The French Narrator (nicknamed Frenchy) is a scuba diver with a French accent. He introduces many episodes and reads time cards, narrating the show as if it were a nature documentary. The narrator does not usually appear in person, but he makes rare physical appearances in the episodes "No Free Rides," "Feral Friends," and "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout."
In the episode "Mimic Madness," SpongeBob takes form and mimics the French Narrator, revealing that he has a gray goatee and gray hair. He also wears a red beanie, similar to the one that Jacques-Yves Cousteau is known to have worn. His full physical form has been seen in "Feral Friends," where he is seen with a diver's helmet and a red beanie.
Creation and development
SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg based the French Narrator on one of his idols, Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910-1997), a sea-life expert, marine researcher, and documentary filmmaker. Cousteau's son, Jean-Michel Cousteau, made a guest appearance in a special feature on The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie DVD, talking about the real-life species that inspired the characters on SpongeBob.
A group of scientists enlisted his help to narrate, and at least, some of the time, film a group of unique sea creatures and one land creature in a colony of intelligent fish. The team's mission is to teach people how to behave better.
He has a mother, whom he calls "ma mère." She is currently living and may reside near the ocean, as the French Narrator mentions that he can see her from above the Bikini Bottom map in Creature from the Krusty Krab.
He speaks the first lines in the whole series (except the Captain, who sings the theme song). His first lines are "Ah, the sea... so fascinating. So wonderful. Here, we see Bikini Bottom, teeming with life. Home to one of my favorite creatures, SpongeBob SquarePants. Yes, of course he lives in a pineapple, you silly." He narrates in most of the episodes in season 1 and season 2, but not as much in seasons 3-9.
The French Narrator is heard in a few SpongeBob video games:
- In SuperSponge, he narrates the first and final cutscene in the PlayStation 1 version.
- In Revenge of the Flying Dutchman, he teaches SpongeBob various moves in the console version. He also has a different voice in this game.
- In Battle for Bikini Bottom, when the player enters a new level, the French Narrator will start talking about the level while the camera flies around the area in the console version.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants Typing, he narrates through the Glove World! game a "Star is Born."
- In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie video game, he narrates the cutscenes that show images from the movie except for the Game Boy Advance version.
- In Lights, Camera, Pants!, he narrates along with the Realistic Fish Head, in the Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy special in the console version.
- In Nicktoons Unite!, he narrates the being of the game.
- In The Yellow Avenger, he narrates the first five cutscenes.
- In Creature from the Krusty Krab, he narrates the loading screens for the level Super-Sized Patty in the console version.
- In SpongeBob vs. The Big One: Beach Party Cook-Off, he narrates the intro and ending of the game.
Realistic Fish Head
He works with the Realistic Fish Head in the video game Lights, Camera, Pants! When they first meet, they seem to not like each other, but by the end of the special they are friends and become closer to each other.
- Not counting the theme song, the French Narrator is the first character to speak in the series.
- His first appearance in person is the episode "No Free Rides."
- However, only his legs appear in the episode. The first time we see him entirely is the episode "Feral Friends."
- In the Filipino dub, he is voiced by well-known anime dubber Jefferson Utanes, who provided voices of famous anime characters such as Kouya Marino from Crush Gear Turbo and Yami Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters.
- He is heard crying once in the episode "Chum Caverns" when Mr. Krabs and Plankton comfort each other while crying.
- However, he does not cry in the Russian dub.
- In "I Was a Teenage Gary," the time card "3 Days Later..." appears. The French Narrator does not read this one.
- This is the same for "Twenty Years Earlier..." from "License to Milkshake."
- The first time card read by the French Narrator is "2000 Years Later" from "SB-129."
- Patrick breaks the fourth wall in "Wet Painters" by actually holding one of the time cards that the narrator is reading, claiming that he is "running out of time cards."
- He is heard in the first movie, but he does not return in the second movie.
- In storyboards for "Help Wanted," he is listed as "Jacques Cousteau," which was seen in Square Roots: The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants.
- In "Can You Spare a Dime?," a time card with the text "So much later that the old narrator got tired of waiting and they had to hire a new one," being read by the British narrator with an English accent (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker), is shown, jokingly claiming that the French Narrator had quit, since he got tired of waiting. However, this was not permanent, since he came back in "Rock-a-Bye Bivalve."
- In "Sun Bleached," he uses the time card "Two Hours Later" twice. The first time is when SpongeBob is overtanning in Patrick's tanning machine; the second time is when they dance for two hours when the lights are on "Bleached," causing everyone to dry up and change into small piles of sand.
- He is similar to the narrator from the Cartoon Network series The Powerpuff Girls, as both are voiced by Tom Kenny, used for comic relief, and have interacted with characters and they read time cards.
- In the Croatian dub, from seasons 1 to 5, the French Narrator speaks in a Kajkavian accent, which is one of three Croatian accents, but as of season 6, he speaks in French accent.
- In the stage adaptation in Chicago, he was originally portrayed on stage by Mark Ledbetter. When the show transferred to Broadway, Tom Kenny reprised his role as the narrator in a pre-recorded role.
- In "Mimic Madness," he spoke directly to SpongeBob and told him not to imitate him anymore as it was starting to become very annoying.