- Realistic Fish Head
- Shellnapping victim (debut)
- Sneaky Hermit (possible debut)
- TV officers
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- Patrick Star
- Eugene H. Krabs
- Sandy Cheeks (mentioned)
- Sheldon J. Plankton (mentioned)
- Mrs. Puff (mentioned)
- Miss Shell
- Shelly Fishbowl
- Squidward Tentacles (mentioned)
- Monroe Timmy
- Whale (mentioned)
- Jimmy Gus
- Peterson Nat Tucker
- Tina Fran
- Sewage fish
- Nancy Suzy Fish
- Frankie Billy
- Medley Fishbowl
- Frank (red shirt)
- Dennis (citizen)
- Norma Rechid
- Martha Smith
- Harold Bill Reginald Scott
- Gary the Snail (mentioned)
- Pearl Krabs (mentioned)
- Bodybuilder (debut)
- Officer Johnson
- Officer Slugfish
The episode starts at the Krusty Krab, where SpongeBob and Patrick see Mr. Krabs watching a classic black and white crime movie. Mr. Krabs speaks out against thieves and stealing, but SpongeBob and Patrick remind him of all the stuff he has that isn't his: a barrel from Salty Sea Farms, a towel from the Sizzling Spring Sauna, a Bikini Bell phone, Sandy's hedge clippers, Plankton's lawn mower, and Mrs. Puff's hair curlers. Mr. Krabs claims that he "borrowed" all those things (except for Mrs. Puff's hair curlers, which he claims were a gift), telling them that it is okay to borrow something as long as they give it back before it is missed.
Later that day, SpongeBob and Patrick spot a balloon stand. Since they do not have any money, they decide to follow Mr. Krabs' advice and "borrow" a balloon. They sneak away with it, and as they talk about all the fun things they plan to do with it, it suddenly pops. Realizing that they can no longer return the balloon, they concede that they stole it. When they panic and bump into Lou, the owner of the balloon stand, they run away before he reveals that it is National Free Balloon Day. They decide to leave Bikini Bottom after realizing that they were wanted criminals, not realizing that they never committed any crime.
That night, they camp in the middle of nowhere and lament that they will never see any of their friends or do any of the fun things they used to do again, causing Patrick and SpongeBob to be sad and miss their old lives. However, they then begin to look at the positives, such as not having to live by society's standards and not having to return anything they borrow, and so convince themselves that being criminals can be fun. Patrick sadly remarks that they still don't have anything to eat until SpongeBob reveals that he has two chocolate bars, which he hopes they can survive on for the rest of their lives. However, Patrick eats his in two quick bites, and upon trying to take a third bite of it, discovers that it is gone.
When he sees SpongeBob's candy bar, Patrick accuses him of stealing it. Although SpongeBob tries to remind Patrick that he already ate his, he refuses to believe him. SpongeBob offers half of his chocolate to him, but Patrick says he doesn't want it unless SpongeBob admits that he took it. Having enough of Patrick's behavior, SpongeBob eats the whole thing himself. Fed up, Patrick decides to report SpongeBob to the police. SpongeBob aims to tell on Patrick first and they race to the police station.
Once there, they both confess their original crime together, and the officers confer with each other before locking them up. However, the two are immediately released, being informed that they stole the balloon on National Free Balloon Day, much to the officers' amusement. SpongeBob and Patrick, though shocked to learn of their innocence, vow that they will never borrow anything without permission again and the officers give them lollipops for the trip back home. Once again, Patrick eats his immediately and accuses SpongeBob and the officers of stealing it. They all laugh together until Patrick says he means it, with a shot of Bikini Atoll being seen.
|( ‣ ) Associated production music|
|( • ) Original music|
|( ◦ ) SpongeBob music|
‣ Villains and Vampires - Sam Fonteyn [Crustacean Crime Theater]
‣ Dirty Work at the Crossroads - Sam Fonteyn [Crustacean Crime Theater]
‣ The Rake Hornpipe - Robert Alexander White [Mr. Krabs watching TV]
‣ Gator - Steve Belfer [SpongeBob, Patrick in the park]
‣ Unknown Track 74 - Patrick sees balloons
‣ Dance of the Lights - Buddy Baker [riding a rainbow]
‣ Harp Ding - Nicolas Carr ["Yeah, like Mr. Krabs!"]
‣ Sunny Samoa - George de Fretes, Jan Rap [saying all the things they are going do with the balloon]
‣ Dramatic Cue (a) - Ronald Hanmer [they scream]
‣ Flight in Panic 1 - Gregor F. Narholz [putting the balloon back together]
‣ Life or Death - Jack Beaver ["We can't return it!"]
