How Stephen Hillenburg’s ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ touched lives of UC Berkeley students

Wikimedia/Creative Commons

With news of the death of “SpongeBob SquarePants” creator Stephen Hillenburg, many “SpongeBob” fans are taking the time to reflect on how Hillenburg’s work has impacted their lives. “SpongeBob SquarePants” is a show that has substantially shaped many of our own senses of humor and childhoods. The jokes were new and fresh, and many episodes are so memorable that we’re still quoting them years after we first watched them. In my own observations of being on campus, I’ve witnessed “SpongeBob SquarePants” references bringing people together. In times when things seem difficult, “SpongeBob” memes on UCBMFET would be there to brighten our days just a little.

One of the reasons why “SpongeBob SquarePants” has continued to leave a lasting impression on UC Berkeley students is for its ability to represent such a wide array of moods that many students on campus can #relate to. Sometimes we feel like Patrick: done with the complexity of life, and ready to embrace a carefree attitude. Other times, we’re Squidward: utterly unmoved, and wishing we could do more with our lives. Finally, some of us from time to time even feel like SpongeBob: ready to take on what remains of the semester with gusto and determination (“I’m ready!”). In other words, when some of us college students find ourselves in a position of struggling to articulate how we feel, “SpongeBob” has always been there to help us out.

Another reason why the show is held near and dear to UC Berkeley students’ hearts is for its meme-ability. As mentioned previously, many of the funniest memes on the UC Berkeley meme page stem from some situation or scene in the show. The beauty of it all is that it’s hard to get sick of “SpongeBob” memes. A simple screenshot can encompass so many experiences at UC Berkeley. Take this wholesome gem that is currently on the page, for example.

The show’s lore has got to be another reason that draws so many UC Berkeley students to “SpongeBob.” Knowing all of the members of the International Justice League of Super Acquaintances can be more impressive than knowing how to solve a difficult optimization problem. In all honesty, when someone quotes “SpongeBob” and you get it, you can’t help but feel a rush of dopamine overwhelm you as you experience what it feels like to be in on the joke.

Those of us who have continued to enjoy this square yellow sponge over the years can also admit that we pick up on new, subtle jokes that we previously may not have understood when we were younger. For example, the scene in “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy III” in which Man Ray attempts to give Patrick’s wallet back to him didn’t make sense to me as an 8-year-old, but now that we’ve had time and experience collectively age us, many other UC Berkeley students and I can now appreciate this meme. There’s always some interesting new detail that can be picked up on each time you watch an episode of “SpongeBob.” It’s sort of like a gift that keeps on giving. 

“SpongeBob SquarePants” is a show that’s nothing short of a timeless classic. It’s a huge source of inspiration and imagination for not only me but also many other UC Berkeley students, so thanks to you, Stephen Hillenburg, for giving us that lovable yellow sponge.

What do you love most about “SpongeBob SquarePants”?

Contact Malvika Singhal at [email protected] .