- Mrs. Puff
- Jimmy Gus (cameo)
- Tina Fran (cameo)
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- Nat Peterson
- Vera Fishbowl (cameo)
- Franco (cameo)
- Mr. Sun (debut) (cameo)
- Phil (cameo)
- Martin (cameo)
- Frank (cameo)
- Sadie (cameo)
- Abigail Marge (cameo)
- Paco (cameo)
- Shelly Fishbowl (cameo)
- Susie Rechid (cameo)
- Scooter (cameo)
- Squidward Tentacles (cameo)
- Scallops (cameo)
- Fish on the Ferris wheel and the rollercoaster (cameo)
- Jellyfish (cameo)
- Gary the Snail (cameo)
- Patrick Star
- Sandy Cheeks (cameo)
- Marco (mentioned)
- Live-action racer
- Live-action people near the race track
- Dream Norton
- Other mail carriers (mentioned)
- Dream Johnny Elaine
- SpongeBob's dream living room chair
- SpongeBob's dream pants
- Dream snail clock
- Flame (debut)
- SpongeBob's dream house
At Mrs. Puff's Boating School, SpongeBob's class receives an assignment for an 800-word essay on what not to do at a stoplight, due the following morning. SpongeBob cannot wait to get started and, upon arriving home, prepares his materials and workspace. However, he has trouble thinking of what to write, and seeing all his friends having fun outside proves distracting and disappointing that he cannot join.
Time passes as SpongeBob tries to create the right mood for writing. He does some calisthenics, feeds Gary, cleans his kitchen, and takes copious breaks in between. It eventually becomes clear that SpongeBob is only looking for excuses to avoid the essay, as Patrick points out when SpongeBob calls to chat with him in the middle of the night.
While spending more time making a sandwich, SpongeBob hears a knock at the door and rushes to greet the mailman delivering a package. When SpongeBob attempts to engage in small talk, the mailman cuts him off and tells him to get back to writing. Suspicious, SpongeBob slowly heads back inside to find the newscaster on TV reporting on SpongeBob's unfinished essay. He soon discovers that all of his possessions are conspiring against him to prevent the completion of his work. Their interference results in the immolation of his house, which begs SpongeBob as it burns to stop wasting time.
Finally waking up from his nightmare, SpongeBob looks first at his woefully incomplete essay, then at the clock, marking five minutes before class time. In desperation, he suddenly realizes that everything he did up to that point was something that should not be done at a stoplight, and so he quickly writes it all down to fulfill the 800-word requirement.
Excitedly bringing the finished essay to school, SpongeBob finds the classroom empty. Mrs. Puff arrives and explains that she tried to call SpongeBob to give him an update. Due to a teacher's convention she must attend, Mrs. Puff has canceled the assignment and will instead take the class on a field trip the following week to see a stoplight. Left behind with his grin frozen in place, SpongeBob rips his essay in half before he splits himself in half.
- A scene where SpongeBob looks out the window, all his friends are there, and Patrick rubbing Sandy with Sun Lotion then says, "Come on, SpongeBob!"
- This scene was removed due to it looking like Patrick was unhooking Sandy's bikini.
- SpongeBob exercising
- This scene was removed on some airings due to SpongeBob's nose moving up and down in a rather obscene way.
- A scene where a video of a drag race car crashing into a wall is shown.
- This was removed because Nickelodeon feared kids might try to imitate the crash.
All DVDs, 2002-2005 airings, and all airings in other countries show these scenes. After May 2005, the scenes were edited out for commercials. All of these scenes are still available on VideoNow disks with this episode in it.
- Early airings (Before May 2005, Version #1):
- Patrick: Come on, SpongeBob! (SpongeBob goes back to his desk)
- SpongeBob: It should be against the law to have to write an essay on such a super sailorific, sunshiny day! Oh! But I must press onward, because with this pencil, and the completion of this essay, I'll be one step closer to my driver's license! [a live-action drag race is shown. a car hits a wall, tumbles and gets back up] Oh, yeah. This'll be no problemo. I've got plenty of time. It's only 6:00 p.m.! Okay, okay here we go. [struggles to write] I know, I've got to get blood pumpin' in the own vessels. How about some calisthenics? [SpongeBob does calisthenics. While doing it, he recites Hup Hoo several times] I can feel those juices pumpin' now!
- Some early airings (Before May 2005, Version #2):
- Same as above, but SpongeBob exercising was removed.
- Reruns (after May 2005):
- SpongeBob: Gee, this is harder than I thought... [immediately cuts to him sitting happily in his chair] I can feel those juices pumpin' now! [the rest of the episode goes normally.]
|( ‣ ) Associated production music|
|( • ) Original music|
|( ◦ ) SpongeBob music|
‣ Horlepiep - Jan Rap [opening]
‣ On the Beach - Kapono Beamer ["I'm about to write the greatest essay of all time."]
‣ Music, Calliope - [20th Century Fox Sound Effects] [Carnival]
‣ Glory Road - Sam Fonteyn ["But I must press onward, because with this pencil and the completion of this essay..."]
‣ Glissando (g) - Skaila Kanga, Richard Myhill ["...I'll be one step closer to my driver's license!"]
‣ Glissando (h) - Skaila Kanga, Richard Myhill ["Oh, yeah..."]
