The 100 Best Episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants

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60. Jellyfish Hunter (September 28th, 2001)

Mr. Krabs being manipulative and putting his own profits before the well-being of others? How shocking. More shocking than that? How good SpongeBob looks with hipster glasses on. “Jellyfish Hunter” opens with SpongeBob hunting for ‘old no name’, a nameless blue Jellyfish he can’t seem to catch, and goes right into a musical number, then into a crazy montage of more jellyfish hunting, then a conspiracy theory, and finally a break-out scene all wrapped in an interesting revenge plot. It’s jammed packed (pun intended) with visual gags, tight writing, strong editing, and some ‘70s paranoia political thriller assassination stuff. Not to mention the inventive ways SpongeBob hunts for jellyfish and the crazy factory Mr. Krabs powers with his stationary bike. It evens wraps up neatly at the end, with ‘old no name’ turning into an adversary, then a co-conspirator, and finally a friend. It’s a fun episode and never misses a beat, and features a great song-and-dance number with the “My leg!” guy who falls in love with jellyfish patties.

You may remember this particular segment from:

59. Dumped (March 5th, 2001)

Out of all of the greatest TV comedies, of all time, they all share one thing in common: a piece of music that sticks around in the cultural awareness and pervasiveness. The Simpsons “Mr. Plow”, Arrested Development’s “For British Eyes Only”, Community’s “Troy and Abed in the morning”, and Archer’s affinity for the “Danger Zone”. But the one that doesn’t get mentioned as often is the music accompanying “Dumped” every time the episode wants to convey sadness, and it is simply the most underrated song in SpongeBob history. That sad tune totally gets its point across, and can work to be both hilarious and incredibly depressing. This entire episode is structured bi-linearly: Patrick and Gary have a great time together, while SpongeBob is a miserable wreck and tries to replace the pet that has left him. Loneliness and loss can be some of the most difficult stuff to deal with emotionally, and Gary can represent any friend or former spouse or failed relationship. Although to balance that out, there’s a fun jealousy/rivalry throughout that pushes the narrative forward. Replacing Gary with Rex the worm, Larry the snail, Jerry, and ultimately the cookie in Patrick’s pocket all feels bittersweet and childish, yet meaningful and important for SpongeBob’s grieving. It’s like any break-up; really rough, and we can all relate to that story in some way or another.

AND GARY AND LARRY ARE DIFFERENT THAN:

58. I’m With Stupid (November 30th, 2001)

Patrick’s intelligence has been hinted at, poked fun at, questioned, examined, and thoroughly made fun of. And that’s a key part to his personality, his character. No single episode has gone further into the exploration of Patrick’s stupidity than “I’m With Stupid”. Even though it mostly deals with Patrick’s family treating SpongeBob like an idiot, it really makes Pat come off like the true dummy. And it’s great. I truly love how far this show will go to show off how dumb Patrick and SpongeBob can be, and it’s shameless about it. But there’s a whole lot more to “I’m With Stupid” than cheap pot-shots, like the way Patrick’s home seems to expand and contract in size to fit whatever scene he’s in, and the killer one-liners and puns flying at the screen at a rapid pace. It also has an enormous amount of non-sequiturs that could put an Adult Swim show to shame. Lots of shots are taken at SpongeBob’s expense, and it can be a downright mean episode if you forget that they’re fictional characters. But, like some really cold hearted shit is going on here. But the rapport between Patrick and his (fake) parents is so spectacular that I feel like anyone can enjoy the misery subjected on everyone involved in this episode.

You may remember this particular segment from:

57. Rock-A-Bye-Bivalve (March 29, 2002)

Like an early ‘90s Woody Allen drama, “Rock-A-Bye-Bivalve” examines the break-up of a failed, loveless marriage, and the subsequent effect on their child. The fallout can be really rough to watch, and hits close to home. I’m not being facetious when I say that, since there are some deep cuts made, but the impeccable satire keeps it afloat and humorous enough to handle. The struggle to learn how to care for a baby oyster, the strain it has on people’s lives, the husband and wife relationship, love and marriage and divorce; it’s all outside of the typical content of an episode of SpongeBob. That’s what makes this episode so memorable and long-lasting, I think anyways. It has a sort of ‘50s vibe to it, and could be viewed as a collection of soap opera clichés if you want to dig deeper into the subtext. Broken promises, housework, loss of focus on the child, possible alcoholism, arguments, diapers; this is some harrowing stuff, and I have no clue how a kid would understand any of this, or why they would find it inherently funny. But the writers do sneak in a lot of good jokes to cushion the devastating blow, and “Rock-A-Bye-Bivalve” is wholly original and unique experience worthy of more admiration.

