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- Quality over Quantity: King Neptune challenges SpongeBob to a fry-cooking competition where whoever cooks the most Krabby Patties wins, but he concedes to SpongeBob when he finds out that his mass-produced patties are terrible while SpongeBob's singular patty made with love is superior.
- Rampage from a Nail:
- "The Smoking Peanut" has a giant clam behaving this way. Everyone thinks it was because a peanut had been thrown at it; turns out Mr. Krabs stole its egg.
- There is also "Once Bitten" in which Gary is unruly and goes around biting people. Turns out it was because he had a splinter from a piece of Squidward's makeshift security fence, almost making this example a parody, as the splinter was the size of a tree.
- Rapid-Fire Comedy
- Rapid Hair Growth: In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Mindy tries to convince SpongeBob and Patrick that they are men by giving them fake mustaches. Later, they run into tough guy Dennis, who laughs at their pathetic mustaches and show them what a real mustache looks like, by instantly growing one.
- In the actual show, Patrick also has this ability, but with more hairstyles.
- "Rashomon"-Style: In "Friend or Foe?" Mr. Krabs claimed the moment his friendship with Plankton ended was when Plankton went mad with power. ("I'm ruling their stomachs, and soon I'll be ruling their minds!") However, Plankton appears and claimed their friendship actually ended when Mr. Krabs went mad with greed. ("First, I'll rule their stomachs, and then...their money!") But then Karen (who was just starting out as a security system at the time Mr. Krabs and Plankton started their own restaurant) shows up and revealed they didn't attract any customers at all. In fact, the only customer they did have got poisoned by the burger. Krabs and Plankton then blame each other and fought over who gets to fix the recipe, leading them to start their own separate restaurants. Notably, all three versions of the tale involved the two tearing their original recipe in half.
- Rattling Off Legal: During one of Plankton's many failed attempts at discovering the Krabby Patty secret formula (episode entitled "Imitation Krabs"), he poses as a sweepstakes sponsor, and the following dialogue occurs:Plankton: Are you SpongeBob SquarePants?
SpongeBob: Why yes... yes, I am!
Plankton: Then you've just won ONE MILLION DOLLARS! You just have to answer ONE question! What is the Krabby Patty secret formula?
SpongeBob: [takes breath as if he's about to answer]
Plankton: [excitedly] Yes?
SpongeBob: [takes breath]
SpongeBob: [takes a third breath]
SpongeBob: The Krabby Patty formula is the sole property of the Krusty Krab and is only to be discussed, in part or in whole, with its creator, Mr. Krabs. Duplication of this formula is punishable by law. Restrictions apply, results may vary. [smiles jubilantly]
Plankton: [stunned silence]
- Raw Eggs Make You Stronger:
- In the episode "The Great Snail Race", SpongeBob puts Gary through Training from Hell to win the titular race. At one point, he mixes Gary an "energy drink" which includes raw eggs, simply "because they're cliché!"
- Also, in "MuscleBob BuffPants", SpongeBob mentions that he "starts off with twenty raw eggs everyday".
- Reaching Between the Lines: Taken about as far as possible in an episode where SpongeBob and Sandy attempt to one-up each other at karate. First SpongeBob calls Sandy to attempt to chop her, at which point she turns the attack back on him by twisting his arm and pushing it back through the speaker.
- Read the Fine Print: Inverted in the episode "Pickles". Usually, if a customer actually does read fine print, it's an addendum that would be to the customer's disadvantage. However, in this case, a large fish named Bubble Bass demands a refund for his Krabby Patty on the grounds that SpongeBob forgot to put pickles on it. He cites a ludicrously microscopic disclaimer on the restaurant's overhead menu that reads "Money-back guarantee". Mr. Krabs does all he can to avoid the refund and keep his two dollars, then tells SpongeBob that he's taking it out of his paycheck.
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Patrick.Sandy: Here Patrick, have a Krabby Patty. [whispering] Psst! There he is, Patrick! Say your line!
Patrick: [whimpering] Why, thank you, Sandy. I would love one. "[TAKE PATTY.]" [takes patty] Too bad SpongeBob isn't here. These are his favorites. I sure wish he'd come home. "[TAKE...BITE...]" [slowly puts the Krabby Patty to his mouth, but bursts into tears before he can bring himself to eat it]
- Real After All:
- The Sea Bear in "The Camping Episode."
- Santa in "Christmas Who?"
- Real Fake Wedding: The pastor in "Truth or Square" thought it was a real wedding instead of a play. A deleted line has SpongeBob saying "It doesn't have to be", only to get slapped by Sandy.
- Reality Ensues: Has its own page.
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- "Reef Blower" was completely pantomime because of a faulty sound system.
- Tom Kenny mentioned in an interview in "Nickelodeon Magazine" that he was actually very sick when he recorded SpongeBob's congested-sounding dialogue in "Suds." For the most part, the sniffles and sneezes were genuine. Which only makes SpongeBob more pitiable in the episode.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Patrick gives one to SpongeBob near the end of "Dumped":Patrick: I'm sorry, SpongeBob, but Gary's with me now. You had your chance and you failed. You have to stop living in the past. Face it SpongeBob, you're only hurting yourself. It's what Gary wants, and what Gary wants is me!
Plankton: Shut your mouth, you mediocre clarinet player.Squidward: [sheepishly] ... mediocre?Plankton: You pretentious, little insignificant artist! Your sniveling creations are worth less than a protozoan's waste!Squidward: [turns pale and faints]
- Plankton gives one to Squidward in "Plankton!"
- Rebus Bubble: In "Rock-a-Bye Bivalve": "Sponge... + Starfish = ...Scallop?"
- Removable Shell: Gary has sometimes, depending on the episode. Sometimes the shell lifts up to show something hidden inside; sometimes the shell is Bigger on the Inside and SpongeBob is able to crawl into it; and sometimes cracking the shell exposes Gary's veiny, throbbing innards.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: SpongeBob and Squidward.
- Reminder of Impossibility: In "House Sittin' For Sandy," SpongeBob spends the first half of the episode walking around the treedome without the water helmet. Then when Patrick comes in wearing his water helmet and reminds SpongeBob that they cannot breathe air, SpongeBob promptly dries up and becomes unable to breathe.
- Repeat What You Just Said: In "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost":Patrick: [Squidward] really needs to get up to the great beyond.SpongeBob: Patrick, say that again.Patrick: That again.SpongeBob: No, the other thing.Patrick: No, the other thing.SpongeBob: No, what you said before when—Patrick: No, what you said before when—SpongeBob: Never mind! I've got an idea.Patrick: Never mind, I've got an idea.SpongeBob: [stares into the distance with an annoyed look on his face]
- Repetitive Name: Dr. Gill Gilliam.
- Retraux: "Truth or Square" had a brief throwback to old black & white rubberhose cartoons.
- Rhetorical Question Blunder: In "Sailor Mouth", after SpongeBob curses:Fish: Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?
SpongeBob: Well, sometimes, but not... recently.
SpongeBob: What could be better than serving up smiles?(makes goofy face)Squidward: Being dead, or anything else.
- Again in "Can You Spare a Dime?"
- Rhyming Episode: "SpongeBob vs. the Patty Gadget" is told entirely in rhyme.
- Rhyming List: In the episode "Born Again Krabs", SpongeBob finds an old, dried-out patty (just the meat patty itself) underneath the grill. He throws it away, at which point an alarm sounds and Mr. Krabs bursts into the room, panicking that "Someone tried to throw away a patty!" as he picks it out of the garbage. He and SpongeBob then have the following dialogue:SpongeBob: Mr. Krabs, I found that under the grill.Krabs: And tomorrow, a customer will find it under his bun.SpongeBob: But... it's old... and cold... and so very full of mold...Krabs: You're not to make another patty until that one is sold!
- Riddle for the Ages: The secret formula of the Krabby Patty.
- Rich Boredom: In "Selling Out," Mr. Krabs sells the Krusty Krab for a lot of loot. It's not long before he runs out of things to do in his retirement, goes on a rampage that destroys the Krusty Krab, buys the destroyed restaurant back, and it's all fixed up the next time we see it (in the next episode).
- Road Trip Episode: "Mr. Krabs Takes a Vacation" has Mr. Krabs, Pearl, and SpongeBob on one, while "A SquarePants Family Vacation" has the whole SquarePants family and Patrick going on a road trip.
- Rockers Smash Guitars: After singing a campfire song.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: SpongeBob and Patrick with David Hasselhoff.
- Roundabout Shot:
- In "Christmas Who?", SpongeBob and Patrick have one of these during "The Very First Christmas".
- SpongeBob and Patrick get another in "Wormy" as they are dancing around Wormy during "That's What Friends Do".
- SpongeBob and Patrick have another along with Squidward in "Enchanted Tiki Dreams".
