Mermaid Man Guide

Do you want to learn more about the famous superheroes of Bikini Bottom? You should read through a Mermaid Man guide and share it with your friends.

Characters like SpongeBob look up to Mermaid Man for saving the world. However, he wasn’t always the hero we know today, and there’s more to him than meets the eye.

Even though I’ve watched SpongeBob multiple times, I found some new details about the underwater human. You’ll probably learn a little something too.

Bottom Line Up Front

Mermaid Man is a human with the ability to breathe underwater and other superpowers. He may have retired, but he’s still a famous character with a lot of depth.

Mermaid Man Quick Facts

  • Full Name: Mermaid Man
  • Birth Date: January 24, 1917
  • Birth Place: Unknown
  • Nickname: None
  • Death Date: unknown
  • Age When Series Starts: 82
  • Zodiac Sign: Capricorn
  • Siblings: None
  • Children: None
  • Partner/Spouse: None
  • Most Memorable Moment: when we first meet him
  • Actors Who Played: Ernest Borgnine, Tom Kenny, Adam West

Mermaid Man’s Birthplace

winchell apartments
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We don’t know much about Mermaid Man’s early life, but we do know he was born on land. I searched for Winchell Apartments, where he lives before becoming a superhero.

There’s a real-life Winchell Way Apartments in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Maybe that’s where Mermaid Man is from, but he could be from anywhere in the United States.

However, at some point, he at least visits the beach as we learn in his version of how he became a superhero. He could have moved to one of the coasts or took a trip.

Mermaid Man’s Family

As with his birthplace, we don’t know a ton about Mermaid Man’s parents, siblings, and other relatives. They’re all probably still normal humans living on land.

Since Mermaid Man drowns before becoming a hero, his old family probably thinks their son passed away. Maybe he looks similar enough to his former self, but it wouldn’t seem like a normal person can become a superhero.

After starting to live underwater, Mermaid Man’s closest thing to a family is his sidekick Barnacle Boy. Mermaid Man does have other friends, such as Elastic Waistband and Miss Appear, two other superheroes.

Mermaid Man’s Physical Traits

Mermaid Man
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When we first meet Mermaid Man, he’s a short old man. He has a round body with skinny legs and arms, and his head makes it look like he has a humpback. Like many old men, he has white hair.

As a younger superhero, he was much taller and had ripped muscles with blonde hair. Regardless of his age, he has a purple starfish on his nose which he got to help him breathe underwater.

Mermaid Man’s Origin

There are actually two origin stories for Mermaid Man. First, we have the true story that Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy start to tell SpongeBob and Patrick.

However, the media creates an origin special. The story is quite ridiculous, but I think it’s important to cover both stories.

The Truth

Mermaid Fandom
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In “Mermaid Man Begins,” we learn that he was lying on the beach but a big wave sucked him in, and a whirlpool caused him to drown.

A couple of mermaids caught him and gave him a starfish that he still wears to this day. The starfish allows him to breathe underwater, but he gets lonely.

Soon, he sees Barnacle Boy cleaning the side of a boat. He then fills the boy’s lungs with barnacles so that the two of them can live underwater.

After that, they decide to fight crime in and around Bikini Bottom.

The Special

The more famous origin story is probably the one the media puts on TV as a special. In it, Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are two young men living in an apartment as Ernie and Tim, respectively.

As Ernie makes popcorn, he gets bitten by an infected specimen that crawls down from his upstairs neighbor. Ernie screams, and the two men fall into some acid.

Aliens happen to crash into them, so the acid carries Ernie and Tim to a bomb testing site. The bomb goes off and exposes them to toxic gases.

Both get struck by lightning, and radioactive ooze rains down on them. A crystal magically breaks through ground a couple of thousand miles away and carries Ernie and Tim until the crystal flies into a billboard.

They end up flying back into their apartment as if nothing happened. Ernie and Tim decide to continue on with their scheduled movie night.

As they eat their popcorn, a jolt of energy hits them (it looks like they have bad headaches). They then turn into the two superheroes and wish to breathe water instead of air.

