— Mrs. Puff, "Boating School"
Mrs. Puff is one of the ten main characters in the SpongeBob SquarePants franchise. She is SpongeBob's teacher at Boating School, where she teaches students how to drive boats like underwater cars. She is a pufferfish who wears a sailor uniform. She is voiced by Mary Jo Catlett.
Teaching and driving are her passions in life, she is talented at both, having successfully taught every student other than SpongeBob how to drive. She and SpongeBob are always on an "endless quest" to get him a driver's license, but due to his reckless boating skills, they never succeed. Mrs. Puff's school is attached to a submerged lighthouse and surrounded by a stunt-driving course.
Stephen Hillenburg called Mrs. Puff the "most important" character to the show's history, saying that she "saved" the show from not being greenlit. He created her as a new main character in 1997, shortly after he pitched SpongeBob to Nickelodeon. The network gave him an order: they would only produce the show if SpongeBob was a kid who went to school. Hillenburg was ready to "walk out" on Nickelodeon because writing SpongeBob as a school-age child went against his creative vision. However, he came up with Mrs. Puff and her Boating School as a compromise, allowing SpongeBob to attend school as an adult. Because Hillenburg began his career as a marine science teacher, Mrs. Puff was a personal character to him, and he channeled many of his experiences as a teacher into her character.
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 explained that Mrs. Puff was absent from his original cast sketches because Hillenburg "had yet to come up with the idea [for] Mrs. Puff." 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 recounted in a 2009 interview: "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 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.
Designing the boating school gave way to Mrs. Puff's development. Rather than hastily add a generic teacher, Hillenburg took the time to make sure Mrs. Puff would be as enduring and memorable as his other characters. He chose the pufferfish as her species so that viewers would recall car airbags whenever she crashes and inflates, and designed the boating school with a heavy nautical theme centered around a sunken lighthouse. Since she was designed late in production, Mrs. Puff's appearance incorporates some elements of the earlier characters' designs: she has the same rounded teeth as Squidward and the same skirt design as Pearl.
Mrs. Puff is voiced by the veteran actress Mary Jo Catlett. For the first seven seasons, Mary Jo Catlett exclusively voiced Mrs. Puff. Starting in season 8, she has voiced some other characters, such as Grandma Tentacles and some background fish. Mary Jo Catlett has been an actress since the 1960s, starring in the 1964 Broadway musical Hello, Dolly! before entering the voice acting business. Her previous acting roles in other productions have been referenced on the show; for example, SpongeBob says, "Hello, Dolly!" in "Something Smells," nodding to the 1964 Broadway musical that introduced the phrase and starred Mary Jo Catlett as a main cast member.
Mary Jo Catlett has appeared at a limited amount of SpongeBob events due to her old age. She was featured in Nickelodeon's "sneak peek" cast interview for the first movie in 2004. She also attended the 2013 SpongeBob Fan Shellabration where she signed autographs and posed for pictures with a mascot costume of Mrs. Puff.
Mrs. Puff's history is very mysterious and unknown, but it is clear that her past is a checkered and suspicious one full of misfortunes and criminal activity. All of her known relatives are no longer alive, but it is known that her family lineage has lived in and around Bikini Bottom since the days of the old west. However, Mrs. Puff did not grow up in Bikini Bottom as a kid. She was born in an unknown town with an unnamed father and an unknown mother and lived under an unspecified last name during her early years. In "Camper Gary," as Mrs. Puff was about to fall down the cliff, she mentions that her mom always said she'll go out like this, implying that they had a strained relationship. As a little girl, she adopted a purple pet snail, who lived for a long time afterward and was alive in "The Sponge Who Could Fly."
Later on, she met her first husband. The two were married until fishermen from the surface captured Mr. Puff and turned him into a novelty lamp cover ("Krusty Love"). At a later point, Mrs. Puff became a teacher and founded the first-ever underwater boating school. She ran this school until unspecified legal problems forced its closure, as mentioned in "No Free Rides." Without a job, she took up full-time bank robbery using a ski mask as a disguise (as seen in the comic Puff's Pageant). She still keeps her ski mask handy just in case things take a turn for the worse again. As revealed in "Lighthouse Louie" from a newspaper, Mrs. Puff lived in New Kelp City until she made a getaway, as stated in New Kelp Post.
Mrs. Puff later moved to Bikini Bottom in an attempt to start a new life. She started up a new school, Mrs. Puff's Boating School. She vowed to never give up "as long as a student is willing to learn," as seen in a flashback from "Doing Time." Immediately after saying this, she met her first student, SpongeBob. Since then, every student except for SpongeBob has passed her driving test. , Squidward, Plankton, and Mr. Krabs have all passed her class at some point.
