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Graveyard Shift (SpongeBob SquarePants)

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"Graveyard Shift"
SpongeBob SquarePants episode
SBSP Graveyard shift.jpg
Title card
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 16a
Directed byStephen Hillenburg
Derek Drymon[1]
Written byMr. Lawrence
Jay Lender
Dan Povenmire
Original air dateSeptember 6, 2002 (2002-09-06)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Band Geeks"
Next →
"Krusty Love"
SpongeBob SquarePants (season 2)
List of episodes

"Graveyard Shift" is the first part of the 16th episode of the second season, and the 36th episode overall, of the American animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants. The episode was written by Mr. Lawrence, Jay Lender and Dan Povenmire, and the animation was directed by Sean Dempsey. Lender and Povenmire also served as storyboard directors. It originally aired on Nickelodeon in the United States on September 6, 2002, one year after "Band Geeks".

The series follows the adventures and endeavours of the title character and his various friends in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom. In this episode, Squidward and SpongeBob are forced to work 24 hours a day by Mr. Krabs, so that he can get more money. Squidward soon gets bored, and tells SpongeBob a scary story to have some fun with him. After scaring SpongeBob, Squidward tells him that the story is fictional. However, when Squidward and SpongeBob are alone, the events in Squidward's story begin to occur.

The episode featured stock footage of Max Schreck as Count Orlok from the 1922 silent film Nosferatu. Episode writer Lender proposed the idea as a gag at the end of the episode, which series creator Stephen Hillenburg accepted. Before the idea of Count Orlok, Lender thought of "Floorboard Harry", an idea that was deleted. The episode received critical acclaim upon release.


The episode begins with Squidward eagerly preparing to leave work at the Krusty Krab as it closes. Moments before he can leave, however, a customer shows up asking to be served. When Squidward refuses to take the customer's order, the customer berates him for not wanting his money, but Mr. Krabs overhears this and asks the customer if he would give them money if they stayed open later, and he agrees. Mr. Krabs is inspired to create a night shift, leaving an eager SpongeBob and an annoyed Squidward to work 24-hour shifts.

Exasperated with his boss' demands and annoyed by SpongeBob's eagerness as usual, Squidward tries to scare SpongeBob into being afraid of the night shift by telling him a made-up story about the "Hash-Slinging Slasher", a former fry cook at the Krusty Krab who is clumsier than SpongeBob and accidentally cut off his own hand (replacing it with a spatula) and was killed after being run over by a bus. During his funeral, he was fired. Squidward continues by telling SpongeBob that every Tuesday night (the night it happens to be) the ghost of the Slasher returns to the Krusty Krab to get revenge on those who fired him. Squidward says that the Slasher's arrival will be indicated by three warnings: the lights flickering on and off, the phone ringing without any reply from the calling party, and the ghost of the bus that ran over the Slasher arriving to drop him off; the Hash-Slinging Slasher then exits the bus, crosses the street without looking both ways (due to him already being dead), taps on the window with his spatula hand before opening the door, and approaches the counter and "gets" his victims. SpongeBob begins screaming in horror; although amused at first, Squidward becomes annoyed and tells him that he made the whole story up, causing SpongeBob to constantly laugh, annoying Squidward even further.

However, later at 3AM when the restaurant is empty, the two are soon alarmed by strange occurrences that parallel the omens that signify the arrival of the Hash-Slinging Slasher. Although convinced at first that these occurrences are coincidence, Squidward grows more nervous as the occurrences continue while SpongeBob thinks Squidward is still pranking him. Finally, a bus shows up outside the Krusty Krab, despite Squidward claiming that the buses do not run this late at night. The bus then drops off a mysterious dark silhouette matching the description of the Hash-Slinging Slasher. SpongeBob and Squidward immediately realize that they are experiencing genuine supernatural events and panic. SpongeBob at first believes the figure to be Squidward in a costume just to entertain him, but Squidward tells him it couldn't be him since he is standing right next to SpongeBob. When the strange, unidentified figure enters the building, it is revealed he is simply a fish named Richard applying for a job, stating that he had tried calling the Krusty Krab by telephone earlier, but had hung up out of nervousness (the bus that he arrived in remains unexplained). However, Squidward then questions who was flickering the lights earlier. It is then revealed that the flickering lights are caused by doctored footage of Count Orlok from the 1922 silent film Nosferatu, with whom the characters are inexplicably familiar, flicking the light switch on and off. The characters tease him by mistakenly calling him "Nosferatu", and Orlok smiles at them mischievously, then turns off the lights, ending the episode.


Original sketch of a deleted scene by Jay Lender, in which SpongeBob is delivering mail to Floorboard Harry.

"Graveyard Shift" was written by Mr. Lawrence, Jay Lender, and Dan Povenmire, with Sean Dempsey serving as animation director. Lender and Povenmire also served as storyboard directors.[2][3] The episode originally aired on Nickelodeon in the United States on September 6, 2002, with a TV-Y7 parental rating.[4]

Episode writer Lender proposed to have Count Orlok of the 1922 silent film Nosferatu appear as a gag at the end of the episode.[5] Series creator Stephen Hillenburg accepted Lender's proposal and allowed him to do it.[5] Lender said, "Steve gave you the opportunities to do things that would really be memorable, if you could sell him on it."[5] Lender then searched for books with scannable pictures of Count Orlok.[5] However, the image of Count Orlok used in the episode was taken from the Internet.[5] He said, "I searched what little there was of the Web back then."[5] Nick Jennings Photoshopped the smile on Count Orlok to make sure it matched Lender's board drawing.[5] Lender said, "It was my baby, and I held its hand until we shipped it overseas to Rough Draft Studios in South Korea."[5] Before his idea of Count Orlok, Lender thought of "Floorboard Harry",[5] a deleted gag that concludes the broadcast episode, in which he initially flickers the lights.[5]

