Stephen Hillenburg SpongeBob SquarePants creator honored by fans. #SpongeBob

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The former teacher who created that famed pineapple under the sea, and all its crazy characters, has died at age 57.

Stephen Hillenburg, the former marine biology teacher whose love for all things aquatic inspired him to create SpongeBob SquarePants, has died at age 57, Nickelodeon said Tuesday.

“We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants,” the network said in a statement. “Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work.”

Nickelodeon

@Nickelodeon

💛 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. 💛

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In 2017, Hillenburg told Variety he’d been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I will continue to work on SpongeBob SquarePants and my other passions for as long as I am able,” he said at the time.

Hillenburg began his animation career while still teaching marine biology, creating a comic book he called The Intertidal Zone to use with his students. He later worked on Rocko’s Modern Life, where he met Tom Kenny, who voices SpongeBob.

SpongeBob SquarePants, which began airing in 1999, is the highest-rated Nickelodeon show of all time. And there have been two feature films. Its title character is a happy-go-lucky sea sponge who famously lives in a pineapple under the sea with a meowing snail named Gary, and works as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab restaurant. Pals Patrick Star, Squidward and Sandy Cheeks are just part of his underwater universe in an aquatic city called Bikini Bottom.

Fans remembered Hillenburg with numerous images from the show, many featuring a teary-eyed SpongeBob himself. One fan said he was “truly a genius,” while another said Hillenburg “fueled” his childhood and nurtured his “sense of humor for years into adulthood.”

Actor David Hasselhoff, who appeared as himself in the 2004 SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, also remembered Hillenburg.

“Wow what a unique and fantastic character Steve created!” Hasselhoff tweeted. “It was my pleasure and honor to be in SpongeBob The Movie and to share some great laughs with this gentleman, Shocking Loss! To this day I am stopped and flattered by people and kids who have seen me in the film.”

David Hasselhoff

@DavidHasselhoff

Wow what a unique and fantastic character Steve created! It was my pleasure and honor to be in SpongeBob The Movie and to share some great laughs with this gentleman, Shocking Loss! To this day I am stopped and flattered by people and kids who have seen me in the film.

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Some fans shared memories of what the show meant to them.

lulabell@lula_bell8

when i was a kid my mom wouldn’t let me watch Spongebob … so i’d wake up an hour before her to watch my favorite show … i hope he died knowing his legacy affected millions 😭

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The Alaskan Bullworms@YbTuber

Truly a genius. Created something that can go far beyond the restraints of a kids show. Taught us all lessons that stuck with us for life. He will be missed.

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Noravity@Noravity

This year has just absolutely shattered my heart. Lost two creative, imaginative individuals in both Stan Lee and Stephen Hillenburg, who both shaped so much of my own childhood, and my childhood wonder.

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RUSSELL! 🎡@RUSSELLislovely

yo man i hate doing these rip tweets. rip stephen hillenburg though. you fueled my childhood and gave me after school cartoons that nurtured my sense of humour for years into adulthood. i still watch spongebob til this day as a grown ass man.

RIP to my guy.

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⏱@RITEGREENS6

Made growing up so much better. We only got 30 minutes of tv a day and that was the perfect amount for two episodes of pure joy.

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Clay@_ClayPot

Rest in peace Stephen Hillenburg, the man responsible for making millions of people around the world laugh and smile for decades.

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In a 2012 history of the show, Kenny said that Hillenburg knew how he wanted SpongeBob’s underwater universe to look right from the start.

“He asked me to look at some stuff, and it was a very well-thought-out, well-conceived bible, the only difference being that the character was called SpongeBoy,” Kenny told Cartoonician. “But there were character drawings … personality profiles, graphic studies of SpongeBob’s pineapple house and Squidward’s tiki head house, the Krusty Krab, a lobster-trap-shaped structure. It was typical Steve: fully realized before he even mentioned it to anyone.”

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