In a shock to fans around the world, SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenberg passed away on Monday at the age of 57. He had been diagnosed with ALS last year.
The Oklahoma born Hillenberg was initially a teacher of marine biology and started his animation career in 1987. Though he has won several accolades, he is best remembered for the extremely popular Nickelodeon series SpongeBob SquarePants in which he created the unique and wonderfully quirky universe of Bikini Bottom, replete with a mix of complex, anthropomorphic characters. Be it the optimistic sponge himself, who lives in a pineapple with his snail Gary, or his set of weird friends, or even the goings on at Krusty Krab have entertained generations of viewers.
Hillenberg would especially be remembered for the wry humour and a haunting sense of reality that he brought to his fantastic premise, which made SpongeBob SquarePants loved both by children and adults. Since his death on Monday, tributes have been pouring in from every corner for the acclaimed artist whose cartoon show ended up being so much more than just that.
💛 We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work. 💛— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) November 27, 2018
Everyone knows and loves SpongeBob♡ What Stephen created is definitely not just a normal kids show! My friends, many other people I know and of course I myself still use SpongeBob references almost daily. :(Mr. Hillenburg leaves us a masterpiece and shall be greatly missed~ pic.twitter.com/yLbtT13iPe— Ninatastic (@Yarinto) November 27, 2018
In memory of Stephen Hillenburg, here’s the iconic Bubble Bowl performance that we all loved as children and adults alike.Mr. Hillenburg, SpongeBob SquarePants was nothing short of a sweet, sweet victory.Thank you.pic.twitter.com/E4up1cgeS7— Brian Gay (@brian2596) November 27, 2018
Every episode I would read his name and I'm even more truly thankful me and everyone who watched the show knows his work. Thank you 💛 pic.twitter.com/mRUtdahtEE— 💛Bukibug💛 (@XxLost_DragonxX) November 27, 2018
I grew up with spongebob as a young kid. Stephen Hillenburg will forever be missed, but his show will continue to inspire and amuse future generations for sure. pic.twitter.com/4AZE7DlWeV— 🎄that time of the year🎄 (@corporeal_cat) November 28, 2018
My childhood has died today. Spongebob is one of my all time favorite shows. I grew up right during the end of the Golden Age, so they had a lot of re-runs of Seasons 1 to 3. That is some of the best animation I've ever seen.Thank you Stephen, for making my childhood. pic.twitter.com/rnfVZgOn3p— Epsilon (@ProtoKirbs) November 28, 2018
Today we remember Stephen Hillenburg. While SpongeBob SquarePants made for a great puzzle, it made for an even better show. Thank you, Stephen. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/xL2QT4Nbjf— Wheel of Fortune (@WheelofFortune) November 28, 2018
This really hit me hard 😓The creator of Spongebob Squarepants, Stephen Hillenburg, passed away today at age 57. Thank you for making our childhoods amazing, may you Rest In Peace ❤️ pic.twitter.com/2GikLj5N8T— Rug (@FaZeRug) November 27, 2018
Under its zany and juvenile humor, Spongebob Squarepants championed an optimistic spirit of earnestness, eagerness, and good-natured traits. In a world that constantly pushes you to become more like Squidward, Stephen Hillenburg gave innocence a place to thrive. Rest in Peace. pic.twitter.com/2yhB3Gdtaa— Ryan Adriandhy 🎨 (@Adriandhy) November 27, 2018
Our childhood days wouldn't be that happy without your creation. Thank you so much, rest in peace Spongebob Squarepants creator, Stephen Hillenburg. #RIPStephenHillenburg pic.twitter.com/lh4fAoUj2F— CATH MORDEN ❤ (@mordenwords_) November 27, 2018
First Stan Lee and now Stephen Hillenburg. My childhood is officially dead. RIP to the creator of what is known as the best Cartoon in history.(SpongeBob SquarePants) 😭 pic.twitter.com/rz4dCJ1tmn— RafSani Z (@rafsani_rafsan) November 27, 2018
One guy helped single handily define an entire generation's sense of humor and even today, his influence on it can still be felt.....May he rest in piece....https://t.co/TzbyyjXMCv— Sam (@Arielrocks5) November 27, 2018
In a statement following the confirmation of the tragic news, Nickelodeon issued the following statement in memory of the legendary creator who had been battling with the neurodegenerative disease for over a year: "[Hillenburg] was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family," the network said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday. "Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination."