For a show that’s been around for twenty years, you’d be surprised to learn that Spongebob Squarepants only has a couple of episodes that are considered “specials” over its long runtime. If you’re wondering as to what exactly a special is, it’s when the normal runtime of a Spongebob episode runs over the regular eleven-minute mark. Once it’s over that mark, that episode is considered a special.
But as was the case with some of the best episodes of Spongebob Squarepants, there are some specials that are considered the best overall as well. Not everyone can be a winner. Keep in mind that this is my personal opinion on the take and that if you don’t share the same views, please feel free to let me know. But as someone who grew up on the show from its inception, I think I have a pretty good idea of what’s considered the best.
Honorable Mention: Atlantis Squarepantis
I will never understand why so many people hated "Atlantis Squarepantis." I couldn’t put it on the main list just because of that, but I will always have a special place in my heart for it.
Was the singing a lot? Yes, but the songs were catchy. Anytime this special came on, I was singing along to every tune. To this day I still remember Spongebob’s song on the bus on the way to Atlantis by heart. The plot might have been a bit out there, but it’s Spongebob Squarepants – what the heck are you expecting? A masterpiece? It’s still a fun special that deserves a little more appreciation.
10. It’s A Spongebob Christmas (Season 8, Episode 26)
Considering this is the second Christmas special that Spongebob ever did, I have to give the creators props for stepping out of the box and delivering on a different animation style. Everyone always associated Christmas with that classic stop-motion animation – why can’t Spongebob Squarepants do that? And that's what "It's A Spongebob Christmas" accomplishes.
Is it as great as the first-ever Christmas special? No, not by a long shot. It’s the same scheme of Plankton trying to turn the town against the Krusty Krab to somehow get the secret formula, this time with a Christmas twist and turning everyone into jerks on Christmas. But the message is still there – it’s the best time of the year, so why be mean? Also, the song “Don’t Be A Jerk” is a massive earworm and will be stuck in your head for days on end.
9. Party Pooper Pants (Season 3, Episode 11)
I always adored "Party Pooper Pants" in Spongebob Squarepants for a couple of reasons. All he wants to do is hold a really nice party and he’s nervous as heck about it, but as expected, sooner or later the party gets away from him and he starts to lose control of his guests.
As someone who has thrown a party before, watching Spongebob fret over his party once he is locked outside of his own home is hilarious. Everyone always has anxiety about making sure that the guests are entertained and occupied, and he thinks that he’s failed when in reality, everyone is having a good time. The parallels between the two different worlds are great.
8. Spongebob Squarepants Vs The Big One (Season 6, Episode 11)
When I was still young and watched Spongebob Squarepants religiously, I remembered the hype for "Spongebob Squarepants Vs. The Big One" – mainly because Johnny Depp was going to be a guest star on this particular special. The premise is simple – the gang, otherwise known as Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, and Sandy – are swept away by this big wave. Together, they must find a way to get back.
However, the hilarities that ensue when they try and return home are stupendously funny and full of life. And let’s not forget the moment Jack Kahuna Laguna stepped out of his house, emerging with his super long surfboard that seemed to go on for hours. I still laugh to this day.
7. Ugh (Season 3, Episode 14)
No, this is not the episode where that one Spongebob Squarepants meme comes from, but it’s still an entertaining time. “Ugh” takes a look at what life would be like if Spongebob, Patrick, and Squidward were all in prehistorical times, and how their days would differ from the present day.
Turns out, really not that different except with a few rocks and giant Garys thrown in there that are the size of dinosaurs. But because of the small yet noticeable differences, it makes for a fun little special. And the 2001: A Space Odyssey reference is always great to rewatch as an adult.
6. Goodbye, Krabby Patty? (Season 9, Episode 22)
You’re probably all wondering why a special from later on in Spongebob Squarepants is doing up so high on this list, but there’s a reason why I placed "Goodbye, Krabby Patty?" here. This special tells the story of what it’s like to have a famous recipe, like the Krabby Patty, from a restaurant of some sort, and then have it mass-produced for the public. That’s the basic premise of this.