That story gets SpongeBob and Patrick to want to make overcooked popcorn like what Ernie and Tim had.

My Thoughts

I think the story Mermaid Man tells is more accurate even though it seems like you’d need more than a starfish to breathe underwater.

It’s also believable to me that Barnacle Boy gets stuck with Mermaid Man. He doesn’t seem to like being a sidekick for the hero.

Mermaid Man’s Home Life

By the time SpongeBob SquarePants starts, Mermaid Man has retired from fighting crime. He lives at Shady Shoals Rest Home in Bikini Bottom, and he seems to enjoy his quiet life.

When SpongeBob wins the Conch Signal in “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy II,” the heroes spring into action. SpongeBob then realizes he can use the conch to call his idols.

However, they quickly tell him not to use the shell for non-emergencies. Even though I’m far from retirement, I can understand not wanting to work after you’ve done so for decades.

Mermaid Man’s Work

Mermaid Fandom
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In flashbacks, we see that Mermaid Man was an excellent superhero. He saved Bikini Bottom multiple times, and he seems to have enjoyed his work.

Of course, he came across various villains, from the Dirty Bubble to Man Ray. Mermaid Man used his belt and other tools like the Invisible Boatmobile to help take down his enemies.

Mermaid Man’s Abilities

As a superhero, Mermaid Man has a few powers, including being able to swim at high speeds. He can also summon and control other creatures, and he can breathe underwater despite being human.

Luckily, he still has his powers in his retirement, but they aren’t as strong as they used to be. That’s not too surprising since many people tend to lose skills or strength with age.

Mermaid Man’s Belt

Mermaid Man's Belt
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A significant part of Mermaid Man’s superhero capabilities come from his famous belt. He can use the belt to shrink things, but it also does a lot of other stuff.

The belt can catch things on fire, cut something in half, or even turn someone inside out. In “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy IV,” we learn the belt also has the power of Wumbo.

That leads to one of my favorite Patrick Star lines, including the famous “wumbology,” or the study of wumbo. Regardless of what it’s doing, the belt usually uses a ray or beam to activate its powers.

Mermaid Man Fun Facts

Mermaid Man is a much more complex character than I thought. It’s been a while since I watched some of the episodes that feature the hero, including his origin story. Even if you know a lot about Mermaid Man, you can still learn something new. Here are a few fun facts that you can keep for yourself or share with your friends who love SpongeBob.

Foreign Translations

SpongeBob Show
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Like many other shows, people have translated SpongeBob SquarePants into various languages. Instead of calling the character Mermaid Man in other languages, they change it up.

Sometimes, the translations back into English are different but are just as entertaining. For example, the Hebrew name translates to English as “sea man.”

In Russian, the name translates to “marine Superman” when you put it back into English.

How He Says “Evil”

The way Mermaid Man says “evil” has become a running gag on the show. However, it happened by accident when the voice actor’s voice cracked while he said that word.

The crew loved the crack, and they decided that’s how Mermaid Man would say the term. It works very well and is a nice way to add a bit of depth to the character.

As a superhero, he wants to fight off evil, and so the concept probably stresses him out. I probably would say something in an odd tone if I disliked it that much.

He Embodies Stereotypes

Mermaid Man
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When we first meet Mermaid Man, he’s well into retirement. Some sources estimate he was in his 80s during the first season of SpongeBob SquarePants.

Mermaid Man embodies a few stereotypes of old people. For example, he likes to sleep a lot, but I’d say that’s not exclusive to old people as I love a good nap.

Also, many things easily annoy Mermaid Man, and he can be senile. He may be a retired superhero, but he’s still old and embodies that well.

He Parodies Marvel and DC

You don’t have to be a Marvel or DC superfan to notice similarities with Mermaid Man. Mermaid Man is like a parody of Batman as Barnacle Boy is to Robin.

The belt Mermaid Man wears can do almost anything. Similarly, Batman can tackle a lot of different attacks. And there’s the Mermarang, a play on Batman’s Batarang.

Their Invisible Boatmobile represents the Batmobile or even Wonder Woman’s invisible plane. Man Ray is similar to Black Manta as one of the more evil villains.

