- SpongeBob SquarePants
- Squidward Tentacles
- Eugene H. Krabs
- Navy Buddies (debut)
- Barnacles (mentioned)
- Pearl Krabs (mentioned)
- Reg (yellow; cameo)
- Navy Captain (debut)
- Other fish at the Bikini Bottom Convention Hall
- Jellyfish (mentioned)
At the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob is in the middle of making a Krabby Patty, and when he is finished, he cries as he gives it to Squidward so that he can give it to customer number 5. The customer is revealed to be SpongeBob, who grabs the order, and eats it. Meanwhile, outside the Krusty Krab, Mr. Krabs calls SpongeBob into his "Hidey Hole" under the dumpster, where he keeps his belongings from when he was in the Navy in a treasure chest.They take it into Mr. Krabs' office and Mr. Krabs tells SpongeBob about his old Navy buddies and his nickname "Armor Abs Krabs," and that his Navy Reunion is tonight. Mr. Krabs then tells SpongeBob to leave him to revel in his memories and get his work station in "shipshape," which he does with great enthusiasm. SpongeBob soon hears Mr. Krabs scream and goes into his office, where he finds that Mr. Krabs has molted his shell, leaving him a flabby mess. He kicks his shell in frustration, causing it to fly into SpongeBob, who becomes stuck inside it. Mr. Krabs then tells SpongeBob to assume his identity at the reunion so that his Navy friends will not see him in this state.
Later, at the reunion, SpongeBob initially puts on a convincing performance, but goes onstage to accept his "Trophy of Manly Toughness," he tells a story of him jellyfishing in Jellyfish Fields, and nearly reveals his true identity before Mr. Krabs tells him to get offstage.
He attempts to leave, but Torpedo-belly insists that he body-slam him to test if he still has "armor abs." When he punches SpongeBob, he flies around the room, cracking the shell and revealing SpongeBob. They get angry, but the real Mr. Krabs emerges from the bush that he had been watching from and reveals himself. He begins to walk away in shame, until Muttonchop gives him back his trophy, saying that revealing his condition was the manliest thing anyone could ever do, and revealing that they have all had unmanly secrets as well: Muttonchop's sideburns are fake, Torpedo Belly had his torpedo removed long ago after his retirement from the Navy, Lockjaw Jones lost his Navy choppers and now has to wear dentures, and Iron Eye's eye is actually made of Formica.
As Mr. Krabs walks away with SpongeBob, he says "Yeah, poor suckers. At least my shell will grow back!" and they both start laughing as the episode ends.
|( ‣ ) Associated production music|
|( • ) Original music|
|( ◦ ) SpongeBob music|
‣ Ta-Ra A - Sammy Burdson, John Charles Fiddy ["Perfection!"]
‣ Lonely Violin - Dick Stephen Walter [SpongeBob cries]
• Steel Licks 10 - Jeremy Wakefield [SpongeBob eats the Krabby Patty]
‣ Vibe Q Sting - Nicolas Carr ["Hello, what's this?"]
‣ Towerstreet 17 [#6] - Gerhard Narholz [Krabs' hidey-hole]
‣ Heavenly Voices (b) - David Farnon [choir]
‣ The Tip Top Polka/The Cliff Polka - Chelmsford Folk Band [Krabs' navy stuff/"Ok, maybe I'm a bit bigger. But I'm still the toughest of the tough."]
‣ Captain Lenoe's - The Folk Players ["Now be a good lad and go get your station in ship shape."]
‣ Astronauts March - Sam Spence ["All right, let's get this place ship-shape!"]
‣ Danger Zone - Mike Sunderland ["Mr. Krabs. Mr. Krabs?"/SpongeBob sniffs Mr. Krabs' arm.]
‣ Against the Law (b) - Wilfred William Burns [Krabs hiding behind a barrel]
‣ Lonely Heart's Club (a) - David Bell, Otto Sieben ["It's true. I've molted."]
‣ Up She Rises - Sam Spence ["You're acting like there never was a man in that shell."]
