SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated comedy television series created by marine science educator and animator Stephen Hillenburg (born 1961 and died in 2018) for Nickelodeon. The series chronicles the adventures and endeavors of the title character and his aquatic friends in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom. The fifth-longest-running American animated series, its popularity has made it a media franchise. It is the highest rated series to air on Nickelodeon and ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks' most distributed property. As of late 2017, the media franchise has generated $13 billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon.[needs update]
Many of the series' ideas originated in The Intertidal Zone, an unpublished educational book that Hillenburg created in 1989 to teach his students about undersea life. He began developing SpongeBob SquarePants into a television series in 1996 following the cancellation of Rocko's Modern Life. He turned to Tom Kenny, who had worked with him on that series, to voice the title character. SpongeBob was originally going to be named SpongeBoy, and the series called SpongeBoy Ahoy!; both of these were changed as the name was already trademarked.
Nickelodeon held a preview for the series in the United States on May 1, 1999, after it aired the 1999 Kids' Choice Awards. The series officially premiered on July 17, 1999. It has received worldwide critical acclaim since its premiere and had gained enormous popularity by its second season. A feature film, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, was released in theaters on November 19, 2004. A second film adaptation, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, followed on February 6, 2015. A third film and prequel to the television series, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, was released in Canadian theaters on August 14, 2020 followed by a premiere on video-on-demand and CBS All Access in 2021. In 2018, the series began airing its twelfth season; it was renewed for a thirteenth season on July 17, 2019, which began airing in October 2020. As of July 30, 2020, all prior seasons of the show are available on CBS All Access.
SpongeBob SquarePants has won a variety of awards including: six Annie Awards, eight Golden Reel Awards, four Emmy Awards, 17 Kids' Choice Awards, and two BAFTA Children's Awards. A Broadway musical based on the series opened in 2017 to critical acclaim. Three spin-off series, Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years, an untitled project based on the character Squidward Tentacles, and The Patrick Star Show, are in development as of 2020.