SpongeBob SquarePants (often referred to simply as SpongeBob) is an American animated television series, created by animator Stephen Hillenburg. Much of the series centers on the exploits and adventures of the title character and his various friends in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom. The series' popularity has prompted the release of a media franchise, contributing to its position as Nickelodeon's highest rated show, the most distributed property of MTV Networks, and among Nicktoons' most watched shows. It is listed 15th in IGN's top 100 animated series list.
When Rocko's Modern Life ended in 1996, Hillenburg began working on SpongeBob SquarePants. He teamed up with several Nickelodeon veterans and Rocko crew members, including creative director Derek Drymon (Action League Now!, Hey Arnold!, and Rocko's Modern Life) writers and directors Sherm Cohen, and Dan Povenmire, writer Tim Hill, actor and writer Martin Olson, animation director Alan Smart (all from Rocko's Modern Life), and story editor Merriwether Williams (The Angry Beavers), who worked on the series for its first few seasons and switched to SpongeBob SquarePants in July 1999. To voice the character of SpongeBob, Hillenburg approached Tom Kenny, who had worked with him on Rocko's Modern Life. "Steve described SpongeBob to me as childlike and naïve," Kenny said in an interview. "He’s not quite an adult, he’s not quite a kid. Think a Stan Laurel, Jerry Lewis kind of child-man. Kind of like a Munchkin but not quite, kind of like a kid, but not in a Charlie Brown child’s voice on the TV shows." Originally, SpongeBob was to be named SpongeBoy, but this name was already in use. This was discovered after voice-acting for the original seven-minute pilot was recorded in 1997. The Nickelodeon legal department discovered that the name was already in use for a mop product. Upon finding this out, Hillenburg decided that the character's given name still had to contain "Sponge" so viewers would not mistake the character for a "Cheese Man". Hillenburg decided to use the name "SpongeBob". He chose "SquarePants" as a family name as it referred to the character's square shape and it had a "nice ring to it".
The pilot episode of SpongeBob SquarePants first aired in the United States on Nickelodeon on May 1, 1999, following the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. The first episodes were called "Help Wanted", "Reef Blower", and "Tea at the Treedome". The "official" series premiere followed on July 17, 1999, with the second episode, "Bubblestand/Ripped Pants." The show reached enormous popularity by 2000 during the second season, and has remained popular since. A feature film of the series was released in theaters on November 19, 2004. The series celebrated its tenth anniversary on July 17, 2009. So far the series has aired 334 individual episodes. It is currently Nickelodeon's longest-running cartoon, and currently in its ninth season. SpongeBob surpassed Rugrats (in terms of number of episodes) when SpongeBob aired its 173rd episode on April 11, 2012 (while Rugrats had 172 episodes). On April 12, 2012, SpongeBob aired its 174th episode and has produced 204 episodes, and more episodes will be produced, marking it as the first Nicktoon to have 200 or more episodes. On July 21, 2012, SpongeBob was renewed and aired its ninth season. This is the first SpongeBob season to have regular episodes produced in widescreen.
- SpongeBob SquarePants is an energetic and optimistic sea sponge (although his appearance more closely resembles a kitchen sponge) who lives in a pineapple under the sea with his pet snail, Gary, who meows like a cat. Although Gary only actually speaks in a few episodes, (mainly in "Sleepy Time" in SpongeBob's dream world, where Gary is portrayed as a librarian with an English accent) the characters have shown an ability to understand him.
- Sandy Cheeks Another close friend of SpongeBob's, a squirrel from Texas. Sandy is an expert at karate and lives in an underwater tree dome. When not inside her tree dome, she wears an astronaut-like suit because she cannot breathe underwater. She is also a scientist who takes trips to the Moon.
- Patrick Star, living two houses down from SpongeBob is his best friend, a dim-witted yet friendly pink starfish who lives under a rock. Even despite his "mental setbacks", Patrick still sees himself as intelligent.
- Squidward Tentacles, SpongeBob's next-door neighbor and co-worker, an arrogant and ill-tempered squid who lives in an Easter Island moai and dislikes his neighbors (especially SpongeBob) for their childlike behavior. He enjoys playing the clarinet and painting self-portraits, but hates his job working at the Krusty Krab.
- Sheldon Plankton, a small green copepod who owns a low-rank fast-food restaurant called the Chum Bucket across the street from the Krusty Krab. He's Mr. Krabs’ archenemy. Plankton spends most of his time planning to steal the recipe for Mr. Krabs's popular Krabby Patty burgers to obtain success (occasionally with the assistance of his computer wife, Karen), though his schemes always end in failure.
- Eugene Krabs, a miserly crab obsessed with money, who is the owner of the Krusty Krab restaurant. A former officer cadet for the Bikini Bottom Navy force and war veteran.
