode.
  • The Killjoy: Squidward often grumpily tells his neighbours Spongebob and Patrick to stop goofing off. Sometimes it's because they're getting in his way, but other times he's just crabby.
  • Kitschy Local Commercial: When Mr. Krabs decides to make a commercial for the Krusty Krab, Squidward initially goes all out to make it as extravagant as possible. Krabs then decides it's too much and goes for a cheesy commercial on at 3AM.
  • Kitschy-Themed Restaurant: When Mr. Krabs sells the Krusty Krabb in "Selling Out", its new owners turn it into "Krabby O'Monday's", complete with wall bric-a-bac and T.G.I. Friday's-style striped tables.
  • Kneel, Push, Trip: In "Grandma's Kisses", SpongeBob is practicing what he's going to tell his grandmother about being a grown up. Patrick then adds "Then you get behind her and I'll push", to which SpongeBob responds that they didn't agree on that.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • Granny from the episode "Have You Seen This Snail?". She, unlike other recurring villains in the series (including Plankton and Mr. Krabs, who is considered funny in his actions even more deplorable), she contrasts absolutely comical traits, and the episode itself made things very serious.
    • Dennis and The Cyclops as well, in The Movie.
    • Surprisingly, Plankton manages to act as one in the same movie.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy:
    • SpongeBob tries to warn Squidward. "Sea Bears are no laughing matter, why, once I met this guy who knew this guy, who knew this guy, who knew this guy, who knew this guy... who knew this guy, who knew this guy, who knew this guy's cousin-"
    • In "The Suds", Patrick tells SpongeBob of the horrors of the doctor's office which he knows because "I know a guy who knows a guy who went to the doctor once".
  • Knuckle Cracking: SpongeBob attempts to do this in "No Weenies Allowed", but it ends…poorly.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: Squidward becomes the "Giant Octopus" after Neptune's Moon devolves him. As a mindless animal he tries to eat his friends and can only be matched by a devolved Pearl.

  • Ladies and Germs: In the episode "Squirrel Jokes", SpongeBob refers to the audience as "Ladies and jellyfish" to start his first stand-up comedy routine.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Running gag. The series features phenomena impossible in its underwater setting, like fire, and the characters comment on this.
    • "Hey, if we're underwater, then how can there be a— [fire extinguishes]
    • In one episode, a tree is shown wearing scuba gear.
    • In "Chimps Ahoy", Sandy's bosses come to visit her and check on her scientific progress. One points out that sending scientists underwater to live in Treedomes for no reason doesn't really make much sense.
    • Then there's the infamous episode where SpongeBob breaks his butt and becomes agoraphobic. After several attempts to get SpongeBob outside, a gorilla suddenly attacks Patrick, Sandy, and SpongeBob, who points out the absurdity of having a gorilla underwater. Unable to explain itself, the gorilla rides off on a zebra into the sunset. The last shot is a family watching the episode, being just as confused as we are.
    • In "Squilliam Returns" SpongeBob has to forget everything he knows except fine dining. This is visualised by little SpongeBobs in his brain shredding documents, burning them, etc. One of them asks his boss why he should work harder, as they're just "...a clever visual metaphor used to personify the abstract concept of thought." When the boss then threatens to fire said worker he's begging for him not to, because he has wife and kids. Which kind of qualifies as a lampshade hung onto a lampshade.
  • Large Ham: EVERYONE!!! Especially Plankton.
  • Last Day to Live: Inverted — the titular sponge is thought to have unknowingly eaten a deadly pie, which will end his life at sunset. Squidward, responsible for bringing a pie-shaped bomb to SpongeBob, feels guilty enough to spend the rest of the day doing anything SpongeBob wants (without telling SpongeBob that the reason is because he thinks he's going to die). It's eventually revealed that SpongeBob never ate the bomb-pie, but rather a different pie. He saved the bomb, which he promptly trips and thus throws into Squidward's face, producing a nuclear blast.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: Although SpongeBob normally sleeps in his underwear, starting in Season 5 he frequently wears green pajamas.
    • The show has a greater emphasis on Wild Take humor from Season 10 onward.
  • Laughably Evil: Dennis, Plankton's Assassin from The Movie, is downright sadistic and threatening. He's also very entertaining to watch due to his over-the-top nature and constant Evil Laugh.
  • Laughing Mad: SpongeBob engages in a bit of this during the infamous "I've Been Waiting for You, Patrick" scene from "Bummer Vacation".
  • Laugh with Me!: A variation. The Flying Dutchman take SpongeBob and Patrick onboard as his crew. When he demands that they "howl with me, that we might set the seven seas ABLAZE with fear!", they comply by various ridiculous noises, until he finally gives up on making them scary.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Sporadic through the series.
    • The time frame of 11 minutes, the approximate length of one episode, is brought up more than once, in-universe:
      • Squidward once complained, "Why must every 11 minutes of my life be filled with misery?"
      • From "Nature Pants":
        Sandy: I give him a week.
        Squidward: I give him 11 minutes.
      • After SpongeBob finishes a long-winded narrative about how he once "lost his identity," a waitress at the bar he was sitting in observes, "Well, you managed to kill 11 minutes."
      • From "Planet of the Jellyfish":
        Mr. Krabs: What happened?
        SpongeBob: Well, let me tell ya...
        narrator: Eleven minutes later...
        SpongeBob: ... And that's why we're covered in goo.
    • "Normal" SpongeBob: "One more thing, Squidward... you don't wear pants."
    • In "Born to be Wild", SpongeBob decides to take a shortcut to get back to Bikini Bottom. Said shortcut involves riding on one of the bubbles from the scene transitions to immediately arrive at the Krusty Krab. Understandably, Mr. Krabs is confused.
  • Left the Background Music On:
  • LEGO Genetics: Done in at least two episodes:
    • In "The Inside Job," when Plankton absorbs the secret recipe from SpongeBob's heart, Plankton turns into a miniature, plankton shaped SpongeBob. After being extracted, Karen's device gets stuck on Patrick, turning Plankton into mini one eyed Patrick.
    • In "Salsa Imbecilius," Plankton comes up with the idea to mix Patrick's DNA into a soup, and feed it Mister Krabs so as to make him so stupid. he'll unknowingly give away the secret formula. The plan backfires when Plankton tastes the soup, the soup evaporates, and condenses into a rain cloud, whose rain infects all of Bikini Bottom with Patrick's (lack of)intelligence.
  • Lethal Chef: Squidward might be such a terrible cook that he's liable to burn your milkshake or serve you a literal fried boot instead of a sandwich, but unlike Mr. Krabs, he's never prepared a dish that will try to eat YOU.
  • Lethally Stupid: SpongeBob and Patrick. Goes with them being Too Dumb to Live. In SpongeBob's case, it's not really so much that he's lethally stupid— "lethally naive" would probably be a better description. When Patrick has lethally stupid ideas, SpongeBob usually protests initially, but somehow gets talked into it by Patrick, whose intuition SpongeBob clearly trusts too much.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: Mr. Krabs' story to SpongeBob about spending a dollar on a soda to persuade SpongeBob to let his seahorse go.
  • Let's Have Another Baby: Patrick says this to SpongeBob after they take care of a baby scallop.
  • Lightbulb Joke: The basis of many of SpongeBob's "squirrel jokes" stand-up.
    SpongeBob: How come it takes more than one squirrel to screw in a light bulb?
  • Line-of-Sight Alias: When the Flying Dutchman comes for Mr. Krabs' soul in the hospital, Mr. Krabs insists that he is "Harold Flower", after the flower on the end table.
  • Literal Metaphor: In "Missing Identity", Mr. Krabs initiates a surprise uniform inspection, declaring that any employee who doesn't pass "gets the boot." He then produces a literal boot, claiming that "it's very stinky," and the punishment is having to wear it all day.
