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10 Best Spongebob Characters Of All Time Ranked

For more than two decades, one of Nickelodeon's most popular and consistently successful shows has been "SpongeBob SquarePants." The series follows the underwater life of a sentient sponge and his quirky gang of friends, including a dim-witted starfish, a cynical octopus, and a scheming plankton, who all live together in an underwater town called Bikini Bottom.

Despite the bizarre nature of its main characters, the show has a basis in real marine life since its creator, Stephen Hillenburg, was a marine biology teacher who created "SpongeBob SquarePants" after the success of his educational comic "The Intertidal Zone." Hillenburg's characters have resonated through pop culture, and nowadays we all feel a little disappointed when we come across a real-life sea sponge and it's not wearing pants or hanging out with a starfish. 

While "SpongeBob SquarePants" is more of a free-wheeling fantasy than it is educational, it has built up an elaborate universe that fans, both children and adults, have studied with great care and affection over the years. The show's heart lies in its rich characters, which are much more complex than those seen in most run-of-the-mill kids' shows. Let us take a look at the 10 best characters on "SpongeBob SquarePants" that have burrowed their way into the hearts of fans. 

10. Karen

Every good show about heroic characters needs a worthy villain to pit their strength against. In "SpongeBob SquarePants," the two main villains are Sheldon Plankton and his wife, Karen. We'll get to Sheldon later, but for now, let's talk about his wife Karen, who happens to be a waterproof supercomputer. 

While Sheldon is eternally obsessed with stealing the recipe for the "Krabby Patty," it's Karen who has the smarts to get away with the recipe on a few occasions. Unfortunately, Sheldon's bumbling always gets in the way of Karen's accomplishments. Still, the two have had a reasonably strong working relationship ever since Sheldon built Karen when he was still in grade school.

Despite playing an antagonistic role on "SpongeBob Squarepants," Karen is not overtly evil and even shares a fondness for science with Sandy Cheeks the squirrel. Apart from being one of the most sensible characters on the show, it is highly entertaining to watch Karen deal with her husband and knock him down a peg or two whenever he takes his plotting and scheming to ridiculous extremes.     

9. King Neptune

The name says it all. King Neptune is the trident-wielding god of the seas who lives in Atlantis with his wife and son. Think "Aquaman," but nicer and dumber. Neptune doesn't generally like to give other people a hard time, but his status as a mighty wielder of magic and lord of the oceans often puts the character in difficult situations. 

Neptune is one of the foremost authority figures on "SpongeBob SquarePants," but he does not care a great deal about the safety or well-being of his subjects. This merman also has difficulty dealing with family issues, like his son Triton, whom Neptune was forced to imprison after Triton misused his powers. 

Neptune's portrayal has oscillated between being a good-humored, generous king and a cruel tyrant, at times with different visual designs. While the director of "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: Sponge on the Run," Tim Hill, downplayed the differences between those different depictions in an interview with SYFY Wire, there may have been more going on behind the scenes. "SpongeBob SquarePants" writer Vincent Waller explained on Twitter that the reason behind Neptune's different temperaments and character designs was due to a content firewall between Nickelodeon and Paramount studios for a time. Despite the confusion regarding Nepture's changing appearance and motivations, the character remains a popular figure among fans. 

8. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy

It's interesting to consider how many long-running cartoon shows eventually produce one or more superhero characters, no matter how unrelated they might be to the central premise of the series. "The Simpsons," for instance, had several, such as Clobber Girl and Stretch Man. "SpongeBob SquarePants" also has its own dynamic twosome named Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.

As their names suggest, the characters are superheroes of the aquatic persuasion. They live a semi-retired life but occasionally come out of retirement whenever the residents of Bikini Bottom need their aid. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy have also had their likeness heavily franchised, particularly in the form of a television show that SpongeBob and Patrick are fond of watching.   

Mermaid Maid is clearly meant to be an elderly pastiche of Aquaman, who is hard of hearing and going senile. His sidekick Barnacle Boy is somewhat more capable but feels exasperated due to being treated as a second-in-command and dealing with his older colleague's mood swings and confusion. Either way, Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are always good for diverting adventures whenever they show up in SpongeBob's life.  

7. Mrs. Puff

When he is not working for Mr. Krabs, SpongeBob tries to broaden his horizons as a student at boating school. The main instructor at boating school is Mrs. Puff, who teaches her students how to drive boats that function a lot like underwater cars. Or in the case of SpongeBob, she at least tries to teach him to drive so he can get his license.  

Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. No matter how much SpongeBob and Mrs. Puff try, they can never get him ready enough to pass the test and become a licensed driver. It's not that SpongeBob doesn't work hard at it. The poor guy just doesn't seem capable of driving a boat in a straight line. This has led to a recurring gag where SpongeBob crashes his boat into various things, causing Mrs. Puff's pufferfish body to inflate in alarm.

At a meta-level, Mrs. Puff is one of the most important characters in the history of "SpongeBob SquarePants," because her relationship with SpongeBob helped the series get made. The show's creator Steve Hillenburg told Television Business International that executives at Nickelodeon initially wanted to have SpongeBob appear as a kid. Hillenburg insisted on keeping the character an adult. As a compromise, the sub-plot of SpongeBob attending driving school with, opening an opportunity for the character of Mrs. Puff to be included in the show.

6. Sandy Cheeks

Only in the world of cartoons like "SpongeBob SquarePants" can you have a character with a premise like Sandy Cheeks. To recap, Sandy Cheeks is a squirrel that talks with a Texan drawl who lives underwater with her marine friends thanks to a specially made diving suit that lets her survive in the depths of the ocean.

