In the year 1999, Nickelodeon premiered a kooky animated series starring an anthropomorphic square-shaped yellow sponge that lived in a pineapple (house) under the sea. “Spongebob SquarePants” may have initially left parents watching with their children scratching their heads, but eventually the show won them over with its plentiful grownup bonuses and witty writing, eventually building itself up to become the most watched animated program on Nickelodeon and the most famous face of the children’s cable network. Its success can be attributed to creator Stephen Hillenburg. But now, Nickelodeon and “Spongebob” fans are devastated with the news of his death.
Variety has it that Stephen Hillenburg, the American cartoonist, animator and marine biologist who created “Spongebob SquarePants” for Nickelodeon, and produced and directed the animated series for much of its run, has died Monday, November 26, at the age of 57. This was announced only on Wednesday, November 28, by the cable channel, a part of MTV Networks, on social media. “We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants,” Nickelodeon wrote on its official Twitter page. “Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work.”
In a follow-up in-depth statement the cable channel elaborated that Hillenburg died of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the neuron degenerative disorder famous for having affected baseball player Lou Gehrig and British scientist Stephen Hawking. The creator of “SpongeBob” was initially diagnosed with ALS sometime in 2017, but announced to Nickelodeon that he intended to keep working on the show for as long as he was able. “Steve imbued ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere,” the network stated. “His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”
Stephen Hillenburg’s journey to creating “SpongeBob SquarePants” began when he was teaching marine biology in California during the 1980s. He created a comic strip that taught about tidal pool animal life like sponges, and the characters he conceptualized for this were further developed when the idea was later transformed into animation. The concept was enough to carry “SpongeBob” through 12 seasons and some 249 episodes on Nickelodeon, winning several Emmy Awards, and becoming an indelible memory in many millennial childhoods.
To pay tribute to the memory of SpongeBob’s creator, we will add the lyrics to his show’s introduction down below:
Arr ya ready kids? (Aye-aye, Captain!)
I can’t hear you! (Aye-aye, Captain!)
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
Absorbent and yellow and porous is he (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
If nautical nonsense be something you wish (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
Then drop on the deck and flop like a fish! (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
Images: Polygon, YouTube