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Man Ray (SpongeBob SquarePants character)

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Man Ray (SpongeBob SquarePants character)

The characters in SpongeBob SquarePants were created by artist, animator and former marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg. In addition to the series' main cast, various celebrities have voiced roles in SpongeBob SquarePants. Notably, Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway voice the roles of recurring characters Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy respectively, while others have taken a cameo part.

Creation and conception

Stephen Hillenburg conceived the characters for SpongeBob SquarePants in 1984, while he was teaching and studying marine biology at what is now the Orange County Ocean Institute.[1] During this period, Hillenburg became fascinated with animation, and wrote a comic book entitled The Intertidal Zone starring various anthropomorphic forms of sea life, many of which would evolve into SpongeBob SquarePants characters,[2] including "Bob the Sponge", who was the co-host of the comic and resembled an actual sea sponge as opposed to SpongeBob.[3] In 1987, Hillenburg left the institute to pursue his dream of becoming an animator.[2][3]

Main characters

  • SpongeBob SquarePants (Tom Kenny) is the series' title character and protagonist. He is a yellow sea sponge who physically resembles an artificial, rectangular, kitchen-type cleaning sponge clad in brown short-pants, a white shirt and a red tie. He lives in a pineapple house and is employed as a fry cook at a fast-food restaurant called The Krusty Krab, where many stories take place; he takes pride in his work and seems to worship or venerate the Krabby Patty. SpongeBob's hobbies include practicing karate with Sandy, as well as jellyfishing, blowing bubbles, and playing games with Patrick. He attends Mrs. Puff's Boating School but has never passed; his lack of a driver's license is a running gag throughout the series. It is implied that, although he has no experience, he has talent in the arts. Green and purple were early color choices for the character before yellow was chosen. He is usually seen as weak and fragile, and his first appearance was in "Help Wanted".[4] Gary the Snail is his only pet.
  • Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke) is a pink starfish who lives under a rock and whose most prominent character trait is his low intelligence. He is best friends with SpongeBob and often encourages activities that get the two into trouble. While typically unemployed throughout the course of the series, Patrick holds various short-term jobs as the storyline of each episode requires. He is good-natured, kind, and is "the tough one" of the two who is often called to fight SpongeBob's battles for him (although he usually gets distracted). Patrick is shown to have a mean temper in some episodes. Despite being portrayed as a largely unintelligent character, it is mentioned in "The Bully" that he went to community college. In the episode "Patrick SmartPants", he reveals SpongeBob and Sandy's given names as "Robert" and "Sandra," respectively. His first appearance was in "Help Wanted". He is a very childish person, and this shows in his drooling, laziness, and immaturity.
