In the film, Mr. Krabs opens up a second Krusty Krab restaurant, and SpongeBob is heavily anticipating being promoted to manager of the new restaurant. But to his dismay, Squidward gets the job instead because SpongeBob is supposedly not mature enough for the job. Meanwhile, Plankton finally stops fooling around and enacts his greatest plan to steal the secret Krabby Patty formula — he steals King Neptune's crown, sends it to the dangerous Shell City, and frames Mr. Krabs for it. When Neptune finds his crown missing, he crashes the Krusty Krab 2 and charges Krabs for the theft, but SpongeBob is willing to travel to Shell City to retrieve the crown, so Neptune gives him six days to find it, during which he has Krabs frozen.
While SpongeBob and Patrick head off on their adventure, Plankton makes it past the frozen Krabs and successfully steals the Krabby Patty formula. He then gives away bucket-helmets with all the Krabby Patties he sells, which then turn his customers into his monument-building slaves. Can SpongeBob and Patrick successfully retrieve Neptune's crown and save Bikini Bottom...?
Series creator Stephen Hillenburg intended for the movie to serve as a Finale Movie to the series, but Executive Meddling got in the way of that; while it didn't mark the end point of the series, it does however still serve as the final point on the series' otherwise loosely-defined canonical timeline. Many fans widely accept it and consider it a spectacular love letter to the original series. It also received positive critical reception, earning a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, which may not sound like much, but it's pretty damn good for a Nick movie.
A second movie titled The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water was released on February 6, 2015. The writers from Kung Fu Panda 2 were put on board for screenwriting, and had then-series showrunner Paul Tibbitt directing the animated sequences, while Sky High (2005) director Mike Mitchell directed the live-action sequences. Its next sequel, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, is set to release digitally in 2021, but will be fully computer-animated.
This first film was released to theaters on November 19, 2004 to commercial and critical acclaim, and quickly became a blockbuster, despite being out-grossed by The Polar Express.
Oh, I'm a goofy troper yeah! You're a goofy troper yeah! We're all goofy tropers yeah! Goofy, goofy, troper troper, yeah!
- Absurdly Bright Light: Off King Neptune's bald head.MY EYES!!!!!!!
- Actor Allusion: David Hasselhoff plays a lifeguard. Again.
- Adaptational Intelligence: SpongeBob is much more proficient in driving in the movie than in the series, where he's portrayed as a reckless driver. Mentioned by Patrick, to which SpongeBob replies, "You don't need a license to drive a sandwich."
- Adaptational Jerkass: While the series' King Neptune was always a self-centered asshole, he's still a well-meaning monarch who treats his subjects far more pleasantly, at the very least. This incarnation of Neptune, on the other hand, is a full-on Psychopathic Manchild with almost no redeeming qualities, only barely escaping Hate Sink territory by the end.
- Adam Westing: David Hasselhoff as a super-swimming lifeguard. "I'm David Hasselhoff!"
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Mr. Krabs literally begs King Neptune not to freeze him. King Neptune wont listen to it.
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: More like "Ice Cream-Induced Idiocy"; SpongeBob and Patrick eat several orders of ice cream that cause them to develop drunk-like symptoms.
- All for Nothing: After SpongeBob and Patrick spend most of the movie looking for the crown and bringing it back to Neptune in the end, Plankton simply backs this up with a King-Sized bucket helmet for Neptune. Not that it discourages SpongeBob from claiming he's proud of accomplishing this feat.
- Alternate Catchphrase Inflection: Usually, SpongeBob says his catchphrase "I'm ready!" in a very enthusiastic tone, but when he learns that he didn't get the job of manager for the Krusty Krab 2, he says it dejectedly.
- Always a Bigger Fish:
- Just as Dennis is about to stomp on SpongeBob and Patrick with hugely spiked boots, a larger boot stomps on him, seemingly killing him. Unfortunately, it's the Cyclops's boot...
- Also played straight when the giant fish charging at SpongeBob and Patrick misses them, charges off a cliff, and a huge freakin' eel eats it in one gulp. SpongeBob and Patrick justifiably just sit there, mouth agape.
- An Aesop:
- Lampshaded in the following dialog:SpongeBob: I guess you're right, Plankton. I am just a kid. And you know, I've been through a lot in the last six days, five minutes, twenty-seven-and-a-half seconds, and if I've learned anything during that time, it's that you are who you are. And no amount of mermaid magic, or managerial promotion, or some other third thing can make me any more than what I really am inside: a kid.
Plankton: Very impressive. Now, back against the wall...
SpongeBob: [on microphone] But that's okay! Because I did what everybody said a kid couldn't do! I made it to Shell City, and I beat the Cyclops, and I rode the Hasselhoff, and I brought the crown BACK! So, yeah, I'm a kid! And I'm also a goofball, and a wingnut, and a Knucklehead McSpazatron! But most of all, I'm... I'm... I'm... I'm a Goofy Goober! [rock music starts]
- And later subverted in the end of the movie:Mr. Krabs: Mr. Squidward, front and center! I think we all know who rightfully deserves to wear that badge.
Squidward: I couldn't agree more, sir.
SpongeBob: Wait a second, everybody. There's something I need to say first. But I just don't know how to put it.
Squidward: I think I know what it is. After going on your life-changing journey, you now realize that you don't want what you thought you wanted. What you really wanted was inside you all along.
SpongeBob: Are you crazy?! I was just going to tell you that your fly is down. Manager?! This is the greatest day of my liiiiiiife!
- King Neptune also gets an aesop on how important it is to show/have love and compassion when you're in a position of leadership.
- Lampshaded in the following dialog:
- And I Must Scream:
- The people controlled by Plankton's bucket helmets apparently know to an extent they're being controlled, since after SpongeBob destroys the first one, the fish says "I'm free" instead of something like "What happened?"
- Mr. Krabs is shown being aware of what's happening while he is frozen.
