Spongebob SquarePants Fan Theory Could Shed Light on Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy Origin Story

SpongeBob SquarePants has been riding a massive wave of popularity in the public eye over his entire run. Fans have had their theory about the cartoon's world and how SpongeBob's two favorite heroes came to be. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy made their debut in a self-titled episode in 1999. The entire thing is a delightful sendup of superheroes with Adam West's 60s Batman series as the main reference point (Along with loving nods to Aquaman of course). It only makes sense that these two elder heroes would have a tragic origin story.

One clever Redditor gave some thought to what brought the heroes to Bikini Bottom, and how they came to fight crime. CannedBullet lays out a theory that the heroes were shrunken during the Bikini Atoll tests and came to live in Bikini Bottom after the radioactivity gave them their powers. The tests took place from 1946 through 1958 and actually effected many people within that region.

Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy must have been Navy divers accidentally caught in the Bikini Atoll tests. from r/FanTheories

Real-world theories like this are pretty commonplace in cartoons like Adventure Time, but this take on SpongeBob sticks out. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are often played for laughs, but this gives their story a sort of tragic undertone that fits the Batman inspiration really well. Fans will actually get to see more from all these characters as SpongeBob was renewed for Season 13 earlier this year.

In fact, this is the 20th anniversary of the cartoon, and the little square dude is enjoying his time in the spotlight. A recent special called SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout aired in July which brought back a host of iconic voices from the show. Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants), Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick Star), Rodger Bumpass (Squidward), Clancy Brown (Mr. Krabs), Carolyn Lawrence (Sandy Cheeks) and Mr. Lawrence (Plankton) all portrayed live-action versions of their characters in addition to reprising their animated roles.

SpongeBob SquarePants Season 13 will still feature the voices of the cast listed above. Vince Waller and Marc Ceccarelli are back serving as showrunners on the upcoming season. The 13-episode 13th season airdates are still being hashed out, but fans should know more as the fall season begins. Nickelodeon describes SpongeBob SquarePants like this:

"The character-driven toon chronicles the nautical and sometimes nonsensical adventures of SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny), an incurably optimistic and earnest sea sponge, and his undersea friends. Dwelling a few fathoms beneath the tropical isle of Bikini Atoll in the sub-surface city of Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob lives in a two-story pineapple. Instead of taking the logical approach to everyday challenges, SpongeBob approaches life in a wayward and unconventional way. Whether searching for the ultimate spatula to perfect his burger flipping technique at the Krusty Krab, or just hanging out with his best friend Patrick (an amiable starfish), SpongeBob's good intentions and overzealous approach to life usually create chaos in his underwater world."