- Tom Kenny as SpongeBob SquarePants, Gary the Snail
- Bill Fagerbakke as Patrick Star
- Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs
- Carolyn Lawrence as Sandy Cheeks
- Rodger Bumpass as Squidward Tentacles
- Mr. Lawrence as Plankton
- Mary Jo Catlett as Mrs. Puff
- Lori Alan as Pearl
- Jill Talley as Karen and various characters
- Dee Bradley Baker as Squilliam Fancyson III, Perch Perkins, various characters
- Tom Kenny as Patchy the Pirate, French Narrator, Harold SquarePants, various characters
- Mr. Lawrence as Larry the Lobster, Johnny-Elaine and various characters
- Bill Fagerbakke as the Mayor of Bikini Bottom and various characters
- Rodger Bumpass as Dr. Gill Gilliam and various characters
- Sirena Irwin as Bubblebottom-SquarePants, Mrs. Betsy Krabs (2005–present) and various characters
- Stephen Hillenburg – Potty the Parrot (2000–2004)
- Paul Tibbitt as Potty the Parrot (2005–present) and Mrs. Betsy Krabs (2001–2002)
- Ernest Borgnine as Mermaid Man (1999–2012)
- Tim Conway as Barnacle Boy
- Marion Ross as Grandma SquarePants
- Brian Doyle-Murray as The Flying Dutchman
- John Rhys-Davies as Man Ray (2001–2002)
- Bob Joles as Man Ray (2005–present)
- Charles Nelson Reilly as Dirty Bubble (2000–2007)
- Tom Kenny as Dirty Bubble (2010–present)
- John O'Hurley as King Neptune
- Mark Fite as various characters
- Thomas F. Wilson as various characters
- Carlos Alazraqui as various characters
Much of the series' events take place in Bikini Bottom, an underwater city located in the Pacific Ocean beneath the real life tropical isle of Bikini Atoll. Stephen Hillenburg has stated that much of Bikini Bottom was based on the real life city of Seattle. Much of this is supported within the context of the episodes themselves; however, despite implications of the city's location as well as analogies to real life, Hillenburg has stated that he wishes to leave the city isolated from the real world, explaining the Baywatch parody scene from The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie as simply a reference to his favorite show of all time. The citizens of Bikini Bottom live in mostly aquatic-themed buildings, and use "boatmobiles", an amalgamation of cars and boats, as a mode of transportation.
Each episode of SpongeBob SquarePants is self-contained, with references to previous episodes being rare. Episodes have ended with the entire town being destroyed, the entire cast being irreparably harmed (Some of which being surprisingly dark for a children's show), characters (particularly Squidward) being sentenced to extended prison or community service sentences, or other catastrophic events, only for everything to return to normal the next episode without any mention of what happened before.
Bikini Bottom, also known as Downtown (formerly Dead Eye Gulch and Bikini Gulch), is the main setting of the series. The city proper has a population of about 2,000,000, but the entire metro area (including Jellyfish Fields) has a population of over 4,000,000 (this, however, varies widely by episode). The city has a stable economy, a balanced education system, questionable health care (as seen in the episode "The Lost Mattress") and labor laws, a structured government, and a firm law enforcement system. There are even stadiums, amusement parks, and other recreational facilities. Bikini Bottom was first mentioned in the episode: "Plankton!" but debuted in the episode: "Help Wanted." Bikini Bottom is also home to all of the characters.
Bikini Bottom is located at the bottom of the sea, below its signature island, Bikini Atoll, according to Stephen Hillenburg. There are many instances of evidence of this in the show: After being scared off by "ghosts", Sandy Cheeks evacuated to Texas. She was seen flying east from the Pacific Ocean. In the Employee of the Month computer game, a fish mentions that Bikini Bottom is located in the Pacific Ocean. In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, when SpongeBob was singing the "Goofy Goober Rock", the camera rose out of the water into outer space. When it did, it came out of the Pacific Ocean. In the TV commercial "Plankton's Holiday Hits", Bikini Bottom is revealed to be part of the United States, and its residents Americans. Bikini Bottom is placed beneath its namesake island, Bikini Atoll, in the Pacific Ocean. Bikini Bottom's location at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean is mentioned or referred to in several different episodes, and in the 2004 SpongeBob film. In the episode "Hide and Then What Happens?", it is revealed that Bikini Bottom is located in an island with Jellyfish Fields and Goo Lagoon, surrounded by the goo seen in Goo Lagoon. In "SpongeBob's Last Stand", Bikini Bottom is on the Outskirts of Nowhere. In multiple episodes, an explosion, which is actually the Baker bomb that was detonated in Bikini Atoll, occurs.
