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"Well, that's our story. Yes, they are all idiots, aren't they?"
French Narrator, "Nasty Patty"
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Let's face it; most of the plots throughout SpongeBob SquarePants tend to happen because of some stupidity on the part of the characters. And with the exception of the rare infuriating episode, this is hardly a bad thing; after all, how else would we have such funny episodes?


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    General 
  • A basic staple: SpongeBob going to Patrick for advice, or vice versa.
    You'd Expect: That SpongeBob would realize that Patrick is Too Dumb to Live and has Toxic Friend Influence. Therefore, he should not take his advice.
    Instead: He does so and from that moment, the situation goes From Bad to Worse.
  • Another basic staple: Plankton keeps trying to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula. "Imitation Krabs" implies that Mr. Krabs patented the formula at some point (SpongeBob even explains that duplicating it is a felony).
    You'd Expect: Plankton to be mindful of this and think that succeeding would mean Mr. Krabs calling the police to have him arrested.
    Instead: He keeps trying to steal the formula anyway, heedless of the fact that he could face legal consequences.
    • On the flip-side, Plankton is shown to be a Gadgeteer Genius.
      You'd Expect: Plankton to go into the electronics business.
      Instead: This never occurs to him.
    • On Mr. Krabs' side, assuming he really patented the formula.
      You'd Expect: Mr. Krabs to simply remind Plankton of this and threaten to sue his rival for duplicating the Krabby Patty.
      Instead: He needlessly keeps taking measures to protect something that cannot be used by anyone who steals it.
  • Yet another basic staple: Mrs. Puff dreads having to teach SpongeBob, one of her most difficult students. However, she always abides by her own principle: that she will accept ANY student and never give up on them.
    You'd Expect: For Mrs. Puff to simply make rare exceptions for students who have taken her classes many times and always fail.
    Instead: She doesn't, and she has to deal with SpongeBob constantly failing her tests and getting her put in jail or seriously injured to the point she has to stay in the hospital a few times. This once resulted in her getting so fed up with SpongeBob that she attempted to murder him.

    Seasons 1- 3 
  • In "Tea at the Treedome", Sandy invites SpongeBob over for tea and cookies but the air inside the treedome starts drying him up. After SpongeBob gives her flowers, Sandy asks him if he needs anything. SpongeBob says, "Water would be nice."
    You'd Expect: Sandy to get SpongeBob some water.
    Instead: She assumes SpongeBob wants water for the flowers and fills a vase with it. When she sees SpongeBob has nearly dried up completely, she tells him "If y'all wanted water, you should have asked." Yeah, he totally didn't, Sandy.
  • In "Jellyfishing", Squidward gets badly injured from head to toe and really needs to remain in a hospitalized state.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob and Patrick to leave Squidward alone and let him recover back to health.
    Instead: They assume Squidward isn't harmed anyways, and in their attempt to make their "best day ever" for him, they inflict even further pain on Squidward like blowing hot soup onto his face (even though it can't get into his mouth, which is bandaged shut) and, while taking him jellyfishing, Patrick impales a net through Squidward's hand.
  • In "Plankton!", Plankton puts on a mind control device on SpongeBob's brain so that the latter is a helpless puppet of his. He uses SpongeBob to steal a Krabby Patty and put it into his formula analyzer. Plankton asks Any Last Words?, prompting SpongeBob to apologize to the Krabby Patty and gush about how delicious it is. This entices Plankton to eat the Krabby Patty.
    You'd Then Expect: Plankton to hold out until he makes SpongeBob drop the patty into the analyzer, since he is still controlling SpongeBob's brain.
    Instead: He jumps out immediately being so psychologically triggered by SpongeBob's words, which makes him bounce onto the Krabby Patty and land in his own analyzer. He gets disintegrated and imprisoned inside his own computer (Karen). As he puts it, "Well, this stinks."
  • In "I was a Teenage Gary", after Squidward fails to take care of Gary, the doctor gives him snail plasma to inject in him. After a bit of a struggle between him and SpongeBob, Squidward accidentally injected the snail plasma inside SpongeBob's nose. SpongeBob starts to worry about what may happen to him, but Squidward tells him that he'll be fine.
    You'd Expect: Considering that Squidward failed to take care of Gary, SpongeBob would trust his own instincts and either call a doctor or poison control.
    Instead: He believes that he'll be okay, even when he starts transforming into a snail. It isn’t until his transformation is almost complete does he realize that something is wrong, and by then it's already too late.
    • SpongeBob has now turned into a snail and goes to Squidward's house for help, much to Squidward's horror.
      You'd Expect: Squidward would realize that the snail plasma transformed SpongeBob into a snail and would get SpongeBob to the doctor to help change him back.
      Instead: He freaks out and boards up his house. Then, when SpongeBob gets inside his house, he runs around screaming until he accidentally gets the snail plasma injected into his own nose. Guess what happens next?
  • In "Karate Choppers", SpongeBob playing karate is interfering with his work at the Krusty Krab, and Mr. Krabs warns him to stop or he'll fire him. As SpongeBob walks out of the building thinking about Mr. Krabs' warning, Sandy pops up and attack him, ignoring his explanations that Mr. Krabs told him not to play Karate in the Krusty Krab. Then Mr. Krabs sees SpongeBob and Sandy outside.