- In "To Love a Patty", SpongeBob's Falling-in-Love Montage with the patty begins with him dancing with the patty under a disco ball followed by close-ups of the latter and former, in that order.
- In "Yours, Mine and Mine" after Mr. Krabs gives SpongeBob the Patty Pal toy, SpongeBob has one of these with the toy as he dances with it.
- Rousing Speech: In "Band Geeks":SpongeBob: What kind of monsters are we? That poor creature came to us in his hour of need, and we failed him. Squidward's always been there for us when it was convenient for him. Evelyn, when your little Jimmy was trapped in a fire, who rescued him?
Evelyn: A fireman.
SpongeBob: And Larry, when your heart gave out from all those tanning pills, who revived you?
Larry: Some guy in an ambulance.
SpongeBob: Right. So, if we can all just pretend that Squidward was a fireman, or a guy in an ambulance, then I'm sure that we can all pull together and discover what it truly means: to be in a marching band.
Harold (in Australian accent): Yeah, for the fireman!
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Man Ray.
- Rule of Funny: One of the reasons why there's little continuity for the show, for example, as a sponge, SpongeBob himself can either be completely boneless or injure himself Depending on the Writer.
- Rule of Three: In the first season episode "Jellyfishing", Patrick helping an injured Squidward hold a jellyfish net.Patrick: Firmly grasp it in your hand. (Patrick places the pole end on Squidward's bandaged hand, but it falls off because he can't grab it. Patrick picks it up) Firmly grasp it. (He does the same thing again and the results are exactly like before. Patrick gets angry) FIRMLY GRASP IT! (Patrick jams the net through Squidward's bandaged hand. He groans in pain) That oughta do it.
- Running Gag:
- "My leg!"
- A few running gags occurred in early seasons only, such as Patrick waking up in the morning as his rock lifts off the ground, at which point he falls to the ground, and Patrick walking into the Krusty Krab, greeting the employees with "Good morning, Krusty Krew!"
- Another early one was Mr. Krabs apparently sweating a lot; this was even referenced in some of the video games.
- A rather odd one with some of the later seasons: Squidward being spat out of something and ending up in a Yamcha-esque Troubled Fetal Position with a bone and a can on the ground. Initially started on "Mutiny on the Krusty◊", the gag was later reused in "Out of the Picture◊" and "Feral Friends◊".
- Safety Worst: In "I Had an Accident", after getting a "broken butt" after a sandboarding wipeout, SpongeBob takes a doctor's orders to be more careful too far and becomes a shut-in.
- Samus Is a Girl: In the "Pressure" episode, there is a scene where Sandy Cheeks takes her suit off, and it leaves her wearing nothing except for her bikini and her thin skirt. Patrick is shocked ("Sandy's a girl?!"), despite seeing her outside of her suit before, and referring to Sandy as "She" just minutes prior.
- Sapient All Along: For most of the episode "My Pretty Seahorse", Mystery seems to be an animal. Then near the end of the episode, SpongeBob claims she understands everything he says!
- Bubble Buddy is also this.
- Sapient Cetaceans: Pearl is a talking whale who she lives the life of a human teenager.
- Also, a dolphin king seen in "Sponge-Cano!" is a sentient dolphin that warns Bikini Bottom about the threat of volcanoes.
- Saying Sound Effects Out Loud:
- Plankton makes a habit out of this:Plankton: Oh, look, it's the Krusty Krab, home of the Krabby Patty! CRUSH! [Crushes the restaurant, picks up its sign and starts to lick it like a lollipop] Lick, lick!
- From the episode "Plankton!":[produces a golden spatula from his "secret compartment"] SHING! Sparkle, sparkle.
- Squidward, when SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs "rebuild" Karen 2.0, which actually means simply attaching her computer monitor to Squidward's head:Squidward: [deadpan] Welcome to the Krusty Krab. May I take your order? Beep, beep.
- While attempting to get SpongeBob to reveal the secret Krabby Patty formula:Plankton: [disguised as Mr. Krabs] Yum yum. This spaghetti sure is good. Belch.
- Plankton makes a habit out of this:
- Surprise Creepy: While not part of the show, the 2005 educational short "The Endless Summer" since it ends with Mr. Krabs realizing everyone except SpongeBob left Bikini Bottom due to the effects of global warming.
- Scare Chord:
- The Ominous Music Box Tune that is heard during Patrick's Break the Cutie moment in the episode "Nature Pants": "If I can't have you as a friend, I'm gonna make you a trophy!"
- The song "Ghost Child" from "Scaredy Pants".
- The music that plays in this video. It's the 'generic' SpongeBob creepy music.
- It also plays during the sequence in "Squid's Day Off" where we see Squidward going insane and blocking off his door to his house to prevent him from going back to the Krusty Krab to check up on SpongeBob.
- The "I DON'T NEED IT" scene in "Tea at the Treedome". SpongeBob's dried up face is zoomed in on in terrifying detail, complete with an unnerving heartbeat sound.
- Scenery Censor: Mermaid Man in one episode, with Gary blocking his crotch until he can get a towel on; spoofed with SpongeBob in the episode "Nature Pants", as he has nothing to hide and in fact spent some...er, most shots without his crotch obscured.
- Schmuck Bait: In "Mrs. Puff, You're Fired," the new instructor asks, "Would anyone care for a bon bon?" A kid accepts and is thrown out of the classroom.
- Scissors Cuts Rock: In "A Flea in Her Dome", Sandy attempts to keep the fleas at bay with a flea collar, but after fighting SpongeBob and Patrick over it she just wraps the collar around the three of them so the fleas can't get any of them. However, the fleas had already started to multiply enough that they had enough offspring to blitz through the three of them and eat the collar.
- Scream Discretion Shot: In "Clams", SpongeBob and (an unhappy) Squidward join Mr. Krabs on a clam-fishing trip. SpongeBob repeatedly attempts to cast off, and hooks various objects on the boat with his backswings, and throws them out into the lagoon when he swings the rod forward. First is a book that Squidward is reading, then the chair he's sitting in, then his shirt... finally, the hook on SpongeBob's rod catches Squidward's nose. There's a beat, and the camera pans extremely far out, and all the viewer sees is the boat. Squidward screams bloody murder as a loud rip is heard, and the next shot shows Squidward missing his nose.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In "Sleepy Time", when SpongeBob invades Patrick's dream.SpongeBob: I mean anything! Watch. I can turn into a skyscraper. [transforms into the shape of a skyscraper] Going up! Eh? [sees that Patrick is unresponsive; looks dull] I can make... a million of me! [changes back to his normal shape and size, this time with a million copies of himself] Eh? Eh? [the clones disappear] Ah, tartar sauce. I'm going to a different dream.
- Stanley S. SquarePants is the very unlucky cousin to the titular character. He ruins everything he touches and drives every character he meets insane. Except Squidward; he only took one look at him, exclaimed "There's two of them?!" and immediately moved out of his house screaming in terror.
- The Scrooge: Mr. Krabs is very greedy and cheap.
- Seadog Peg Leg:
- Patchy the Pirate has one.
- On the episode "Arrgh!", Mr. Krabs gives SpongeBob and Patrick some pirate gear to put on when they go treasure hunting. SpongeBob puts on two peg legs and calls himself Peggy the Pirate.
- Seahorse Steed: SpongeBob befriends a sea horse he calls Mystery.
- Second Person Attack: In "Pizza Delivery", when the fish ordering the Krusty Krab pizza refused to pay for the pizza because SpongeBob and Squidward forgot to bring him his soda, Squidward comes back at his door and shoves the pizza in the customer's face, saying "Well, this one's on the house!"
- Secret Ingredient: Plankton's schemes revolve around discovering the secret ingredient of the Krabby Patty at business rival Mr. Krabs's The Krusty Krab. At one point (after overtaking the restaurant with the help of his millions of hillbilly brethren), Plankton finds out that the secret ingredient is actual plankton (Plankton and his family do not take the news well), but Mr. Krabs reveals that it wasn't the real secret ingredient, just a fake one used to dupe Plankton. Another episode involves the restaurant going into lockdown as the secret ingredient is air-lifted in.
- Seldom-Seen Species: Sponge. Also plankton, flounder, urchins, nematodes, etc.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: SpongeBob and Patrick.
- Sentient Sands: "Sand Castles in the Sand" has SpongeBob and Patrick building increasingly militarized Palatial Sandcastles to war against each other. SpongeBob manages to build an entire human-like crew (and a bull) made out of sand which are fully sentient and able to move at will. Unfortunately, they are as easily destroyed as regular sand structures. Also, the sand gargoyles from SpongeBob last sandcastle fly away at the imminence of said sandcastle's bombing.