  • Literal-Minded: When a giant anchor falls from the sky and into SpongeBob's house (and then crashes into Squidward's house subsequently), Squidward angrily climbs the anchor's chain to find the culprit.
    Squidward: I'm gonna get to the bottom of this!
    SpongeBob: Wouldn't that be the top?
    Squidward: [glares at SpongeBob with a "Not amused" look]
    SpongeBob: [smiles goofily]
  • Little Known Facts: Patrick Star comes up with loads of these, usually in The Blind Leading the Blind situations with SpongeBob. They both believe them.
  • Living Drawing: In "Frankendoodle", Spongebob and Patrick find a magic pencil that creates real objects out of their drawings. When Spongebob uses it to make a self-portrait, the result is the evil "Doodlebob", who is eventually defeated by being trapped in a piece of paper.
  • Living Museum Exhibit: Plankton becomes an exhibit in the Atlantean's museum to replace the World's Oldest Bubble, which SpongeBob and Patrick had accidentally popped earlier.
  • Lonely at the Top: Patrick in "Goodbye, Krabby Patty?". Thanks to the huge success of frozen Krabby Patty, whose 400 commercials Patrick stars, that leads him to his own success as a commercial star, he's been away from SpongeBob and always misses hanging out with him, which makes him lonely and miserable, despite all the fame and fortune he has.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: Taken this to a whole new level with the "Free-form jazz" scene. For reference, here is the original scene, and here is the full song. It's over 63 TIMES shorter than the original song.
  • Look-Alike Lovers: Squidward's first impression of a female octopus in "Love That Squid":
    Squidward: SpongeBob, she's got it all! Class, style, grace, and looks like yours truly!
  • Lord of the Ocean: King Neptune is a rather self-centered and short-tempered old man who wields vast magical powers through his trident.
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: Mr. Krabs lost SpongeBob to Plankton.
  • Loud of War: There's a jellyfish party at SpongeBob's that's been going for 18 hours that annoys Squidward, so he turns his house towards SpongeBob's and plays his clarinet through full-blast speakers. The jellyfish are not happy.
  • Lounge Singer: Played by Squidward of all people in the game "Squarepants Mystery", wherein the characters are cast in a detective play. Subverted in that Squidward is playing a clarinet rather than singing, but he's decked out in full mascara, dark eyeshadow, and even complete with a thigh high slit dress. And yes, he gets hurt somehow.
  • Ludicrous Gift Request: In "Christmas Who?", the citizens of Bikini Bottom first learn about the holiday and ask for crazy things from Santa such as "a glass of water for my teeth".
  • Lying Finger Cross: Played with in one episode. When SpongeBob and Patrick promise Mr. Krabs not to play on the fishing hooks, Patrick claims he had his fingers crossed. SpongeBob then points out that Patrick has no fingers.

  • MacGuffin: The Secret Formula, arguably.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • CHOCOLATE!!!
    • Backing up! Backing up! Backing up! Backing up...
    • Squidward: Fuuuuuuuture! Fuuuuuuuture! Fuuuuuuu— [future SpongeBob drops a brick on Squidward's head] ... thanks.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Plankton.
    • Also Sandy in a few episodes.
  • Made of Indestructium: From "Wet Painters", Mr. Krabs' first dollar survives everything SpongeBob & Patrick throw at it while trying to get the paint off.
  • Made Out to Be a Jerkass: In the infamous "Stuck In A Wringer", Patrick's stupidity results in SpongeBob being trapped in a wringer and can't get out, and despite Patrick trying to convince him otherwise, nothing goes right for him anymore. Finally, at an amusement park, SpongeBob yells at Patrick, saying it's all his fault his life is ruined. After a sad Patrick leaves, the crowd around SpongeBob get on his case.
  • Make-Out Point: "Ah, makeout reef. Good times. Gooood times."
  • Manchild:
    • SpongeBob is old enough to live independently, hold down a job, and drive a boat, yet he's so obnoxiously silly and childish that he's been referred to as an actual kid multiple times.
    • Patrick is one too, being nearly as naive and silly.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back:
    • Patrick's reflection berates him in "Roller Cowards" for…well, being a coward. He punches it out.
    • SpongeBob attempts to give himself a pep talk in "Wet Painters" after ruining Mr. Krabs' first dollar, but upon hearing Krabs return, the reflection informs SpongeBob he's on his own.
  • Marshmallow Dream:
    • SpongeBob dreams of eating Krabby Patties and wakes up chewing on his pillow.
    • Also referred to on "Sleepy Time". When SpongeBob meets Gary in the dreamworld, the now erudite Gary tries to explain to him the concept of dreams as a view to another world. When an Emily Dickinson poem goes over SB's head, Gary recites one more his speed: "There once was an old man from Peru; Who dreamed he was eating his shoe; He woke with a fright; In the middle of the night; To find that his dream had come true".
  • Martial Arts for Mundane Purposes: In one episode, it is revealed that SpongeBob is nigh-obsessed with karate, driving his boss Krabs to nearly fire him from his frycook job due to the fact this obsession is interfering with his work... until he realizes that SpongeBob's karate can also be used to mass-produce burgers and to put on a very entertaining show for customers.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover:
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Whether the toy conch shell from "Club SpongeBob" is truly magical or not is left ambiguous by the end of the episode. On the one hand, characters who believe in it are all complete Cloudcuckoolanders, and the miracles it performs could be just a result of luck or sheer coincidence. On the other hand, the conch shell trolls Squidward and shows hints of sarcasm, implying that at the very least it's sentient.
  • Meat-O-Vision:
    • A variant in "Fear of a Krabby Patty", where SpongeBob develops a fear of Krabby Patties and sees Mr. Krabs and the customers as them.
    • In "Frozen Face-Off", Sandy sees SpongeBob as a sponge kebab.
    • In "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!", Patchy and Potty are stranded and hungry, and Patchy sees Potty as a plate of buffalo wings. Potty, in turn, sees Patchy as a cake of bird seed and starts pecking at his head.
    • At the end of "Feral Friends", when Neptune's Sun devolves Patchy and Potty into a caveman and a pterodactyl, Potty sees Patchy as a Krabby Patty and carries him away.
  • Medium Blending: Above the surface of the water, everything's in live-action.
  • Melancholy Musical Number:
    • In "Texas", Sandy gets homesick and sings a song about her missing Texas and wanting to go home. Another episode has the opposite, with Sandy singing a song about how much she'll miss Bikini Bottom when she thinks she's going to leave.
    • SpongeBob gets one in "Mimic Madness", as he is succumbing to Mocking Mimicry Madness and doesn't remember his true identity, flipping through various characters and objects while questioning who he really is.
  • Merchandise-Driven: In-universe example in "The Krusty Sponge". When SpongeBob's cooking was the sole thing that saved Krabs from a bad review from a food critic, he exploits that for as much as possible with many SpongeBob-themed items, including the Spongy Patty... which are just rotten Krabby Patties.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: From "Squid Baby":
    SpongeBob: Do you like games, Squiddy?
    Patrick: Games? Games are our middle name!
  • Metaphorgotten: In "Banned in Bikini Bottom":
    SpongeBob: If Krabby Patties are illegal now, aren't we breaking the law?
    Mr. Krabs: There's an old saying, lad. What doesn't kill ya... usually succeeds in the second attempt.
    SpongeBob: But what does that have to do with making Krabby Patties?
    Mr. Krabs: Nothing!
  • The Millstone: Patrick fits more than the usual. Whenever SpongeBob or anyone has a plan, Patrick is sure to screw it up, or do something stupid to make it worse.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Exaggerated. Mermaid Man is only slightly taller than SpongeBob, and both he and Barnacle Boy are somehow the size of fish.
  • Mini-Golf Episode: "A Friendly Game" has SpongeBob and Patrick build a miniature golf course inside SpongeBob's house when it's raining. They then try to play a round without disturbing their Grumpy Bear neighbor Squidward.
