Stephen McDannell Hillenburg, creator of SpongeBob SquarePants, passed away yesterday at the age of 57. He was without a doubt responsible for the laughter of millions of children and adults alike, and that laughter will echo on beyond his life. On top of that, Hillenburg unintentionally made a huge impact on our own industry with multiple successful SpongeBob-themed games and literally tons of SpongeBob-licensed merchandise won by players.
“Hillenburg’s characters are truly special to the amusement industry. Reflecting on my many years in the industry, I can’t think of any other licensed character that has inspired as many arcade games as SpongeBob SquarePants. They’ll be an important part of the industry’s tapestry of games for many years to come,” said Andamiro’s President of Sales Drew Maniscalco.
Hillensburg suffered from ALS, which he had been battling for at least two years. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Karen, son Clay, mother Nancy and brother Brian. The beloved character he created, SpongeBob, was set to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2019.
“We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS,” Nickelodeon stated. “He was a beloved friend and longtime creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon and our hearts go out to his entire family. Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. 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.”