Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? For the past 20 years, everyone’s favorite nautical critter has made this the easiest question to answer. Since its premier in 1999, “SpongeBob Squarepants” has become one of the most celebrated television shows of all time, appealing to various age groups through a level of creativity and wit that is not often seen in an animated kids series.
The brilliance of “SpongeBob Squarepants” echoes far beyond the TV screen; it extends deep into pop culture, uniting teens and young adults alike through memorable memes and timeless quotes. Considering the prolonged success of this aquatic sponge and his undersea friends, it should come as no surprise that “Nickelodeon” has taken every opportunity to celebrate the show’s triumphant run.
Nickelodeon’s most recent celebration, the “SpongeBob Squarepants” 20th Anniversary, is a tribute to the life of the show’s creator, Stephen Hillenburg. Hillenburg died in November of 2018, leaving an insatiable void in the animation community. Nickelodeon chose to honor the showrunner and his legendary creation with a weeklong marathon from July 7 – July 12.
In the 246 “SpongeBob Squarepants” episodes that aired during the week, there were plenty of unforgettable moments that highlighted SpongeBob’s tenure. After hours of nostalgic television, careful deliberation and mindful ranking, the 5 episodes listed below are endowed as the most iconic moments in the “SpongeBob Squarepants” series.
1. Bubble Stand
It’s arguably the most memorable episode in the series, and the very mention of “Bubble Stand” transports “SpongeBob Squarepants” fans back to their childhood days. Everybody remembers watching SpongeBob’s ridiculous bubble-blowing routine and trying their hardest to memorize all the steps.
“Now it’s time to bring it around town” became the go-to quote for kids everywhere as they tried out the routine with their friends. The episode also marks the first time the world fell in love with SpongeBob’s idiotic friend, Patrick Star, after SpongeBob blows a bubble elephant that Patrick mistakenly refers to as a giraffe.
“It’s a giraffe” became an instant testament to Patrick’s hilarious popularity and, many years later, would become one of the first “SpongeBob Squarepants” memes to bless the internet. “Bubble Stand” may have only been the show’s 2nd episode, but it was an instant classic that solidified the show’s success for years to come.
“Graveyard Shift” is another episode that’s sure to bring childhood memories flooding back — it was the quintessential sleepover episode when it first aired. SpongeBob says, “It’ll be just like a sleepover — except we’ll be sweaty and covered in grease!”
What makes this episode so iconic is the unforgettable story of the Hash Slinging Slasher. In an attempt to scare SpongeBob while he’s working overnight, Squidward devises a story about a one-handed former employee that comes back to the Krusty Krab to haunt the restaurant. Every young adult remembers this story for how eerily silly it is.
But perhaps the most memorable component of “Graveyard Shifts” is its non sequitur ending; the episode concludes with a brief, unforeseen cameo from the 1920’s vampire Nosferatu. The episode’s eerie vibe makes it one of the most distinctive episodes in the series.
The concept behind this episode is as straightforward as its title: SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward decide to camp outside their house. There are plenty of great jokes throughout this 11-minute camping trip, but what makes it iconic is the fan-favorite song, “The Campfire Song.”
SpongeBob takes out a guitar and begins spelling out “Campfire Song” at a slow and soothing tempo. The song speeds up tremendously, however, making for a hilarious challenge as the audience tries to spell out the words at the same pace as SpongeBob (even Patrick struggles to keep up). The simplistic lyrics are deeply embedded into the minds of even the most casual fans of the show.
“Chocolate With Nuts” is the archetypal example of the wit that makes “SpongeBob Squarepants” so great. It’s the perfect episode to play for people who have never watched the show because its continuous stream of jokes is sure to make any cartoon novice laugh.
The jokes flow naturally as SpongeBob and Patrick go door-to-door trying to sell chocolate bars, desperate to become successful entrepreneurs. Ultimately, they learn that the best way to sell something is by lying to customers about the product, which is a timeless piece of marketing advice.
5. Band Geeks
Squidward’s attempt to form a band out of Bikini Bottom’s most inept members pays off monumentally when they perform David Glen Eisley’s “Sweet Victory” in front of a crowd of humans (“ugly looking fish”). This scene is only a couple minutes long, but it has made an everlasting impact on the minds of kids who grew up watching cartoons.
It’s unforgettable and brilliant, and it has also become the purest testament to Stephen Hillenburg’s legacy. After his death, over 1 million people signed a petition for “Sweet Victory” to be performed at the Super Bowl LIII halftime show, which conveys just how vital this episode is to the “SpongeBob Squarepants” fandom.