Creator Stephen Hillenburg initially conceived SpongeBob SquarePants in 1984, while he was teaching and studying marine biology at what is now the Orange County Ocean Institute. During this period, Hillenburg became fascinated with animation, and wrote a comic book entitled The Intertidal Zone starring various anthropomorphic forms of sea life, many of which would evolve into SpongeBob SquarePants characters, including "Bob the Sponge", who was the co-host of the comic and resembled an actual sea sponge, as opposed to SpongeBob who resembles a kitchen sponge. In 1987, Hillenburg left the institute to pursue his dream of becoming an animator, and began to envision the possible concept of a project involving anthropomorphic sea life, drawing several rough sketches. In 1992, Hillenburg began to attend the California Institute of the Arts to study animation, having been accepted into the institute by Jules Engel, who was impressed with Hillenburg's previous work.
While attending animation school, Hillenburg received a job on the children's TV series Mother Goose & Grimm, and worked on the series from 1991 to 1993. When attending the California Institute of the Arts, he made his thesis film entitled Wormholes, which was funded by the Princess Grace Foundation and was later displayed at various animation festivals. In 1993, Hillenburg graduated from the institute, earning a Master of Fine Arts in experimental animation. In 1995, Joe Murray, creator of Rocko's Modern Life, met Hillenburg at an animation festival, and offered him a job as a director of the series. Hillenburg then joined the Nickelodeon animated series as a writer, producer, and storyboard artist during the series' third season, continuing his position for much of the fourth season. The third season episode "Fish-N-Chumps" (November 12, 1995) was directed by Hillenburg, and involved Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt going on a fishing trip, oblivious to the fact that a pair anthropomorphic fish are attempting to catch them from underwater. While working on Rocko's Modern Life, Hillenburg became friends with Tom Kenny, who was later approached by Hillenburg to become the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, and future SpongeBob SquarePants collaborators Mr. Lawrence, Paul Tibbitt and others.
Rocko's Modern Life ended in 1996. Shortly following this, Hillenburg began working on SpongeBob SquarePants, teaming up with several Nickelodeon veterans and Rocko crew members. To voice the character of SpongeBob, Hillenburg approached Tom Kenny, who had worked with him on Rocko's Modern Life. Originally, SpongeBob was to be named SpongeBoy, but this name was already in use. This was discovered after voice acting for the original seven minute pilot was recorded in 1997. The Nickelodeon legal department discovered that the name was already in use for a mop product. Upon finding this out, Hillenburg decided that the character's given name still had to contain "Sponge" so viewers would not mistake the character for a "Cheese Man." Hillenburg decided to use the name "SpongeBob." He chose "SquarePants" as a family name as it referred to the character's square shape and "had a nice ring to it".
While pitching the cartoon to Nickelodeon executives, Hillenburg donned a Hawaiian shirt, brought along an "underwater terrarium with models of the characters", and Hawaiian music to set the theme. The setup was described by Nick executive Eric Coleman as "pretty amazing". When given money and two weeks to write the pilot episode ("Help Wanted"), Derek Drymon, Stephen Hillenberg, and Nick Jennings returned with, described by Nickelodeon official Albie Hecht, "a performance he wished he had on tape". Although described as stressful by executive producer Derek Drymon, the pitch went "very well"; Kevin Kay and Hecht had to step outside because they were "exhausted from laughing", making the cartoonists worried.
SpongeBob's first season was only a modest success during its initial run after the series' debut in 1999, but the show still garnered enough popularity that Nickelodeon quietly renewed it for a second season. Beginning with this season, production of the series switched from traditional cel animation to digital ink and paint. During the second season's run, the show quickly achieved enormous and world wide popularity, leading to an immediate third season pick-up. The show's continued success eventually led to the creation of a feature film called The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, which was intended to be the end of the series. However, shortly after the film's release, Nickelodeon renewed the series for a fourth season. Also following the film's release, Stephen Hillenburg resigned as show runner, causing a shift in the series' production crew, as well as several of the series' writers.
The series' fourth season began in May 2005, and was ordered a fifth season in December 2005, bringing the show’s total episode count to 100. In December 2006, SpongeBob was approved for a sixth season. The fifth season began in February 2007. On July 23, 2007, Nickelodeon began airing a special event, called the "SpongeBob New–New–New–New–New–Week" in which from Monday to Friday, a new episode would air. This continued until the end of the second week. Later on November 12, 2007, a TV movie aired titled Atlantis SquarePantis, guest starring David Bowie as the voice of Lord Royal Highness. In March 2008, it was announced that SpongeBob would have an additional thirty-nine episodes, which includes the remaining episodes of the sixth season, and a seventh season.