    You'd Expect: Krabs to notice that SpongeBob clearly isn't participating in karate and that Sandy is doing this.
    Instead: He thinks that SpongeBob is playing karate and fires him, driving the poor guy to tears. Luckily, Sandy explains everything and Mr. Krabs decides to give SpongeBob another chance.
  • In "Sleepy Time", when SpongeBob enters Mr. Krabs' dream, he is tasked with helping Mr. Krabs catch a dollar bill the same way a fisherman hunts for fish. He succeeds and SpongeBob gets his net (which is really Mr. Krabs' huge wallet) to put the dollar in it.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to keep a tight grip on the wallet.
    Instead: He lets go of his arm to give Mr. Krabs a handshake, giving the dollar a chance to bounce and then escape. Mr. Krabs then uses a harpoon to fire SpongeBob out of his dream.
  • In "Suds", SpongeBob goes to work in spite of being very ill, which could easily contaminate the food at the Krusty Krab. Mr. Krabs then walks in and sees SpongeBob's condition.
    You'd Expect: Krabs would either call a cab or drive SpongeBob to the hospital, allowing him to recover.
    Instead: He only forces SpongeBob to walk back home, to prevent contamination of his food. SpongeBob gets more sick throughout the episode until Sandy takes him to the hospital.
  • In "Squidville", Squidward decides to move to a place called Tentacle Acres, where everyone is like him and have all his favorite things, like bikes, clarinets, and even canned bread. However, Squidward eventually grows horribly bored by the town because nothing new occurs in the town, thus losing its novelty.
    You'd Expect: Squidward to move out, since, as a resident and the police point out, he doesn't have to live there.
    Instead: He blames the town itself for being too boring, steals a reef-blower and vandalizes both Tentacle Acres and their residents. Squidward even shamelessly rationalizes his crimes of burglary, assault and vandalism to the police officer who wants to arrest him.
  • In "No Free Rides", Mrs. Puff gives extra credit and passes SpongeBob so she doesn't have to deal with him for another year. SpongeBob ends up getting a boatmobile from his parents.
    You'd Expect: Mrs. Puff to explain to SpongeBob what she did in order to guarantee that he won't wreak havoc with his bad driving.
    Instead: She attempts, and fails, to steal his boatmobile. Hilarity Ensues once SpongeBob notices Mrs. Puff trying to steal his new boat.
    • Highway cops catch eye of SpongeBob and Mrs. Puff punching and kicking each other while the boat is rapidly spinning in circles.
      You'd Expect: The cops to take action and come to SpongeBob's aid.
      Instead: They just watch the whole thing bored, and only react when SpongeBob and Mrs. Puff steer the boat off a cliff and crash down right onto them.
  • "Snowball Effect": Squidward tries to get SpongeBob and Patrick to continue their snowball fight. He does this by acting as SpongeBob, then hits Patrick with a snowball. Patrick retaliates by doing the same to Squidward.
    You'd Expect: Squidward to remember that he was pretending to be SpongeBob, compliment Patrick, and then push him into pelting SpongeBob with snowballs for real.
    Instead: "Patrick, why didn't you hit SpongeBob?"
  • In "The Secret Box", SpongeBob has snuck into Patrick's house and taken his secret box, desperate to know the contents. Patrick is sleeping, and SpongeBob, trying not to wake him up, has just been through several near-misses after taking the box from Patrick.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to peek in the box, return it, and leave Patrick's rock, all in silence.
    Instead: He takes the opportunity to whisper to himself, "Gee, Patrick sure is a heavy sleeper." This wakes Patrick up for real.
  • In "Sailor Mouth", SpongeBob and Patrick are ordered by Mr. Krabs to suppress themselves from uttering a profane word that the audience only hear as a dolphin call. SpongeBob accidentally lets one out when he loses a game of Eels and Escalators to Patrick. Patrick then runs to go rat him out to Mr. Krabs, but he also accidentally blurts one out too.
    You'd Expect: For SpongeBob to blackmail Patrick to not tell Mr. Krabs, and to also realize that ratting out Patrick won't stop Patrick from telling Mr. Krabs that he himself said the same word a few seconds earlier.
    Instead: They both pretty much race each other to see who can rat out the other to Mr. Krabs first. The two rat each other out in front of Mr. Krabs who decide to force both of them to paint the Krusty Krab as punishment, but when Krabs stubs his foot onto a rock, he lets out not just the dolphin word, but all other 12 of the 13 profanity words.
    You'd then Expect: For SpongeBob and Patrick to force Mr. Krabs to call off the painting punishment in exchange for them not reporting him to his mother.
    Instead: The cycle repeats itself. SpongeBob, Patrick and Mr. Krabs rat each other out in front of Mama Krabs and they all have to paint her house.
  • In "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy III", SpongeBob and Patrick release Man Ray from his frozen tartar sauce-like prison, and should he act up aggressively, they will press a button that activates the tickle belt strapped to Man Ray. Man Ray then asks the two to help him learn how to be a good person.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob and Patrick to contact Mermaid Man so that he can freeze Man Ray again and realize that this is just a ploy, since this was a matter of if Man Ray will choose to behave, not know how to.