Batman’s Voice

Back to the Past
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If you’ve watched the Batman TV series, you may recognize the voice of young Mermaid Man in “Back to the Past.” Adam West was the actor for Batman on TV, and he voiced Mermaid Man in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.

That adds an even bigger connection between Mermaid Man and Batman. However, Tom Kenny voices the young superhero on other episodes that feature past Mermaid Man.

On the other hand, the episode “Back to the Past” also sees Burt Ward voicing Barnacle Boy. The actor played Robin in the Batman series.

Focus Isn’t on Him

Most episodes with “Mermaid Man” in the title feature him as a main character. However, the biggest exception is “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy III.”

In it, Mermaid Man makes a brief cameo as he asks SpongeBob and Patrick to care for the Mermalair. The two friends find Man Ray in frozen tartar sauce, and they unfreeze the villain.

Another episode shows Mermaid Man but doesn’t give him any lines. In that episode, he’s frozen in a block of ice, and we don’t see the hero after that.

A Long Career

Mermaid Man
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In “Mermaid Man Begins,” the TV special claims that the hero has fought crime for over 60 years. Of course, I don’t think we can trust the special due to its outlandish story.

However, the story Mermaid Man tells is about how he was a relatively young man. Now that he’s in his 80s, it’s not that unrealistic to think he fought villains for six decades.

No Recasting

Sadly, Ernest Borgnine passed away at 95 years old in 2012. He was the main voice actor of Mermaid Man, and the show-runners decided not to include the character in future episodes.

They didn’t want to recast the character, but Mermaid Man has appeared since then. In 2017, he made a visual appearance without any speaking lines.

However, the production team used archival recordings of Borgnine’s voice. That way, Mermaid Man could have a speaking role in a couple of episodes in seasons 8 and 9.

Mermaid Man’s Appearances

Man Ray Returns
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While he’s not a main character of SpongeBob SquarePants, he’s played a big role throughout the series. Of course, we first meet him in “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.”

His last appearance is in “Man Ray Returns.” Most of the other episodes with the character are “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy” followed by a Roman numeral.

However, Plankton manages to use Mermaid Man in “Mermaid Man vs. SpongeBob.” Plankton controls Mermaid Man’s mind and gets the hero to hurt Mr. Krabs’ business, but it doesn’t work in the end.

FAQs About the Mermaid Man Guide

Question: Is Mermaid Man a real superhero?

Answer: In the SpongeBob SquarePants universe, Mermaid Man is a real superhero. However, he closely mirrors superheroes like Batman in our universe.
Like many superheroes, he has powers and weapons to help take down villains.

Question: Why is Mermaid Man a human?

Answer: Mermaid Man’s a human because he was born on land. Whether a wave washed him out to sea or an infected ant bit him, he eventually ended up in the ocean.
He gained the ability to breathe water, and he decided to live there and fight crime. Like any older adult, he retired and move into the local rest home.

Question: How old is Mermaid Man?

Answer: It’s unclear how old Mermaid Man is. Some sources say he was born on January 24, 1917, which is when his voice actor was born, so that would make sense.
However, other sources claim Mermaid Man was born in the 1930s or 40s. Considering he fought crime for 60 years and was an adult when he started, 1917 makes more sense as a birth year.

Question: Why is Mermaid Man so short?

Answer: Mermaid Man is short probably because he’s gotten old. His ability to breathe underwater didn’t take away from his other physical human qualities.
A lot of people get shorter as they get older and lose bone mass. When you look at his younger self, he used to be pretty tall, so the short stature most likely has to do with age.
It could also have to do with the high pressure of living at the bottom of the ocean. The pressure could have condensed his height.

Final Note on the Mermaid Man Guide

He might not be the main character, but it’s still fun to learn about a hero through a Mermaid Man guide. I knew a lot about the character before writing this, but I learned just as much along the way.

If you like watching the Mermaid Man episodes of SpongeBob, you should keep this guide on hand. That way, you can reference it whenever you have questions about the character.

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