While Sandy might seem like a bizarre addition to a show about marine life, she has grown to become one of the most important characters on the show. Sandy is best friends with SpongeBob and Patrick and has many highly-skilled abilities that come in handy over the course of their adventures. These include a passion for science and engineering, advanced karate and bodybuilding skills, as well as being an expert at rodeo and sand-boarding. 

Thanks to her many talents, Sandy can be a useful ally to have on your side when facing a problem. Over the years, Sandy has featured in a variety of "SpongeBob SquarePants" related merchandise and is a popular character among fans thanks to her plucky attitude and ingenious mind.

5. Sheldon Plankton

Even the most peaceful towns have individuals who are up to no good. In Bikini Bottom, that individual is the diminutive Sheldon Plankton. As his name suggests, Sheldon is a planktonic copepod who is much smaller in size than the other main characters on "SpongeBob SquarePants."

The size of Plankton's ambitions far outstrips his physical stature. He owns the "Chum Bucket" restaurant and is perpetually enraged that the rival Krusty Krab restaurant is much more popular, seemingly due to the success of the latter's Krabby Patties. The governing obsession of Plankton's life is to steal the recipe for the patties and run Mr. Krabs out of business, and then eventually transition into ruling the world. 

Plankton's ridiculous schemes that he enacts with his wife Karen to get his hands on the Krabby Patties formula are a source of never-ending amusement on the show. The character's overwhelming ego and delusions of grandeur, complete with his temper tantrums when things don't go his way, have endeared him to fans over the years. 

4. Mr. Krabs

If you were to imagine an underwater equivalent of Scrooge McDuck, Eugene H. Krabs, or Mr. Krabs, as he is better known to "SpongeBob SquarePants" fans, would be a pretty good choice. Like Scrooge, Mr. Krabs has a vaguely Scottish accent, is rich but remains obsessed with becoming ever richer, and is surprisingly spry in physical confrontations.

While Scrooge's prized possession was his lucky Number One Dime, the light of Mr. Krabs' life is his secret Krabby Patty formula that has made his restaurant the most popular eatery in Bikini Bottom. Since this is also the place where SpongeBob and his friends work, Mr. Krabs has an important role to play on the show as an authority figure who walks a fine line between good and evil.

While Mr. Krabs is essentially a kind-hearted person, his overwhelming passion for money has made him do questionable things, from paying his employees the least amount of money possible to attacking an innocent person over a penny. Through the years, Mr. Krabs has grown steadily more unhinged in his pursuit of wealth, and watching him have a meltdown over the state of his finances is often one of the funniest parts of "SpongeBob SquarePants." 

3. Patrick Star

Patrick Star is that one friend that everyone wishes they had. While not very bright, Patrick makes up for it with his perpetually chipper nature and willingness to go along with any of the lunatic schemes that the other characters come up with. Patrick is the closest friend of his neighbor SpongeBob and has been a major part of almost all of his adventures over the years. 

Although SpongeBob has a lot of affection for Patrick, his friends' dumb nature can be a burden sometimes. Patrick is also not without his own set of vices, He has been shown to have a pretty short temper, and occasionally goes on a psychopathic rampage. This is seen in the Season 1 episode "Nature Pants" when Patrick can't bear to think of SpongeBob moving away to live in the Jellyfish Fields and chases SpongeBob down to physically haul him back to Bikini Bottom.

Despite his shortcomings, Patrick is one of the sweetest characters on the show, and the bond between him and SpongeBob is the glue that holds the entire series together. In recent years, Patrick's personality has taken a turn for the worse, making him more callous, hypocritical, and unwilling to take responsibility for the things he does wrong.   

2. Squidward

Before Severus Snape showed up in "Harry Potter" and became a fan-favorite character despite being grumpy, surly, and cynical, Squidward Tentacles achieved the same feat on "SpongeBob SquarePants." Despite his name, Squidward is an octopus, not a squid, and he works at the same restaurant as SpongeBob, the Krusty Krab, as a cashier. 

In stark contrast to the other ebullient and lively characters on the show, Squidward is known for being a bit of a stick-in-the-mud. He hates his job at the restaurant, his co-workers, and his neighbors. In his defense, Squidward is shown to be generally much smarter than other characters living in Bikini Bottom, and he has to put up with their often-harmful idiocy on a permanent basis.  

The chief struggle of Squidward's life is his perception of himself as better than everyone else. He often presents himself as a guy who deserves fame and fortune, which contrasts with his actual reality of working for pennies under an unappreciative boss while hanging out with immature nobodies like SpongeBob and Patrick. Squidward's presence is an integral part of the show's dynamic, however, and the contrast his relationship with the other characters provides is one of the central highlights of the series. 

1. SpongeBob Squarepants

Who could have imagined a sentient sponge wearing impossibly square pants would become one of the most enduring pop-culture icons of the past two decades? In many ways, SpongeBob SquarePants is the Homer Simpson of children's television. A simple, outwardly dumb, but unexpectedly complex leading character who you can't help but keep watching as he charges into another adventure with his friends.  

As his name suggests, SpongeBob is a yellow sea sponge who walks, talks, and lives under the sea in Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob is an endlessly joyful but somewhat immature adult who works a lowly job as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab. In his spare time, SpongeBob likes to hang out with his friends Patrick, Sandy, and Squidward. He also spends plenty of time with his pet snail Gary. He attends driving school to learn how to drive boats but keeps failing his driving tests. As the show's titular character, SpongeBob is responsible for all the craziness that ensues in each episode of "SpongeBob SquarePants." 

The character's popularity has had a lasting impact on not just fans of the show but the medium of kid's entertainment as a whole. SpongeBob remains one of the greatest leads in the history of children's television, one who taught entire generations the value of hard work, friendship, and the importance of meeting life's challenges with a hopeful heart.