    Or: Simply use the Tickle Belt to force Man Ray to behave.
    Instead: They start teaching him lessons on how to be compassionate, though Patrick's stupidity makes Man Ray's task impossible to complete cause Patrick turns away "his own wallet" that Man Ray tries returning to him.
  • In "Squid on Strike", Squidward and SpongeBob's strike has worked and Mr. Krabs is begging Squidward to come back. Squidward successfully manages to turn the tables and gets Mr. Krabs to agree on new working terms.
    You'd Expect: Squidward to notify SpongeBob (who has taken the strike more seriously) about this.
    Instead: He neglects to do this and SpongeBob ends up destroying the Krusty Krab. This results in Squidward's new working terms being disregarded by Mr. Krabs and is forced to work at the Krusty Krab forever! Good going Squidward.
  • In "The Bully", Flats tries beating the crap out of SpongeBob for no good reason, but it doesn't work because SpongeBob's too soft. After trying for days, he collapses from exhaustion. The other students in [SpongeBob's class cheer for him and he celebrates his victory by making a fist. Mrs. Puff then sees SpongeBob making a fist and Flats out cold on the floor. She gets angry and accuses him of beating Flats up.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to ask his classmates who were witnesses to testify that he's innocent. Or even point out that there's not a single bruise on the exhausted flounder's face.
    Instead: He stays quiet and does nothing about Mrs. Puff's accusations except get surprised thus implying that Mrs. Puff is about to kick his butt for an assault he didn't commit.
    • Mrs. Puff also has a "What an Idiot" moment in this episode. Flats is making blatantly obvious threats to SpongeBob on the chalkboard by drawing out explicit diagrams of himself beating up the poor guy and then SpongeBob does rat out Flats to her.
      You'd Expect: For Mrs. Puff to realize that Flats is violating school policy of no-violence and that she either report him to the police or give him detention.
      Instead: She just assumes Flats isn't actually threatening SpongeBob, misinterpreting Flats to be artistically creative on the chalkboard and gullibly believes Flats' lies that he just wants to be SpongeBob's friend and that "kicking his butt" was just a sarcastic expression.
  • In "Nasty Patty", Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob catch wind of a fake health inspector being on the loose while they have a health inspector of their own inside the building.
    You'd Expect: They ask the inspector for legal documentation to verify if he's legitimate.
    Instead: They make the Nasty Patty after blindly assuming that he's the impostor, despite he was clearly wearing a badge and having no actual proof beyond circumstantial evidence.
    So: SpongeBob gives the Nasty Patty to the health inspector. Just as he is about to take a bite, he chokes on a fly (underwater?) and passes out. As SpongeBob and Krabs are laughing about their trick, a news report comes on saying that the fake health inspector was captured, and they realize their mistake. They then look and see the real health inspector knocked out cold and they assume he ate the Nasty Patty.
    You'd Then Expect: SpongeBob, Krabs or someone else to go see if he's all right. He should still have a working pulse, and they could give him a real Krabby Patty and pass the inspection.
    Instead: They blindly assume they've killed him, starting a long charade of burying him and hiding him from the cops, unintentionally torturing him in the process, even though he turned out OK.
  • In "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy IV", Squidward finds out that SpongeBob has Mermaid Man's belt, after realizing that the belt has the power to shrink any physical object, and hasn't returned to Mermaid Man yet. Squidward accuses him of stealing it.
    You'd Expect: Squidward to not do anything that can anger or scare SpongeBob, and then call Mermaid Man in a quiet, discrete place where SpongeBob can't see or hear him.
    Instead: Squidward directly tells SpongeBob to the latter's face that he's going to rat him out and goes to the phone to call Mermaid Man, in front of SpongeBob witnessing this, intentionally making him anxious. Guess what SpongeBob does?
  • In "Krab Borg", Spongebob watches a scary movie involving robots chasing after people. Afterwards, he has nightmares and on the next day at work, he starts to believe that Mr. Krabs may have been replaced by a robot when he hears him beeping (which was really him calling the radio company to play the same music that had played for him and explaining what its title is) and later dances like a robot in his office. He freaks out and goes to Squidward for help.
    You'd Expect: Spongebob would tell him about how the whole movie went, including the part where the movie ending revealing that there weren't any robots there in the first place (it's was all in the people's imaginations), as mentioned at the end of the episode.
    Instead: He remains completely traumatized about the rest of the film that he forgets about the last part of the movie and he and Squidward end up kidnapping Mr. Krabs and demanding him to tell where the "real" Mr. Krabs is. This results with them destroying most of his electronic belongings. It was only until they grabbed the cash register, where Mr. Krabs cries and admits his love for it, that they finally realized that they kidnapped the real Mr. Krabs all along and only then does Spongebob reveal the ending of the movie. He then leaves, while Squidward has to endure Mr. Krab's wrath.
  • "Rock-a-Bye Bivalve": SpongeBob and Patrick adopt a baby clam which they name Junior and raise as their own with the former as the mother and the latter as the father. One morning, Patrick prepares to leave the house dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase, prompting SpongeBob to ask why. Patrick says that because he's the dad, he has to go to work.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to investigate this further by interrogating Patrick on where he works or asking him what's in the briefcase. SpongeBob already has a job at the Krusty Krab which would conflict Patrick having to go to work.
