SpongeBob SquarePants: The Secret Box Explained (& How It Changed)

Nickelodeon has different versions of SpongeBob SquarePants' episode "The Secret Box", making the mystery of the embarrassing picture even bigger.

SpongeBob Secret Box Explained

SpongeBob SquarePants has some mysteries of its own, such as the embarrassing Christmas picture Patrick kept in his secret box. Many fans remember seeing such pic, but current reruns of the episode don’t include that reveal, so what’s the story behind the secret box? SpongeBob SquarePants debuted on Nickelodeon in 1999 and has become one of the longest-running American animated series. SpongeBob and company are currently enjoying their 12th season (with a 13th one already confirmed) and preparing for the release of a third film, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, in 2020.

SpongeBob SquarePants follows the title character and his daily adventures alongside his best friends Patrick Star and Sandy Cheeks, his neighbor Squidward Tentacles, his boss Mr. Krabs, and other colorful characters living in Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob and Patrick are pretty much inseparable, and they have known each other pretty much their whole lives (or so has been shown various times), so it’s not surprising that Patrick knows everything about SpongeBob, including stuff that could embarrass him.

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Related: SpongeBob Theory: Squidward Is His Guardian

In season 2’s episode “The Secret Box”, it’s revealed that Patrick has a box where he keeps something very important to him, and he won’t even let SpongeBob take a look inside. Patrick eventually shows SpongeBob what’s in the box: a piece of string. But what SpongeBob didn’t know is that, when the string is pulled, a secret compartment opens and reveals something truly embarrassing for SpongeBob. But what was it?

SpongeBob’s “The Secret Box” Episode Was Changed

SpongeBob Patrick secret box pic

At the end of the episode, SpongeBob goes home after seeing the piece of string in the box, and when Patrick opens the secret compartment, he says it’s an “embarrassing picture of SpongeBob at the Christmas party”, but it’s never shown. Many fans are sure Nickelodeon aired a slightly longer version of the episode where the picture was revealed, with some remembering it being SpongeBob with his pants ripped and others saying it was him with a lampshade on his head. Others are convinced it’s the photo taken by Squidward in the episode “Christmas Who?”, but the truth is that there are two versions of the mysterious Christmas pic, and both aired at some point.

One showed SpongeBob in his underwear (quite possibly the pic that can be found in a SpongeBob SquarePants joke book) and the other was SpongeBob with a lampshade over his head. However, none of these versions have aired again and can't be found online, and as such, many fans have chosen to believe that the “embarrassing Christmas picture” is one that appears in a stop-motion Nickelodeon special with other Nicktoons where SpongeBob ripped his pants (and Donnie from The Wild Thornberrys can be seen in the background). It’s unknown what motivated Nickelodeon to change the ending of “The Secret Box”, but it created a mystery that a lot of fans believe is an example of the “Mandela Effect”. Whatever the reason, it’s up to fans now to decide which version is more embarrassing: SpongeBob in his underwear or with a lampshade over his head.

Next: Theory: SpongeBob SquarePants Is Really About Global Warming

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