Beloved Nickelodeon cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants celebrates its 20th anniversary in July, and here's a first look at the special. Premiering back in 1999, SpongeBob has long been a staple in children's television, and kids continue to follow SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, and the gang along on their various misadventures in Bikini Bottom. The show has received numerous awards throughout its run, including four Emmys. It also led to a well-received Broadway musical, the aptly titled SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which earned twelve Tony nominations last year.
At 244 episodes, SpongeBob is the fifth-longest-running American animated series. It was created by Stephen Hillenburg, a former marine science educator who got the idea for the series while teaching at Orange County Marine Institute. He observed how excited kids were by tide-pool animals, and developed the now famous characters from there. The show stars Tom Kenny as SpongeBob, Rodger Bumpass as Squidward, and Bill Fagerbakke as Patrick. Clancy Brown, Carolyn Lawrence, and Mr. Lawrence play Mr. Krabs, Sandy Cheeks, and Plankton, respectively. All six will take part in the special.
According to Variety, the big anniversary celebration is titled "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout" and will be an hour-long combination of both live-action and the show's traditional animation. The first photo offers a look at the show's main cast, dressed like their characters. They will appear in the live-action portion and voice their characters for the animated section, as they always do. The second photo shows guest star David Hasselhoff in lifeguard attire. He'll play himself in the anniversary special. Check out both photos below.
In addition to Hasselhoff, Daniella Perkins, Kel Mitchell, and Jack Griffo will also feature. After also starring in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Hasselhoff said that it's "awesome to now come back to be part of the 20th anniversary special." He also paid tribute to SpongeBob's popularity, mentioning that "After making that cameo, kids around the world recognized me from the movie." SpongeBob himself, Kenny, provided a statement of his own, talking about what he owed late creator Hillenburg:
“Steve Hillenburg gave me the gift of a lifetime when he asked me to voice his porous alter ego, SpongeBob SquarePants. He changed my life and all of our lives. To reach the 20-year mark is a huge milestone and we wanted to celebrate by throwing a big party, Bikini Bottom style. Acting alongside my friends and fellow cast members was a true out-of-body experience. Fans are truly going to love it.”
SpongeBob SquarePants was in the news last November after Hillenburg's passing at the age of 57. It stands to reason that the 20th anniversary special will function as a celebration of both the series and its creator. The show has become part of the lives of so many children and families over the years, with those who watched when it first premiered well into their twenties now. SpongeBob SquarePants shows no signs of slowing down, so we could well be celebrating its 30th anniversary ten years from now.
"SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout" airs July 12 on Nickelodeon.