During her time in Bikini Bottom, Mrs. Puff has become notorious and infamous among the police force. She has gone to jail a myriad of times, normally due to SpongeBob's tendency to crash boats and cause terrible townwide destruction in the process. Her criminal record is the largest of any character on the show, and her ever-expanding list of arrests is a frequent source of humor. Mrs. Puff has been on parole for a long amount of time and, as seen in "Bumper to Bumper," wears an ankle monitor on one of her fins.
Mrs. Puff and Mr. Krabs have been secretly dating each other for 16 years, as mentioned in "Whirly Brains." Eugene's love for her is enough to temporarily transcend his greed for money; however, he has been known to spend far too much on their dates.
It is revealed in Kamp Koral that Mrs. Puff was a scoutmaster and arts-and-crafts teacher before she was a boating school teacher. At Kamp Koral, Mrs. Puff was in charge of looking after the campers, including SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward and Sandy.
SpongeBob has attended her school ever since its opening, yet has failed his final driving exam countless times, often injuring Mrs. Puff and/or damaging the school and other people in the process.
SpongeBob, Mrs. Puff's longest-standing student, is the bane of her existence. His distracting personality, reckless driving, fear of the driving course and inability to improve torment her to no end. SpongeBob has failed his driving test countless times, often sending Mrs. Puff to the hospital and causing immense property damage in the process. On multiple occasions, she has been sent to jail as a result of his actions. To make matters worse, SpongeBob has failed to come to terms with the reality that he cannot learn how to drive properly, largely due to his boundless optimism. Due to this, she and Squidward are on very good terms for good or evil since SpongeBob is also Squidward's bane of existence, so she has someone to relate to as seen in "Boating Buddies."
However, in comparison to Squidward, Mrs. Puff is much kinder to SpongeBob; while Squidward usually tells SpongeBob face-to-face that he hates him, Mrs. Puff has at least tried to hide her fury. Also, she has even acted nice to SpongeBob on some occasions, though these moments tend not to last very long.
Mrs. Puff is a beige pufferfish with light teal fins for limbs and five brown spots under her face. Each of her fins has three green lines in the center. Her back is light brown and covered in spikes. She has big eyes with lots of wrinkles around them, showing her old age. She also has a round beak that she usually wears pink lipstick over. She has a blonde wig with an orange outline. Sometimes, when she moves quickly, her wig flies off of her head.
Her normal attire is a blue sailor's outfit with a yellow string necktie, a blue sailor cap, a red skirt and bright crimson shoes. When she is in jail, her outfit is a red version of her normal sailor's uniform. When she is on parole, her shoes are black and she has an ankle monitor.
When Mrs. Puff is scared, stressed or involved in a boat crash, she inflates like a balloon. Some episodes show that how much she puffs up depends on the severity of the crash. This is the defining trait that makes her a pufferfish.
In "Demolition Doofus," SpongeBob accidentally makes her crippled and unable to puff up again. In that form, she looks thinner and taller than her usual self. However, she puffs up again at the end of the episode.
Mrs. Puff is very paranoid and has a history of mental instability. In "No Free Rides," it is implied that she had to move to another town and start a new life with a new name from the past. Mrs. Puff seems to have a rather very dark history according to various episodes and may also suggest a far more sinister mental instability. In fact, various episodes show that she has lived in a different town, taught in a different boating school, and that Mrs. Puff is not her actual name. This is possibly due to a previous failure with a student that may have had anxiety or a severe lack of common sense that SpongeBob often suffers. This is slightly confirmed in "Lighthouse Louie" where a file labelled "Mrs. Puff" can be seen behind the handle of a cooking pot and close to the picture of Mr. Krabs with hearts on it. This is all seen as SpongeBob cleans out the boating school's lighthouse. Click the following link for further information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daqf3zwxvdw&ab_channel=alexbale This is again confirmed in "Lighthouse Louie" when an old "New Kelp Post" newspaper titled "Deranged Boat Teacher Makes Getaway," and dated October 21, is seen if paused at the right moment. This once again confirms Mrs. Puff's mental instability and dark history. The subtitles on the paper also read "Distracts Authorities With Balloon Animals" which is exactly what Mrs. Puff was hoping to remember when she attempted to steal SpongeBob's boating vehicle in "No Free Rides." The picture in the newspaper also appears in the imaginary news broadcast episode as she imagines the terrors of SpongeBob driving out on the open road without any actual training. Another thing that references this is the fact that the fish reporter in the imaginary broadcast had hair which may hint that how she imagined it is exactly what had caused her to flee to Bikini Bottom in the first place. While this is mostly caused by SpongeBob's antics, she also suffers her pain of losing her husband, who is now a reading lamp. She is also shown to have a strict Zero-Tolerance Policy in "New