On July 14, 2009, a primetime SpongeBob tenth anniversary documentary titled Square Roots: The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants, aired on VH1, discussing the history of the show, and its impact on popular culture. Starting on July 17, 2009 at 8:00 PM EDT, Nickelodeon aired a 50½-hour marathon titled "The Ultimate SpongeBob Sponge Bash." The marathon included the premiere of 11 new episodes, countdowns of celebrities' and viewer-chosen top 10 episodes, and more. On November 6, 2009, a second TV movie debuted on Nickelodeon, titled Truth or Square, in which SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, and Mr. Krabs are accidentally locked inside the Krusty Krab freezer on the night of the restaurant's eleventy-seventh anniversary celebration. While trapped inside, the friends look back on their shared memories with "shocking" reveals. Several celebrities made live-action cameo appearances on Truth or Square, including Rosario Dawson, LeBron James, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Craig Ferguson, Robin Williams and Pink, while Ricky Gervais provided opening and closing naration for the special. Also Victoria Beckham lent her voice as Queen Amphitrite, a Brit-accented goddess of the sea in an episode titled "The Clash of Triton," a half-hour special that aired on July 5, 2010.
SpongeBob SquarePants surpassed Rugrats as the longest running Nicktoon in number of episodes on April 12, 2012 and in length of time on air eight days later. Rugrats aired 172 episodes in its run; SpongeBob has gone over 178. The series was further extended to a ninth season in January 2011, bringing its total to 204 episodes. It has become the first Nicktoon to reach 200 episodes. It will also be the second Nicktoon (after Rugrats) to have made it to its ninth season.
The eighth season started on March 26, 2011, when "Oral Report" and "A Friendly Game" aired. "Sentimental Sponge" aired the next weekend, on April 2, 2011. The next episode did not air until June 4, 2011, when a SpongeBob SquarePants new episode marathon started, that aired one new episode every Saturday, for the month of June.
The theme music was composed by Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg and Blaise Smith as part of Hank Smith Music, and is primarily based on the sea shanty, "Blow the Man Down". The song is sung by Painty the Pirate, voiced by Patrick Pinney, and can be found on the soundtrack SpongeBob SquarePants: Original Theme Highlights. A cover of the song by Avril Lavigne can be found on the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie soundtrack. Another cover by the Violent Femmes, which aired as a commercial on Nickelodeon to promote season two, can be viewed in the special features of the Nautical Nonsense/Sponge Buddies DVD. A choral version was recorded for the SpongeBob Christmas special where the last repetition of "SpongeBob SquarePants" was replaced by, "It's the SpongeBob Christmas special." The theme song is occasionally used as marching cadence. An instrumental version of the opening theme is used in Italy. The series' music editor and main composer is Nicolas Carr. Most of the background music used in the series comes from the Associated Production Music (APM) Library, some of which have also been used in shows such as The Simpsons, The Ren & Stimpy Show, The Mighty B!, Rocko's Modern Life, The X Factor, Camp Lazlo, My Gym Partner's a Monkey, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Family Guy Video Game!, and The Adventures of Pete & Pete. For competition-based episodes, some of Sam Spence's NFL Films music is used (such as "A Golden Boy Again" used in episodes such as The Fry Cook Games and "Ramblin' Man from Gramblin" is used in Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V. "The Lineman" is also used extensively in Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy episodes). Ironically, one of Spence's more famous songs for the NFL Films library of music is an orchestral version of "Drunken Sailor" called "Up She Rises", first suggested by Steven Sabol to his father Ed because he liked the song at summer camp.
Hawaiian steel guitar music is used for comedic and dramatic effect in the show. Various compositions featuring the Hawaiian steel convey happy, sad, or goofy emotions and situations. Many are traditional Hawaiian melodies such as "Aloha 'Oe" and are usually sampled from the above-mentioned APM music library, and are from time to time performed by classic steel guitar artists, including The Woodies, The Langhorns, and The MelTones. Creator Hillenburg states that much of the music in the series was inspired by 1950s Hawaiian steel guitar tunes. Another aspect of the series' musical score is traditional sea shanties, which are used for the musical themes in the show. The most commonly used song in the series is "Drunken Sailor," though a ukulele version of the "Twelfth Street Rag" is often heard in the background as well. Unlike other Nickelodeon shows, SpongeBob features well-known independent musicians who contribute to its soundtrack. Alternative rock bands such as Wilco, The Shins, The Flaming Lips and Ween, as well as metal bands Pantera, Motörhead and Twisted Sister have made appearances on the show and movies soundtracks.
Popularity and appeal
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Though SpongeBob SquarePants debuted in 1999, it did not become hugely popular until the following year, and it has remained popular since then. SpongeBob SquarePants was the first "low budget" Nickelodeon cartoon, according to the network, to become extremely popular. Low-budget cartoons had not garnered as much esteem as higher-rated, higher-budgeted shows, although when SpongeBob aired in 1999, it had gained a significant enough number of viewers in the ratings to be considered popular, eventually reaching worldwide popularity by 2000. SpongeBob follows other Nickelodeon shows that have attracted "older" followers: Other shows have followed in this trend as well: The Fairly OddParents won a similar fan base when it premiered in 2001, and is now second only to SpongeBob in popularity. Since 2004, IGN made SpongeBob SquarePants 15th in its top 100 animated series of all time list.
