While Stephen Hillenburg worked as a teacher of marine science at the Ocean Institute in California, he authored an educational book called The Intertidal Zone. The book was intended for children and taught about the behaviors of different sea creatures. Bob the Sponge, a natural sea sponge with sunglasses, was the "host" of the book.
Hillenburg revisited the concept of The Intertidal Zone in 1996 when he started sketching concepts for a cartoon series about undersea life. He wanted the title character to be an under-represented creature, with the rest of the main characters being iconic and easily recognizable sea animals: a crab, a whale, and a starfish. "What's the weirdest animal? The sponge came to mind," he recalled in 2012. As he drew a sea sponge character, he originally wanted to use the shape of a natural sponge, but later decided that a "squeaky-clean square" would better portray a nerdy personality.
An early colored sketch portrayed SpongeBob as wearing a red hat with a green base and a white business shirt with a tie. SpongeBob's look gradually progressed to brown pants that were used in the final design. SpongeBob was designed to be a kid-like character who was goofy and optimistic in a style similar to that made famous by Jerry Lewis.
Originally, the character was going to be named "SpongeBoy," but the name was already in use by a mop product. This was discovered after voice acting for the original seven-minute pilot was recorded in 1997. Upon finding this out, Hillenburg decided that the character's given name still had to contain "Sponge" so viewers would not mistake the character for a "Cheese Man," and decided to use the name "SpongeBob." He chose "SquarePants" as a family name as it referred to the character's square shape and it had a "nice ring to it."
When Hillenburg pitched SpongeBob to Nickelodeon in 1997, the network gave him an order: they would only produce the show if SpongeBob was a kid who went to school, like "Arnold from Hey Arnold! under the sea." Hillenburg was prepared to "walkout" on Nickelodeon, as 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. Hillenburg was very fond of the "way things worked out," as Nickelodeon's order brought in a whole new main character, "Mrs. Puff, who I love."
SpongeBob is voiced by veteran voice actor Tom Kenny. Kenny previously worked with Hillenburg on Rocko's Modern Life, and when Hillenburg created SpongeBob SquarePants, he approached Kenny to voice the character. Hillenburg used Kenny's and other actors' personalities to help create the personality of SpongeBob.
The voice of SpongeBob was originally used by Kenny for a background character present in a crowd scene in Rocko's Modern Life. Kenny forgot the voice initially as he created it only for that single-use. Hillenburg, however, remembered it when he was coming up with SpongeBob and used a video clip of the episode to remind Kenny of the voice. Kenny says that SpongeBob's high-pitched laugh was specifically aimed at being unique, stating that they wanted an annoying laugh in the tradition of Popeye and Woody Woodpecker.
In SpongeBob SquarePants broadcast in non-English languages, the voice actors dubbing SpongeBob's voice use Tom Kenny's rendition of the character as a starting point but also add unique elements. For example, the French version has SpongeBob with a slight Daffy Duck-style lisp.
According to his driver's license in the episode produced around December of "1999", "Sleepy Time," SpongeBob SquarePants was born on July 14, 1986. If episode airdates/production correlated with the time setting in an episode, this would make him 13 years old at the time of the episode's airing and production. SpongeBob's license is seen again with this birthdate in "No Free Rides," but all further appearances of it remove the birthdate, as SpongeBob does not age. The series uses a floating timeline, so his age and appearance remain constant throughout the show. He celebrates four respective unspecified birthdays in the episodes "I Had an Accident," "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler," "Waiting," and "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout." However, in the latter, he nearly reveals his age but is narrowly cut off by the episode's ending, making it a mystery.
SpongeBob is oblivious to this and believes Squidward to be his friend. Beside Squidward's house is the home of SpongeBob's best friend, Patrick Star, who lives under a rock.
SpongeBob works at the Krusty Krab, Bikini Bottom's most popular restaurant, where he is a fry cook and prepares all food served at the restaurant, most notably Krabby Patties.
The first episode of the series depicts SpongeBob applying for and being hired for this job. He says that it has been his lifelong dream to join the Krusty Crew and that only now is he "ready." When he applies for the job, Squidward and Mr. Krabs, wanting no part of him, send him on a fool's errand for a "hydro-dynamic spatula with port and starboard attachments and turbo drive." While he is out searching for one, several hundred hungry anchovies arrive and overwhelm Squidward and Mr. Krabs. SpongeBob soon returns, having actually found a hydrodynamic spatula, and saves their lives by feeding the anchovies, showing off his amazing cooking skills in the process.
SpongeBob's house is an orange pineapple with fully furnished windows and doors and has a gas pipe. When he first moved to Bikini Bottom, he viewed many different houses, but none seemed to his liking. Just as he was about to give up, a pineapple from a boat above the waterfalls into the sea and lands onto the space that was Squidward's garden where Squidward was still gardening. He loves the house and buys it, leaving Squidward in misery by losing his garden and having SpongeBob living next to him.