Student Starfish," as she accuses SpongeBob of all Patrick's disruptions and even ignores SpongeBob when he tries to explain anything and doesn't tolerate fighting. However, teaching and driving give her great joy, so her general outlook on life is a positive one and she always remains optimistic. When she does not have to drive with SpongeBob, she loves her job. In fact, just the thought of SpongeBob seems to drive her mad with anxiety and sinister rage. This is confirmed in almost every episode the two interact in. However, because of her past, her mental state has degraded and deteriorated, but somewhat healed. When she found SpongeBob to be unteachable, it caused her mental state to collapse once again. This happens in almost every episode technically, but in some episodes, SpongeBob's lack of common sense and failure to adhere to driving laws has drove her over the edge, even to the point she once attempted to get him killed and even attempted to kill him herself though both attempts failed due to obvious plot armor, SpongeBob's luck, and Mrs. Puff's horrible luck. "Doing Time" has Mrs. Puff's mental state nearly collapse as SpongeBob and Patrick attempt to break her free which was revealed to be a dream. This did not end either. It was one dream after another which led Mrs. Puff to eventually give up whether she was back in reality or still dreaming. In one episode, Mrs. Puff is seen in the background talking to an ice sculpture of SpongeBob during his house party. Also in "No Free Rides," there is a picture in Mrs. Puff's house that shows Mrs. Puff at the exact moment she's standing in the door way which goes in presumably an infinite loop of a picture within a picture. This is just one of several hints of her delusional mental state. A similar picture also appears in "Bumper to Bumper."
Overall, Mrs. Puff is a very patient and friendly fish. She thinks nothing is more satisfying than passing another boating student. While she does not always show it, her dislike toward driving with SpongeBob is not only caused by his dangerous antics but by a feeling of self-doubt and disappointment in herself as well. She desperately wants to pass him and she won't feel that she has succeeded as a teacher if SpongeBob never graduates. Thus, getting SpongeBob a driver's license is a goal shared by both of them and Mrs. Puff remains dedicated to continuing teaching SpongeBob until that moment.
Since SpongeBob seems unteachable, Mrs. Puff often has to think outside the box to get closer to the goal of getting SpongeBob to drive. She often thinks up plans to find new ways of teaching him, hoping each time that she has found the key. While her plans never succeed, they have come exceedingly close. For example, in "Bumper to Bumper," she tries to rid SpongeBob of anxiety while driving by giving him the road test in a desert in the middle of nowhere. SpongeBob can clear his conscience and drives very well, but the driving test ends up being nullified because Mrs. Puff violated her parole when she drove so far away.
At the beginning of the series, Mrs. Puff seems to be a little optimistic towards SpongeBob and treats him like a good student, save for a few moments when SpongeBob crashes during the course. However, as the series progressed, Mrs. Puff seemed to have developed an intense hatred for him and can even get a bit of mental instability by just looking at him. In "Krusty Love," her thoughts and fears about SpongeBob cause her to think that she was giving SpongeBob a driving test even though they are not at school or driving.
In the episode "Demolition Doofus," it is shown that Mrs. Puff has finally been driven completely insane by SpongeBob's antics. After losing her ability to puff up, thanks to another failed test by SpongeBob, she becomes incredibly hostile towards him. After seeing the many hospitalized competitors of the annual demolition derby, she decides to sign SpongeBob up for it, hoping that he will get killed in the derby. However, SpongeBob proves to be very hard to take down and he even eliminates all the other competitors. At this point, Mrs. Puff enters the derby in a huge truck and tries to murder SpongeBob herself, only to crash into her boating school and regain her ability to puff up. It is also her first known time tranquilized.
Mrs. Puff is courteous and respectful to her students unless they cause trouble like SpongeBob. Despite being an authority figure, she threatens to kick SpongeBob's butt at the end of "The Bully," believing that SpongeBob punched Flats the Flounder when in reality he passed out from exhaustion after punching SpongeBob. When someone misbehaves in class, she can get very strict. She takes her zero-tolerance policy to its most extreme in "New Student Starfish" when she is completely oblivious to all of Patrick's disruptions but blames SpongeBob for everything, even telling SpongeBob he can't when he tries to explain what is going on. Of course, Mrs. Puff only acts this way because she cares about SpongeBob and Patrick's learning experience and doesn't want them to miss anything she teaches. The thought of SpongeBob intentionally misbehaving shocks her, since he usually tries his best in class.
Mrs. Puff is known to love food, especially chocolate cake and pasta. Sometimes, she uses idioms involving junk foods such as cake, like in "The Getaway" when she tells Dorsal Dan "you're no chocolate cake" as a way of saying "you're no good." She is even shown to like steamed coral in "Krusty Love," although it is shown in other episodes to be a very unappetizing and tasteless food.
