The 25 Very Best Episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants

Every day in 3rd grade was the same. Go to school, pretend to pay attention, daydream about baseball, and yearn for my return home, where I could once again become a free (7-year-old) man.

“Hi honey, how was your day?” my mother would ask.

But I wouldn’t answer. Or maybe I would. I’m old now, so I don’t remember.

I do remember this. Every day, I would slip onto the couch with a snack in hand and turn on Nickelodeon.

Now I know what you’re thinking. CARTOONS MAKE YOU STUPID. YOUR PARENTS SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. JET FUEL CAN’T MELT STEEL BEAMS. But who cares? You’re wrong, and I’m right, and that is all I know.

I’m not trying to be sentimental about cartoons here. But, I still watch them to this day — whether I flick past them on TV or watch them with friends on a tiny laptop in a dirty college dorm room.

I guess what I’m trying to say is cartoons are wonderful and hilarious, especially — ESPECIALLY — SpongeBob SquarePants.

I decided to rank what I feel are the top 25 episodes of the greatest kids’ cartoon of all time. If not for me, then for all of you out there who use obscure SpongeBob quotes to diffuse tension in everyday situations because when you were young you never learned how to interact with another human being. Whether or not this is because you sat in front of the TV watching cartoons all day like me, I don’t know. I’m not a psychiatrist…yet.

Honorable Mentions and Why I Don’t Care What You Think

It took me a fair amount of time to compile this list and order it correctly. Then again, when I say “fair amount of time,” I tend to mean, like, 20 minutes. When the show aired on TV, SpongeBob came in 30-minute blocks of two 11-minute episodes and way too many My Little Pony commercials. I’m not ranking the 30-minute blocks, but the individual 11-minute adventures, of which there are 117 in the first three seasons. Those three seasons are — rightfully so, every other season sucks — the only ones represented in this top 25 list. That means 92 other episodes didn’t make the cut.

Every SpongeBob episode seems the same. The show is not complicated. It doesn’t have multiple layers of drama and politics and current events like The Simpsons. No, this show is a different type of legendary. Every story the SpongeBob creators threw our way from 1999 until now was merely meant to make us laugh. But that’s what is so perfect about it; you need not worry about character development or storyline, all SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, and co. are trying to do is make you laugh so hard you shoot milk out of your nose. What’s best about the early years of SpongeBob, however, is that it does so with a legitimately sophisticated and quirky sense of humor. It’s brilliant because it’s simple, and with that, anything can happen to anyone at anytime anywhere in Bikini Bottom.

My rankings are loosely based on a few things. I didn't give each episode a total number of points or anything, it’s mostly a gut feeling. However, the episodes that made the top 25 are the ones with the richest blend of the following ingredients and characteristics: hilarity, ridiculousness of the episode, quotability, memorability, and if the episode is still funny each time you watch it. I left off a few episodes that I really really REALLY love and wanted to include, but they just weren’t good enough for me. I’m not saying anymore than this list. I feel bad about leaving all of these off, but this is a harsh world we live in. I’m sorry. Here they are, in no particular order of preference:

  • F.U.N.
  • Patty Hype
  • Hall Monitor
  • Jellyfish Jam
  • Bubblestand
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Rock Bottom
  • The Secret Box
  • Sailor Mouth
  • Opposite Day

Every SpongeBob episode from 1999 to 2003 is absolutely golden. I still watch them and laugh my ass off as a 21-year-old adult. They have not only gotten better with age, but more memorable, too. Nothing is more fun than having a mature, real-life conversation with someone old enough to rent a car and then throwing in a loud and obnoxious SpongeBob quote — ORDER UP SQUIDWAAAAAARD!! — to entirely throw them off guard.

But I digress, it’s time for the big reveal. Here are the 25 greatest episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants.

25. Squilliam Returns

Airdate: March 15, 2002

Question. If you someone would give you $500,000 to name your first born son “Squilliam Fancyson,” would you do it? I would. Not even a question. Squilliam Fancyson Ackerman. His enemies will tremble at his feet, or tentacles, I don’t know.

This will not be the first appearance for Squilliam — Squidward’s arch nemesis — on this list. In this episode, Squidward tries to convince his rival that he owns a five-star restaurant. This is a daunting task, because Squidward works for a cheap crab (krab?) in a wood-framed burger hut. Sorry, it’s true. The Krusty Krab is not the finest eatery in the sea-universe, also known as the Seaniverse.

Amazingly, every member of the gang is willing to chip in and help Squidward. Patrick Star, everyone’s favorite idiot/starfish/well-shaped bubblegum wad look-alike, is hired to fancily take customers’ hats and coats. Mr. Krabs lies about once being the chef on the famed S.S. Gourmet and mans the kitchen. SpongeBob becomes the world’s most polite and posh sponge-waiter by literally forgetting EVERYTHING IN HIS BRAIN that isn’t about fine dining (and breathing). This is where the episode turns from funny story to beautiful, wonderful, undersea chaos. Eventually, Squilliam admits to Squidward that he understimated him, and that SpongeBob is the finest waiter he’s ever seen. But then, Fancyson asks for his name…

Incredible.

Most memorable line/moment:

  • Squidward, after Mr. Krabs’ appetizer esapes the kitchen in the form of a flesh eating monster: But I thought you said you were the head chef on the S.S. Gourmet?
  • Mr. Krabs: Did I say that? No, I cleaned the bathrooms on the Gourmet. I was the head chef on the S.S. Diarrhea.