Heavy metal group Metallica even released a T-shirt featuring cartoon versions of themselves playing live with the characters SpongeBob and Patrick. British rock singer David Bowie was a special guest on the SpongeBob SquarePants episode Atlantis SquarePantis, which aired on November 12, 2007. The episode drew total 8.8 million viewers, the biggest audience in the show's eight-year history.
The show became so popular with adolescents and adults that it was broadcast on MTV and featured on Spike TV. A quote by Patrick, "It's gonna rock!" from the episode "Mid-Life Crustacean", has been used as a promotional tag-line for rock stations. Ren and Stimpy, among others, had followed a similar path. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie features a cameo appearance by actor David Hasselhoff, in a parody of his role from the Baywatch TV series. In April 2009, as a tie-in to the special "SpongeBob vs. The Big One", Burger King distributed two different commercials geared toward children and adult audiences. In ads broadcast on major networks, the commercial shows rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot recording a music video for his new song, "SpongeBob Got Back".
Awards and nominations
|2000||Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing in Television Animation — Music||Episodes: "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy" and "Pickles"||Won|
|Best Sound Editing in Television Animation — Sound||Episode: "Karate Choppers"||Won|
|2001||Annie Awards||Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Television Production||Mary Jo Catlett as Mrs. Puff in "No Free Rides"||Nominated|
|Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Television Production||Tom Kenny as SpongeBob in "Wormy"||Nominated|
|Outstanding Individual Achievement for a Song in an Animated Production||Peter Straus and Paul Tibbitt for the song "The Very First Christmas"||Nominated|
|2001||Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing in Television Animation — Sound||Episodes: "Rock Bottom" and "Arrgh"||Won|
|Best Sound Editing in Television Animation — Music||Episodes: "Fools In April" and "Neptune's Spatula"||Nominated|
|2002||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour)||Nominated|
|2002||Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing in Television – Animation||Episodes: "Secret Box" and "Band Geeks"||Won|
|Best Sound Editing in Television Animation — Music||Episodes: "Jellyfish Hunter" and "The Fry Cook Games"||Nominated|
|2002||Television Critics Association Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming||Won|
|2003||Emmy Award||Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour)||Episodes: "New Student Starfish" and "Clams"||Nominated|
|2003||Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing in Television Animation — Music||Episodes: "Wet Painters" and "Krusty Krab Training Video"||Won|
|Best Sound Editing in Television Animation||Episodes: "Nasty Patty" and "Idiot Box"||Won|
|2003||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2004||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour)||Episode: "SpongeBob B.C. (Before Comedy)"||Nominated|
|2004||Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing in Television Animation — Music||Episodes: "The Great Snail Race" and "Mid-Life Crustacean".||Won|
|Best Sound Editing in Television Animation — Music||Episode: "Mid-Life Crustacean".||Nominated|
|2004||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2005||Annie Awards||Best Animated Television Production||Won|
|2005||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour)||Episodes: "Fear of a Krabby Patty" and "Shell of a Man"||Nominated|
|2005||Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing in Television: Animated||Episodes: "Pranks A Lot" and "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler"||Nominated|
|2005||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2005||Satellite Awards||Best Youth DVD||Complete Second Season DVD||Nominated|
|2005||Television Critics Association Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming||Nominated|
|2006||Annie Awards||Best Writing in an Animated Television Production||C.H. Greenblatt, Paul Tibbitt, Mike Bell, and Tim Hill in "Fear of a Krabby Patty"||Won|
|2006||Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing in Television: Animated||Episode: "Have You Seen This Snail?"||Nominated|
|2006||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2007||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour)||Episodes: "Bummer Vacation" and "Wigstruck"||Nominated|
|2007||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2007||Television Critics Association Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming||Nominated|
|2008||Annie Awards||Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production||Tom Kenny in "Spy Buddies"||Nominated|
|2008||Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing in Television: Animated||Episode: "SpongeHenge"||Nominated|
|2008||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Nominated|
|2008||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour)||Episodes: "The Inmates of Summer" and "The Two Faces of Squidward"||Nominated|
|2008||Philippines Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2009||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2009||Indonesia Kids Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2009||Annie Awards||Direction in an Animated Television Production||Episode: "Penny Foolish"||Nominated|
|2009||Golden Reel Awards||Best Sound Editing: Television Animation||Episode: "Suction Cup Symphony"||Nominated|
|2009||Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV Animated Show||Won|
|2009||Emmy Awards||Special Class Animated Program||Episode: "Dear Vikings"||Nominated|
|2010||Golden Reel Awards||Best Sound Editing: Television Animation||Episode: "SpongeBob vs. The Big One"||Nominated|