You may remember this particular segment from:

56. Bubble Buddy (November 16th, 2000)

Apparently, you can fill an entire episode with one person talking to an imaginary figure. There is precedent for this, with the feature film Harvey, but in cartoon form it takes a good deal of effort to make the imaginary character work within the context of the show. You can’t hear any of his thoughts, he doesn’t move or speak, and he is basically a narrative prop for everyone around him to utilize. But Bubble Buddy is a fan favorite, and his reputation certainly precedes him. The novelty never wears thin, and learning about him, while futile, is still funny nonetheless (he’s lactose intolerant and doesn’t like crust on his sandwiches). He pisses off everyone he comes into contact with, and incites riots, yet we still love him anyways. Sure, he endangers people and is an inconvenience and doesn’t help society whatsoever, and also murdered someone, but can you blame him? Bubble Buddy is an extension of SpongeBob and his wild vivid imagination, and oddly fills in the same role he does. Except for the murdering, of course. Bonus points for using the citizens of Bikini Bottom in an angry mob, which is always great to use the whole town together in a story for whatever reason. Can’t get enough of them.

You may remember celebrating this fake holiday:

 

55. Something Smells (October 26th, 2000)

What an episode. Anytime I can explain the plot of something, and it basically boils down to ‘somebody smells bad and drives away an entire city’, you know you’re in for a good time. It’s so stupid it’s brilliant, and that’s what I love about it. Rancid, toxic breath can be the narrative thread to an episode, and that just leads to a string of sight gags, one after another. Such relentless, silly, and cartoonish buffoonery can work, but it’s a dicey proposition; if you aren’t smart with your stupidity, you come off as just plain stupid and random. But if you can craft something interesting and funny, the stupidity becomes pointed and fresh. Leave it to the writers of SpongeBob to take a throwaway premise like “Something Smells” and make gold out of it. You get some thematic loose change here and there: ugliness, self-esteem issues, how we view ourselves and perceive our looks to the outside world, working out issues and accepting who you are, but that’s a bit below the surface level. A surface level filled to the brim with gross-out humor. The final line of dialogue is one of the best ending lines to an episode in the show, ever. But for me, it’s all about that movie theater scene. That’s comedy bliss unmatched in the fourteen years since it aired.

You may remember this particular segment from:

54. Artist Unknown (September 21, 2001)

Squidward’s perceived talent, and ambition to become a truly successful artist, is one of the single funniest things about SpongeBob Squarepants. It’s one of the longest running gags on the show, and a lot of jokes are made at the expense of his music, his paintings, his interpretative dance, and finally we get an entire episode dedicated to Squidward failing at the hobbies he loves. And it’s terrific, through and through, as callous as it all is. Of course, SpongeBob has to show up to not only ruin his day, but to outclass him artistically and destroy Squirdward’s ego. The story can be simply broken down into three basic acts: SpongeBob shows up Squidward’s skills, Squidward could become famous and rich and needs SpongeBob to repeat his impromptu art again, and then SpongeBob fails to do so and Squidward ultimately fails. It sets up a series of gags, a set-up in act one and the payoff in act three, and both are masterful displays of comedy. It’s deceptively basic in its structure, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be razor sharp or hysterical. The art world sometimes needs a good shaming, and the writing is well aware of the troupes of the art scene. If you’ve never heard of Rothko or Vermeer, you’ll still have a good laugh. If you know about them, it’s even better, because art can be really stupid and subjective, almost to a fault.

You may remember this particular segment from:

53. The Great Snail Race (January 24th, 2003)

Yes, we here at Geek Binge did name our Game of the Year Awards after a joke in this episode. And yes, I was behind the creation of the 2013 Tortellini Awards. I think that speaks to how good that joke is. The whole episode builds on his last name being mispronounced, which is funny at first, but then works into the actual plot and pays off by the end. Squidward wants a pedigree snail because he thinks he’s better than everyone else, SpongeBob wants to beat him at his own game, and Patrick owns a rock as a pet. It’s sheer lunacy, including the ominous threat Sandy makes at the very beginning of the episode (she gets the spontaneous idea to kick his butt, no explanation is given). And beyond the sports movie clichés and the lessons learned about pushing someone too hard (and the Rocky montages), you have an insanely fast paced and looney episode with a lot of fantastic moments that have nothing to do with anything. Any time this show brings in sports, things go south very fast. But those are the best episodes, and this is no different. SpongeBob has a mustache briefly, the show focuses on an old snail for like a whole three minutes, and Patrick has a pet rock. I mean, what in the world is up with that? On paper none of this should work, but it comes together beautifully, and I absolutely love this episode for doing so.

