“SpongeBob SquarePants” creator Stephen Hillenburg lost his battle with ALS Monday. He was 57.
“We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work,” the network that featured the underwater cartoon series, Nickelodeon, tweeted Tuesday. (RELATED: Nickelodeon Smashes CNN, MSNBC, In Ratings)
We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work.
— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) November 27, 2018
“He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family,” the statement added. “Steve imbued ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere.”
The statement continued, “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 cartoon creator announced in March of last year that he had been diagnosed with ALS.
Hillenburg is best known for creating the bizarre and colorful underwater world called Bikini Bottom that featured — along with SpongeBob — such classic characters as his best friend and starfish Patrick, Sandy the squirrel and of course Squidward Tentacles, which debuted on the network in 1999.
“The fact that it’s undersea and isolated from our world helps the characters maintain their own culture,” Hillenburg explained of the popular cartoon series in 2001.”The essence of the show is that SpongeBob is an innocent in a world of jaded characters. The rest is absurd packaging.”
He is survived by his wife Karen and son Clay.