‣ Hit and Run - Ralph Dollimore [SpongeBob and Patrick running away]
‣ Hawaiian Farewell - George Elliott ["Take a last look, Patrick."]
‣ Lonely Violin - Dick Stephen Walter [SpongeBob lists all the things they will not see anymore]
‣ On the Beach - Kapono Beamer [upside of being a fugitive/"But at least we don't have to shave."]
‣ Hawaiian Link (b) - Richard Myhill [SpongeBob and Patrick hug]
‣ Harp Ding - Nicolas Carr [shot of candy bars]
‣ Seaweed - Steve Belfer [Patrick accuses SpongeBob of stealing his candy bar]
‣ House of Horror - W. Merrick Farran [SpongeBob teases Patrick with the candy bar)]
‣ Catwalk - Kenny Graham ["Or did your criminal mind hypnotize me to steal it?"]
‣ The Hurry Up - Kenny Graham ["Not if I tell on you first!"]
‣ Sponge Monger - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [running to the police station]
‣ Steel Sting (c) - Jeremy Wakefield ["We stole a balloon!"]
‣ Dramatic Cue (e) - Ronald Hanmer [SpongeBob and Patrick locked up]
‣ Nostalgic Hawaii - George de Fretes, Jan Rap [ending]
- This episode is available on the Sea Stories, Complete 2nd Season, First 100 Episodes, and Christmas Who? DVDs.
- Although this episode premiered in 2001, it was produced in 2000 according to the credits.
- There was a rumor that SpongeBob originally said "No more getting nailed" which was replaced by "No more getting mail!" and Patrick was shown nailing a plank to his head. It was debunked by Vincent Waller on Twitter.
- This episode premiered in Canada on July 13, 2001.
- This episode takes place on December 27, because on the same day in 2017, the official SpongeBob SquarePants character account on Twitter confirmed that National Free Balloon Day, the holiday celebrated in this episode, falls on that day.
- This is the first of four episodes transcribed as a comic into the SpongeBob SquarePants/Tokyopop book Crime and Funishment. The other three were "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V," "No Free Rides," and "Nasty Patty."
- This is the first episode where SpongeBob and Patrick get arrested.
- The scene where an overweight Patrick says, "You took my only food. Now I'm gonna starve!" is popular in some YouTube Poops and other memes. It has unofficially been nicknamed, "Morbid Patrick."
- The squeaking sound from the scene where SpongeBob pushes the chocolate bar through his ears has also become popular on various websites.
- The episode's production number is referenced in this episode: the cell number, 1B, converted from hexadecimal to decimal is 27.
- This episode premiered on John Rhys-Davies' 57th birthday.
- Animation director Alan Smart played the "buns and thighs" man; however, his voice was done by Tom Kenny.
- This is the fourth episode to feature the Krusty Krab without Squidward. The first is "Suds," the second is "Arrgh!," and the third is "Neptune's Spatula."
- This episode premiered five years before "Chimps Ahoy" and "Ghost Host would, fifteen years before "CopyBob DittoPants" would premiere, sixteen years before "Mimic Madness" and "House Worming" would premiere in Hungary, seventeen years before "Drive Happy," "Old Man Patrick," "Fun-Sized Friends" and "Grandmum's the Word" would premiere in France, and the same number of years before "SpongeBob's Place" and "Plankton Gets the Boot" would premiere in Japan.
- In the Croatian dub, the episode's title is "Zločinci," which translates to "Criminals."
- In the Polish dub, the episode's title is "Zbrodnicze życie," which translates to "The Criminal Life."
- A similar plot from this episode would later be used in the Hey Arnold! episode, "On the Lam".
- When Mr. Krabs says, "eel in the kelp," this is a reference to the common metaphor "snake in the grass."
- Bodybuilder is meant to be a parody of real-life bodybuilder, as well as actor and politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- In one scene, the balloon is brown instead of red.
- When Patrick first looks at the balloons, there is a brown one, but when Patrick looks again, the brown balloon disappears.
- When Patrick says, "You took my only food! Now I'm gonna starve!" he appears to be lit by the fire. However, the fire was already extinguished.
- In some scenes, the red line under SpongeBob's mouth disappears.
- When SpongeBob says, "We can loosen our ties" and plays with his tie, it turns pink for less than a second.
- After SpongeBob finishes off his chocolate bar, the chocolate on Patrick's face disappears, then reappears after a few frames.
- On a Nicktoons airing on October 14, 2019, this and it's sister episode were low-pitched
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