  • Mining for Cookies: The episode "Mustard O' Mine" is about SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward going to the Mustard Mines to get more mustard for the Krusty Krab. Other condiments, like mayonnaise, ketchup, and hot sauce are found in the mine as well.
  • Mirror-Cracking Ugly: SpongeBob thought he was this, but it was just his reflection reacting to his smelly breath.
  • Misleading Package Size: In "Idiot Box", SpongeBob buys a television set just to play with the box it came in. The TV was about three times the size of the box.
  • Missed the Bus: Rock Bottom. Full stop.
  • Missed the Recital: In the episode Best Day Ever, Spongebob is denied entry to Squidward's clarinet recital, as he is supposedly Not on the List. It's ultimately discovered that Spongebob was on the VIP list, but by the time he gets in, Squidward's recital is over.
  • Mistaken for Own Murderer: SpongeBob and Patrick fall in love with one of Sandy's pets, a caterpillar named Wormy. When Wormy transforms into a butterfly overnight, they, having never seen such a thing, assume it's a monster that ate Wormy... and they were next!
  • Mistaken for Thief:
    • In "The Pink Purloiner", SpongeBob thinks Patrick stole his jellyfishing net, which he actually left on the bus.
    • In "Can You Spare a Dime?" Mr. Krabs's favorite dime is stolen and he accuses Squidward, but really it was in his pocket. However, they argue about whether or not Squidward put it there on purpose.
  • Mistaken for Undead: In "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost", SpongeBoband Patrick believe that they had killed Squidward (when really it was just a wax model of himself that he had made), so when he emerges from his bath - robed, covered in talcum powder in a bath of steam - they think that he is his own ghost. While at first annoyed, he goes along with it when they agree to be his servants to appease him.
  • Mistaken from Behind: In the episode "Squidville", SpongeBob and Patrick are trying to find Squidward in a crowd of look-alikes. SpongeBob (and the audience) sees an octopus who looks like Squidward from behind, since he's wearing the same brown shirt that Squidward usually wears. But when SpongeBob embraces him we see his face and he has heavy eyebrows and a big black mustache.
  • Mobile Fishbowl: The main cast is known to wear water-filled fishbowls on their heads when visiting Sandy's house. Bikini Bottom also once did a concert in a human stadium under a water-filled glass dome.
  • Mock Cousteau: The French Narrator is intended as an homage to Jacques Cousteau, narrating the antics of the title character and those around him as if they were part of a marine biology documentary.
  • Mock Millionaire: Double subverted when Squilliam Fancyson pretends to be one to bait Squidward... only to finally reveal he actually is rich.
  • Mondegreen: "Sweet Victory" from the episode "Band Geeks" has a few lyrics that are often misheard, specifically "the world closing in" being heard as "the wind closing in", "be on the attack with your wings in the wind" being heard as "they only attack with their wings in the wind", and "the games will begin" heard as "the daydream begins".
    • Unfortunately for Squidward, in "Prehibernation Week" when he says "He's not in my thoughts.", it often gets mistaken for "He's not in my butt".
  • Money Dumb:
    • "Porous Pockets" features Spongebob getting extremely rich after stumbling upon a large diamond. He spends the episode giving away free money to the greedy crowd that attaches themselves to him and ignores Patrick's attempt to make him stop. He eventually runs out of money and everyone abandons him.
    • Subverted in "Squid's Day Off": Squidward leaves Spongebob in charge of the Krusty Krab (Mr. Krabs was in the hospital and Squidward wanted a day off). He has an Imagine Spot where Patrick asks for change for a cent, and Spongebob gives away all the money on the till. Squidward runs to check that everything is okay, and tests Spongebob by asking him for change of a dollar; Spongebob proceeds to recite every possible combination of coins that he could get for it until Squidward simply goes away.
  • Money Fetish: Mr. Krabs. It's his defining trait.
    Mr. Krabs: My whole life has been about money, saving money, collecting money... [rubs his fingers lustfully] touching money...
    • He's actually been seen doing exactly that on numerous occasions, whether bathing in money, sensually rubbing large amounts of it against his skin, having dinner with it, or going to ridiculous lengths to gain/avoid losing even the smallest amount of money (he once gave Pearl and her friends free water as a "gift." ... then he reminded them to leave a tip).
  • Money Song: Two, both sung by Mr. Krabs.
    • At the beginning of "Selling Out," Mr. Krabs sings "Cha-Ching" about how much he loves money and values it over anything else.
    • In "Money Talks," Mr. Krabs sings a song called "If I Could Talk to Money" about how great it would be if he could talk with his money.
  • Money to Throw Away/Money to Burn: In "Patty Hype", SpongeBob and Patrick earn so much money that they have no idea what to do with it all, as they are not materialistic at all. They try burying it, shredding it, and burning it. Still unsatisfied, they finally decide to open a "Free Money" stand, where fish queue to receive bags of money. "I'm getting back in line!"
  • Monochrome Apparition: The Flying Dutchman is sickly green.
  • Mood Whiplash: In "No Weenies Allowed" when SpongeBob calls Patrick tubby, Patrick cries very briefly about it and then gets angry.
  • Morning Routine:
    • Many an episode begins with SpongeBob getting up to his blasting foghorn alarm clock and getting ready for work.
    • The episode "Rise and Shine" shows how Patrick starts his day.
  • Moth Menace:
    • In "Night Light," SpongeBob and Patrick fill SpongeBob's house with an unholy amount of nightlights and other various light sources (like a searchlight and even a lighthouse). As a result, the entire house emits a very strong light that attracts the Moth, the most dangerous archnemesis from Mermaidman and Barnacle Boy. Don't underestimate his less-than-behemothic size: he is powerful enough to lift SpongeBob's entire house plus the lighthouse all at once.
    • The episode Wormy is an interesting example, since it is not the titular butterfly that is dangerous or unusual per se, but the reaction everyone has when facing it. After taking care of a caterpillar for a day, SpongeBob and Patrick discover in the morning that Wormy disappeared and instead, they see a butterfly (keep in mind that the two are underwater creatures, so they are completely clueless when it comes to insect metamorphosis). They are convinced the butterfly is a friend-devouring monster (and the Gross-Up Close-Up of the creature is no helping matter) and go on warning the town about it, which sends the Bikini Bottomites in a frenzied panic which concludes with the town completely in ruins. Meanwhile, the only thing the adult Wormy does is fluttering aimlessly, like a normal butterfly would.
  • The Movie: The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.
  • Moving Buildings:
    • One episode has Squidward installing an advanced security system. When Squidward accidentally sets it off, the whole building grows arms and feet and starts attacking Bikini Bottom.
    • In the episode "Secret Box", Patrick says that no one must know what's in the box, "not even... Squidward's house!" And sure enough, the house is leaning in to listen.
  • Moving the Goalposts: Kevin's treatment of SpongeBob in "I'm Your Biggest Fanatic". SpongeBob is trying to get into the Jellyfishers' Club, but their leader Kevin keeps stringing him along with increasingly difficult tasks, at which SpongeBob succeeds with ease. When they finally come up with something sufficiently impossible, it winds up in Kevin being Hoist by His Own Petard as the fake "queen jellyfish" he creates attracts a real king jellyfish, and SpongeBob saves the day, revealing Kevin as a complete loser.
  • Mr. Imagination: SpongeBob and Patrick create a world of scenarios with only a cardboard box in "The Idiot Box", much to Squidward's disbelief.
    SpongeBob: "Squidward, you can make this box whatever you want it to be with... *makes rainbow appear from hands* ...imagination!"
