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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, or make silent cameos. Per Vincent Waller, they have been permanently retired from frontline appearances out of respect for Stephen Hillenburg's wishes, who never wanted the characters' actors to be replaced by soundalikes.
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  • Adored by the Network: Very much so, to the point that its one of four animated series to have its own page.note 
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
    • An image that spread around the internet features screenshots from the episode "As Seen on TV", during the scene where SpongeBob is buried in the ground, leaving only his nose 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?" The misconception is mocked in this video.
    • There's also a meme that shows Patrick holding up some cash with the caption "I have $3". He actually says "I only have seven [dollars]", though given he's only shown holding up three physical notes, this is an understandable misconception.
  • 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" was originally just another stock music library track from the APM Music Library used to score the rest of the show, and wasn't intended for wide release. After "Band Geeks" aired, it gained a massive and unexpected surge in popularity.
    • "Living In The Sunlight" has had a surge in popularity after it was featured in the pilot episode.
  • Completely Different Title: The Vietnamese dub titles the show Chú bọt biển tinh nghịch ("The Mischievous Sponge").
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: This video for Karate Choppers says that Jill Talley voices Sandy when she actually voices Karen, as pointed out by her. Carolyn Lawrence voices Sandy.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Creative director Vincent Waller claimed that he isn't too fond of "Dunces and Dragons". While he doesn't hate the episode, 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's disrespectful to the late Stephen Hillenburg's legacy and wishes.
  • 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 Steve 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).
  • Creator's Favorite Episode:
    • Lori Alan said how her favorite episodes include "Whale Of A Birthday" and "Gal Pals" .
    • According to this video , Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke's favorite episode is "Fry Cook Games".
  • Cross-Dressing Voices:
    • Mr. Krabs' mother was originally voiced by writer Paul Tibbitt, but she later became voiced by Serena Irwin.
    • In the Japanese dub:
      • Patrick was voiced by Ikuko Tani from seasons 1-8. She was replaced by the male Mitsuaki Kanuka beginning in season 9.
      • Plankton is voiced by Chie Matsuraa, a 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.
      • 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 writer 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 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.
  • Digital Destruction:
    • Due to a sound-mixing error, two lines in "Something Smells" are repeated by mistake. This also happens in YTV and some international airings, though the on-demand version fixes this.
    • When Nickelodeon started airing an edited version of "Procrastination", the colors were noticeably washed out and less saturated. This extended to its sister episode "I'm With Stupid". This doesn't affect the uncut version.
    • The title-card for "Procrastination" is darker in the Amazon Video version.
    • The last second of "Suction Cup Symphony" is cut in the Netflix version.
    • Season 2 and 6 DVD sets have poor color correcting, making SpongeBob appear beige.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Starting in season 9, Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob, takes over as the show's voice director.
  • Distanced from Current Events: The airing of "The Kwarantined Krab" was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, since it revolved around the Krusty Krab being quarantined for an illness. However, it did air in France in March 2020, shortly before most countries declared a state of emergency for the virus. This also applied to the episode "Hiccup Plague", as well as re-runs of "Suds" and "Squid-itis".
  • Dub Name Change: Most characters are named aptly to fit their respective foreign dubs, most famously replacing "sponge" in "SpongeBob" into their language equivalent of the word. Then there are dubs that break that mold, such as in the German dub; instead of Squidward being translated into something squid-related or a variation thereof, he's simply named "Taddeus".
  • Early-Bird Release: Many episodes of Spongebob have seen release on home media before they aired on TV.
    • Graveyard Shift was released on “Nautical Nonsense” 6 months before airing.
    • Club Spongebob was released on “Sponge Buddies” 4 months before airing.
    • Gary Takes a Bath was released on “Sea Stories” 8 months and 24 days before airing.
    • I Had an Accident was released on “Bikini Bottom Bash” and “Tales from the Deep” 8-9 months before airing. The same goes for Born Again Krabs on “Deep Sea Sillies” and “Tales from the Deep”.
    • The Sponge Who Could Fly was released on the aptly-named VHS and “Lost at Sea” a mere 17 days before airing.
    • Spongebob Meets The Strangler/Pranks A Lot were released on “The Seascape Capers” 9 months before airing.
    • The Original Frycook, Night Light, Fungus Among Us and Spy Buddies were all released on the “Friend or Foe?” DVD 3 to 5 months before they aired.