24. Jellyfish Hunter

Airdate: September 28, 2001

I’ll be blunt here. I chose this episode because of one line, which is my favorite moment in the history of SpongeBob.

Quick storyline run-through: SpongeBob shows Mr. Krabs how good jellyfish jelly tastes on a krabby patty, and Krabs orders him to go catch as many jellyfish as possible so the Krusty Krab can sell this delicacy at a surely over-expensive price. SpongeBob catches all the jellyfish, except for one, whom he dubs as“No-Name.” Blissfully unaware of the fate of all the jellyfish he caught, No-Name kidnaps Spongebob to show him what Mr. Krabs is really up to.

Apparently, Spongebob, who is an idiot, didn’t realize Mr. Krabs was basically keeping the jellyfish as slaves — locked up in glass cages to be exact — for their delicious jelly. SpongeBob, outraged and hopefully upset at himself for being a moron, confronts Krabs. After failing to open the door of the jellyfish prison to let them swim free, Mr. Krabs says THE GREATEST LINE OF ALL TIME:

Mr Krabs: Well, you can’t. The door’s voice-activated and will only open if I say “open” (gasps and covers mouth as the door opens)

P.S. This episode also has a jaunty musical number about how delicious jellyfish jelly is. Which is great.

23. Shanghaied

Airdate: March 9, 2001

I love this episode because of how simple it is. It asks one question. What would happen if The Flying Dutchman, who is a ghost, kidnapped SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward?

The answer is sweet, sweet television.

Immediately after opening a box of Kelpo cereal — that cereal sounds terrible by the way, almost as bad as KALE-O — SpongeBob hears a crash from outside. As he puts it, “the sky had a baby,” meaning a giant anchor (Anchor? But I barely know her!!) just plunged into the neighborhood.

The three neighbors investigate, and find themselves on the ghostly deck of the Flying Dutchman’s ship. I should mention that the Flying Dutchman is, in actuality, a legendary pirate ship. But the SpongeBob creators don’t care. They turned him into a giant, raspy-voiced, lime-jello-tinted ghost hellbent on haunting the crap out of sea sponges and octopuses. I want his job. Eventually, he takes on our three heroes as members of his crew, an eternity-long gig.

SpongeBob and Patrick stare into the depths of the Fly of Despair.

Shanghaied is really really fast, and has many hilarious moments. The Dutchman sends Squidward into the fly of despair, which is a literal zipper suspended in midair and home to ghouls and ghosts and monsters and what have you. Mr. Dutchman also casually tells SpongeBob and Patrick that he’s going to eat them. And, finally, SpongeBob and Patrick try to escape through the…PERFUME DEPARTMENT. So much happens in this one, and it gets better with every watch.

Most memorable line/moment:

This. Just this.

22. The Fry Cook Games

Airdate: September 28, 2001

Aired alongside Jellyfish Hunter, The Fry Cook Games tells the dramatic story of the 2001, well, Fry Cook Games — a tournament which puts the Land Olympics to shame. Spongebob competes for the Krusty Krab, and a surprise competitor Patrick Star represents Plankton’s The Chum Bucket. I’ll mention here that Plankton and Mr. Krabs are arch-enemies, but you already knew that.

I like this episode because of how it uses sports. I love sports, you see. But I also love SpongeBob. Sandwich them together in an 11-minute extravaganza, and oh baby am I happy.

From start to finish, The Fry Cook Games is so enjoyable and entertaining. Patrick and Spongebob square off in enthralling competitions such as THE DEEP FRY POLE VAULT and THE CHOCOLATE HIGH DIVE, during which the contestants perform jumps resulting in them looking like a delicious ice cream or popsicle. If I could eat SpongeBob’s body coated in chocholate and almonds, I probably would.

Most memorable line/moment:

(Before the Pole Vault)

  • Plankton, to Patrick: Win this one because I told you to.
  • Patrick, running towards the vault: BECAUSE YOU TOLD ME TOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

21. Club Spongebob

Airdate: July 12, 2002

Imagine yourself on a delightful Sunday morning. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the trees are wavering sweetly in the breeze. You decide to take a bike ride around the neighborhood to relax and get some exercise and take in such a beautiful day. But, after a few minutes of biking, you hear sniggering, laughing, and weird noises. IT MUST BE THE CHILDREN MAKING STUPID SOUNDS, RIGHT?? No, alas, it’s your neighbors, who claim to have no race, yet one of them CLEARLY has yellow skin and the other has pink skin. THIS IS RIDICULOUS, you say, as your eight legs quiver in nervousness and rage. Eventually, you investigate, and find your neighbors crouched in a tiny treehouse having a “special club meeting.” You force your way inside and then realize you’re stuck — this hut is as small as your brain, apparently, WHY WOULD YOU CLIMB UP THERE? JUST BIKE AWAY FROM THEM YOU MORONIC SQUID.

You try and force your way out by doing something that probably isn’t physically possible. You stretch your arms downward and keep pulling on branches to bend the tree downwards so you can squeeze outside onto the ground. But, as soon as your foot touches the sweet sweet pebbles of the ocean floor (did I mention you’re underwater?) the WHOLE TREE swings back and launches you and your idiot neighbors into the abyss. Somehow, because you are, in fact, a literal squid, you survive the fall, but now you realize that you landed right in the middle of a giant dark forest.

