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I grew up watching SpongeBob SquarePants and never thought much of it. However, writing this SpongeBob lore guide forced me to consider the show more deeply.
There’s a lot more to it than a sponge living in Bikini Bottom. I came across some true lore and stories within the SpongeBob universe.
But I also found some SpongeBob fan theories about specific characters, episodes, and the overall show. Read on to learn more about the details behind your favorite underwater cartoon.
Bottom Line Up Front
SpongeBob lore includes oral stories, such as The Flying Dutchman. You can also learn about some fun fan theories, such as the Krabby Patty secret formula.
When looking into SpongeBob lore, I revisited some popular stories from within the show. It may be a cartoon, but the show gets into some pretty crazy stuff with its lore.
I love some of the stories that the creators and writers have come up with. It makes the show a little more fun to watch as an adult, but it’s still enjoyable for kids.
Consider the following stories you’ll hear in SpongeBob SquarePants.
The Hash Slinging Slasher
Probably the most well-known lore (a spoken story) from SpongeBob is of the Hash Slinging Slasher. We hear this story in the season 2 episode “Graveyard Shift.”
Mr. Krabs decides to keep The Krusty Krab open for 24 hours a day and forces Squidward and SpongeBob to work overnight. SpongeBob gets excited about this at first until Squidward tells him the story of the Hash Slinging Slasher.
The slasher used to be the fry cook at The Krusty Krab but lost his hand in an accident and replaced it with a spatula. He then died after a bus hit him.
Squidward explains the three signs the slasher is on the way: flickering lights, a phone ringing, but no one answers, and a ghost arriving from the bus that killed the slasher.
Of course, Squidward was only messing with his coworker until those things started to happen. We finally learn it’s just some random fish who was nervous but wanted a job. Still, I think this is a fun story that could be true.
The Flying Dutchman
We see the Flying Dutchman multiple times throughout the series, so he’s more than just a story. I love the episode where SpongeBob dresses up as the ghost and tries to be scary.
He only manages to scare everyone when he takes the sheet off to reveal his brain. Another good episode is the one where SpongeBob introduces Mr. Krabs to his Flying Dutchman board game.
Of course, the crab takes it too far and turns the game into a real treasure hunt. In both episodes, they meet the real Flying Dutchman, and I love how he rewards SpongeBob and Patrick but stiffs Mr. Krabs after their treasure hunt.
Another fun appearance is in the episode Born Again Krabs. The Flying Dutchman tells Mr. Krabs he’ll send him to Davy Jones’ locker, which is another piece of lore in itself.
In the first season, we see SpongeBob and his friends go to the Fry Cook Museum. The museum has an exhibit that features Neptune’s spatula.
Many have tried to remove the spatula from a bunch of ancient grease, but no one has succeeded. SpongeBob manages to pull the spatula out, summoning Neptune and causing a fry cook battle to ensue.
SpongeBob manages to beat the king, not by cooking more patties but by doing a better job. I love that message because sometimes, quality is better than quantity.
While we don’t hear a ton about the lore, I think it’s an interesting story. It’s a pretty popular theme among TV shows with magical worlds, and it’s the perfect version for SpongeBob SquarePants.
A similar prophecy exists in the Disney Channel show Wizards of Waverly Place. There’s a special wand stuck in a crystal ball that only one wizard is able to remove.
A much later episode, titled Feral Friends, introduces us to the story of Neptune’s Moon. We learn that the moon rises up from a volcano once every century.
When that happens, the moon temporarily turns all of the sea creatures back into their primitive forms. The transformation lasts two hours, which is long enough to cause chaos.
Being the only unaffected creature, Sandy tries to contain her friends and keep them from hurting each other. After all, they’re acting like their natural species, not friends.
I recently watched this episode, and I thought it was very entertaining. From what I read, the animators and writers did a great job of having the characters react like their species would, especially to each other.
I also love that this episode gives us a bit of insight into why the characters are usually anthropomorphic. Something in their universe, such as a lack of Neptune’s Moon, makes them the way they are.
Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy’s Origin
For many years, I remember watching SpongeBob SquarePants and not thinking much about the human superheroes living underwater. But in season 8, we finally get the answer in the episode Mermaid Man Begins.
