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SpongeBob SquarePants watch order: How (and where) to binge Bikini Bottom

If nautical nonsense be something you wish, then stay tuned to Popverse and check out this list.

Image credit: Nickelodeon

It is 1999 - the Clinton administration is drawing to a close, the spectre of Y2K haunts the news cycle, and eight simple words are about to change the cartoon landscape forever.

"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?"

24 years later, it's rare to hear anyone discuss who was in Bill Clinton's cabinet or the possibility of every computer crashing because of a pair of zeroes. But SpongeBob SquarePants has withstood the trials of time, remaining a pop culture icon an entire generation after his debut.

With that kind of legacy, you'd be right in assuming that there's a lot of content in the character's crustaceous catalogue. Fortunately, however, there's a handy guide to get even the newest of fans through the franchise: Popverse's SpongeBob SquarePants watch order.

Are you (or rather, 'arrr ye') ready? Then let's dive in.

How to watch SpongeBob SquarePants in release order

Image credit: Nickelodeon

With three shows and movies set in Bikini Bottom, there are plenty of ways to binge the SpongeBob franchise. If what you're looking for is an experience similar to fans who have been with it since day one, then you'd probably want to watch the show, movies, and spinoffs according to when they came out. Here they are, in release order:

Now, forgive me for presuming, but I seriously doubt you have the time to watch through a quarter century of TV in one sitting (not judging if you do, though. In fact, I'm jealous). Since that's the case, you're going to be breaking up this marathon. And though you can certainly do that and retain proper release order, there is a way to break up your watchlist by moving the sequence around.

If that interests you, you might want to check out...

How to watch SpongeBob SquarePants in chronological order

The obvious question here is: does SpongeBob SquarePants even have a chronology? Do SpongeBob, Patrick, Mr. Krabs, Plankton, and the rest exist within the confines of a canon? The short answer to that is 'no.'

Though the Bikini Bottom band have character traits that carry across seasons, such as SpongeBob working at the Krusty Krab or Plankton trying to steal the Krabby Patty formula, the episodes of the original show and its spinoffs are largely self-contained. For how they connect to the others, each episode might as well be in its own seperate timeline.

Until, that is, you consider The Tidal Zone.

The Tidal Zone

Image credit: Nickelodeon

The Tidal Zone was a special TV event and very first crossover of the three SpongeBob shows: SpongeBob SquarePants, Kamp Koral, and The Patrick Star show. It aired in January of 2023 and featured many of the franchise's recurring voice actors, as you might remember if you watched Popverse's coverage of the Tidal Zone panel at NYCC 2022.

The Tidal Zone an interesting milestone in SpongeBob history for a few reasons. It's a spoof of The Twilight Zone, for one, it aired on a Friday the 13th, for another. But what's particularly compelling for our purposes is how Nickelodeon advertised the special.

"The bizarre phenomenon," says the trailer, "is merging three realities [that is, the shows] into something called The Tidal Zone."

Again, canon is a pretty loose thing in this franchise. However, the marketing for The Tidal Zone makes it seem like Nickelodeon considers there to be three realities in the SpongeBob multiverse. At the very least, the network has given us, the fans, a great place to start in constructing their own chronologies for watch order purposes.

Let's begin with the first one.

The SpongeBob SquarePants timeline

Image credit: Nickelodeon

It's the axiom, the OG, the most important anthology of anthropomorphic antics since the Animaniacs. It's the original SpongeBob SquarePants, our "Prime Reality" for purposes of this list. And if you'd like to start your barnacled bingeathon with this show, here's how you'd go about doing that:

  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season One (1999)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Two (2000)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Three (2001)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Four (2005)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Five (2007)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Six (2008)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Seven (2009)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Eight (2011)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Nine (2012)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Ten (2016)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Eleven (2017)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Twelve (2018)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants - Season Thirteen (2020)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants Presents The Tidal Zone (2023)
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)

Yes, I'm taking some creative liberties by putting the first SpongeBob movie at the end of this list, but hear me out: The 2004 SpongeBob SquarePants movie significantly alters character traits that are consistent across the rest of the show, such as SpongeBob's employment status at the Krusty Krab and Plankton's attempts to steal the Krabby Patty formula.