  • Squidward Tentacles (Rodger Bumpass) is a light blue octopus with a large nose. He is SpongeBob and Patrick's ill-tempered, grouchy next-door neighbor with a snobby attitude and a sarcastic sense of humor. He has no talent, although he believes he is extremely talented. He plays the clarinet and loves to paint self-portraits in different artistic styles, which he hangs up around the walls of his house shaped like an Easter Island head-sculpture. He abhors SpongeBob and Patrick as well as his current occupation at the Krusty Krab. He regularly falls asleep on the job and acts condescendingly toward customers.
  • Mr. Eugene H. Krabs (Clancy Brown), is a red crab (although he exhibits traits of a blue crab) who owns and operates the Krusty Krab restaurant where SpongeBob works.[5] He is self-content, intelligent, and obsessed with money. He lives in an anchor with his daughter Pearl, who is a whale. The Krusty Krab was originally a retirement home called "The Rusty Krab" which he bought after returning from fighting in the war; when it went bankrupt, he turned it into a restaurant and renamed it "The Krusty Krab." In some episodes, it is shown that he and Mrs. Puff have a mutual crush on each other. It is revealed in the episode "Sleepy Time" that he was born November 30, 1942. He takes pride in money, his invention of the Krabby Patty, and his superiority over his rival Plankton's restaurant, The Chum Bucket.
  • Sandy Cheeks (Carolyn Lawrence) is a squirrel from Texas. She has a number of athletic interests, such as "sand-boarding" and karate, and is a rodeo champion. She also works as a scientist, explorer, and inventor. Being from the surface, she lives in a tree which is inside a glass dome so she can breathe. To survive underwater, she wears a diving suit and helmet to travel outside of her tree-dome. Whenever any aquatic creatures enter her air-filled dome, they must wear helmets filled with water to breathe. It was mentioned in "Atlantis SquarePantis" that her full name is Sandra.
  • Sheldon J. Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) is a plankton who owns the Chum Bucket, the rival restaurant to the Krusty Krab. As the self-proclaimed archenemy to Mr. Krabs, he constantly tries to steal Krabs' secret recipe for Krabby Patties, but is always unsuccessful (except, temporarily, in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie). Sometimes, not only does he wish to run Mr. Krabs out of business, but he also wishes to rule the world. His wife is Karen, a computer of his creation, and he is considered the main antagonist of the series to the point where he finds pleasure in just being evil.
  • Garold Wilson "Gary" Snail Jr. (Tom Kenny/Dee Bradley Baker when he actually speaks) is SpongeBob's pet sea snail. Within the series, snails are analogous to cats, so Gary almost always vocalizes like a feline.[6] Despite this, other characters can understand and communicate with him. Depicted as a level-headed character, Gary sometimes serves as a voice of reason for SpongeBob, and solves problems that his owner cannot. He is sometimes nicknamed "Gare-Bear" by SpongeBob, and it is revealed in "A Pal for Gary" that his full first name is Garold.