  • Multiple Endings: "Shanghaied" has three (depending on whether SpongeBob, Patrick, or Squidward gets the third of Three Wishes), which viewers got to call in and choose between during the episode's premiere. Reruns of the episode show only the winning ending, though all three endings are available on some home video releases.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • In the episode "Procrastination". As the name implies, SpongeBob grapples with his denial for hesitation in writing a 800-word essay. In one of his many time-wasting gimmicks, he spends an implied ludicrous amount of time and effort writing the "The" at the start of the paper, so the sequence ends up just looking "awesome" instead of being the Hard-Work Montage it initially appears to be.
    • The opening scene of The Movie features a dramatic scene based around the "crisis" of a customer being given a Krabby Patty without cheese, complete with a slow-motion sequence of SpongeBob putting some cheese into the patty. It's a Dream Sequence, but still...
    • How about any time the Krabby Patty is brought to the audience's attention by SpongeBob, or at least when it focuses on him making Krabby Patties?
    • When a customer gets a Patty with jellyfish jelly added, he's so enthused that he bursts into an impromptu musical number: "Hey all you people won't you listen to meeeeeeeee! I just had a sandwich, no ordinary sandwich, a sandwich filled with jellyfish jellyyyyyyyy!"
    • And in one of the "Legends of Bikini Bottom" episodes, SpongeBob is unconscious due to his Krabby Patty meter being empty. Mr. Krabs gets him to eat one. He then blasts up, explodes into pieces, then regenerates after all of them land together, and then... "OHHHHHHHHH, YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"
    • Mermaid Man. "To the meatloaf... AWAY!"
    • Mermaidman and Barnacleboy's origin story (specifically, that they gained their powers from eating some overcooked popcorn)
  • Mundane Wish: The episode "Shanghaied" had Patrick waste the first wish the Flying Dutchman gave him and SpongeBob on wishing that he knew about the wishes earlier. In one of the alternate Multiple Endings, Patrick used the third and final wish on a pack of gum.
  • Musical Episode:
    • "Atlantis SquarePantis". It's justified (partially), though, in that Atlantean technology is powered by singing.
    • Several SpongeBob specials, such as "The Sponge who could Fly", "SpongeBob's Last Stand", and "Hello, Bikini Bottom!" are also musical episodes, the latter even being about the main cast forming a band.
  • Mutually Unequal Relation: SpongeBob generally respects his neighbor Squidward and thinks he's a good friend. Squidward thinks of SpongeBob as an annoying Manchild who bothers with his life a lot.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Band Geeks. "What kind of monsters are we?..."
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: SpongeBob, despite his occasional disgust at Mr. Krabs's actions and sympathy for the people he victimizes, (even Plankton), generally follows through with his plans blindly, either due to his blind idolization of his boss or the fact his dream job may be at stake otherwise.

  • Naked People Are Funny: Quite a lot of episodes involve characters being nude for the sake of laughs.
    • "Pranks a Lot" has SpongeBob and Patrick using invisibility spray to prank the town as ghosts with no clothes on.
    Tour Bus Driver: And if you look to your right, you'll see two naked guys fighting over a can of paint.
    • It is sometimes brought up that Plankton doesn't wear any clothes, one notable example being in "The Algae's Always Greener", where he switches lives with Mr. Krabs and finds himself wearing Krabs' clothes and Mr. Krabs walking around naked due to taking his place as his rival stealing the Krabby Patty formula. Plankton eventually explains in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water that he goes naked because they don't make clothes his size.
    • "Feral Friends" ends with SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Mrs. Puff, Larry the Lobster, and Pearl being left in the nude after turning back to normal from the effects of Neptune's Moon. Patrick and SpongeBob are the only ones who aren't humiliated by their sudden nudity.
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: Both subverted and played straight in "Feral Friends". The episode's premise is that Neptune's Moon makes its centennial orbit around Bikini Bottom, in the process causing the inhabitants to devolve into non-sapient sea life for two hours. Because the transformations cause them to lose their clothes in the process, everyone is left naked after they return to normal. SpongeBob and Patrick aren't shown to be bothered by their sudden nudity, but Larry the Lobster briefly panics before covering himself with a flower, while Mr. Krabs, Mrs. Puff, Squidward, and Pearl run away while covering themselves in embarrassment the instant it dawns on them that they are naked in public.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Jack M. Crazyfish. Tattletale Strangler, Flying Dutchman, Bubble Bass.
  • The Napoleon: Plankton.
  • Nasal Weapon: In the episode "Shanghied", where SpongeBob and Patrick try to escape from The Flying Dutchman while grabbing his favorite sock, the Dutchman catches up to them and tries to shoot flames coming from his nostrils. The Dutchman relents when SpongeBob defends himself with the sock.
  • Needlework Is for Old People:
    • SpongeBob's grandmother knits sweaters with "love in the stitches".
    • In "Goo Goo Gas", Plankton tries to turn SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs into babies so he can steal the formula. One attempt turns them into seniors instead and SpongeBob decides to take up knitting. This gives Mr. Krabs the idea to join him so that together, they can knit a net to catch Plankton in. When they successfully knit the net and catch Plankton in it, they hang it out like a pinata so the other seniors can beat him up for calling them old.
  • Nephewism: Played for a one-off gag in the episode "Stanley S. SquarePants". Mr. Krabs reveals he has identical triplet nephews who solve mysteries whom he tells to go solve the "mystery" of why they didn't get hired at the Krusty Krab.
  • Negative Continuity:
    • Hoo boy. This is one show that earns this trope purposefully. There's no revealed order or canon for any of the episodes. Creative director Vincent Waller's stance on whether the series even has canon in it or not is "Not really. Though we do hint at it here and there."
    • In "Karate Island" SpongeBob was portrayed as a karate novice when earlier episodes established he and Sandy were equally matched.
    • In the episode "MuscleBob BuffPants," SpongeBob is portrayed as being extremely weak physically— at one point, he's unable to lift a beverage glass (as well as the straw inside it). In subsequent episodes, he's lifted Mr. Krabs into the air with ease, dragged himself across the ground while strapped to a giant anchor, and pushed his own bed (with Squidward in it) through the wall of his house and all the way to the Krusty Krab.
    • The Krusty Krab wasn't depicted as having a drive thru window until "Driven to Tears". It's gone in subsequent episodes until "Drive Thru" focused on Mr. Krabs using a hole in the wall as an ad-hoc drive thru, then the Krusty Krab has a proper one again in Sponge Out of Water.
    • Also include the episodes ending with cast getting turned into fruit, snails or genetically mutated into Squidward's body...and everything's back to normal the next episode.
    • Glove World was shut down in "Glove World R.I.P." and replaced with a successor, Glove Universe, but it reappears completely operational in "Don't Wake Patrick", "The Night Patty", "Gary & Spot", "Sandy's Nutty Nieces", "The Ballad of Filthy Muck," "SpongeBob's Bad Habit", and "Handemonium", with Glove Universe nowhere to be seen nor mentioned. The reason behind this is unknown, though it's likely those episodes took place before Glove World closed.
  • Nemesis as Customer:
    • Mr. Krabs generally averts this when it comes to Plankton by refusing him any service at all, because he knows that Plankton only needs one Krabby Patty in order to copy the Krabby Patty secret formula. However, in "For Here or to Go", Plankton calls the Bogus Business Bureau so that the Krusty Krab will be shut down if Mr. Krabs doesn't let him participate in a contest for a free Krabby Patty. Once he wins, Mr. Krabs spends the rest of the episode attempting to stall or find ways to avoid having to give Plankton his reward.
    • In "Pickles", SpongeBob is alarmed once he sees that Bubble Bass has arrived and acts a little smug after Bubble Bass takes the first bite. Bubble Bass hides the pickles from his Krabby Patty under his tongue so that he can pretend that SpongeBob forgot them and can get his money back for an unsatisfactory order, and the grief this causes SpongeBob sets the episode's conflict into motion.