    Instead: He's fine with Patrick having to go to work with the promise that he'll help take care of Junior when he gets home. Patrick isn't true to his word and slacks off when he gets home. This cycle continues for a few days afterward until SpongeBob finally discovers that Patrick's idea of going to work is watching television all day under his rock.
  • In "Wet Painters", SpongeBob and Patrick are assigned by Mr Krabs to paint his house with permanent, white paint. Krabs decides to not pay them at all for this labor-demanding job, yet the two agree to do it, and it turns out Mr. Krabs ridiculously covers up his walls with merchandise to the last inch.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to start removing anything on the walls so they can start painting the walls.
    Instead: Patrick manipulates Spongebob with Insane Troll Logic that he shouldn't clear the walls since they're not getting paid to relocate the stuff, even though they're also not getting paid to even paint the walls.
  • In "Krusty Krab Training Video", Plankton is stealing a Krabby Patty by having inserted spider-like robotic legs on it (at a comically slow speed). SpongeBob witnesses this.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to go snatch that Krabby Patty away from Plankton already. The narrator obviously implied SpongeBob should do this.
    Instead: SpongeBob panics, screams in fear and runs around in circles (knocking down customers and tables in the process) without realizing that he can run much faster than Plankton's robot spider legs can, since he already beat Plankton to the doors while panicking. Mr. Krabs promptly snatches the patty, picks up Plankton, and throws him out the doors. Just why did Plankton change his mind about getting the Turbo?
  • In "Clams", Mr. Krabs having earned his millionth dollar takes SpongeBob and Squidward on a clam fishing trip in a smelly old boat (SS Cheapskate) in a disgusting, stinky lagoon.
    You'd Expect: Krabs to put that dollar somewhere safe like depositing in a bank or hiding it at home. A few episodes shown that Krabs has his own cash vault in the back of his office.
    Instead: He sews it to his trousers where his ass is, and clumsy SpongeBob rips it off (with a fishing hook) throwing it into open waters attracting Ol' Blue Lips the giant dollar-eating clam.
    As a Result: Mr. Krabs greedily forces SpongeBob and Squidward to go get that dollar back, depriving them of food for 3 days and they get hungry enough to resort to bribing or fleeing from Krabs. Eventually, Krabs is driven to madness and uses them as bait to bring back Ol' Blue Lips. It works, and Krabs regains the dollar but at the cost of his body save his head and arm.
  • In "I Had an Accident" SpongeBob gets into a painful accident from sandboarding since he had his eyes closed while laughing, forcing him to have a trip to the hospital.
    You'd Expect: For SpongeBob to realize that this accident was due to him being careless and not paying attention while he was sandboarding. He was keeping his eyes closed while sandboarding down a high-risk slope!
    Instead: He blames his accident on the fact that simply being outside is too dangerous and refuses to leave his pineapple home no matter what how badly his friends Sandy and Patrick beg him to come out.
  • In "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler", the Tattle Tale Strangler puts on a mustache gag to get closer to strangling SpongeBob.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to see through the Paper-Thin Disguise.
    Instead: He falls for the oldest trick in the book.
    What's worse: When SpongeBob's friends were around for his parties, they don't see through the disguise either. It's especially egregious when you see Squidward there and remember that he was the one who first recognized the Strangler and told SpongeBob who he was. Mr. Krabs and Larry are there too and the Strangler was established to be The Dreaded even to them.
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    Seasons 4- 9 A 
  • In "All That Glitters", SpongeBob's traditional spatula breaks off and he needs a new one to resume working. He sets his eyes on Le Spatula, a high-tech spatula, but the seller demands an unreasonably high price for it.
    You'd Expect: For SpongeBob to find a cheaper spatula instead.
    Instead: He gives up everything he has (all his money, his pineapple home, and even his clothes) just to get Le Spatula, who then runs off refusing to cook Krabby Patties because they're not fancy cuisine.
  • In "Wishing You Well", everyone's wishes magically come true and Plankton grows to about fifty feet tall. He greets SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs in his new form.
    You'd Expect: Plankton to demand the Krabby Patty formula or else SpongeBob and Krabs would suffer the consequences.
    Instead: He merely says it's a fine day, runs off and then destroys every building in sight except the Krusty Krab.
  • In "Best Day Ever", after SpongeBob fixes Squidward's clarinet before his concert, the theater usher refuses to let SpongeBob in because he forgot his ticket.
    You'd Expect: For SpongeBob to tell the usher his name.
    Instead: He tries alternate methods to get into the theater, which fail.
    As a result: By the time the usher finally learns SpongeBob's name, he realizes he's on the VIP list and lets him in...only for the concert to end right when he sits down.
  • In "Night Light", SpongeBob develops a fear of the dark, and he gets a night light to help him sleep. This seems smart, until he sees a door open that is very dark on the other side.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to close the door, plus every other door in his bedroom.
    Instead: he goes back to the shop to buy another. And then another. And another. And another. Even for nonsensical places like under the fridge, and inside the toilet. He buys so many night lights, he might as well just not turn the lights off at all. It gets so bad, he even goes and takes a LIGHTHOUSE after Patrick makes a hole in his wall.
