- SpongeBob SquarePants
- Gary the Snail
- Squidward Tentacles (cameo)
- Mrs. Puff (debut)
- Crowd of fish (debut)
- Patrick Star
An excited SpongeBob rides his unicycle to Mrs. Puff's Boating School for his driving exam to start the episode, eager to finally get his driver's license. When he arrives, he throws his unicycle away, falsely assuming he will definitely pass and no longer needs it. Having taken the oral exam 37 times before, SpongeBob is able to answer the questions before Mrs. Puff even asks them. However, upon reaching the driving portion, SpongeBob quickly loses control of the boat and crashes into a lighthouse, causing Mrs. Puff's body to inflate.
Later that night, SpongeBob complains about his failure to Gary, who asks him to go for a walk, which he declines. Patrick is then heard talking to him from a walkie-talkie under his covers. He asks SpongeBob to head to his closet for a "surprise," and SpongeBob finds Patrick wearing his clothes and calling himself "Patrick SquarePants." SpongeBob is too depressed to laugh at this, and explains his problem to Patrick and mentions that he needs someone to help him think straight during the exam. Patrick quickly devises a plan. He puts a walkie-talkie inside SpongeBob's head so that he can talk SpongeBob through the test, hiding the antenna with a cowboy hat.
The next day, SpongeBob goes back to take the test again. When asked to start the boat, he initially panics, but Patrick's instructions keep him calm. Just after SpongeBob puts the boat in drive, he almost floors the pedal, but Patrick tells him to "Freeze, mister!," and SpongeBob's foot stops just before it touches the pedal. Patrick then tells him to use his big toe on the pedal, and SpongeBob's toe pops out of his shoe and it presses the pedal. This is followed by a montage of SpongeBob acing the exam, interspersed with shots of Patrick eating SpongeBob's food, and reading his diary while helping him.
Mrs. Puff is floored by SpongeBob's sudden improvement and jokingly suggests that his success is due to an antenna under his hat through which "some guy miles away from here" is giving him all the answers. SpongeBob (and Patrick) finds this hilarious until Mrs. Puff tells him it would be cheating to do so. Upon realizing he has been cheating, SpongeBob goes into hysterics, making Patrick realize that his method is bad. Devastated and ashamed about what he did, Patrick flees to his house, crying. SpongeBob starts driving wildly all over the course and sobbing, while Mrs. Puff, in a panic, tries desperately to stop him. SpongeBob is too distraught to listen and crashes the boat, failing the test again, and the inflated Mrs. Puff is taken to the hospital. As the episode ends with SpongeBob leaving boating school, he finds Gary riding his unicycle. SpongeBob rides off on it, with Gary atop his head, and happily rides off to visit Mrs. Puff at the hospital, thus ending the episode from there.
- When asked a question regarding the test, SpongeBob, not knowing what to say, nervously answers, "1924?"
- When SpongeBob crashes into the lighthouse, Mrs. Puff puffs up and says in a deep voice, "Oh, SpongeBob! Why?"
- When someone starts the boat, someone shakes rapidly, and someone else replies with "Relax, it's only the boat."
Creation of Mrs. Puff
The idea for Mrs. Puff and her Boating School was what "saved" the show from being passed on by Nickelodeon. If Stephen Hillenburg (the series' creator) did not fulfill Nickelodeon's request that SpongeBob attends a school, they would not have agreed to greenlight the first season.
Mrs. Puff was the last one of the main characters to be created and designed by Stephen Hillenburg. She had not been created yet when Hillenburg finished his series bible, a book outlining the show's main concepts and setting. The June 2003 issue of Nickelodeon Magazine states that when Hillenburg pitched SpongeBob to Nickelodeon, he "had yet to come up with the idea that Mrs. Puff and SpongeBob would be on an endless quest to get SpongeBob a driver's license." Thus, some early development artwork for the show depicted SpongeBob driving a submarine-esque vehicle with ease. To account for her absence, a sketch was captioned "The gang's all here (almost!)."
