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  • Actor Existence Limbo: Since Ernest Borgnine's death in 2012 and Tim Conway succumbing to dementia in 2018 and his subsequent death in 2019, Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy now just appear on pictures or as toys. This may have also lead to a planned spin-off featuring the two note  being cancelled.
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  • Adored by the Network: One of the two note  poster children for this trope, and by far the most notorious example, given the fact that it got its own page.
  • Author Existence Failure: Creator Stephen Hillenburg died on November 26, 2018 of complications from ALS. However, the show is still going.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: An image that spread around the internet features screenshots from the episode, "As Seen on TV" at the scene where SpongeBob is buried in the ground, leaving only his nose to be popping out. False dialogue was added on, with Mr. Krabs saying, "please tell me that is your nose". He actually says "What are you doing, lad?"
  • Cash Cow Franchise: Within its first 10 years, SpongeBob made over 8 BILLION DOLLARS in revenue, and is no doubt still making more. In fact, it's estimated that 60% of the station's annual revenue come from SpongeBob alone!
  • The Character Ice Cream Bar: There's at least three versions:
  • Colbert Bump: "Sweet Victory" wasn't a well-known song before it was featured in "Band Geeks".
    • "Living In The Sunlight" has had a surge in popularity after it was featured in the pilot episode.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Creative director Vincent Waller claimed that he isn't too fond of "Dunces and Dragons". He doesn't hate the episode, but he felt it didn't benefit from its two part length and that its comedy would've been better suited to an 11 minute format.
    • Former showrunner Paul Tibbitt has voiced his disdain toward the Kamp Koral spin-off, feeling that it is disrespectful to the late Stephen Hillenburg's legacy and wishes (Hillenberg had stated in interviews that he was against the idea of making a spin-off. It also didn't help that said spin-off was green-lit not even a year after Stephen passed away).
  • Creator's Favorite: Pearl was Stephen Hillenburg's favorite character. She was inspired by his time as a whale watch instructor at the Ocean Institute. Whenever Stephen visited the writers' room, he would try to suggest stories with her.
    • He also liked Mrs. Puff and SpongeBob, of course. His history as a marine science educator made him partial to Mrs. Puff as a teacher, and SpongeBob's nerdy appearance was partially based on his younger self (down to the square front teeth).
  • Cross-Dressing Voices:
    • Mr. Krabs' mother was originally voiced by writer Paul Tibbit, but she later became voiced by Serena Irwin.
    • In Japan, Patrick is voiced by Ikuko Tani.
    • In Japan, Plankton is voiced by Chie Matsuraa, a young woman who doesn't even try to match Plankton's English voice. In other cases, such as the movie, he's voiced by a man.
    • In Japan, Mermaid Man has been voiced by Ikuko Tani, but also by Rokuro Naya (Squidward) and Keijin Okuda (Mr. Krabs).
  • The Danza:
    • In "Mermaid Man Begins", the real names of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are revealed to be Ernie and Tim. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are voiced by Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway, respectively.
    • Carl from "Selling Out" was voiced by C.H. (Carl Harvey) Greenblatt. Yes, the animator who once worked on the show and would best be known for Harvey Beaks, Chowder, and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (Haddi Mera Buddy)
  • Defictionalization:
  • Descended Creator:
    • Series creator Stephen Hillenburg was the original voice of Potty the Parrot. Paul Tibbitt and later Mr. Lawrence have taken over since Hillenburg left the series.
    • Series writer Mr. Lawrence provides the voice of the villainous Plankton. Stephen Hillenburg had created Plankton as a potential villain for the show in 1997, but later feared that Plankton's plans would get repetitive and decided he would be better off as a one-time character. Mr. Lawrence loved the character and used both his writing skills and his voice to prove that Plankton could work as a major antagonist. If it weren't for Lawrence's dual role as both the voice and writer for Plankton, his character would likely never have become a major player in the show.
  • Development Gag: Mr. Lawrence originally auditioned for the role of SpongeBob, using the same voice he'd eventually use for Plankton. That deep, heroic voice SpongeBob occasionally dips into? That's Tom Kenny imitating Lawrence's original voice for his own amusement.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Starting in season 9, Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob, takes over as the show's voice director.