  • Played for Laughs in "Money Talks". Mr. Krabs wishes he can talk to money so he makes a deal with the Flying Dutchman. However, when he takes his coins and bills out of his vault, they are outraged at being put in storage and demand to be spent. Two such bills want to be spent on a fairy princess outfit and diapers, respectively.
    You'd Expect: If Mr. Krabs was going to cave in and spend the money, he would maybe do so on more practical things such as expenses for the Krusty Krab or groceries. It shouldn't matter to the money how it gets spent as long as they're away from Mr. Krabs.
    Or: Mr. Krabs to deposit his money in a bank so that they can't annoy him at home or work.
    Instead: Mr. Krabs gives in to their demands and buys the princess outfit, corn dogs and diapers anyway, and becomes embarrassed at doing so.
  • In "Pat No Pay", Mr. Krabs while manning the (empty, spider-infested) register, eagerly catches Patrick barging in and orders Krabby Patties.
    You'd Expect: Mr. Krabs to charge Patrick money first and then give him Krabby Patties.
    Instead: He just takes Patrick's word that he can pay for it and feeds an entire pyramid of Krabby Patties to Patrick. Patrick after finishing his huge meal then states he doesn't have any money. How Mr. Krabs reacts to that is predictable and it starts the episode's plot of Patrick getting forced to Work Off the Debt.
  • In "Atlantis Squarepantis", SpongeBob and Patrick accidentally destroy the World's Oldest Living Bubble (via flash photography of all things) and confess to the Lord Royal Highness. Luckily, it was a prop and the real bubble was in a secure place.
    You'd Expect: For the Lord Royal Highness not to show the real bubble to SpongeBob and Patrick, knowing that they somehow managed to destroy the fake bubble from behind an enormous glass sphere.
    Instead: He shows them the real bubble, which could be destroyed significantly easier than the fake bubble. Patrick takes a picture of it and it pops, making the Lord Royal Highness furious.
  • At the end of "Penny Foolish", the penny SpongeBob found that Mr. Krabs was obsessed with getting turns out to be gum for his gum collection. The "gum" in question turns out to be a $500-bill.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to keep the dollar or at least give it to Mr Krabs.
    Instead: He discards it simply on the basis that it's not gum.
  • "The Splinter":
    • When SpongeBob's spatula gets stuck to the ceiling, SpongeBob climbs up to pull it out; right when he says "This thing is stuck pretty good," he actually removes the spatula when he talks.
      You'd Expect: SpongeBob to realize he pulled the spatula out.
      Instead: He doesn't realize it and puts it right back in the ceiling before getting it out, leading to the incident below.
    • After getting his spatula down, SpongeBob trips on the floor and gets a splinter in his thumb.
      You'd Expect: SpongeBob, being a sea sponge and all, to simply pull his arm off and regrow it, as he did before in earlier episodes.
      Instead: He apparently Forgot About His Powers and spends the whole episode trying to get the splinter out.
  • In "Pet Or Pests", the baby worms that SpongeBob is trying to find an owner for suddenly end up in the middle of the road, and a truck is coming right for them.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to grab the worms and run them to safety.
    Instead: He tries to make the truck stop, and he succeeds, with the truck ending up barely an inch from hitting the worms.
  • In "The Slumber Party", SpongeBob is forced by Mr. Krabs to don a pizza man disguise in order to keep surveillance inside Pearl's party. His mustache flies away and Pearl and her friends confront SpongeBob. SpongeBob runs to Mr. Krabs and tells him to drive away so that he doesn't get maimed.
    You'd Expect: Mr. Krabs to wait for SpongeBob to get in the car so he can drive him home.
    Instead: He drives off without him, causing SpongeBob to get impounded into a pizza.
    Later: SpongeBob escapes, and ships himself to Mr. Krabs.
    You'd Then Expect: As SpongeBob can change into different shapes, that Mr. Krabs do something to revert him back to normal.
    Instead: He takes a piece of SpongeBob, eats it, complains that he's cold and tells him that he should've been here earlier (this is coming from the guy that drove away from him and left him in danger), and then eats another slice of SpongeBob!
  • "Someone's in the Kitchen with Sandy":
    • Plankton sneaks into Sandy's treedome and steals her fur while she takes a shower.
      You'd Expect: Sandy to put on her suit or at least throw on some clothes before running out to catch Plankton.
      Instead: She goes outside in her underwear and gets arrested for public nudity.
    • Plankton, having rigged Sandy's pelt with controls so it can walk normally, takes it to the Krusty Krab to - what else? - steal the Krabby Patty recipe. He walks the pelt into the kitchen with SpongeBob.
      You'd Expect: SpongeBob to realize it isn't Sandy. It's obviously not her voice, there were holes in the pelt where her eyes and mouth should be and to top it off, she isn't even wearing her air suit.
      Instead: He happily shows Sandy!Plankton how to make a Krabby Patty, and then, when Mr. Krabs puts the bottle with the secret formula in the kitchen, Sandy!Plankton swipes it, and tries to run off with it.
  • What sets off the premise of "Model Sponge": SpongeBob freaks out thinking Mr. Krabs is going to fire him (He hears him say over the phone he’s going to "let the little guy go" — He’s really talking about his pet scallop).
