SpongeBob SquarePants fans were shocked to learn on Tuesday that creator Stephen Hillenburg died at 57 following a battle with ALS.
“Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere,” Nickelodeon (where the animated series has aired since 1999) said. “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.”
The tributes to Hillenburg rolled in soon after, with everyone from guest star David Hasselhoff (“Wow what a unique and fantastic character Steve created! It was my pleasure and honor to be in SpongeBob The Movie and to share some great laughs with this gentleman, Shocking Loss!”) to Incredibles 2 director Brad Bird (“I first discovered SPONGEBOB through my sons, who were loudly singing along with the dopey & memorable theme song downstairs. I came down to see what the ruckus was about and ended up watching my first episode. Many laughs”) praising his undeniable influence on animation. But it’s the fans, who have stayed with SpongeBob for over 240 episodes and multiple movies, sharing their favorite memories that have provided the best memorials.