- Animation Bump: More like a shove! While the show normally hides its Limited Animation with strong layouts, the movie relishes in incredibly fluid and insane, Off-Model animation, the likes of which could never be done on a TV budget.
- Answer Cut: After Plankton unleashes the final phase of Plan Z, turning all of the citizens of Bikini Bottom into his mind-controlled slaves and captures Squidward, who was the only one who figured out what he was up to:
- Arc Words: "I'm a Goofy Goober, YEAH!"
- Anti-Interference Lock Up: Inverted during the climax- Mindy tries to stall King Neptune from frying Mr. Krabs with an extended discussion about stalling. When he finally loses his patience, Neptune throws her out of the Krusty Krab and magically wraps the place in chains and padlocks.
- Argument of Contradictions: Neptune initially gives SpongeBob and Patrick ten days to get the crown back, but Patrick argues it down to six.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Plankton reads over his final plan to steal the Krabby Patty formula. "It's evil, it's diabolical, *sniffs* it's lemon-scented!"
- Asshole Victim:
- Victor, the Thug Tug's owner, when Dennis kills him by punching him so hard he gets knocked into the air, then lands into the Thug Tug which then sinks down with Victor in it.
- Dennis is pummeled by an incoming boat and presumably dies just as Victor did.
- Although not killed, Plankton gets repeatedly stomped on by the now freed people he enslaved and sent to jail for his crimes.
- Assumed Win: Mr. Krabs announces that the new manager of the Krusty Krab 2 has "a name you all know, it starts with an S!" SpongeBob assumes that he's the new manager (even though Mr. Krabs just announced that it was Squidward, revealing a giant portrait of his face to top it off), and has to humiliate himself three times over the microphone before realizing that the new manager is actually Squidward.
- Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: "Oh your highness, I'm sure it's not that noticeabaaaaAAAAAALD!! BALD, BALD, BALD!!!"
- As You Know: "Oh Karen, my computer wife..."
- Authority in Name Only: The credits show that the manager position at the Krusty Krab 2 essentially amounts to doing all of the same, if not even more of the demeaning work that SpongeBob already did as a fry cook, except with a bigger hat with the word "Manager" written on it. He also does not appear to have any other employees to supervise, so whatever potential authority he could have as manager is rendered moot. Despite all this, SpongeBob is clearly ecstatic about it regardless, and does all of his work with an enormous smile on his face.
- "Awkward Silence" Entrance: Happens twice in succession. Once when Patrick goes into the Thug Tug and asks to go to the bathroom, and again when one of the bubbles he and SpongeBob made in said bathroom wanders out into the bar.
- Badass Mustache:
- Princess Mindy makes a pair of these out of seaweed to convince SpongeBob and Patrick that they have become men.
- Used in a throwaway gag courtesy of Dennis: he notes the obviously fake mustaches, pulls them off the pair's faces, and says, "This is what a REAL mustache looks like!" He proceeds to pull down his bandana, revealing his clean-shaven face, and grows a full, bushy mustache through sheer force of will in an instant.
- Badass Bystander: The female cinema janitor in The Stinger. Even when threatened at swordpoint by pirates she still calmly asks them to leave the theater. They reluctantly do so.
- Bad-Guy Bar: The Thug Tug. Inevitably devolves into a Bar Brawl.
- Bait-and-Switch: As SpongeBob goes to order some ice-cream from what turns out to be a frogfish, Patrick notices the bones all around them and appears to come to a grim realization. And then...Patrick: Wait a minute. Wait a minute! SpongeBob!
Patrick: Make mine a chocolate!
- Bait-and-Switch Sentiment: The final scene. After his adventures, SpongeBob gets promoted to manager and this exchange occurs:SpongeBob: Wait a second, everybody. There's something I need to say first. I just don't know how to put it.
Squidward: I think I know what it is. After going on your life-changing journey, you now realize you don't want what you thought you wanted. What you really wanted was inside you all along.
SpongeBob: Are you crazy? [grabs manager pin] I was just gonna say that your fly is down! [Squidward's eyes widen] Manager! This is the greatest day of my life!
- Baldness Angst: The main reason why King Neptune is so enraged about his crown being stolen is because it exposes his "thinning" head.
- Bare Your Midriff: Princess Mindy.
- Bathroom Search Excuse: Subverted by Patrick in the Thug Tug when he gets everybody's attention only to says that he needs to use the bathroom. When one of the thugs points it out SpongeBob chides Patrick for a weak distraction but Patrick says he really needed to go.
- Be Yourself: SpongeBob learns that "you are who you are."
- Big Bad: Plankton, as usual, though he's much more threatening than he actually is in the cartoon.
- Big Budget Beef-Up: Everything about the show, the animation, the music, the special-effects, is vastly improved on here.
- Big Damn Movie: A six-day adventure to the ends of the Earth as Plankton takes over Bikini Bottom with mind control devices.
- Big "NEVER!": During the battle on David Hasselhoff's back, Dennis states to SpongeBob that he "always gets his man", prompting the latter to jump out of the way just as Dennis is about to grab him, letting out a very long, epic "NEVEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRR!!" as he jumps across to Hasselhoff's other leg in slow-motion.
- Big "NO!":
Mindy: Daddy, no!
- Plankton does one in horror when he realizes that SpongeBob's rock and roll of all things is destroying his mind-control bucket helmets and thus undoing his plans.
- Earlier, Mindy also does this three times when King Neptune prepares to fry Mr. Krabs to death, with Plankton doing the inversion.
- She also does this when Plankton puts a mind-control helmet on King Neptune.
Plankton: Daddy, yes!
- Big Rock Ending: "Goofy Goober Rock" ends with a prolonged, almost 2-minute guitar outro, which SpongeBob uses to undo Plankton's mind control.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Plankton pretends to be upset about Mr. Krabs being frozen by Neptune during his interview with Perch Perkins when he actually stole the Krabby Patty formula while Krabs was frozen and decides to take over Bikini Bottom.