  • Edited for Syndication: Since the mid-2010's, reruns of Seasons 1-3 on Nickelodeon have their audio sped up slightly (thankfully, it's not very noticeable), to make room for more commercial time. This does not affect Nicktoons airings.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Tom Kenny actually was very sick when recording Spongie's sniffly, sneezy dialogue in "Suds."
  • Executive Meddling:
  • Exiled from Continuity: According to Vincent Waller, there was once a firewall between content created for the first Paramount SpongeBob film and Nickelodeon created characters, hence why the movie's version of King Neptune and other characters created for it don't pop up in the show. Even images of Goofy Goober and the restaurants exterior were barred from being used, though mentions of him were still okay. Later episodes seem to have gone back on this, however, with Princess Mindy in particular getting to make a cameo in the "Sponge Bob's Big Birthday Blowout" special.
  • Fandom Nod: The episode "SpongeBob in Randomland" shows Red Mist Squidward from the popular creepypasta, "Squidward's Suicide". Somehow, this scene was completely cut from the UK airing of the episode.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • Those less than fond of the series have taken to referring to the show and its title character as "SpongeKnob".
    • "SCUMBOB", a popular term used to refer to bad episodes of the show, popularized by internet personality PIEGUYRULZ, who is best known for his "Every Episode of SpongeBob reviewed" series.
  • Flagship Franchise: By far Nickelodeon's most well-known and publicised franchise, as well as one of their longest-running series.
  • Flip-Flop of God: Regarding the Krabby Patty secret formula. On the very first SpongeBob DVD release, Tom Kenny said that the Formula is a real thing, and that revealing it was a fireable offense. But years later, current show director Vincent Waller said that the formula is "an idea, it isn't a thing"—in that it's strictly a plot device and that even the writers don't know what the formula and its details are.
  • Image Source:
  • Irony as She Is Cast: David Bowie as Lord Royal Highness in Atlantis SquarePantis. He's the only character that doesn't have his own musical number in that episode.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The uncut version of "Just One Bite" (which includes the infamous deleted scene of the burglar alarm). It aired uncut for a while, but it was censored after a few reruns in 2002/2003 due to complaints from Moral Guardians. It hasn't aired uncut on American television (be it Nickelodeon or Nicktoons) for almost 15 years. Don't push your luck trying to find it on VHS and DVD, as they have the censored version. The only way to see it uncut is if you live in Canada or if you own an old VideoNow release of the episode.note 
  • Missing Episode: Due to being holiday-themed, "Scaredy Pants," "Valentine's Day," and "Christmas Who?" only air a few times a year around their respective holidays. Consequently, the first two's sister episodes, "I Was a Teenage Gary" and "The Paper," are also rarely seen.
  • Non-Singing Voice:
    • Ever wonder why Mr. Krabs sounds so weird when he sings in "Welcome to the Chum Bucket"? Yes, that's Dee Bradley Baker singing, not Clancy Brown though he does his own singing in all other episodes.
    • Baker also subbed for Brown for the "Very first Christmas to me!" lines in "Christmas Who", since Clancy was unable to hit the high notes needed. Clancy did do his own singing for Krabs one other line in the song, though.
    • Though SpongeBob often sings in his normal voice, on special occasions he shows off a fantastic singing voice that sounds nothing like him, with him being voiced by a different guest singer every time.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Man Ray's first appearance in "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy III" was voiced by John Rhys-Davies. Man Ray's subsequent appearances have been voiced by Bob Joles.
    • The voices of the background fish change a lot.
    • In the SpongeBob video game Battle For Bikini Bottom, Mr. Krabs and Mermaid Man were voiced by Joe Whyte instead of Clancy Brown and Ernest Borgnine for unknown reasons.
    • Speaking of Mermaid Man, in Lights, Camera, Pants! Ernest Borgnine is again absent, being replaced by Joe Alaskey. Also in that game, Charles Nelson Reilly returned to voice the Dirty Bubble once again, having voiced him for his initial appearance in "Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy II" (Tom Kenny has since taken over the role).