After Hillenburg pitched the pilot episode, Nickelodeon executives did not immediately approve production and wanted to instate a major creative change: making SpongeBob a child who went to school. Hillenburg specifically said the following in a 2009 interview: "At the beginning people give you notes and you have to fight back. It was a new show and no-one knows if a new show will work. Nick had decided it didn’t want any more animal shows and wanted stories with kids, like Hey Arnold! They actually wanted to make ‘Arnold under the sea’ and make SpongeBob a child. I said ‘no, that’s not the show’. I said we’ll show the parents sometimes and put him in school – but it would be a [boat] driving school." Additionally, they wanted every episode to focus on his school life.
Hillenburg ended up "making concessions" with Nickelodeon by coming up with a driving school. This way, SpongeBob could regularly attend a school while remaining age-ambiguous. In 2012, he recalled that his compromise eventually improved the series: "A positive thing for me that came out of it was... it brings in a new character, Mrs. Puff, who I love." He explained that she added "a new aspect to the show" that he wouldn't have found otherwise.
|( ‣ ) Associated production music|
|( • ) Original music|
|( ◦ ) SpongeBob music|
‣ Hawaiian Train - Victor Cavini [Title card]
‣ Aloha Oe - Hans Haider, Queen Lili'uokalani [opening]
• Cream Pie - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [SpongeBob rides to boating school]
• SpongeBob Theme - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield ["Here I come, Mrs. Puff!"]
‣ Quiz Organ (B) - Curtis Frederick Schwartz ["You passed the oral test, what a surprise."]
‣ Point of Departure K - Gregor F. Narholz [SpongeBob floors it]
‣ Rocket Sled to Oahu - The Mel-Tones [Mrs. Puff inflates]
‣ Botany Bay (b) - Robert Alexander White [that night]
‣ Aggressor - Sam Fonteyn [Patrick on walkie-talkie]
‣ Side Drum [#52.07] - Mark Nolan [drum roll]
‣ Hawaiian Cocktail - Richard Myhill [SpongeBob tells Patrick about the boating exam]
‣ Martial Links - Sam Fonteyn [walkie-talkie in SpongeBob's head]
‣ Real Western Steel - Bobby Black [cowboy hat]
‣ Apalachian Banjo Duel - Larry Hochman [SpongeBob acts natural]
‣ Menace from the Deep - Robert Cornford [driving test begins]
‣ Terminal Pursuit (C) - Paul Pritchard ["Freeze, mister!"]
‣ Martial Links - Sam Fonteyn [SpongeBob's big toe presses the gas pedal]
‣ Dangerous B - Mladen Franko [the first turn]
• Hello Blues - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [driving montage]
‣ Sailor's Waltz - Heinz Matschurat [approaching the finish line]
‣ Dramatic Impact 6 - Ivor Slaney [SpongeBob realizes he's cheating]
• Seaweed - Steve Belfer [SpongeBob confesses]
‣ Knuckleduster - The Langhorns [boat out of control]
‣ Rocket Sled to Oahu - The Mel-Tones [Mrs. Puff inflates again]
‣ Aloha - Dick Stephen Walter [Mrs. Puff put in ambulance]
‣ Hawaiian Cocktail - Richard Myhill [SpongeBob walks away sadly]
• Cream Pie - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [ending]
- This episode is available on the Nickelodeon DVD Sampler, Lost at Sea, SpongeBob Schwammkopf Folge 2, Complete 1st Season, The 1st Season: Volume 1, Hunting For Jellyfish, Tea at the Treedome, Hunting at the Bottom, Beach Bob, First 100 Episodes, SpongeBob SquarePants, iSponge Offer Pack, Exposed!: The Ultimate Box Set, The Ultimate SpongeBob Box Set, SpongeBob SquarePants Vol. 1, Employee of the Month, The Complete First Season, From the Beginning, Part 1, The SpongeBob SquarePants Collection, Driving Bikini Bottom Crazy!, The SpongeBob SquarePants 8 Season DVD Collection, The First & Second Seasons, Movies & TV Collection, and The Best 200 Episodes Ever DVDs and on VideoNow.
