For a generation that grew up with the perpetual presence of a yellow sponge and pink starfish on the television screen, the news of Stephen Hillenburg passing was felt like a significant loss. It is difficult to even imagine the number of ways that a character as popular as Spongebob Squarepants has come into our lives.
We’ve gained a lot from a small sponge. From little life lessons on friendship and imagination to celebrating values like optimism and passion, the impact has been monumental. For some, he’s given even more.
A vast number of today’s artists and animators probably would not be where they are without Stephen Hillenburg. He inspired them to dream and to reach for a legacy just as striking as his. To them, this warranted a little more than a fleeting moment of sadness.
Creatives all around the world chose to pay tribute to Hillenburg by continuing to breathe life into his creations. We’ve compiled some of their works to celebrate the simple joy Hillenburg was able to bring into all our lives:
@LemymLyme‘s witty reference to Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen (he was number one) reminds us of how iconic Hillenburg truly was.
Godspeed, Stephen Hillenburg.
Thank you for making my childhood – and millions of others – so much better. pic.twitter.com/NgRmk8EgZ2
— ǝɯʎ˥꧁꧂uʎɯǝ˥ (@LemynLyme) November 27, 2018
@georgemager expresses gratitude for “making my childhood brighter”, a feeling I think we can all relate with.
thank you mr hillenburg for making my childhood brighter pic.twitter.com/P3XNoAWrGr
— 𝔊𝔢𝔬𝔯𝔤𝔦𝔢 𝔐𝔞𝔤𝔢𝔯 (@georgemager) November 27, 2018
These nostalgic works from @toriisu, @phonemova, and @cerealkidman evoke a bittersweet sentiment.
Rest Easy Stephen Hillenburg … RIP pic.twitter.com/A7YILbzaS1
— tori ☁️ (looking for internship!) (@toriisu) November 27, 2018
Thanks Mr. Stephen Hillenburg , have a nice trip! RIP pic.twitter.com/p6SkMYLX1P
— Vanessa Morales 'ㅅ' (@phonemova) November 27, 2018
thank you for a wonderful childhood Stephen Hillenburg pic.twitter.com/p1PRwnHW8h
— Cy ⛈⚡⛈⚡ (@cerealkidman) November 27, 2018
@_itsjackielee follows up her post by saying “I think I speak for a lot of animators when I say we all aspire to create something just as remarkable.”
thank you mr. hillenburg for creating something so contagiously funny and relentlessly genuine pic.twitter.com/Qh2VmNwUIZ
— Jackie 🎄🎁🍪 (@_itsjackielee) November 27, 2018
But the core message of most, as @hamtarto, @gothmeatloaf, and @potajos express, is something we have to come to terms with: good bye
you will always be the best goofy goober pic.twitter.com/gC5dWSZzBG
— Ham Firouzan (@hamtarto) November 28, 2018
bye bye pic.twitter.com/slh0xxqiSr
— blair (@gothmeatloaf) November 28, 2018
theres no words to describe how much spongebob has shaped my entire childhood and present, its still the base of my entire sense of humour today. ive made multiple friends through it and it made my life better in so many ways. rest in peace stephen hillenburg, thank u pic.twitter.com/ScoP9YD2gm
— Jo (@potajos) November 28, 2018
And @baylee_jae sums everything up with two simple words.
There’s a story from each one of you out there on a time a cartoon sponge has gotten you to laugh, or cry, and helped you grow up in the process. What’s yours?