SpongeBob Creator Stephen Hillenburg Gone at 57


Stephen Hillenburg, creator of the fantastic childhood-completing series SpongeBob SquarePants, is gone. November is not over and yet we’ve lost another icon. The heartbreaking news came from Nickelodeon, who also had words for their dear colleague and friend.

“We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS. He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family. Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”

So are we.

Stephen Hillenburg

Stephen Hillenburg
Image Source: IMDB
Stephen McDannell Hillenburg came to this world on August 21, 1961, in Lawton, Oklahoma. However, he spent most of his childhood in Anaheim, California, a place where another empire built by happiness resides: Disneyland. Steve Hillenburg was one of those lucky people who knew what they wanted at a young age. His passion for the ocean was strengthened by the films of French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. His love for both art and the ocean, evident back then, leave a print now. Hillenburg eventually graduated from Humboldt State University, majoring in Marine Sciences and with a minor degree in Art. 

The Intertidal Zone and Humble Beginnings

Stephen’s first job was as a Marine Biology Instructor at the Orange County Marine Institute. In order to keep his students attentive, he created a comic book entitled “The Intertidal Zone”. His efforts may have failed but the comic book became the set and foundation of the SpongeBob world we know and love. In 1987, Stephen attended California Institute of the Arts, and graduated in 1992 majoring in experimental animation. His two short films, The Green Beret and Wormholes, landed him a job in Nickelodeon.

SpongeBob, an Empire

There are only a few who do not know of the yellow talking sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea. In May 1999, SpongeBob SquarePants made history. Now, its global merchandise sales alone is about $13 billion. A cartoon series with two movies, three with one coming this 2020, a musical, nine albums, and a video game, SpongeBob SquarePants is an empire. 
One that Stephen built and one that he left behind. 


In May 2017, the world was rocked by the news of Stephen being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). This is a rare neurological terminal illness that causes the death of neurons in the brain and spinal cord. At that time, he was already in the early stages of ALS. In an interview with Variety magazine, Stephen stated he’d work on SpongeBob as long as he was able to.

Due to complications, on November 27, 2018, Stephen Hillenburg left this world to mourn.

Thank you, Mr. Stephen Hillenburg, not only for inspiring young people but also completing our childhoods. SpongeBob will always be loved by many, from those who grew up with it and the many generations to come. 

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About the author

Avei Marie

Total fan-girl with a thirst for news and drama, Nerdy with impulsive awkwardness. Total ambivert

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