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With the evolution of animation, we have witnessed the birth of great TV shows that will remain evergreen for generations. Among such generational masterpieces, a show that still rules over many hearts is none other than SpongeBob SquarePants.
The characters are unique in appearance and personality. Like most other fans, I often relate or empathize with many of these characters. Even the side characters with a very brief appearance tend to grasp the viewer’s attention due to their persona and sometimes even their physical appearance.
One such side character that was successfully able to do that is Flats the Flounder, who happens to be a stereotypical butt-kicking bully. Still, the thoughts behind this character are so intricate that it helps Flats to stand out among the generic bullies from other TV Shows. This Flats SpongeBob guide is for all those fans who always wanted to know Flats a bit more.
Flats SpongeBob Guide: Bottom Line Up Front
When I first saw Flats, I was shocked due to his physical appearance, and his love for butt-kicking made him my favorite bully. The character first appeared in season 1, episode 8a, Sandy’s Rocket. However, his name was changed from Farley the Flatfish to Flats the Flounder. And in an episode of season 3, the character was given more depth and dialogue, which made it unique in a TV show with hundreds of characters.
- Name: Flats the Flounder (formerly known as Farley the Flatfish)
- Gender: Male
- Occupation: A bully with SpongeBob being his favorite victim.
- Residence: Bikini Bottom
- Related Characters/Connections: Flat’s Dad, Patrick Star, SpongeBob, Mrs. Puff.
- First Appearance: Season 1 and Episode 8a: Sandy’s Rocket
- List of Episodes Flats Appeared In: Season 1 Episode 8a: Sandy’s Rocket, Season 1 Episode 18a: Texas, Season 3 Episode 3b: The Bully, Season 11 Episode 11b: Don’t Feed the Clowns, Season 13 Episode 8b: Upturn Girls.
Flats’ appearance is vastly different from other characters in the series. At first glance, it appears that he is a 2D creature who doesn’t fit in, but when we see him up close, he is just way too flat.
The character design is very accurate to a real-life flounder fish; from the front, he looks thin, but when viewed from the side, his body seems like a diamond or a kite.
He appears to have sideways dull-yellow eyes. These eyes, combined with his triangular head and dull green body color, allow him to have an intimidating appearance that resembles the Eye of Providence. His signature outfit is an orange shirt with a green collar. And the green color runs down the middle of the shirt until it meets his reddish-brown pants.
Personality And Character
Flats is an interesting character who is obsessed with kicking butts. His sole purpose for existing in the SpongeBob universe is to be the perfect bully. Judging by his introduction in Mrs. Puff’s class, he seems straightforward and honest.
Even though he has a calm voice, his aura gets menacing whenever he sets his eye on his favorite victim, SpongeBob. This intimidation can be assessed from the fact that even his father is afraid of him. The influence of Flats is surreal and, in my opinion, allows him to topple other bullies.
Most bullies tend to have a redemption arc. But for Flats, bullying is the very motive of his existence, and even when SpongeBob saves his life, he still insists on getting his butt kicked. I think an antagonist who is firm on his beliefs should be feared, and the Flounder is most definitely a villain to watch out for.
He is a brute when it comes to strength since he can easily knock down a door. He also seems intelligent as he was able to trick Mrs. Puff when she addressed him about his motives. Another trait worth mentioning is his persistence which is evident from the fact that despite doing no damage to SpongeBob, he kept hitting him until his body gave up.
The Flounder’s First Appearance: A Victim of Alien Hunting
Flats the Flounder, formerly known as Farley the Flatfish, made his first appearance in the first season of SpongeBob SquarePants in the episode called ‘Sandy’s Rocket.’
This episode revolved around Sandy’s ship being highjacked by Patrick Star and SpongeBob. They wanted to hunt for aliens on the moon but ended up chasing the citizens of Bikini Bottom. Among these citizens was Farley, who was minding his business in his washroom until SpongeBob messed up everything. He seems shocked upon seeing SpongeBob and is later captured by Mr. SquarePants and Patrick Star.
This scene caught me a little off guard as I wasn’t expecting Flats to go down without a fight; however, as Flats wasn’t yet ascribed the role of a bully, it makes sense.
Square Dancing Flatfish
Chronologically, Flats makes his second appearance in Season 1, Episode 18a, Texas. This isn’t a significant role again; however, he is still a part of the crew assembled by SpongeBob and Patrick for Sandy‘s surprise party.
It isn’t much, but it gives a narrow view of his character, that despite his brutish nature, he is willing to help out a homesick Sandy. He plays a role of a square dancer in the episode. However, he takes this role too literally as he is seen holding a cube. Though this contradicts his cunning nature, the entire scene is a comedic masterpiece.
The First Major Role: The Bully
Episode 3b of the third season of SpongeBob SquarePants is considered Flat the Flounder’s first major role in the series. The writers went into depth in this episode with this rather unique and mysterious character. He had already made several cameo appearances, and fans were waiting for what actually is that thing. In my opinion, due to his distinct features, this character was finally explored, leading him to perform a unique role in the SpongeBob series.