|2010||Annie Awards||Best Home Entertainment Production||"SpongeBob vs. The Big One" DVD||Nominated|
|Best Animated Television Production for Children||Nominated|
|Best Voice Acting in a Television Production||Tom Kenny in "SpongeBob's Truth or Square"||Won|
|2010||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2010||Kids' Choice Awards México||Favorite Cartoon||Nominated|
|2010||Indonesia Kids Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2010||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Special Class Animated Program||Won|
|2011||Annie Awards||Best Animated Television Production for Children||Won|
|Music in a Television Production||Jeremy Wakefield, Sage Guyton, Nick Carr, Tuck Tucker||Won|
|2011||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2011||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Short-format Animated Program||Episode: "That Sinking Feeling"||Nominated|
|2011||Kids' Choice Awards Argentina||Favorite Cartoon||Nominated|
|2012||Annie Awards||Writing in a Television Production||Dani Michaeli, Sean Charmatz, Nate Cash, Luke Brookshier, Paul Tibbitt in "Patrick's Staycation"||Pending|
|2012||Producers Guild of America||Children's Program||Pending|
|2012||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
|2012||Kids' Choice Awards México||Favorite Cartoon||Nominated|
|2012||Kids' Choice Awards Argentina||Favorite Cartoon||Nominated|
|2012||DLBS 1 Award||Favorite Cartoon||Won|
Criticism and controversy
In 2005, a promotional video which showed SpongeBob along with other characters from children's shows singing together to promote diversity and tolerance, was attacked by an evangelical group in the United States because they saw the character SpongeBob being used as an "advocate for homosexuality". James Dobson of Focus on the Family accused the makers of the video of "promoting homosexuality due to a pro-tolerance group sponsoring the video".
The incident led to questions to whether or not SpongeBob is homosexual. In 2002, show creator Stephen Hillenburg denied this, despite the fact that SpongeBob's popularity with gay men grew. He clarified that he considers the character to be "almost asexual". After Dobson made the comments, Hillenburg repeated this assertion that sexual preference was never considered during the creation of the show. Tom Kenny and other production members were shocked and surprised that such an issue had arisen.
This led to a rumour, stating that an episode of SpongeBob was aired on Adult Swim, featuring SpongeBob and Patrick as gay lovers. However, the episode grew so popular with children, that it was moved to Nickelodeon. The incident also lead to a search for gay jokes and adult humor in the show, however, taken out of context, such as SpongeBob saying, "Who wants to lick my cheeks?" when he was in Jellyfish Fields with jellyfish jelly on his cheeks.
Dobson later asserted that his comments were taken out of context and that his original complaints were not with SpongeBob, the video, or any of the characters in the video but with the organization that sponsored the video, We Are Family Foundation. Dobson indicated that the We Are Family Foundation posted pro-homosexual material on their website, but later removed it. After the controversy, John H. Thomas, the United Church of Christ's general minister and president, said they would welcome SpongeBob into their ministry. He said "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we".
Jeffrey P. Dennis, author of the journal article "The Same Thing We Do Every Night: Signifying Same-Sex Desire in Television Cartoons," argued that SpongeBob and Sandy are not romantically in love, while adding that he believed that SpongeBob and Patrick "are paired with arguably erotic intensity." Dennis noted the two are "not consistently coded as romantic partners," since they live in separate residences, and have distinct groups of friends, but claimed that in the series, "the possibility of same-sex desire is never excluded." Martin Goodman of Animation World Magazine described Dennis' comments regarding SpongeBob and Patrick as "interesting."
A 2011 study conducted at the University of Virginia, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggested that allowing preschool audiences to watch the series caused short term disruptions in mental function and attention span due to frequent shot changes. The study had three groups of four year-olds each engaged in activities; one group watched SpongeBob, another watched Caillou, and the third group drew pictures. After nine minutes, the children were tested on mental functions; the group watching SpongeBob scored significantly lower than the other two groups, whose results were roughly equal to each other. A Nickelodeon executive responded that the show was not intended for an audience of that age and that the study used "questionable methodology and could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust."
SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D is located in Six Flags Over Texas, Flamingo Land and opened in Noah's Ark Dive-In Theater in 2007. The ride features water squirts, real bubbles, and other sensory enhancements. The SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D ride opened at the Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin in the summer of 2007, but was phased out and replaced by Pirates 4-D in 2011. SpongeBob appears at the Mall of America's new Nickelodeon theme park re-branded from the Mall of America's Park at MOA, formerly Camp Snoopy, to Nickelodeon Universe in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota. The new theme park features a SpongeBob-themed Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter custom roller coaster, the SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge, which has replaced the Mystery Mine Ride and Olde Time Photo store on the west end of the theme park. The theme park opened March 15, 2008.