    • In "Squid's on a Bus," Squidward is enjoying his job as a bus driver until annoying neighbor SpongeBob rides the bus. After some mishaps with SpongeBob, he asks how things could get any worse; other annoying neighbor Patrick appears and boards the bus.
  • Never-Forgotten Skill:
    • Inverted in the episode "Your Shoe's Untied". SpongeBob has not needed to re-tie his shoes in so long, he has actually forgotten how to do so.
    • In the episode "Pickles", SpongeBob goes through a Heroic BSoD when he thinks that he got an order wrong. It gets so bad that he starts wearing his pants on his head and speaking in scrambled sentences. Mr. Krabs figures that if he can get SpongeBob to make a Krabby Patty again, then he'll go back to normal; he even compares it to riding a bicycle, then notices a bicycle on a boiling pot on SpongeBob's stove.
  • Never Learned to Read: Clem, one of Plankton's many relatives, after all the other plankton in his family see that the secret ingredient in Krabby Patties is "freshly ground plankton" (although it's just a ruse by Krabs to drive Plankton away, if only momentarily), and flee in horror:
    Mr. Krabs: Hey! Why ain't you runnin'?
    Clem: Well, I can't read.
    Mr. Krabs: [angrily] Get outta here!
    Clem: [runs off while laughing like a buffoon]
  • Never Say "Die":
    • Lampshaded in "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost": SpongeBob thinks he killed Squidward and says, "I don't know how to say this, but our friend Squidward, he's... pushing up daisies!" Patrick calmly replies: "Oh, I thought he was dead."
    • Averted once again with The Ugly Barnacle, who (according to Patrick) was so ugly that everyone died.
    • "Dying For Pie" averts this trope by using the words "kill" and "die" throughout the episode.
    SpongeBob: You know, if I were to die right now in some sort of fiery explosion due to the carelessness of a friend, well, that would just be okay.

    Squidward: We'd better start now if we want to get through this list before you die... of anticipation.

    Mr. Krabs: So, you tried to kill me over a little new age management, eh?

    Mr. Krabs: You had to kill him. The boy cries you a sweater of tears... and you kill him. How are you gonna live with yourself?//
Squidward: Kill him?
  • Played straight in "Shellback Shenanigans."
SpongeBob: You're- you're saying that he's... that he might... oh... Nurse? Nurse?! Oh, well, Gary, this looks like it might be... the end.
  • Played straight in "Broken Alarm."
Mr. Krabs: SpongeBob has passed away!

Mr. Krabs: SpongeBob! You're alive!//
SpongeBob: Oh, thank goodness! Wait, why wouldn't I be alive?
  • Never Trust a Hair Tonic: In the movie, King Neptune tries to use some hair tonic, but accidentally gets it into his eye. So his eyeballs grow hair.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: "Can You Spare A Dime?" features Squidward quitting his job at the Krusty Krab and attempting to go out into the world and "unlock his potential." He fails to find a new job, and winds up on the streets, living in a cardboard box (which actually gets repossessed), and begging for spare change. Just when it looks like the most arrogant, self-centered, narcissistic character on the show has finally been humbled (he even graciously, and sincerely, thanks SpongeBob for helping him... at first), SpongeBob begins to spoil him by tending to his every whim and turning him right back into the person he was before.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Plankton's hypnotherapy technique in "Fear of a Krabby Patty" as an attempt to get SpongeBob to tell him the formula ultimately instead ends up curing his fear of krabby patties, as it gives him a dream where a patty comforts him.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: The trio of SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward. SpongeBob is pretty much the kindest and idealistic character of the series, often to the point where others are annoyed about it, taken for granted, and to the point of being naive. Squidward is the Grumpy Bear who barely shows his heart of gold, but this is because of dealing with SpongeBob and Patrick as neighbors. Finally, Patrick mediates between the two, but this is mainly because of his stupidity.
  • Nightmare Face:
    • Horrific and grotesque faces are seen on several occasions. "Face Freeze!" is dedicated to this trope.
    • "Just One Bite" has Squidward say "Does THIS look unsure to you?", revealing a creepy closeup of his face.
    • "Whatever Happened to SpongeBob?" was infamous for a scene where SpongeBob asked a bystander in New Kelp City "Is there something wrong with me?" and we then see a horrifyingly detailed and nightmarish closeup of his face.
    • "Jellyfish Hunter" featured a montage of Mr. Krabs ordering SpongeBob to capture him more jellyfish. One part of the montage shows Krabs saying "more" while in a grotesque and creepy-looking state, which gave rise to the Moar Krabs meme.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: "Can You Spare a Dime?" gives us this exchange:
    Squidward: I could be anything I set my mind to. I could be a football player! Or a king! Or a spaceman!
    SpongeBob: Or a football playing king in space! With a mustache!
  • No Badge? No Problem!: Because SpongeBob is an idiot, when Ms. Puff makes him a prefect he thinks that he can use the authority to help people outside of his boating school, so he goes to the Bikini Bottom city and finds that the traffic light's broken. Then he steps up as a traffic police and helps the boats cross the roads in his usual haphazard fashion. Nothing seems to be bad, until he goes off and it's revealed to the audience (unbeknownst to him) that those cars he helped are piling up in a giant crash. He's then wanted by the police for this.
  • No Cartoon Fish: Parodied with the inclusion of Realistic Fish Head. Otherwise averted.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The monocle and mustache appearance, as well as the vocal patterns of the wise-cracking Stockholder Eel in "The Executive Treatment" are patterned after Groucho Marx, with Stockholder Eel voiced by Frank Ferrante, who is noted for portraying Groucho in Groucho: A Life in Revue and An Evening With Groucho stage shows.
  • No-Dialogue Episode:
    • "Reef Blower", aside from one brief caption reading "You!".
    • "Dream Hoppers" has a bit of dialogue at the start, but the rest of completely silent except for background music and grunts/groans.
  • No Fourth Wall: Any episode involving Patchy the Pirate acknowledges that SpongeBob is a just a show. Other episodes do this as well, such as "I Had an Accident" showing a live family reacting to the Mind Screw ending to the episode and shutting off the TV.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The episode "Can You Spare a Dime?" features Squidward quitting his job over a misunderstanding. When he ends up losing his house, SpongeBob selflessly takes him into his own home, and takes care of him. Squidward "thanks" him by becoming a freeloader, forcing SpongeBob to wait on him hand and foot.
  • No Hero Discount:
    Barnacle Boy: Listen, bignose. That guy's been saving your butt since before you were born. Don't you have a living legend discount or something?
    Squidward: This is a restaurant, not a lending library. And who are you calling bignose, bignose?
  • Noir Episode: "Squid Noir" is about Squidward trying to find out who stole his clarinet. Most of the episode is in black and white, but the color is restored after Squidward gets the clarinet back from a jellyfish.
  • No Matter How Much I Beg: The Trope Namer is this exchange from "The Paper":
    Squidward: Take it, SpongeBob. Take it, please. And promise me, no matter how much I may beg, and plead, and cry, don't give that paper back to me... ever!
  • No More for Me: In "SquidBob TentaclePants", a customer who sees SpongeBob/Squidward biking into the Krusty Krab says that he's got to lay off the hot sauce.
  • Non-Residential Residence: The episode "New Digs" has SpongeBob move into the Krusty Krab after arriving to work a minute late, much to the annoyance of Mr. Krabs. Immediately after SpongeBob moves out, Squidward moves in.
  • Non Sequitur: In his debut episode, the elderly Mermaid Man keeps rambling nonsense.
    Mermaid Man:"If you don't get out of here, then by the power invested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife!"
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In "Krusty Towers," SpongeBob is heard saying, "And that's the story of how I got my head stuck in the fry vat!"
    • Whatever SpongeBob did at the Christmas party mentioned multiple times in the episode about Patrick's box. The closest guess is it may be the picture Squidward took of SpongeBob in "Christmas Who?"
