As you may or may not be aware, voice actor Tom Kenny has been the voice of SpongeBob Squarepants on the iconic Nickelodeon series of the same name since 1999. Of course, many might also remember him from Adventure Time as the Ice King. However, there are likely a whole lot more movies and TV shows that you know him from without even realizing it.
In fact, it took a while to sift through nearly the 500 acting credits of the 58-year-old former stand-up comedian - not even counting his 2021 new movie releases (namely The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run on Paramount+). Luckily, I managed to narrow it down to 12 movies and TV shows of both an animated and live-action variety that present Tom Kenny at his best outside of Bikini Bottom. See if you remember spotting (or hearing) the man behind SpongeBob Squarepants as any of the following characters, starting with one of his more iconic villains.
Adventure Time (Ice King, Various)
It is hard to imagine the voice of SpongeBob playing anyone other than an innocent, child-like dolt, but Tom Kenny was Finn the Human and Jake the Dog’s arch-nemesis from 2010-2018. Yet, the Ice King was not even his first (and far from the last) character on the Cartoon Network hit Adventure Time (such as Lumpy Space King of Ice King’s hench-penguin Gunter), which is pretty common in his voice acting career. For instance…
Rocko’s Modern Life (Heffer Wolfe, Various)
Before landing a lead Nicktoons role, Tom Kenny was the slow-witted sidekick to Carlos Alazraqui’s titular Australian wallaby on Rocko’s Modern Life as Heffer - a male cow raised by wolves. Kenny also voiced Chuck Chameleon and Really Really Big Man among other on what was actually his first collaboration with late SpongeBob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg, who also co-created the bizarre and often dark comedy in the early 1990s.
Mr. Show With Bob And David (Various)
In the mid-to-late 1990s, Tom Kenny's live-action talents were most prominently brought to light on Mr. Show with Bob and David. The “Bob and David” of the groundbreaking HBO sketch comedy series’ title are Breaking Bad and Nobody star Bob Odenkirk and Arrested Development’s David Cross, who would reboot the show on Netflix as W/ Bob and David, with Kenny returning, for another aggressively weird season in 2015.
CatDog (Dog, Various)
Speaking of aggressive weirdness, this classic Nicktoon, starring Tom Kenny as the canine half of a conjoined, inner-species brotherly duo, is a prime example of his reputation for playing slow-witted sidekicks before SpongeBob. Kenny also frequently voiced a tough bulldog named Cliff on CatDog, on which Kenny’s future Winnie the Pooh co-star Jim Cummings played his feline brother from 1998 until 2005.
Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends (Eduardo, Various)
Tom Kenny also was able work with many voice acting greats, including DC animated TV show veterans Phil LaMarr and Grey Griffin (née DeLisle), on this highly imaginative hit Cartoon Network show that won six Emmy Awards during its 2004-2009 run. Once again, Kenny had the liberty of playing multiple characters on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, but his best-known role was the two-horned, two-eyed, Spanish-accented, purple people protector Eduardo.
The Powerpuff Girls (Narrator, Mayor)
Speaking of colorful people protectors, this other Cartoon Network classic about a trio of young girls with superpowers saw Tom Kenny show off his booming announcer voice, opening each episode with a reminder that it is set in the city of Townsville. He did not narrate The Powerpuff Girls’ 2016 revival as frequently as its 1998-2004 run, but did get to bring back his role as the Mayor quite often. I wonder if he has a chance at appearing on The CW’s live-action Powerpuff Girls series, which is now in the works.
Sky High (Mr. Timmerman)
If not, at least Tom Kenny can say he has starred in a live-action superhero movie before. In 2005’s underrated Disney gem Sky High, he and his real-life wife and Mr. Show co-star Jill Talley (also Plankton’s computer spouse, Karen, in the SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run cast) play a couple whose new house is almost destroyed by the titular school for young crimefighters after it literally falls from the sky.
The Batman (The Penguin)
In a rare instance of Tom Kenny playing just one character for an animated series’ entire run, he voiced bird-like villain The Penguin on The Batman (which follows a younger Bruce Wayne protecting Gotham) and the 2005 spin-off movie in which becomes Dracula’s minion. Of course, Kenny has played many additional DC characters, such as Mumbo on Teen Titans, Plastic Man (among others) on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Commissioner James Gordon on DC Super Hero Girls (again, among others).
Ultimate Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus, Vulture)
Tom Kenny has also voiced a plethora of Marvel characters, not counting a vocal cameo in Ant-Man as an ugly rabbit doll Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) gives young Cassie for her birthday. His personal record for most roles in a single Marvel adaptation comes from the animated Ultimate Spider-Man series, on which he has appeared as villains Doctor Octopus and Vulture most frequently.
The Transformers Movies (Wheelie, Skids)
Tom Kenny can also claim to be involved with both the live-action cinematic and modern animated TV adaptations of the Transformers franchise. As expected, he has an innumerable amount of characters from the show, but appears as both Decepticon Wheelie and controversial twin Autobot Skids in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, reprised Wheelie as a full-fledge Autobot in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and later appeared as the tiny alien robot again in Transformers: The Last Knight in 2017.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Greedo, Various)
On the other hand, Tom Kenny has yet to appear in any live-action Star Wars movies, but still has a prominent role of the universe through lending his voice to many well-known characters. He has played the likes of Greedo (the one Han shot first at) and Nute Gunray on the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series, in addition to voicing X-wing pilot, and friend of Luke Skywalker, Biggs Darklighter in two Star Wars: Rogue Squadron video games.
The Spyro Video Games (Spyro, Various)
Speaking of video games, Tom Kenny has appeared in many, including several that are related to SpongeBob Squarepants if you can believe it. His most famous video game-specific character, however, would have to be Spyro - the purple dragon, which he has been voicing since the second installment of the series, 1999’s Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage.
At 22 years, Tom Kenny has been voicing Spyro as long as he has played SpongeBob, but the porous, yellow bottom dweller is easily his defining role and one he is far from finished playing. After more than 200 episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants, three movies, and the prequel series Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, now Bill Fagerbakke’s Patrick Star is getting his own spin-off which Kenny is also set appear on. I guess we have no choice but to be “ready.”
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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