- Book-Ends: Technically one for the whole series, considering that this is considered to be the canonical conclusion for the whole series. The pilot episode, "Help Wanted", ended with SpongeBob getting hired as general fry cook for the Krusty Krab, and the movie ends with him accepting the promotion to general manager of the original Krusty Krab.
- There was a children's book adaptation of the movie that changed it so that instead of beating them senseless, the patrons of the Thug Tug punished "bubble-blowing babies" by laughing at them.
- Whenever Nickelodeon airs the movie, Mr. Krabs' whispering to SpongeBob is reversed (in the unedited whispering, he says "Jackass" three times in succession).
- The soundtrack version of "Goofy Goober Rock" changes the verse "No, no freakin' way" from the film version to "No, no, no-no way".
- Blowing a Raspberry: This is the extent of SpongeBob telling off Mr. Krabs for thinking he's still a kid.
- Break the Haughty: The two fish at the gas station get this...they crack a joke to Dennis and he pulls their mouths off their face.
- Broad Strokes: The film was well known for this, especially in recent years. It has been criticized that the film links an alternate canon in the series, because episodes that aired after the film do not show specific changes they had during the course of the film (Word of God says that the movie is meant to be the end of the series, with episodes produced after still occurring before it). Granted, this isn't the kind of show that adheres to continuity.
- Broken Aesop: Discussed by SpongeBob and Patrick after their escape from the Thug Tug.Patrick: You know, SpongeBob, there's a lesson to be learned from all this.
SpongeBob: What's that, Patrick?
Patrick: A bubble-blowing double baby doesn't belong out here in man's country.
SpongeBob: Yeah. (then realizes) Wait. We blew that bubble. Doesn't that make us a bubble-blowing double baby?
- The Caligula: King Neptune shows signs of this.
- Patrick gets into an argument with King Neptune over how many days SpongeBob needs to find the crown. This is similar to the argument Patrick had with the previous Neptune in "Neptune's Spatula" over how many challenges SpongeBob can do.
- The movie's plot bears some similarity to "Neptune's Spatula", as both are about SpongeBob convincing King Neptune that he underestimates the former's abilities and wisdom.
- The scene of SpongeBob and Patrick drying out is reminiscent of the first full episode, "Tea at the Treedome", only this time it's not Played for Laughs.
- SpongeBob crying out his tears just to drink it back up is similar to what he did in "Karate Choppers".
- We have a mariachi band playing in the background as a live-action man is squirming helplessly. Sound familiar?
- Inside the Thug Tug, we see a thug eating a bowl of nails (without any milk!).
- "I ain't a crook! Ask anyone, they'll vouch for me!"
- Cerebus Syndrome: Zig-Zagged. There are some pretty heavy themes addressed over the course of the movie, such as depression, alcoholism, and murder. In fact, the particular scene of Patrick and SpongeBob at Shell City is so emotional it literally causes the audience to break out into tears. Which is all totally at odds with the TV show. The writers of course always manage to put a fairly comedic spin on things anyways, leading to several a Mood Whiplash.
- Character Development: Not just the obvious for SpongeBob and Patrick, but also for Squidward, who ends the movie by graciously recognizing SpongeBob's contribution and proudly relinquishing the position of Krusty Krab general manager to him.
- Chekhov's Gun: Played for laughs with King Neptune's embarrassment over his bald spot, which later prevents him from stopping Plankton and saving Bikini Bottom, as he is too distracted with finding a way to grow hair.
- Comically Small Bribe: SpongeBob attempts to bribe Dennis with five "Goober Dollars". He isn't impressed.
- Cool Car: The Patty Wagon, as seen in the page image.
- Creator Cameo:
- Stephen Hillenburg provides the voice of one of the pirates' parrots, essentially reusing his "Potty the Parrot" voice from the series.
- The show's storyboard artist Mike Bell appears in the movie as the fisherman knocked over by Hasselhoff.
- Co-writers Aaron Springer and Derek Drymon both cameo as the laughing bubble from the "Thug Tug" and "the screamer character" respectively.
- Creator In-Joke: Roger Bumpass, like Squidward, rides a recumbent bicycle. The storyboard artists added it as an inside joke.
- Credits Montage: The credits show pictures of SpongeBob in his new life as the manager of the Krusty Krab 2. The credits make it obvious that the job is horrible, but since SpongeBob loves to work, he's having the time of his life. And it's all set to Ween's "Ocean Man".
- Crocodile Tears: Plankton sheds these to Perch Perkins when he explains how he was able to sell Krabby Patties.
- Cue O'Clock: The clock seen in the Goofy Goober Steamboat has the 12 numbers in scrambled order.
- Dark Reprise: SpongeBob and Patrick's tearful rendition of the Goofy Goober theme song as they dry out.
- Darker and Edgier: Unlike the rest of the series, this movie is considerably a lot darker and has plenty of horror elements. Plankton is more depraved and vicious than in the series, to the point that he sadistically shows excitement and joy when King Neptune is about to kill Mr. Krabs, not to mention the monsters that abound in the way of SpongeBob and Patrick, the ruthless mercenary (Dennis) sent by Plankton to kill the duo, and how the heroes die at the hand of the Cyclops.
- Darkest Hour: Plankton has conquered Bikini Bottom and enslaved the population, Mr. Krabs is set to be executed, and SpongeBob and Patrick are killed in Shell City. Luckily, things get better.
- Death Song: After realizing they did make it to Shell City after all, SpongeBob and Patrick sing the Goofy Goober theme song just before they dry out.
- Decon-Recon Switch: The movie deconstructs SpongeBob and Patrick's Manchild behavior, showing that while its a major part of their characters and a source of good laughs for the viewers, their immaturity and naivety can be a major hindrance, as shown when SpongeBob gets rejected for a major job promotion over the more mature Squidward, most people not taking them seriously due to their antics, and the two being easily endangered by bullies, carjackers, undersea predators, hardened criminals, and sadistic humans due to their lack of common sense. Still, while the chips are down, SpongeBob and Patrick are shown to be more than capable of facing all the dangers on the way to Shell City, defying everybody's exceptions, and ultimately get the crown back and defeat Plankton.