There are a few things that Mrs. Puff notably hates. Her list of common annoyances in "Doing Time" includes phone solicitors, company potlucks, insurance payments, and especially road rage. She has an irrational fear of low-quality daytime television, to the point where watching it makes her burst into tears in "The Krabby Kronicle."
Her classroom pet peeves are rowdy behavior in the hallways and students talking to each other during a lesson. She also does not like it when a student interrupts her teaching and tries to teach the class themselves. This is highlighted in "Nautical Novice" when SpongeBob tries to impress Mrs. Puff by providing the class with an abundance of boating-related knowledge on their field trip in an attempt to earn his driver's license. Instead of making her proud, SpongeBob makes Mrs. Puff angry because he does all of the teachings instead of her.
Ironically, she does not hate spending time in jail and likes it in prison because it offers her a break from the stresses of school life, particularly SpongeBob's reckless driving. In "Doing Time," she explains to SpongeBob and Patrick: "I like it here. These are my people!" Earlier in the episode, she is shown happily doing menial prison tasks like breaking rocks and making license plates while singing a cheery song.
Because her profession involves driving and a lot of boat crashes, she has an insurance agent and a personal therapist. Her agent has never made an appearance on screen, but she is known to call him or her whenever she knows SpongeBob will be around. Sometimes, such as in "Teacher's Pests," Mrs. Puff has to interrupt class to call her therapist and ask for a "mega dose" of anxiety medication.
Mrs. Puff is often accused of SpongeBob's reckless driving and havoc wreak, with the authorities believing that she fails to educate him, and usually gets arrested in each instance. She was blamed for SpongeBob's destruction of Bikini Bottom in "Hall Monitor," leading to her arrest. In "Patrick-Man!," Patrick frames Mrs. Puff for stealing a boat when she was trying to free a student trapped in it. The authorities believe him and thereby arrest Mrs. Puff. In "The Sponge Who Could Fly," Mrs. Puff is among the many citizens rioting against SpongeBob for refusing to do any more favors.
During the comic Puff's Pageant, it's revealed that Mrs. Puff has robbed multiple banks and that she may go back to robbing banks if she loses her boating school.
Mrs. Puff owns the Bikini Bottom boating school, which functions as a driver's education class under the sea. The schoolyard is made of a sunken lighthouse, a yellow school building, and a boardwalk. Maritime objects for décor, like buoys and anchors, make up the fence that surrounds the area. Just like Mrs. Puff's sailor outfit, most things at the boating school have a nautical theme.
Unlike real courses for driver's ed students, the enclosed test course at Mrs. Puff's school is a stunt track, exaggerated for comedic effect: there are bleachers for an audience of fans, stunt ramps, a race-style finish line, and even a hoop of fire. In some episodes, the testing course is even more elaborate with moving cutouts of obstacles and pedestrians ("Mrs. Puff, You're Fired").
Mrs. Puff's classroom building looks small, but it contains two floors, an entire hallway, and multiple rooms, the main one being her classroom. The hallways have lockers, photos of Mrs. Puff on the walls, and trophy cases. There are also two restrooms for boy and girl students. In "New Student Starfish," SpongeBob has names for all of the places at boating school: the Hallway of Learning, the Fountain of Learning, the Lockers of Learning, the Stairs of Learning, and—for the second flight of stairs—"just the stairs."
Boating school students spend the majority of their time in the classroom, where there are desks made of seashells. Mrs. Puff has a collection of posters on the walls that show labeled diagrams of boats and maritime signal flags. The walls are also decorated with ship paddles, steering wheels, and paintings of the ocean. She usually teaches the class by writing on her chalkboard, which looks like any other writing surface but is similar to a one-way mirror, allowing her to stand outside the classroom and watch students from behind it without them knowing.
Near the chalkboard is the board for Good Noodle star stickers, which Mrs. Puff awards to students for good behavior. Each student's name is written on the board and one star is added if they answer a question correctly or have outstanding classwork. If a student misbehaves, she takes one of their stars away. Most students only have a couple of stars, but SpongeBob has loads of them collected near his name on the board. He obsesses over the stars and can't bear to lose any.
The course at Mrs. Puff's school is divided into numbered lessons, each one taking up one full day of school. For example, the lesson of the day in "New Student Starfish" is Lesson 22: Docking. Her students only need a handful of specific school supplies: mainly their driver's manuals, which are similar to textbooks in a regular school, and writing utensils. Lessons usually involve a lecture from Mrs. Puff that students are expected to take notes on. She always says, "Good grades only follow diligent notes."
Many aspects of boating school are more similar to an elementary school than to driver's ed; for example, recess and lunchtime are part of the everyday schedule. There is no cafeteria, but students are allowed to eat outside on the benches. If they choose, students like Squidward can also have lunch in the bathroom stalls, as seen in "Boating Buddies." Mrs. Puff gives rowdy students detention, albeit very rarely. When a student is in detention, they have to stay seated in their seashell desk for an entire hour without doing anything. This is a negative reinforcement for their bad behavior.
