Spongebob Creator Stephen Hillenburg Dies at 57

The beloved animator and producer has passed away from ALS.

Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the beloved Nickelodeon animated cartoon, Spongebob Squarepants, has passed away due to complications from ALS. He is survived by his wife of 20 years Karen Hillenburg, and his son Clay.

Nickelodeon has released a statement, as quoted on Variety, which read: “We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS. He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family. Steve imbued ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. 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.”

If you ask anyone of a certain young adultish age, their point of reference will be Spongebob Squarepants, more than any other pop culture figure, with Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar saying that when new writers come into the room, it is the go to thing they quote. Sponegebob’s ubiquity has translated into memes which we’ve covered on the site before. The cartoon, created by Hillenburg, first aired on May 1st, 1999 and has aired up to 250 episodes to date. It is an absolute classic in the world of animation, television, and comedy.

Many on Twitter have come out to celebrate the man, and talk about the incredible effect that the show has had on them.


Between the silly comedy, the fantastic songs, bringing experimental absurdity to a younger audience, Spongebob appealed to all ages in a way that few other works of art have. Steve Hillenburg’s creative spirit will be remembered by those who knew him, and the twenty years of beloved fans that his work has created.

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