- Demoted to Extra: Any character from the show who isn't SpongeBob, Patrick and Plankton. Squidward, Mrs. Puff and Sandy only show up a few times (despite all being credited in the film's "Main Cast"), and Mr. Krabs spends the movie frozen. Pearl and Gary make cameos. Karen plays a pivotal role, telling Plankton about Plan Z and activating the mind control helmets, but she doesn't have much screen time, either. It's not too surprising that the creators decided not to make the next SpongeBob movie a buddy film.
- Deranged Animation: Ho boy! The show's animation was already pretty bizarre-looking, but it was never this fluid!
- Destination Defenestration: In the beginning of the movie, Squidward catches SpongeBob in the shower with him, and after a small conversation with SpongeBob, Squidward kicks SpongeBob out of his window.
- Deus ex Machina:
- The film writes itself into a corner that can only be rectified by a wonderfully ridiculous parody of Twisted Sister's I Wanna Rock. The villain's plans are undone by the explosive power of rock music. Once the smoke clears, SpongeBob is left dangling on the end of a rope suspended above the stage in a neat reference to the literal Greek tragedy deus ex machina.
- SpongeBob and Patrick get the crown, but manage to lose the bag of winds. They have very little time to get home, and all is hopeless...cue David Hasselhoff showing up out of nowhere to take SpongeBob and Patrick home.
- The Dinnermobile: SpongeBob and Patrick travel most of the way to Shell City in the Patty Wagon - a large drivable hamburger, originally intended for promotion of the Krusty Krab.
- Disney Death: SpongeBob and Patrick are killed via drying out in Shell City, then revived thanks to their Swiss Army Tears. And the sprinklers.
- And also the WHOLE shop! Every single fish that was taxidermied springs back to life through the same means.
- Distressed Dude: Squidward gets cornered and brainwashed himself by the other brainwashed citizens by Plankton's mind control.
- The Dragon: Dennis, to Plankton. Even the Cyclops qualifies as one to Plankton.
- Dream Intro: The movie begins with SpongeBob as the manager of the Krusty Krab, saving the day after a guy gets no cheese on his patty. The crowd hoist him over their shoulders and cheer him, but then the cheers turn into his foghorn alarm and SpongeBob wakes up.
- Drowning My Sorrows: To help himself feel better after not getting the promotion, SpongeBob goes on a sundae bender alongside Patrick.
- Drunk on Milk: In this case, a milk product rather than liquid milk; specifically, ice cream. Moderately justified in that SpongeBob is also sleep-deprived.
- Dystopia Justifies the Means: What Plankton does to Bikini Bottom.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After all he's been through, SpongeBob is given a job as manager of the Krusty Krab 2, and proves that he is a man.
- Egopolis: After enslaving all of Bikini Bottom with his mind controlling helmets, Plankton converts it into Planktopolis, complete with giant stone statues of himself.
- Eldritch Location: Shell City is presently a beachside gift shop that sells nautical knick-knacks. To the cast, however, it's a horrifying place of certain death on the dreaded dry land, filled to the brim with the dehydrated corpses of various sea creatures unfortunate enough to be captured by the Cyclops, who oversees Shell City. The victims of the Cyclops do get better, fortunately.
- Eldritch Ocean Abyss: SpongeBob and Patrick make their way into a deep ocean trench with horrific monsters. Subverted when the monsters take a liking to them after they show off their impressive dance skills.
- Everybody Cries: All the pirates in the movie theater cry over SpongeBob and Patrick drying out under the lamp at Shell City.
- Exposition Victim: Squidward quickly deduces Plankton's Frame-Up scheme and threatens to tell King Neptune about it... in the middle of Plankton's restaurant.Plankton: We'll see about that, Inspector Loose-Lips! *Presses the doomsday button*
- Extremely Short Timespan: Not counting the live-action sequences and the Dream Intro, the majority of this film runs six days (according to King Neptune and Patrick). Counting the day where Plankton steals the crown and the Krusty Krab 2 did its grand opening, the film took seven days, under a whole week.
- Eye-Obscuring Hat: The bucket helmets are a whole face example of this — when active, they cover the entire fish's head.
- Eye Scream: The movie seems to have this as a Running Gag.
- "Bald! Bald! Bald! Bald! MY EYES!!"
- A more minor example, but Dennis gets a stream of bubbles blown directly into his eyes near the movie's climax, right before he gets knocked off Hasselhoff's back.
- Invoked but ultimately subverted in the beginning of the movie: After putting toothpaste on his tooth brush, SpongeBob uses it to brush his eyes, though he has no pained reaction to this act.
- Squire spraying hair growth spray into King Neptune's eyes, causing his eyes to grow hair all over.
- Face Death with Dignity: When it becomes apparent they're going to dry up and die, SpongeBob and Patrick take solace in the fact they made it to Shell City to begin with and go out singing the Goofy Goober song one last time. They get better.
- Faux Affably Evil: Plankton, in contrast to his usual Affably Evil, and Dennis the hitman who is very soft spoken and even polite.
- Finale Movie: According to Word of God, all episodes made after the movie take place before it, so it's still (chronologically) the end of the series.
- Fisher King: When Plankton takes over Bikini Bottom, he turns it into an evil reign empire and renames it "Planktopolis". The watery sky also changes from happy blue to corrupted brown.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Plankton sends a hitman named Dennis after SpongeBob and Patrick.
- Foregone Conclusion: Since this movie is chronologically the end of the show, SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs and the other main characters and Bikini Bottomites cannot die and have to survive, because they all appear alive and well.
- Framing Device: A band of pirates go to a movie theater to see the movie.