    • ALL of the episodes featured on the “Bikini Bottom Tales” DVD note  were released a month before they aired.
    • Goo Goo Gas was released on “Who Bob What Pants?” 9 months before it aired.
    • Spongebob Squarepants vs. The Big One was released on the DVD of the same name a month before it aired.
    • Spongebob’s Last Stand was released on the DVD of the same name a month before it aired.
    • Every episode on the Legends of Bikini Bottom DVD note  was released two months before they aired.
    • The episodes on the Spongebob’s Runaway Roadtrip DVD note  were released 2 months before they aired.
  • Edited for Syndication:
    • Since the mid-2010s, 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.
    • In October 2019, Nick began airing a shortened version of "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout", which focused more on the tour. As a result, several scenes, such as the party planning, were removed, some of the dialogue was changed, the ending was altered so that SpongeBob's house isn't destroyed, and Patrick is next to SpongeBob in the beginning of the birthday song instead of being in the crowd of characters that join in.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Tom Kenny actually was very sick when recording SpongeBob's sniffly, sneezy dialogue in "Suds."
    • The cast will often swear for real when the characters fake swear. This is because it is actually really difficult to fake swear without throwing the syntax of the rest of the sentence off.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Nickelodeon and both incarnations of parent company Viacom (the old one that merged with CBS when the show began, and the current one spun off from the CBS-acquired-and-renamed old one) saved the show from two series finales. The movie was intended to be a Grand Finale for the series, but the possibility was later pushed to the "SpongeBob's Last Stand" special. The show was continued since it was very close to dethroning Rugrats as the longest running Nicktoon, which eventually did when it aired episode 173.
    • Atlantis SquarePantis was originally meant to be a regular 11-minute episode about SpongeBob and Patrick, but the network made them turn it into a 33-minute "movie", which resulted in many of the problems most people have with the film.
    • This show's success is the main reason why a lot of Nicktoons in 2000s didn't last that long, as at the time there was a rule that said if a show wasn't doing as well as Spongebob within a set number of episode, it would be cancelled and put on the chopping block. This is why shows like El Tigre, My Life as a Teenage Robot, Catscratch, and Invader Zim were cancelled regardless of their viewership. While it's not directly SpongeBob's fault (as most fans usually claim), it's still a byproduct of its popularity.
  • Exiled from Continuity: According to Vincent Waller, there was a firewall between content created for the first SpongeBob film and content made for the show, 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 Goofy Goober's restaurant appearing several times and Princess Mindy making a voiceless cameo in "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout".
  • Fandom Nod: The episode "SpongeBob in Randomland" shows Red Mist Squidward from the popular creepypasta, "Squidward's Suicide". This scene was cut entirely from the UK airing of the episode, and was swiftly replaced in US airings with a shot of an infant Squidward defecating himself.
  • 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 publicized franchise, as well as one of their longest-running series.
  • Flip-Flop of God: 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.
  • God Never Said That: Since the announcement of Kamp Koral, its become very common to quote that Stephen Hillenburg was against doing any spinoffs for the show—except he never actually was, as creative director Vincent Waller attested:
    "Saying the “I dont see any spin-offs.” is in no way saying “I would never do a spin off!!" Just like when he said he had no interest in doing a movie. Yet lo and behold. Not only did he make a movie, but he took part in 3 of them. So can we give a rest the “He would nevers...”"
  • Image Source:
  • In Memoriam: The end of "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout" has a tribute to the late series creator, Stephen Hillenburg.
  • 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 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 all releases 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 
  • Marathon Running: For the longest time, this show was the king of this trope note , to the point of having enough examples to fill up a page.
  • Milestone Celebration:
    • "Truth or Square", dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the series.
    • "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout", dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the series.
  • 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 unless it's filler for a movie that's running short.
    • Nicktoons used to rarely air any episode past Season 5 unless they were doing a marathon or a simulcast. As of 2017, this has mostly changed.
  • Name's the Same: "Shell Games" also shares its title with an episode of T.O.T.S. .
  • Non-Singing Voice:
    • Ever wonder why Mr. Krabs sounds weird when he sings in "Welcome to the Chum Bucket"? It's because that's Dee Bradley Baker singing, not Clancy Brown (who 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 in the rest of the song, though.
    • While SpongeBob usually 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. All of his subsequent appearances are voiced by Bob Joles.
    • In general, the voices of the background fish are inconsistent and change a lot.