SpongeBob and Patrick sit down to watch a TV special explaining the origin, but a storm derails their plans. They manage to get to the Mermalair and run into their heroes.
In the show within the show, we learn that the two were humans living on land. Mermaid Man (Ernie) and Barnacle Boy (Tim) were roommates having a casual movie night.
But things went awry when an ant fell onto Ernie, causing him to freak out. The roommates go through a series of events that cause them to be able to breathe underwater.
Back in the main show, Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy debunk that theory to SpongeBob and Patrick. Mermaid Man really was sleeping on a beach and washed away but mermaids saved him.
He later saved Barnacle Boy from drowning, and the two have been a pair ever since. I think their “real” story makes more sense, but like any TV special, they had to make something over-the-top within the SpongeBob universe.
Dirty Dan and Pinhead Larry
One of my favorite episodes is probably Survival of the Idiots. Sandy is hibernating and has a video recording specifically telling her friends not to enter her treedome.
SpongeBob and Patrick blatantly ignore that request, which is very much something they’d do. The two friends play in the snow but soon hear Sandy talking about Dirty Dan and Pinhead Larry in her sleep.
Of course, the idiots start to pretend to be the two criminals, and that brought about one of my favorite SpongeBob memes. The two characters keep acting up and eventually anger Sandy while she’s hibernating.
That causes Sandy to try and capture “Dirty Dan” and “Pinhead Larry” in her sleep.
Now, you could write this whole story off as a dream. However, we see the graves of Dirty Dan and Pinhead Larry in a later episode, the name of which I can’t remember.
Another piece of lore that we learn about in SpongeBob SquarePants is the lost city of Atlantis. I like how the writers were able to incorporate lore that exists in our world.
SpongeBob and his friends manage to find the key to Atlantis, so they explore the city. Of course, Patrick being Patrick pops the supposed oldest bubble, which was only a prop for visitors.
But after the Lord Royal Highness shows SpongeBob and Patrick the real bubble, Patrick pops it. Luckily, all of the Bikini Bottom residents get out of the city after the bubble popping angers the ruler of Atlantis.
I haven’t watched this special in a while, but I love how we get to see the characters be tourists. Everyone gets to visit a part of Atlantis that appeals to them, until they have to rush out, anyway.
Real Marine Life
This technically isn’t lore since it’s not a story we hear in the show, but I have to mention the marine life. SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg was a marine biology educator.
He used that background to help make the show more accurate when it comes to undersea life. One of my favorite aspects of this is the swarm of anchovies in the first episode, Help Wanted.
In real life, anchovies very frequently congregate in large groups for safety reasons. Then, there’s the fact that The Krusty Krab looks like a crab trap.
Of course, the show isn’t always completely accurate. Squidward is supposed to be an octopus but only has six limbs, though they have the good excuse of wanting to simplify the animation.
As much as I love the lore that we see in SpongeBob SquarePants, I love the tons of fan theories that you can find online. I’ve watched probably way too many hours of fan theory videos on YouTube.
However, a lot of these theories are intriguing, and some almost feel like they could be true. Unfortunately, these are fan theories, so they aren’t “canon” like the lore from within the episodes and movies.
Here are some of my favorite SpongeBob theories from fans.
Seven Deadly Sins
If you only want to learn about one fan theory, let it be the Seven Deadly Sins theory. This theory claims that each of the main characters represents one of the seven deadly sins.
SpongeBob represents lust due to his extreme love for his friends. Patrick is a manifestation of sloth, or laziness, and he’s certainly pretty lazy since he doesn’t work.
Gary, SpongeBob’s snail is gluttony since he eats a lot. Meanwhile, Sandy represents pride since she’s always talking about being a proud Texan.
If you’ve watched even a little bit of the show, it probably won’t surprise you that Mr. Krabs symbolizes greed thanks to his love of money and wealth.
Of course, Plankton depicts envy since he’s always trying to recreate Mr. Krabs’ success. And finally, Squidward represents wrath, or uncontrolled hatred, but I can’t say I blame him sometimes.
A similar theory posits that the characters represent a different mental illness. SpongeBob supposedly embodies attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Patrick supposedly has an intellectual disability, while Squidward represents anything from depression to narcissism. Mr. Krabs could also have narcissistic personality disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Some say Sandy’s mood swings mean she has borderline personality disorder (BPD). Pearl could be a representation of body dysmorphia disorder, and Plankton could represent antisocial personality disorder.