    • Patrick's original German voice, Marco Kröger, was fired in 2013 after Kröger complained that he and his colleagues were getting underpaid, and he was replaced by Fritz Rott. Due to Author Existence Failure, Squidward's Chinese, German, Brazilian and Japanese voice actors had to be replaced as well.
    • Patrick's French voice actor, Erik Colin, died at the end of 2013. He was replaced by Boris Rehlinger.
    • Paul Tibbit was the original voice for Mrs. Krabs. Serena Irwin then took on the role.
    • Potty was voiced by Stephen Hillenburg before Paul Tibbit took over in season 4. As of "Feral Friends", Potty is now voiced by Mr. Lawrence, presumably because of Paul Tibbit resigning as showrunner to focus on the third movie.
    • Members of the Hungarian voice cast have been replaced multiple times. SpongeBob's original Hungarian voice, Péter Minárovits, had to quit after Season 2. Two actors took over: soundalike István Baráth in the first movie and Szabolcs Seszták in some S3 episodes, which were later re-recorded with Baráth, who became SpongeBob's regular voice (Seszták stayed as his singing voice though). Plankton was re-cast for the first movie and beyond, Mrs. Puff was recast during the tail-end of Season 9, and Mr. Krabs was replaced in the beginning of Season 11, all due to actors' deaths.
    • Plankton's German voice actor, Thomas Petruo, died on April 13, 2018. He was replaced by Sebastian Christoph Jacob.
  • Old Shame: Casey Alexander has stated that (the guest-animated numbers aside) "Atlantis SquarePantis" was his least favorite episode out of all the ones he worked on, due to how overly complicated the story became with having to service six character arcs, plus musical numbers, due to Executive Meddling.
  • Out of Holiday Episode: "Fools in April", airs with its sister episode "Neptune's Spatula" throughout the year, air even when it's nowhere near April Fools Day. This does not apply to other holiday-based episodes.
  • Pop Culture Urban Legends:
    • There is a rumor that in "I Was A Teenage Gary", that there was a scene that depicted Squidward transforming into a snail that was only shown on the first airing. Vincent Waller eventually debunked the rumor, pointing out that the scene was never even storyboarded.
    • Rumors exist that the original airing of "Hooky" featured a dead fish being strung up by his shoes. Vincent Waller (who storyboarded the cartoon) likewise debunked this rumor as well.
    • As mentioned above, a popular image macro floated around that shows an alleged Getting Crap Past the Radar moment in "As Seen on TV" where SpongeBob is buried with his nose sticking out from the concrete with Mr. Krabs replying, "Please tell me that is your nose," while pointing at SpongeBob's nose. Of course, the dialogue is fabricated.
  • Production Posse: Many of the writers, artists and actors Stephen Hillenberg had become friends with through Rocko's Modern Life migrated over to this show with him.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Adam Paloian, one of the supervising directors, grew up watching the series as a child. He was around 8 years old when the show started airing and he started working on the show right after he finished college.
  • Quote Source:
  • Real-Life Relative: Karen may be married to Plankton in the show, but her voice actress, Jill Talley, is married to SpongeBob's voice actor Tom Kenny.
  • Recursive Adaptation: The Tie-In Novel For the Love of Bubbles was adapted into the episode "What Ever Happened to SpongeBob?" which was in turn adapted into the tie-in novels WhoBob WhatPants? and My Name is CheeseHead.
  • Recycled Script:
    • A few old episodes of the show have similar plots to other Nicktoons. "Toy Store of Doom", for example, has essentially the same plot as the Rugrats episode "Toy Palace" (they get locked in a closed toy store and are afraid the toys will attack them), while "Banned in Bikini Bottom" (Krabby Patties are outlawed and Mr. Krabs starts selling them at SpongeBob's house secretly) is similar to the CatDog episode "Just Say CatDog Sent You".
