And we’re back with the final segment of our Spongebob Squarepants countdown! Here’s a refresher of the previous entries.
With that in mind, let’s see the best episodes that our favorite pineapple-dwelling sponge has to offer.
4. “Life of Crime”
Spongebob and Patrick “borrow” a balloon (on Free Balloon Day, unbeknownst to them), and when it breaks — making them unable to return it — they think themselves the worst thieves in history. This makes them run away from home, evading the cops that they’re convinced are hunting them down.
Just writing out the premise made me smile. I love when the characters end up in the silliest situations because of a misunderstanding or overreaction. Seeing how Spongebob and Patrick would act if they thought they were fugitives is far more than I could ask for. It gave us some of the best jokes in the entire series in my opinion (when they tried to fix the balloon, when they tried not to bring any attention to themselves and failed epically … the list goes on and on) along with one of my favorite quotes in the history of the show:
Spongebob: We have to confess!
Patrick: Confess?! Are you out of your mind?! Do you have any idea what they do to people like us? We’re not talking about some dumb mail fraud scheme or a hijacking here — we stole a balloon! And they’re going to lock us up forever!
That quote never stops being hilarious. Never.
But what’s also great about it is that it’s not only a good joke, but another addition to Spongebob and Patrick’s character. They’re innocent enough to exaggerate their ‘crime’ and demonize themselves as these unforgivable criminals, which shows their childlike nature in a natural and clever way. It’s not only hilarious (and kind of cute), but also a great way to flesh out their characterization. And the writers were able to do this while also being funny. A+ episode.
3. “Chocolate With Nuts”
This is one of the best examples of the “Spongebob Squarepants takes a simple premise and makes it a masterpiece,” the show is known for. Spongebob and Patrick, wanting to be rich, successful entrepreneurs, start selling chocolate. The episode takes us on the most random, funniest ride you’d never expect from such a simple premise.
We get hilarious jokes — some of the most quotable — and memorable new characters. Even though they’re not regulars, they were written as creatively as our recurring cast. You have the scammer (who has quite the memeable mini-monologue — you know the one), the old fish-lady, Mary, and her even older mother (“WHA? WHADID HE SAY?”) and of course, The Chocolate Guy. Apparently he has a name, according to the Spongebob wiki … but yeah, he’s The Chocolate Guy.
These characters are the absolute best. I still cannot get over the concept of Mary’s mother. Just … lol.
But despite the simple premise that leaves plenty of room for comedy, but not much for story, this episode gives us some interesting characterization with Spongebob and Patrick. In order to sell their chocolate, they start lying (or as they call it, “stretching the truth”). To me, this was another facet of their innocence, since they don’t seem to truly understand that they are scamming their customers, therefore, doing something wrong. I also love the irony that while they’re lying to their customers, they’re being conned by the scammer fish. So even though this episode is mostly comedy in the same way “The Camping Episode” was, there’s still an effort to give us some storytelling, and that yet again shows us the talent of these writers.
Ok, I’m done, I swear.
2. “Nasty Patty”
All right, so here’s the premise. SB and Mr. Krabs, thinking that a health inspector is just a con-artist scamming them out of free food, make him a rather disgusting Krabby Patty to teach him a lesson. When he’s about to eat it, he accidentally swallows a fly and, after a cartoony domino effect of events, knocks himself out. SB and Mr. Krabs think that they’ve killed the health inspector, and hilarity, along with one of the darkest episode premises of the show, ensues.
Like “Life of Crime,” this episode is about the characters reacting to a misunderstanding, except this one is a far more dire than balloon theft. Now, Spongebob thinks that he’s a murderer, and Mr. Krabs has roped him in a cover up plot. It’s a quite bold idea for a children’s television program, especially for the time the episode was written.
What makes it appropriate and funny for the target audience, in my opinion, is that the viewer is quite aware (and constantly reminded) that the health inspector is only knocked out, not dead. He repeatedly gets knocked out whenever he awakens so that the misunderstanding with SB and Mr. Krabs will continue. SB and Mr. Krabs are put in a situation where they are completely freaked out (which is played for comedy, not drama, and it works quite well), but react to the situation in a way that fits their characterization. It’s a dark premise, but never feels too dark.
I loved this episode as a child and was never disturbed by it, probably because of how well it was handled. I appreciate it even more as an adult because I can see the effort the writers put into the episode’s script to ensure that while it was dark, it wasn’t too much, or written offensively, like many believe “One Course Meal,” to be. All in all, this episode was not only creative but quite daring in introducing its audience to such a premise. I mean, this episode is about how Spongebob and Mr. Krabs would react if they thought they murdered someone and then tried to hide the body, for Neptune’s sake. Yet it was still able to bring the laughs and not cross the line. To me, it’s Spongebob Squarepants at its absolute best … almost. There’s still number #1 to discuss.
But before we get to #1, here’s another set of Honorable Mentions!
I already discussed this episode in its own review, so I won’t go into detail here, but “Mimic Madness” is a great episode, and a wonderful introduction to Stephen Hillenburg’s return to the show. Symbolically, I think it’s a good episode to watch in his memory.