The writers couldn’t have given a more fitting role to Flats. He started out as a bully, who, even though feeling stereotypical at first, later set a bar for bullies for various shows. His favorite phrase seemed to be, “Well, I like to kick people’s butts,” one of the most quotable and iconic lines a bully could ever say.
You can now tell how fond I am of Flounder. But that doesn’t mean I am a fan of bullying. I only appreciate the depth that was put into a side character leading him to become a fan favorite, despite his role as an antagonist.
A New Student In Mrs. Puff’s Class
One day Mrs. Puff introduces a new student to the entire class, and menacing music starts to play. The class and the viewers then witnessed a tall, thin, fish-like character. But their jaws suddenly dropped when Flats the Flounder turned to a side, revealing that he was, in fact, quite wide. As the claps began to fade, Flats was asked to say something about himself. But what he told was anything but normal, and it was certainly something no one was expecting him to say.
He seemed to have a polite voice and good mannerisms; moreover, he was dressed well. Appearances can be deceiving; the first words he uttered in his soft voice were highly threatening. Still, Mrs. Puff considered his ‘butt-kicking’ motto a joke and began to appreciate his humor, seeming unbothered.
The entire class heard Flats’ message loud and clear, except for SpongeBob, who also considered Flats’s introduction a joke. The students clear a path for the mighty Flats as they become intimidated by him, and he proceeds to sit with SpongeBob. This scene made me realize that Flats was most certainly someone who could flatten you with his strength.
Flats Meets SpongeBob
It is always a dramatic moment when the antagonist and the protagonist have some form of interaction in any TV show. Flats’ interaction with SpongeBob was no less dramatic. It was filled with over-the-top visuals, intense music, intimidating conversations, and the stereotypical gesture of the good guy wanting to befriend the bad guy but severely getting rejected.
SpongeBob introduces himself to Flats, and our boating school bully says he will kick SpongeBob’s butt without a care. However, SpongeBob doesn’t take the hint and still considers the threat a joke.
Flats gets up close with SpongeBob and, in a deeper voice, says that he meant what he said. Flats made his point to the audience that he was there for chaos, but he still didn’t get through to SpongeBob. He then rips his iconic orange shirt apart and reveals his manly chest hair. Then he pulls out most of this hair with his bare hands to show “I mean it” tattooed over his chest.
This part of the episode speaks a lot about Flats as a character. It shows how determined he is in proving his point, that he is ready to rip apart his clothes and body hair. He doesn’t care about the pain it would cause or how much strength it would take; after all, he was there for a show.
In the latter part of this scene, Flats is called by Mrs. Puff to draw a diagram of a basic four-way intersection. Now, the creative side of Flats is revealed as he draws a glimpse of what he would do to SpongeBob. He is titled an artist for his illustration. This shows his dedication to the craft of bullying and his willingness to depict it through diagrams in detail. Now, he has achieved his initial motive to terrify SpongeBob.
A Threat In The Washroom
SpongeBob scurries and hides in the washroom after being terrified by Flats. However, he only feels relieved for a moment until Flats shows up. SpongeBob tries to distract him by narrating a story about some wood shavings. But this story could only do the trick for a brief moment.
Flats initially seemed almost enlightened, and it looked like he was taking in the words of wisdom about mere wood shavings and said, “Hey, that story really speaks to me.” For a moment, it really felt like Flats was about to have a change of heart over a dumb made-up story by SpongeBob.
Unfortunately, it was nothing but a troll, and Flats makes it evident that the situation had worsened for SpongeBob. Now, the beating he would receive would be twice as hard. In this short scene, Flats’ sarcastic nature was depicted, and how he pretended to be moved by the story. He revealed that he was just playing around and also fooled SpongeBob and most of the audience.
Community College Buddies
As the episode progresses, SpongeBob tries to explain his situation to his friend Patrick Star. He describes how horrified and threatened he feels due to Flats and miserably asks for his help over a phone call. Patrick seems to be engaged in a conversation with someone else and later apologizes to SpongeBob as he didn’t listen to what he said.
Unfortunately for SpongeBob, Patrick has a guest over. That guest is none other than his community college pal Flats the Flounder. This was my favorite scene out of the entire episode as it portrayed Flats’ power in that he had also infiltrated SpongeBob’s friend circle and made it clear that luck wasn’t on SpongeBob’s side.
Even Patrick knew that Flats was out for blood. During the time they have known each other, he became more violent and increased his constant lust for kicking butts. The doors were closing for SpongeBob as he knew his only buddy would be unable to save him now.
Flats Outwits Mrs. Puff
It might be a common belief that physically strong people might not be that capable when it comes to more brainy tasks. Still, our antagonist can debunk this theory by deceiving Mrs. Puff when she addresses him about bullying SpongeBob.
Helpless Mr. SquarePants finds himself at Mrs. Puff’s door, who is concerned about his miserable state. After a bit of convincing, he finally reveals that Flats has wanted to kick his butt. She really becomes offended by this and addresses Flats off-screen.