Like most teachers, Mrs. Puff routinely gives out homework and papers for her students to complete. Some of the assignments she gives are based on a simple driving-related topic. Other times, they are more particular or superfluous, like reading about aspects of boating history ("Nautical Novice"). SpongeBob always does his classwork diligently and in short amounts of time, but when he has homework from Mrs. Puff, he tends to procrastinate on it until the last minute. This can be seen in "Procrastination," where Mrs. Puff assigns SpongeBob an essay about what not to do at a stoplight. He spends the entire night finding ways to put it off, eventually dozing off into a nightmare about his house burning down because he never wrote his paper. Luckily, he wakes up and uses everything he did to procrastinate as examples of what not to do at a stoplight.
An interesting, but also unusual, assignment that Mrs. Puff has her students complete is a science project involving an unhatched chicken egg. The students have to keep watch of the egg, named Roger, and make sure it stays warm under a light bulb. SpongeBob says that the light represents knowledge and Roger's shell represents the "fragile line between life and death when behind the wheel of a boat." However, even Mrs. Puff herself admits that she is "not sure what saving an egg has to do with boating school."
At the end of each semester, Mrs. Puff's students have to take a final exam on paper. She only gives them about three minutes to complete it. It is never shown up close, but based on the comments made about the exam in "Boating Buddies," it is likely a short and simple multiple-choice style test. If a student fails the exam, they are allowed to retake it in a week. The written exam is different from the final boating test, which is taken outside of the classroom on the driving course. If a pupil fails this final road test, they have to be in boating school for another entire year, so it is more important.
Some aspects of Mrs. Puff's school are less positive. She has an entire drawer full of mean drawings made by rebel students, such as Patrick's sketch of her as a "Big Fat Meanie." Additionally, having to grade so many papers (sometimes overnight) can cause Mrs. Puff's stress.
The exact location of Mrs. Puff's school varies within the series, but according to The Essential Guide, it is in the center of Bikini Bottom between Mrs. Puff's house and Mr. Krabs and Pearl's house. It is the biggest known establishment in town, counting the driving course. In "Dying for Pie" and several other episodes, the boating school lighthouse is visible from the aerial view of Bikini Bottom.
- Hall monitor - Every week, Mrs. Puff assigns one student in her class the role of hall monitor. When it's a student's turn to be hall monitor, she gives them a special uniform. The hall monitor must patrol the halls of the boating school and maintain order for an entire school day. Most of Mrs. Puff's students could not care less about being hall monitor and groan at the thought of being chosen. SpongeBob, however, thinks it is a very important duty. Mrs. Puff tries to avoid picking him at all costs, but when the time comes, SpongeBob makes an acceptance speech that ends up being so long that the bell rings before he can even put the uniform on.
- Henrik Fjord play - Mrs. Puff idolizes Henrik Fjord, the inventor of the boatmobile. As shown in the comic Puff's Pageant, she and her boating school class put on a musical play based on Henrik's life every year. SpongeBob auditions for the lead role each time, but has only ever gotten the part once. On this occasion, he drove a replica of Fjord's first-ever boatmobile onstage during the play and ended up obliterating the theater.
- Picture day - Another annual tradition at Mrs. Puff's school is picture day. On this occasion, Mrs. Puff hires a photographer fish to take photos of her students for the yearbook. Her yearbooks have the phrase "Cautious Memories" with a picture of a traffic cone on the front cover. In the episode of the same name, SpongeBob tries his hardest to get to school clean so that he can have the perfect yearbook photo. However, Patrick covers him in peanut butter just as he arrives at Mrs. Puff's school door.
- Apples - At boating school, it is a courtesy for the students to give Mrs. Puff a teacher's apple when they come to class. Being the relentlessly enthusiastic student he is, SpongeBob is known to bring them often, and Mrs. Puff even has an entire crate of apples from SpongeBob below her desk.
- Field trips - Mrs. Puff takes her class on a field trip every once in a while. She is known to have taken her students to a real stoplight and the Bikini Bottom Museum of Boating. When there is a field trip, the students are transported by bus in the early morning instead of going to her schoolhouse. The buses for field trips seem to be similar to actual school buses since they make stops at each of the students' houses to pick them up.
- Class president - According to a tweet from the official SpongeBob Twitter account, Mrs. Puff's students can run for class president. SpongeBob has considered running, but he has decided against it because he would rather be hall monitor instead.