    • The time Mr. Krabs left SpongeBob alone at the Krusty Krab with a welding torch and rollerskates. This somehow ended with the Krusty Krab on fire.
    • Apparently, one time Patrick forgot how to eat and needed to be fed with a funnel. Another time, he ended up somehow choking on his remote control.
    • In "Fools in April," SpongeBob mentions something about lima beans and a car chase.
    • At the end of "Good Ol' Whatshisname" Squidward ends up in jail and for some unexplained reason Patrick is also there.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Played with in "To Save A Squirrel".
  • No-Sell: Happens in the episode "The Bully" when Flats repeatedly punches SpongeBob and the blows don't hurt him at all. SpongeBob actually goes through his entire daily routine without missing a beat, all while Flats continues to throw punch after punch at him, the entirety of which SpongeBob completely ignores.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: SpongeBob (target: Squidward).
  • Not Me This Time:
    • In "Best Frenemies", Mr. Krabs assumes Plankton was behind the new KelpShake store that's driving him out of business. It turns out Plankton had done nothing wrong for once.
    • During the episode "Plankton's Army," a suspicious-looking robot customer casually enters the Krusty Krab, remarking to itself (but loudly enough for all to hear) that it would like to "sample the wares" of the "quaint restaurant." Mr. Krabs immediately deduces that it's a plot by Plankton and that the "customer" will order a Krabby Patty. Instead, it buys a single serving of chili coral bits, even after Krabs suggests that the robot order a Krabby Patty instead.

      The trope is then subverted when Plankton leaps out of a hidden compartment in the dollar the robot used to pay for the food ("Plankton! You knew I'd never distrust a dollar!"), and demands access to the Krabby Patty formula. Krabs casually asks "... or what?" Plankton is left speechless, never assuming he'd have actually succeeded to this point. The page quote for Didn't Think This Through comes from this scene as well.
  • Not Now, We're Too Busy Crying over You: In the special "Have You Seen This Snail?" Gary returns after SpongeBob has had a breakdown over him, in time to find him crying.
    SpongeBob: If only I could hear you meow one last time.
    Gary: (crawls onto SpongeBob's head) Meow!
    SpongeBob: Yeah, like that.
    Gary: (purrs)
    SpongeBob: Gary, your purring is making it hard to forget you.
  • Not This One, That One:
    • "The Fry Cook Games": Cue the entrance of Plankton's entrant: what seems to be a massively muscled fish warrior, who actively smashed through the entrance, then turns around to reveal the real participant carried on his back: Patrick.
    • In "No Weenies Allowed", the bouncer at the Salty Spittoon redirects SpongeBob to the Weenie Hut Jr. ice cream parlor across the way. When SpongeBob objects, the bouncer corrects himself and points at... Super Weenie Hut Jr.
    • In "Mr. Krabs Takes a Vacation", Pearl is excited as Mr. Krabs drives up to their surprise vacation, and they go towards the teenage boy museum. Cue museum being demolished and Pearl being heartbroken.

  • Obfuscating Stupidity: It's implied that SpongeBob's antics in "SpongeBob Meets The Strangler" were deliberately done to injure and irritate the Tattletale Strangler. Halfway through the episode, SpongeBob accidentally calls his "bodyguard" a strangler and has to quickly correct himself. Later on, after the villain tears his disguise off, SpongeBob keeps stalking him and only stops once the criminal is put behind bars.
  • Obstacle Ski Course: SpongeBob, while snowboarding on a sand mound, using his tongue as the board.
  • Obviously Not Fine: In "I Was a Teenage Gary", Squidward accidentally injects SpongeBob with a dose of snail plasma meant for Gary, and he assures him that nothing's going to happen to him. However, as SpongeBob starts to psychologically, and then physically, transform into a snail, he keeps insisting he's fine until it becomes impossible to ignore.
    SpongeBob: I take it back, Gary! Something's wrong with meeeeeeeeeee-ow!
  • Obvious Stunt Double: It's obvious Sandy's doubling for Mermaid Man in the unofficial movie they make.
  • Ocular Gushers: Usally happens anytime a character cries. Their tears stream out of their eyes in that fashion. This is done most often by SpongeBob.
  • Ode to Food:
    • In "Jellyfish Hunter", Fred sings "The Jellyfish Jelly Sandwich Song" after SpongeBob gives him one.
    • In "Banned in Bikini Bottom", SpongeBob sings about how he loves Krabby Patties, then later, after finally trying one for herself, a fish sings a similar song.
  • Off-Model: Happens frequently in season one. Squidward's head size often changes from shot to shot, and there is something "off" about SpongeBob's appearance during the first few minutes of "Tea at the Treedome".
    • Also, in some episodes, SpongeBob's eyelashes would disappear on some occasions. Not to mention the fact some characters (Mr. Krabs, for example) had their legs missing.
  • Oh, Crap!: In "Boating School", SpongeBob has one of these moments after it dawns on him that having Patrick assist him in his test is cheating. The camera even zooms in on his horrified expression three times, accompanied by a dramatic sound effect.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune:
    • SpongeBob's "whistly holes".
    • Heard in "Nature Pants", when Patrick, gone Yandere, tells SpongeBob he'll make him into a trophy.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Heard in "Something Smells" when SpongeBob, convinced he's ugly, played a pipe organ in his house. Pipe organ motifs are also heard throughout "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost".
  • 1-Dimensional Thinking: In "That Sinking Feeling", SpongeBob and Patrick face a rock blocking their way underground when running away from a furious Squidward, but they are too stupid to think of digging over, under, or around it so they can escape.
  • One Episode Fear:
    • In "Tunnel of Glove," SpongeBob is afraid of clowns, which is weird as he's never been afraid of them before or since and has even liked them in "Krabby Land". He shows said fear again in "Rodeo Daze" as the reason he wants to "save" Sandy from the rodeo is "there are clowns there".
    • In "One Course Meal", Plankton is afraid of whales, which has only shown up in that episode.
  • One Man's Trash Is Another's Treasure:... but for Mr. Krabs, all trash is treasure.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted and Parodied in "Dear Vikings". All but the Viking Captain (Gordon) is named Olaf.
    • There have been SIX different characters named Larry: Larry SquarePants (SpongeBob's cousin, mentioned in the Operation Krabby Patty game), Larry the Lobster (a lifeguard at Goo Lagoon), Larry Luciano (a very old snail), Larry the Snail (a temporary replacement for Gary), Pinhead Larry (a criminal in Sandy's dream), and Lucky Larry (a shopowner mentioned in "House Sittin' for Sandy").
  • The One Who Wears Shoes: SpongeBob himself; he wears his shoes to bed every night.
    • Pearl and Mrs. Puff also wear shoes more often than not.
    • Sandy's diving suit could also count— when she's at home in her treedome, however, she goes barefoot.
    • Gary wears little sneakers under his shell, as seen in "Your Shoe's Untied".
  • Onion Tears: Three times in "My Pretty Seahorse".
    • Also seen in "Something Smells" when SpongeBob chops onions for his sundae.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Squidward, Mrs. Puff (sometimes) and Sandy (also sometimes).
    • SpongeBob sometimes. Notably when he's paired with Patrick.
    • Strangely enough, Gary, who often proves that he's at least somewhat smarter than his owner. It's pretty understandable, though.
    • Occasionally, Plankton falls into as well when dealing with SpongeBob.
  • Opening Shout-Out: Used in "Truth or Square". "Who lives in a rock on the sea floor? PATRICK SEA STAR!"
    • Also used in "Unreal Estate" but with SpongeBob coming out of a banana, a hot pepper, and a chicken Parmesan club.
    • In "Karen's Virus", Karen sings a warped version of the theme song.
    • Exploited by SpongeBob in "Old Man Patrick". When Patrick doesn't recognize SpongeBob, he begins singing the theme song, and Patrick remembers.