Recurring characters

  • Mrs. Puff (Mary Jo Catlett),[7] is a pufferfish with blonde hair, who is the owner and teacher of a boating school (analogous to driving school, as the "boats" are underwater equivalents to cars). Her first appearance with in the episode "Boating School", which first aired on August 7, 1999.[8] She dreads instructing SpongeBob due to his inability to drive without crashing. In the episode "Krusty Love", it is revealed that her husband is dead and was turned by humans into a lamp. As a running gag, she frequently gets in trouble with the police due to SpongeBob's inability to drive without causing public damage.
  • Pearl Krabs (Lori Alan) is Mr. Krabs' teenage sperm whale daughter. The series has yet to explain their disparity in species, although in the book SpongeBob's Trivia Book, Mr. Krabs explains that Pearl takes after her mother, meaning her mother was apparently also a whale. Occasionally in the series, Mr. Krabs will exclaim, " Mother of Pearl!" possibly referencing her mother. Her mother is never seen nor addressed in the series (Krabs is portrayed in the series as being a single man). Pearl is frequently embarrassed by her father's cheap attitude and often forces him to try and change his habits.
  • Karen (Jill Talley) is Plankton's nagging computer "WIFE" (as in an acronym for "Wired Integrated Female Electroencephalograph") and voice of reason. She apparently has a mind of her own to the point of making fun of Plankton. Karen usually helps Plankton in his schemes to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula, although on occasions Plankton rejects her ideas and then takes them as if they were his own. She has a sarcastic attitude towards Plankton, and it is revealed in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie that she never agreed to marry Plankton. Karen also made a cameo in an episode of The Fairly OddParents called "Love Triangle," in which Karen is the monitor at the hospital after Foop catches a disease.
  • Mermaid Man (Old: Ernest Borgnine (1999-2012) and Joe Whyte (2012–present), Young: Tom Kenny (Season 1), Adam West in Back to the Past, and Ernest Borgnine in The Bad Guy Club for Villains) and his sidekick Barnacle Boy (Old: Tim Conway, Young: Burt Ward and Tim Conway in The Bad Guy Club for Villains)[9] are two elderly and partially senile superheroes who live in a retirement home and are stars of SpongeBob and Patrick's favorite television show. It is most likely that they are parodies of Aquaman and Aqualad, but since their younger selves are voiced by Adam West and Burt Ward, and because they use onomatopoeic words similar to those in the 1960s Batman TV series, they also parody Batman and Robin. Mermaid Man is known for completely forgetting things, yelling a prolonged "EVIL!" whenever he hears the word, and Barnacle Boy seems to be the smarter, more sensible of the two. It was revealed in the episode entitled "Mermaid Man Begins" of the 8th season that Mermaid Man's given name is Ernie, likely an homage to his voice actor. In this same episode, Barnacle Boy was referred to as Tim, but in a previous season, he was called Kyle. Coincidentally, Borgnine and Conway previously appeared together on the 1960s TV series McHale's Navy. Borgnine died on July 8, 2012 and since late 2012, Mermaid Man has been voiced by Joe Whyte, who voiced Mr. Krabs in some video games.
  • Larry the Lobster (Mr. Lawrence) is a lobster lifeguard of the Goo Lagoon. Larry is a bodybuilder and workout fanatic. He was considered a lifeguard on "SpongeGuard on Duty", but in other episodes, he is not and simply just hangs out at the beach. Despite his large and muscular physique, he is sometimes shown to be somewhat of a coward.
  • The Flying Dutchman (Brian Doyle-Murray) is an irascible pirate ghost named after a ghost ship, The Flying Dutchman. He lives underwater in a giant ship and collects souls. Included in his arsenal of supernatural powers are intangibility, levitation, teleportation, energy projection, shapeshifting, interdimensional travel, matter transmutation, and wish-granting. As revealed in "Your Shoe's Untied," he is skilled in tying loops, but he does not know how to tie shoelaces and instead hangs a sock on his ghostly tail. It is revealed in "Shanghaied" that he cannot eat without this sock.