- This episode is also available on the Lost at Sea and The Sponge Who Could Fly VHS tapes.
- This episode uses the same title card track as its sister episode.
- However, different portions of this music are used.
- Mrs. Puff inflates and has a deep voice until she gets in the ambulance. That occurs when a boat that she is in crashes, just like how an airbag of an automobile inflates if it crashes.
- When SpongeBob is telling Patrick he failed, Gary can be heard saying, "Meow." However, he can't be seen in the bedroom.
- The assistance that Patrick gives to SpongeBob throughout the boating exam is done by radio communication, almost like how assistance is given out to a race car driver by a crew chief or spotter of that driver.
- Despite Patrick having been introduced to Mrs. Puff in "New Student Starfish," she already knows him in this episode.
- When Mrs. Puff is puffing, she speaks with a deep voice. However, when the paramedics put her into the ambulance, she speaks with the normal voice.
- In episodes like "Pranks a Lot," Mrs. Puff speaks with her normal voice even when she is inflated.
- When SpongeBob comes out of the boating school at the end of the episode, he says Gary found his bike; however, it is a unicycle. It is possible that SpongeBob simply calls it a bike as a nickname.
- This is the first episode to play "SpongeBob Theme," "Hello Blues," "Cream Pie," and the APM track "Dramatic Impact (6)."
- This episode marks the first appearance of Mrs. Puff and her boating school.
- This episode marks the first appearance of Incidentals 25, 26, and 27.
- This is the first episode to feature the famous running gag of Fred yelling out "My leg!:" when SpongeBob crashes a lighthouse on the first attempt and the second attempt.
- Interestingly enough, Fred makes a physical appearance walking with a cane during the second attempt.
- This is the first episode to use the dolly zoom camera effect.
- This is the first time SpongeBob's diary is shown. The second time is in "Gone" and the third time is in "Little Yellow Book."
- There's a book based on this episode named Don't Rock the Boat!
- A clip from this episode was shown in a Dodge commercial.
- During the Nicktoons Creepy Teacher Afternoon event, this episode was paired up with "Hall Monitor." This also happened on the April 27, 2002 airing.
- One of SpongeBob's answers is "1924," which refers to the year the British submarine L-24 sunk in the English Channel.
- In the opening credits, when Erik Wiese is credited as a writer, his name is misspelled as Erik Weise.
- In this episode, SpongeBob's alarm clock blows in a different, higher-pitched tone. Usually, it blows in the key of F, but in this episode, it does so in the key of B♭ (or A#).
- The order of obstacles is different than the first view seen when SpongeBob first arrives.
- Mrs. Puff's helmet changes. When she puts it on, it barely covers her head, and her hair is clearly visible. When SpongeBob is shaking, it is bigger and covers all of her hair.
- When Fred says, "My leg!," the lighthouse falls to the right side, but the pictures of the scene show the lighthouse falls on the left side.
- When SpongeBob crashes the first time, he does not put the boat into drive.
- SpongeBob's alarm clock changes color. The face is light blue, but when shown again as SpongeBob is talking to Gary, it turns dark blue.
- When SpongeBob enters his library room he uses a slide, but it disappears once he sits down.
- After Patrick places the cowboy hat on SpongeBob's head, SpongeBob has five fingers on his right hand instead of four.
- When SpongeBob is seated in the chair in the library room it is black, but when Patrick sits there it is purple; it later changes black again.
- When SpongeBob moos while acting natural, his bottom-right front hole disappears for two frames.
- There is a number on the boat, but when SpongeBob goes around the flag, the number disappears.
- The boat seemed close to the finish line when Mrs. Puff mentions cheating, but during the close-ups of herself and SpongeBob, it seemed to take several seconds to get there before SpongeBob freaked out.
- When Patrick goes back to his house whining, SpongeBob's house is missing a window.
- In the same shot, there is a blue line around one side of Patrick's house that overlaps the ground near it.
- In the Filipino dub, Mrs. Puff's voice isn't low pitched when SpongeBob crashes the boat at the lighthouse.