Base-Breaking Character: The cop. Some love the Running Gag of him coming out of nowhere to give Squidward a ticket, others absolutely loathe his existence, due to this gag being mean-spirited and repetetive.
Jerkass Woobie: Squidward. After watching this episode, Squidward's selfish attitude becomes extremely understandable.
So Okay, It's Average: This episode is generally seen as mediocre yet tolerable. It's at least watchable compared to its partner episode.
Squick: Squidward (in the garbage house) eats and drinks tea and toast made out of trash.
A Pal for Gary contains examples of:
Bile Fascination: After hearing about the universal hatred of this episode, many people found themselves wondering just how awful it could be, watched it for themselves, and immediately saw the point and regretted it.
We don't know if Puffy Fluffy would have transformed back into his small, cute form or not, considering that he's no longer around a pet. If he didn't, then Puffy Fluffy may very well be roaming the streets of the Bikini Bottom to this day.
How many other customers didn't heed the merchant lady's warnings about the danger of the nudibranches (especially when one considers that the seller points out that they never listen) and possibly ended up with a worse fate than Gary in this episode?
Heartwarming Moments: Despite being hated by most, it does have one sweet moment — even though SpongeBob has treated him horribly throughout the episode, Gary's first response when his master is in danger is to immediately come to the rescue. There's no hesitation, no thought of leaving SpongeBob to his fate — saving his owner is his only concern. If that doesn't say Undying Loyalty, nothing does.
SpongeBob actually has his moments in the episode. The beginning of the episode shows him to be greatly concerned about Gary. There's nothing that even prompts it; he just genuinely cares about Gary that much. Heck, there's even the fact that in the very last minute of the episode, SpongeBob "forgives" Gary for driving away Puffy Fluffy and starts taking Gary along with him so he won't have to be lonely (even if it turns out to be at the latter's expense). Sure, SpongeBob's stupidity for a majority of the episode is frustrating, but he still has some redeeming moments in the episode.
The fact that Mr. Krabs of all people is willing to accommodate for SpongeBob when the latter wants to tend to his snail; instead of forcing SpongeBob to re-tar the parking lot there and then, Mr. Krabs unhesitatingly compromises by instead having him get up five hours early the next day to do so.
Idiot Plot: In spades. If SpongeBob had just heeded the old lady's warnings, none of the second half of the episode would have happened.
Memetic Mutation: The episode has become quite enjoyable to riff on among the SpongeBob SquarePants community, to the point where the episode is considered So Bad, It's Good rather than merely bad. The memetic status of the episode has even gotten to the point of the episode having a parody fanon wiki dedicated to it.
Never Live It Down: Whenever fans complain about SpongeBob being a jerkass, his behavior in this episode is usually mentioned.
Nightmare Fuel: Puffy Fluffy is considered one of the most horrific creatures in the show, as well as SpongeBob's infuriating and nightmarish behavior towards Gary.
Rooting for the Empire: No small amount of people actually wanted Puffy Fluffy to kill/eat SpongeBob due to the latter's obnoxious attitude in this episode.
Signature Scene: The scene where SpongeBob demanding Gary to put Puffy Fluffy down while Gary is held hostage in Puffy Fluffy's mouth is what most people remember about this episode.
So Okay, It's Average: Surprisingly enough, the episode was considered this when it first aired. People still found SpongeBob's out-of-character behavior to be over-the-top and surprising, but overall didn't mind the episode, with the beginning of the episode in particular being considered to have some redeeming moments to it. It wasn't until a time after the episode aired where the episode started getting the hatedom that it has to this day. note It should be worth noting that the episode still has a moderately high 7.0 rating on TV.com, with the bulk of the early reviews being the ones that are positive towards the episode. (For comparison, that's approximately only a little more than two points behind TV.com's rating for the episode "Band Geeks", which is considered one of the best episodes of the series.) Reviews on other sites, however, were less than positive, with a paltry 3.3 on IMDb (making it the lowest-rated episode of the show).
Tear Jerker: The whole episode. In the end, even after Gary saves him from Puffy Fluffy, Spongebob 'still' yells at his pet, blaming him for being jealous of the so called "friend". Even worse is that it makes the entire episode of "Have You Seen This Snail?" Harsher in Hindsight.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The first half is about SpongeBob feeling that he is neglecting Gary because of his work at the Krusty Krab and he genuinely wants Gary to feel happy. The beginning suggests that this episode will be about SpongeBob trying to balance his work at Krusty Krab and his time with Gary. However all of this is forgotten when Puffy Fluffy makes his debut, and the episode turns out to be basically about Gary being terrorized by Fluffy and SpongeBob taking a level in jerkass.
Ugly Cute: Puffy Fluffy and the other nudibranches could fall under this, with their large eyes, puffy cheeks, and small fins. Even Puffy Fluffy's monstrous form can be considered this in an odd sort of way.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: SpongeBob. We're supposed to find him relatable here since he is worried about how Gary is lonely, so he later buys a pet to keep him company. Unfortunately, as soon as he brings Puffy Fluffy home, all of his care for Gary goes right down the drain by continuously ignoring the latter's obvious problem. His ungratefulness towards Gary at the end of the episode certainly does not help this. Not to mention he actually stole Puffy Fluffy without even paying.
What an Idiot!: It's astonishing how oblivious SpongeBob is to the torture Puffy Fluffy is giving Gary.
The person who sells the nudibranches doesn't appear to be antagonistic, actually showing concern for the potential risks that they bring to their customers. Yet despite being completely aware that her customers never listen to her warnings, she sells them anyways.