    • In the 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 note .
    • Similarly, Ernest Borgnine is again absent in Lights, Camera, Pants!, being replaced by Joe Alaskey.
    • In "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy II" and Lights, Camera, Pants!, the Dirty Bubble is voiced by Charles Nelson Reilly. After Reilly's death, Tom Kenny took over the role.
    • Patrick's original German voice, Marco Kröger, was fired in 2013 after he complained that he and his colleagues were 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.
    • Patrick's French voice actor, Erik Colin, died at the end of 2013. He was replaced by Boris Rehlinger.
    • Paul Tibbitt was the original voice for Mrs. Krabs. Serena Irwin then took on the role.
    • Potty was voiced by Stephen Hillenburg before Paul Tibbitt took over in season 4. Starting with "Feral Friends", Potty is voiced by Mr. Lawrence, presumably because of Paul Tibbitt 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 quit after Season 2 and was replaced with István Baráth in the first movie and Szabolcs Seszták in several Season 3 episodes. All season 3 episodes were later re-recorded with Baráth, who became SpongeBob's regular voice, while Seszták became his singing voice. Plankton was recast in the first movie, 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 the death of their voice actors. Squidward's voice actor was replaced at the end of Season 11 for unknown reasons.
    • Plankton's German voice actor, Thomas Petruo, was replaced by Sebastian Christoph Jacob due to the former's death in 2018.
    • Squidward's Castillian Spanish voice actor (and the dub's director), Alberto Closas Jr., was replaced by Miguel Campos for a handful of episodes in seasons 5 and 6 due to a studio switch, although he did eventually reprise the role. Actress Silvia Gambino, who voiced Pearl and Mrs. Puff, was replaced after season 3 due to her leaving the show.
  • Old Shame: Casey Alexander has stated that, 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 and musical numbers due to Executive Meddling.
    • All of the cast members, including Mr. Lawrence (who co-wrote the episode), really dislike how "One Coarse Meal" turned out. Clancy Brown even stated that he felt uncomfortable when he read some of Mr. Krabs' lines in the episode.
  • Out of Holiday Episode: "Fools in April" airs with its sister episode "Neptune's Spatula" throughout the year, even when it's nowhere near April Fools Day. Unusually, this doesn't apply to any other holiday-based episodes.
  • Outlived Its Creator: The show is still going strong even after Stephen Hillenburg died in 2018 from ALS.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • Ernest Borgnine was known for playing villainous roles. Here, he played the role of the famous aquatic superhero Mermaidman.
    • A dub variation; one of the actors in the Swedish dub, Tommy Nilsson, is an accomplished singer-song writer, whose songs are known to be solemn/tragically romantic in their tone, with poetic lyrics to match. Guess which character he voices? Patrick. Not only that, but he does an exceptionally good job at portraying him as the dumb, lovable goofball he's supposed to be, being capable of varying his emotional vocal range to surprising degrees. In fact, most viewers couldn't guess it was him and wouldn't believe it until they looked it up. Lampshaded in a national TV Program, in which Nilsson himself said he enjoyed voicing the character because it's so unusual from what he usually does, giving him a breath of fresh air from his more serious work.
  • Pop Culture Urban Legends:
    • There was a rumor that the first airing of "I Was A Teenage Gary" had a scene that depicted Squidward transforming into a snail that was never shown again. Vincent Waller debunked the rumor, stating that the scene wasn't even storyboarded.
    • Rumors exist that the original airing of "Hooky" featured a dead fish being strung up by his shoes. Vincent Waller (one of the storyboarders for the cartoon) debunked this rumor as well.
    • There were rumors that there was a recurring background fish that had a visible penis in Season 1 that was digitally removed in reruns. It was in the SpongeBob radar page for awhile but there is currently no proof or viable sources that proves this claim. This rumor was possibly caused by an anchovy character who was drawn with a protruding belly button that did sort of resemble a penis if your mind was dirty enough.
    • A popular image macro that floated around the internet 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. The dialogue was never said in the episode.
    • A rumor circulated for a long time that "Krusty Krab Training Video" ended without the Bait-and-Switch cutoff on its first few airings. However, as proven by tapings of its first airing, this is completely untrue, as the episode had the early cutoff on its premiere broadcast (plus it would kind of ruin the joke if it didn't).
