SpongeBob SquarePants Cast Gather At Comic-Con As Show Turns 20
While SpongeBob SquarePants was created by marine science educator and animator Stephen Hillenburg as an animated children's show, since its debut 17 July 1999 (yep, a whopping 20 years ago!) it's gone on to become a firm favourite for people of all ages - big kids, stoners, you name it.
But after all this time there's probably one thing you didn't realise about the show - and that's the fact that the late, great Stephen Hillenburg actually appeared in the programme's opening credits each week.
Watch again, and you'll notice that while the main painting is just a static piece of artwork, the mouth of the pirate that sings the theme tune actually belongs to Hillenburg.
The revelation came on Thursday (18 July) during the SpongeBob SquarePants panel at San Diego Comic-Con, where the cast of the series were chatting all things SpongeBob.
"I don't know if its common knowledge or not, but when you see the opening and there's that painting of the pirate and there's lips moving, that's Stephen," said Rodger Bumpass, who voices Squidward.
His co-star Tom Kenny - who voices our titular anthropomorphic sponge - also explained that the painting itself had been found 'in a thrift store somewhere, on sale'.
During the panel discussion, Kenny also talked about the enduring success of both his character and the show, saying it has 'conquered the world'.
He added: "He's in every country on earth, he's on every conceivable product he can be on, but... it just reminds me of a time when SpongeBob only existed in Stephen Hellenberg's desk drawer... I remember when he had me come over to his place and said, 'I'm thinking about pitching this to Nickelodeon,' and he took out that, it was just like, wow. It blew my mind. I'd never wanted to be in a show so bad."
Creator Hillenberg began working on SpongeBob all the way back in 1999, seeing it go from an idea to a cult classic, gaining millions of fans.
He sadly died in November last year at the age of 57, having released a statement through Variety in March 2017 to say he had been diagnosed with motor neuron disease - better known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the US.
He said at the time: "I wanted people to hear directly from me that I have been diagnosed with ALS.
"Anyone who knows me knows that I will continue to work on SpongeBob SquarePants and my other passions for as long as I am able. My family and I are grateful for the outpouring of love and support.
"We ask that our sincere request for privacy be honoured during this time."
At the time of his death, Nickelodeon tweeted: "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 honour his life and work."
Featured Image Credit: Nickelodeon