Last week, Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob Squarepants, passed away due to complications from ALS. His sudden death sent shockwaves across the internet, and much like Stan Lee before him, the internet entered a state of mourning. Fans and friends showed their gratitude to Hillenburg with condolences through personal tweets or tributes from Nickelodeon themselves.

The impact has been so monumental that fans are planning a tribute of epic proportions. A petition to play the song ‘Sweet Victory’ at the Super Bowl Halftime Show has over 590,000 signatures and counting. The petition is in reference to an episode of Spongebob where the characters performed the aforementioned song at a football halftime show.

Hillenburg originally intended to create the show as a way to get kids interested in marine biology. Originally a marine biologist at the Orange County Marine Institute in California, an early form of the show as a comic strip was named Intertidal Zone. Also working as a creative director at Nickelodeon, Hillenburg soon had his comic strip realized as the cartoon we all know, Spongebob Squarepants.

Growing up in the 2000’s, I, like so many other kids around my age, grew up watching Spongebob religiously. Due to it playing constantly on Nickelodeon, I’d sit in front of the TV for hours on end watching the same episodes until I had them memorized. This was universal, too. It seemed to me as if every kid I knew watched Spongebob, and it was the biggest mutual interest we all shared. Even now, on the internet, Spongebob remains wildly popular and the early seasons are lauded as some of the highest-quality episodes of animated television ever.

Many of the early seasons of Spongebob have reached iconic status in the eyes of the ever-present and loyal fans. If you make a reference to a Spongebob episode around most young adults aged 15-25, chances are at least a handful of them would recognize immediately where it came from, right down to the episode it came from. It’s almost paranormal how ingrained a cartoon from the early 2000s became in the collective conscious of youth culture. So entrenched in fact, that there are web pages dedicated to internet memes based solely off the show.

Although Stephen Hillenburg’s life has been cut short, his legacy is engraved in the minds of young Americans. The tributes and condolences from anonymous youths across the internet shows not only the respect for HIllenburg, but gratitude for the fruits of his imagination. I, especially, am grateful to Mr. Hillenburg for creating some of my fondest childhood memories, and for the love and care he poured into something he was truly passionate for.

Godspeed, Stephen Hillenburg.

Jack Gleckler is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jack by tweeting him at @thejackgleckler.

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