I won't spoil anything here, but if you've seen the movie, you know there are huge developments in the timeline. While the creators almost certainly didn't mean for those changes to stick, the movie still makes for a great endcap to the "prime" SpongeBob reality.

The Kamp Koral timeline

Image credit: Nickelodeon

Though it was released over 20 years after the show began, Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years serves as a prequel to the original show. That is, if you hold to the "loose canon" idea of SpongeBob. However, if you go with the Tidal Zone's marketing, it's a different reality altogether, one which sees younger versions of SpongeBob, Sandy, Mr. Krabs, and more attending a day camp. Here's how to watch it:

  • Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years - Season One (2021)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants Presents The Tidal Zone (2023)
  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015)
  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (2020)
  • If you're familiar with the movies that end this list, you might think I included them just because they match Kamp Koral visually, using a 3D animation style instead of the 2D of the original. But there's more linking the movies to Kamp Koral than that.

    The idea of Kamp Koral is referenced in flashback sequences in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, which sees young SpongeBob attending the titular camp. In fact, Paramount+ streamed the first six episodes of the series on the same day they released Sponge on the Run, making it easy for fans curious about the flashbacks to learn more about the second, 3D SpongeBob chronology.

    The Patrick Star Show timeline

    Image credit: Nickelodeon

    Alright, I'm going to be honest here: saying The Patrick Star Show is its own timeline is a bit like saying the Treehouse of Horror episodes of the Simpsons are their own timeline. It's more of a variety show than a story, even in the episodic sense. Still, even if we don't consider the Tidal Zone ad, we can argue that The Patrick Star Show is decidedly not set in either the SpongeBob or Kamp Koral chronologies. You can watch it like this:

    • The Patrick Star Show - Season One (2021)
    • SpongeBob SquarePants Presents The Tidal Zone (2023)
    • The Patrick Star Show - Season Two (2023)

    That concludes our unofficial tour through the SpongeBob multiverse; I humbly ask your forgiveness for applying such rigid guidelines to a show that is, ultimately, about cartoon fish. As an olive branch, I'll make this next one easy. Here's a straightforward answer to the question...

    Where can I watch SpongeBob?

    Image credit: Nickelodeon

    As I mentioned just a bit ago, Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years Season One is available on Paramount+. But that's not the only shellfish silliness on that streamer. You can also head to Paramount+ for The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, SpongeBob SquarePants Presents The Tidal Zone, and most importantly, the original SpongeBob SquarePants show.

    The only thing keeping Paramount+ from having a complete collection of krabby criteria is The Patrick Star Show which, as it does with canon, insists on doing its own thing. For now, you're going to have to head to FuboTV if you want to watch that spinoff, but maybe that'll change when the next season comes out.

    Which brings me to the last question you need answered before you screw up your own chronology with this binge:

    Will there be more SpongeBob?

    Image credit: Nickelodeon

    I mean, yes. Absolutely.

    SpongeBob SquarePants is one of the most lucritive IPs in Paramount's arsenal. Neither he, or his underwater compatriots, are going anywhere for the forseeable future. In specific terms, we have three confirmed titles on their way, all of which apparently fit into the Kamp Koral reality. They are:

    • Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years - Season Two (2024)
    • Saving Bikini Bottom: The Sandy Cheeks Movie (2024)
    • The SpongeBob Movie: Search for SquarePants (2025)

    Not a ton is known about these upcoming projects but, rest assured, as soon as they're available, I'll add them here. You can count on Popverse to keep updated watch lists like this one until... well, the end of time, provided that SpongeBob retains his peculiar popularity.

    And, of course, that we make it past Y3K.

    Watch the full NYCC Nickelodeon The Tidal Zone panel featuring Spongebob Squarepants' Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, and more!

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