This is the tragic story of Squidward Tentacles in Club Spongebob, a widely beloved episode. Terrified of starving to death, Tentacles learns that SpongeBob and Patrick’s “club” is led by a pull-the-string talking conch shell…a dare I say, MAGIC conch shell.

LUULUUULULUULUUUUUULUUUUULUULUUUUULUUUU!!!!!

This episode is a bizarre joyride, with a plethora of quotes good enough to be their own memes. And it’s all centered around a magic conch shell, who brilliantly demands her subordinates sit and DO NOTHING in order to be rescued. This is leadership at its absolute finest. TAKE NOTES, MR. TRUMP.

Most memorable line/moment:

Every time they do the victory screech.

20. Sandy’s Rocket

Airdate: September 4, 1999

An oldie but a goodie — nay, a greatie. SpongeBob and Patrick go to Sandy the Squirell’s house to find she has built a literal rocket to go to space. TO SPACE. FROM UNDERNEATH THE OCEAN SURFACE. ‘Bob and ‘Rick sneak into the rocket at night and accidentally launch it to what they think is the moon, but in reality is a loop-de-loop around the moon back to Bikini Bottom. This is where our heroes mistake every citizen of their neighborhood for an alien and decide to hunt/capture/trap them all in this weird grey netting of sorts. With their captives, Star and Squarepants fly back to the moon — thinking it’s Earth — where the rocket predictably runs of out gas and crashes onto the surface. The End. That’s the episode. I love it.

Also, how did they get back to Bikini Bottom from the moon the second time? They captured Sandy, too, who says the last line of the episode: “SpongeBob!! We aliens would like a word with you!”

Maybe Sandy works her magic sciency squirell brain to use moon rocks as fuel, or maybe this was all a dream. I don’t know.

This one is simple, but really fun and really entertaining. If you disagree with me, I don’t care. Also, I hate you.

Most memorable line/moment:

19. Culture Shock

Airdate: September 18, 1999

There’s something about the oldest episodes of SpongeBob that just rubs me the right way. I mean that literally. The pre-Y2K episodes have always given me that childhood nostalgia of lying on the couch with a beer — er, glass of milk — and just watching an episode tick away. The duller and darker colors of the almost wobbly animation makes it feel sort of like a dream.

Culture Shock was originally paired with F.U.N., which is better remembered than the former due to its incredibly catchy song. However, I think Culture Shock is better because of it’s focus, which isn’t on two specific characters but rather what seems to be ALL OF BIKINI BOTTOM. Culture Shock does this in 11 minutes. It‘s main story is Squidward’s attempt to plan a talent show for the Krusty Krab, as well as SpongeBob‘s struggle to find his talent.

Squidward, who is an octopus and therefore incredibly self-centered, makes it clear to all — tonight is his night. He wants to propel his image into one of stardom. Yet, his theatrics are outdone by the likes of Gary The Snail (who performs a beautiful poem), Mr. Krabs’ whale daughter, Pearl (who leads a cheer and nearly breaks the restaurant floor), and even lowly Plankton (who performs magic to try and steal the krabby patty formula in a supposed phantasm).

‘Ward eventually shows the crowd his ridiculous, wavy, waaaaaaaaay too squiddy dance routine. They hate it. They hate it so much they throw tomatoes at him, and then it happens.

SpongeBob, instead of using his own pores to slurp up the goop, uses a classic dustpan and broom to clean the stage. The crowd loves him. They go bananas. Berserk. INSANE. SpongeBob, who struggled to find talent for 11 grueling minutes, is now a SpongeStar.

We see so many characters in Culture Shock, which is why I think it deserves a spot on the list. It’s so hard to show all the faces of your made up world in such a short time.

Most memorable line/moment:

18. I’m With Stupid

Airdate: November 30, 2001

This episode reveals the big mystery SpongeBob viewers had all been wondering: that Patrick Star is, in fact, an idiot. Patrick cleans his house for his parents’ upcoming visit, but wants them to know he’s fine living by himself.

Patrick gets SpongeBob to pretend to be absurdly dumb so the Stars think Patrick is far smarter in comparison. AND GUESS WHAT? This dastardly plan works. Somehow.

I mean, it kind of works. Eventually, the Stars reveal themselves to be not Patrick’s real parents at all. You see, the Stars are starfish. And, all starfish, not just Patrick, are really really dumb. Patrick’s real parental units ultimately arrive, and all is well, but the plan to use SpongeBob as token neighborhood dunce fails.