    • Exploited again in "Handemonium". Plankton and SpongeBob have to stop the Chum Bucket glove after it comes to life, so SpongeBob takes off his pants and sings the theme song. When Hans, a live-action hand, arrives to give him his pants (as in the theme song), SpongeBob asks him for help with defeating the hand.
    • Patchy sings a birthday-themed version of the opening theme song in "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout."
  • Opposite Day: The eponymous episode from season 1.
  • Origins Episode: "Mermaid Man Begins" explores how Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy became superheroes.
  • Or My Name Isn't...: In the 76th issue of the comics, Sandy proclaims that she, SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs are gonna get the water back and save Pearl, "or my names ain't Sandy Sarsaparilla Cheeks!"
    SpongeBob: Your middle name is Sarsaparilla!? I thought it was Jennif--
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: In "Model Sponge", SpongeBob overhears Mr. Krabs talking about how it's time for him to "let the little guy go", and assumes he's getting laid off from the Krusty Krab. After SpongeBob leaves the restaurant to find a new job, however, the audience sees that the "little guy" Mr. Krabs was referring to is actually a scallop. SpongeBob, of course, doesn't know this until he returns to the Krusty Krab near the end, asking Mr. Krabs not to fire him.
  • Out of Focus: Many prominent characters, most notably the main females like Sandy and Pearl, don't appear as often in later seasons to the point where they are sometimes forgotten as characters. It's also driven to the point where they forgot Sandy's name in one episode (she's referred to as "Sandy Squirrel" in "SpongeBob's Last Stand").
  • The Outside World: The show takes place exclusively underwater, but for a couple episodes in which the characters tentatively go above to dry land. they exhibit apprehension and horror at the thought. It is seen as a place of terror where creatures end up as pets or tourist souvenirs.
  • Over-the-Top Roller Coaster: In one episode, SpongeBob and Patrick ride on the Fiery Fist O'Pain at Glove World, which goes just above the surface (next to the island) and when it gets to the ground, it explodes. It also has a list of side effects: Crying, screaming, projectile vomiting, amnesia, spine loss, embarrassing accidents, uncontrollable gas and explosive diarrhea.
  • Overcomplicated Menu Order: In the episode "Bubble Buddy", SpongeBob asked Squidward to make a meal for his bubble buddy at Krusty Krab, which are not just overly specific, but has to be remade several times (it'd be hard to go to the details). And at the end, Squidward and Mr. Krabs are given bubble tips and money... which pop, maddening the two.
    • In "Pickles", Bubble Bass makes an order using a string of complicated Hash House Lingo. Squidward gives up trying to write it all down about halfway through, and dryly replies "We serve food here, sir."
  • Overly Long Scream:
    • Plankton did it once in the episode where he and Mr. Krabs switch places. It's so long he takes a sip from his soda between screams.
    • Squidward's scream when SpongeBob and Patrick walk in on him during his bath, in a scene from "Have You Seen This Snail?" that has been subjected to Memetic Mutation.
    • The Snail Bites commercial in "Treats"
    • Not as long as others, but Mr. Krabs in "Born Again Krabs" screams until he simply runs out of breath. His head also splits apart and grows back.
  • Overly Nervous Flop Sweat:
    • Done by Mr. Krabs in the episode "Pickles".
    • In the episode "Squirrel Jokes", SpongeBob does this when his jokes are falling flat in front of the audience.
  • Ow, My Body Part!: Whenever some sort of crash or other major accident happens, an unnamed character can be heard screaming "MY LEG!"

  • Palatial Sandcastle: In "Sand Castles in the Sand", Patrick and SpongeBob start quarreling while building sandcastles in Goo Lagoon. As the dispute escalates, their sandcastles get bigger and bigger, to the point they end up as big and spacious as actual castles.
  • Parental Bonus: And how! Nosferatu, Dune and so on.
    • And Flats the Flounder, if you know that it's Biff Tannen voicing him.
    • Davy Jones' Locker is really guarded by The actual Davy Jones, complete with "Daydream Believer" in the background.
    • In the episode "Missing Identity", when SpongeBob imagines a bank robber entering a bank with his name tag, the robber yells "ATTICA!".
    • A musical bonus: In the episode where Patrick becomes smart when he switches his brain with brain coral, he mentions a clarinet piece by "Cornelius Bumpfish". Someone on the writing team must like Steely Dan, whose clarinetist was a man named Cornelius Bumpus.
    • In the episode "Professor Squidward", SpongeBob and Patrick are hypnotized by Squidward's metronome.
    • In the episode "Idiot Box", when SpongeBob and Patrick are pretending that they are mountain climbers, one of the lines Patrick said was "I AM THE LIZARD KING!"
    • "Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm" has Sandy and SpongeBob trying to track a giant worm, leading to this gem:
    Sandy: [sniffs sand] Worm sign!
    • The episode "Banned in Bikini Bottom" is a parody of the alcohol prohibition movement of the 1920s and '30s.
  • Parenthetical Swearing: "Shrimp" is often used in place of "shit".
  • Parents for a Day: SpongeBob and Patrick in "Rock-A-Bye Bivalve". SpongeBob was the mother. Patrick wanted to be the mother, but SpongeBob said he shouldn't because he doesn't wear a shirt.
    Patrick: You're right. If I was a mom... [pans out to show grotesquely flabby, hairy chest]... this would be kinda shocking. [beat] JUST CALL ME "DADDY"!
  • Parody Product Placement: The episode "Mermaid Man vs. SpongeBob" had an ad with Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy advertising the "New Krusty Kids Meal" at the Krusty Krab.
    Man Ray: How can I be evil with flavors this good?
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word:
    • Patrick invents the word "wumbo" in one Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy episode. "I wumbo, you wumbo, he she we, WUMBO. Wumbo, wumboing... wumbology? The study of wumbo? It's first grade, SpongeBob!
  • Penny Shaving: Mr. Krabs does with with Gary in the episode, "The Cent of Money", when he finds out that Gary can attract coins due to a Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy fridge magnet he swallowed.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Squidward.
  • Pest Episode: "Eek, an Urchin!" is about a sea urchin invading the kitchen in the Krusty Krab and the crew trying to find a way to get it out of the restaurant.
  • Pet Contest Episode: In "Grooming Gary," SpongeBob prepares Gary for a pet show.
  • Pet the Dog: While Squidward is usually mean to SpongeBob, on some occasions lashing out on him when he's not bothering him or is even trying to make up for the times he bothered him, there are some times where Squidward is nice to SpongeBob.
    • In "Pizza Delivery", when an Unsatisfiable Customer makes SpongeBob cry by refusing the pizza just because it didn't come with a drink (which he didn't even ask for in the first place), Squidward's response is to ring the jerk's doorbell and slam the pizza right in his face.
    • "Christmas Who?" has Squidward initially make fun of SpongeBob for introducing Bikini Bottom to the concept of Christmas and rubbing it in when Santa doesn't show up. After realizing how upset SpongeBob is, he chooses to impersonate Santa Claus to cheer SpongeBob up and even makes the big sacrifice of giving away most of his possessions to the citizens of Bikini Bottom as presents.
    • When SpongeBob is shown to have difficulty flipping patties with broken thumbs in "Two Thumbs Down", Squidward offers to help him, pointing out that his own thumbs work.
  • Picnic Episode: "Company Picnic" is about SpongeBob, Squidward, and Mr. Krabs having a cruddy picnic to "boost morale." Plankton arrives, and his picnic is much better.
  • Pie-Eyed: In the 10th Anniversary episode, Patchy shows a SpongeBob short in a 1920's style where everything has this eye style.
  • Pity the Kidnapper:
    • The Tattletale Strangler's reaction to SpongeBob.
    • This happened to the Flying Dutchman TWICE. Once was when he tried to enslave Patrick and SpongeBob (they made horrible minions) and another time was when he bought SpongeBob from Mr. Krabs (SpongeBob was too annoying for him to keep).
