The 100 Best Episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants

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70. Karate Island (May 12th, 2006)

“Karate Island” does three things very well: action scenes, flamboyant editing, and homage. It also features a lot of live action footage and very little SpongeBob or any familiar Bikini Bottom locales. But the style definitely matches the content with “Karate Island”, a wet dream of kung fu action clichés, movie references, puns, bad lip syncing, and classic Ka-ra-te from Sandy and SpongeBob. It feels a lot like the “Aspen” episode of South Park, what with the evil omnipotent corporation luring in the protagonists to a new locale to buy a condominium, only to deceive them. And not only is the deception funny, so is the martial arts, and Sandy’s entire rescue which is overly dramatic and intricate. The story is blatantly ripped from Bruce Lee’s Game of Death and if you thought that yellow and black tracksuit was from Kill Bill you need a history lesson. For real. But for being a later season episode, this one feels remarkably fresh and void of any of the pitfalls the later episodes have.

69. Suds (January 17th, 2000)

There are a select group of people out there who find solace, and enjoyment, out of gross-out humor. And boy is this the episode for them: possibly the sickest, nastiest, grossest episode in the show’s history. “Suds” harkens back to an earlier era of cartoons that could be ugly and vile and weird and downright avant-garde (like Ren and Stimpy) and no one would bat an eye. SpongeBob shoots purple bubbles from his holes, his face melts off his head, and Patrick forces a lot of strange ‘holistic’ medical practices (like putting sea-nut butter on his feet, pulling his tooth out, sadomasochism, etc.). Most people don’t like going to the doctor (although I do) and none of us like being sick, and I think we feel an awful amount of empathy towards SpongeBob during this episode. And to top it all off, the end montages for both SpongeBob and Doctor Patrick are incredible. Those must have been a lot of fun to shoot, and it varies up the show in a nice way. I love all live action footage used on this show, in any capacity; it might be the best part of the show.

You may remember this particular segment from:

68. Krabby Land (April 3rd, 2004)

We’ve brought up how cheap and scummy Mr. Krabs can be. Exploiting children is actually not the lowest thing he’s done, but making a fake theme park and promising things he can’t deliver is certainly up there. Or down there. Whatever. “Krabby Land” is a rather fluffy episode, really only comprising of the activities SpongeBob does to delay the arrival of Krabby the Clown, while Mr. Krabs lets loose a few Freudian slips of the word ‘money’. But there is some ingenious stalling they have SpongeBob do, and it not only shows how creative SpongeBob can be, but how cruel kids can be in return to his torture and suffering and pain. I think we can all get an understanding on why Jackass the TV show and film series is so popular, because slapstick and physical comedy is hilarious. A person getting hurt has always been funny, and “Krabby Land” takes its inspiration from America’s Funniest Home Videos, with a sick twisted sort of interpretation. Once the ‘entertaining’ is all done, and the lima beans all eaten, the episode ends soon after that. It’s shorter than it should be, and feels like it, but at least the reveal of Krabby the Clown is worth it. Any shots fired at corporate entities like McDonald’s and Disney for exploiting kids is a-okay in my book.

You may remember humming this tune once or twice:

67. Pressure (March 8th, 2001)

“Pressure” is an odd one, because it starts off as a bottle episode, and teases and builds and mounts into a final display of meta-humor: a puppet show. There’s an internal argument about who is better, land or sea creatures, and while the competition and insults at the core of the story is fun, the true brilliance is the ending. An adventurous and wacky live action performance that pits seagulls against the main cast as they have to defend and fight their way back underwater. I’ve talked to a number of experts on SpongeBob (mainly my brother), and it’s a divisive episode only because really it relies on its third act too much. But the strength in the writing and the voice performances, plus the astounding mix of 2D and 3D animation, lands it on our list a bit further than most think it should. Mainly my brother. But he doesn’t get a say, I do, so he is going to just have to rewatch this one again and see how wrong he is. I think it’s really good.

66. F.U.N. (September 18th, 1999)

We all remember the song. It’s one of the most famous parts of any episode in the history of the show. Musical numbers are exceedingly rare, and as sparse as they are on SpongeBob are always quite memorable and catchy. Unlike something like “The Striped Sweater Song”, which had nothing to do with the story it was in; the “F.U.N. Song” is the heart of the story here. The episode starts out with an amazing series of action beats and some devastating humor, and quickly transforms itself into a tale about being a loser, and the power of friendship and betrayal. A common set of themes for Plankton related fare, since he becomes pals with SpongeBob a lot only to get the formula. It’s very akin to Cartman on South Park, who does a lot of the same stuff found in “F.U.N.” but it’s so masterfully executed and rewatchable here, I can’t complain. Plankton gets another episode where he steals all of the scenes, and gets to be so evil he imagines taking over the city with a giant jellyfish. And him calling SpongeBob “Sponge Buddy” gets me every time, so bonus points for that.