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to consult Mr. Krabs over what he heard.
    Instead: He leaves the Krusty Krab without any reason whatsoever, kicking off the plot of the episode.
    Then: In the end when SpongeBob returns to the Krusty Krab, he begs Mr. Krabs to give him his job back because of what he heard over the phone.
    You'd Expect: Mr. Krabs to explain to SpongeBob that he was not referring to him during his phone call.
    Instead: He doesn’t do so, but still decides to keep him, though on one condition: mop the bathroom.
  • "A Pal for Gary" has so many moments, it could be the textbook definition of this trope:
    • The whole episode involves SpongeBob getting a new pet named Puffy Fluffy for Gary to play with, completely unaware that it hates being around other pets. He showers Puffy Fluffy with attention and tries to force Gary to accept him. That night, Puffy Fluffy transforms into a monster and terrorizes Gary throughout the house. It causes damage to SpongeBob's house, and the next morning when SpongeBob sees the damage, he thinks Gary is responsible. He enters the living room and sees Gary in Puffy Fluffy's mouth.
      You'd Expect: SpongeBob to try to save Gary.
      Instead: He angrily tells Gary to put Puffy Fluffy down. As he continues to rant, he is then taken by Puffy Fluffy's fangs.
      Then: Gary saves SpongeBob by using a lasso and acting like a cowboy, and knocks SpongeBob out of Puffy Fluffy's mouth. Puffy Fluffy then breaks out of the pineapple house and flees.
      You'd Then Expect: That, since he nearly died to him,SpongeBob would finally realize what Fluffy really was and apologize to Gary for treating him so terribly.
      Instead: He tries to get Puffy Fluffy back, but after that fails, he scolds Gary again. He was shown all of the proof that Puffy Fluffy did everything and still thought that everything was Gary's fault. Despite this, they make up in the next scene with little trouble, and SpongeBob decides to take Gary to work everyday so he won't neglect him.
      Extra Idiot Points: Considering that SpongeBob felt bad that he was neglecting Gary at work in the beginning of the episode, he could have easily thought of that idea before getting Puffy Fluffy, and in turn avoided the entire episode.
  • In "Kracked Krabs", Mr. Krabs enters a video of him being cheap to win the "Cheapest Crab Alive" award. In the video, Mr. Krabs puts a sign for free Krabby Patties attracting a crowd of customers and then charges $1 per footstep.
    You'd Expect: The crowd to do the smart thing and, upon seeing the sign, would get all their Krabby Patties to go and take very large strides to make sure they can pay as little as possible, or go to a different restaurant.
    Instead: Upon seeing the sign, the customers start bouncing around and taking tons of footsteps in panic. Later, they lose around 50 Krabby Patties, throwing them off balance and making them take more footsteps, which ends up costing them more than what the Krabby Patties regularly cost. It's incidents like this that make you wonder if anyone in Bikini Bottom except Squidward, Sandy, and Mr. Krabs knows the value of a dollar. At least it was kind of Funny.
  • In "One Coarse Meal", SpongeBob has witnessed Plankton wishing to get run over due to being scared to death by Krabs in a whale's disguise, when he told it to Krabs, he laughs at Plankton's misery. SpongeBob then returns to Plankton who gets told a secret by SpongeBob.
    You'd Expect: For SpongeBob to either mouth off to Krabs about what he had done to Plankton just like previous seasons or attempt to help Plankton get out of his suicide mode in any way, even if he has to tell his boss Krabs his true fear of losing money.
    Instead: SpongeBob tells Plankton Krab's false fear of mimes that didn't even budge Krabs one bit and just as Plankton gets his deserved revenge SpongeBob drives him back home with the (holographic) whales nearby essentially returning Plankton to his suicidal state again. And Krabs congratulates him for it.
    Thus: Thanks to SpongeBob's obliviousness of Krab's Moral Event Horizon, Krabs becomes a Karma Houdini essentially becoming the epitome of Designated Hero.
  • "Gramma's Secret Recipe" is about Plankton masquerading as his grandmother in order to steal the Krabby Patty recipe. At the beginning of the episode, Plankton has an Imagine Spot where he, in disguise, goes into the Krusty Krab and is able to get the recipe from Krabs pretty much just by asking.
    You'd Expect: Plankton to simply perform the plan he just came up with in his head.
    Instead: He goes to SpongeBob's house and claims to be SpongeBob's grandmother to learn the formula's location from him (of course, SpongeBob falls for it, but that's not the point). Plankton, as SpongeBob's "Great Grammy-Maw," is dragged around by SpongeBob to do boring activities, and when he actually does get to the formula, he (Plankton) ends up getting busted by his real grandmother.
  • In "Buried in Time", Squidward and Patrick argue over a rock that Patrick refuses to put in the time capsule, and they lose its grip, landing on the end of the loose plank they're standing on, causing them to fly into the capsule and close on them. Before the capsule is buried, Mr. Krabs adds one last item: a copy of the secret formula.
    You'd Expect: For SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward to quickly jump out of the capsule when it opens the last time.
    Instead: They just stay there, shielding themselves from the light as if blinded after being in the dark for a while.
