Today, the animation fandom is coming together to mourn the loss of a true legend. Stephen Hillenburg, the man behind SpongeBob SquarePants, passed away after a battle with ALS. Now, fans are taking to social media to pay tribute to the cartoonist, and their responses would make even Squidward Tentacles a bit misty.
Earlier today, Nickelodeon confirmed Hillenburg died this week at 57 years old. The cartoonist passed away after his battle with ALS.
"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," the network released in a statement.
"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."
Hillenburg revealed he was battling ALS early last year in a statement. The reveal came via Variety, and it was there the cartoonist said he would continue working on SpongeBob SquarePants as he underwent treatment.
"I wanted people to hear directly from me that I have been diagnosed with ALS," Hillenburg revealed.
"Anyone who knows me knows that I will continue to work on 'SpongeBob SquarePants' and my other passions for as long as I am able. My family and I are grateful for the outpouring of love and support. We ask that our sincere request for privacy be honored during this time."
At the time, sources said Hillenburg's diagnosis was caught in its early stages, but ALS is considered to be terminal. Treatments for the disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) can vary in efficacy, and Hillenburg's battle with ALS brought attention to the little-understood disease.
As you can see below, fans all around the world are paying tribute to Hillenburg. The cartoonist's joyful art helped turn SpongeBob SquarePants into one of TV's most recognizable series, and fans are taking the time today to honor Hillenburg for all his hard work.
How will you remember Hillenburg and the cartoonist's legacy? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime.
Some of my favorite childhood memories were SpongeBob:
- performing at the Bubble Bowl.
- selling chocolate.
- delivering pizza with a less-than-enthusiastic Squidward.
- meeting THE hash-slinging slasher.
Thank you, Stephen Hillenburg.
Bikini Bottom meant the world to me. pic.twitter.com/MCaQWXiwYx— Brian Gay (@brian2596) November 27, 2018
An Animation Icon
The quality of the first three seasons of Spongebob are to blame for it’s decades-long cultural relevance. Stephen Hillenburg created a broad, optimistic universe without sacrificing any of his absurd sensibility, giving us art that could be loved and understood commonly. Tragic.— Gabriel Gundacker (@gabegundacker) November 27, 2018
SpongeBob: Isn't he beautiful?
Patrick: How high's he going to go?
SpongeBob: All the way, Patrick, up to the great beyond. Goodbye, friend.
Patrick: Happy trails!
SpongeBob: He's on the other side now.
Patrick: Yeah. He's in a better place.
Thank you Stephen Hillenburg pic.twitter.com/x86uMuQI9z— Comrade Tentacles☭ (@ComradTentacles) November 27, 2018
R.I.P. Stephen Hillenburg, creator of one of the most imaginative, fun, innocent and brilliant worlds that no one with a sliver of an imagination could ever grow out of. ?? pic.twitter.com/c5e2i5NwdT— Alex Pardee (@alexpardee) November 27, 2018
May The Laughs Never End
"Band Geeks" and "Texas" are probably my favorite episodes of Spongebob. This was a show that embraced both manic anarchy and innocent fun into a surrealist comedy show for kids and adults. Sad to hear about the passing of Stephen Hillenburg. Rest well, man. Thanks for the laughs pic.twitter.com/LjfsOZ1YU5— Sherrod (@HEELSherrod) November 27, 2018
The Best Life Lessons
Stephen Hillenburg could've easily created some cynical and hapless protagonist like what was popular in a lot of animation back then
instead, he created a happy, upbeat character who taught viewers of all ages the values of staying kind and positive in any situation
respect ? pic.twitter.com/01YabOsEuq— (^ • ᴥ • ^) Merry Doggomas~ (@ChelleDoggo) November 27, 2018
A Comforting Friend
I used to put on Spongebob when I was feeling scared and anxious. Thank you for one of my few childhood comforts Stephen Hillenburg.— Tamashii Hiroka (@TamashiiHiroka) November 27, 2018
To Love The Absurd
Spongebob's weird humor probably did more to influence this generation's love of absurdity more than any other show and it's that weirdness that keeps us going through these dark times. Rest in peace, Stephen Hillenburg. pic.twitter.com/VXgYFaYbGT— Sam Sykes (@SamSykesSwears) November 27, 2018
rip stephen hillenburg - we all aspire to create something as wonderful as you did. shaped an entire generation! krusty krab training video is my whole sense of humor encapsulated neatly in 11 minutes— Louie Zong (@everydaylouie) November 27, 2018
Back To Bikini Bottom
This world is getting colder and colder, losing childhood icon after childhood icon. Stephen Hillenburg will be the most important to me, and if it wasn't for him, Bikini Bottom would just be an empty underwater town.
Rest In Peace, Stephen. We'll miss you. pic.twitter.com/zrpdRaF3rC— Daniel T. ? (@Daniel_T_1985) November 27, 2018