SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated television series, created by marine biologist and 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. As of 2015, SpongeBob SquarePants is the only Nicktoon from the 1990s that has not ended yet.
The basis for SpongeBob SquarePants was formed by Hillenburg in 1984 while teaching and studying marine biology at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California, where he wrote the comic strip The Intertidal Zone, which starred various anthropomorphic forms of sea life, many of which would evolve into SpongeBob SquarePants characters.
He left the institute to become an animator in 1987, and later attended the California Institute of Arts in 1992. In the institute, he made his thesis film Wormholes (1992), which led to his hiring as a director, writer, producer, storyboard artist, and executive producer of the series Rocko’s Modern Life by creator Joe Murray. He started to develop the series in 1996 following Rocko’s Modern Life’s, and pitched the series to Nickelodeon in 1998 and was later greenlit for a first season.
The pilot episode of SpongeBob SquarePants first aired episodes 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”, “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 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. SpongeBob was renewed for a ninth season on January 3, 2011. (Note: the definition of season for this show is that more episodes have been ordered for future airing.)
10 Fun Facts About SpongeBob SquarePants
It’s time to catch up on the facts about SpongeBob! After a hiatus of nearly two years—during which the cheerful, fun-loving sponge starred in a major feature film—the television series returns in 2005 with an all-new fourth season.
1. SpongeBob was created by Steve Hillenburg, a former marine biologist and science teacher who went to art school to study cartooning. Like SpongeBob, Hillenburg once worked as a fry cook at a seafood restaurant.
2. Hillenburg liked drawing marine life and thought sponges were the “oddest of all” these creatures. But the lumpy shape of natural sponges didn’t feel right for the character he wanted to create. A sink sponge turned out to be perfect—it’s so clean and so square, just like the innocent and un-hip SpongeBob.
3. SpongeBob lives in a pineapple because pineapples are a common motif in Polynesian crafts. In addition, Hillenburg says he thought SpongeBob “would like the smell” of a pineapple home. Smell is a very important sense for sea animals.
4. SpongeBob was originally named SpongeBoy. However, that name was already trademarked (legally owned by someone else).
5. Squidward only has six legs, but he is nevertheless an octopus. Animators thought that having eight legs on the character—which would be correct for an octopus—made him look too burdened.
6. Tom Kenny, who does the voice of SpongeBob, says his character’s laugh was meant to make viewers think of the ocean. It is based on the distinctive call of a dolphin, with just a touch of a seagull’s shriek.
7. Tom Kenny also does the voices of Dog on Catdog and the Mayor of Townsville on The Powerpuff Girls.
9. The recipe for Krabby Patties is a well-guarded secret, but creator Hillenburg has hinted that these mystery burgers may be vegetarian. Otherwise, some inhabitants of Bikini Bottom would be cannibals.
10. SpongeBob always tries to do his best. He’s now helping out the New York City Department of Environmental Protection by urging kids to help save water. The campaign features an enormous SpongeBob—swollen from absorbing an entire bathtub of water—with the slogan “Save Water—Don’t Drip New York Dry!”