Most memorable line/moment:

Patrick: That’s just what I’d expect you to say. Dumb people are always blissfully unaware of how dumb they really are. [drools]

17. Sleepy Time

Airdate: January 17, 2000

Another one of my personal favorites, which blends actually great TV writing with a boatload of characters in 11 great minutes. SpongeBob dozes in his bed at home and morphs into the dream version of himself, which gives him the really really cool ability to sneak into his friends’ dreams. Here’s what happens within the slumber of Bikini Bottom’s most well known…

  • Mrs. Puff: Still refuses to give SquarePants a boating license
  • Gary: In dream world, Gary is no longer “tethered by earthly limitations.” He is now a humanoid Gary with his snail-self for a head, which is terrifying. In his dream, Gary peruses a giant library and reads — wait for it — EMILY DICKINSON. Who says this show is just for kids?
  • Patrick: All Patrick wants is to ride on his cheap kiddie horse ride that exists in every mall in the United States. SpongeBob shows him the power of dreams by turning into a skyscraper and then a million of himself. Patrick doesn't care though, he’s just gonna ride into the sunset, baby.
  • Squidward: SpongeBob morphs into Squid’s clarinet, which he is playing for a certain, uhh, Fish King. SpongeBob, when played, screams as loud as a man having his face amputated, but Mr. Fish King loves it nonetheless.
  • Sandy: Sandy is freefalling from about a million feet in the air, and SpongeBob fails to imagine a parachute for himself. Instead he imagines a parakeet and a pair of shoes, duh.
  • Pearl: Tea party.
  • Mr. Krabs: Dream Krabs is a sailor who, you guessed it, is searching the open seas for the legendary Moby Dollar. Moby Dollar is not a whale, but a giant dollar. Like, a paper one too, not a giant silver coin. I hate this show.
  • Plankton: SpongeBob must stop Godzilla-sized Plankton from stomping on and destroying Bikini Bottom. He succeeds by morphing into a needle and stabbing Plankton’s foot. Such a delightful message for our children.

Most memorable line/moment:

Gary to SpongeBob: Beware of your wandering eye, you little poriferan!

16. Wet Painters

Airdate: May 10, 2002

I have never had such fun watching paint dry. Even if the paint is on TV. This episode makes me laugh like an idiot every single time. You wanna know why? Because the main conflict in this Wet Painters Mr. Krabs’ proclamation that if SpongeBob and Patrick mess up while painting his house and get any paint ON ANYTHING (but especially his framed first dollar), he will cut off their butts and HANG THEM UP ON THE WALL.

Come on, if you could cut off anyone’s butt and hang it on your wall, who would it be?

You’re wrong. The answer is Charles Barkley.

Most memorable line/moment:

15. Chocolate With Nuts

Airdate: June 1, 2002

Chocolate With Nuts is such an interesting episode because of its time and place, which is right in the middle of an obvious decline of episode quality. The episodes surrounding Chocolate With Nuts aren’t necessarily bad, but they have less simple sophistication than the earlier ones. Halfway through 2002, and into 2003, SpongeBob became more of a money-based entity. It was raking in tons of revenue for Nickelodeon, and thus became more directed at even younger children.

This is why the show sucks now, I think, because of the way its direction and focus has changed dramatically. Yet, Chocolate With Nuts, even in the midst of the beginning of Spongebob’s fall, mixes that new direction brilliantly with the old style of just turning everything into a joke.

If you only like Season 1, Chocolate With Nuts (or without nuts) may not satisfy you. But, as it follows SpongeBob and Patrick idiotically attempting to begin their careers as entrepreneurs by selling chocolate, the writers produce every moment with an honest attempt to make us laugh. I love the concept of this episode. As opposed to putting the characters in overly ridiculous and gratuitous situations, the premise is simple, clear, well explained, and very well done.

Most memorable line/moment:

14. SB-129

Airdate: December 31, 1999

“Hey, what would happen if Squidward accidentally froze himself and didn’t wake up until 2000 years later?”

SB-129 would happen. One of my favorite episodes that just has everything. Squidward meets the futuristic SpongeBob (aka SpongeTron) and multi-headed Patrick and goes on an anxious adventure in which he tries to get back home. SB-129 is The Wizard of Oz of SpongeBob — and it’s bizarre, uncanny, supernatural, and hilarious.

We watch Squidward travel forwards and backwards in time, during which he tries to teach prehistoric Spongebob and Patrick how to hunt jellyfish, is called loser by an apparently self-aware time machine, and eventually ends up on a blank white slate of nothingness. This is a cartoon show which airs on a network created for children. I love this episode, please watch it.

Most memorable line/moment:

SpongeTron: EVERYTHING IS CHROME IN THE FUTURE!!!

13. Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost

Airdate: September 25, 1999

I giggle at the name of this episode, mostly because it’s so redundant. Squidward is already unfriendly, and that he has morphed into our television sets as an eight-limbed monster suggests his former humanoid form is already dead.

So he’s a ghost.

Are you still reading this?

Anywho, the title isn’t the only funny thing about Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost. This is, perhaps, the most enjoyable 11-minute barrage of SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward moments. All three characters bounce and boing off each other so well — it is simply uproarious. Every time I encounter this episode I shake with glee awaiting this one particular line:

Squidward, covered in the fluff of extravagant bathroom powders and obnoxious towels, has convinced his neighbors that he is a ghost. This is because SpongeBob and Patrick, while playing a nonsensical yet innocent game, tossed a clam into Squid’s house, where it burrowed into the waxy flesh of Squid’s self portrait/life-size statue. Then, Squidward emerges from his bath all white and spooky.

Wait, did I forget the line? I forgot the line.

Patrick and SpongeBob are given various tasks in order to please their Ghost Master, such as to go off and bring Squiddy some fruity goodness. They do so admirably — Patrick even goes out of his way to bring his Lord THE LARGEST AND GREATEST FRUIT OF THEM ALL.

From now on, I shall refer to all my superiors as “Your Sporkiness,” whether or not they want me to.