- Giant Space Flea From No Where: As far as SpongeBob and Patrick are concerned, the Monster Frogfish that tries to eat them after luring them into its death trap with "FREE ICE CREAM!" came out of nowhere. The audience knew it was a trap, though, because of all the piles of fish skulls and bones. The Frogfish also serves as one of their first real threats in their quest to get King Neptune's crown and save Mr. Krabs. It can also be considered a Disc-One Final Boss because an even bigger monster eel eats it.
- Go Out with a Smile: SpongeBob and Patrick. They got better.
- Hand Wave: The reason that SpongeBob is able to drive the Patty Wagon even though he doesn't have his license?SpongeBob: You don't need a license to drive a sandwich.
- Harmless Freezing: Although he can't stop Plankton from stealing the formula in his frozen state, Krabs still manages to show reaction to things going on.
- Heartbreak and Ice Cream: SpongeBob uses dozens of Goofy Goober's Triple Gooberberry sundaes to get through the stress of being turned down the managerial position for the Krusty Krab 2.
- Heroic BSoD: When our two protagonists reach the deep, dark, dangerous, hazardous, monster-infested trench that will lead them to Shell City, SpongeBob, of all people, just flat-out gives up, turns back to go home, and tearfully tells Patrick that they're "just kids" who will die if they carry on with this journey.
- Hero Killer:
- Out of all the villains in the movie, the Cyclops comes closest (yes, even closer than Plankton and Dennis) to killing SpongeBob and Patrick: he effectively does for a moment. And unlike the other villains in the movie, they were clearly far from his first victims.
- Incidentally, this is subverted with Dennis. Though Plankton describes him as a bloodthirsty predator, he has a tendency to get interrupted before he can actually hurt SpongeBob and Patrick. Nonetheless, he manages to be somewhat terrifying.
- The Hero's Journey: Even something like this can be made to fit: the beginning of the film shows SpongeBob's normal life in Bikini Bottom, and then he is forced to leave the comfort of home to save Mr. Krabs and retrieve Neptune's crown, by facing all sorts of challenges that require him to realize that he needs to grow up. The trench is the nadir of the journey when he and Patrick realize how pathetic they are, Shell City is the "descent to the underworld" (in that they are very nearly killed and only miraculously survive) and, when they return, SpongeBob saves everyone in town from Plankton's mind control by admitting that he may just be a kid, but that isn't so bad.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: SpongeBob and Patrick. And how.
- Hijacking Cthulhu: Plankton mind-controls King Neptune near the end.
- Humans Are Cthulhu:
- The "Cyclops" (actually a deep-sea diver). He just wants to collect sea creatures to sell as souvenirs - but that includes SpongeBob and Patrick, much to their horror. Although he apparently has a green glowing face under his helmet and laughs maniacally when his specimens start to panic, and NEVER takes off his diving suit.
- David Hasselhoff, however, is an aversion, being completely friendly to the duo.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- During the awards at the beginning of the movie, SpongeBob embarrasses himself by making a lot of noise. A few seconds later, he tells everybody to "shhhh".
- BALD! BALD! BALD! BALD! None of the others, besides Mindy, have hair either, though their domes aren't knock-your-eyes out shiny.
- Victor, the owner of the Thug Tug, uses the Goofy Goober theme song to weed out anyone who's not manly enough for his bar, claiming that whoever sings along to it is a "baby". And yet, as he closes in on Spongebob and Patrick, he starts singing along. Though this may have been just to test them.
- Insistent Terminology: A classic example. King Neptune is not bald, he is thinning.
- Instantly Proven Wrong: Upon learning that SpongeBob didn't get the promotion due to Mr. Krabs thinking he was a kid, Patrick calls it insane, claiming that saying SpongeBob is a kid is like saying he's a kid.Waiter: Here's your Goober Meal, Sir.
—>Patrick: Uh, I'm supposed to get a toy with this. (Waiter throws one at his face) Thanks.
- Insult Backfire: Plankton insults SpongeBob for being just a kid who couldn't tackle an Evil Genius hellbent on world domination. SpongeBob embraces that he's a kid and enacts a musical number "I'm a Goofy Goober".
- Instrument of Murder: SpongeBob uses a laser-shooting electric guitar to destroy the citizens' mind control helmets - and he plays a pretty damn catchy Triumphant Reprise of the Goofy Goober song while he's at it!
- Ironic Echo:
- "Sorry about this, calendar." First stated by SpongeBob when he removes a day from his calendar to reveal that today is the opening of the Krusty Krab 2, said later by Plankton when he removes the last day before Krabs' scheduled execution from his calendar.
- "We're on a baby hunt, and don't think we don't know how to weed them out!" The second time this is said, Patrick is mocking the owner of the Thug Tug.
- Is This Thing Still On?: When SpongeBob goes up to the stage, mistakenly believing that he won the manager position, Mr. Krabs tries whispering to him that he didn't get the job, only for SpongeBob partically repeat everything Mr. Krabs is saying to him.SpongeBob: People of Bikini Bottom, as the manager of—!!
Krabs: Uh, SpongeBob?
SpongeBob: Hold the phone, folks, I'm getting an important news flash from Mr. Krabs. Go ahead, Mr. K. (Krabs whispers into his ear) I'm making a complete what of myself? (more whispering) The most embarrassing thing you've ever seen? (more whispering) And now it's worse because I'm repeating everything you say into the microphone?
- Jaw Drop/Stunned Silence: Patrick and SpongeBob's (famous) reactions after narrowly escaping the old lady monster, and seeing the monster get promptly swallowed up by a giant eel.
- Jerkass: King Neptune. But Plankton is much more of a jerk.
- Jerkass Has a Point: King Neptune's harsh punishments become understandable when you realize that there are cruel people in this world who would commit crimes for their own selfish ends. Plankton is a perfect example, at least in this movie.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- King Neptune becomes this at the end, when he realized how his daughter was right about having love and compassion when you're a ruler, and he thanks SpongeBob for his help and apologizes to Mr. Krabs for freezing him.
