It’s hard to believe that the show that many 90s babies grew up watching Nickelodeon continues to produce new episodes. SpongeBob SquarePants is currently in its 12th season and has touched children’s lives for 21 years.
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SpongeBob is the adorably eccentric sponge living in Bikini Bottom. Each episode shows everyone’s favorite sponge with their best friends Patrick Star and Sandy Cheeks, their boss M. Krabs, their pet snail Gary and even their hateful neighbor, Squidward. And although this is a children’s show, it is mature enough that adults can sometimes enjoy what their children are watching.
But not all episodes revolve around Krabby Patties and underwater rainbows. There have been quite somber themes that tackle deep problems, a testimony from writers who incorporate the problems of life with childlike wonder. Let’s take a look at 10 episodes that have delved deeply into the problems of adults.
10 NOT ALL MEMORIES ARE HAPPY MEMORIES
In the episode “Are you happy now?”, SpongeBob reads a book that contains a list of his fondest memories. Squidward, as usual, laughs at SpongeBob when he realizes that he doesn’t have a single happy memory. SpongeBob then goes on an epic expedition to create happy memories for Squidward.
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Unfortunately, all of these attempts failed, which allowed Squidward to realize that he was not a happy person. Sad and depressed, he hid at home until SpongeBob organized a party for him. But it didn’t go well either because no one came. SpongeBob ended up making life-size copies of himself to fill the space, causing Squidward to panic and destroy them – which ultimately cheered him up. It was a relatable episode for those who feel alone among a sea of happy people,
9 WHEN LOVED GOODS GO AWAY
The subject of a missing pet is never easy. Children are easily confused and do not know where their pet could have gone. Adults have similar emotions. In « Have you seen this snail? », Gary feels unloved and underestimated when SpongeBob is too caught up in a match. He tries to get the attention of SpongeBob but is ignored. Gary decides to leave SpongeBob in the hope of a better life without SpongeBob noticing.
This episode highlights a dark theme of humans being so consumed by technology that they can forget things that really matter (like the well-being of their pets). SpongeBob ultimately finds Gary safe and sound, but it’s a lesson we can all learn.
8 THE SQUIDWARD DEPENDENCY
Squidward can work at Krusty Krab but he has never tried a Krabby Patty before « Just One Bite ». This episode shows themes of peer pressure and addiction when SpongeBob presses Squidward to try something he had no interest in trying in the first place. In the end, Squidward ended up loving Krabby Patties and became addicted to the fat burger.
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Without wanting to satisfy SpongeBob, Squidward did everything he could to sneak up a Patty Krabby without getting caught. He ended up getting so obese that he exploded and – understand that – went to hell. Talk about darkness.
7 THE PRESSURE FOR MEN TO BE BUFFERS
There is unnecessary pressure on men to appear « manly » and strong. While this is great for those men who like to be buff, it doesn’t mean that a guy who isn’t buff is less than a man. SpongeBob hits the groundwork on this in the episode “MuscleBob BuffPants”. Sandy unintentionally insults SpongeBob by telling him that he is not strong enough. To “fit in” with other men and impress Sandy, SpongeBob buys inflatable arms that he can wear to look buff. SpongeBob liked his fake character but it wasn’t really him. He had to learn to love himself and accept his body – something that is all too real for many of us.
6 WISHING TO PLEASE OTHER PEOPLE
SpongeBob is constantly trying to impress others. He doesn’t feel the need to impress his best friend Patrick but when it comes to his job, SpongeBob will do anything to be considered an all-star fries cook. Likewise, many of us try to impress our bosses, sometimes to no avail.
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In « The Original Fry Cook », SpongeBob becomes a starstruck when Krusty Krab’s first fry cook comes to visit. SpongeBob does his best to impress him, but when he fails, he fears that he will have to quit his job and quit Bikini Bottom. In another episode, Squidward strangely surpassed SpongeBob at work, which made SpongeBob jealous that someone was being celebrated for him.
5 WHAT YOU CREATE CAN MAKE AN IMPACT
In the « Frankendoodle » episode, SpongeBob creates DoodleBob to play with Squidward. However, DoodleBob ends up being the complete opposite of SpongeBob, and is actually terror. This episode is a reminder that the things we create in existence can have consequences. The things we write, draw and say can have a lasting effect on those around us.
4 SPONGEBOB THE MURDER?
SpongeBob is such a cute sponge that the hardest thing he can do is probably to leave the Krusty Krab and stop cooking delicious Krabby pancakes. But in « Nasty Patty », SpongeBob takes a dark turn when a health inspector comes to town. Mr. Krabs got the impression that this so-called health inspector is fraudulent in search of free food, so they made him a disturbing version of the Krabby Patty.
Before the inspector takes a bite, he chokes on the fly and passes out, causing Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob to believe that he died from their burger. In fact, this guy was not a fraudster – he was a real health inspector. To hide what they have done, they decide to bury the body.
Contaminated food, impostors and murder? It’s a lot to manage for a children’s show.
3 BULLYING IS AN AGING PROBLEM
Bullying is a dark subject for children, but it is important that they learn about bullying from an early age so that they do not become bullying themselves, and that they know what to do in case they are bully victims. SpongeBob touches the foundation of this dark theme in the cleverly titled “The Bully” episode.
In the episode, SpongeBob returns to boating school when he meets his classmate, Flats. In class, Flats the Flounder tells SpongeBob that he is going to « kick his ass », which scares SpongeBob out of school. He finally returns to where he is joined by the students after facing his bully and becoming a hero.
2 MAKING FRIENDS IS HARD
Making friends can easily happen to children, but as we age, it can be incredibly difficult. It can be difficult to connect with other adults and find things in common. It is even more difficult to reach out to someone who seems to need friends but who is not receptive to the concept.
In « F.U.N. », SpongeBob tries to befriend Plankton because he is concerned that Plankton may be alone. After all, Plankton doesn’t have too many people on his doorstep to be friends with him. And while SpongeBob’s friendship has had an impact for a short time, plankton is too mean to be friends with someone so sweet.
1 THE SPREAD OF THE DISEASE
The spread of illness and disease is a serious matter, which can be too difficult to understand when you are a child. But SpongeBob SquarePants has done a great job of showing how quickly germs spread in “Fungus Among Us”.
After the SpongeBob is eaten by a fungus, it continues to grow throughout the day. Instead of dealing with it, it goes to work where it eventually spreads to customers eating its burgers. The illness becomes so uncontrollable that SpongeBob must isolate himself. This episode is a great lesson from the flu season and how easily germs (and fungi) spread.
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About the Author
Layne is a nomad who travels the world in search of his next adventure. Passionate about being outdoors (and finding the best café au lait in town), Layne enjoys writing about her favorite subjects and shows. When you can’t find her playing outside, you can find her writing in the nearest cafe.
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