10 Fishy SpongeBob SquarePants Fan Theories

Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon

SpongeBob Squarepants is a cartoon for children. But the way some fans talk about it on social media, you’d assume it’s a gritty drama about drug addiction, war, and nuclear annihilation. People have grafted a ton of dark themes onto SpongeBob, Patrick, and all their equally cheery underwater pals, suggesting their sunny dispositions are masking some serious trauma. Here are 10 of the bleakest, weirdest, and most hilarious fan theories about the show—some of which have made their way back to SpongeBob himself.

1. Bikini Bottom is the result of nuclear testing.

One of the most popular SpongeBob SquarePants theories claims that Bikini Bottom is located directly underneath Bikini Atoll, the Marshall Islands atoll where the U.S. government conducted 23 nuclear tests during the Cold War. That means SpongeBob and his friends are aquatic mutations whose bodies and minds have been warped by the nuclear waste above. The Bikini Atoll theory would also explain why everyone in this modern underwater community sends letters, and dresses like a dad from the 1950s.

2. The main characters represent the seven deadly sins.

Sloth, pride, greed, gluttony, lust, envy, and wrath. They’re the seven deadly sins, but they’re also—according to some Nickelodeon viewersSpongeBob's seven main characters. Patrick spends most of his day snoring under a rock, so he’s sloth. Mr. Krabs’s obsession with money makes him a clear candidate for greed, while cranky Squidward is a neat stand-in for wrath. Plankton’s sole mission in life is to steal the Krabby Patty recipe and with it, Mr. Krabs’s success for himself—which is pretty envious. That leaves gluttony for Gary, pride for Sandy, and lust for overly-friendly SpongeBob.

3. Squidward is SpongeBob’s guardian.

While SpongeBob loves spending time with his neighbor, Squidward tolerates him at best. So why doesn’t Squidward move—or quit his job working alongside SpongeBob at the Krusty Krab? According to a Reddit theory, SpongeBob’s secretly rich parents hired Squidward to watch over SpongeBob, whom they suspect has ADHD. Though they worried about how their son would fare on his own, they wanted him to have an independent life, so they bought SpongeBob a nice house—how else could he afford it on a fry cook’s salary?—and gave Squidward a loan to help him move next door. Squidward has served as a sort of guardian ever since, and SpongeBob’s parents purchased a deceptively modest home for themselves nearby so they could spend more money on travel.

4. It’s all about global warming.

You probably assume SpongeBob SquarePants, who lives in a pineapple under the sea, is a sea sponge, right? Wrong! For this metaphor to work, he needs to be a kitchen sponge, representing human waste and pollution. Mr. Krabs, as SpongeBob’s employer, stands in for the large corporations that cause pollution, while Patrick, as SpongeBob’s best friend, is western civilization, i.e. lazy and the main cause of the world's pollution. Squidward is the liberalism that calls for action against climate change, but because no one shares his interests, he’s constantly ignored.

5. Krabby Patties are made from crabs.

What is it that makes Krabby Patties so delicious? It all comes down to a secret ingredient that only Mr. Krabs knows, and there might be a sinister reason why he’s keeping it under lock and key. Many Redditors believe Mr. Krabs is a cannibal who makes his burgers with crab meat. He has killed and served up all his crab friends for the business, which is why he’s seemingly the only crab in town, and some even speculate that the long-absent Mrs. Krabs was a victim of his scheme.

6. The patties are actually vegan.

But what if Mr. Krabs only serves burgers that taste like crab? One counterargument claims that he engineered a convincing imitation crab meat, and that is the true key to his success. Crustacean customers get all the great seafood taste, without the soul-sucking guilt of eating their best friends. It’s why they prefer the Krusty Krab to the rival Chum Bucket, which serves actual “chum”—non-imitation fish parts.

7. The main characters are each addicted to a different drug.

SpongeBob’s quirks can be explained by personality, or hallucinogens. This theory posits that at least five SpongeBob SquarePants characters are addicted to a specific drug. SpongeBob takes shrooms, since he has a hyperactive imagination and the capacity for both joy (i.e. a good trip) and panic (i.e. a bad trip). Patrick prefers weed, as evidenced by his slow speech, carefree attitude, and frequent bouts of the munchies. Squidward’s moodiness and poor job performance could be attributed to heroin abuse, while Mr. Krabs’ and Mrs. Puff’s ill tempers and paranoia might be signs of a cocaine problem.