- Sequel Episode: There are some rare episodes that act as follow-ups to previous episodes:
- "Bubble Buddy Returns" has Bubble Buddy return to Bikini Bottom, leaving his son in SpongeBob's care.
- "Spot Returns" acts as a sequel to "Plankton's Pet", featuring Spot giving birth and Plankton using the offspring for another plan.
- "Man Ray Returns" is a sequel to "Mermaid Pants" one season earlier.
- Serious Business: Charlton Hawkfish in the episode "The Sewers of Bikini Bottom" has this attitude when it comes to chewing out the stadium owner on cutting corners when building the sewer he designed. Justified in that flushing all the toilets at the stadium at once nearly causes a flood and also awakens a giant snake.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story:
- In "Procrastination." SpongeBob finally gets his essay done, but when he turns it in the next morning, Mrs. Puff tells him the assignment has been canceled.
- In "Glove World R.I.P.", SpongeBob and Patrick do everything they can to save the Glove World amusement park from being torn down, only for it to be pointless as the reason for the demolition is that Glove Universe, which is bigger and better, was opening just across from it. Not to mention that by the time they had found out about this they had already chaining themselves to the Glove World gates. That they can't even go see the new amusement park because Patrick threw the key in a swamp.
- In "Squirrel Record", Sandy breaks every record in the record book she finds in the trash, but when the author reads it, he claims she broke no records at all, as the book is thirty years old and the records were broken years ago. Surprisingly, SpongeBob set his own new record when doing so: most injuries sustained while helping a friend.
- Shaped Like What It Sells:
- Glove World is made of many different buildings shaped like gloves.
- The Chum Bucket is in the shape of a giant bucket.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Patrick had to go undercover (because he thinks someone is going to kick him out of town), so he dressed up as "Patricia". SpongeBob had to tell a few folks "she" wasn't his girlfriend.
- Ship Tease: SpongeBob and Sandy (occasionally).
- Shockingly Expensive Bill: Mr. Krabs receives a restaurant bill of $100 after taking Mrs. Puff on a date, and claims it "can't possibly be correct". The waiter apologizes and hands him his real bill of $100,000.
- Shout-Out: When SpongeBob and Patrick are trying to find their way through the office maze in "Krusty Kleaners", the maze takes the form of the maze from Pac-Man, complete with dots, power pellets and the Trash Robot acting like a Pac-Man expy.
- Shoddy Shindig:
- Mr. Krabs throws his daughter Pearl the cheapest birthday parties ever, best exemplified in "Whale of a Birthday". When Pearl was little, he made her and all the party guests share one balloon, and the pony ride was a cheap stick pony that easily fell apart. On Pearl's 16th birthday, despite promising Pearl he wouldn't be cheap, he throws her a party that cuts every corner; the banner is recycled from Pearl's baby shower, refreshments include a cake is made out of cardboard and frosting, stale popcorn, and dishwater, a statue of Pearl is made of raw Krabby Patty meat instead of ice, and Squidward substitutes for Pearl's favorite band, Boys Who Cry. Fortunately, SpongeBob turns things around for Pearl by buying her everything she wants for her birthday with Mr. Krabs' credit card.
- In "Party Pooper Pants", SpongeBob decides to throw a party and invites everyone in town. It starts out as a disaster thanks to his strict adherence to schedule and his insistence that everyone uses random cards to base discussions off of. When he locks himself out by mistake, things improve tremendously.
- Shown Their Work:
- For a show that largely follows the Rule of Funny, every now and then they'll give an accurate fact about marine biology (Stephen Hillenburg actually is a marine biologist, after all). For example, in "I Had an Accident", SpongeBob correctly mentions that his species is sedentary, and that they get nutrients by filter-feeding. In the episode "Pressure", he brags to Sandy that he can reproduce by budding.
- Bubble Bass's Hash House Lingo is accurate terminology.
- Junior flying in "Rock-a-bye Bivalve" looks totally implausible, but clams actually do this.◊
- Shrine to Self: Squidward, who only recreates himself in art.
- Shrunken Organ: In "Funny Pants," Squidward breaks his "laugh box" (an organ he thought he made up), which has to be removed. The doctor remarks that it's the most dried-up, underused laugh box he's ever seen; it's in a jar the size of a salt shaker. Inversely, SpongeBob has a laugh box so big that he was able to donate half of it to Squidward while still retaining the capacity to do some laughing of his own.
- Sick Episode:
- "Suds" involves SpongeBob getting the suds, which are similar to a cold. Trouble ensues when Patrick shows up as a fake doctor, and Sandy tries to take SpongeBob to a real doctor.
- In "Squiditis," Squidward lies that he has a disease and SpongeBob believes he has caught it. Subverted as nobody is truly sick throughout the course of the episode.
- Signature Laugh: Most of the characters have distinctive laughs:
- SpongeBob's dolphin giggle
- Patrick's moron laugh
- Squidward's nasal chortle
- Mr. Krab's pirate-accented "Ar-ar-ar-ar"
- Plankton's Evil Laugh
- The Simple Gesture Wins: Played for Laughs in "Culture Shock," where the Krusty Krab holds a night show event. The audience has mixed reactions towards the characters performing on the stage, ending with Squidward's "artistic dance" being booed and tomatoed. Then SpongeBob walks onto the stage to clean up the mess... And somehow the audience treats it as the best performance ever.
- Sistine Steal: In "Insecurity Guards", one of the paintings at the museum is a parody of "The Creation Of Adam", with Mr. Krabs as God and the Krabby Patty as Adam.
- 6 Is 9: In the episode "Born to Be Wild", a letter 'W' is actually an upside-down 'M'. SpongeBob rips the letter 'W' from the shirt of a biker belonging to a scary gang, the Wild Ones. The biker actually belongs to a much tamer group, the Mild Ones.
- Sleep Aesop: In "Fear of a Krabby Patty", Mr. Krabs opens up the Krusty Krab for twenty-four hours, which makes SpongeBob hallucinate Krabby Patties and become afraid of them due to sleep deprivation. This is implied to be a moral about sleep being important because Sponegbob mentions that all he needed was sleep and Mr. Krabs allows him to sleep (albeit for only one hour a day).
- Sleep Deprivation: In "Fear of a Krabby Patty", when Krusty Krab starts opening for 24 hours a day, Mr. Krabs gets an order of 10000 Krabby Patties. Cue SpongeBob making patties nonstop, without any sleep, for days. This later results in him hallucinating people as walking, talking Krabby Patties.
- Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: Ever alert, Mermaid Man has trained himself to sleep with his eyes open.
- Slobs vs. Snobs: "Battle of Bikini Bottom"
- Small Name, Big Ego: Squidward.
- SpongeBob and Sandy also have their moments, though not as consistently.
- Smash Cut:
- In "Tea at the Treedome", Sandy discovers SpongeBob and Patrick have nearly dried up. This is accompanied by a cut from her dropping her tea glasses to a live-action shot of a sponge and starfish.
- The episode "Krusty Krab Training Video" ends with the narrator saying, "Okay! The [Krabby Patty] secret formula i"
- Smart Animal, Average Human: SpongeBob and his pet snail Gary. While not human, sea creatures that walk upright are considered the "humans" of the show while feral creatures like clams, worms, and snails are considered "animals" that can be domesticated into pets. Gary is shown to be intelligent and wise compared to his goofy and eccentric owner. Gary even has dreams where he owns an enormous library and has a tall, humanoid body, with his shell and face as his head.
- Smelly Skunk: The opening of "Pineapple Invasion" has Plankton use a skunk to stink out the Krusty Krab, taking advantage of the chaos in an attempt to steal the formula.
- Smug Snake: Plankton, Karen, Squilliam, Bubble Bass, and Mr. Krabs Depending on the Writer.
- Snapback: About every other episode, especially in the earlier seasons. Otherwise, SpongeBob would have been the proprietor of the Krusty Krab for the last eight years or so.
- The above issue has been Hand Waved, as the episodes supposedly don't happen in the exact order they come out in. This is at least the case for The Movie, which is the official ending for the series despite having been produced years ago. SpongeBob eventually becoming manager of the Krusty Krab 2 is firmly canon.
- "Wishing You Well" ends with Mr. Krabs being wished away and almost eaten. He is fine in time for the next episode.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Between Squidward and Mr. Krabs in the episode "Born Again Krabs":Krabs: I'm not cheap! I'm generous!Squidward: [deadpan] You almost tore a man's arm off for a penny.Krabs: [deadpan] Thanks, Squidward. I knew I could count on you.
- Snarky Non Human Side Kick:
- Potty sometimes serves just to make Patchy's life miserable. Squidward also counts in most episodes.
- Gary also counts, judging by SpongeBob's reactions to his meowing.