    • "Fear of a Krabby Patty" has a similar plot to the season 2 episode "Graveyard Shift", as both involve the Krusty Krab being opened for 24 hours. However, "Fear of a Krabby Patty" expands on the repercussions of the change by showing the Krusty Krab open for 43 days instead of one night shift.
    • "Squid Defense" is very similar to the Hey Arnold! episode "Mugged".
    • "Face Freeze!" is similar to season 1 episode "Hooky", wherein SpongeBob and Patrick are tempted to do something Mr. Krabs told them not to.
    • "The Legend of Boo-kini Bottom" has some similarities to the season 1 Halloween Episode "Scaredy Pants", mainly since the episode involves SpongeBob being horrified of the scary part of Halloween and ends with him scaring the Flying Dutchman.
    • "Nasty Patty" is quite similar to the Rocket Power episode "It Was a Dark and Stormy Day", both episodes take place on a rainy night with the main characters assuming that someone else was killed and both episodes also mostly take place in the Local Hangout restaurant of the series (Krusty Krab/Shore Shack), and in both episodes the cops get involved and both end with an Everybody Laughs Ending with the cops and main characters hanging out in the restaurant.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: Due to issues with certain musicians leaving APM (the company SpongeBob gets its stock music cues from) over time, there are several music cues in the older episodes that can't be used in any newer episodes (i.e. Oyster Girls).
    • The DVD release of "The Complete 1st Season" in particular got hit pretty hard by this. Since Nickelodeon refused to pay royalties for some of the music tracks, some episodes had some tracks replaced ("Employee of the Month", "Karate Choppers", "Sandy's Rocket", "Culture Shock", and "Rock Bottom"). And, most infamously, "Help Wanted" was not included in the boxset due to Tiny Tim's "Living in the Sunlight" playing in the climax. All of these episodes were rereleased on several compilation DVD's with the original soundtracks and "Help Wanted" was eventually released as a special feature on "The Complete 3rd Season" DVD.
  • Screwed by the Network: On their Nicktoons channel, as it only airs when most people are asleep. You were probably confused when you saw this trope on this page if you don't get Nicktoons. (That's probably and ironically because they don't need to air it on Nicktoons.)
    • By January 19, 2018, it was removed from Nicktoons' schedule entirely for reasons unknown, although it has been restored then.
  • Shrug of God: According to Vincent Waller, even the writers don't know what the Krabby Patty Secret Formula is and consider its details irrelevant to its purpose as a plot device. The only detail Stephen Hillenburg would give about it is that there is no animal protein in the formula.
    "The secret Krabby patty formula is an idea, it isn't a thing."
  • Talking to Himself:
    • Tom Kenny doing many additional voices can usually result in this. The episode "Gary Takes a Bath" is basically 11 minutes of Tom Kenny talking to himself.
    • In the Swedish dub, there is Squidward with Squilliam and SpongeBob with his cousin Stanley.
    • In the French dub, there is Mr. Krabs and Plankton, Patrick and the narrator until season 9, and the female characters.
  • Trope Namer:
  • Un-Canceled: SpongeBob SquarePants initially ended production in February 2002 on request of Stephen Hillenburg and Derek Drymon, who wanted to focus working on The Movie. Nickelodeon tried so hard to convince Stephen to resume production with the series but Stephen and Derek denied the option. Around 2003-2004, there were negotiations to revive the series and Paul Tibbitt agreed to step in as showrunner for the new seasons. The series went back into production in 2004 and with the completed movie finished to screen into theatres (designated to be the series finale of the original run), the show's new episodes began airing in 2005.
  • Underage Casting: In the Hungarian dub, István Bárath (born in 1990) began voicing SpongeBob in Season 3, when he was barely a teenager.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The pre-movie episodes, especially the first season which makes references to the pre-cell phone era.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Stephen Hillenburg created Plankton and Karen as potential villains for the series, but he decided in 1997 that they didn't have much potential and that the "Plankton wants to steal a Krabby Patty" plot would become stale after a while. He wanted to have them be one-off characters, and Nickelodeon suggested hiring a one-time guest star like Bruce Willis for the voice of Plankton. However, staff writer Mr. Lawrence (who became the voice of Plankton) was convinced that his character had untapped potential; he gave Hillenburg a set of episode outlines about Plankton and Karen, many of which were used throughout the first three seasons. The episodes were popular with the writing team, and Plankton and Karen officially became main characters in the credits of the first theatrical movie. Lawrence considers season three as the first season where Plankton is part of the main cast.