But what really makes this special stand out to me is that it’s genuinely a good take on what’s wrong with America and the culture of mass-producing for convenience. It really does take away the special-ness of the original product. The jokes are also great in this. Spongebob is known to have lost a lot of its charm in later seasons but they really do land well, and the story between Patrick and Spongebob is sweet. Plus, that Jon Hamm cameo is always a win.
5. Friend Or Foe (Season 5, Episode 1)
This was a great episode for the fifth season of Spongebob Squarepants to start out on because "Friend or Foe" revolves around the backstory of Mr. Krabs and Plankton, and how they came to be enemies.
While we’ve seen some relatively calm stories in the past, this one feels the most realistic out of all of them, of how they started out friends, and sooner or later, Mr. Krabs needed to expand the business and it caused them to fall apart. It provides a really nice backstory to otherwise usually one-dimensional characters that don’t show that much change over the series. It’s always a joy to view again.
4. Shanghaied (Season 2, Episode 13)
This is usually considered a special of Spongebob Squarepants, even though it doesn’t run that much over the regular eleven-minute time span. But though it is small compared to some of the others, "Shanghaied" still reigns higher than some on here because of what occurs.
Spongebob, Patrick, and Squidward all run into trouble with the scariest phantom around, The Flying Dutchman, who goes through multiple levels to try and capture them and basically keep them as his slaves.
However, of course, they always find a way to make these episodes fun. Not only was this the introduction of one of the more iconic characters of Spongebob Squarepants, i.e. the Flying Dutchman, but some of the jokes can’t be beaten. I mean, the perfume section gag gets me every single time. If you’ve ever been through a Macy’s, you know that’s what it’s like.
3. Have You Seen This Snail? (Season 4, Episode 3)
"Have You Seen This Snail?" is most certainly a lot sadder than it is funny, but that’s why it really ranks so high on my list – it’s quite unique compared to the usual hilarities of Spongebob Squarepants. When Gary, Spongebob’s snail, begins to feel neglected, he runs away and finds a new home, only to realize that he should have been grateful for the one home he was given before.
The whole entire episode, we see Spongebob, however, feeling guilty and looking all over for Gary, wanting his pet to come home. I’ve never lost a pet, but I know what it feels like to lose someone close to me as many do, and we’ve all experienced the notions of what it's like to go through that. Also, “Gary, Come Home” will make anyone cry. It’s most certainly a more real episode, but that’s what makes it so good.
2. Dunces And Dragons (Season 4, Episode 6)
Okay, I’m a huge medieval nerd so I’m a bit biased towards "Dunces and Dragons," but this special on Spongebob Squarepants is one of the best takes on the series yet. It’s sort of like “Ugh” but instead, this is what it would be like if Bikini Bottom was in medieval times.
And it's just as fun as it sounds. The jellyfish become dragons. Squidward is a jester. Mr. Krabs is a king. Sandy is a knight. Plankton is an evil wizard – there’s so much here relating to the common themes of medieval culture in the fantasy genre that work so well, but also correlate with the typical Spongebob Squarepants humor where kids can enjoy it. Even now I can fully watch this special and still feel as entertained as when I was a child because it’s that fun.
1. Christmas Who? (Season 2, Episode 8)
There’s just something about this special of Spongebob Squarepants that makes me smile every time. Even now as a working adult, I still find time out in every Christmas season to sit down and view "Christmas Who?" because the amount of Christmas spirit it brings me is astronomical. While “It's A Spongebob Christmas” has a nice animation style change to it, the story in this feels so wholesome.
Bikini Bottom had never heard of Christmas before, so, after Sandy tells Spongebob all about it, he goes out of his way to make Bikini Bottom have the best Christmas ever. However, of course, some people are not going to be that excited about all the cheerfulness going on (i.e. Squidward) so some problems arise.
But I always find myself smiling towards the end, where even the grumpiest of people can grow a heart during the season of giving, no matter what. It’s a sweet message that not only delivers to children, but to the parents and adults who watch it too.Say the name of the special in the text.
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!