- French Narrator (physically shown)
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- Dream SpongeBob
- Mrs. Puff
- Dream Mrs. Puff
- King Neptune (mentioned)
- Jellyfish (drawn)
- Daydream Realistic Fish Head (debut in episodes)
- Shark (in a picture)
- Margaret SquarePants
- Harold SquarePants
- Boaty (debut)
- Balloon giraffe
- Giant clams
- Billboard fish
- Mrs. Flounder (mentioned)
- Prison guards (debut)
- Bikini Bottom Jail Warden (mentioned)
The episode opens when SpongeBob's last boating exam of the year ends in failure after he runs over the French narrator. Despite the failing grade, SpongeBob remains optimistic that his next year in Mrs. Puff's class will be productive. Mrs. Puff, on the other hand, dreads the thought of another year administering boating exams for SpongeBob. In desperation, she offers him an extra credit exam: a short, ten-word thesis on one thing he learned in boating school. SpongeBob finds himself not able to decide what to pick, and he starts to have a nervous breakdown. But Mrs. Puff, completely tired of SpongeBob, lets him pass anyway.
As SpongeBob leaves with his new driver's license, Mrs. Puff ponders over whether she's done the wrong thing and starts feeling guilt, then has a terrible daydream of him destroying the town with his driving. She consoles herself with the fact that SpongeBob lacks a boat to drive, much less one to wreck. Upon arriving at her home, however, she finds SpongeBob and his parents inside with a huge cake to thank her for her teachings, as futile as they had once seemed. Both SpongeBob and Mrs. Puff get another surprise when they see that SpongeBob's parents bought him a brand new boatmobile. In utter amazement, SpongeBob falls into the cake in a dead faint. As SpongeBob's parents take him home, Mrs. Puff realizes the danger he now poses and decides to settle the matter before anyone figures out she let him skip through boating school.
SpongeBob's parents tuck him into his bed and tell him that, due to his head injury, he should avoid driving anywhere that night. As soon as his parents leave, he sneaks out his bedroom window, gets into the boat, and falls asleep. Not long after, Mrs. Puff hijacks SpongeBob's boat and drives it away. SpongeBob wakes up to find the masked Mrs. Puff in the process of stealing his vehicle and fights her off.
Mrs. Puff tries knocking SpongeBob out of the boat, but he grabs hold of the rear bumper. She next drives through various obstacles to lose him, but he catches up to her while two police officers watch the commotion from their vehicle. In their struggle, SpongeBob ultimately reveals the thief to be Mrs. Puff, rendering him senseless just as the boat crashes into the police car.
SpongeBob and Mrs. Puff talk in the Bikini Bottom jail, where Mrs. Puff is being held. Mrs. Puff apologizes to SpongeBob and says that she shouldn't have passed him when she knew he really wasn't ready. SpongeBob understands he'll have to relinquish his license, but Mrs. Puff tells him he can still continue his lessons with Mrs. Flounder, another driving teacher starting a new class. As the episode closes, SpongeBob assures her she is the only one who he wants teaching him, giving her a tip that the warden will let her go early in exchange for free driving lessons.
|( ‣ ) Production music|
|( • ) Original music|
|( ◦ ) SpongeBob music|
‣ Hen Pecker - The Surfdusters [Title card]
‣ Dingles Regatta - Brian Peters [opening at boating school]
‣ El Dementia - The Surfdusters ["No, SpongeBob, wait!]
‣ Whisper from the Past [#64.02] - Gregor F. Narholz ["Don't worry. I'll be alright, Mrs. Puff."]
‣ Hawaiian Link (A) - Richard Myhill [Mrs. Puff inflates]
‣ Unease - Dick Stephen Walter ["Another year with him!"]
• Puka A - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield ["Extra credit!"]
• SpongeBob Closing Theme - Steve Belfer, Nicolas Carr [SpongeBob sharpening his pencil]
‣ Muscovite Rebellion - David Arnold, Paul Hart ["No, wait, I changed my mind!"]
• Idea Vibe - Nicolas Carr [SpongeBob's essay]
‣ Youthful Days - Mike Sunderland [SpongeBob's license]
• Sting Ttension - Nicolas Carr ["And his name is SpongeBob SquarePants!"]
‣ The Nightmare Begins (A) - John Devereaux [Mrs. Puff imagines SpongeBob destroying the city]
‣ Hawaiian Link (B) - Richard Myhill [Mrs. Puff goes home]
‣ Sunny Samoa - George de Fretes, Jan Rap [surprise party]
‣ Danger Zone - Mike Sunderland ["What have I done?"]
• Undertow - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [SpongeBob sneaks out of his room]
‣ Stepping into Danger - Mike Sunderland [Mrs. Puff in a ski mask]
‣ El Dementia - The Sufdusters [SpongeBob and Mrs. Puff scream]
‣ Hen Pecker - The Surfdusters ["Who are you and what are you doing in my boat?"]
