Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob Squarepants, brought nautical nonsense to the lives of many children and young adults. For almost 20 years, the children’s television show has aired on Nickelodeon, after Hillenburg first pitched the idea of the Bikini Bottom inhabitants to a room full of skeptics.
Now, the show will have to continue on in Hillenburg’s memory. After a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, Hillenburg has died. He was 57-years-old.
Hillenburg was a cartoonist, animator, and marine-biology teacher. He started his career teaching marine-biology at the Orange County Marine Institute in Dana Point, California, before pursuing a career in animation. He attended the California Institute of the Arts, where he graduated, and later went to work for Nickelodeon. Hillenburg fused his love of animation and marine biology to create Spongebob Squarepants, after four years of working on Rocko’s Modern Life, another popular Nickelodeon show.
“Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere,” Nickelodeon said in a statement. “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 show has been on since the 90’s, and has spawned into two major movies, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Since it’s debut, it’s been a wild success amongst it’s young audience.
Earlier this year, Hillenburg won an Emmy Award for his work.