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Creator of SpongeBob SquarePants dies at 57

Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of iconic cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, has passed away at the age of 57.

Hillenburg was diagnosed with ALS and first revealed the diagnosis in 2017. He is survived by his wife and son.

SpongeBob SquarePants is about the titular character, a sponge in a suit, and his friends/coworkers, including Patrick the starfish, Squidward Tentacles, and Mr. Krabs, the crustaceous owner of the fast food restaurant where many episodes are set.

The show first premiered on Nickelodeon in 1997; 242 episodes have been produced since then. It won numerous awards, including four Emmys. It also ballooned into a cash cow, generating $13 billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon.

The cartoon was a staple for Nickelodeon’s lineup and a fond memory for most millennials. It also spawned dozens of memes that referenced bits and characters from the show.

Hillenburg received a degree in marine biology and taught at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California, before creating the character.

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