  • Platonic Valentine: The episode "Valentine's Day" features SpongeBob giving valentines to all his friends and neighbors. The main plot revolves around SpongeBob's gift for Patrick. However, circumstances prevent the present from being delivered on time, and after seeing all the gifts SpongeBob gave to other people, combined with apparently only receiving a handshake, Patrick goes on an Unstoppable Rage.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: SpongeBob gets Squidward to try a Krabby Patty.
  • Plot-Sensitive Latch: In the episode "Krabs Vs. Plankton", Mr. Krabs is sued by Plankton for slipping in the Krusty Krab, and his lawyer is indisposed, giving SpongeBob his briefcase, which he claims contains everything necessary to win the case. Unfortunately, the lawyer neglects to tell SpongeBob the combination to the lock, so he spends most of the trial struggling to open it. At the last possible moment, the briefcase opens, revealing a Krabby Patty, which is used to lure Plankton out of his ruse and lose the trial.
  • Pooled Funds: Squidward does this on a pile of Krabby Patties after he becomes addicted to them. Mr. Krabs does this with money.
  • Post-Treatment Lollipop: In the episode "Suds", after SpongeBob gets the sponge treatment for his suds, he gets rewarded with a lollipop. Patrick, wanting a lollipop too, fakes his suds, and gets the same treatment, in a harsh manner.
  • Potty Emergency:
    • In "Snowball Effect", Patrick ends up having to go to the bathroom after swallowing snowballs. He begs Squidward to let him use his bathroom, but states that he doesn't have to go anymore when Squidward finally relents.
    • In "Plankton Gets the Boot", Plankton has to pee after he gets kicked out of the Chum Bucket by Karen. After he reluctantly accepts SpongeBob's offer to take him in, he finally gets to relieve himself, though it's implied he didn't exactly make it to the bathroom.
  • The Power of Rock: In The Movie and "Band Geeks."
  • Precision Crash: Played for laughs in one episode, in Goo Lagoon's anchor throwing contest, the contestants' thrown anchors always land on the referee no matter where he stands. Most ridiculous is when Sandy throws hers, we then see the anchor's Shadow of Impending Doom keep following the referee as he repeatedly moves away.
  • Predatory Business: Up to Eleven with Kelpshake in "Best Frenemies", which drains business from both Mr. Krabs and Plankton, forcing them into an Enemy Mine pact to try and get rid of them. Off-screen, the stands themselves somehow divide like bacteria and Bikini Bottom has a ton of them. By the end of the ep, all the Kelpshake stands get shut down because not only were the drinks addictive, they were also toxic, Plankton having detected radioactive material in it, and everybody who drank one (including Krabs, Plankton and SpongeBob) somehow grew green fur as a side-effect.
  • Pregnant Reptile: Has a lot of examples throughout the post-movie seasons.
    • In the episode "Truth Or Square", it is revealed that Spongebob's first time tasting the Krusty Krab was when his mother was pregnant with him. He is shown in her womb, being fed Krabby Patties through an umbilical cord. While sponges don't actually give live birth, they are biological hermaphrodites and are capable of sexual reproduction in addition to the more-well known method of asexual budding that the show itself popularized much earlier in its run.
    • In the episode "Pets or Pests", Spongebob adopts a worm whom he thinks is a male, but then she gets pregnant and gives live birth. Spongebob then spends the rest of the episode trying to find someone to adopt the baby worms.
    • Although he wasn't actually pregnant, Mr. Krabs disguised as a pregnant woman in the episode "The Cent of Money".
    • Then there is the episode "Spot Returns" where Plankton's amoeba puppy gets pregnant and gives birth. This also turns out to be a case of Your Tomcat Is Pregnant like the worm example above.
  • Perfers Proper Names: In "SpongeBob LongPants", SpongeBob's new, proper friends call him "SpongeRobert".
  • Priceless Paper Weight: The hilarious ways Patrick uses a valuable trading card in "The Card".
  • Prison Episode:
    • "Doing Time" has a surreal prison visit by Mrs. Puff.
    • "The Inmates of Summer" where SpongeBob and Patrick get on the wrong ship and end up on a prison island. Complete with a character voiced by R. Lee Ermey!
    • "Jailbreak!" features Plankton and his cellmates trying to escape prison.
    • "Call the Cops" explores two sides of the plot, with SpongeBob and Krabs as police officers while Patrick and Plankton are prisoners. Their plots aren't connected, as Plankton tries to escape the cell and SpongeBob interrogates a criminal, while Krabs searches the evidence room.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: "Krusty Krushers," with Mr. Krabs as SpongeBob and Patrick's manager in a tag match against two HUGE opponents in the hopes of making big money. The opponents totally squash SpongeBob and Patrick until their double-team diving headbutt collides with Patrick's iron butt. SpongeBob and Patrick have the choice of either $1 million in cash, or a chance to go to Wrestle Camp. To Mr. Krabs' dismay, they choose Wrestle Camp.
  • Produce Pelting: Squidward is hit with tomatoes during his ballet skit in "Culture Shock".
  • Pseudolympics: The Fry Cook Games, including events such as patty throwing, artistic ice cream diving, bun wrestling...
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • Squidward. While most of the time he acts serious, on several occasions he'll behave very childishly, to the point of becoming a dangerous madman. The clearest example of this is in the episode "Fools In April" (where he attempts to play an elaborate prank on SpongeBob in retaliation for annoying him with his April Fool's Day jokes), no doubt, but "Artist Unknown" (where he reacts to SpongeBob's inability to recreate Michelangelo's David by throwing a tantrum and messing up his art studio) and "Just One Bite" (where he tries Krabby Patties for the first time and becomes so obsessed with eating more that he tries to do so without SpongeBob knowing) are also good showcases of this.
    • When SpongeBob befriends Plankton in the episode "F.U.N.," he reveals a childish side to him never seen before. And it's generally assumed that Plankton is almost as old as Mr. Krabs is.
  • Puff of Logic: Currently provides the page quote. In "Life of Crime", when SpongeBob and Patrick are keeping warm by a fire, Patrick asks how fire can exist underwater, which then causes the fire to promptly go out.
  • Pulled from Your Day Off: A subversion occurs in the episode "Bubble Buddy". Squidward tries to enjoy SpongeBob's day off, but SpongeBob comes into work anyway to show Squidward his new friend, Bubble Buddy. He also makes Squidward make Bubble Buddy one of everything on the menu, with various alterations to suit Bubble Buddy's needs.
  • Punished for Sympathy: In "The Clash of Triton", King Neptune reveals that the reason he is sad during his 5,000th birthday is because he misses his son Triton, whom he locks in a cage in the Island in the Sky for 10,000 years (although specifically, Triton has only been in the cage for 1,000 years) because he made a cure for all mortal diseases, hoping that would teach him how to be a god.
  • Pushed at the Monster:
    • In "Sandy, Spongebob, and the Worm", while running from the Alaskan Bull Worm, Spongebob threatens to trip Sandy and leave her to be eaten unless she admits that the worm actually is too big for her to handle.
    • Played for Laughs in "Pre-Hibernation", when the townspeople of Bikini Bottom all hide under Patrick's rock to escape from Sandy and her obsessive search for Spongebob, they likewise find him under there (trying to hide after he finds her activities before hibernation too dangerous for his liking) and instantly throw him out into the open for her to find him. Luckily for him, she enters into hibernation when he confesses he doesn't like the activities she made him do.
  • Put on a Bus: Following Ernest Borgnine's death in July 2012, the characters of Mermaid Man (Borgnine) and Barnacle Boy (Tim Conway) have been relegated to non-speaking cameos since "Patrick-Man!", which aired three months afterward. Conway would pass on seven years later, leaving the future of both characters ultimately in question.


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