    • A rumor that Viacom once approached Stephen Hillenburg to make a Hotter and Sexier version of the show for Spike TV similar to Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon", with SpongeBob and Patrick reportedly supposed to be a gay couple in it, but was turned down by Stephen was once spread as fact (even on this very wiki) despite the rumors not being based on anything.
  • Production Posse: Many of the writers, artists and actors Stephen Hillenburg 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 started working on the show right after he finished college.
  • Quote Source:
  • Real-Life Relative: While Karen is married to Plankton in the show, 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 episodes have similar plots to other Nicktoons. For example, "Toy Store of Doom" has the same plot as the Rugrats episode "Toy Palace" (the main characters get locked in a closed toy store and are afraid the toys will attack them), and "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 basic premise to the season 2 episode "Graveyard Shift", as both involve the Krusty Krab being opened for 24 hours. However, the plot of "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", since the plot of both episodes involve SpongeBob and Patrick being tempted to do something Mr. Krabs told them not to do.
    • "The Legend of Boo-kini Bottom" has some similarities to the season 1 Halloween Episode "Scaredy Pants", since both episodes involves SpongeBob being terrified 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", since both episodes take place on a rainy night with the main characters assuming that someone else was killed. Additionally, both episodes mostly take place in the Local Hangout restaurant of the series (Krusty Krab and Shore Shack, respectively), the cops get involved, and they 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 that 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 (such as 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"). Most infamously, "Help Wanted" was not included in the boxset at all due to Tiny Tim's "Living in the Sunlight" playing in the climax. All of these episodes were rereleased on several compilation DVDs with the original soundtracks, and "Help Wanted" was 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 and they used to only air episodes from the first 5 seasons. You were probably confused when you saw this trope on this page if you don't get Nicktoons. (This is probably 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 since then.
    • Despite it airing late at night, it is worth noting that SpongeBob not only airs in primetime on Nicktoons, but it airs a 7-8 hour marathon every night. Yes, you read that correctly.
    • Nickelodeon has an extremely strange habit of airing the episodes out of order, delaying episodes for a long time ("Goo Goo Gas" and "Pineapple RV" got hit with this the hardest), and even airing season premieres when the previous season isn't finished airing. For example, "A Place for Pets / Lockdown for Love", the Season 13 premiere, aired in October 2020, when Season 12 didn't even air all its episodes yet.
  • Shrug of God:
    "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.
    • In the German dub, Spongebob and Gary are both voiced by Santiago Ziesmer. However, some of Tom Kenny's english lines for Gary is kept in some episodes.
  • 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 Steve to resume production with the series but Steve 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.
    • In early sketches, Plankton was going to be so small that every shot of him would require an off-camera character to hold a magnifying glass over him, but it made acting too difficult, resulting in some artistic liberties being taken with his size.
    • 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.
    • According to Jay Lender, the episode "Rock a Bye Bivalve" was originally going to focus more on SpongeBob and Patrick trying to care for the baby, including showing him how to eat. They then decide to change it so that it focuses on poking fun at marriage.
    • Storyboard artist Adam Paloian mentioned one episode that had some storyboards, but was ultimately never made . It's called "A Day In The Life Of Plankton", a 4-5 minute short with minimal dialogue that would've focused on Plankton when he isn't stealing the formula, just doing mundane things.
  • The Wiki Rule: Encyclopedia SpongeBobia.
  • Word of Gay: While SpongeBob has been thought of as Ambiguously Gay or Ambiguously Bi by for quite some time, Nickelodeon never actually confirmed his orientation in the show. During 2020's Pride Month, they included him with a list of LGBTQ+ characters without fully specifying where he fell on the spectrum. (As mentioned below, Hillenburg saw SpongeBob as being Asexual, a category that is occasionally included in the LGBTQ+ acronym.)
  • 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 (e.g. Battle for Bikini Bottom) are non-canon to the cartoons.
    • According to Stephen Hillenburg and some of the show's and movie's writers, the first movie takes place at the end of the SpongeBob mythos despite how many episodes and movies that came out after the film's release.
  • Writer Revolt: According to Mr. Lawrence, the show was at least partially conceived out of Stephen Hillenburg'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!"

Assorted Trivia

  • The synthesizer that appears on "Spongebob In Randomland" and "Broken Alarm" once belonged to The Residents. It is the same that can be heard on Mark of the Mole, The Commercial Album, Eskimo, and Duck Stab!, among other places.

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