- Snipe Hunt: Mr. Krabs sends SpongeBob on one of these in the first episode, on Squidward's advice he'd make a terrible fry cook. However, SpongeBob returns to save the Krusty Krab from some hungry anchovies with a real hydrodynamic spatula with port and starboard attachments and turbodrive, which prompts Mr. Krabs to hire him.
- Snow Means Cold: During wintertime, it always snows in Sandy's treedome.
- Sold His Soul for a Donut:
- In "Money Talks", Mr. Krabs sells his soul to the Flying Dutchman in exchange for the ability to talk to money. When Mr. Krabs' money talks him into spending them (specifically, on things he doesn't want, like corn dogs, fairy princess outfits, and diapers), Mr. Krabs tries to get his soul back from the Flying Dutchman, only for the Flying Dutchman to claim his soul anyway. The Flying Dutchman soon finds out that Mr. Krabs has already sold his soul to various monsters, as well as SpongeBob, who tells the Flying Dutchman that Mr. Krabs was five dollars short on his last payday.
- In "Born Again Krabs", the Flying Dutchman bets SpongeBob that Mr. Krabs is so greedy he'd sell SpongeBob's soul for a nickel. The Dutchman then offers Krabs all the change in his pockets—62 cents—for SpongeBob's soul. Krabs accepts without hesitation. Even Squidward was disgusted by this.
- Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Both SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs refuse to accept anyone can hate Krabby Patties (the plot device for Just One Bite and arguably Plankton's Regular).
- Though in the former episode, SpongeBob was aiming more for Squidward to just try it and when Squidward (falsely) proclaims he hates it, SpongeBob does accept it and realize he was wrong to be so forceful. The latter episode does play it straight, however.
- Something-itis: We can frequently see this trope be used by supposedly qualified people, such as "head-go-boom-boom-itis" in Squid Baby, or "oral-report-itis" in Oral Report.
- Sound-Effect Bleep: "Hey, Patrick, how the [DOLPHIN CHIRP] are ya?" The whole episode (Sailor Mouth) took the trope Up to Eleven. (Though it turns out "DOLPHIN CHIRP" is the most filthy cuss word known to man.)
- So Unfunny, It's Funny: The show had this, especially in the earlier episodes. The real king is this gem:Squidward: Why couldn't the 11-year-old get into the pirate movie? It was rated Aaaarrrrrgh. [laughs uproariously][beat]Squidward: [laughing dies down from awkward silence] Because... it's about... pirates...?Krabs: I'm not payin' ya to do stand-up, Mr. Squidward. Now get back to work!
- Space Episode: "Goons on the Moon" and "Mooncation" mostly take place on the moon. Squidward goes to Mars in "Out of the Picture." Subverted in "Sandy's Rocket," where SpongeBob and Patrick only think they're on the moon when the rocket crashes back in Bikini Bottom.
- Special Guest:
- "Pre-Hibernation Week" has Pantera as a special musical guest.
- "Chatterbox Gary" has Keith David as the voice of Gary's translator and as Squidward's impersonation of it.
- Special Edition Title: "Christmas Who?" (done as The SpongeBob Christmas Special), "Whatever Happened to SpongeBob?" (done as WhoBob WhatPants), and "Truth or Square" (done with a remade version of the theme song and stop-motion animation).
- Species Surname: Mr. Krabs (Eugene H. Krabs) is a crab. Plankton also has this trope; "Plankton's Army" revealed that his full name is Sheldon J. Plankton. Also playing this trope straight are Mrs. Puff and Patrick Star. Pearl may count since her surname is Krabs and Dunces and Dragons reveals she has crab ancestors. "Squidward Tentacles" is also an example of two similar tropes.
- Spectator Casualty: Parodied. During the Fry cook games several Fish in the Audience are turned into fish sticks when Patrick fails the high-jump and catapults hot oil everywhere. A food vendor walks up as a sign flips to hawk hot food.
- Spell My Name with a "The": In the first two seasons, Karen refers to the show's titular character as "The SpongeBob."
- Sphere Eyes: SpongeBob himself.
- Spiritual Successor:
- SpongeBob itself can be considered the successor series to the earlier Nicktoon Rocko's Modern Life. Both series not only had much of the same writing staff but also shared similar character archetypes (Rocko to SpongeBob, Heffer to Patrick, Ed Bighead to Squidward, etc.) as well as an uncanny talent at Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- A large part of the the pre-2004 crew now work for Phineas and Ferb. Most notably Dan Povenmire and Robert F. Hughes. (Who also both worked on Rocko.)
- Split-Screen Phone Call:
- Parodied in "Jellyfishing." SpongeBob and Patrick are calling each other until the camera zooms out and reveals that they're in the same room.
- In "Overbooked," Sandy leans over the divider and shouts "Just be there!"
- Spoiler: The Dish Network description for "Doing Time" is "Ms. Puff imagines going to jail for SpongeBob," which spoils the ending.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Mr. Krabs and Plankton get more focus in Season 6.
- Spotlight-Stealing Title
- Springtime for Hitler: In "Fancy House", Squidward can't stand to see Squilliam Fancyson on TV when he's showing off his Big Fancy House, so he claims to have a fancier house than Squlliam's, even though it is nowhere as rich. He hires SpongeBob for an emergency redecorating session, which backfires when SpongeBob covers his living room in paint and the vacuum cleaner ends up vacuuming the entire living room and explodes, turning Squidward's house into a debris, which Nicholas Withers regards as a neo-classical masterpiece, and Squilliam has a nervous breakdown when Squidward's "masterpiece" manages to take the award that Squilliam was about to receive, being featured on the next episode of "House Fancy".
- Stable Time Loop: In "SB-129," Squidward goes back in time and invents jellyfishing. When he returns to the present, SpongeBob and Patrick tell him that he invented jellyfishing when he asks who came up with it.
- Staging the Eavesdrop: In "Bossy Boots", Mr. Krabs tasks SpongeBob with firing Pearl (since he doesn't have the heart to do it himself). After Pearl reveals to SpongeBob that she wants to be fired, the two decide to stage an overly-dramatic firing for Krabs to hear from behind the door to his office.
- Starstruck Speechless:
- In episode "I'm Your Biggest Fanatic", SpongeBob meets Kevin, an expert in jellyfishing. When SpongeBob gets close, he stares at Kevin and only manages to repeat "Hi Kevin" over and over, only snapping out of it when Kevin threatens to call security.
- In "Christmas Who?", Squidward dresses up for Santa Claus when the real Santa doesn't show up. SpongeBob, believing he's unexpectedly meeting the real Santa, is only able to repeatedly stammer "S-s-s-s-s-Santa..." until Squidward makes him stop.
- Start My Own: In "Friend or Foe", it's revealed that Krabs and Plankton started a restaurant together as a retaliation when the owner of another restaurant wouldn't accept them as customers. Also, before Krabs started to make Krabby Patties, Plankton broke the partnership to start his own restaurant because nobody liked the patty the two of them made together.
- Also, SpongeBob started running his own stand for his "Pretty Patties" after being made fun of (for making Pretty Patties) by Mr Krabs and Squidward.
- Status Quo Is God:
- At the end of the episode "Can You Spare A Dime?", Mr. Krabs discovers that Squidward didn't steal his first dime, and hires him back to work at the Krusty Krab. All is well and back to normal... until Krabs and Squidward get into another argument that appears to be headed in the same direction of what the episode's plot is based on.
- After "Friend or Foe" it is possible that Mr. Krabs and Plankton stayed friends as kids for a brief time (ex-shown pulling the main drain at the end)
- And there's "Bumper to Bumper". SpongeBob finally obtains his driver's license for real... only for a cop to point out that because Mrs. Puff crossed the county line, thus setting off her security cuff, the test results were null and void and he then proceeds to tear up the license.
- Every Boating School episode is this trope. Every single episode. "Bumper to Bumper" isn't the only Boating School episode that ends with SpongeBob finally getting his license, only for it to get taken away seconds later.
- Every "Plankton Tries to Steal the Krabby Patty Formula" episode is this trope as well. Even if Plankton successfully steals it, everything will go back to normal no matter what.
- "Karen 2.0.": Karen gets replaced by a new Karen robot. Plankton gets rid of Karen 2.0 and keeps the original Karen at the end.
- "SpongeBob You're Fired". Let's just say, it's really not a spoiler that SpongeBob gets his job back at the end of this half-hour "special". Everyone knew the episode would end with everything going back to normal.
- "The String". SpongeBob pulls a loose string from Squidward's shirt, eventually unraveling the entire universe as well as himself. This episode was the season 11 finale, but everything is back to normal next episode.
- Stealing from the Hotel: Exaggerated in the episode "Kracked Krabs". Mr. Krabs starts "exaggerating" (stealing) from the hotel room, and SpongeBob helps him. They steal the toiletries, the furniture, the wall... and eventually the room itself. As a hotel worker inspects their suitcase, the room pops out.