Family and counterparts
- Western Mrs. Puff - In "Pest of the West," Mrs. Puff's western ancestor was one of the main Bikini Gulch residents who helped SpongeBob's ancestor SpongeBuck SquarePants. She was very similar to the modern-day Mrs. Puff, with the same voice, mannerisms, and group of friends. She was a dancer at the Krusty Kantina who shared a seahorse-drawn carriage with William Krabs and Hopalong Tentacles. She and her friends had a pronounced hatred for the western Plankton. After Dead Eye Plankton was defeated by SpongeBuck, she even paid just to step on him repeatedly. The western Mrs. Puff, along with the four other main residents of Bikini Gulch, was photographed for the book Family Histories of Bikini Bottom.
- Mr. Puff - Mrs. Puff used to be married to another pufferfish named Mr. Puff. Because he is dead, nothing is known about his personality or how he met his wife. He was captured by fishermen and turned into a novelty lamp, which Mrs. Puff does not like to talk about. However, she is known to have told SpongeBob about her husband's fate, because they are so close.
- Mrs. Puff's dad - Mrs. Puff's father appeared in a deleted scene of "Doing Time." It is unknown if her father appeared physically or through a flashback. It is assumed that he likely appeared during the sequence where Mrs. Puff asks herself where she went wrong in life, and then reflects on the founding of her school. He is listed in the credits of the episode, which credit Tom Kenny for voicing him. His dialogue had already been recorded when he was cut from the episode.
- Mrs. Fluff - The counterpart of Mrs. Puff from the ice cream-themed land of Pint Bottom, seen in the comic "CreamBob ConePants." She was an anthropomorphic jar of marshmallow cream who worked as CreamBob's teacher. The real-world versions of SpongeBob and Patrick ended up eating Mrs. Fluff and the entire town of Pint Bottom, which was located inside a tub of ice cream.
Mr. Puff (husband)
Mrs. Puff is revealed to have had a husband in the episode "Krusty Love." However, he passed away and was turned into a lamp at a gift shop. She has since had trouble recovering from this tragedy with SpongeBob stating that she does not like to talk about it.
SpongeBob SquarePants has attended Mrs. Puff's Boating School ever since its founding. He was the first student to show up when she announced it was open. He is a relentlessly obedient and well-intentioned student who knows the answer to every question, aces the oral exam every time he takes it, and obsesses over earning the Good Noodle stars that Mrs. Puff displays near her chalkboard. He often brings her apples as a courtesy, and she even has a whole crate of them below her desk. He would be her best student if it weren't for his tendency to freak out whenever he steps inside of a boat. He has failed his final driving exam countless times, often injuring Mrs. Puff and damaging her school in the process. He knows every rule of the road but wishes he could only drive as he knew them.
SpongeBob does not just respect Mrs. Puff as a teacher; he idolizes her and she acts as a motherly figure to him. She is said to be his favorite teacher, as well as one of his best friends. In the book The Art Contest: No Cheating Allowed!, SpongeBob even paints a masterpiece resembling the Mona Lisa in Mrs. Puff's likeness. SpongeBob gets upset whenever she is not at school and has cried over her many times. He oddly seems to think her criminal record is a good thing; in a tweet from Nickelodeon, he said, " Mrs. Puff is no common criminal! She is the most unique criminal you will ever meet."
In Class Confusion, SpongeBob bursts into tears after Mrs. Puff is absent at school. He tells Patrick, "Mrs. Puff wasn't at school today, and there was a sub who didn't do anything the right way, and I was supposed to stay after school for extra help!" Patrick calms him down, saying, "I'm sure Mrs. Puff will be back tomorrow...you'll be failing another driving test before you know it!" SpongeBob replies, "I hope so," giving the impression that he may be failing on purpose just so that he can continue to go to Boating School.
One of the most important moments showing how deeply SpongeBob cares for Mrs. Puff is "Gone." SpongeBob finds that all of his friends have gone missing and vows to continue their legacies for them by carrying out their professions. He imitates the other Bikini Bottomites with ease, but it is Mrs. Puff's absence that makes SpongeBob crack. He goes straight from his happy demeanor to a sobbing mess while imitating her. He is unable to finish pronouncing Mrs. Puff's name without crying. He also states he will never be happy again as he cannot replace Mrs. Puff and his other close friends.
SpongeBob longs to be Mrs. Puff's best student and occasionally becomes depressed over his helplessness behind the wheel. In "Burst Your Bubble," after crashing during his driving test yet again, SpongeBob solemnly walks home in despair. Behind his house, he blows up a bubble version of Mrs. Puff to tell him the words he longs to hear: "You're a very good driver, SpongeBob, and my favorite student!"
Mrs. Puff, on the other hand, tends to find SpongeBob exasperating but tries to be patient and acts friendly around him. They have a very close bond since SpongeBob is her perpetual student. She knows his phone number ("Procrastination") and has visited his house countless times. It is shown in many episodes that she is a motherly figure that SpongeBob looks up to. Episodes such as "Hall Monitor" and "Oral Report" reveal that Mrs. Puff sees SpongeBob as her responsibility like a parent would view their child.