SpongeBob is not only extremely good at his job, being able to produce a Krabby Patty within seconds, but has a strong passion and an abnormal love for it; something of a workaholic, he enjoys his job more than any other activity and is saddened whenever he cannot be at work. He is also obsessed with Krabby Patties themselves; on numerous occasions, he has proclaimed them the best food in the world, and in "Just One Bite" and "Shuffleboarding," he is shocked and horrified to see one thrown away. He is apparently very good at his job because he is the "Vice Assistant General Manager of Certain Things". He also has been shown making a perfect Krabby Patty on his first try when he was a baby.
SpongeBob's skills as a fry cook could accurately be described as superhuman; in episodes such as "Help Wanted" and "Employee of the Month," he is seen making them at rates of hundreds or even thousands per minute. He has won 374 consecutive Employee of the Month awards at the Krusty Krab. In "Friend or Foe," it is shown that SpongeBob, as an infant, made a perfect patty on his first attempt. In "Neptune's Spatula," he is able to pull the golden spatula from the grease, making him the "chosen one" of King Neptune. In that same episode, it is shown that the burgers made by Neptune himself are horrible compared to SpongeBob's.
While not working, SpongeBob spends much of his time playing with his best friend, Patrick Star. Patrick is childish, moronic, and fun-loving. The two have known each other since their early childhood, and are members of the "Best Friends Forever Club.".
Their usual activities include jellyfishing, bubble blowing, and various others. The two's antics are of constant annoyance to their neighbor, Squidward, and he has been repeatedly put into harm's way as a result of their actions. Because of this, he has tried to move away numerous times but always ends up returning.
Despite Squidward claiming to hate SpongeBob and Patrick, they are completely oblivious to this and believe they are his best friends. Squidward is usually shown to dislike SpongeBob in particular, but nonetheless, the two share a close relationship. In fact, Squidward has hinted that he likes SpongeBob a lot more than he lets on. In "Graveyard Shift," he admits this when he tells SpongeBob, "No matter what I've said, I've always sort of liked you!" Also, in "SB-129," he misses SpongeBob after becoming trapped in a blank dimension.
One of SpongeBob's good friends is a squirrel from Texas named Sandy Cheeks, who wears a special suit and helmet to survive underwater. When SpongeBob first met Sandy, she invited SpongeBob to her airtight home, and SpongeBob, not knowing what air is, accepted. After giving in to his need to breathe water, SpongeBob and Patrick got bowls of water to wear over their heads from Sandy, which they typically wear whenever they visit the treedome. Sandy enjoys SpongeBob's company and they enjoy doing extreme sports together, most notably karate.
SpongeBob's skill in karate is shown to vary considerably between episodes. At times, he equals and even outmatches Sandy in skill, while at other times he is so weak to the point where Sandy can send him flying a considerable distance with a single punch; in "Karate Island," Sandy openly states that her karate skills are better than SpongeBob's by "a country mile."
Another of SpongeBob's friends is Pearl the whale. According to "Bossy Boots," she thinks he is "full of style," "oozes fashion," and most importantly, "is a great pal." Pearl goes to prom with SpongeBob in "The Chaperone." In "Tunnel of Glove," it is revealed that Pearl's classmates think SpongeBob is her boyfriend, and SpongeBob inadvertently supports this by saying "Well, I am a boy, and I am her friend." The two then go on the Tunnel of Glove ride together.
SpongeBob attends Mrs. Puff's Boating School, where he is taught by his idolized teacher Mrs. Puff. He studies extremely hard for school and knows every answer to the oral exam, but he becomes extremely nervous when actually behind the wheel of a boat, causing him to fail the final exam every time. According to the episode "Mrs. Puff, You're Fired," SpongeBob has failed the exam 1,258,056 times, and is the only creature in the history of the school to fail the test.
Despite his inability to drive a boatmobile properly, SpongeBob has been shown to be able to drive/ride various other things capably, including a rock, a rocket ship, a sandwich car, and a submarine. SpongeBob claims that he does know how to drive, but simply panics behind the wheel and cannot concentrate. In "Mrs. Puff, You're Fired," SpongeBob receives extremely good training from Mrs. Puff's very tough military-like replacement and learns how to drive capably, but can only do so while blindfolded due to the teacher's strict drills and very specific teaching methods.
SpongeBob is a sea sponge with a rectangular shape. He is light yellow with a light olive-green outline. In earlier episodes, he is wider near the top and gets skinnier going further down. However, in the more recent episodes, he is more of a regular square shape. SpongeBob has large light blue eyes, a long, slightly curved nose, a large mouth with two prominent front buck teeth, dimples with three freckles on each cheek, and light olive-green pores. In addition, he has three exceptionally wide, exposed, and effeminate eyelashes on each eye, which have sometimes - during close-ups in particular - been shown to be numerous eyelashes akin to a human, which is best prominent in "Tutor Sauce" when he is seen breathing heavily during a close-up. Although rarely seen in the series, he has light yellow hair that goes hand-in-hand with his skin color, as seen on his driver's license and in the episode "The Sponge Who Could Fly." However, in the episode "Krusty Krab Training Video," he instead has a simple strand of black hair.
