I Love Spongebob, but It’s Time for It to End


Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Spongebob Squarepants! But not the one we know and love. Spongebob is a lovable and goofy character that many of us teenagers grew up watching on TV. The show Spongebob Squarepants has been running for 22 years and, like many other long-running series, the show has been in decline for several years. Not only is the writing worse and more arbitrary, but so are the characters and their personalities. As the show continues to run and spread across different forms of media such as movies and video games, audience members like myself have begun to notice that there is less care being put into the characters in the show. There is also less effort being put into thinking about the reasons why so many of us enjoyed the show in its earlier seasons. The characters that we bonded with and connected to  don’t seem at all like themselves; in fact, they are almost never relatable anymore and nearly unrecognizable due to the new exaggerated animation style. 


It isn’t hard to see when the decline began for the series because it lined up perfectly with creator Stephen Hillenburg’s departure after the first movie was released, in 2004. This was a result of a disagreement with the studio, as they wanted to continue the show after the movie and Hillenburg wanted the opposite. Not only did Hillenburg leave, but so did many of the original writers and artists for the show, which explains why the devastating decline began in season 4. Another factor contributing to the decline of the show lies in Nickelodeon itself. After season 5, Nickelodeon raised the amount of episodes in each season from 20 to 26. This meant that the studio then had to make 52 segments instead of 40, and this caused the show to be more rushed and less detail oriented than the previous seasons. One more element that contributed to the decline was that as the show became more popular, they were able to get away with a lot more, such as grotesque imagery with spine chilling scenes that make you want to shout out, “MY LEG!!” That’s right, I’m looking at you, toe nail ripping scene from season 6 episode, House Fancy. 


Looking at the characters specifically, there is a term that I believe perfectly describes what has happened to them during the period of decline for Spongebob Squarepants: Flanderization. Flanderization is defined as the act of taking a single, often minor, action or trait of a character and exaggerating it until it consumes the character entirely. We can see this taking effect slightly in the seasons before the movie was released, but in the seasons after that flanderization is much more evident. This is what I was referring to before when I stated that the characters don’t seem like themselves–their original selves. Flanderization has affected all the characters in the show, not just Spongebob. Spongebob is silly, Patrick is unintelligent, Squidward is mean, Mr. Krabs is cheap, Plankton is evil, and Sandy is…Texas? As the show continues, these exaggerated traits have taken over the characters and now we’re left with predictable, annoying actions and repetitive writing. *Insert dolphin noise*


More on exaggeration, the animation style has changed the show so drastically that the characters are almost completely new. There were small changes in seasons 1-5, but not enough to make someone want to stop watching the show entirely, which is what has happened in the most recent seasons. I, for one, barely made it through the 2018 and 2020 episodes I watched to prepare for writing this article. In seasons 12 and 13 especially, the animation style is completely different and expressions are extremely overdramatized. You can’t go five seconds without seeing a disturbing and unnecessary facial expression. This, I suppose, is to appeal to a much younger audience than a 16 year old Spongebob critic, but honestly if I were a small child watching the new seasons of Spongebob Squarepants, I’d probably think these images were more scary than funny. Now, as a 16 year old Spongebob critic, I can say that these images just make me miss the Spongebob I grew up watching.


All the negatives aside, there were definitely a few good episodes after the first movie was released, but that doesn’t make up for the disappointment that the show caused myself and many others. I believe that they should have ended the series after Stephen Hillenburg’s incredibly unfortunate and saddening death in 2018 and ended with a proper tribute to him. Spongebob will never be able to return to its former glory, and that’s why it needs to end.


Finally, a dedication to some of the best episodes (My Favorite Episodes)


  • Valentine’s Day: Season One, Episode 16
  • Band Geeks: Season Two, Episode 15
  • The Graveyard Shift: Season Two, Episode 16
  • SB-129: Season One, Episode 14 
  • The Fry Cook Games: Season Two, Episode 19
  • Spongebob B.C.: Season Three, Episode 14
  • Survival of the Idiots: Season Two, Episode 9
  • The Snowball Effect: Season Three, Episode 6