In the book Once Upon a SpongeBob, Mrs. Puff plays the role of SpongeBob's mother. When SpongeBob tries to explain that she is his teacher, she responds, "You mean you don't recognize your own mother? Poor boy. I guess not eating for two days has affected your memory. SpongeBob, I want you to trade Gary for some food for us." She then makes him go trade Gary for some magic beans.
Mrs. Puff tends to care for Squidward more than SpongeBob due to having good driving skills as opposed to SpongeBob. It is even shown that she portrayed him in a documentary as a "good boater." They also share a common dislike of SpongeBob, as he is always getting both of them into trouble for things that sometimes aren't even their fault.
Mrs. Puff is commonly annoyed by Patrick, as shown in "New Student Starfish," when he writes an offensive note behind her back. However, Patrick is a better driver than SpongeBob.
In "Doing Time," SpongeBob brings Patrick along to help break Mrs. Puff out of jail and she asks, "Why'd you bring him?," sounding a bit annoyed. In "Driven to Tears," he says that she isn't the boss of him, thus annoying her. However, he does show that he knows how to drive, thus leading to SpongeBob's jealous side taking control of himself. Also, in "Patrick-Man!," Patrick accuses her of stealing a boat, even though she is actually trying to help someone to escape from it. However, she is falsely accused and sent to prison for it.
Mr. Krabs and Mrs. Puff have been dating secretly for at least sixteen years. In "Whirly Brains," Mrs. Puff and Mr. Krabs go on a date behind a dumpster. It is mentioned that they have been in a relationship for sixteen years. In "Feral Friends," they almost kiss before they are turned into feral creatures.
They first meet in "Krusty Love" where Mr. Krabs notices Mrs. Puff at the Krusty Krab and tries to talk to her. He is so nervous that he can't speak in real words or full sentences. However, Mrs. Puff says he has a "way with words" and immediately accepts, having fallen a little for him already at this point. They go on their first date at the Fancy! restaurant. Later, Mr. Krabs' lovestruck instincts get the best of him and he orders SpongeBob to buy Mrs. Puff all kinds of superfluous things. Luckily, Mrs. Puff tells Mr. Krabs that she doesn't feel comfortable accepting so many gifts and would rather "go Dutch." She even gives him a little money in return and kisses him on his forehead as the episode ends, foreshadowing their continued relationship.
In "Life of Crime," when SpongeBob and Patrick find out about everything Mr. Krabs stole ("borrowed") from his friends, Mr. Krabs points out that he received Mrs. Puff's hair curlers as a gift and did not steal them. When SpongeBob and Patrick leave, Mr. Krabs cuddles Mrs. Puff's hair curlers and says "That was a close one!"—showing that he cherishes them.
There have also been many small hints and references to their infatuation with each other, like them sharing a dance in "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler" and "SpongeBob's House Party." Mrs. Puff is shown to own a framed photo of Mr. Krabs in "Spot Returns." According to SpongeBob, "If your boss thinks your driving teacher is more attractive than a Krabby Patty with cheese, it's true love."
Even though they are generally in love, the Krabs-Puff relationship seemed to slow down in seasons 4-9. Despite being in a relationship, Mr. Krabs invades Mrs. Puff's property at night to obtain food for Pearl in "Growth Spout." Mrs. Puff arms herself with a crowbar but never finds out who broke into her house. In "Summer Job," Mrs. Puff asks Mr. Krabs if he thinks they should go on a date, but he instead says that she should work at the Krusty Krab. In "Move It or Lose It," she shows apathy to Mr. Krabs when she refuses to sign SpongeBob's "Save the Krusty Krab" petition. However, beginning with "Whirly Brains," in season 10 the writers have revived the relationship, now referring to it in practically every episode those characters are in.
In "Teacher's Pests," Plankton is enrolled at Mrs. Puff's school. Despite Plankton's intense rivalry with Mr. Krabs, Mrs. Puff does not seem to mind him. She only gets upset when Krabs and Plankton argue. In "Plankton Paranoia," Mrs. Puff helps to organize Plankton's surprise party for Mr. Krabs.
Karen and Sandy
Mrs. Puff is one of the four Gal Pals along with Karen, Sandy and Pearl. Karen and Sandy sympathize with Mrs. Puff for her constant stress due to SpongeBob. In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Mrs. Puff and Sandy sit together at the opening of the Krusty Krab 2. They talk to each other and realize that while Mrs. Puff only paid $9, Sandy paid $10. In "Girls' Night Out," Karen and Sandy help Mrs. Puff relax by pranking SpongeBob, but the plan goes awry when it almost cost him his life. In "A Cabin in the Kelp," the Gal Pals go on a camping trip together. The episode reveals that Karen, Sandy and Mrs. Puff have been together in their group for many years, showing the strength and longevity of their friendship.