- Squidward, of all people, also becomes this at the end as well; he gave up his position as manager for SpongeBob just for him to be happy.
- Just a Kid: SpongeBob gets this from nearly everyone in the movie. He later becomes proud of being a "kid", because he managed to get King Neptune's crown back despite nobody believing he could do it for this reason.SpongeBob: So yeah, I'm a kid! And I'm also a goofball! And a wingnut! And a Knucklehead McSpazatron! But most of all... I'M A GOOFY GOOBER! ROCK!
- Karma Houdini: Karen was the one who led Plankton to looking through Plan Z, implying she made all the Plans herself, activated the mind-controlling Chum Bucket helmets after Plankton's command/button press and was all in on the plan, even with her usual snark at her husband... And yet at the end, she's shown giddily crowd surfing as everybody cheers on SpongeBob with no sign of her being arrested along with Plankton.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: As the Thug Tug owner tells Dennis the rules around there, he is uppercutted, falling into the Tug and sinking it!
- Kill It with Fire: King Neptune tries to do this to Mr. Krabs once it appears that SpongeBob and Patrick aren't going to meet the deadline.
- Knight of Cerebus:
- Though he does have a more comedic side, Dennis tends to be rather scary.
- Surprisingly enough, Plankton manages to become one as well. He actually succeeds in conquering Bikini Bottom in SpongeBob and Patrick's absence.
- And the Cyclops, especially, since he almost kills SpongeBob and Patrick.
- Lawful Stupid: Squidward telling Plankton that he's going to report him to King Neptune rather than going right to him first.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During the "Now That We're Men" musical number, the shot of SpongeBob and Patrick looking like old-timey boxers with "a manly flair" has a visible peg-bar registrationnote at the bottom of the screen.
- Loose Lips: Lampshaded when Plankton calls Squidward "Inspector Loose Lips" after he finds out his Evil Plan and threatens to expose him to King Neptune, prompting him to activate the bucket helmets' Mind Control.
- Love at First Sight: Patrick is infatuated with Neptune's daughter Mindy.
- Lower-Deck Episode: A Nickelodeon Magazine special promoting the film included a comic story showing Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy trying (and failing) to stop Plankton during the events of the movie.
- Ludicrous Precision: SpongeBob: "I've been through a lot in the past six days, five minutes, twenty-seven-and-a-half seconds..."
- King Neptune's crown, the managerial position at the Krusty Krab 2 and the Krabby Patty recipe.
- The pirates in the live-action segments are seeking tickets for SpongeBob's movie.
- Magic Feather: The seaweed moustaches.
- Medium Blending: Along with the live-action scenes set on dry land, there is a brief shot using Stop Motion during the "Goofy Goober Rock" number.
- Meganekko: Mindy.
- Mood Whiplash:
Gary: "MEOW PLANKTON."
- In the midst of SpongeBob noticing all of his friends are brainwashed, once he gets to Gary...
- The scene at the Goofy Goober bar. Said peanut comes out dancing and singing. Then the camera pans to a sobbing SpongeBob who isn't joining in the fun at all because he didn't get a promotion to manager for the Krusty Krab 2.
- Towards the end of the proud and triumphant "They've Come So Far" Song "Now That We're Men," SpongeBob and Patrick see a sign that says "Shell City Dead Ahead", and SpongeBob happily says, "Well, Patrick, we should be there in one more verse!" and begin to finish the song, but then out of nowhere the music and happy atmosphere are cut off by the arrival of Dennis, who has finally caught up with them and intends to kill them both.
- During Plankton's interview with Perch Perkins on how he got the Krabby Patty, he falsely tells him that Krabs secretly bequeathed the recipe to Plankton before he was frozen by King Neptune, and fake cries over it, then suddenly offers a free Chum Bucket bucket helmet with every purchase of a Krabby Patty with a cheeky grin on his face.
- Mouthscreen: Used when SpongeBob says, "Those fish are...dead."
- Mugging the Monster: The two guys at the gas station do this to Dennis by taunting him with their usual joke. Dennis responds by ripping off their mouths.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The opening scene features a dramatic scene based around the "crisis" of a customer being given a Krabby Patty without cheese, complete with a slow-motion sequence of SpongeBob putting some cheese into the patty, played in the same manner as an action hero disarming a bomb. It's a Dream Sequence, but still...SpongeBob: You got a name?
SpongeBob: You got a family, Phil?
SpongeBob: Come on, Phil, stay with me. Let's hear about that family.
Phil: I got a wife, and two beautiful children.
SpongeBob: That's what it's all about. I want you to do me a favor, Phil.
SpongeBob: Say "cheese."
- Near-Villain Victory: Two in a row within the last act. First of all, the cyclops has SpongeBob and Patrick imprisoned under a head lamp which dries them out. Secondly, Plankton, now having all of Bikini Bottom under his control, is ready to have Mr. Krabs executed by King Neptune. If SpongeBob and Patrick's Swiss Army Tears didn't revive them when they did, and if David Hasslehoff didn't come to help them, Plankton would've won.
- Naked People Are Funny: Early in the film, Patrick goes parasailing with his pants, leaving him naked. He even wedges a flag between his butt cheeks.
- Never Say "Die": Averted. The words "kill" and "die" are used several times. The scene in Shell City has SpongeBob stress the words "dead" and "killed" as if to tell the audience "Yes we're defying this trope and using the actual word in a movie for kids." and to emphasize the danger that they are in.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Squidward explains Plankton's plan and intends to rat him out to King Neptune right in front of his face! This causes Plankton to turn on the mind-control helmets on every citizen of Bikini Bottom and they corner Squidward and enslave him.Plankton: We'll see about that, Inspector Loose-Lips!
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: David Hasselhoff's reward for bringing SpongeBob and Patrick back to the Krusty Krab 2? Get scorched by King Neptune's trident.
- Not Me This Time: Mr. Krabs' actions are just as criminal as Plankton's, if not more, but this time he's not the one who stole King Neptune's crown.