You may remember this particular segment from:

52. The Bully (October 5th, 2001)

Briefly, I will mention that yes, this episode does not resolve in a realistic way. As much as I like SpongeBob taking on something as serious as bullying, it does not go the usual route of kids shows and offer a valid solution for anyone looking for advice. It sticks to typical SpongeBob universe logic, and if you’re not down with that then you are watching the wrong show. Adults are puny and moronic, and no one helps anyone in Bikini Bottom. But, other than that, the escalation of the story in “The Bully” is magnificent. From the opening scene until the final resolution, it is nothing but dark humor, and the more the tension ramps up the funnier it gets. I think there is legitimately one laugh out loud joke in each scene, which is hard to accomplish, but I would give that distinction to this episode. “BobPants SpongeSquare”, Flat’s father saying “now he’s gonna kick my butt!”, “violence road”, Patrick calling the pizza castle, the banana peel flipping a car like Mario Kart, the end sequence of brutality; there is so much to like in this episode it’s hard not to fall in love with. Unless you get bullied a lot and this just insults you. Flats is like the T-1000, and this episode is the Terminator 2: Judgment Day of comedies. Relentless and takes itself very seriously.

You may remember this particular segment from:

51. Missing Identity (January 19th, 2004)

I cannot express in words how much I adore the opening of “Missing Identity”. You have really love noir to capture all of the detail and touches, but man is it a killer way to frame a story. The atmosphere, the diner, the music; it’s all perfect. Now, the rest of the episode is still rather funny, but it does not hit the high bar set by the noir stuff at the beginning and the end. I’m all for a story about identity, but this isn’t quite the mash-up of detective thriller and mystery into anything worthwhile. It actually turns into a weird episode about repeating SpongeBob’s day, and the writing really sets that up to work well on multiple viewings. The cyclical nature of his actions, and how often it gets messed up, is inherently where the bulk of the story is. In fact, there are a lot of repeated jokes along the way too, like Patrick saying hello in the morning, and SpongeBob’s nervous anxious breathing, which is always good for a chuckle. Repeating images and sounds, and splitting the screen into four quadrants, “Missing Identity” almost works as an avant-garde piece if you forget the narrative. It’s very visually diverse, and that might go against the noir stuff going on, but that’s why I love this show. What’s screams Stan Brakhage more than an entire scene set in a dumpster? And this is supposed to be the hard-boiled homage episode! Also: extra points for Patrick giggling at Sponge Boob.

You may remember this particular segment from:

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  • hempf

    NO CAMPING EPISODE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I WILL BEAT YOU UP NERD!!!!!!!! >:(

  • Jared Russo

    The camping episode did get ranked, just not in the top ten. Keep clicking the next page buttons until you find it, it’s definitely in there.

  • Man

    I would have to agree with your number one episode (though I could do without the Patchy stuff). I always thought this episode was under-appreciated by fans and I’m glad it got the recognition it deserved.

    However, I think you should give “Wishing You Well” another watch because I think it is probably one of (if not) the best post-movie episode of Spongebob. It had a number of memorable jokes, puns, and non-stop dialogue that was reminiscent of the older episodes and the episode went unappreciated on this list. Just a thought.

  • Elliot

    My Personal Favorites:
    10. Sandy’s Rocket
    9. SB-129
    8. Shanghaied
    7. Roller Cowards
    6. Hall Monitor
    5. Clams
    4. Pizza Delivery
    3. Rock Bottom
    2. Graveyard Shift
    1. Band Geeks

  • SALVADOR CORNEJO

    Fry Cook Games and Sandy’s Rocket would be my favorites if I had to choose.

  • Alias Von Octopus

    My Personal Top 11:
    11. Help Wanted
    10. Larry’s Gym
    9. The Camping Episode
    8. Fry Cook Games
    7. Band Geeks
    6. Krusty Krab Training Video
    5. Graveyard Shift
    4. Nasty Patty
    3. Chocolate with Nuts
    2. Pizza Delievery
    1. Squilliam Returns

    Anybody agree/disagree?

  • disqus_NxysjMHMXS

    My Top 10:
    10. The Snowball Effect
    9. The Secret Box
    8. The Paper
    7. Shanghaied
    6. Just One Bite
    5. Club Spongebob
    4. SpongeBob Meets the Strangler
    3. The Fry Cook Games
    2. Band Geeks
    1. Squid’s Day Off
    Could be nostalgia, since I grew up watching most of these the most on the DVDs.

  • David Silverman

    what about chocolate with nuts.