    You'd also expect: Mr. Krabs to notice them when the capsule opened.
    Instead: He doesn't even take one slight notice of them.
    As a result: The capsule is buried with the three still inside it.
  • In "Shellback Shenanigans", Plankton disguises himself as Gary, SpongeBob's pet snail, to get the Krabby Patty formula.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to realize that so-called Gary that's "turning green and talking" is really Plankton.
    Instead: He actually believes that Plankton is Gary. Not only that, the doctors thought he was Gary, too!
  • Plankton's plan in "Frozen Face-Off". He builds a robotic duplicate of himself to distract everyone else at a sled race while he is back at the Krusty Krab. But Karen is left out of it.
    You'd Expect: Plankton to have built a duplicate for Karen or a robotic worm. With Karen around, Plankton could have stolen the formula much quicker than in the episode.
    Instead: He has Karen freeze her circuits in the sled race so he could get the formula himself. Ultimately, Karen joins SpongeBob and friends to thwart his plan.
  • In "Little Yellow Book", where Squidward catches SpongeBob writing in his diary and when Squidward has it in his hands, wondering what it is, SpongeBob defensively takes it away from him.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to keep it with him or hide it when Squidward's not around.
    Instead: He leaves it out in the open and Squidward reads it after luring him away.
    Thus: SpongeBob is humiliated.
  • In the episode "House Sittin' for Sandy", SpongeBob accidentally knocks a science beaker off a table and it rolls off.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to run and pick it up.
    Instead: He stays there and watches it roll.
    Extra Idiot Points: Had this been real life, SpongeBob could've easily picked up the beaker because it'd stop rolling midway through due to friction, or at the very least roll in a tight circle.
    Then: It rolls into the shed where Sandy keeps her robots and taps one of the robots, causing him to fall onto another one, activating it. The robots then fight each other, blast out of the shed, and then wreak havoc in Sandy's treedome.
    You'd Then Expect: SpongeBob and Patrick to take evasive action like try and find the switch that can turn off all the robots, or just fight them.
    Instead: They still just stand there, and do NOTHING to stop the robots.
    After All Of This: Sandy comes over and uses a ray gun that looks like she's going to shoot them at first, but actually shoots everything damaged. She then reveals all of this was an experiment so she could test the gun. They all say "YAY!", then SpongeBob drops the beaker AGAIN!
    You'd Then Expect: For all of them to run and pick it up again.
    Instead: What happened before happens again.
    You'd THEN Expect: That they'd fight the robots, turn off their switches or for Sandy to blast them with the ray gun.
    Instead: They WATCH the robots destroy the treedome AGAIN. Luckily for Sandy, she plans to fix everything with the ray gun...but then one of the robots takes it and destroys it. SpongeBob and Patrick then nervously exit the treedome to prevent themselves from getting into more trouble with Sandy.
  • In "The Krabby Patty that Ate Bikini Bottom", Mr. Krabs learns that Sandy has invented a serum that makes food grow to giant size. He manages to get SpongeBob over with a Krabby Patty, and Sandy tests her serum by putting one drop on the patty. Nothing happens. Sandy then announces that she needs to use the ladies' room.
    You'd Expect: Sandy to give the serum to SpongeBob, since he's better friends with her and he knows not to go against what she says.
    Instead: She gives the serum to Mr. Krabs, who clearly wants to use the serum for his own gain, and runs off. Krabs promptly dumps the whole bottle of serum on the Krabby Patty, despite SpongeBob's protests. The two then leave.
    It Gets Worse: Later, not only has the patty grown to gigantic size, it's become sentient and starts consuming everything in the Krusty Krab. The customers, Squidward, and SpongeBob begin to flee the restaurant.
    You'd Expect: Mr. Krabs to join the crowd and get away from the monstrous patty.
    Instead: He blocks Squidward and SpongeBob in, claiming the giant patty is "a dream come true," and that they should "stay and work." He then runs straight into the Monster Patty, because "Cashie" is getting eaten, with Krabs following suit.
  • In "Face Freeze!", SpongeBob and Patrick are told that if they keep on making "funny" faces, then their faces will freeze and stay like that. They try so hard to not make faces, but it's obvious that they are going to snap.
    You'd Expect: Since they can't resist for them to make only three or two faces and keep them on for, say, a microsecond.
    Instead: They make several funny faces and keep one on to debunk the "freezing" claim. Their faces freeze.
    So: They go to Sandy's to fix their faces.
    You'd Expect: That Sandy would use some serum experiment or other thing to fix their faces.
    Instead: She "fixes" their faces by moving them around with her hands, which only makes them look even worse. Mr. Krabs discovers SpongeBob made faces, and he promptly gets face freeze. Then Patrick comes over, and Squidward's face freezes as well.
  • In "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!", Plankton decides that in order to get the Krabby Patty, he needs to sell fruitcakes with the element "Jerktonium" in them. He goes to sell it and finds SpongeBob, who eats all of the fruitcake without turning into a jerk. When Plankton walks off, SpongeBob sells the food to nearby Christmas carolers, who turn into jerks upon eating them.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to realize that the fruitcake has Jerktonium and to try to get rid of it.