She later reveals to SpongeBob that it was nothing more than a misunderstanding, as he is from a town where kicking someone’s butt refers to being friends. One of the best comebacks I have ever heard!
After that, we can see SpongeBob going insane as Flats makes terrifying gestures in the background. His intimidating tactics are weirdly unique as he creates a sand statue of SpongeBob and proceeds to kick it into oblivion.
The fact that he could deceive his teacher says a lot about Flat’s intelligence. On the other hand, it can also prove that Mrs. Puff might just be a little naive. However, to come up with a story that is obviously a lie and convince someone to believe it takes some skill.
A Cameo From Flats’ Dad
I remember my parents telling me how talking to strangers is a bad thing, and the parents were forced to be strict in this regard so they could keep their children safe. But for Flats, it is an entirely different story, and I won’t be wrong to assume that he is the one telling his parents what to do and what not.
When SpongeBob sees Flats’ dad outside the school, he tries to talk to him about his son’s violent nature. But their conversation gets interrupted as Flats appears and says, “What did I tell you about talking to strangers?” This sentence’s power in this context cannot be comprehended; Flats just rebuked his father!
This leads us to believe that Flats is not like other bullies; even his father is also a victim of his misery. It seemed like SpongeBob couldn’t comprehend the gravity of the moment either, and in panic, he rushed toward the city.
Flats is now completely blinded by his desire to destroy SpongeBob, and now it seems like he is going overboard. He is chasing after him in a garbage truck to run SpongeBob over. But when all seems lost, his truck somehow trips over a banana peel. Flats wakes up in the hospital after being saved from a critical condition because of SpongeBob’s CPR.
Even the most dedicated villains would have a change of heart on this, and even though Flats is touched by SpongeBob’s noble nature, he still wants to kick his butt. Flats’ stubbornness and determined nature set him apart from most antagonists in TV shows. He is still willing to beat up the very person who saved his life.
SpongeBob retreats to his home and is ready to accept his tragic fate as a fully recovered Flats knocks down his metallic door with mighty strength and begins to punch SpongeBob after some confrontation. After several punches, they both realize that SpongeBob’s body can absorb those blows, and he isn’t affected by them. I never knew SpongeBob was hiding this superpower this whole time.
Let’s not forget Flats’ persistence and determination. Throughout SpongeBob’s routines, he is seen trying to beat him up but fails miserably every time. However, at last, the bully finally meets his match. After days of trying, he finally gasses out and falls to the ground due to fatigue and helplessness. Flats the Flounder couldn’t achieve his end goal of beating SpongeBob, and like always, the good prevailed!
Flats the Flounder made a few more appearances after his major role in ‘The Bully.’ However, these appearances were short cameos and didn’t provide much information about him as a character. Not to mention, sometimes, these appearances contradict his aggressive nature and intentions.
He appears in episode 11b of season 11, “Don’t Feed the Clowns,” as a customer in the Bikini Bottom Bakery, where a clown throws a pie at his face. If it were Flats with the same traits as the ‘the bully’ episode, he would have wreaked havoc in that bakery.
Flats makes yet another appearance in season 13, episode 18b of the show, and this time he is a lovely customer at Krusty Krabs. Describing him as lovely is nothing but disrespect to him; after all, we are talking about the biggest bully the TV screens have ever seen.
My thoughts About Flats The Flounder
Even at first glance, Flats doesn’t look like any other character. Even when his character wasn’t explained in depth, his short cameos were enough to make him memorable. I could remember glimpses of Flats solely because of his physical appearance. And when I watched his major role as a bully, I was indeed impressed.
Yes, it might seem like his motives were far-fetched, and sometimes the way he wanted to achieve them was too out of the ordinary. Those specifically were the traits that allowed him to influence the viewers significantly. I was pretty impressed by his mantra of kicking butts. Yet, his antagonism seems admirable due to the effort, creativity, and persistence he shows throughout his journey of finally being able to fulfill his desires.
I think Flats is a very well-written character and one of the best villains the series has produced. Despite his fewer appearances in the show, people tend to grow fond of him, and he is among very few characters viewers don’t forget. He is also one of the most savage characters to set foot in Bikini Bottom. He can get his way with anyone, whether it be his peers, teacher, or even his father. Still, I believe even bullies should draw a line regarding their parents.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: In season 1, he was known as Farley the Flatfish, but when he appeared as a major character in season 3, his name was changed to Flats the Flounder.
Answer: Flats likes kicking people’s butts, and he has often portrayed this obsession through words and actions. He is seen chasing after SpongeBob throughout an episode to do just that. A man of pure determination and strong will.
Answer: In season 3, episode ‘The Bully,’ Flats the Flounder is seen relaxing in Patrick’s house. While Patrick is on the phone with SpongeBob, he reveals that he met an old pal from his community college. So, it would not be wrong to construe that they remained college fellows back in the day.
Answer: When Mrs. Puff approaches Flats after the class, Flats tells her that kicking someone’s butt in his town means you want to be friends with them. This lie miraculously led Mrs. Puff into believing that Flats is a good person who really wants to be friends with SpongeBob.
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