- Stealth Insult: Squidward in "Band Geeks":
- "I really expected better of you people. I guess I'm a loser for that too."
- Stop Copying Me: Patrick does it to SpongeBob in "Big Pink Loser".
- Stock Audio Clip: SpongeBob's signature laugh, as well as the offscreen guy shouting "My leg!"
- Stock Beehive: Jellyfish live in stock hives full of jelly. As with everything in the show, it falls under Rule of Funny.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: In "Squidville" Squidward replies to SpongeBob "Playing with a reef blower? That is the most childish thing I've ever heard of. SpongeBob replies "But it's fun." Squidward replies "Fun? How could playing with one of those over-sized hair dryers possibly be fun? Later in the episode, when Squidward is playing with a reef blower in Squidville, a resident asks him what he's doing and after Squidward tells him he replies "Playing with a reef blower? That is the most childish thing I've ever heard of." then after Squidward says that it's fun, he replies "Fun? How could playing with one of those over-sized hair dryers possibly be fun?"
- In "Mermaid Man And Barnacle Boy IV", SpongeBob uses Mermaidman's belt to shrink Squidward. He's left with no idea how to turn Squidward back to normal size. Patrick suggests instead of M, flip it to W for Wumbo. SpongeBob points out that's not a real word, and it shrinks as well. Later, after SpongeBob has shrunk everyone including Mermaidman, everyone asks him if he knows how to unshrink. Mermaidman says, "Have you tried setting it to Wumbo?".
- Straw Loser: It takes a Butt-Monkey to make SpongeBob and Patrick look like winners; Squidward apparently fills that role.
- Plankton seems to follow a similar comparison to Mr Krabs, who is usually a Butt-Monkey or Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist himself when the former isn't in the spotlight.
- Utilized in universe in "I'm With Stupid". When his parents come to visit, Patrick asks SpongeBob to act like a brainless loser in front of them so he will look less like a deadbeat in comparison. The scheme works too well, since Patrick, who himself is a hopeless variant of the trope to SpongeBob, actually starts to believe the act himself, and turns into a condescending bully towards SpongeBob.
- Stunned Silence: Numerous occasions, such as in the season-one episode "Hooky". SpongeBob goes to the "carnival" with Patrick during his Krusty Krab shift, and chaos ensues at the restaurant, since Squidward is a terrible fry cook but also the only one available to replace SpongeBob. Mr. Krabs demands to know what's going on.Squidward: It's a feeding frenzy, sir! And SpongeBob's not back from his break!Krabs: [beat, then laughs out loud]Squidward: What?Krabs: I thought you said SpongeBob was takin' a break! No one's taken a break at the Krusty Krab since the chum famine of '59! Now, what were you sayin'?Squidward: [deadpan] He took... a BREAK.Krabs: [blinks once and stares ahead in silence, then his arms and nose fall off]
- Stupid Crooks: SpongeBob and Patrick deliberately attempted to rob a bank in order to try and break Mrs. Puff out of jail from the inside. For masks, both characters wore socks over their heads, which covered their eyes and didn't allow them to see where they were going, and the bank teller treats the ordeal as a normal exchange, asking SpongeBob for his name and ID (which he gladly hands over), pulling up his checking and savings accounts, and bluntly informing SpongeBob that he has no money in either account.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: In "Squilliam Returns":Squidward: Try to imagine him in his underwear...oh no, he's hot!
- Stylistic Suck: Any scenes featuring Patchy the Pirate and Potty the Parrot are meant to look as cheap as possible. Especially Potty, a extremely poor-looking marionette.
- "I wrote this," the song Patrick wrote in "Sing a Song of Patrick," it's so bad, that the band that was paid $100 to compose it died right after they were done playing it, society breaks down when it plays on the radio, and band together as a massive lynch mob when they figure out that SpongeBob and Patrick hijacked the radio station to put it on the air.
- Suckiness Is Painful: Patrick's self-composed song in "Sing A Song Of Patrick", which is so awful that it actually kills the band that records it.
- Suddenly Voiced: In "The Secret Box", SpongeBob asks Gary if he thinks his plan is good. Gary replies with, "Hmm... NO."
- Suddenly Fluent in Gibberish:SpongeBob: Patrick, I didn't know you spoke bird!Patrick: No, that's Italian, SpongeBob.
- Sue Donym: In "Fear of a Krabby Patty", Plankton gives his name as "Peter Lankton". It is later shortened to "P. Lankton".
- "Hey, wait a second... is this a prank call?"
- Superhero Episode: Many episodes including Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy qualify. For example, "Patrick-Man!"
- Super-Sargasso Sea: The Bikini Bottom Triangle contains many items taken by the mermaids via singing to activate a giant vacuum, which opens a rift in the sky while doing so. When they sing their song backwards, the items are returned to their owner.
- Supreme Chef: Jim
- Surrounded by Idiots: Squidward. Big time.
- Swallowed a Fly: In "Nasty Patty", the health inspector swallows a fly before he can take a bite of the 'Nasty Patty' that SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs fixed up. They believe that they killed him when they see him lying on the floor.
- Synchronized Swarming: Plankton rallies his extended family to aid him in finally stealing the Krabby Patty secret formula.Mr. Krabs: Curse you Plankton, and your ability to join together to form a working human ear!
- Synchro-Vox: Used in the opening with "Painty the Pirate", who starts the theme song.
- Take a Third Option: In the episode where Plankton is trying to build his Chum Bucket Mega Bucket in the Goo Lagoon, he tells SpongeBob that nice guys finish last, and that only aggressive people conquer the world. SpongeBob kindly retorts with "What about aggressively nice people?"
- Take That!: "Krabby Land" is an episode-long potshot to McDonald's. Mr. Krabs' quote at the end clinches it:Mr. Krabs: The children? I don't care about the children! The fact that feeble minds are easily manipulated by cheap playgrounds and talentless clowns is no skin off my nose! Survival of the fittest, SpongeBob! Survival of the fittest!
SpongeBob: (referring to the Day itself) Why, it's the day when all the graphic literature shops provide gratis samples of their wares in a pathetic attempt to bolster an industry which has spent the last two decades in a death spiral brought on by lethal interaction between the lack of variety and a monopolistic distribution system!
- "Graveyard Shift" has another one at McDonald's when Mr. Krabs makes it so the Krusty Krab is open 24/7 and Squidward says it's a stupid idea. There are McDonald's restaurants that are open 24/7.
- The 2017 Free Comic Book Day comic has a huge one to the comics industry at that point in time:
- Taking Advantage of Generosity: SpongeBob is often the victim of this.
- Talk Like a Pirate: Mr. Krabs, Patchy, the Flying Dutchman, and other minor characters all typify this trope. In "Aargh!" though, SpongeBob and Patrick take it to an absurd degree:SpongeBob: Aargh, captain, aargh, we're, aargh, about, aargh, to hit, aargh-Krabs: Out with it, man, aargh!Patrick: I think, aargh, he's trying, aargh, to say, aargh... [crashes the boat] Land.Krabs: Urgh... from now on, only the captain says "aargh".
- Taps: In the episode "Band Geeks", Squidward and the Bikini Bottom citizens are practicing in a marching band. Squidward tells the flag spinners in the front to spin the flag faster, and eventually, so fast that they fly and collide with a zeppelin, which explodes. The trumpeter of the band then plays the Taps as the rest of them hold their hats on their chest.
- Team Rocket Wins: Plankton in "Wishing You Well" and the movie.
- Squilliam in Squilliam Returns.
- Teens Love Shopping: Pearl the teenage whale likes the mall and defines it to some teenage mermaids as the place where you get whatever you want, which led to the mermaids chanting, "Mall! Mall! Mall!".
- Teeth Flying: SpongeBob has to impersonate Mr. Krabs at his Navy reunion. One of Krab's buddies asks to punch him in the "armor abs", resulting in one of his teeth coming loose. The others are disappointed that he only lost one tooth, until he spits out a few more, and then his skeleton and the others declare, "Now that's manly!"
- Temporarily a Villain: The show has Barnacle Boy switching sides over not getting enough food and respect.
- Tempting Fate:
SpongeBob: Barnacles! What could be worse than a giant paint bubble?!
- During the episode "SpongeGuard on Duty":SpongeBob: I'm cool! I'm every bit as cool as Larry! [smugly] And if I'm not, let me be struck by... [lightning rumbles]... a flying ice cream truck! [ice cream truck song plays] ... AND LIVE! [ice cream truck stops in mid-air inches above SpongeBob's head, then falls on him]Larry: Please do not drop flying ice cream trucks on the bathers!