‣ Lonely Heart's Club (a) - David Bell, Otto Sieben [Krabs kicks his shell]
‣ Drama Link (b) - Hubert Clifford [SpongeBob screams]
‣ Grass Skirt Chase - Sage Guyton, Jeremy Wakefield [shell lands on SpongeBob's head]
‣ Harp Ding - Nicolas Carr ["SpongeBob, you're a genius!"]
‣ Lap Steel - Nicolas Carr ["I get to be a Navy Buddy?"]
‣ Brahms Lullaby - Curtis Frederick Schwartz [wallet in bed]
‣ When Daylight Shines/Captain Lenoe's - The Folk Players [at the reunion/"What do you say, Krabs? Just like old times."]
‣ What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor - Okko Bekker [trophy awarded to Krabs]
‣ Finders Creepers - Paddy Kingsland [SpongeBob's speech]
• Steel Sting - Jeremy Wakefield ["Huh?"]
‣ Towerstreet 17 [#24] - Gerhard Narholz ["Where do you think you're going?!"]
‣ ? ["Let's have at it."]
‣ Towerstreet 17 [#17] - Gerhard Narholz [body slam]
• Steel Licks 1 - Jeremy Wakefield [Krabs' shell breaks apart, revealing SpongeBob]
‣ Dramatic Impact 3 - Ivor Slaney [everyone gasps]
‣ Fates - Gregor F. Narholz ["This is who I am."/"C'mon, lad, let's go home."]
‣ The Dreadnought Tea Clipper (b) - Tim Laycock, Robert Alexander White ["I don't understand."]
‣ Tales from the Swamp (c) - Ron Goodwin [fake sideburns]
‣ Blow the Man Down - Brian Peters ["I had my torpedo removed long ago."]
‣ The Twin Sisters - Chelmsford Folk Band [ending]
- This episode is available on the Fear of a Krabby Patty DVD and VHS, Season 4 Volume 1, The Third & Fourth Seasons, The Best 200 Episodes Ever, First 100 Episodes, and Complete Fourth Season DVDs.
- "Shell of a Man" was ranked #85 during the Best Day Ever event on November 9–10, 2006.
- Although this episode premiered in 2005, it was made in 2004 according to the credits.
- There are 31 crabs on the title card.
- This was the last episode until "Lost in Bikini Bottom" to credit storyboard artists in the opening credits. That is why this is the only episode in which Brad Vandergrift's name is seen in the opening credits.
- It is revealed that Mr. Krabs has a hiding hole under the trash behind the Krusty Krab.
- A yellow version of Reg from "No Weenies Allowed" can be seen at the Navy reunion.
- This is the second episode to have crabs on the title card. The first is "Krusty Love."
- In June 2009, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications labeled this episode along with "Fear of a Krabby Patty" as "SpongeBob Fun," which is supposed to be a shopping show, but as of April 2010, it has been corrected.
- At the beginning, when SpongeBob and Squidward talk in their usual work positions, the Krusty Krab through the window alternates from the outer walls and windows seen through the window to simple yellow, orange, and black paint.
- Lockjaw Jones offers SpongeBob grog (a watered-down form of rum).
- In the Polish dub, the episode's title is "Zmiana skorupy," which translates to "Changing the Shell."
- The French title of this episode is "Les Gars de la Marine," which translates to "The Guys of the Navy."
- This episode's premiere was simulcast on Nicktoons.
- The title is similar to the phrase "A shadow of his former-self."
- This was the first episode to be written by Mike Bell.
- In the background on the wall, the same flags that were on the Krusty Krab can be seen. This is possibly a reference to it and where the flags on it came from.
- In the end credits of this episode, Lockjaw Jones' name is spelled as "Lock Jaws" instead of "Lockjaws."
- Also in the credits, Patrick is listed even though he doesn't appear in the episode.
- Number 5's Krabby Patty looks different in both shots.
- When Mr. Krabs shows SpongeBob his navy treasures, the left flag with the white and blue triangles keeps rotating.
- SpongeBob is nearly as tall as Mr. Krabs' shell, but when Iron Eye punches him in the gut, he bounces around inside, making him appear very small in comparison to the shell.
- SpongeBob spits out his whole skull, including his two buck teeth, but his buck teeth are still seen after he spits them out.
- Mr. Krabs is a bit taller than when he is in his shell.
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