The Chicago Shedd Aquarium hosts a 15 minute feature of SpongeBob in 4-D with vibrating "special FX" movie seats accompanied by bubbles, wind, a distinct pickle smell, and tickles throughout the film. The feature ran through 2009 being temporarily replaced on November 27.
On November 12, 2007, Nickelodeon aired a television movie special entitled "Atlantis SquarePantis". It concerned about when SpongeBob and Patrick find the second piece to the ancient Atlantian amulet, the gang all travel to the ancient city of Atlantis were their adventure starts. There they meet Lord Royal Highness, who takes them on the grand tour. As the episode goes on, Mr. Krabs buries his pockets with gold, while Plankton tries to take over, and SpongeBob and Patrick pop the treasure of Atlantis. This special garnered an estimated total of 8.8 million viewers.
While celebrating SpongeBob's tenth anniversary on 2009, SpongeBob aired a documentary special entitled Square Roots: The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants that chronicles the pop culture success of the animated series. It features interviews and commentaries from crew members, including series' creator Stephen Hillenburg, as well as celebrity fans, such as LeBron James, Ricky Gervais, and Rosario Dawson. It was rated TV-PG on Nick at Nite.
On November 6, 2009, Nickelodeon aired Truth or Square as part for the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the series. In this special, the Krusty Krab was celebrating its eleventy-seventh anniversary, and Mr. Krabs plans to sell lots of Krabby Patties. But SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, and Mr. Krabs accidentally get locked in the freezer before they have a chance to celebrate. While finding their way through air shafts, they look back at some memorable moments in their lives. Meanwhile, Plankton finally finds the perfect opportunity to steal the Krabby Patty formula. The premiere of SpongeBob's Truth or Square on November 6, 2009 drew 7.7 million total viewers, making it basic cable's number-one entertainment show for the week, while a rerun the following morning attracted 7.2 million viewers. It was also ranked as the week's number one program among children in the demographic groups ages 6–11 and 2–11.
Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies produced The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, a film adaption of the SpongeBob SquarePants animated series released on November 19, 2004. The film was directed by series creator Stephen Hillenburg, and was written by long-time series writers Hillenburg, Derek Drymon, Tim Hill, Kent Osborne, Aaron Springer, and Paul Tibbitt. Nickelodeon official Albie Hecht, Drymon, Hillenburg, Julia Pistor, and Gina Shay produced the film, while much of the film's music was composed by Gregor Narholz. this movie was originally going to be the series finale, but because of the film's popularity and universal critical acclaim, Stephen Hillenburg decided to make more episodes. The film follows SpongeBob, who expects to be bestowed the title of manager for Mr. Krabs' new restaurant, The Krusty Krab 2 (although this restaurant is never seen or mentioned for the rest of the series). However, the position is given to Squidward instead, causing SpongeBob to go into a state of depression. Jealous of Mr. Krabs' success, Plankton initiates his final plan, Plan Z, which involves framing Mr. Krabs for the theft of King Neptune's crown. SpongeBob and Patrick then go on a quest to retrieve Neptune's crown and save the lives of both Mr. Krabs and the rest of Bikini Bottom from Plankton's scheme. The film also guest stars Jeffrey Tambor as King Neptune, Scarlett Johansson as the king's daughter Mindy, Alec Baldwin as Dennis the Hitman, and David Hasselhoff as himself. It received a largely positive critical reception and grossed over $140 million worldwide.
A sequel to this film is currently in development and is expected to be released in theaters sometime in 2014. The series' main cast members are set to reprise their roles, and will be traditionally animated as the series and the first movie was.
Merchandise based on the show ranges from Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Go-Gurt, Kellogg's cereal, and video games to boxer shorts, flip-flops, pajamas, t-shirts, slippers, Pez dispensers, and radios. The show also spawned a large and popular merchandise line at Hot Topic, Claire's, Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, RadioShack, Target, Big Lots, Walmart, Shopko, Pamida, Meijer, Kmart, Sears, JCPenney, Kohl's, Lowe's, T.J. Maxx, Toys "R" Us, and the defunct stores Ames, Borders Books and KB Toys in the United States as well as the Zellers, Wal-Mart Canada, and Toys "R" Us stores in Canada, and a limited selection of merchandise in Australia at Kmart Australia, Target Australia, Big W, and The Warehouse.