12. Imitation Krabs

Airdate: December 28, 2000

I’m not getting tired here, but I’m eager to get to the higher ranked episodes. In Imitation Krabs, Plankton mans a robot version of his arch-enemy to try and snatch the Krabby Patty Formula for good. SpongeBob can’t tell which Krabs is which, and chaos ensues. Yet, it’s possible to sum up Imitation Krabs’ high ranking with only six words, two of which are the same”

*ahem*

RAVIOLI RAVIOLI GIVE ME THE FORMUOLI

Pure poetry.

11. Krusty Krab Training Video

Airdate: May 10, 2002

My god, is this episode marvelous. I think I may have underrated it, even, but with KKTV’s totally different style I felt weird putting it in the Top 10.

This is the Milwaukee Bucks of this list. It has so so so much potential, and it’s already really good, AND IT’S ABOUT TO KNOCK THE TORONTO RAPTORS OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS.

(I wrote this article when the Bucks were up 2–1 in that series. Then they lost. It’s my fault, I’m so sorry Milwaukee.)

Anyway, this episode is, in fact, what you think it is: A Krusty Krab Training Video. From the POOP acronym (People Order Our Patties), to Patrick’s way with words (Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh), to the encroaching and invisible narrator’s proud puns (at the Krusty Krab, the customer is now the “Krustomer”), KKTV is simply magnificent. This episode was made for lazy Saturday afternoons. It just turns whatever despair is around you into, I don’t know, hamburgers and rainbows and love.

Most memorable line/moment:

When the narrator introduces your final class, how to prepare a goddamn Krabby Patty.

10. The Algae’s Always Greener

Airdate: March 22, 2002

The Season 3 premiere, The Algae’s Always Greener, has a little bit of everything. Plankton is facing a mid-life crisis, although I should note we really have no idea how old any of these characters are, especially because the average lifespan of a crab is 1–4 years and Mr. Krabs’ license claims he’s 75 as of today. His birthday is November 30th by the way, I hope someone buys him a Philadelphia 76ers sweatshirt (hooray for basketball).

But anyway, Plankton decides to use one of his ungodly science machines to swap realities with his none other than Eugene (hehe) Krabs. Plankton becomes the owner of the Krusty Krab, while Mr. Krabs is now stuck with the Chum Bucket. Plankton, clad in a tiny version Eugene‘s (HIS NAME IS EUGENE!!!!!!) regular getup, realizes how difficult being the boss here is. SpongeBob gives a customer a large soda instead of a medium and freaks the hell out, and Squidward is, well, Squidward.

In the episode’s climax, the now evil EUGENE charges into the Krusty Krab to steal the Krabby Patty Formula. And, of course, EUGENE is naked while doing so. Eventually, Plankton realizes this is too much, and presses a magic button to send him back to reality. The End.

Most memorable line/moment:

  • Karen, Plankton’s computer wife: Why don’t you just use that “Switch-Lives-Just-To-Know-What-It’s-Like-O-Mogrifier” thing you built last Tuesday? [Plankton spits out his soda]
  • Plankton: What a brilliant idea! Your parents must have been like, part computer or something.

9. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy III

Airdate: November 27, 2000

I never liked all the superhero movies. I have fond feelings for the Dark Knight saga (Christopher Nolan) and Guardians of the Galaxy (kinda Star Wars-y), but otherwise it’s hard for me to enjoy the yearly giant summer blockbuster of men in tights firing missiles at each other and whatnot.

Enter Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.

Bikini Bottom’s most prominent heroes, MM and BB — who are both in their 80s and wear slippers — are barely in this episode at all. You see, the pajama-clad retirees are taking a week off, and so they decide to let SpongeBob and Patrick watch over their secret lair while they’re away.

Big mistake.

Also, I wonder where Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy went for vacation. Mar-a-lago, perhaps??

SpongeBob and Patrick eventually discover that inside the cave walls of the lair is the evil Man Ray, frozen in tartar sauce. Man Ray — who’s neither man nor ray — is a great enemy of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. SpongeBob and Patrick decide to unfreeze him, but they will only let him go free if he proves himself to be good.

This works poorly. SpongeBob and Patrick’s plan becomes a genuine farce. It’s funny, though. The back and forth between Man Ray and Patrick about the dropped wallet might be the best SpongeBob moment of all time. The ending, where Man Ray denounces his former evilness by removing his mask only to reveal it was actually his whole head, is also funny. Apparently, Man Ray is just a torso and legs tightened by a choking red jumpsuit and blue rubber boots. This episode has so many tiny kinks that you never notice until you rewatch it, it’s wonderful.

Most memorable moment/line:

SpongeBob and Patrick: MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH!!! MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH!!! MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH MUH!!! MAN RAY!!!!!!!

8. Naughty Nautical Neighbors

Airdate: August 7, 1999

The three characters in this episode with lines:

  • Squidward
  • SpongeBob
  • Patrick

By now, you should know that SpongeBob is at its absolute best when the episode premise is simple. The episodes on this list that take up spots 15 to 25 are mostly the best of SpongeBob’s most complicated escapades, but now we’ve hit the cream of the crop — the top 8 are all easy to watch, follow, and enjoy because of how clearly they are written.