The theory also mentions how Mrs. Puff has PTSD and/or anxiety. I think this is an interesting theory, but we shouldn’t try to diagnose other people, and I think we can extend that to diagnosing fictional characters.
However, we can use this theory as a teaching tool. People may empathize more with characters, so the theory could help you understand mental illnesses that people you know experience.
Goo Under Goo Lagoon
The episode It Came From Goo Lagoon or SpongeBob vs. The Goo is interesting. In it, SpongeBob and Patrick accidentally discover purple balls of goo coming out from under Goo Lagoon.
In the show, Sandy claims it’s happening because of a crack under the lake and how there’s even more goo below. However, some fans have tried to come up with an explanation that works in our world.
One theory is that it’s a collection of oil or other toxic waste. The waste fell into the ocean after humans did nuclear testing and other experiments above the water.
Another theory is that they’re algae balls, but the characteristics aren’t quite right. One video I watched came to the conclusion that the balls are actually dead jellyfish.
It makes sense since we occasionally see purple jellyfish in Bikini Bottom. Real jellyfish also tend to congregate, which could be why there’s so much goo.
Patrick Was Smart
I also came across a theory that states Patrick is actually smart. However, he gave up his ways because he wanted to be friends with SpongeBob.
The episode Patrick SmartPants shows that Patrick becomes smart after he replaces his head following a fall. SpongeBob finds Patrick’s head, and the starfish is suddenly a genius.
Now, the head looks like it matches his body quite well, so it can’t be a fluke. SpongeBob and Patrick go looking for the head Patrick had before the fall, and they find it.
It turns out his new head was a piece of brain coral. One fan came up with a theory that Patrick left his true head with the brain coral on purpose so that he could be dumb enough to enjoy playing with SpongeBob.
I think it’s a very possible theory, especially with the Patrick SmartPants episode. At the same time, it seems a little far-fetched since Patrick is in the Kamp Koral spin-off based on SpongeBob’s childhood.
Mrs. Puff’s Dark Past
Another intriguing SpongeBob fan theory relates to Mrs. Puff’s past as a boating teacher. When we first meet her, she mentions starting a new boating school.
That insinuates that she had an old boating school in another city. In the episode, Mrs. Puff goes to jail for an accident that SpongeBob causes while driving.
SpongeBob and Patrick try to break her out, but we learn at the end that the episode seems to be a hallucination. It turns out that the cops arrest SpongeBob, who was the driver.
When Mrs. Puff appears relieved, the cop reminds her that she already did her time. However, she pictures herself in a completely different uniform, which some fans have taken to mean she was in jail elsewhere.
There’s a lot more to this theory, so I’d recommend watching a video on it. I can’t even begin to cover all of the easter eggs and other references that could make this theory true.
The Krabby Patty Secret Formula
Everyone in Bikini Bottom mocks Plankton for his interest in the secret formula. But you can’t tell me that you haven’t wondered what’s in the formula as a viewer.
I’ve seen a lot of different theories surrounding the formula. One theory is that the patties use crab meat, and that’s why Mr. Krabs is the only crab in Bikini Bottom.
Sure, we see other crabs at a convention, but that happens outside of the city. A similar theory is that the formula uses imitation crab meat.
Both of these theories would make sense since everything on the Krusty Krab menu includes the ingredient in its name. But I’ve also seen a much darker theory that Mr. Krabs killed Pearl’s mother and is using whale meat.
Some fans think he’s taking good care of Pearl to eventually use her for meat when he runs out. That would explain why the cheapest of the cheap would splurge to make Pearl happy: to bulk her up for later.
Another theory explains the anthropomorphic features of the characters. It all has to do with the name of the city in which they live: Bikini Bottom.
The real Bikini Atoll is in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, and it was the site of nuclear testing during World War II. So some SpongeBob fans think the city name is a nod to that testing.
All of the radioactive and nuclear waste caused the sea creatures to live and act the way they do. Of course, the episode Feral Friends kinds of debunks this theory since the creatures turn into their primitive selves.
However, this theory could also explain the flower clouds in the sky. After all, they aren’t full clouds, more like outlines, and they come in different colors.