  • Patchy the Pirate (Tom Kenny) is a live-action character who is a pirate and the president of the SpongeBob Fan Club. He lives in an unnamed suburb of Encino, California, and is normally present in specials, often in a dual narrative with the animated SpongeBob, although sometimes he merely introduces the episode. At the end of each episode he appears in, he has a really big mess and trouble which makes him look like how he would be able to get out of the really Bad situation. He made a special guest star appearance on Big Time Rush in the episode "Big Time Beach Party" with Carlos Pena, Jr. and Logan Henderson. Patchy has a next-door neighbor named Mrs. Johnson who offers him cookies and has an electric rocket propelled wheelchair. Patchy works at a fast-food restaurant called The Poop Deck, and his boss' name is Mr. Pirateson. His Counterpart is similar to Captain Feathersword from the Wiggles franchise (Because they're both Pirate, Both cause mischief, havoc and trouble sometimes and are both in Live-Action). he also makes an Appearance in It's a SpongeBob Christmas, in which he is depicted in stop-motion animation (rather than unlike the live-action segments) where he (In a parody of the role of S. D. Kluger from Santa Claus is Comin' to Town) and Potty steal a mail truck delivering letters to Santa, and end up getting lost. In the End, Patchy is Put on the Naughty list for Stealing the Mail Truck.
  • Potty the Parrot (Stephen Hillenburg and Paul Tibbitt) is the Patchy the Pirate's "annoying" pet parrot. Potty is a crudely made puppet controlled by very obvious strings. He is obnoxious and often annoys or talks back to Patchy. He is similar to Iago from Aladdin and Zazu from the Lion King.
  • Officers Nancy and John (Grey DeLisle & Dee Bradley Baker) – Officer Nancy (a purple female cop fish with blonde hair) and her partner John (an orange fish) are the two most commonly seen cops in Bikini Bottom, appearing most prominently in Season 3. Although John still regularly appears on the show, Nancy has been retired from the series after the third season. However, she returned in a Season 8 episode and most recently appeared alongside John in Season 9.
  • Dr. Forrest (Rodger Bumpass) is a Bikini Bottom doctor. His name is revealed in "Slide Whistle Stooges" and "Shuffleboarding". He is most often purple-skinned, but he has occasional appearance changes throughout the series. In the episode "Once Bitten", an orange-skinned guest doctor who resembles Dr. Forrest named "Dr. Gill Gilliam" appears.
  • Elaine (Mr. Lawrence) is a live-action announcer and news anchorfish, resembling a cut-out of a bass fish. Elaine appears in numerous episodes, including the intro to the show. His name is revealed to be Elaine in "The Great Patty Caper", though he is known as Johnny in Battle for Bikini Bottom.
  • Perch Perkins (Dee Bradley Baker) is a field news reporter. His name was first revealed in "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" as he announced the arrival of the Krusty Krab 2.
  • Harold SquarePants (Tom Kenny) and Margret SquarePants (Sirena Irwin) are SpongeBob's parents, who more resemble sea sponges rather than SpongeBob's shape as a kitchen sponge.
  • Squilliam Fancyson (Dee Bradley Baker) is Squidward Tentacles's arrogant and wealthy arch-rival who has been able to succeed in everything Squidward has only dreamed of doing. He and Squidward compete in the series on many occasions and Squidward normally does not win over his rival, although there are some episodes where Squidward is triumphant. Though sometimes mistaken as a relative of Squidward due to their similarities, they were band classmates in high school and are not related.
  • Mrs. Betsy Krabs (Paul Tibbitt first two appearances/Sirena Irwin subsequent appearances) is Mr. Krabs' overbearing mother who still treats him slightly like a kid and first appeared in "Sailor Mouth". Plankton has a small crush on her in "Enemy in Law". She was quite poor while raising her son through his childhood, as shown in the episode "Friend or Foe?".
  • Man Ray (John Rhys-Davies & Guy Siner/Bob Joles) and the Dirty Bubble (Charles Nelson Reilly/Tom Kenny) are villains against Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. Man Ray (not the famous photographer of the same name) has a man's body with a helmet shaped to look like a stingray's head, while the Dirty Bubble is literally portrayed as a giant bubble with a villainous face. Man Ray is based on Black Manta, Aquaman's archenemy. Charles Nelson Reilly originally voiced the Dirty Bubble, but Tom Kenny has portrayed the character since Reilly's death in 2007.
  • Old Man Jenkins (Doug Lawrence (Sailor Mouth), Dee Bradley Baker (Once Bitten), and Tom Kenny) - An elderly fish who used to live in the Rusty Krab rest home before it became the Krusty Krab restaurant. He currently resides at Shady Shoals Retirement Home along with Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. His appearance changes in almost every episode he appears. One of his critical appearances is in "The Sponge Who Could Fly" wherein he plays a farmer, a sailor, and finally, a human cannonball. He is friends with Mama Krabs, as revelaed in "Sailor Mouth" and "Friend or Foe?"
  • King Neptune (Jeffrey Tambor (The Spongebob Squarepants Movie), John O'Hurley (Neptune's Spatula and The Clash of Triton), Kevin Richardson (Party Pooper Pants) and Billy West (SpongeBob vs. the Patty Gadget) - A green mermaid who is the king of the sea and a god, analogous to the Ancient Roman God. He is one of the main characters in "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie". He is often referenced to in replacement of the word "god".