Number 8 is Naughty Nautical Neighbors, an episode which roars through its allotted time with light and uncluttered moments. SpongeBob and Patrick are pitted against each other when Squidward interrupts their odd bubble game by throwing insults at them both. Eventually, somehow, Patrick and SpongeBob compete for Squidward’s friendship. I just watched this episode and I’m still not sure how that happened.

SpongeBob and Patrick take extreme advantage of their new friendships with their squiggly neighbor, and Squiddy becomes so tired that he tries to end this once and for all…

By using his greatest weapon.

SELTZER.

No, seriously, he brings them both inside his house — neither SpongeBob nor Patrick knows the other will be there, THEY HATE EACH OTHER RIGHT NOW — and Squid offers them both a glass of seltzer.

Then, this happens:

And then SpongeBob and Patrick knock down Squid’s house by accident.

Naughty and nautical indeed.

Most memorable line/moment:

  • Squidward: Squidward will be performing his version of Solitude in E minor.
  • Patrick: [sitting on a bench while clapping] Yeah! E minor! All right! Yeah!
  • Squidward: [takes a deep breath and plays a note]
  • Patrick: [immediately falls asleep and begins to snore]

7. Ripped Pants

Airdate: July 17, 1999

A real summer story of love lost and regained. An episode in which SpongeBob finds his true identity: absorbent, gung-ho jokester. Ripped Pants, the fourth ever full-length episode of SpongeBob, had to have a place on this list. It was the beginning of my glory days — aka late 90s/early 2000s cartoons — and I love it to this very day.

Quick synopsis: SpongeBob goes to Goo Lagoon, which is an underwater beach, and rips his pants during a weightlifting competition.

Manly, indeed.

So, everyone makes fun of SpongeBob, but he recuperates by ripping his pants at every possible opportunity to entertain crowds of beachgoers. SpongeBob does this too much though, and drives his friends away. Poor ‘Bob contemplates if he is the biggest loser on the beach, but is immediately approached by three, um, LOSERS, like him. Sponge is then inspired to perform a song about his ripped pants in order to apologize to Goo Lagoon. End episode.

Great, right?

Ripped Pants really was the first SpongeBob hit. It’s a bit bizarre, but a little endearing — which is enough to make it warm, nostalgic, and quite humorous. It’s memorable, and now you have the perfect quote to yell out when you rip your pants.

Most memorable line/moment:

After SpongeBob pretends to drown….TO DROWN!!!! LOOK HOW IN SHOCK EVERYONE IS.

6. Squidville

Airdate: March 6, 2001

A personal favorite of mine, but deservedly so. Something about seeing a whole town of Squids and their inherent boringness for 11 minutes…it’s like a weird dream. But it’s real. Oh so real. SQUIDWARDS AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE AND THE TENTACLE CAN REACH.

Sometime in the future, I wish for their to be a religion devoted to the worship of Squidward Tentacles. Please, oh please.

That’s the premise of Squidville, though. Squidward is so tired of living next to SpongeBob and Patrick that he moves, a threat he has puled about a thousand times. But he does it! He pulls through, and moves to a gated community where EVERYONE LOOKS LIKE HIM.

Like an old Jew moving to West Palm Beach.

Squiddy first falls in love with his new hometown, where everyone lives in an Easter Island head, and EVERYONE PLAYS THE CLARINET.

Honestly, sounds like hell. But with tentacles.

By the 7-minute mark of Squidville, Squidward hates it. He wants to go home. He’s depressed. Oh, cruel fate! Why doth thou taunt me so!

Meanwhile, SpongeBob and Patrick plot to rescue Squidward. This is where Squidville goes from good to great.

Squidward, memories of fun deflated and dry, starts to play with an ol’ reefblower a la SpongeBob. He loves it, but his new neighbors are appalled, aghast, and frightened. FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN.

Thus, the village forms a mob and tries to kick Squidward out of town as SpongeBob and Patrick successfully get into the community in an attempt to rescue their friend.

Squiddy goes figuratively insane. After being cornered by the mob, he uses the reefblower to launch himself away from the town five-ever.

I’m really not sure why I have Squidville ranked so high, but it just feels right. It’s so underrated — it’s one of those episodes that you lose in the back of your mind, but later on appreciate so much more. I think Squidville aged brilliantly — Squid’s fall into sadness has become its own meme, and the idea of a village of only Squidwards is still amazingly creative to me. I love it so much. 10/10 would watch again.

Most memorable line/moment:

5. Dying for Pie

Airdate: December 28, 2000

The top 5, to me at least, are indisputable. The order could change, but probably not. These last episodes are all phenomenal. Pure television genius. If I could only watch one episode of SpongeBob for the rest of my life, it would be one of these five.

Dying for Pie…wait, question. Would you eat a piece of the most delicious pie known to man if it meant every time you cross the street someone will try — but not necessarily succeed — to throw an egg at your face?

This is meaningless to the episode, but still, would you? I would. At least the pie isn’t actually a bomb that will KILL ME.

Yet, such is life in Dying for Pie, in which the Krusty Krab is celebrating Employee Brotherhood Day.

Squidward is a terrible brother. After declining SpongeBob’s present of a sweater made of EYELASHES(!!!!!!!!), he is forced by Mr. Krabs to make SpongeBob a last-second gift for EBD.

But, Tentacles is lazy. So he goes outside, to the backyard of the restaurant, and finds a pirate ship and crew hauling a bag of what appear to be fresh, warm pies.