Some fans think that oil or other waste from the nuclear testing caused the clouds to form. I think it’s an interesting theory, but the flower clouds may be nothing more than an animation feature.
Along with radioactive waste, there’s a theory that the show is an allegory for climate change. One theory claims that SpongeBob is actually a kitchen sponge, not just a sea sponge in the shape of a kitchen sponge.
The biggest evidence for this is SpongeBob’s treatment for the suds. A hand comes into the frame and uses SpongeBob to wash stuff.
Another piece of evidence is the fact that SpongeBob doesn’t quite look like his parents. Fans have said that he fell into the sea and his parents adopted him.
Once again, the Feral Friends episode debunks the theory that SpongeBob is from a kitchen. If he wasn’t from the ocean, Neptune’s Moon wouldn’t have affected him.
The Bus Driver in Rock Bottom
I recently came across a smaller theory that the bus driver in Rock Bottom doesn’t like SpongeBob. It starts off badly when SpongeBob keeps hitting the driver with his balloon from Glove World.
Of course, the bus driver leaves SpongeBob and Patrick in Rock Bottom. Patrick then waits for a bus and has no problem getting back to Bikini Bottom.
Every time SpongeBob tries to get on a bus, it drives off without him. On the one hand, I think this is a fun theory, and it could be why the sponge can’t catch a break.
However, there are multiple buses that come through. I have a hard time believing the same driver is working on every bus, but maybe he alerted his coworkers and told them about SpongeBob.
Sandy’s Working With the Narrator
Probably the most likely of all of the fan theories is that Sandy is working with the French narrator. We see this clearly in Feral Friends when Sandy calls “Frenchie” to ask for help.
The narrator responds, and we see he has a picture of the squirrel on his desk in the submarine. I think that makes it pretty obvious that the two are working together, but why?
Sandy’s a scientist and inventor, and she’s in Bikini Bottom to learn about marine life. The only thing is, the theory is that she’s specifically studying the creatures of Bikini Bottom.
I’d guess that’s why she befriends the other characters so easily. She may not be a liar, but she’s probably willing to do whatever it takes to further her research, including interacting with the marine life.
Squilliam Is a Fraud
One of the first theories I learned about has to do with Squidward’s nemesis Squilliam. As a woodwind player and former band geek myself, the relationship between Squidward and Squilliam has always fascinated me.
This theory claims that Squilliam has paid for a lot of the things that have made him “successful.” In a couple of scenes, we see him with a large group of friends, many of whom are ordinary fish from Bikini Bottom.
Then there’s the statue of Squilliam, that he claims is his, not the city’s. It seems like Squilliam maybe has money but that he’s used that money to bribe people to get what he wants.
He’s been able to use that to make Squidward feel like a failure. And of course, there’s the Band Geeks episode where Squilliam asks Squidward to fill in for him and his band.
But if Squilliam was truly busy, he wouldn’t have shown up to the performance. He would have been elsewhere, so fans think this is a clear sign that Squilliam is messing with Squidward and lying about his accomplishments.
I believe it.
FAQs About the SpongeBob Lore Guide
Answer: Lore is a term for traditions or subject knowledge that you pass down orally. In SpongeBob, we see this a lot, with stories of the Flying Dutchman, for example.
Of course, things like Neptune’s spatula do have written records. However, I think it counts because it’s a story or tradition for the characters in Bikini Bottom.
Answer: I haven’t seen any creators or showrunners confirm or deny fan theories. Some of the theories are pretty outlandish, but others are a bit more realistic.
As I mentioned, the theory about Sandy and the narrator is probably true. However, the show debunks certain theories, like those about SpongeBob being a true kitchen sponge.
Answer: The Krabby Patty formula could include almost anything for all we know. Some of the most plausible theories include that it contains crab or imitation crab since everything else on the menu lists the ingredients in question.
A more recent theory I found is that there isn’t a secret formula at all. Mr. Krabs just made it up to entice customers to eat at his restaurant and to keep Plankton from focusing on growing his own business.
Final Note on the SpongeBob Lore Guide
If you want to learn more about the show, it helps to consult a SpongeBob lore guide. The show has some true lore, such as stories of the Flying Dutchman and the Hash Slinging Slasher.
However, there are also some fun fan theories about the characters or the show itself. Be sure to consider all of the stories and theories the next time you watch an episode.