- A textbook example occurs in "Wet Painters," when SpongeBob and Patrick have to paint Mr. Krabs' house of valuable collectibles. Cue Murphy's Law, involving a giant paint bubble:
Patrick: Ooh! I know! (produces a bubble wand, dips in into the paint, and blows another giant paint bubble) Two giant paint bubbles!
(the bubbles collide and form one MASSIVE paint bubble)
SpongeBob: Patrick, I don't think this bubble can get much bigger!
Patrick: Nonsense! (produces a bike pump to hook up to the paint bubble, inflating it further)
- Also, in "Can You Spare a Dime?":SpongeBob: Squidward is not a freeloader and he would never take advantage of me.
Narrator: Three weeks later...
SpongeBob: He's just having a hard time getting his confidence back.
Narrator: Many months later...
SpongeBob: I'm sure he's close to a breakthrough.
Narrator 2: So much later that the old narrator got tired of waiting and they had to hire a new one...
SpongeBob: [grunts as he crawls to the living room]
Gary: [matter-of-factly...] Meow, meow, meow...
SpongeBob: I know he still isn't looking for work! DON'T RUB IT IN!
- The lead singer of the band from "Sing a Song of Patrick" says that they'll record Patrick's song "even if it kills [them]". Gilligan Cut to a cemetery, with four graves sitting side-by-side.
- During the episode "SpongeGuard on Duty":
- Terrible Artist: SpongeBob's crude drawings come to life in the episode "Frankendoodle". Even Patrick criticizes him on his lack of structure and perspective, though his drawings aren't any better.
- Terrible Ticking: Or in this case, squeaking, in "Squeaky Boots".
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Averted, SpongeBob has curly lashes... though he is a bit girly.
- That Cloud Looks Like A Flower: SpongeBob watches the clouds go by with Sandy, who then reminds him they are all flowers.
- That Poor Cat: There was a similar gag of a guy yelling "My leg" instead of a yowling cat. Mainly in the early seasons.
- In "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy II", a cat screech was heard when Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy parked their invisible boat mobile with a crash. This happened 2 times.
- All snails usually meow like cats. But after The Movie, they were able to screech. Gary was able to screech too. He did it in three episodes: "The Thing", "What Ever Happened to SpongeBob?" & "Grooming Gary".
- Theme Tune Cameo: SpongeBob hums the show's credits theme (usually not heard due to Nickelodeon's Credits Pushback) in "Krabs vs. Plankton". He also sings lyrics from the intro in "Old Man Patrick" in order to get Patrick to remember who he is.
- There Should Be a Law: In "Squidville," after Squidward gets bored of his daily routine in Tentacle Acres, he starts behaving the same way SpongeBob did at the beginning of the episode that caused him to move to Tentacle Acres. His actions result in his neighbors compiling a Long List of grievances against him, and he reacts with:Squidward: Grievances! This town is a grievance! There should be a law against so many stuck-up tightwads living in one place! This city needs to be destroyed! Or at least, painted a different color.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave:
- Squidward, when he loses his job in 'Can You Spare A Dime?'.
- SpongeBob when he has to take a vacation.
- the Flying Dutchman, after he wrecks his ghostly ship. Which had been fixed for 3 months by the time he decided to leave.
- The "The" Title Confusion: It's known as The SpongeBob◊ on StarTimes TV.
- This Billboard Needs Some Salt: In "Sleepy Time", Plankton, dreaming that he's a giant, treats the Krusty Krab's sign as a lollipop.
- This! Is! PATRICK!
- My Name's! NOT! RICK!
- BIG! MEATY! CLAWS!
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Mentioned by name when Mr. Krabs and Squidward find SpongeBob in shock at the beginning of "The Krusty Sponge". When he realizes it's because they're about to receive a visit from food critic Gene Scallop, Krabs adopts one as well.
- Three Wishes: At the end of "Shanghaied".
- Throw the Dog a Bone:
- Squidward in "Band Geeks" (where SpongeBob and everyone else in Bikini Bottom manage a musical performance impressive enough to give his rival Squilliam a heart attack), "House Fancy" (where in spite of his house getting wrecked, it is determined way fancier than Squilliam's house), "Enchanted Tiki Dream" (where SpongeBob and Patrick give it their all to let Squidward have some happiness for once) "Suction Cup Symphony" (where his performance is applauded), and "Love That Squid" (he gets a girlfriend named Squilvia who loves him even when he loses his patience with SpongeBob). In "Whale Watching," Mr. Krabs hires Squidward to babysit Pearl, in exchange for a SpongeBob free shift, and after some animosity, Squidward and Pearl make up at the end, and end up siccing SpongeBob on a boy that spurned Pearl.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Plankton and Mrs. Puff in "Wishing You Well" both get their wishes granted, with Plankton wishing to be taller and Mrs. Puff wishing for her own hot rod. On the subject of Plankton, there's an episode he gets a pet, in which he receives a happy ending.
- Tie-In Novel
- Time-Travel Episode: "SB-129".
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Mr. Krabs and Pearl, as a family example.
- Title Confusion: There's an episode called "Patty Caper" and a special called "The Great Patty Caper". Sometimes people get them mixed up.
- Toilet Humor: Shows up from time to time:
"Oh that's real nice."
- Patrick's stomach in "Something Smells".
- SpongeBob cleaning a toilet as an actor for a sponge in a commercial.
- "I gotta act natural!"
- Toilet Teleportation: Subverted when SpongeBob and Patrick pretend to be ghosts and haunt Mr. Krabs. They clogged all the toilets so he couldn't try to escape that way.
- Tomato in the Mirror: "Wait a minute, Patrick... I'm the maniac!"
- Tone Shift: Seasons 9B-12 are Denser and Wackier than previous episodes.
- Tongue on the Flagpole: Happens to Patrick when he gets his tongue on a wooden pole when the Krusty Krab is frozen in "Krabs a la Mode." He doesn't seem to mind, though.
- Too Dumb to Live: SpongeBob and Patrick's past counterparts in "SB-129" repeatedly attempt to play catch with a jellyfish, barehanded. Squidward intervenes to teach them how to jellyfish mostly because their agonized screams are disrupting his clarinet playing.
- Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: In "Born Again Krabs", Mr. Krabs trades SpongeBob's soul for 62 cents. Just as he starts to feel bad about it, the Flying Dutchman comes back to return SpongeBob after being annoyed by his incessant chatter about his hobbies.
- The Flying Dutchman gave SpongeBob and Patrick up as slave crewmen in "Shanghaied" because they were incredibly bad at it. In a subversion, rather than letting them go, he planned to eat them, but they escaped. Then the Dutchman catches them, but he offers them three wishes before they're eaten. After accidentally using up two of their wishes, they use their final wish to turn the Dutchman into a vegetarian. But then they appear in a blender, somehow transformed into fruit, with the Dutchman preparing to eat them.
- In a third Flying Dutchman example, namely "Scaredy Pants", SpongeBob is shaved down by Patrick to make him rounder for a sheet he uses as a Flying Dutchman costume to try to scare everyone in the Krusty Krab for Halloween. He fails miserably, but as the restaurant is laughing at him the real Dutchman arrives, angered by SpongeBob's insulting costume and about to steal everyone's souls. He takes a moment before doing so to explain the concept of being scary to SpongeBob, then removes the sheet... and flies away screaming when he sees the sponge had been shaved down to facial features, a brain, and a "spinal cord".
- Too Upset to Create:
- In "Pickles", SpongeBob gets so upset about forgetting to put pickles on a Krabby Patty that he is unable to remember how to prepare one. It gets so bad he can't do anything at all, even talk with proper syntax. Once he is able to relearn how to make a Krabby Patty, he returns back to normal.
- In "Artist Unknown", SpongeBob attends Squidward's art class, annoying his teacher with his unusual creative process. Squidward scolds him for doing art "wrong", and he gets so upset he quits the class and goes to live in the dump. When an art collector comes in and declares one of SpongeBob's artworks a masterpiece, Squidward tries to get SpongeBob to make some more. Unfortunately, SpongeBob has taken Squidward's criticisms to heart, and is unable to recreate his previous work.
- Town Contest Episode: Patrick competes in an eating contest in "What's Eating Patrick?"
- Town Girls:
- This trope applies with Sandy as the Texas tough Butch, Pearl as the Girly Girl Femme, and Mrs. Puff as the in-between (caring but firm) Neither.
- It also works with Sandy as the Butch, Pearl as the Femme, and Karen as the in-between (devoted wife but evil mastermind) Neither.
- In "Sand Castles in the Sand," SpongeBob and Patrick play
FrisbeeSmall Plastic Disc That You Throw/Toss.
- "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V" proclaims the IJLSA as "a subsidiary of Viacom," Nickelodeon's parent company.