‣ ? [drum roll]
‣ Vibe Sting - Nicolas Carr ["I know!"]
‣ Steve's March - Sam Spence [calisthenics]
‣ Mambo Fantastico - Gerhard Narholz [squeaking chair]
‣ Sunny Samoa - George de Fretes, Jan Rap [feeding Gary]
‣ Four & Three - Harold Geller [SpongeBob cleaning his kitchen.]
‣ Dramatic Cue (h) - Ronald Hanmer ["10:00?!"]
‣ Dance of the Fumblers - Sam Spence [montage of SpongeBob writing]
‣ Tympup A - Sammy Burdson, John Charles Fiddy ["The..."]
‣ Raspberry C - Sammy Burdson, John Fiddy ["The..."]
‣ Stepping into Danger - Mike Sunderland ["Let's see, only 799 words to go."]
‣ Chief Taravana - Kapono Beamer [SpongeBob calls Patrick]
‣ Stepping into Danger - Mike Sunderland [SpongeBob choking]
‣ Hello Blues - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [SpongeBob looks in the refrigerator]
‣ Dramatic Cue (e) - Ronald Hanmer ["How did he know I'm supposed to be writing an essay?"]
‣ Strange Goings-On - Dick Stephen Walter [SpongeBob goes back into his house]
‣ The Plot Thickens - Dick Stephen Walter [news on TV]
‣ Unknown Track 4 - Nicolas Carr ["Hey, SpongeBob, over here!"]
‣ Terror by Night - Hubert Clifford [SpongeBob running back to his desk/"Ah! My pants!"]
‣ Flight in Panic 1 - Gregor F. Narholz [SpongeBob's house on fire]
‣ Unpreventable - Gregor F. Narholz ["It's almost 9:00!"]
‣ Harp Ding - Nicolas Carr ["Feeding your snail is something not to do at a stoplight!"]
‣ Horlepiep - Jan Rap ["Mrs. Puff, I'm finished!"]
‣ Keel Row - Brian Peters [ending]
- The original version of this episode is available on the Christmas, Complete 2nd Season, and First 100 Episodes DVDs.
- As of January 27, 2019, The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) gives this episode a rating of 8.6/10 based on 460 ratings by users. TV.com users give this episode a rating of 8.5/10 based on 158 votes.
- "Procrastination" was ranked #100 during the Best Day Ever event on November 9–10, 2006.
- This episode premiered in Canada on January 25, 2002 with the deleted scene intact.
- This is one of two episodes with a famous deleted scene. The other is "Just One Bite" from season 3. Both of these scenes can still be seen on YTV.
- The deleted scene of this episode is also shown in other countries, though "Just One Bite" is still edited in all those countries.
- This is the first episode where SpongeBob chokes. In this episode, he chokes on eraser shavings, but his choking stops when he drinks water.
- The music from the Nickelodeon series Hey Arnold! is reused in the scene where SpongeBob looks out the window and see everyone having a good day.
- When SpongeBob cleans his kitchen, it turns chrome, similar to how the future world looks in the "SB-129."
- One scene from this episode is shown at the beginning of the 2012 R-rated comedy film Ted.
- The scene with Patrick in bed and the phone is similar in design to Squidward's 3:00 A.M. joke to Patrick in "Graveyard Shift."
- The color for this episode and "I'm with Stupid" is different from any other episode. It appears less bright and more washed out in comparison to the rest of season 2. This is because a brown color filter has been added.
- On all DVD releases containing the two episodes, however, the brown color filter was removed, making the episode brighter to match the rest of the season.
- This episode aired five years after Tiny Tim's death.
- This is the first episode where "Terror by Night" plays.
- This is the only season 2 episode to use the APM track "Hello Blues."
- In SpongeBob's nightmare, when he runs through a hall, and on the episode's title card background, there are deformed, melted, and melting clocks. This is a reference to The Persistence of Memory art.
- Horse of the Sea is a reference to Chicken of the Sea.
- On his essay, SpongeBob misspells "stoplight" as "spotlight."
- When SpongeBob says, "I can feel those juices pumpin' now!," the closed captions say "children laughing." This is a leftover from the aforementioned deleted scene.
- If one were to look closely on DVD prints of this episode when the glissando ripple effect comes in as the race car footage goes back to SpongeBob, his color appears at a normal shade of yellow, but shortly before it goes back to normal, it goes back to the washed out yellow color of SpongeBob's on the episode's DVD print.
- When SpongeBob is at the sink, drinking water, two parts of his black belt turn yellow for a split second.
- Before SpongeBob is locked out of his house, his mouth disappears for a split second as the door slams shut.
- When SpongeBob wakes up from his nightmare and looks at the paper before looking at the clock, only the word "the" is shown, and "What Not to do at a Spotlight by SpongeBob SquarePants" is missing from the top.
- When SpongeBob says "Rye or pumpernickel?," his eyelashes are missing.
- In the opening credits, the 'k' in Carson Kugler's name is lowercased instead of capitalized.
- When SpongeBob says "Burning!," his mouth does not sync correctly.
- On Amazon Prime Video, this whole episode is slightly darker in color. The same error occurs with its sister episode, "I'm with Stupid."
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