He typically wears a white shirt with a scarlet-red tie, black leather shoes with white shoelaces, white socks with blue and red stripes, and brown rectangular pants with a black belt. While working at the Krusty Krab, he wears a tall, white hat with a small blue anchor illustration on it as a uniform. SpongeBob usually sleeps in his briefs, and at other times-beginning with season 5-pajamas. However, he occasionally sleeps with his entire outfit on, which was more common in the show's earlier seasons.
Though SpongeBob has always been voiced by Tom Kenny, his voice has changed over the course of the series; his voice is lower than normal in season 1; after the first movie, his voice gets slightly higher-pitched. In season 8, his voice gets lower-pitched once again.
Despite the fact that he's a sea sponge, he has legs and he's able to move, just like the other sponges in the show. This is pointed out in "I Had an Accident," when he says that he will stay in his house forever, and he shouldn't have even been walking because he's a sponge.
While SpongeBob is generally lucky in life and healthy, he has on several occasions faced health problems over the course of the series, which are usually caused by his persistent gullibility to fall for antagonists' antics or simply by accident. On a side note, he is an invertebrate and thus lacks bones, making him immune to physical harm; however, this varies greatly by episode, as sometimes SpongeBob is depicted as having bones and thus prone to suffering injuries, while in other episodes, most notably "The Bully," he has none and is, therefore, accepting of his aforementioned injuries. Like most other characters on the show, he has faced many fatal injuries and near-death experiences. However, due to cartoon physics and negative continuity, he sometimes recovers immediately afterward without medical support. Such instances are played for comedy and do not affect the plot, therefore they will be overlooked when taking into account his health. However, SpongeBob has on more than one occasion faced ongoing medical conditions and injuries that have even been the core of the plot.
The first prominent instance of SpongeBob's health interference is in "Tea at the Treedome," where he for the first time enters an air pollution, Sandy's treedome in particular, after having met a new friend, and due to the insufficient amount of water in her house, starts to shrivel up before eventually passing out--along with Patrick--on the ground from hypothermia. Both he and Patrick are subsequently revived by Sandy's new creation, water helmets.
SpongeBob's health interference is also a plot point of "Suds," where he becomes infected by the eponymous disease which gives him a cold and causes him to sneeze pink bubbles through his pores. He caught it from accidentally leaving his freezer open overnight and falling asleep in the kitchen. "Doctor Patrick" tries to cure SpongeBob by using many ridiculous methods. He is eventually cured by the Purple Doctorfish utilizing a special treatment exclusive to sponges.
Additionally, in "Prehibernation Week," Sandy takes SpongeBob on numerous increasingly dangerous adventures in which they participate in extreme sports games, drastically injuring SpongeBob and taking a toll on his health in the process.
At the end of "Survival of the Idiots," Sandy, having had her fur ripped off by the duo, uses SpongeBob and Patrick's bodies as a replacement; since the two are in her treedome and have no provision of water whatsoever, they nearly die from hypothermia.
In "Squirrel Jokes," SpongeBob suffers from hypothermia yet again upon entrance of Sandy's treedome and is given too much water by her through the provision of a hose, inflating him to the point of taking up the dome's capacity.
SpongeBob's health is put at risk in "The Bully" when a new classmate, Flats the Flounder, joins and threatens to kick SpongeBob's butt. Concerned for his safety, SpongeBob pulls off many attempts to hide from the bully and expose him, but no one in town is able to help him. As a result, SpongeBob comes to terms with Flats ending his life and willingly lets him "kick [his] butt." However, SpongeBob's body simply absorbs Flats' punches, leading to no harm whatsoever; in fact, SpongeBob lets Flats harming him be a normal part of his routine until the latter passes out unconscious in class the following day.
In "No Weenies Allowed," he breaks his fingers after a failed attempt to crack his knuckles and soaks them in an ice cream sundae to heal them. Towards the end of the episode, after his goal of being tough enough to enter The Salty Spitoon is finally achieved, he slips on an ice cube and falls to the ground injured, having to be sent into an ambulance afterward. Due to him describing his condition as "boo-boos," the Purple Doctorfish suggests he seeks care at Weenie Hut General.
In "I Had an Accident," SpongeBob faces a sandboarding accident in which he severely injures his buttocks and is thereafter sent to the hospital. His injury was nearly fatal as each piece of his buttocks was glued back together and taped, and he would have been permanently subject to the Iron Butt under much worse circumstances.