Yup.

They aren’t pies, though, nor are they homemade. As one pirate puts it, “they were made in a factory. A bomb factory. They’re bombs.”

Squidward buys one anyway. Terrible brother, right? Soon, though, he realizes his mistake when EUGENE drops a piece of the dessert onto the floor and blows up HALF THE KRUSTY KRAB.

This is one of those episodes where Spongebob’s iconic Hawaiian strum of a ukulele soundtrack consistently flickers in the background. It’s perfect, though, because this episode isn’t really that lighthearted — because SpongeBob is ABOUT. TO. DIE.

Or so we think.

To help SpongeBob enjoy his last hours on Earth — is Bikini Bottom on Earth? Under Earth? Who knows… — Squid lets him do whatever he wants for the whole day. SpongeBob has a complete list, including show Squidward to everyone while he wears a salmon suit and open heart surgery.

The final activity is, poetically, watch the sunset, which is when the bomb — as Mr. Krabs so smartly puts it — should “reach his lower intestine.”

But it doesn't. SPONGEBOB LIVES!!!!! He never ate the pie in the first place, apparently, which takes Squidward the last three minutes of the episode to realize. And then, the big finale:

4. Bubble Buddy

Airdate: November 16, 2000

An all-time great, re-aired over and over again. Bubble Buddy is like if Kareem Abdul-Jabbar suddenly regrew a full head of hair right now, got too excited in the shower and used way too much shampoo, and as a result morphed into an all-bubble 7 foot 2 gigantic person. Bubble Buddy is one of the quintissential SpongeBob epsiodes — it isn’t necessarily the best, but it’s damn good. Just like Kareem.

Right off the bat — hey, more sports metaphors! — Bubble Buddy is wonderful and absurd. SpongeBob “makes up” a holiday, Leif Ericcson Day to be exact, and wakes up like this:

I have so many questions. Is sleeping in that beard uncomfortable? If so, why sleep in it? Is this considered racist? Were Vikings also made of a yellow, spongey material?

Like all of TV’s most important queries, I have no idea.

After realizing Patrick is gone, SpongeBob tries to hang out with Sandy and Squidward, but they‘re both gone too (or, in Squidward’s case, lazy).

So, SpongeBob sets out to create an inanimate friend — it takes him a few tries to figure out the core concept:

  1. Stick Buddy! [lets go of the stick which falls to the ground] Nah..
  2. [SpongeBob standing next to a pile of rocks] Rock Buddy! Nope…
  3. [SpongeBob standing next to a sink] Sink Buddy! [Sink Buddy drips a little water] Almost…

I love that Sink Buddy is an almost. This is uncharacteristic of him, SpongeBob would never sink to such standards whilst creating fake friends!

(Fine, I’ll leave.)

‘Bobby creates Bubble Buddy and they head to Goo Lagoon, where everyone is impressed — sorta — with SpongeBob’s new friend.

Bubble Buddy touches the souls of everyone at the beach. He becomes an inspirational character — almost a Bubble Pope, if you will — of the Bikini Bottom Greater Area. Ultimately, however, the tide turns (hehe), and the Goo Lagoon crowd rebels against Bubble Buddy after multiple instances of humiliation and anguish.

I think Bubble Buddy’s greatest strength was showcasing how difficult it is to form and command an angry mob:

Also, Bubble Buddy literally kills a guy. Maybe he deserved to be popped. POPPED I SAY.

Most memorable line/moment:

  • Tom: He poisoned our water supply, burned our crops and delivered a plague unto our houses!
  • Protesters: He did???
  • Tom: No… But are we going to wait around until he does?

3. Graveyard Shift

Airdate: November 6, 2002

Graveyard Shift is iconic. So are the next two episodes on the list, but Graveyard Shift seems to mark the point in time when SpongeBob ceased being a TV show and became a way of life. You laugh, yes, but this is the episode I remember as the one that completed the mold of my early 2000s cartoon obsession.

Graveyard Shift is hilarious. It prods the brain—young and old — with a tale of fear, tension, and happiness.

Mr. Krabs, to SpongeBob’s delight and Squidward’s dismay, declares the Krusty Krab will now be open for 24 hours a day. Graveyard Shift takes place during the first night of this experiment, in which SpongeBob does such things as use suction cup boots to mop the ceiling.

Seems boring.

But then, Squidward — SQUIDWARD OF ALL PEOPLE-SLASH-OCTOPI — decides to have a little fun, and introduces SpongeBob to a story about a serial killer… The Hash Slinging Slasher.

The Slasher supposedly uses a spatula to “GET YA.” This frightens SpongeBob, who responds in such a way.

Graveyard Shift is so fun to watch because SpongeBob and Squidward bounce off each other so well. Every time they get together it seems to turn into a somehow sophisticated slapstick. What makes this one so good, however, is its slight twists and turns along the way.

The Hash Slinging Slasher — whose name my brother and I would mock endlessly — couldn’t possibly be real…could he? No, never…until…

Squid’s tale includes clues that suggest the Hash Slinging Slasher’s grisly arrival — and they all begin to happen in real life. The phone rings and no one answers, a ghostly smoked glow flutters into the windowpane of the restaurant, and the lights inside begin to flicker on and off.

