15 Things About 'SpongeBob SquarePants' You Never Knew
"Absorbent and yellow and porous is he" - and SpongeBob SquarePants is so much more. Nickelodeon's cartoon about a happy-go-lucky sponge who works at the Krusty Krab and lives in a pineapple under the sea has become a worldwide phenomenon, thanks to the cast and crew who created the silly but beloved SpongeBob in 1999.
Stories about the making of SpongeBob SquarePants might surprise you. Did you know Patrick Star started as an antagonist? How about the real-life origins of Bikini Bottom? Even The Hoff is part of SpongeBob history. And the SpongeBob fan theories are not only fun, but plausible, including one that dives into the Seven Deadly Sins.
On a somber note, series creator Stephen Hillenburg passed from ALS in 2018. But Hillenburg left a legacy of hope and optimism in SpongeBob Squarepants that fans continue to celebrate as the Nicktoon lives on, offering new adventures for SpongeBob and his undersea cohorts.
SpongeBob Wasn't His Original Name
Mr. Krabs calling SpongeBob “SpongeBoy, me Bob!” wasn’t just a slip of the tongue: SpongeBoy was the character's original name. When series creator Stephen Hillenburg and his crew were working on the “Help Wanted” pilot for Nickelodeon, SpongeBob's name was SpongeBoy, and the show's title was SpongeBoy, Ahoy!
After learning SpongeBoy was already the name of a cleaning product, however, Hillenburg changed the character's moniker to SpongeBob to avoid potential copyright infringement.
Sandy Cheeks Was Originally SpongeBob's Girlfriend
While it’s hard to imagine child-like SpongeBob involved in a serious relationship with anyone (outside the fast-food spectrum), early SpongeBob episodes did flirt with the idea. His intended love interest? The karate-chopping scientist from Texas: Sandy Cheeks.
Vincent Waller, storyboard director for SpongeBob SquarePants, revealed on Twitter that Sandy was intended to be SpongeBob’s girlfriend. Their interspecies romance never fit organically on the show, however. The creators ultimately scrapped the love story, but you can see remnants of it in the early episodes, such as SpongeBob trying to win back Sandy’s affection in “Ripped Pants.”
Nickelodeon Thought 'CatDog' Would Be Its Big Hit, Not 'SpongeBob'
Ever since its premiere in 1999, SpongeBob has been a Nickelodeon hit. But the network for kids didn’t always have faith in the lovable sponge. According to Micah Wright, a former Nickelodeon writer who’s best known for his Constant Payne animated pilot, SpongeBob was low on the network’s radar.
The senior vice president of production for Nickelodeon at the time was betting everything the network had on CatDog becoming its next big hit, announcing an initial order of 100 episodes. Wright tweeted:
We were amazed... no one was super excited about the pilot for that show, but 100 episodes represented an investment of $50 million. That was a lot of jobs! Then he says, "And SIX episodes of SpongeBob!”
In the end, however, CatDog only lasted for 68 episodes over four seasons. Meanwhile, SpongeBob SquarePants saw its twelfth season premiere in 2018 and has also spawned two feature films, with another set for release in 2020.
Patrick Star Was A Very Different Character In The Begininng
SpongeBob’s best friend, Patrick Star, wasn’t always the lovable oaf everyone knows today. During the early stages of production, Patrick was a much meaner character, worthy of entering the Salty Spitoon. Before he became SpongeBob’s lazy neighbor, Patrick was meant to be a grumpy roadside bar owner.
According to creative director Derek Drymon, Patrick was initially angry all the time because of his pink skin.
Stephen Hillenburg Kept The David Hasselhoff Ending In The First Movie A Secret From The Crew
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, released in theaters in 2004, featured a surprising guest star: Baywatch actor David Hasselhoff. The appearance of “The Hoff” wasn’t just a surprise to moviegoers, however; the film's crew didn't know about his role until later than usual in the production process.
SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg kept the third-act film twist a secret from fellow animators and writers, waiting to reveal the idea until he had a visual to present. But as storyboard artist Sherm Cohen explained in a Hogan's Alley interview, Hasselhoff still wasn't on board:
Everybody was floored by the absolute weirdness and goofiness of the sequence, and Steve was positively giddy. Realizing that this ending was 100 percent dependent upon casting David Hasselhoff, [the] first question to Steve was, "So, do we have Hasselhoff?"
With a huge smile, he says, "No!" I ask him, "Have we talked to Hasselhoff?" Steve, even giddier, says, "No!" Lucky thing that Hasselhoff eventually said yes!
SpongeBob And Patrick's Fight In 'New Student Starfish' Was Inspired By Reality
In the episode “New Student Starfish,” SpongeBob and Patrick engage in fisticuffs, but as terrible fighters, they end up smacking themselves the whole time. Interestingly, their idiotic and hilarious brawl was inspired by a real-life event.
In a Hogan's Alley interview, storyboard director Kent Osborne talked about an embarrassing fight he experienced in 10th grade:
Me and this other kid named Mark Holste were the two worst lacrosse players on the team, and all the other kids made us fight in the locker room, and everyone was into it... until we actually started fighting. We tried to hit each other but kept missing, then we tried to get each other in a headlock, but it looked like we were hugging, then we slipped on some water, and both fell down, then the other kids all stopped cheering and went outside to practice.