"Graveyard Shift" was released on the DVD compilation titled SpongeBob SquarePants: Nautical Nonsense and Sponge Buddies on March 12, 2002.[6][7][8] It was also included on the SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 2nd Season DVD released on October 19, 2004.[9][10] On September 22, 2009, the episode was released on the SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes, alongside all of the episodes of seasons one through five.[11][12] On September 14, 2010, "Graveyard Shift" was released on the SpongeBob SquarePants: 10 Happiest Moments DVD.[13][14][15][16]


"Graveyard Shift" received critical acclaim upon release and is often cited as one of the show's best episodes. Emily Esteem of ranked the episode No. 2 on her "Top 10 Episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants" list, saying, "It is another scary episode of SpongeBob, and it's my favorite one."[17] She added, "I love 'Graveyard Shift' for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because it puts the two SpongeBob SquarePants characters with the best chemistry together: Squidward and SpongeBob. The episode is kind of like a puzzle, and SpongeBob's relentless cheer in the midst of likely doom is inspiring."[17]

In his review for the DVD Talk, Jason Bovberg praised the episode for its "spooky wonderfulness",[10] stating that the episode scared his daughter.[10] Paul Mavis of DVD Talk said, "A fun, 'scary' (for little kids) SpongeBob that adults will appreciate, 'Graveyard Shift' uses the old standby of the headless/handless/legless (take your pick) killer-seeking-revenge stories we all told as kids, and cleverly grafts it onto a 'SpongeBob at work' storyline."[18] Mavis added, "I always enjoy it when Rodger Bumpass, the voice actor for Squidward, gets quiet and manipulative when he's shining SpongeBob on, and here's one of the best examples of that."[18] He praised Count Orlok's cameo, "especially when they animate the vampire's face into a goofy, giddy smile."[18] Mike Jackson of DVD Verdict said the episode is one of his "personal faves."[19] He also said "The episode has everything that makes the show great: funny dialogue (the whole story of the Hash-Slinging Slasher is hilarious), clever sight gags (especially SpongeBob's regenerating limbs), and that aforementioned outta-nowhere ending that made me bust a gut."[19]

The 2012 pop art painting The Walk Home, by American artist and designer KAWS, is based on a still from this episode. It sold at auction at Sotheby's for $6 million.[20] The alterations to the image, originally from a shot where SpongeBob screams in terror at the story of the Hash-Slinging Slasher, have been described in the Sotheby's catalogue essay as emphasizing the universality of the character's existential anxiety, and as having "more in common with such emotionally-laden works as Francisco de Goya's politically charged The Third of May 1808 than any plotline from the children's cartoon show".[21]


  1. ^ Heintje, Tom (September 21, 2012). "The Oral History of SpongeBob SquarePants". Hogan's Alley. Bull Moose Publishing Corporation. Retrieved May 10, 2021. ...all the decisions came from Derek and Steve, who knew exactly what they wanted.
  2. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 2nd Season ("Graveyard Shift" credits) (DVD). United States: Paramount Home Entertainment/Nickelodeon. October 19, 2004.
  3. ^ Lender, Jay. "SpongeBob SquarePants". Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  4. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Graveyard Shift; Krusty Love". Zap2it. Archived from the original on May 31, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Heintjes, Tom (September 21, 2012). "The Oral History of SpongeBob SquarePants". Hogan's Alley. Archived from the original on April 5, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  6. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: Nautical Nonsense and Sponge Buddies. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2004.
  7. ^ Bovberg, Jason (April 15, 2002). "SpongeBob Squarepants: Nautical Nonsense and Sponge Buddies". DVD Talk. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  8. ^ Lacey, Gord (March 8, 2002). "SpongeBob SquarePants - Nautical Nonsense/ Sponge Buddies Review". Archived from the original on August 29, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  9. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 2nd Season. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2004.
  10. ^ a b c Bovberg, Jason (October 11, 2004). "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Second Season". DVD Talk. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  11. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2009.
  12. ^ Lacey, Gord (September 29, 2009). "SpongeBob SquarePants - The First 100 Episodes (Seasons 1-5) Review". Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  13. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: 10 Happiest Moments. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2010.
  14. ^ Basile, Nancy. "'SpongeBob SquarePants: 10 Happiest Moments'". Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  15. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants: 10 Happiest Moments". Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  16. ^ Pritchard, Paul (September 9, 2010). "SpongeBob Squarepants: 10 Happiest Moments". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on September 22, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  17. ^ a b Estep, Emily (December 5, 2011). "Top 10 Episodes Of Spongebob Squarepants". Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  18. ^ a b c Mavis, Paul (September 16, 2010). "SpongeBob SquarePants: 10 Happiest Moments". DVD Talk. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  19. ^ a b Jackson, Mike. "Spongebob Squarepants: Nautical Nonsense/Sponge Buddies". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on September 22, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  20. ^ Holmes, Helen. "Why a Painting of SpongeBob SquarePants Just Sold for $6 Million". Observer. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  21. ^ "Lot 17, KAWS —— THE WALK HOME, 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 16 May 2019". Phillips Auction House New York. Retrieved February 24, 2021.

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