- In "Sand Castles in the Sand," SpongeBob and Patrick play
- Training from Hell: The episode when a Drill Sergeant Nasty shark teaches SpongeBob how to drive. It works, but SpongeBob ends up being able to drive only when BLINDFOLDED. Hilarity Ensues.MY PANTS!!!!
- Tree Buchet: In "Club SpongeBob", Squidward tries to leave SpongeBob's clubhouse by grabbing a vine and pulling himself down the stalk the treehouse is situated in, dragging the treehouse with him and bending the stalk double. As soon as he puts a foot on the ground, the vine snaps .
- Trope Overdosed: The trope page had to be divided into FOUR different pages.
- Troubled Fetal Position: Played for laughs with Squidward in "Band Geeks", after another screw-up by his slapdash marching band.
- SpongeBob does this for a whole episode in which he becomes afraid to go outside, so he decides to live inside his house for the rest of his life. Thankfully, he got over it.
- One episode had Kevin the Sea Cucumber sits in a fetal position and cry for his mommy and blankie when attacked by a King Jellyfish. The other Jellyspotters join in shortly until SpongeBob saves them all.
- Two Shorts Format: There are occasional episodes containing a third short — namely, the pilot and five of the fifth season's episodes.
- Two Halves Make a Plot: In the special "Atlantis Squarepantis" SpongeBob and Patrick find half of an amulet and bring it to a museum, where the other half coincidentally resides.
- Two-Timer Date: Averted; you see, SpongeBob had three appointments booked for the same time, not two.
- Tyop on the Cover:
- An in-universe example: Bikini Botton Arcade in the episode "Karate Star".
- "Pet Sitter Pat" has a book titled 'Snail Tails', which actually had the correct spelling on SpongeBob's list of things to do with Gary.
- Umpteenth Customer: A customer gets this for giving Mr. Krabs his millionth dollar earned. He gets no prize; he and the others just get thrown out so that Krabs can enjoy the dollar in peace. He does reward his workers, though... with a fishing trip.
- Unexplained Recovery: In "Karate Island" despite getting beaten to a pulp by Sandy, the Karate Master is perfectly fine when Squidward arrives on "Clarinet Island" shortly after.
- Unreadable Disclaimer: In "Pickles", it's revealed Mr. Krabs does have a money back guarantee on his menu, but it's written in text that you'd need a microscope to read. Bubble Bass is somehow aware of it, though.
- Unreadably Fast Text: In "No Free Rides", SpongeBob's date of birth is given as 14 July 1986.
- The Un-Reveal: THE SECRET RECIPE TO THE KRABBY PATTY SECRET FORMULA IS — *Cuts to credits/a commercial*
- In Krabby Road we are given a brief glimpse at the formula. However the ingredients are nonsense words comprised of random letters akin to something a frustrated person might type when banging on a keyboard.
- A book detailing the series claimed to have the secret formula at the end. All it read was, in .5-point font, "Congratulations! You know how to use a magnifying glass!"
- Unsatisfiable Customer: Bubblebass.
- Unstoppable Rage: Patrick was tearing up the carnival in the Valentine's Day episode after he only got a handshake (while SpongeBob got other people roses, a box of chocolates, and a bike).
- Sandy, on more than one occasion.
- Plankton, although usually only in his own fantasies of what his life would be like if he were bigger.
- Unsuccessful Pet Adoption:
- In "My Pretty Seahorse", SpongeBob adopts a seahorse named Mystery. Seahorses can be kept as pets in the SpongeBob universe, but Mystery runs away.
- In "Dumped", SpongeBob adopts two snails named Larry and Jerry and a worm named Rex. Larry is too aggressive so he must be sent away, and Rex leaves on a bus, but it's unclear what happened to Jerry.
- In "A Pal for Gary", SpongeBob adopts a pet named Puffy Fluffy, who runs away. Just as well, because Puffy Fluffy, despite his cute name, kept trying to eat Gary.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Fishpaste!" "Barnacles!" "Tartar Sauce!" etc.
- Vacation Episode: Season 8 gave us five of them. "A SquarePants Family Vacation," "Patrick's Staycation," "Mr. Krabs Takes a Vacation," "Mooncation," and "Walking the Plankton."
- Vague Age: SpongeBob lives on his own and holds down a job, yet is considered a "kid" by some. However, a few episodes give his DOB. Possibly justified when considering his mental age, or the long lifespan of actual sponges.
- Vengeful Vending Machine: In the episode "Rock Bottom", SpongeBob is waiting for the bus so he can go home. He gets hungry and runs across the street to the vending machine to buy a candy bar. The machine itself works properly, but the bus showed up and drove off every time he tried to put a dollar into the machine or to reach for the candy bar after it was dispensed. Keeping his eyes on the bus, he slowly moves to grab the candy bar, with the bus revving the engines everytime he gently touches the bar. He tries to run back across the street to catch the bus, but it drives off. A random stranger walks up to machine and just takes the candy bar.
- Verbal Tic: In Rock Bottom, you actually need to raspberry between words (i.e.: JUST * PPPTPTPTP* LIKE * PTPTPT* THIS) in order for you to be understood."What? *pbthbth* I can't *pbthbth* understand *pbthbth* your accent. *pbthbth*
- Villain Has a Point: Occurs in the episode "Walking Small". Even though he was simply using SpongeBob (for land development!) throughout the episode, Plankton was 100% right when he told SpongeBob that he should be more assertive and stop letting people walk all over him.
In this episode alone, two people cut in front of him in line for free ice cream, and SpongeBob does nothing in retaliation. By the time he gets to the front, the vendor is sold out. Then, as he and Plankton sit on a bench, a large fish sits on SpongeBob, and doesn't even move when SpongeBob asks him to do so politely.
All in all, a lot of SpongeBob's problems would probably easily be solved (or never occur) if he weren't a spongy, yellow doormat.
- Villain Song: The pirate ghosts from "Ghost Fools" get one.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Type 1 with SpongeBob and Squidward.
- Vocal Evolution: Tom Kenny's SpongeBob voice was somewhat deeper and nasal in earlier seasons, before becoming higher pitched and childlike in the movie & revival seasons. Does not help with Vague Age. He does go back to his lower voice around season 8.
- Season 1 in general had a more relaxed voice acting, aside from Squidward, who ironically sounded more nervous and his voice mellowed out afterwards.
- Walk Into Camera Obstruction:
Patrick: "Oh, coming!"
- "Texas": when Sandy is chasing SpongeBob and Patrick. While carrying a lasso she fills the screen with her foot.
- "Whelk Attack" where Mr. Krabs tries to give Krabby Patties to the whelks. He walks out the Krusty Krab with a plate full of Krabby Patties and walks towards the screen.
- "Bummer Vacation" with SpongeBob accusing Mr. Krabs of replacing him.
- "Squidward, the Unfriendly Ghost": When SpongeBob and Patrick about to clean Squidward's back room.
- "Walk on the Wild Side" Episode: In one episode, Squidward gets so fed up with SpongeBob and Patrick's antics that he decides to move out into a gated community filled with other squids who share his interests. Inside, he finds that everyone else has a Easter Island head house, everyone else loves playing the clarinet, everyone else loves riding their paddlebikes, everyone else loves ballet dancing, and everyone else enjoys eating canned bread. He's thrilled at this, but soon gets bored of the same routine every day, to the point where he starts going out of control and just lets loose while playing around with a leaf blower. The other citizens filled a formal list of complaints, but Squidward tells them off by flying his leaf blower into the sky while screaming wildly.
- Walk Through The Camera:
- "Breath of Fresh Squidward" SpongeBob walking with new Squidward attached to him. "Boy, the new Squidward sure is chummy."
- Watching the Sunset: With Squidward.SpongeBob: This is great. Just the three of us; you, me, and this brick wall you built between us.
- Water Is Air: Very frequently. Most noticeable in "Sponge Henge," involving a wind storm that causes SpongeBob's holes to whistle.
SpongeBoband Patrick are sitting around a campfire late at night.
- SpongeBob and friends are also perfectly capable of falling off cliffs, taking baths...
- Lampshaded in one episode where SpongeBob and Patrick run away after they think they're wanted fugitives for popping a balloon.
Patrick: Hey, if we're underwater, how can there be a--?
[fire immediately goes out]
- Wham Line:SpongeBob: Wait a MINUTE! (pulls out Bubble Bass' tongue) He's been hiding the pickles under his tongue the whole time!
- What Are You in For?: Said by Patrick at the end of "SpongeBob Meets The Strangler", when the Strangler ends up in the same jail cell as him.
- What the Hell, Hero?: In Karen 2.0, when SpongeBob accidentally makes Karen cry some more after Plankton dumps her, Mr. Krabs responds to this with this:Mr. Krabs: (Angrily) Smooth, SpongeBob. REAL smooth!
