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SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated television series. Much of the series is centered around the exploits and adventures of the title character and his various friends in the underwater city "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 Network's most-watched shows.

Creator Stephen Hillenburg initally conceived SpongeBob SquarePants in 1984, while he was teaching and studying marine biology at what is now the Orange County Ocean Institute. During his period, Hillenburg became fascinated in animation, and wrote a comic book entitled The Intertidal Zone starring various anthropomorphic forms of sea life, many of which would evolve into SpongBob SquarePants characters. In 1987, Hillenburg left the institute to pursue his dream of becoming an animator. Later on in 1992, Hillenburg began to attend the California Institute of the Artsmarker to study animation, where he made his thesis film entitled Wormholes. 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 one of said animation festivals, 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. While working on Rocko's Modern Life, Hillenburg became friends with several future SpongeBob SquarePants collaborators. Following Rocko's Modern Life's cancellation in 1996, Hillenburg began working on SpongeBob SquarePants, teaming up with several Nickelodeon veterans and Rocko colleagues, including SpongeBob's voice actor Tom Kenny. Hillenburg then pitched the series to Nickelodeon, and was accepted.

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 "official" series premiere followed on July 17, 1999, with the second episode, "Bubblestand/Ripped Pants." The show reached popularity shortly after the beginning of its second season and has remained popular since. A feature film was released in 2004, and was originally intended to be the series finale; however, petitions and support from the Nickelodeon executives prompted Hillenburg to continue production with a fourth season in 2005, with Derek Drymon becoming the new creative director as opposed to Hillenburg. In 2007, Time magazine named the series one of the greatest television shows of all time. The series is currently in its seventh season and celebrated its tenth anniversary on July 17, 2009.

Characters

SpongeBob SquarePants is an extremely 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 speaks in a few episodes, the characters have shown an ability to understand him. Living two houses down from SpongeBob is his best friend Patrick Star, a dim-witted yet friendly starfish who lives under a rock. Living between the two is Squidward Tentacles, an arrogant and egotistical squid who lives in a moai and dislikes his neighbors (especially SpongeBob) for their child-like behavior. He enjoys playing the clarinet and painting self-portraits.

Another friend of SpongeBob is Sandy Cheeks, a red squirrel from Texasmarker, who was sent there to do scientific research for her chimpanzee bosses. She resides in an underwater tree dome in Bikini Bottom. Sandy is an expert at karate. When not inside her tree dome, she wears an astronaut-like suit because she cannot breathe in water. SpongeBob and Squidward's employer is former officer cadet for the Bikini Bottom Navy force and war veteran Eugene Krabs, a miserly crab obsessed with money and the founder of the Krusty Krab restaurant. Mr. Krabs’ archenemy is 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. Plankton spends most of his time plotting to steal the recipe for Mr. Krabs's popular Krabby Patty burgers in order to obtain success, though all of his schemes usually end in failure.

Setting

Bikini Bottom
Much of the series' events take place in Bikini Bottom, an underwater city located a mile off the coast of Pensacola, Floridamarker, beneath the real life tropical isle of Bikini Atollmarker. Stephen Hillenburg has stated that much of Bikini Bottom was based on the real life city of R[Su2ttle]]. Much of this is supported within the context of the episodes themselves; however, despite implications of the city's location as well as anologies 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.

Being located underwater, much of the city's populace, like that of the rest of the series, consists mostly of various sea life; however, in many episodes, the laws of physics are violated for comedic value. 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.

History

Creation

Creator Stephen Hillenburg initally conceived SpongeBob SquarePants in 1984, while he was teaching and studying marine biology at what is now the Orange County Ocean Institute. During his period, Hillenburg became fascinated in animation, and wrote a comic book entitled The Intertidal Zone starring various anthropomorphic forms of sea life, many of which would evolve into SpongBob SquarePants characters, including "Bob the Sponge", who was the co-host of the comic and resembled an actual sea sponge as opposed to SpongeBob. 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 Artsmarker 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 one of said animation festivals, 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 Doug Lawrence, Paul Tibbitt and others.

Rocko's Modern Life ended in 1996. Shortly following this, Hillenburg began working on SpongeBob SquarePants. He teamed up with several Nickelodeon veterans and Rocko crew members, including creative director Derek Drymon (Doug, Action League Now!, Hey Arnold!, and Rocko's Modern Life) writers and directors Sherm Cohen, and Dan Povenmire (Rocko's Modern Life), writer Tim Hill (Rocko's Modern Life), actor and writer Martin Olson (Rocko's Modern Life), animation director Alan Smart (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. 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".

Whilst 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 (I) wish (I) 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.