In "Krabby Land," he suffers much harm which includes having soap in the eye, being beaten up, and being forced to eat beans while entertaining the children.
In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, SpongeBob and Patrick are kidnapped by the Cyclops and placed on a table above which a lamp sits. Due to the pressure of the lamp's heat, SpongeBob and Patrick start to shrivel up and eventually pass away. However, the tear they shared beforehand finds its way into a power outlet and thus activates the ceiling sprinkler system, thereafter reviving them.
Sometime during the events of "Funny Pants," SpongeBob underwent surgery to have his laugh box transplanted to Squidward out of sympathy for the latter rupturing his own.
In "Krusty Towers," SpongeBob alongside Patrick, Mr. Krabs, and Squidward are sent to the hospital and treated in medical beds following the fatal destruction of the eponymous hotel, which the group was in during the incident.
In "Fungus Among Us," SpongeBob finds a suspicious green substance known as "ick" on his bedroom floor and attempts to clean it up, but fails and as a result, the ick contaminates him and becomes contagious. Due to his unhealthy status, the SWAT Team arrives on the scene at the Krusty Krab and quarantines SpongeBob in a plastic bubble in his house, which is eventually popped due to Patrick's moronic actions. He is cured towards the end of the episode when Gary uses his slime to rid everyone of the ick.
In "The Splinter," SpongeBob trips and falls off of the ceiling of the Krusty Krab kitchen in a failed attempt to retrieve his spatula, therefore falling on the wooden ground and having a splinter lodged into his thumb. He goes to Patrick to seek medical attention; however, due to the latter's unprofessional remedies and overall lack of a medical license, only makes matters worse by hammering it further into his thumb, which not only causes SpongeBob more pain but also causes his thumb to swell up severely and produce pus. He is finally cured when Mr. Krabs, with his great strength and claws, simply pulls it out, essentially inverting his injury and thus returning him back to normal.
In "A Life in a Day," Patrick's obsession with emulating Larry the Lobster goes to his head and prompts him to bring SpongeBob along to perform the most extreme stunt yet: crashing into Ripper's Reef, an island consisting of stalagmites. The aftermath of this stunt lands the duo along with Larry--who got injured while trying to save them--in the hospital, covered in bandages and wearing casts over their heads.
In "Stuck in the Wringer," SpongeBob gets stuck in his bathroom wringer while trying to rinse himself off and thereby calls Patrick for help; however, instead of helping him, he surrounds the wringer with superglue, impeding his escape. Throughout the episode, SpongeBob uncontrollably moves very clumsily and interferes with the public due to his disorderly condition. His health continues to deteriorate as he is unable to consume food or drink due to the wringer's blockage of his digestive system and gets a black eye at the carnival due to incompatibility with his restraint condition and the rides' pressure. He is cured at the end of the episode when both he and Patrick cry an abundance of tears to dissolve the glue, essentially facilitating his escape from the wringer.
In "The Hot Shot," he gets into a boat accident which leads to him getting injured and being in a body cast at the end of the episode.
SpongeBob has also been shown to have some mental health problems before. This becomes evident in "InSPONGEiac" after he fails to fall asleep and develops insomnia as a plot point. Likewise, in "SpongeBob's Bad Habit" he develops an obsessive routine of biting his own and others' fingernails.
In "Two Thumbs Down," after giving so many people thumbs-ups, SpongeBob eventually develops sore thumbs and ultimately loses the use of them, having to put them in mini wheelchairs to counteract his injury at the hospital.
In "Unreal Estate," after Squidward invades his house at night and covers it in pepper, the resulting reactions make SpongeBob believe that he is allergic to his own home and set up the conflict of him having to go find a new one.
In "Sportz?," Squidward forces SpongeBob and Patrick to engage in many increasingly excruciating sports games in an attempt to get them killed. Near the end they pass out severely injured on the sports field before Squidward's own karma is served.
SpongeBob is a clueless, abnormal, immature, fun-loving, and hyperactive person with a happy-go-lucky personality. He is extremely determined and will often stop at nothing to accomplish a task. He is also somewhat dramatic to the people who are kind to him: for example, to the mailfish. He is also over-confident. Sometimes, though, he shows his devious side when trying to get Mr. Krabs and Plankton to work together. He sometimes makes mountains out of molehills, such as losing his name tag. It is also suggested that he deceived the tattle tale strangler in an elaborate plot to get him back to jail.
SpongeBob is very kind-hearted and innocent, and very rarely acts openly mean to anyone, even those who find him an annoyance and act cruelly to him. He is a very selfless and loyal person, especially towards those close to him. His selfless nature is most notably shown in "Best Day Ever," where he sacrifices his "perfect day" to help his friends. Despite his well-meaning intentions, SpongeBob's actions often annoy and cause trouble for those around him, most notably his next-door neighbor, Squidward Tentacles.