- Not Quite Dead: Dennis gets crushed by the Cyclops when he first catches up with SpongeBob and Patrick. He comes back afterwards for the final showdown.
- The sprinklers at Shell City not only revive SpongeBob and Patrick, but also all the other dried sea animals that had been made into knickknacks, who then take revenge on the Cyclops.
- Ocular Gushers: During SpongeBob's and Patrick's Despair Event Horizon, they spray tears EVERYWHERE. Mindy is visibly squicked when they squirt their tears like high-pressure hoses into each other's mouths.
- Off-Model: But in a good way; the film seems to follow the John Kricfalusi method of staying less on-model and more in-character.
- Oh, Crap!:
- SpongeBob and Patrick react this way when Victor begins his bubble-blowing baby hunt in the Thug Tug and brings out his searching method: the Goofy Goober theme song.
- Played for Laughs with SpongeBob and Patrick when a sea monster eats the Pattymobile. So much that Patrick's Oh, Crap! has earned the nickname Surprised Patrick.
- The "Cyclops" has this reaction when the animals in his shop begin to revive and he realizes they're about to beat the tar out of him.
- Older Than They Look: According to SpongeBob, he has won the Employee of the Month Award 376 times in a row. This means he has been working for over 31 years. Assuming that he started work at age 16, this means he could be 47 years old or older!
- Omnicidal Maniac: Plankton vows to destroy everyone after he gets carried off to prison.
- One Last Song: SpongeBob and Patrick sing the Goofy Goober Song after realizing they made it to Shell City and found the crown after all, just before they dry out.
- Open-Fly Gag: Comes up when SpongeBob is finally offered his desired job as manager of the Krusty Krab 2. SpongeBob responds by saying that he has something he needs to say, but isn't sure how to put it. Squidward thinks that SpongeBob has decided that he doesn't want the job after all, causing SpongeBob to reply that he was only going to tell Squidward that his fly was down (even though Squidward never wore pants in the first place).
- Overly Long Gag: Mindy (not) stalling Krabs's execution to try and buy SpongeBob and Patrick more time.
- Parental Bonus: Done rather blatantly. Plankton's Plan Z opens up like a centerfold as suggestive jazz plays.
- Pass the Popcorn: Plankton takes a seat and grabs some popcorn as Neptune gets ready to execute Krabs.
- Placebo Effect: When SpongeBob and Patrick are about to give up on their quest, Mindy appears and gives them some of her "mermaid magic", which is nothing but making them close their eyes and putting seaweed on their faces to simulate mustaches. Despite this, it works, giving SpongeBob and Patrick the bravery to cross the trench of sea monsters without even flinching.
- Please Keep Your Hat On: Neptune's bald head is so reflective that it threatens to blind the mere mortals.
- Plot-Irrelevant Villain: The Cyclops wouldn't be important to the plot at all if it weren't for the fact that he just so happens to have King Neptune's crown on sale.
- The Power of Rock: SpongeBob breaks Plankton's hypnosis with a rock remix of the Goofy Goober song.
- Psycho for Hire: Dennis outright says that he's a hitman because he loves his job.
- Rated M for Manly: The Thug Tug might be one the most on-the-nose examples of this. As a rule, they beat up anybody who isn't manly enough.
- Reality Ensues: Subverted. SpongeBob not getting promoted is realistic seeing as he lacks maturity, but Squidward gets the promotion instead despite his lack of passion.
- Record Needle Scratch: During the "baby hunt" at the Thug Tug, the Siamese twins when they first appear on-screen are accompanied by this.
- Recurring Riff: The Goofy Goober song. At first, it's a fun and goofy song, then it becomes a massive Tear Jerker as a dying SpongeBob and Patrick sing it together, then it gets turned into a hella awesome rock song.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: The sequence between the "Cyclops" (a maniacal diver) capturing SpongeBob and Patrick, and them returning to Bikini Bottom with David Hasselhoff!
- Sadist: Plankton is extremely sadistic in the movie. He shows great excitement, enthusiasm and joy when Mr. Krabs is going to be executed. Similarly, Dennis seems to be a hitman purely for the excuse to kill people.
- Sarcastic Clapping: Plankton after SpongeBob and Patrick make it back.Plankton: Oh yes. Well done, SpongeBOOB.
- Saving the World with Art: Plankton's Mind-Control Device has taken control of the entire town, but becomes overloaded when SpongeBob dons a guitar and sings "Goofy Goober Rock" complete with flashy music video effects.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Dennis, who among other things deduces SpongeBob and Patrick were at the Thug Tug from nothing more than a small puddle of bubble fluid. Granted, there's really only one way to Shell City from Bikini Bottom.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Squidward ups and leaves before SpongeBob drags him into the road trip to Shell City.
- Series Fauxnale: This film was meant to serve as the closing to the show, but Nickelodeon insisted on putting the series back in production. Nonetheless, it's still chronologically the conclusion to SpongeBob's story according to Word of God.
- She's Got Legs: Parodied; during The Power of Rock sequence, Patrick Star's got legs to kill for.
- Short-Lived Leadership: King Neptune gives SpongeBob and Patrick exactly six days (originally ten days, until Patrick argued it down to six) to return with his crown, or else he'll fry Mr. Krabs. During this time, Plankton takes over Bikini Bottom with slave helmets sold by the Chum Bucket. SpongeBob and Patrick manage to return just in time and defeat Plankton's slave army with The Power of Rock, ending Plankton's reign as dictator.
- The "nut bar" at Goofy Goober's has pictures of Pogo, Krazy Kat, and Popeye comics.
- When Neptune unfreezes Mr. Krabs, he accidentally has his trident on the "Real Boy" setting, turning Mr. Krabs into a Pinocchio lookalike, before just turning him back to normal.
- And let's not forget the frogfish scene.
- The Art Shift to hard shadows and sepia tone during Plankton's takeover are chillingly similar to those found in Triumph of the Will.