Suddenly, a spooky dark figure walks into the restaurant, spatula for a hand, black in the shadows. He walks into the light and…

Of course, in Bikini Bottom, only nerds can be serial killers apparently. This episode is such a classic.

Most memorable line/moment:

SpongeBob, Squidward, and the Slasher: NOSFERATU!!!!!

2. Pizza Delivery

Airdate: August 14, 1999

Opening scene. Jingly recorder music plays in the background, and the Krusty Krab phone rings.

  • Squidward: Hello? Sorry, sir, we’re closed… [Mr. Krabs snatches phone]
  • Mr. Krabs: Ahoy, there, Krusty Krab. How could I help you? [customer explains order over phone] Pizza? [eyes turn into dollar signs] Um… Of course we have pizza.
  • Squidward: Uhh, Mr. Krabs…
  • Mr. Krabs: Our delivery Squid will bring it right over. [hangs up]
  • Squidward: Mr. Krabs, we don’t serve pizza. [Mr. Krabs gets a plate of Krabby patties and turns it into pizza. Then he puts it in a box] We don’t deliver.
  • Mr. Krabs: We don’t deliver, [gives Squidward the pizza] but you do.

Every time I watch this back and forth, I chuckle. How EUGENE goes “we don’t deliver pizza, BUT YOU DO SQUIDWARD HAVE FUN I’M GOING TO BED” *crab laugh.* Also, Mr. Krabs is so nice and polite when he picks up the phone, no wonder everyone wants to eat at his restaurant.

Anyway, this is the beginning of an incredible journey. An earlier episode, Pizza Delivery — like Graveyard Shift — is another exhibiton of SpongeBob-Squidward mania. They have a mission: to deliver this delicious. KRUSTY. KRAB. PIZZA.

Cue the music!

I love the animation in this episode — the way Squidward’s nose bounces up and down with such lifelessness is so amusing.

Pizza Delivery owns perhaps the most easily quotable lines in SpongeBob. Walking down the street with a pizza? Sing the song on the left here. See a big rock that might be a boulder? Begin to cry and shout It’s not a boulder! IT’S A ROCK!!! Can’t think of what you want to eat and your friends begin to get mad? Scream WAIT I REMEMBER IT WAS CORAL!!! Backing up in your car? That one’s easy: BACKING UP!! BACKING UP!! BAaAaAaAaACKiIiIiInGGG UPPP!!!!!!

Pizza Delivery nails everything it tries to do. It’s a classic, and you could make the argument that it deserves the number 1 spot on this list. Pizza Delivery makes me want to be a better man. Pizza Delivery makes me want to be kind. Pizza Delivery makes me appreciate the fine yet complicated art of being a delivery man. And, Pizza Delivery also makes me want to shout to the heavens, KRUSTY KRAAAAAaaaaaAAAAAAYEAHHHH AAAAAAAYEAHHHHHHH PIZZA!!!!!! IS THE PIZZA YEAHHHHHH FO’ YOU ANDDD meeeeeeeHEEEEEEEheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Yum.

Most memorable line/moment:

(Besides the other ones I mentioned)

1. Band Geeks

Airdate: September 7, 2001

These are my favorite 11 minutes in Televion history. You know what, actually, these are my favorite 11 minutes of MY LIFE. Every day I sit on my couch waiting, wishing, YEARNING for something good to pop up on screen.

If I see Band Geeks, I cry tears of joy. It’s that good. When I decided to write this article, I knew immediately this was number 1 on the list. It couldn’t not be.

There are no words to describe Band Geeks. You just need to watch it. And then watch it again. And again. AND AGAIN. I love Band Geeks. I love it more than I love certain relatives of mine. I love it more than I love life itself. If I could only have one episode of one TV show for the rest of my life, it would be one of the following:

  • Season 4 Finale of The Wire
  • Band Geeks

Tough call, right?

Man, I haven’t even told you what this episode is about and I feel like I’ve gotten the message across. Here’s the plot of Band Geeks in a few bullet points:

  • Squilliam makes fun of Squidward for not having a band to play in the Bubble Bowl (who DOES have a band, though? What?) and Squiddy gets jealous.
  • Squidward pins flyers around Bikini Bottom, including inside people’s showers and on the backs of living beings, to bring in enough sea creatures to form a band.
  • The band — which is essentially everyone in Bikini Bottom — begins practicing, but they are. Just. TERRIBLE.
  • The band begins to fight each other, and Squid gives up and quits.
  • SpongeBob rallies the band-troops to prepare for the Bubble Bowl and make Squidward proud.
  • The band, after surprising Squidward at the Bubble Bowl, performs the greatest halftime show of all time, which gives Squilliam a heart attack.

That’s it. It’s such a great idea. Everyone in Bikini Bottom…in a band. Together. So brilliant. You know those TV dramas where every line is important in some way? It’s the same in Band Geeks, except every line is hilarious. Every. Single. One.

I could talk about Band Geeks all day. I could watch it all day, too. But, you’re probably tired of reading this thing — I’m amazed you even got this far…

All in all, Band Geeks is flawless. It couldn’t be better. It’s a 10/10 in every category, from ridiculousness to chaos to comedy to memorability, it tops the charts easily. I want to write a love poem to Band Geeks. I want to cherish it forever.

Hopefully, so do you.

Most memorable line/moment:

All of them. This one is pretty good, though. Thanks for reading!