Season one

SpongeBob SquarePants aired its first episode, "Help Wanted/Reef Blower/Tea at the Treedome," on May 1, 1999, following the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. The series later made its "official" debut on July 17, 1999 with the second episode "Bubblestand/Ripped Pants."

The series intially suffered in the ratings, and failed to attract a steady audience. Creator Hillenburg was confident that due to the low ratings, the Nickelodeon executives would cancel the series after its first season. However, during this period, Hillenburg visited Sumatramarker and noticed a schoolgirl carrying a bootleg SpongeBob SquarePants bookbag, convincing him of the series' cult following. However, he continued to believe that the series would be canceled after its first season, and was surprised when Nickelodeon renewed the series for a second season, in which the animation made the transition from traditional cel to digital ink and paint.

Season two through three

The second season began on October 26, 2000 with the episode "Something Smells/Bossy Boots," and during this time, the show propelled into stardom, with the help of a huge merchandising campaign that continues to this day. The growing popularity of SpongeBob led to Nickelodeon immediately ordering a third season, which began on October 5, 2001 with the episode "Just One Bite/The Bully."

In 2002, as the show's success continued to grow, production on a feature film spin-off began. The announcement of the movie led some fans to fear that the series was being cancelled and rumors of such were spread. Nickelodeon, having aired half of the third season by then, decided to spread the remaining episodes out over two years and the final episode, "SpongeBob Meets The Strangler/Pranks A Lot," aired on October 11, 2004.

Released in the U.S. on November 19, 2004, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie received generally positive reviews from critics and successfully grossed over $140,000,000 worldwide. The film was intended to be the series finale, and creator Hillenburg announced that he would resign. However, in 2005, it was announced that SpongeBob would be continuing with a fourth season due in May. Stephen Hillenburg was rumoured to have left the series; however, he did not actually leave the show but resigned from his position as the show's executive producer. The job now belongs to Derek Drymon, with Paul Tibbitt taking over Drymon's job as creative director.

Season four through seven (2007-09)

The new episodes began airing on May 6, 2005. The first new episode was "Fear of a Krabby Patty"/"Shell of a Man". After airing three new episodes on Fridays from May 6 – May 20, Nickelodeon showed no new episodes until September 2005. For the first time in the series' run, Nickelodeon began airing 11-minute segments of new episodes separately, spread over two weeks. This practice began with the airing of the episode "Selling Out" on September 23; its companion episode, "Funny Pants," premiered the following week. The Star Online eCentral reported in December 2005 that Nickelodeon had ordered 20 more episodes, bringing the show’s total to 100.

In December 2006, SpongeBob was approved for a fifth season which began on February 19, 2007 with the episode "Rise and Shine"/"Waiting"/"Fungus Among Us." On July 23, 2007 Nickelodeon aired 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 staring David Bowie as the voice of Lord Royal Highness. On March 13, 2008, it was announced that SpongeBob will have an additional thirty-nine episodes, which includes the remaining episodes of the sixth season, and a seventh season. The last remaining episode from the fifth season, "Goo Goo Gas", finally aired on July 19, 2009, completing the fifth season of the series.

Tenth anniversary

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 EST, 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 was set to lend her voice as Queen Amphitrite, a Brit-accented goddess of the sea in an upcoming episode most likely to air during an hour-long special this summer.

Production

Staff

Name Position Years
Steven Banks Head Writer 2004–present
Steven Belfer Music
/CMike Bell]] Writer/Storyboard Director 2005–presentt- Peter Burns Writer 1999–present
Nicholas Carr Music
Bradley Carow Music 2009–present
Sherm Cohen Storyboard Supervisor/Artist, Writer, Director
Sean Dempsey Animation Director
Derek Drymon Writer 1999–present
Storyboard Artist 1999–present
Creative Director 1999–2005
Story Editor
Executive Producer 2005–present
Steven Fonti Writer/Storyboard Director 1999
C.H. Greenblatt Writer, Storyboard Artist, Director 2000–2006 (left the show to work on Chowder on Cartoon Network)
Sage Guyton Music
Sam Henderson Writer, Storyboard Director
Tim Hill Writer
Stephen Hillenburg Creator 1999–present
Executive Producer 1999–2004
Writer 1999–present
Storyboard Director 1999–present
Kaz Writer, Storyboard Artist
Chuck Klein Writer, Storyboard Artist & Director
Doug Lawrence Writer, Story Editor
Jay Lender Writer, Storyboard Artist, Director
John Magness Storyboard Artist 2009–present
Heather Martinez Storyboard Artist
Chris Mitchell Writer, Storyboard Artist 1999
Caleb Muerer Storyboard Artist
Mark O'Hare Writer, Storyboard Artist, Director
Andrew Overtoom Animation Director
Andy Rheingold Executive in Charge of Production 2009–present
Ted Seko Storyboard Artist 2009–present
Alan Smart Animation Director 1999–present
Aaron Springer Writer/Storyboard Artist & Director 1999–present
Jimmy Stone Animation Director 2009–present
Paul Tibbitt Writer/Storyboard Director/Supervising Producer/Creative Director

Co-Executive Producer
2004–present

2006–present
Brad Vandergrift Storyboard Artist
Jeremy Wakefield Music
Vincent Waller Writer/Storyboard Artist & Director/Technical Director & Creative Director (2005–present)
Frank Weiss Animation Director
Erik Wiese Writer/Storyboard Artist
David Wigforss Special Effects (CG visual effects animator)
Merriwether Williams Story Editor/Writer
Tom Yasumi Animation Director
Oliver Truby Storyboard Artist Supervisor


Voice actors

Tom Kenny primarily voices SpongeBob SquarePants, his pet sea snail Gary, the French Narrator, Patchy the Pirate, and Harold SquarePants. Kenny previously worked with Hillenburg on Rocko's Modern Life, and when Hillenburg created SpongeBob SquarePants, he approached Kenny to voice the character. Kenny had originally used the voice of SpongeBob for a background character present in a crowd scene in Rocko's Modern Life, but forgot the voice initially, as he created it only for that single use. Hillenburg, however, remembered it when he conceived SpongeBob and used a video clip of the episode to remind Kenny of the voice. Kenny says that SpongeBob's high pitched laugh was specifically aimed at being unique, stating that they wanted an annoying laugh in the tradition of Popeye and Woody Woodpecker.

Bill Fagerbakke primarily voices Patrick Star. Fagerbakke modeled his performance whenever Patrick is angry after Hollywoodmarker actress Shelly Winters. Rodger Bumpass primarly voices Squidward Tentacles and Dr. Gill Gilliam, while Clancy Brown primarily voices SpongeBob's employer Mr. Krabs. Carolyn Lawrence primarily voices Sandy Cheeks. Lawrence modeled her performance of Sandy after Hollywoodmarker actress Holly Hunter.Brian Doyle-Murray primarily voices The Flying Dutchman, while Dee Bradley Baker provides the voice of Squidward's rival Squilliam Fancyson, as well as various other characters. Frank Welker provides animal vocal effects, while Jill Talley voices Karen, Plankton's computer wife.



When SpongeBob SquarePants is broadcast in non-English languages, the voice actors dubbing SpongeBob's voice use Tom Kenny's rendition of the character as a starting point but also add unique elements. For example the French version has SpongeBob with a slight Daffy Duck style lisp.

Guest appearances



Hallmarks

Humor

SpongeBob is designed to appeal to adults as well as children, due to the comic nature of situations encountered in underwater life. Situations, references, and language are used that may not be understood by the show's younger viewers. Certain innuendos, in particular, are intended to go over the younger viewers' heads. For example, SpongeBob tried to show his grandma that he was a mature adult by wearing sideburns and a derby, and listening to free form jazz; in one episode, Squidward tricked SpongeBob and Patrick into thinking he was a ghost; a coral reef sculpted like Toulouse-Lautrec's can-can girls stands in the background of a scene. Numerous marine biology in-jokes are woven into the show. Frequently, the characters will do things that would be physically impossible underwater, such as lighting fires or going to a beach. Part of the show's appeal has to do with the childlike nature of SpongeBob and his best friend, Patrick Star, both of whom are adults but display an innocence typical of human children. However, the characters are not immune from more adult avocations, including rock musicianship in a stadium performance and raising children.

Music

The series' theme was composed by Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg and Blaise Smith, 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 . 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 utilized as marching cadence. An instrumental version of the opening theme is used in Italy.The majority of the background music used in SpongeBob SquarePants comes from the Associated Production Music library, some of which have also been used in shows such as The Simpsons, Ren & Stimpy, The Mighty B!, Rocko's Modern Life, The X Factor, Camp Lazlo, My Gym Partner's a Monkey, Bill Nye The Science Guy, and The Adventures of Pete and 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.

Reception

Critical reception

SpongeBob SquarePants currently holds an 8.6 on TV.com, the third best rating in Nickelodeon, the first being Avatar: The Last Airbender with a rating of 9.3 and the second being The Fairly OddParents with a rating of 8.8.