SpongeBob can become scared easily and usually panics when frightened. He is afraid of the dark  and clowns . He also hates hot sauce. Occasionally, SpongeBob is too ignorant to notice impending danger and his unworldly thinking may put himself or others in peril. He also cannot detect lies or malice as easily as the other characters, mainly due to his naïve nature. In "A Pal for Gary," when Gary is being violently attacked and nearly eaten by Puffy Fluffy, SpongeBob takes no action and instead accuses Gary of harassing Puffy.
Furthermore, SpongeBob also goes to great lengths to impress others and achieve his goals as seen in "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy II," where SpongeBob wrongly attacks an innocent Atomic Flounder in order to impress Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. SpongeBob attempts to steal Patrick's box in "The Secret Box." He also tries to steal Betsy Krabs' underwear along with Patrick and Mr. Krabs in "Mid-Life Crustacean." In "Doing Time," SpongeBob and Patrick force the receptionist of the local bank to give them all his money. This was done in an attempt to get arrested and free Mrs. Puff from jail. In "Hall Monitor," SpongeBob enters the window of a couple's house and disturbs them while on hall monitor duties. In "The Thing," SpongeBob and Patrick break into the zoo at night to free "Smelly" from his cage. In "Safe Deposit Krabs," he and Patrick break into the local bank at night to free Mr. Krabs from the safe vault. In "The Great Snail Race," SpongeBob overexerts Gary as a preparation method for the following snail race. This causes extreme discomfort to Gary and eventually results in him collapsing on his way to the finish line; however, SpongeBob eventually noticed the error in his ways. In "Employee of the Month," SpongeBob sets up many traps on Squidward in an attempt to sabotage his Employee of the Month Award. In "Just One Bite," SpongeBob handcuffs himself to Squidward, forcing him to eat a Krabby Patty. In "Shuffleboarding," he and Patrick, while dressed as Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy respectively, go around arresting citizens for actions that do not count as crimes, such as chewing gum too loudly and being too old. In "SpongeBob's Last Stand," SpongeBob and Patrick resist the government-sanctioned construction of the Shelly Superhighway and encourage the rest of the town to join their protest through a song. The police eventually notice the boys rebelling against the government's authority and imprison them in the middle of nowhere. However, on SpongeBob's part, his arrest was for playing the sitar without a license.
SpongeBob also feels the need to impress Mr. Krabs and to protect the Krusty Krab and the Krabby Patty secret formula at all costs. In "Call the Cops," SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs impersonate police officers in hopes of retrieving the secret formula. He also likes to impress his boating teacher, Mrs. Puff, despite his reckless driving. Beginning with "Boating School," an ongoing plot point is SpongeBob failing his driver's test due to his inability to drive safely. His poor driving skills have caused him to run over pedestrians, rapidly switch lanes, drive on the sidewalk, crashing into buildings and property, harm his passengers, and lastly damage his vehicle. In spite of all the damage he causes, SpongeBob is never arrested or charged for his dangerous driving; instead, Mrs. Puff is, who the authorities believe is failing to educate him.
These actions can often lead to SpongeBob entering by trespassing. SpongeBob and Patrick have a frequent tendency to enter Squidward's house without his consent, which reaches its epitome in "Good Neighbors" and becomes a plot point of the said episode. Additionally, in "Survival of the Idiots," he and Patrick invade Sandy's treedome during the winter with little regard to the "Keep Out" sign on her door. In "The Thing," after getting caught by the SWAT Team, SpongeBob and Patrick hide from them by trespassing into the sewers. SpongeBob also invades the sewers with Squidward in "The Sewers of Bikini Bottom," although they did it to retrieve the safe, so this can be justified. In "Toy Store of Doom," SpongeBob and Patrick stay in Toy Barrel past its open hours and hide in a dollhouse so as not to be caught by the security guard.
SpongeBob's personality trait of wanting to impress others and achieve his goals has to lead to him having a history. However, due to his naïvety and gullibility, a lot of these crimes have been committed unintentionally or through the manipulation of others, mainly Squidward, Plankton, Karen, or Mr. Krabs. He has been arrested a total of seven times: for "stealing" a balloon in "Life of Crime," attempting to rob a bank in "Doing Time," failing to invite the police to his party in "Party Pooper Pants," littering Patrick's driver's license in "Driven to Tears," playing sitar without a license in "SpongeBob's Last Stand," falsely accused public disturbance in "Cave Dwelling Sponge," and unintentionally terrorizing a majority of Bubbletown in the episode of the same name.
SpongeBob's innocence also makes him overly trusting and very gullible, easily manipulated by people who intend to use and/or harm him, such as Squidward, Mr. Krabs, and Plankton, and he is clumsy. In "Walking Small," SpongeBob assists Plankton in driving the attendants at Goo Lagoon away to make an unauthorized development to its property. However, this was done out of manipulation, and SpongeBob regrets his actions after learning Plankton's motive, therefore returning the beach back to its previous state. In "Sandy's Rocket," SpongeBob and Patrick go around capturing everyone in Bikini Bottom and trapping them in the spaceship, believing that the entire population is formed of aliens.
