As a self-proclaimed “SpongeBob SquarePants” superfan who grew up watching the show first thing every morning, I lost a significant piece of my youth Monday when its creator Stephen Hillenburg died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. To honor his memory as showrunner of the first three seasons of a show that’s defined my childhood and countless others’ worldwide, I’ve ranked the top 10 greatest episodes of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
10. “Procrastination” - Season 2, Episode 17a
As college students, we can all relate to SpongeBob’s struggles to complete his 800-word essay the night before its due date. He makes every excuse in the book to distract himself from his writing, from shooting the breeze with the mailman to calling his best friend Patrick in the middle of the night. SpongeBob eventually falls asleep and dreams that the items in his house are conspiring against him to prevent him from completing his essay, only waking up from the nightmare with five minutes to finish his essay before class.
9. “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V” - Season 3, Episode 12b
The fifth installment in this series portrays Barnacle Boy rebelling against his condescending partner Mermaid Man by joining veteran villains Man Ray and the Dirty Bubble to form the group “E.V.I.L.” (Every Villain Is Lemons). Mermaid Man then recruits SpongeBob and his friends to reform the dysfunctional band of superheroes known as the “International Justice League of Super Acquaintances” to stop Barnacle Boy.
8. “Shanghaied” - Season 2, Episode 13a
One morning, a mysterious anchor crashes through SpongeBob and Squidward’s houses, prompting Squidward to climb up the rope to complain with SpongeBob and Patrick in tow. Setting foot on the Flying Dutchman’s ship, SpongeBob and Patrick find themselves stuck as his prisoners, while an angry Squidward is cast into an infinite, spiraling abyss by the ghost. SpongeBob and Patrick are then forced to find a way to escape and save Squidward.
7. “One Krabs Trash” - Season 3, Episode 6b
Seeing an opportunity to make a quick profit, Mr. Krabs empties the contents of his garbage can onto his lawn and holds an “antique” yard sale. SpongeBob purchases a soda-drink hat from the pile for $10, which Krabs later discovers to be an extremely rare and valuable item when he’s offered $1 million for it. Willing to do anything to retrieve it, Krabs finds himself digging up the grave of the original owner, “Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen.”
6. “Krab Borg” - Season 3, Episode 9a
After watching a scary robot movie in which robots take over the world, SpongeBob becomes extremely paranoid and begins to suspect Mr. Krabs is a robot. After several tests to confirm his suspicions, SpongeBob enlists the help of Squidward to interrogate “Robot Krabs” into revealing the whereabouts of their real boss.
5. “Hall Monitor” - Season 1, Episode 7a
When SpongeBob is the only student left who has yet to be named Boating School Hall Monitor, Mrs. Puff reluctantly assigns him the position for the day. Straying from the classroom, SpongeBob decides to become hall monitor of the entire city, wreaking havoc on Bikini Bottom. He soon learns of a “Maniac” terrorizing the town and enlists the help of Patrick to stop him, unaware of his true identity.
4. “Frankendoodle” - Season 2, Episode 14b
After an artist sketching in a rowboat on the surface loses his pencil, SpongeBob and Patrick discover it and draw “DoodleBob,” a rough self-portrait of SpongeBob who becomes animate and steals the magic pencil to wreak havoc on the town. SpongeBob and Patrick are forced to face off against DoodleBob and get rid of the magic pencil once and for all.
3. “Pizza Delivery” - Season 1, Episode 5a
Right before closing time at the Krusty Krab, a customer calls looking to order a pizza for delivery. Mr. Krabs sees a monetary opportunity and sends Squidward and SpongeBob on a trip across town to deliver the first-ever “Krusty Krab Pizza.” After SpongeBob loses their boatmobile and the two become lost, he’ll stop at nothing to deliver the pizza to the customer.
2. “No Weenies Allowed” - Season 3, Episode 8a
After a karate session between Sandy and SpongeBob sends SpongeBob flying, he lands in front of “The Salty Spitoon,” the toughest sailor club in Bikini Bottom. The bouncer grants Sandy entrance into the club but rejects SpongeBob, claiming he’s not tough enough. Determined to gain entrance to the club, SpongeBob and Patrick concoct a ruse to fool the bouncer into thinking SpongeBob is worthy.
1. “Band Geeks” - Season 2, Episode 15b
After a great deal of deliberation, “Band Geeks” wins the title of the greatest SpongeBob episode. When Squilliam Fancyson mentions to Squidward that his band is unable to perform in the prestigious Bubble Bowl, Squidward offers up his “band” to take the place. Realizing he doesn’t have one, he posts fliers across Bikini Bottom and scrambles to train a group of clashing novices to play as a coordinated marching band.
Contact Amy Needham at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.