I’m not posting the FUN song, so here’s another thing I love:

65. Boating School (August 7th, 1999)

We’ve brought up SpongeBob’s inability to pass his driving test. Or to drive at all, really. And when we think about what that entails, we think of Mrs. Puff (who is a great character), ‘flooring it’ (now a cultural phenomenon), the boating school itself (home to many great episodes), and the “My leg!” gag (the longest running and funniest joke in all of SpongeBob history). “Boating School” started all of these things, and is a great episode to boot. The juxtaposition of SpongeBob driving with Mrs. Puff, and Patrick hanging out in his library the whole time, is outstanding. There’s a montage with no words spoken in it, and relies on its music and its visual storytelling to advance the narrative and to make us laugh at the same time. His giant cowboy hat, the radio bit, the driving test itself, there’s just a lot of goofy elements that makes it all work for some reason. We’ve all been a part of cheating in one way or another, and we all question whether or not we can live with the guilt. That’s something we can all relate to, and so is pretending to be a cow. Right? No? Okay, taking a driving test. We can all relate to that I’m sure.

You may remember this particular segment from:

64. Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm (October 12, 2001)

“Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm” is the finale for season two, aka the best season for a cartoon of all time, and is simply epic. It’s part Jaws, part Tremors, part Frankenstein, and the right amount of SpongeBob Squarepants mixed in. The Alaskan Bull Worm inspires some absolutely sidesplitting scenes, and the town reacting to the crisis is stunning. Stunningly stupid, I mean. In fact, whenever a large mob of Bikini Bottom citizens gather together, you can expect comedy gold, because man are those fish dumb. I wish more of the story could be centered around them, and not just Sandy and SpongeBob. But it’s undeniable how much fun it is to watch the title cards come up whenever someone says the worm’s name, and to watch the hype build to the reveal of the worm’s actual size. There’s a memorable set-up and payoff that’s become a meme at this point, the entire city being pushed away. It’s stuff like that, that make this episode so great. Also, bonus points for having one of my favorite jokes of all time: “Sandy, this is your pappy speaking, and I forbid you to go after that worm!” with the mask on. Makes me cry in laughter. It’s so dumb, but it works every damn time I see it.

You may remember this meme emanating from this episode:

63. Krusty Towers (April 1st, 2006)

“Krusty Towers” ostensibly works as a play. Four characters, one location, and a three act structure, perfect for act breaks. Not many episodes post season three (after the movie in 2004) made it onto the list, and for good reason (they mostly suck) but I feel this one is by far the best of everything season four and beyond. Now granted, I’ve only seen them all once, so I could be wrong, but I’m usually not. “Krusty Towers” is a twist on the management at the Krusty Krab, with Squidward being served by Mr. Krabs instead of the other way around. The lunacy and antics throughout keep it funny and fresh, but there are some truly great jokes to be found (like the ending at the hospital). I would compare this episode to a Monty Python bit, or a ‘who’s on first?’ type of routine, just because of how silly yet structured it all is. Give this one a rewatch if you haven’t done so lately, you may have missed it.

62. I’m Your Biggest Fanatic (March 7th, 2001)

Fanaticism, conventions, nerds, geeks, passion, desire, longing, and fandom; these things all happen to us from time to time, and to varying degrees. We all want something deep down, and some people look up to and obsess over and idolize celebrities. I’ve met some famous people before, and it didn’t turn out as smooth as I thought it would. This exact thing happens to SpongeBob in “I’m Your Biggest Fanatic”, and his adventure to join the Jellyspotters is a riveting and often times sad story. It’s frantic, stupendous, and a lot of feelings (and people) are hurt along the way. It can get pretty extreme too, and Kevin is a heartless bastard with a lot of misplaced power and a following of ass kissers. But in the end, SpongeBob prevails, and his naivety and talent outmatch the odds. There are a lot of overt references to being a loser, but some good subtext on mob mentality, bullying, and being one of the cool kids, which is more valuable to children than adults.

You may remember this particular segment from:

61. Plankton’s Army (January 19th, 2004)

I love the idea that Plankton finally gets the Krabby Patty secret formula. And what I love even more is the thought that plankton are the special ingredient. Even though it’s not true, it’s a great fake-out, and “Plankton’s Army” is chalk full of these things that defy expectations. Like Plankton’s family being rural rednecks, his plan actually working out in the end, the robot at the beginning not being one of his, and the ending twist. A lot of genre troupes are purposefully twisted here, and I think that’s commendable. This episode also features a string of call-backs and references and running gags, like the montage of Plankton being crushed, the montage of him reaching out to his family, and the Sheldon jokes. These scenes solidify what’s so distinct about this show, and secure it a place as being one of the best Plankton episodes. Any Plankton episode is a good episode, though, and I might be inclined to say that you will see more pop up further down the list. A word of warning: as long as you aren’t offended by Southern insults, you should like “Plankton’s Army”. This show hates the South, apparently, as evident by “Texas” and “Pressure”, seen above on the list.

You may remember this particular segment from:

Check back tomorrow for #60-51, right here on this very same page!  See you then!

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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.