“SpongeBob” Creator Stephen Hillenburg Dead at 57

“SpongeBob SquarePants” creator Stephen Hillenburg has died following a battle with ALS, Variety reports. He was 57 years old. “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, according to Variety. “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.”

Prior to “SpongeBob,” Stephen Hillenburg served as a director for “Rocko’s Modern Life” from 1993 to 1996. “SpongeBob SquarePants” later premiered on Nickelodeon in 1999. The show spawned two feature films—2004’s The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and 2015’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water—and the Tony-winning SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical.

The SpongeBob show and movies featured original music from numerous notable artists, including Wilco, the Flaming Lips, Ween, and the Shins, among others. Famously, David Bowie voiced Lord Royal Highness in the episode “Atlantis SquarePantis.” SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which premiered in 2016, also included Bowie and Brian Eno’s song “No Control,” along with tracks written by T.I., Panic! At the Disco, John Legend, and more.

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