- Squidward even calls Mr. Krabs out on selling SpongeBob's soul for 62 cents in Born Again Krabs. Squidward hates SpongeBob with a burning passion of a thousand suns, but even he was disturbed at what Krabs did.
- In "Stuck in the Ringer", SpongeBob yells at Patrick for ruining his life by gluing him to his wringer. But the townspeople call SpongeBob out for yelling at Patrick even though it was Patrick who got him in that mess in the first place.
- Who's on First?: "Good Ol' Whatshisname", in which Squidward tries to find out the name of a mystery customer.
- Also, in "Shellback Shenanigans":SpongeBob: When are we making this fresh batch of Krabby Patties, Mr. Krabs?
Mr. Krabs: What?
Plankton: Okay, now what'd he say?
Plankton: I said, "What'd he say?"
Karen: He said, "What?".
Plankton: I have no idea, that's why I'm asking you what he said!
Karen: I know that, and I'm saying he said, "What?"!
Plankton: I know that! Wait... oh, he said, "What?"
- Also, in "Shellback Shenanigans":
- Who's Watching the Store?: Only three people operate the Krusty Krab, and all three are not always at work at the same time.
- Whole Episode Flashback:
- The episode "Missing Identity" is told in flashback by SpongeBob to a waitress and customer in the diner one night.
- "To SquarePants or Not to SquarePants" is a flashback to "three days ago" from the beginning of the narration.
- Each of the five "vacation" episodes ("A SquarePants Family Vacation", "Patrick's Staycation", "Walking the Plankton", "Mooncation", "Mr. Krabs Takes a Vacation") are told in flashback by whoever had the vacation, by showing a photo slideshow of the event.
- Whole Plot Reference:
- The very first episode, "Help Wanted", is a loose remake of a scene from the The Bellboy where Stanley's boss makes him set up chairs in a huge ballroom to keep him out of trouble, only to return a minute later and see every chair single set up perfectly. Just replace "setting up chairs" with "looking for a hydrodynamic spatula" and "doing it abnormally fast" with "actually finding it."
- "Patrick Smartpants" is Flowers for Algernon. Patrick suddenly becomes smart after an accident in Jellyfish Fields. It turns out that after the top of his head was knocked off, SpongeBob put a "brain coral" on Patrick instead of Patrick's real head.
- The episode Club SpongeBob is, believe it or not, one for Nineteen Eighty-Four, only Lighter and Softer.
- "Culture Shock" is one for the Looney Tunes short "Show Biz Bugs", with Squidward and SpongeBob standing in for Daffy and Bugs, respectively.
- Why Don't You Marry It?: In "Married to Money", Plankton fails to get the Krabby Patty secret formula once again, and after listening to Mr. Krabs' statement of how money makes the world go round, he mocks him and asks "why don't you marry it." Mr. Krabs goes silent and sadly responds that if he could, he would.
- Why Won't You Die?: Very blatant in "Demolition Doofus," when Mrs. Puff is trying to ensure that SpongeBob will die in the truck rally but survives, she screams, "Why are you still alive?!"
- Widget Series: Of the WHAT variety.
- Win Back the Crowd:
- Seasons 9-12 of the show after jumping the shark.
- Windbag Politician: When SpongeBob was chosen hall monitor, he gave a long, boring acceptance speech (which includes a quote from an equally long speech given by a famous hall monitor). By the time he was finished, class was over without him actually performing his hall-monitor duties.
- Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing:
- In the episode "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V", Mermaid Man hires the main cast to pose as superheroes against Face Heel Turned Barnacle Boy's villain group "Every Villain Is Lemons". However the team's ineptness with their super powers leads them to all injure themselves, while the villains look on dumbfounded.
- In "The Great Snail Race", SpongeBob, Squidward and Patrick enter a snail contest, with Patrick's contestant being a rock.note While SpongeBob's snail Gary crashes and Squidward's snail forfeits the race to be by his side, Patrick's "snail" somehow got to the finish line.
- Withholding Their Name: In the episode, "Good Ol' Whatshisname", Squidward and SpongeBob compete in against each other to learn the names of all the customers in the Krusty Krab. When Squidward gets down to the last customer, it seems like the customer doesn't want to tell Squidward his name, as it sounds like he tells him "What's it to ya?". After Squidward takes the customer's wallet from him, getting himself arrested as a result, Squidward finds out the customer's real name is "What Zit Tooya".
- Workaholic: SpongeBob ADORES his job at the Krusty Krab, to the point where he goes insane when Mr. Krabs tries to make him take a vacation.
- Work Off the Debt: The plot of "Pat No Pay". Being Patrick he screws up even the simplest of jobs.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: SpongeBob performs one at the end of The Movie. Then after that...
- World of Ham: At least half of the characters on the show have a huge thing for the dramatic, and will demonstrate whenever they get the chance.
- World's Smallest Violin: In a scene from "Squilliam Returns" in which Mr. Krabs plays the World's Smallest Violin as a variant of this trope.Mr. Krabs: Oh, boo hoo. Let me play a sad song for you on the World's Smallest Violin. [Does so]Squidward: This is serious!Mr. Krabs: I know. This really is the World's Smallest Violin. See? (camera focuses on his claw to show World's Smallest Violin)
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Mr. Krabs in Born Again Krabs. He thinks it's All Just a Dream and he's in the hospital "sleepin' like a baby"... until he gets the bill.
- Wrong Restaurant:
- In "The Bully", Patrick calls Mrs. Puff's Boating School, thinking he called Pizza Castle, and tries to order a pizza. SpongeBob is actually glad Patrick called, and hopes he will stand up to Flats for him. Unfortunately for SpongeBob, Flats is Patrick's old community college buddy.
- In "Pizza Delivery", someone calls the Krusty Krab for a pizza by mistake. Not one to miss out on a quick buck, Mr. Krabs smashes some Krabby Patties into a pizza and has SpongeBob and Squidward deliver it. Hilarity Ensues.
- In "Squidville", SpongeBob and Patrick are at the gate to Tentacle Acres, where Squidward has moved. Patrick mistakes the intercom for a take out window and makes an order.
- In 'Seance Schmeance", an old man keeps coming to the Krusty Krab mistaking it for the restaurant that was there before, asking for a certain sandwich. Mr. Krabs holds a seance to find the recipe and get rid of the customer once and for all.
- In "Komputer Overload", a customer is at the drive thru of the Chum Bucket and keeps trying to order items that the Krusty Krab sells. Plankton angrily tells the customer that they don't sell any of those items, and if he wants any of those, he should go to the Krusty Krab.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: The Krusty Krab.
- X Must Not Win: While usually fine defending his own business, Mr Krabs is sometimes shown to have an unsettling grudge towards any minor success his rival Plankton gains, even so much as gaining one customer is enough for him to start on an obsessive vendetta in stealing Plankton's "business."
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Some episodes tend to do this to both Squidward and Plankton. Used so often in the later seasons that it's almost the show's signature trope, especially with Squidward.
- SpongeBob whenever he tries to get his driver's license.
- Yes-Man: The Jellyspotters
- "Yes"/"No" Answer Interpretation: From "Chimps Ahoy":Dr. Marmalade: Lord Reginald, are you all right? [shrieks and explosions are heard] I'm sorry, was that a "yes"?
- Yes, Virginia: "Christmas Who?"
- You Can Say That Again: SpongeBob utters the line in the episode "The Two Faces of Squidward", after Patrick says "We're not just neighbors...", and Patrick, as one might expect, follows through.
- Your Costume Needs Work: "That's the worst SpongeBob costume I've ever seen!" - Passenger on a train ride that SpongeBob himself is driving in the episode "The Krusty Sponge"
- Your Eyes Can Deceive You: A method used by one driving teacher...and it actually works! But now SpongeBob can only drive safely while blindfolded.
- You Need a Breath Mint: A bystander offers one to Mr. Krabs in "Hooky" after he yells in his ear about "the hooks".
- You No Take Candle: Patrick's sister, Sam.
- Your Television Hates You: In "Idiot Box", Squidward is trying to forget about SpongeBob and Patrick playing in their box, but everything on TV is about boxes, even boxing.
- Zany Cartoon: Big time.
- Zillion-Dollar Bill: In "Goodbye, Krabby Patty?", thanks to the gigantic success of frozen Krabby Patty, Mr.Krabs receives what seems to be a 100 million dollar check, only to find out there's plenty more zeroes written all the way to its back, making the amount to be 100 nonillionnote dollars.
- Zombie Apocalypse: In "Krabby Patty Creature Feature", Krabby Patties experimented on by Sandy cause the population of Bikini Bottom to turn into horrifying fish-burger hybrids whose only goal is to force other fish to eat them, turning them into more of said creatures.