SpongeBob Creator and HSU Alumni, Dead at 57

Stephen Hillenburg SpongeBob

Image from a previous press release from Humboldt State University lauding the SpongeBob SquarePants creator for funding the Stephen Hillenburg Marine Science Research Award Endowment.

Today Nickelodeon announced the “passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants.” Hillenburg was an alumni of Humboldt State University ( (‘84, Natural Resources Planning & Interpretation).

Hillenburg had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) which affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. 

After graduating from HSU, Hillenburg went on to teach marine biology and eventually to create stories featuring SpongeBob. He got a degree in animation in 1992. And the first episode of SpongeBob SquarePants came out on Nickelodeon in 1999.

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13 comments

  • Such a sad passing!!! As well as being too young to be gone!!! RIP I Hope!!

  • dude. super sad. maybe why he made such a generous donation recently to HSU. thanks for the entertainment Stephen. condolences to his friends and family

  • Sad news 😥

  • Sad day for my youngest daughter.

    • Your daughter didn’t know him, and the cartoon plays everyday. What makes this sad for her?…..

      • Someone didn’t get there Krabby Patty today.

        (ok i did not write this and i mean no disrespect but…..here it is anyway)

        There are numerous clues sprinkled throughout the episodes to indicate that the Krusty Krab is actually an elaborate drug front. There are highly addictive and illegal substances in the Krabby Patties that are being passed off as real food.

        In the episode The Nasty Patty, Mr. Krabs is absolutely terrified of the health inspector. Why is he so afraid if the Krusty Krab is just a burger joint? What does he have to hide? And if he suspected the health inspector was an imposter, why didn’t he just call the police. Trying to poison him, even if he was a criminal, would have been going waaaay too far. Maybe Krabs knew this guy was real the whole time. Maybe he just wanted to bump him off to keep him from discovering something.

        The Bikini Bottom health inspection services are either extremely stupid or extremely corrupt. In the episode Best Frenemies, the Kelp Shake company is allowed to gain a near monopoly on the Bikini Bottom soft drink industry and no one bats an eye, despite the shakes containing toxic acid that makes people grow green hair. They also only intervene at the last minute in Greasy Buffoons, when Krabs and Plankton poison their customers by stuffing their food with unhealthy amounts of grease. It’s entirely probable that they haven’t investigated the content of the Krusty Krab’s formula because they are either idiots or they have been bribed by Krabs to hush up.

        In the episode Just One Bite, Squidward tries a Patty for the first time. He pretends not to like it at first just to prevent Spongebob from realizing he proved him wrong, but secretly falls in love with the food. No, I’m serious, he has a dream where he marries a Krabby Patty and has a kid with it. Now, if someone told me they had a dream where they engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse with a sandwich, I would ask them what drugs they have been taking. That in and of itself is not enough to build a theory on, but more evidence comes later in the episode. Squidward’s obsession with Kraby Patties drives him to a level of desperation where he finally snaps. He breaks into the Krusty Krab to get into the Patty vault. Now, I don’t know of any food so tasty that I would break into a restaurant at night just to steal it. All signs point to an addiction developing within Squidward. Finally, once he gets into the Patty Vault, Squidward eats Krabby Patties until he basically dies. Even though he blows up, it seems as though this event implies an overdose in a less obvious way.

        In the episode Friend or Foe, it is revealed that Mr. Krabs and Plankton got their inspiration for becoming restauranteurs from an individual named Stinky. Stinky appears as a cranky old man, but there are a number of suspicious characteristics about him. First of all, he operates his restaurant in the city dump. Clearly this is against the law as the landfill is most likely owned by the Bikini Bottom government and is not open to private enterprise. So why set it up there? Why not start a business somewhere else? It is possible that Stinky (if that is his real name) was actually selling drugs hidden in the meat, and that he was illegally distributing the substance to young school age children. Later in the episode, Stinky closes down his shop, reveales that he has tons of money, and leaves town never to be seen again. Why would someone so affluent be selling their products in a dump unless said products are prohibited from being sold. Perhaps Stinky is actually a local drug lord and the Kraby Patty secret formula came about as an attempt to copy his original formula.

        You might argue that Spongebob is for kids and the creators would never put something this adult in the show, even if it’s not directly implied. But
        Spongebob has never been exclusively for kids and in fact as the show grew more popular its adult following drastically increased. And there are also some dark things about Spongebob that only adults will notice. For one thing, it is all but confirmed that Bikini Bottom is directly above Bikini Atoll nuclear test site and that its civilization was created as a result of local populations of sea creatures gaining sentience from the radiation. It can also be deduced that Spongebob and Sandy’s “karate” may be seen as a metaphor for something else. Ultimately its up to interpretation though.

  • Thank you for the joy and entertainment you brought to children and all, you left a lasting legacy, a life well lived you willl be missed by many.🌸🌷 Rest In Peace

  • Such a unique, positive and very funny show, so sad.

  • He lived in a pineapple under the sea.

    Rest In Peace!

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