Even though he is generally good-natured and easygoing, when frustrated and angered, SpongeBob can be sarcastic, rude, and condescending to his friends, even Mr. Krabs, whom he treats as a father figure. Squidward is the only character whom SpongeBob never insults when he is angry, with the exception of the episodes "Can You Spare a Dime?" and "Breath of Fresh Squidward." In "Hooky," SpongeBob is encouraged by Patrick to ditch work during his shift, which causes the unsupervised grill to produce mass amounts of smoke.
In "Hall Monitor," he lets his rank of hall monitor go to his head and becomes known as the maniac for his destruction of the city before receiving a scolding from his teacher who was arrested for it. During "Ditchin'," SpongeBob ditches boating school to attend the Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy meet and greet, which affects his driver's education and eventually gets Mrs. Puff arrested. He believed King Neptune's trident was his spatula and decided to help all of Bikini Bottom when really he was destroying the town after going mad with power in "Trident Trouble." Even Santa stated in Goons on the Moon, that he is a menace in spite of his good nature.
Despite his overall kindness, SpongeBob occasionally shows a lack of empathy for others and forces people into situations against their will. In the episode "Rodeo Daze," he kidnaps the Bikini Bottomites with bubbles in persuasion for them to save Sandy from a rodeo. Additionally, in the episode "A SquarePants Family Vacation," he sends his friends letters promising that everything they love will be at his house, only for it to be a hoax and a plea for them to view his slideshow.
Although SpongeBob has several friends, and many of the citizens of Bikini Bottom often treat him quite friendly, most, if not all, citizens of the city have been shown to have some degree of dislike for him. In the
episode "Gone," it is shown that a holiday called "National No SpongeBob Day" has been started by the citizens of Bikini Bottom. As its name suggests, it is an entire day dedicated to getting away from SpongeBob, where the people leave Bikini Bottom for the day. Even Patrick goes, stating that everyone needs at least one day away from SpongeBob's laughter. In the ceremony, they build a giant wooden effigy of SpongeBob, burn it down, dance on the ashes, and depart Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob is more honored than insulted by this, as he was the "inspiration" for the holiday.
Abilities and talents
SpongeBob has been shown to have numerous extraordinary abilities and attributes over the course of the series.
Absorbency: Being a sponge, he is also absorbent, and can expand his body by absorbing liquids. Sometimes when SpongeBob cries, he re-absorbs his tears. An example being in "The Bully" when Flats the Flounder kept on hitting him, but SpongeBob just absorbed all of his blows. Also, in "I Had an Accident," he filter feeds through his holes, as he is a sponge.
Boneless: SpongeBob is usually shown to be boneless since sea sponges are invertebrates. However, in some episodes, such as "I Had an Accident," bones are shown on his X-rays. He also has bones when his skin is ripped off in "Atlantis SquarePantis" and "The Splinter." He can also squeeze through and fit in things.
Bubble blowing: SpongeBob can perform extraordinary moves with bubbles, most notably exhibited in "Bubblestand." It is considered along with jellyfishing as his and Patrick's favorite hobby.
Destruction: SpongeBob has a degree of talent in destruction, but most of the cases show that he mostly performed this involuntary due to his gullible and reckless personality, Although he does not know it and thanks to his poor driving skills, SpongeBob is actually skilled at demolition derbies. This is shown in "Demolition Doofus," as SpongeBob manages to defeat five other competitors, although inadvertently, also surviving Mrs. Puff's murderous attack.
Driving (anything but a boatmobile): He can drive certain objects perfectly, but his nerves get the best of him when driving boats at Mrs. Puff's Boating School. On several occasions, he has been able to conquer his nervousness and demonstrate good driving skills, but he always loses this confidence by the end of the episode.
Fry cooking: SpongeBob has a job cooking Krabby Patties at the Krusty Krab.
Karate: He trains for karate with Sandy and, in earlier episodes, is seen to be quite evenly matched with her.
Limb range: Like most characters in this series, SpongeBob can stretch his body to unusual extents.
Regeneration: It is shown that he can quickly regenerate parts of his body that are injured or removed as this is natural for real sponges.
Enhanced reflexes: SpongeBob possesses faster-than-lightning reflexes, being able to react to dangers instantly. Hence, SpongeBob can dodge and react to projectiles and enemy attacks moving at high speeds, such as lasers, arrows, shock waves, bullets, and even lighting. Additionally, SpongeBob's sharp reflexes allow him to react to attacks outside his field of vision.