Background characters

  • Fred Rechid (Doug Lawrence, better known as the character who shouts "MY LEG!" when injured (alone or in a group), is a brown fish who was one of the first of the generic character models to appear in the series. He first appears in "Reef Blower," but his famous line, a running gag in the series, is not heard until "Boating School".
  • Nat Peterson (voiced by Tom Kenny) - A male yellow fish that is a common background character on the show. His last name is revealed in "Missing Identity," and his first name was revealed in "Plankton's Regular", his biggest role to date.
  • Harold Reginald (Doug Lawrence) is a blue fish with a shark-like fin, spiky teeth, a white t-shirt and a red speedo. His name was revealed in both Have You Seen This Snail? and in "Roller Cowards" when Tina Fran says his name. His first appearance was in Ripped Pants.
  • Scooter Rechid (Carlos Alazraqui/Clancy Brown in Wigstruck) - A parrotfish who enjoys surfing. He allegedly died and became an angel in the second-season episode "Bubble Buddy", though he returned for future episodes. Until the end of Season 3, Scooter spoke like a stereotypical Southern Californian, and he is most often seen at Goo Lagoon.
  • Sadie Rechid (Carolyn Lawrence) An orange fish who is another common background character on the show.
  • Tom Smith (Doug Lawrence) is a green fish who wears a purple shirt and who serves as another generic character model for the show. He plays a heightened role, however, in the episode "Chocolate with Nuts".
  • Nancy Suzy Fish (Sirena Irwin/Grey DeLisle) is an often seen, but infrequently heard, yellow dress-wearing, white-haired fish with gray skin. Her name was revealed in "MermaidMan and BarnacleBoy V".
  • Tina Fran (Sierena Irwin) is a pretty light red fish who wears a blue dress and skirt. She is one of Pearl Krabs's friends seen in "Squeaky Boots". Her name is revealed in "Hall Monitor", where she attended Mrs. Puff's Boating School.
  • Mary Jenkins (Sirena Irwin) – An elderly fish who lives in Bikini Bottom with her even more elderly, grumpy mother, about whom she is annoyed. Her premiere appearance was in "Chocolate with Nuts," wherein SpongeBob and Patrick trick Mary's mother into buying some chocolate to apply to her skin and achieve immortality.
  • Charlie (Dee Bradley Baker) is a fish often as a background character in the show. His name was revealed in while he was in a TV commercial with Mr. Magic endorsing a product called "Mr. Magic's Magical Magic Kit".
  • Frankie Billy is an olive green fish and another character model for the series. His last name was revealed in "Professor Squidward" when Squidward tells how he likes putting his name on the board. He first appears in in the Season 2 episode, "Life of Crime", and eventually a couple Season 3 episodes and appears more and more in Season 4-present episodes.


The characters of SpongeBob SquarePants have been well-received overall. The titular character SpongeBob has become very popular with both children and adults. The character's popularity has spread from Nickelodeon's original demographic of two to eleven-year-olds, to teenagers and adults,[10] including college campuses and celebrities such as Sigourney Weaver and Bruce Willis.[11] The popularity of SpongeBob translated well into sales figures. In 2002, SpongeBob SquarePants dolls sold at a rate of 75,000 per week, which was faster than Tickle Me Elmo dolls were selling at the time.[12] SpongeBob has gained popularity in Japan, specifically with Japanese women. Nickelodeon's parent company Viacom purposefully targeted marketing at women in the country as a method of building the SpongeBob SquarePants brand. Sceptics initially doubted that SpongeBob could be popular in Japan as the character's design is very different from already popular designs for Hello Kitty and Pikachu.[13] However, the characters have also attracted negative reception, including SpongeBob himself, who was listed as number four on AskMen's Top 10: Irritating '90s Cartoon Characters. Nevertheless, SpongeBob SquarePants was ranked ninth on TV Guide's top 50 cartoon characters.[14]

Arthur Brown, author of Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from Cartoons!, has compared Squidward's voice to that of Jack Benny's.[15]

Appearances in other media

The characters of SpongeBob SquarePants have been parodied various times in popular culture. In 2007, the Amsterdam-based company Boom Chicago created a SpongeBob parody called "SpongeBob Squarepants in China," in which a stereotypically Chinese Patrick refuses to go to work and advocates freedom of speech, rights of leisure, and income.[16] During the same year, production company Camp Chaos created a SpongeBob parody entitled SpongeBong HempPants which features five of the series' characters parodied in the form of various drugs. The show was seen on VH1 and Comedy Central.[17] The series has received mixed reviews from television critics; Adam Finley of TV Squad believed the series sounded "hilarious on paper", but ultimately did not demonstrate its full potential.[17] SpongeBob and Patrick were also referenced in Phineas and Ferb when they dug a hole and found a sponge and a seastar. SpongeBob and Patrick also have an appearance in the Disney show Good Luck Charlie when Charlie's parents have a pink square and a yellow star puppet and are performing a potty training show on a fake television set. In the show Marvin Marvin, Bob thinks he sees SpongeBob in real life. SpongeBob has made some appearances in TV shows such as The Simpsons, Family Guy, Robot Chicken, Mad, Drawn Together, South Park, Futurama, and The Cleveland Show. In the Duck Dodgers episode "Finns of War" a parody of SpongeBob is shown as a busboy. In the movie REC 3: Genesis, a Spanish horror movie, there is a person who is dressed up as SpongeBob. His name is Sponge John.


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