8. SpongeBob is a veteran suffering from PTSD.

Some fans have picked up on strange similarities between SpongeBob SquarePants and military veterans. He wears the same thing every day, wakes up at the same time (with a horn!), and addresses his boss with vaguely militaristic terms, like “yes, sir!” If SpongeBob is a veteran struggling with PTSD, he might have some weird verbal tics—and seek stability in a full-time fry cook gig and quiet neighborhood.

9. The show is a metaphor for pre-WWII Germany.

Like so many discussions on the internet, this theory begins with Hitler. The logic goes that Squidward—a failed artist and kind of a jerk, with a squid superiority complex—represents Adolf Hitler. He wants to get rid of SpongeBob, who embodies the Jewish people. Patrick stands for German ignorance; he lives alongside SpongeBob and Squidward but seems totally oblivious to their toxic dynamic. Sandy Cheeks is America, trying to free the Jews (SpongeBob) from Hitler’s (Squidward’s) tyranny. Finally, Mr. Krabs represents the rest of Europe, which looks down on Hitler and Germany for its role in WWI.

10. SpongeBob and Squidward’s homes are remnants of a tiki bar.

What do you usually see at a tiki bar? Paper lanterns, flaming cocktails, pineapples, coconuts, stone tiki heads, and a bunch of faux flowers. And what do SpongeBob and Squidward’s houses look like? A pineapple and a stone tiki head. This Reddit theory argues that a sunken ship with a tiki bar onboard brought these items to the bottom of the sea, and SpongeBob and Squidward decided to make them into homes.

Mifflin Madness: Who Is the Greatest Character on The Office? It's Time to Vote

Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
NBC

Your years of watching (and re-watching) The Office, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, have all led up to this moment. Welcome to Mifflin Madness—Mental Floss's cutthroat competition to determine The Office's greatest character. Is Michael Scott the boss you most love to hate? Or did Kevin Malone suck you in with his giant pot of chili?

You have 24 hours to cast your vote for each round on Twitter before the bracket is updated and half of the chosen characters are eliminated.

The full bracket is below, followed by the round one and round two winners. You can cast your round three vote(s) here. Be sure to check back on Monday at 4 p.m. ET to see if your favorite Dunder Mifflin employee has advanced to the next round. 

Round One


Round Two


Round Three


The Office Planned to Break Up Jim and Pam in the Final Season—Then (Smartly) Thought Better of It

Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly's relationship in The Office was truly a romance for the ages. Fans were delighted when, in Season 3—after years of flirting—John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer’s characters finally got together. But an alternative plan for the show’s ninth and final season saw the couple going their separate ways.

Season 9 saw one of the most stressful storylines the show had to offer when Jim took a job in Philadelphia and Pam struggled to take care of their children on her own back in Scranton, putting intense strain on their otherwise seemingly perfect relationship. In one unforgettable scene, a particularly tense phone call between the couple ends with Pam in tears. Fischer’s character then turns to someone off camera named Brian for advice.

As Collider reports, Pam and Jim's relationship could have taken a turn for worse in the final season—and the writers had planned it that way. As recounted in Andy Greene's new book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, series creator Greg Daniels sat down with each of the show's stars before starting the final season to discuss where their characters would go. John Krasinski, who played Jim, pitched the idea of putting Jim and Pam’s relationship on thin ice. According to Krasinski:

"My whole pitch to Greg was that we’ve done so much with Jim and Pam, and now, after marriage and kids, there was a bit of a lull there, I think, for them about what they wanted to do … And I said to Greg, ‘It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.'"

Several writers weighed in with ideas about how they might handle a split between Jim and Pam from a narrative standpoint—though not everyone was on the same page.

Warren Lieberstein, a writer on the series, remembered when the idea of bringing Brian—the documentary crew's boom operator—into the mix. “[This] was something that came up in Season 5, I think," Lieberstein said. "What if that character had been secretly there the entire time and predated the relationship with Jim and had been a shoulder that she cried on for years?’ It just seemed very intriguing." Apparently, the writers thought breaking the fourth wall would jeopardize the show, so they saved it for the last season.

Writer Owen Ellickson said there was even some talk of Pam and Brian “maybe hooking up a little bit," but the negative response to the storyline led the writers to "pull the ripcord on [Pam and Jim's separation] because it was so painful to fans of the show." Ellickson said that they backtracked so quickly, they even had to re-edit certain episodes that had already been shot to nix the idea of Jim and Pam splitting up. Which is something the show's millions of fans will be forever grateful for.

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