Hillenburg Lives on Through SpongeBob

Sommers Smith, Staff Writer

Cartoon characters often become after school favorites, but a particular yellow, rosy-cheeked sponge stole the hearts of many children and college students.

Debuting in the late 1990s, SpongeBob Squarepants is a cartoon character who has brought joy, laughter, and societal lessons across screens worldwide. Through jellyfishing, saving the Krabby Patty formula, and sharing that one of a kind laugh, SpongeBob left fans wanting more episodes and more shenanigans.

The original, and family-friendly character, brought a different and eccentric humor to households all over. The quirkiness didn’t stop there, as SpongeBob’s unique sense of humor and liveliness was accompanied by characters, Patrick, Sandy, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, and many others. Followed by wild adventures, were the show’s teachings of merriment, friendship, perseverance, and hope.

However, those who grew up watching SpongeBob were left in dismay on Nov. 26 as news spread of how the creator, Stephen Hillenburg, had passed away. Hillenburg  battled ALS, a rare nervous system disease that makes muscles weak over time and impacts physical functions, causing muscle spasms and difficulty speaking.

Even after revealing his battle with the illness in 2017, Hillenburg still tried admirably to continue his work on SpongeBob. The many friends Hillenburg made over the years openly showed their love and resting wishes to the late creator, including David Hasselhoff, who appeared in the first SpongeBob film, “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.” About a decade later, Hillenburg treated admirers with the release of a second film, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water,” which thrived just as much as the first.

Moving to the big screen was one of the many celebrated moments in the nearly 20 year franchise. During that time, SpongeBob SquarePants became the biggest children’s show on Nickelodeon according to screenrant.com, followed by the joining of well-known faces to voice characters, including Betty White, Tina Fey, and Lebron James to name a few.

Furthermore, Hillenburg’s creative writing, producing, and directing of the character masterpiece, has introduced a humorous evolution to imagination and youthfulness.’

In 2009 the show was reported to gross eight billion dollars a year, and has become a pop culture commodity, and social entertainment.

Nevertheless, all is not adrift, with the renewal of another season for 2019, and a 2020 release of a third film, “The SpongeBob Movie: It’s a Wonderful Sponge.” Even though the world lost a close friend and bright mind, Hillenburg will be remembered through his lovable character, who will continue to be a pillar of true innocence and long-life, to many generations.