Awards and nominations

Year Association Award Category Notes Result
2000 Golden Reel Award Best Sound Editing in Television Animation — Music Episodes: "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy" and "Pickles" Won
2000 Golden Reel Award 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
2001 Annie Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Television Production Tom Kenny as SpongeBob in "Wormy" Nominated
2001 Annie Awards 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
2001 Golden Reel Award 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
2002 Golden Reel Award 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 Awards 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
2003 Golden Reel Award 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
2004 Golden Reel Award 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 Annie Awards Direction in an Animated Television Production Episode: "Penny Foodis�3 Nominated
2009 Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Edting: 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


Popularity and appeal

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, such as Rugrats, although when SpongeBob SquarePants aired in 1999, it had gained a significant enough number of viewers in the ratings to be considered popular, eventually becoming more popular than Rugrats had ever been. SpongeBob follows other Nickelodeon shows that have attracted "older" followers: The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rocko's Modern Life, the KaBlam! skits, Action League Now! and The Angry Beavers. Other shows have followed in this trend as well: Invader Zim and The Fairly OddParents won a similar fan base when they both premiered in 2001, and the latter is now second only to SpongeBob in popularity, while the former was cancelled despite gaining a cult following. Though the show debuted in 1999, SpongeBob did not become hugely popular until around 2000, and it has remained popular since then.

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, and heavy metal group Metallica even released a T-shirt featuring cartoon versions of themselves playing live with the characters SpongeBob and Patrick. Britishmarker 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 the series 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”.

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 Statesmarker because they saw the character SpongeBob being used as an advocate for homosexuality. James Dobson of Focus on the Familymarker accused the makers of the video of promoting homosexuality due to a pro-homosexual group sponsoring the video.

The incident led to questions to whether or not SpongeBob is homosexual. Creator of the character, Stephen Hillenburg, had previously denied that SpongeBob was gay in 2002 when 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.

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".

Other media

Amusement rides

SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D is located in both Six Flags Over Texasmarker and Noah's Ark Dive-In Theater in Noah's Ark Waterpark, and opened in both locations in 2007. The ride features water squirts, real bubbles, and other sensory enhancements. The SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D ride opened at the in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsinmarker in the summer of 2007. SpongeBob appears at the Mall of America's new Nickelodeon theme park re-branded from the Mall of America's Park at MOAmarker, formerly Camp Snoopy, to Nickelodeon Universemarker in the Minneapolis-St. Paulmarker suburb of Bloomington, Minnesotamarker. The new theme park features a SpongeBob-themed Gerstlauermarker 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.

Film

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. The film follows SpongeBob, who expects to be bestowed the title of manager for Mr. Krabs' new restaurant, the Krusty Krab 2. However, the position is given to Squidward instead, causing SpongeBob to go into a state of depression alongside Patrick. Jealous of Krabs' success, Plankton initiates his final plan, Plan Z. The film also features Jeffrey Tambor as King Neptune, the bald, ill-tempered God of the sea who behaves similar to a dictator. who go on a quest to save King Neptune's crown and rescue Bikini Bottom from the evil clutches of Plankton. The film received positive reviews from critics and had its own soundtrack released, as well as its own video game adaption.

Merchandise

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, Borders Books, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, RadioShack, Target, KB Toys, Big Lots, Wal-Martmarker, Shopko, Pamida, Meijer, Kmart, Sears, JCPenney, Kohl's, Lowe's, T.J. Maxx, Toys "R" Us and Ames stores 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 and Target Australia.

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, 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. 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.

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.

Notes

  1. Banks, pp. 8-9
  2. Banks, p. 9
  3. Neuwirth, p. 50
  4. " Lisa (Kiczuk) Trainor interviews Joe Murray, creator of Rocko's Modern Life," The Rocko's Modern Life FAQ
  5. Banks, pp. 9-10
  6. Banks, p. 10
  7. " Rocko's Modern Life," Joe Murray Studio
  8. Banks, p. 31
  9. Neuwirth, p. 51
  10. Banks, p. 8
  11. http://www.tv.com/spongebob-squarepants/show/3428/episode.html?season=5&tag=list_header;paginator;5
  12. http://tv.ign.com/articles/943/943426p1.html
  13. http://www.toymania.com/news/messages/11311.shtml
  14. http://news.prnewswire.com/DisplayReleaseContent.aspx?ACCT=104&STORY%3d%2fwww/story/01-09-2009/0004952081&EDATE=
  15. http://www.cnbc.com/id/31524589/site/14081545
  16. http://www.entertainmentandshowbiz.com/victoria-beckham-posh-spice-lands-princess-role-in-spongebob-squarepants-2009041214227
  17. Banks, p. 33
  18. Banks, p. 32
  19. http://johnny-depp.org/johnny/news/entry/1434/
  20. http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/SpongeBob-SquarePants-Vs-The-Big-One/10963
  21. http://johnnydeppreads.blogspot.com/2008/12/johnny-depp-does-spongebob.html
  22. Nickelodeon Expands Healthy Food Initiative with Green Giant
  23. SpongeBob 2009 Calendar


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