Stamina and endurance: In games such as Battle for Bikini Bottom, Nicktoons Unite!, Plankton's Robotic Revenge, etc., SpongeBob has demonstrated very high stamina, capable of exerting himself to his peak performance for several hours without signs of fatigue. SpongeBob is extremely durable, having survived life-threatening situations multiple times most likely due to his soft and flexible body figure. He has survived multiple traffic collisions, getting caught in the crossfire from all angles from Plankton's Robots, withstand the force of a building collapse, and being struck by opponents with super strength. Additionally, SpongeBob has more than once survived impacts from falls from extreme heights, withstand the force of a nuclear explosion (like how Plankton did once), and being struck by fire, electricity, and frozen by ice.
Super speed: As the Quickster, he can move very fast. Although he is certainly able to run faster than Patrick when he's about to tell Mr. Krabs in "Sailor Mouth" and Squidward when he's about to chase SpongeBob about the pizza in "Pizza Delivery."
Leadership: SpongeBob is a great natural leader for all of his friends in Bikini Bottom.
Teleportation: SpongeBob is capable of teleporting in various episodes. Like in "The Wreck of the Mauna Loa" when he is chasing Patrick in a game of tag, Patrick is looking back at SpongeBob in the other direction, when he imminently bumps into SpongeBob in front of him and in "Born to Be Wild" he was able to teleport to The Krusty Krab by riding on a bubble.
Climbing: SpongeBob can climb, as seen in "Party Pooper Pants" where he climbed on his house.
Electrokinesis: SpongeBob can generate electricity, as seen in "My Two Krabses."
Singing and nose-playing: SpongeBob is shown to possess a fantastic singing voice. He uses his nose as a flute, in which he is very talented. He is also the lead singer in "Band Geeks." Later, he uses his nose flute in "Best Day Ever" to drive away from the nematodes from the Krusty Krab. His nose flute is notably played as a closing note of the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song.
Whistling: He is able to whistle due to his gap in his buck teeth. This ability is put on display in "Mind the Gap."
Comedy: SpongeBob can do comedy as telling jokes. This is seen well in "Squirrel Jokes."
Dancing: SpongeBob has shown that he can dance. This ability is put on display in "Cave Dwelling Sponge."
Fighting: SpongeBob is very good at fighting. This can be seen in "Extreme Spots."
Ukulele playing: SpongeBob is very good at playing his ukulele.
Guitar playing: SpongeBob would play guitar in a few episodes. He owns both acoustic and electric guitars.
Soft pliable body: Due to his soft, pliable frame, he is capable of shape-shifting, has some degree of invulnerability, being able to absorb many types of physical impact, shown most notably in the episode "The Bully."
Body part changing: He can change his body parts into objects as well as shapeshifting.
Multiplying body parts: He can multiply his body parts due to his regeneration.
Mimicking: He can mimic someone else by shapeshifting. In "Mimic Madness," he mimics his friends.
Survival skills: In "To Save a Squirrel," SpongeBob and Patrick almost eat each other to survive. Eventually, they are saved by Sandy and no longer had to resort to the desperate measure.
SpongeBob's life has most usually been in good luck, except on his boating school driving tests, where he gets himself and others injured or almost injured from his reckless driving. He has also been injured from when he dared to participate in extreme sports activities, due to his weakness.
SpongeBob has many relatives, most notably his parents, who appear in several episodes. Unlike SpongeBob, who is rectangular, most of SpongeBob's relatives better resemble actual sea sponges, being round in shape and brownish in color.
In "SB-129," a robotic descendant of SpongeBob named SpongeTron is seen, as well as a primitive ancestor. "Ugh" features a caveman version of SpongeBob known as SpongeGar. SpongeGar is distinctly different from the primitive sponge seen in "SB-129," being more evolved and closer to his modern counterpart. "Pest of the West" features SpongeBuck SquarePants; an ancestor who saved Dead Eye Gulch in what is now Bikini Bottom from Dead Eye Plankton in 1882.
For the majority of the series, SpongeBob takes the job of fry cook in the Krusty Krab. Acting like a workaholic, he treats his career seriously and with dignity. Primarily, he works as the janitor and fry cook, but occasionally takes the role of the cashier and manager.
SpongeBob has a passionate dedication to his job at the Krusty Krab and firmly refuses to let it go. He even views closing time as the saddest part of the day and gleefully embraces the 24-hour business of the restaurant in the episodes "Graveyard Shift" and "Fear of a Krabby Patty."