- Her first name, Poppy, is revealed in the game SpongeBob SquarePants Typing.
- However her actual name was Bobbi Blowfish in the original storyboard of "Lighthouse Louie."
- This may be a reference to her ability to inflate and deflate (pop) like a balloon.
- Four different Mrs. Puff plush toys have been released. In 2008, there was a normal beanie-sized plush, a jumbo plush pillow, and a mini keychain. In 2012, the standard plush was re-released but without her wig or nose.
- In "Patty Hype," the brown carnival patron appears in the coloration of Mrs. Puff.
- Mrs. Puff inflating as a result of SpongeBob crashing his boatmobile is a reference to the airbags in passenger sides of vehicles that go off whenever said passenger is endangered.
- Mrs. Puff deflates in three episodes: "Pranks a Lot," "Demolition Doofus" and "Don't Feed the Clowns."
- In "My Two Krabses," it is revealed that Mrs. Puff likes the smell of chum.
- In 2002, NickJr.com (the website for Nickelodeon's preschool block) published a recipe for "Mrs. Puff's Pastry Fish" that parents could print. The recipe was part of a SpongeBob party theme, making it one of the only times that Nick Jr. published its own SpongeBob content.
- It is known that Mrs. Puff is ambidextrous because she uses her right hand in the episode "Boating School," but in "Sandy's Rocket," she writes with her left hand.
- In "Hello Bikini Bottom!," Mrs. Puff owns her very own bus, which Mr. Krabs ends up stealing.
- A running gag in the series is that she gets injured or arrested whenever she drives with SpongeBob, but always lets him come back to class afterward.
- Although Mrs. Puff and Sandy only have two lines each in the 2004 movie, they are both billed under the "Main Cast" in the film's credits because they are main characters in the series.
- "The Sponge Who Could Fly" reveals that Mrs. Puff owns a snail and has had one since she was a little girl.
- In The Sponge Who Could Fly musical, her snail is revealed to be named Annette.
- Mrs. Puff has the largest criminal record out of all the characters in the series.
- In "Demolition Doofus," Mrs. Puff strangely does not get arrested for attempted murder, which is illegal.
- In season 1, whenever Mrs. Puff inflates, she has a deep voice. However, since season 2, her voice doesn't change whenever she inflates. Despite this, Mrs. Puff has a deep voice when she inflates in the season 10 episode "Whirly Brains."
- Mrs. Puff's quote "Oh, Neptune" became an internet meme in 2016.
- Also, her quote "Now for some tunes!" is a popular source for vines and meme videos.
- The scene where Patrick calls her a "big fat meanie" is often edited in memes.
- In The SpongeBob Musical, it is implied that she is an alcoholic, since she goes on a bender when she believes the world is about to end, and at one point, walks around with an empty beer bottle.
- The number of times that SpongeBob has taken Mrs. Puff's driving test increased dramatically throughout the series:
- 37 times before "Boating School."
- 38 times after "Boating School."
- 39 times in the book adaptation of "New Student Starfish" (page).
- Dozens of times in this tweet from @SpongeBob.
- 814 times in this tweet from @SpongeBob.
- 4,087 times in this tweet from @SpongeBob.
- 1,258,056 times in "Mrs. Puff, You're Fired."
- Despite the series taking place under the sea, Mrs. Puff is the only main character who's actually a fish.
- In the episode "Krusty Love," Eugene thinks Mrs. Puff is married because of the prefix "Mrs." However, SpongeBob reveals that she's single as she's a widow. It's unknown why she never went back to her maiden name.
- ^ SpongeBob SquarePants Character Guide
- ^ a b c "From Boy to Bob", Nick Mag Presents: SpongeBob SquarePants. June 2003.
- ^ a b c d e f g Stephen Hillenburg, artist and animator
- ^ "The Young Man and the Sea Sponge"
- ^ a b TBIVision: 'SpongeBob SquarePants' creator Steve Hillenburg
- ^ https://twitter.com/VincentWaller72/status/856867849100435456
- ^ How to Draw SpongeBob SquarePants Drawing Book and Kit
- ^ Hall Monitor
- ^ Code Yellow
- ^ @SpongeBob: September 1, 2011
- ^ "New Student Starfish"
- ^ "No Free Rides"
- ^ @SpongeBob: January 22, 2014
- ^ @SpongeBob: November 19, 2015
- ^ "Boat Smarts." SpongeBob SquarePants. Nickelodeon. July 23, 2007. Television.
- ^ @SpongeBob: December 14, 2009