- SpongeBob and Patrick strike the "Keep On Truckin'" pose just as Dennis cuts off their last verse of "Now That We're Men."
- Show Within a Show: The live-action segments feature pirates who are watching this movie in a pier theater.
- Sinister Shades: Dennis has a pair...well, at least two pairs, one of which he removes to examine a sesame seed left by the Patty Wagon.
- Skewed Priorities:
- After Mr. Krabs is frozen, Squidward says "Oh, no! This is terrible! Who's gonna sign my paycheck?"
- When Plankton takes over Bikini Bottom and renames it "Planktopolis" and enslaves all the citizen's, Neptune's only concern is finding a way to cover his bald spot.
- The Sociopath:
- Plankton is this in the same movie. He does not seem to feel any remorse for what he does, and worse, undertakes to destroy everyone when arrested.
- Dennis, as befitting a Professional Killer.
- Surreal Humour: "Hooray! Bubble Party!"
- Sweet and Sour Grapes: Subverted. After SpongeBob saves Bikini Bottom, Mr. Krabs decides to give him Squidward's manager job:SpongeBob: Wait a second, everybody. There's something I need to say first... I just don't know how to put it.
Squidward: I think I know what it is. After going on your life-changing journey, you now realize you don't want what you thought you wanted. What you really wanted was inside you all along.
SpongeBob: *grabs manager badge from Squidward* Are you crazy!? I was just gonna tell you that your fly is down!
- Swiss Army Tears: What ultimately saves SpongeBob and Patrick from their Disney Death, though how it's done makes sense, at least in this universe: The tear flows off the desk and down the power cable of the lamp into the socket, shorting it out. This not only shuts off the lamp, but the resulting smoke triggers the sprinklers, reviving not only SpongeBob and Patrick, but the other sea creatures that the Cyclops had captured as well.
- Team Rocket Wins: After an endless amount of failures in the TV series (excluding "The Algae is Always Greener", where he technically succeeds), Plankton at last gets his hand on the secret formula and begins selling Krabby Patties at the Chum Bucket.
- Testosterone Poisoning: Lots of examples.
- "They've Come So Far" Song: "Now That We're Men," with SpongeBob and Patrick finally passing through the monster-filled trench... and the monsters are singing with them.
- Time for Plan B: Or Plan Z, in this case.
- Tired of Running: Parodied. When Dennis confronts them for the final time, SpongeBob tells Patrick to run, but Patrick steps forward saying, "No. I'm tired of running. If we run now we'll never stop - " Dennis then slaps Patrick, sending him flying back to Hasselhoff's heel, where he screams, "RUN, SPONGEBOB!"
- Tom the Dark Lord: We have a vile, dangerous bounty hunter, and his name is... Dennis.
- Took a Level in Badass: SpongeBob and Patrick. They faced many dangerous sea creatures while venturing across the sea to retrieve King Neptunes crown and managed to defeat Plankton.
- Triumphant Reprise: "Goofy Goober Rock". Good Lord. Made especially triumphant since the last time the Goofy Goober song was used was in a massive Tear Jerker moment.
- Uncertain Doom: The movie never makes it clear if Dennis was killed or simply knocked out when he gets struck by the catamaran. The scene itself plays out like a usual death scene would.
- The Unreveal: Plankton finally finds out the Krabby Patty formula, but we don't.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Plankton himself, Dennis and the Cyclops. Plankton is much more dangerous than he is in the TV series, Dennis is a murderer-for-hire, and the Cyclops sort-of manages to kill SpongeBob and Patrick among other sea creatures.
- Villainous Breakdown: Dennis is a lot more calm and cool when chasing after SpongeBob and Patrick, as well as during his first encounter with him than he is after being crushed by the boot and encountering them on top of David Hasselhoff. He's a lot more aggressive and prone to anger at the point—notably, he lost his glasses and bandana, so we can now see his expressions.
- Vocal Evolution: SpongeBob's voice is notably higher in the movie than it was in the show. This change would make its way to the show itself after it got Un-Canceled.
- We Need a Distraction: At the Thug Tug, SpongeBob plans to create a distraction while Patrick steals back the keys to the Patty Wagon. Patrick offers to do the distraction instead, but then he just asks where the bathroom is.
- Welcome to Corneria: When the Bikini Bottomites are brainwashed by Plankton, all they say is "All hail Plankton."
- Welcome to the Big City: The moment SpongeBob and Patrick cross the Bikini Bottom border, a thug steals their Patty Wagon.
- Wham Line:
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The end credits show scenes of SpongeBob enjoying his new life as the manager of the Krusty Krab 2.
- The Worf Effect: Victor the Thug Tug owner looks scary and intimidating and is naturally the strongest guy at the bar. Until he tries to pick a fight with Dennis...
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: SpongeBob's speech at the movie's climax where he accepts being labeled as a "kid" and saves the day through The Power of Rock.
- Worthless Currency: When Spongebob is cornered by an assassin-for-hire, he tries to bribe the criminal with "Goober Dollars", fake currency that can be exchanged for snacks in certain junk food restaurants.
- Writing Around Trademarks: The Cyclops clearly uses a bottle of Elmer's brand glue, with just enough of it dried over the label to obscure the logo and name.
- "YEAH!" Shot: The movie ends with SpongeBob leaping in the air in complete joy after FINALLY getting his well-deserved promotion to manager of the Krusty Krab 2 instead of Squidward (who presumably isn't overly enthusiastic about the job).SpongeBob: Manager! This is the greatest day of my liiiife!
- You Got Spunk: Dennis to SpongeBob: "You've got guts, kid. Too bad I gotta rip 'em out of you."
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: SpongeBob and Patrick get Neptune's crown back and seemingly save the day... then Plankton reveals he had a backup plan and just takes control of Neptune.
- You Won't Feel a Thing: A subversion:Dennis: Don't worry, this'll only hurt a lot!