‣ Gorgeous Girl - Kurt Schick [Mrs. Puff turns on the radio]
‣ Hen Pecker - The Surfdusters [boat out of control]
‣ Holiday Dream - Max Mahlmann [ending]
- This episode is available on the Sea Stories, Complete 2nd Season, Christmas Who?, Underwater Driving, The Underwater Stories, First 100 Episodes, The Ultimate SpongeBob Box Set, Out to Sea, SpongeBob SquarePants Vol. 3, The Complete Second Season, From the Beginning, Part 1, The SpongeBob SquarePants Collection, Driving Bikini Bottom Crazy!, I'm Your Biggest Fan, The SpongeBob SquarePants 8 Season DVD Collection, The First & Second Seasons, and The Best 200 Episodes Ever DVDs as well as on VideoNow.
- "No Free Rides" was ranked #33 during the Best Day Ever event from November 9–10, 2006.
- This episode, along with "I'm Your Biggest Fanatic," were set to premiere on March 24, 2001, but were postponed to April 14.
- In "Boating School," SpongeBob is upset about failing his driving test, but as of this episode, he does not care about failing. In later episodes, SpongeBob cries when he fails his driving test.
- The fourth wall is broken when the French Narrator is run over by SpongeBob at the beginning of the episode.
- This episode reveals that the French Narrator is actually a character in the show.
- This is used as a plot point in a later episode, "Feral Friends."
- Realistic Fish Head is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker in this episode instead of Doug Lawrence.
- SpongeBob and his parents hold a surprise party for Mrs. Puff at her house. When Mrs. Puff enters, a small picture of her standing at the door in the same shot can be seen. In addition, the same picture is seen in this picture. This is an example of a recursive image, one image that is repeated infinitely within itself.
- Another recursive image appears in the episode "Bumper to Bumper." Ironically, both are boating school episodes.
- This is the first of four episodes transcribed as a comic into the SpongeBob SquarePants/Tokyopop book Crime and Funishment. The other three were "Life of Crime," "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V," and "Nasty Patty."
- In the Croatian dub, the episode's title is "Ništa zabadava," which translates to "Nothing for Free."
- Although SpongeBob is seen coming out of the radio slot in the car, earlier in the episode, this same radio is shown and it still had a SpongeBob-like appearance before the event occurred.
- There are candles on top of SpongeBob's bed posts that are lit. When SpongeBob's mother turns the lights out in his room, the candles go out too.
- In Mrs. Puff's daydream of SpongeBob being on the road, the sign beside the bus is white.
- When SpongeBob climbs inside Boaty, he is seen wearing socks. Although, seconds before, his socks fall on Boaty's floor.
- In this episode, SpongeBob's room is missing his alarm clock and the top part of his bed.
- It is likely that his alarm clock is being repaired and is therefore, not there.
- "My leg!:" SpongeBob runs over the people having a birthday party in Mrs. Puff's fantasy.
- When SpongeBob goes to Boaty, he has casts on his head. In the next shot, when he is out of the window, his head casts disappear from here and for the rest of the episode.
- It's possible he removed the casts before leaving his house.
- Apparently, Mrs. Puff has given a student a driver's license before and it ended in mayhem, like SpongeBob, as she says "I'll have to move to a new town, open a new boating school, with a new name! No. Not again."
- The wallpaper in SpongeBob's room looks different than usual.
- The radio station that SpongeBob hosts is called "K.R.U.D." (Crud)
- In the Crime and Funishment book/Cine-Manga version of this episode, the scene between SpongeBob being kicked out of the boat and Mrs. Puff turning on the SpongeBob radio is cut out.
- This is the first episode where the track "Stepping into Danger" plays.
- This is the second time where Mrs. Puff goes to jail. The first is in "Hall Monitor."
- This is the first time Mrs. Puff's house appears.
- On the November 10, 2006 airing, this episode was paired with "Squid's Day Off."
- The accident company has the same phone number as the Tattletale Strangler (555-1234) in "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler."
- The license that Mrs. Puff gives SpongeBob says it expires on December 14, 2003. It is the same one from the episode "Sleepy Time."
- Additionally, when Mrs. Puff gives SpongeBob his driver's license, he licks it and comments "It tastes just like I dreamt it would." Incidentally, he dreams he is holding a driver's license and licks it in "Sleepy Time."
- In the scene where the cops look at the boat, it is downhill, but when the boat comes toward them, it goes off a cliff. When it focuses on the cops again, it is back downhill, making the boat look like it got into the air from nowhere.
- While Mrs. Puff is scoring SpongeBob's driving test, he initially has a negative score. However, when he finishes his test and runs over the traffic cones before asking for his results, he mysteriously ends the test with a positive score.
- After SpongeBob gives the boat his socks, he has them back as soon as he hops onto the boat's side.
- When SpongeBob gets grated by cheese graters, his eyes come out of the graters several times.
- During Mrs. Puff imagination of the chaos and destruction caused by SpongeBob driving, the news report is shown. It reads "Live," but at the end of the news report, after being run over by SpongeBob, the reporter says, "Let's not use that take..." even though anything being shot live cannot be taken back.
- The cliff that the police car is parked next to disappears in the next shot.
- The accident phone number where it reads "accident" is spelled as the Spanish equivalent "accidente", which may or may not be an error. It is certainly not an error in the Spanish dub of this episode.
- During the end credits, when Sirena Irwin's name is shown, her last name is misspelled as "Irwn."
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