SpongeBob SquarePants creator Steve Hillenburg ‘imbued the character he created,’ Nickelodeon has shared in a eulogy to the show’s creator who died this week at the age of 57.
In a statement, the company said Hillenburg’s death on Monday was due to motor neurone disease, a condition he revealed he had been diagnosed with in 2017.
Hillenburg not only created the character but also directed the 2004 The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.
“We are very sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants,” Nickelodeon tweeted from its official account.
The firm’s statement added that “Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humour 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.”
SpongeBob is Nickelodeon’s all-time biggest hit and has aired for nearly two decades since its premiere on May 1st 1999, bringing characters SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr Krabs, Sandy Cheeks, Plankton, Pearl Krabs, Mrs Puff and Larry the Lobster to life.
The news has prompted an outpouring from those who have worked with the creator and the SpongeBob team, including actor David Hasselhoff, who starred as himself in The SpongeBob Movie.
“Wow what a unique and fantastic character Steve created. It was my pleasure and honour to be in SpongeBob The Movie and to share some great laughs with this gentleman,” he Tweeted.
‘To this day, I am stopped and flattered by people and kids who have seen me in the film.”
Earlier today, Nickelodeon’s SVP of international consumer products, Mark Kingston paid tribute to the creator. He said: “thank you Stephen for creating such an iconic show that has brought so much laughter and happiness to so many all around the world.
“Rest in peace Stephen.”