His passion for his job often leads to stages of depression and boredom when isolated from it, and he hinders his willingness to give other occupations a chance. In "Bummer Vacation," he pulls off many desperate attempts to return to his job and is reminded of the Krusty Krab with every activity he tries to do while on vacation. In "Welcome to the Chum Bucket," he is briefly employed at the Chum Bucket but fails to do any successful work. In "Model Sponge," SpongeBob seemingly hears he was to be let go but has mistaken himself as the person to vacate his current life. Throughout his unemployed life during the episode, he tries to apply for many jobs, but is not qualified for them, as he is meant for the fry cook role at the Krusty Krab. His most notable obsession with his job is shown in "SpongeBob You're Fired," in which, after being fired by Mr. Krabs over a nickel, SpongeBob enters a long stage of depression and is not cured until Sandy advises him to find a new job. Taking her advice, SpongeBob applies for as a job as the fry cook at fourdifferentrestaurants, only to get fired each time for making food in the form of a Krabby Patty.
Throughout the run of SpongeBob SquarePants, the title character has become very popular with both children and adults and has become Nickelodeon's unofficial mascot.
The character's popularity has spread from Nickelodeon's original demographic of two to eleven-year-olds, to teenagers and adults, including college campuses and celebrities such as Sigourney Weaver and Bruce Willis.Salon.com indicates that the unadulterated innocence of SpongeBob is what makes the character so appealing. SpongeBob has also become popular with gay men, despite Stephen Hillenburg saying that none of the characters are homosexual. The character draws fans due to his flamboyant lifestyle and tolerant attitude.
The popularity of SpongeBob translated well into sales figures. In 2002, SpongeBob SquarePants dolls sold at a rate of 75,000 per week, which was faster than Tickle Me Elmo dolls were selling at the time. SpongeBob has gained popularity in Japan, specifically with Japanese women. Parent company Viacom purposefully targeted marketing at women in the country as a method of building the SpongeBob SquarePants brand. Skeptics initially doubted that SpongeBob could be popular in Japan as the character's design is very different from already popular designs.
However, not all reception for SpongeBob has been positive. AskMen's Top 10: Irritating '90s Cartoon Characters ranked SpongeBob at number four. The publication said that his well-meaning attitude is "extremely annoying." The character has also been involved in several controversies, including some about his sexual orientation.
An alternate SpongeBob exists in a world where Plankton was successful. Like his mainstream counterpart, he likes his career, likes promotions, and gets sad when he makes an error in somebody's order. The most significant difference is that he is made co-cashier by Plankton and is employed by him.
An alternate SpongeBob is mentioned in the "What if SpongeBob Was Gone?" shorts. Without SpongeBob, Gary throws a humongous party that ends in disaster, Patrick cannot hunt jellyfish properly, Sandy gets injured when playing karate, and the Krusty Krab ends up in ruins. All would say except Gary, that everything is better with SpongeBob.
SpongeBob is said to be right-handed, but in "Neptune's Spatula," he approves that he has two left hands.
SpongeBob is considered the most popular and iconic character on Nickelodeon.
Beginning in "My Pretty Seahorse" and heavily used in post-season 5 episodes, SpongeBob's nose usually droops down when he is sad, much like Squidward's nose is normally.
SpongeBob's head has gotten bigger in each season and his waist has gotten wider. In some early season 2 episodes, such as "Big Pink Loser," he has a narrow waist.
SpongeBob's pupil and cornea have gotten larger and more elliptical in each season. Before that, they were just pure circles.
SpongeBob's prototype name, "SpongeBoy," is referenced by Mr. Krabs in the episode "Squeaky Boots," with the quote "SpongeBoy, me Bob!"
Even though Mr. Krabs is the creator of the Krabby Patty, in "Are You Happy Now?," the narrator says that SpongeBob is the creator.
SpongeBob is ambidextrous meaning he is both left-handed and right-handed.
When he goes to the beach, he often wears swimming wear; in earlier episodes, they are blue, but they change to red in later episodes. They were also seen orange once. This is first seen as a cameo in "Clams," but is very noticeable in newer seasons.
It is revealed in "You Don't Know Sponge" that SpongeBob's favorite ice cream flavor is plain vanilla, his favorite food is the Krabby Patty, he has an outie belly button, and his favorite color is beige.
The gap in between his teeth becomes a plot point of "Mind the Gap," where Squidward joins his two gapped teeth together via oral surgery, ultimately giving him a deeper voice and culminating in the creation of his alter-ego, Cool SpongeBob.
In most episodes that flashback to SpongeBob as a kid, his voice sounds similar to his modern adult one, if not done with a somewhat higher pitch. However, in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, he has a more realistic-sounding voice that sounds like a prepubescent boy.
SpongeBob is the only character in the series to appear in every episode.
If episode airdates correlated with the time setting in the series, and child labor laws were the same in Bikini Bottom as they are in the United States, SpongeBob would not have legally been working at the Krusty Krab in the beginning of the series, as he would have only been 12 years old if he applied on May 1, 1999, and the United States banned child labor as a whole in 1938 when the permissible age was raised to 12 in 1901.
In the earlier seasons, SpongeBob rarely had his modern cheek, but in the modern seasons, SpongeBob now rarely has his original cheek.