SparkNotes Blog

5 Literary References You Never Noticed in SpongeBob

Like most people, I’m constantly fighting the urge to say, “Do you remember the episode of SpongeBob where…” only to follow it up with a description that sounds like a lurid fever dream and not an episode of a children’s cartoon I watched pretty much nonstop for the better part of a decade. I could have been learning a language or at least playing outside, but instead I planted myself in front of the TV to watch SpongeBob, and now I can hear Patrick saying “Is mayonnaise an instrument?” in my head at all times with perfect clarity. We all make choices in life, and these were mine.

However, there are some literary references in the show that went way over my head as a young and particularly obtuse seven-year-old—references I wouldn’t understand until I went back as an adult and re-watched the episodes in a fit of world-weary nostalgia. These are those references.