Kids' meal tie-ins have been released in fast-food restaurants in many different parts of the world, including Burger King in Europe and North America, as well as Wendy's in North America, and Hungry Jack's in Australia. A McDonald's Happy Meal tie-in with SpongeBob-themed Happy Meal boxes and toys has not been released in North America yet,[when?] but was released in Europe and other international markets in the summer of 2007. In Australia, the advertisement for the McDonald's SpongeBob Happy Meal won the Pester Power Award for the fact that the ads are enticing young children to want its food because of the free toy. In Japan, they had a kids meal tie-in with KFC which featured different toys based on the TV series.[dead link] As a tie-in beverage for the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, 7-Eleven convenience stores created a pineapple-flavored Slurpee in 2004, which was discontinued in 2005.
In 2007, some new high-end SpongeBob-themed electronics have been introduced by Imation Electronics Products under the Npower brand, such as MP3 players, digital cameras, a DVD player, and a flatscreen television. Other items featuring SpongeBob include a special edition Monopoly board game, Life and Operation board game as well as a SpongeBob SquarePants edition of Ants in the Pants and Yahtzee. There are also rarer items such as SpongeBob Surfboards and electric guitars.
Pictures of SpongeBob SquarePants also started to appear on the labels of 8 oz. cans of Green Giant cut green beans and frozen packages of Green Giant green beans and butter sauce which featured free stickers in 2007 as part of an initiative to get kids to eat their vegetables. In the United Kingdom, a SpongeBob SquarePants magazine is currently being published by Titan Magazines every four weeks. It was first published on February 3, 2005. The issue published on February 1, 2007 was the second anniversary of the magazine. The magazine contains comic strips, fan letters, competitions and several features including games.
A SpongeBob SquarePants 2009 calendar has been released featuring the caption on the bottom right corner of the front cover, "Celebrating his 10th Anniversary!", which was on May 1 and July 17, 2009 respectively. On March 31, 2009 three songs from the show were released as downloadable content for the music video game series Rock Band. Nickelodeon has also created a Facebook page and Twitter account for SpongeBob. His best friend, Patrick Star, has been given a page on Facebook as well.
The popularity of SpongeBob translated well into sales figures. In 2002, SpongeBob SquarePants dolls sold at a rate of 75,000 per week, which was faster than Tickle Me Elmo dolls were selling at the time. SpongeBob has gained popularity in Japan, specifically with Japanese women. Nickelodeon's parent company Viacom purposefully targeted marketing at women in the country as a method of the SpongeBob SquarePants brand. Skeptics initially doubted that SpongeBob could be popular in Japan as the character's design is very different to already popular designs for Hello Kitty and Pikachu.
Including the pilot, there are 334 total individual SpongeBob SquarePants episodes that have aired. There are still some episodes that have been announced but have still not yet aired. Season 9 has been announced and will have 26 new episodes bringing the number of episodes up to 204 making SpongeBob as the first Nicktoon to have 200 or more episodes. Season 9 started on July 21, 2012 and will air episodes 179–204. So far, SpongeBob SquarePants is in its ninth season.
|Season||Episodes/(segments)||Season premiere||Season finale||DVD releases|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|1||20 / (41)||May 1, 1999||April 8, 2000||October 28, 2003||November 7, 2005||November 30, 2006|
|2||20 / (39)||October 26, 2000||July 26, 2003||October 19, 2004||October 23, 2006||November 30, 2006|
|3||20 / (37)||October 5, 2001||October 11, 2004||September 27, 2005||December 3, 2007||November 8, 2007|
|4||20 / (38)||May 6, 2005||July 24, 2007||September 12, 2006||November 3, 2008||November 7, 2008|
|January 9, 2007|
|5||20 / (41)||February 19, 2007||July 19, 2009||September 4, 2007||November 16, 2009||December 2, 2009|
|November 18, 2008|
|6||26 / (47)||March 3, 2008||July 5, 2010||December 8, 2009||November 29, 2010||December 2, 2010|
|December 7, 2010|
|7||26 / (50)||July 19, 2009||June 11, 2011||December 6, 2011||September 17, 2012||N/A|
|8||26 / (47)||March 26, 2011|| November 23, 2012 (CBS)|
December 6, 2012 (Nickelodeon)
|March 12, 2013||N/A||N/A|
|9||26||July 21, 2012||TBA||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|2002||"Party Pooper Pants"|
|2003||"The Sponge Who Could Fly"|
|2005||"Have You Seen This Snail?"|
|2006||"Dunces and Dragons"|
|2007||"Friend or Foe?"|
|2008||"Pest of the West"|
|2009||"SpongeBob vs. The Big One"|
|2010||"SpongeBob's Last Stand"|
|2010||"The Clash of Triton"|
|2010||"The Great Patty Caper"|
|2011||"A SquarePants Family Vacation"|
|2012||"It's a SpongeBob Christmas!"|
|2009||Square Roots: The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants|
|2009||SpongeBob's Truth or Square|
|2004||The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie|
|2014||The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 2|
| Book: SpongeBob SquarePants|
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