    Instead: Since he's immune to Jerktonium, he goes around selling the fruitcake—and promptly turns everyone into jerks.
    Compounding It There's Plankton's plot with the Jerktonium. The first song in the special claims that Santa 'has his Jolly Little Eyes' on everyone in Bikini Bottom.
    You'd Expect: That Santa, being the personification of all that is good, would realize that the citizens of Bikini Bottom have artificially been turned into jerks, give Plankton another lump of coal for the year and find a way to reverse the element. Like song.
    Instead: He never suspects Plankton was behind the plot the whole time.
    To Make Matters Worse: When Plankton builds a Robotic SpongeBob due to the real one's immunity to the element, it starts to wreck havoc. Keep in mind it is colored gray, and essentially looks nothing like him.
    You'd Expect: See above, but replace 'artificially been turned into jerks' with 'The robot framed him.'
    Instead: Again, Plankton isn't suspected and SpongeBob gets the blame.
  • At the end of "Eek, an Urchin!", SpongeBob has gathered all the urchins in a trash can and is going to several places in order to release them, but no matter how far away he is, Mr. Krabs still thinks that the places he's in are still too close to the Krusty Krab.
    You'd Expect: SpongeBob to release the urchins somewhere far away, no matter how close it may seem to Mr. Krabs.
    Instead: He releases them right in front of the Krusty Krab, right back where he started!
  • In "Good Ol' Whatshisname", Squidward tries to learn the name of a Krusty Krab customer in order to win what he thinks is a free vacation for a contest called by Mr. Krabs. When the fish only answers his question with "What zit tooyah?" (which, by Contrived Coincidence, is actually his name), Squidward tries distracting him in order to take his wallet and find his ID.
    You'd Expect: Squidward to keep Whatzit Tooyah distracted and quickly read his ID before slipping his wallet back into his pocket.
    Instead: He waves the wallet in Whatzit's face before running off with it, and in doing so, runs through a No Crossing sign, attracting the attention of a police officer. Squidward ends up in jail for a long time with Patrick as his cellmate, and to add insult to injury, the real prize for the contest was simply the brochure of a resort that Mr. Krabs presented, and not a vacation to said resort.

    Seasons 9 B-present 
  • These examples are from the "Doodle Dimension."
    • Sandy needs to get a tool to work on her new teleporter.
      You'd Expect: For Sandy to not trust SpongeBob and Patrick with complicated machinery, especially after what they did a few seconds ago, and the fact that they've messed up some of her previous inventions as well.
      Instead: She just tells SpongeBob and Patrick to not touch anything and they inevitably begin touching every button, lever, and switch.
      As a result: The two idiots end up opening a portal to the Doodle dimension which they enter.
    • Later on, in the titular White Void Room, SpongeBob and Patrick begin dwelling on how they miss Bikini Bottom, and Patrick mentions that he misses SpongeBob.
      You'd Expect: For Patrick to realize that SpongeBob is right in front of him.
      Instead: Patrick draws another SpongeBob and doesn't realize until it's too late. Bear in mind that in the Doodle Dimension, anything they draw comes to life (Much like the Magic Pencil in Frankendoodle).
      As A Result: SpongeBob and Patrick go from being trapped in a White Void Room to being trapped with Doodlebob. Nice work, Patrick.
  • In "Krabby Patty Creature Feature", Sandy invents a new Krabby Patty called the Secret Patty because some hippie customers at the Krusty Krabs want something new.
    You'd Expect: Sandy to test the Secret Patty for any side-effects. After all, there have been episodes where Sandy's inventions have doomed the day.
    Instead: She just skips to selling the Secret Patties without further testing. Guess what happens next.

    Other Media 
  • In The Movie, when Squidward realizes that Plankton is giving away Krabby Patties at the Chum Bucket.
    You'd Expect: For Squidward to keep his mouth closed and not reveal to Plankton that he knows his plan. He could then go notify the authorities.
    Instead: Squidward storms into the Chum Bucket and explicitly tells Plankton about his plan and says that he will report him, thus allowing Plankton to activate the Chum Bucket helmets and have the mind-controlled citizens kidnap him. Lampshaded when Plankton called Squidward "Inspector Loose Lips."
    • Later, when SpongeBob and Patrick is arrive at the Free ice-cream so SpongeBob is getting the ice cream while Patrick is to wait in the Patty Wagon. However, Patrick starts noticing there are skulls all over the place and realizes that they should get out as soon as possible.
      You'd Expect: Patrick to drive the Patty Wagon to get SpongeBob away to safety.
      Instead: Patrick at first tries screaming for SpongeBob rather than just driving to him, and once SpongeBob is already at the ice cream stand which is a trap, he replies "Make mine a chocolate!".
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, Plankton has built a machine that will mass-produce him a robot army to help him steal the Krabby Patty formula and possibly destroy Bikini Bottom in the process. However, he included an "Obey"/"Don't Obey" switch, and left it on "Don't Obey".
    You'd Expect: Plankton to notice this and set the switch on "Obey" before turning on the machine. Or, you know, not put that switch on the machine in the first place.
    Instead: He leaves the "Obey"/"Don't Obey" switch alone, turns on the machine and creates the robots. They immediately turn against him, kicking off the plot of the game.

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