The recent seasons of the show love to give shoutouts to the audience who were around when the earlier seasons were in their original run by appealing to our nostalgia. Making an episode about the character who contributes one of the best and longest running gags of the show is an excellent way to show their appreciation for their older fans. Another wonderful modern episode.
“Spongebob Meets the Strangler”
I love that most of this episode is from the perspective of the villain, because, ironically, it makes Spongebob the antagonist — to the Strangler, anyhow. The way it’s written really makes you kinda sympathize with the guy, despite the fact that he’s a criminal and brought all of this upon himself, since he still has to put up with SB’s annoyingness. It’s a hilarious episode with an interesting premise and cleverly written plot.
“Can You Spare a Dime?”
This episode is the kind that grows up with the viewer. The situation with Squidward quitting his job because of an overbearing boss, but ultimately becoming lazy and mooching after he grows comfortable in his unemployment is a very adult topic, but a good cautionary tale for children. But what I really like in this episode is Spongebob’s arc. He goes from being a good friend and taking Squidward in until he gets back on his feet, to becoming quite annoyed with his laziness and bratty behavior. When we see him completely explode from being fed up with Squidward, it’s quite hilarious. We rarely see Spongebob get this angry, and it’s always an interesting side of his character, considering how kind and gentle he usually is.
“Krusty Krab Training Video”
I just love the premise and formatting of this one. It’s framed like a documentary, which is a creative concept. It’s also a good introductory episode for new watchers, or for a fan who is looking to start a rewatch. This one really shows the out-of-the-box thinking of the writers.
Speaking of boxes …
Like “Can You Spare a Dime?” this episode is another one that resonates with adults — most Squidward episodes do, considering his character type. The dynamic between SB and Patrick’s innocent, childlike imagination and Squidward’s cynical adult outlook is funny, but also quite depressing. It’s usually a bit too real for anyone who grew up with this show but is now an adult. Luckily, the episode has a (somewhat) happy ending for Squidward. He is able to regain his childhood for a moment, which for me, mirrors the adult SB fans out there, since we’re revisiting our childhoods by watching a children’s show we grew up with. All in all, this is a good Squidward episode.
It’s not the best one, though.
This one is, along with being the best Spongebob Squarepants episode ever.
1. “Band Geeks”
You knew this was coming.
I know, I know, it’s cliche and predictable and completely boring to make this my number one pick. Nearly every “Best Spongebob Episodes” countdown has it listed first, so it’s expected at this point, but I think that just proves that this episode deserves to be number one. Because this episode is perfect in every single way.
The script is flawless in terms of structure, and manages to place so much content in an 11 minute episode in a way that feels natural. The pacing is amazing. There was not a single moment wasted, not one scene that could have been cut or needed to be added in. It doesn’t feel too fast or too slow. It’s just so organic. As an adult with a critical eye, you can see how clean the writing is.
And the jokes. The jokes are top notch, quotable, and never get old. Not one joke fails. Not. One. They are all hilarious. My favorites are the flag twirling scene, the scene where the percussion players have no idea how to play their instruments, Spongebob’s “eager face,” and Plankton’s harmonica solo. Just to name a few. Literally every single joke is perfect and never ceases to not make me laugh. The general public quotes this episode’s jokes a lot, so I’m certainly not alone in that.
But what really makes this episode amazing (and places it at the very top) is Squidward. Squidward is the perfect protagonist in this episode. All he wants to do is conduct a good orchestra, not only to show up his rival Squilliam, but to prove something to himself. Being a musician is his dream, but he has never been able to achieve it. He wants it, and when he goes through the training scenes with the Bikini Bottom band, we see how much he wants it, and how much it hurts him when it doesn’t seem to work out, in spite of the whole situation being lighthearted. When he thinks that he’s failed, you feel bad for the guy.
This is one of the few episodes where Squidward hasn’t done anything mean to make it feel like his failure is his comeuppance. All he has done in this episode is dare to try. So when it seems like the band isn’t going to work out, it’s genuinely compelling for Squidward’s characterization. Spongebob then rallies up the Bikini Bottomites to continue practicing so that they can make it up to Squidward.
I’d like to point out that Spongebob Squarepants, the titular character, is barely in this episode and only contributes to the plot this one time, toward the episode’s climax. This shows how amazing this series is. The main character doesn’t even have to lead the story for the episode to be good because the side characters are so well written and are strong enough to carry their own story. If you have a character roster that can achieve that, you’ve done something right.
SB’s contribution to the plot brings us the ending that brings “Band Geeks” to true perfection. Of course there’s the song “Sweet Victory,” which is unbelievably amazing, but again, Squidward is the one who makes it spectacular. I mean, look at his reaction here.
He’s just as shocked as us by the song, but when that wears off, he is ecstatic. Just look at him! He’s never been so happy in his entire life. This is one of the few times in the series where Squidward wins, and it’s glorious. The underdog we’ve been rooting for for the entire episode got the ending he earned, with snooty Squilliam losing in the funniest way. I just love it. This ending, along with stellar writing, excellent pacing, an interesting premise, and hilarious, memorable jokes makes “Band Geeks” the greatest Spongebob Squarepants episode of all time.
That, and it proved once and for all that mayonnaise isn’t an instrument, so … there’s that.