    • SpongeBob's spot in the Nicktoons roster was originally meant for another cartoon, one that never happened due to the creator leaving Nickelodeon over office politics. That cartoon? Sniz and Fondue of KaBlam!.
    • SpongeBob was originally designed to resemble an actual sea sponge, but Stephen Hillenberg couldn't do an appealing caricature of one. He went with a synthetic sink sponge instead to give the character a "squeaky clean nerd" appearance, as well as to imply that he's "a square peg trying to fit into a round hole."
    • The creator also wanted to call him SpongeBoy until he learned the name was trademarked. This appears in a gag where Mr. Krabs says "Sponge boy, me Bob!"
    • The name of the Krabby Patty was originally going to be the Barnacle Burger.
    • "Reef Blower" was originally intended to have dialogue, but became a dialogue-free episode due to the sound equipment being damaged.
    • Mr. Lawrence auditioned for the role of SpongeBob, using the same voice he'd later use for Plankton. (Which comes across as serious Vocal Dissonance for anyone more familiar with the character's more famous high-pitched voice.)
    • The show was going to have a completely different intro with a more action-styled music piece, still images, and no lyrics. The intro was later changed to fit the show's style.
    • Storyboards for the episode "Someone's in the Kitchen with Sandy" actually had Sandy getting naked as opposed to just her bra and panties.
    • The TV Movie "Atlantis SquarePantis" was originally intended to be an 11-minute SpongeBob and Patrick episode, until Nickelodeon asked the team to turn it a TV Movie about going to Atlantis.
    • The original draft of "Something Smells" had SpongeBob gaining his rancid breath from onion-flavored ice cream, but the writers decided that having it be self-inflicted was funnier.
    • Barnacle Boy was originally a character called "Barnacle Bill", a salty old sailor whose body is a piece of log with his head sticking out, similar to Seamus from Family Guy. While he never appears in the show, he's the titular character of the two-part comic "The Ballad of Barnacle Bill" in the SpongeBob comic.
    • According to Vincent Waller, an episode revealing Pearl's mother was written and reached the early development stages; however, Stephen Hillenburg was strongly against solving the mystery and shelved the episode indefinitely.
    • Nick actually wanted the cast to be grade-schoolers instead of adults, due to the success of Hey Arnold!. Hillenburg was so opposed to this, that he nearly abandoned the series, until he put SpongeBob in boating school as a compromise.
  • The Wiki Rule: Encyclopedia SpongeBobia.
  • Word of God:
    • Stephen Hillenburg has made it perfectly clear that SpongeBob does not feel sexual attraction.
    • Vincent Waller's stance on the two different King Neptunes (the one in the series and the one in the first movie) is that they serve the same figurehead and are basically interchangeable with each other, so the staff doesn't bother distinguishing between the two.
    • Vincent Waller has also stated that the video game tie-ins (i.e. Battle for Bikini Bottom) are non-canon to the cartoons.
  • Writer Revolt: According to Mr. Lawrence, the show was at least partially conceived out of Stephen Hillenberg's frustration over having several gags and stories he'd come up with during his tenure on Rocko's Modern Life get vetoed.
  • Write What You Know: In addition to his history as a marine biologist influencing the show's universe, Stephen Hillenburg based the Krusty Krab on an actual nautical-themed burger joint he worked at as a teenager, with his "old sea dog" boss serving as the inspiration of Mr. Krabs. The call-and-response theme song was based on one of the restaurant's gimmicks where the wait staff dressed up as sailors and lead the children in sea shanties, usually beginning with "Are you ready kids!" to which the children were expected to respond "Aye aye, captain!"


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