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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 16 (36a)
Directed by Sean Dempsey (animation)
Jay Lender (storyboard)
Dan Povenmire (storyboard)
Written by Mr. Lawrence
Jay Lender
Dan Povenmire
Original air date September 6, 2002 (2002-09-06)
Running time 11 minutes
Episode chronology
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"Band Geeks"
Next →
"Krusty Love"
SpongeBob SquarePants (season 2)
List of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes

"Graveyard Shift" is 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 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.

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 Max Schreck as Count Orlok, of the 1922 silent film Nosferatu, via stock footage. 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 glowing positive reviews upon release.

Plot summary[edit]

Mr. Krabs is inspired by a group of interested customers to lengthen the hours of the Krusty Krab to late at night, leaving an anticipating SpongeBob and a chagrined, irritated Squidward to work a night shift. Exasperated with his boss's demands, Squidward spins a horror tale with the intentions of shattering SpongeBob's enthusiasm over the legendary "Hash-Slinging Slasher", a former fry cook employed by the restaurant during the night shift, who inadvertently sliced off his own arm and was killed by a transportation bus late one night. He cautions SpongeBob about the multiple warning indications signaling the ghost's impending arrival.

Although Squidward manages to reassure a petrified SpongeBob that his story is fiction, the two employees are alarmed by the strange, coincidental occurrences paralleling the fictitious omens surrounding the murderous Hash-Slinging Slasher (such as flickering lights and repetitive anonymous telephone calls remaining unanswered). SpongeBob insists that these are clear indications of paranormal activity, whereas a dubious Squidward dismisses them as meaningless, until the warning signs continue recurring and reappearing, matching those described in the ghost story.

Finally, a mysterious, dark silhouette appears at the road outside the Krusty Krab matching Squidward's description of the Hash-Slinging Slasher. Both horrified men immediately realize that they are experiencing genuine supernatural events. Panicking and screaming, they are relieved when the strange, unidentified figure enters the restaurant with the intentions of applying for a fry cook position at the Krusty Krab, revealing that he had constantly tried contacting the establishment by telephone, but had hung up out of nervousness. The flickering lights were credited to the antics of Count Orlok of the 1922 silent film Nosferatu, with whom the characters are inexplicably familiar.


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.[1][2] The episode originally aired on Nickelodeon in the United States on September 6, 2002, with a TV-Y7 parental rating.[3]

Episode writer Lender proposed to have Count Orlok of the 1922 silent film Nosferatu appear as a gag at the end of the episode.[4] Series creator Stephen Hillenburg accepted Lender's proposal and allowed him to do it.[4] Lender said, "Steve gave you the opportunities to do things that would really be memorable, if you could sell him on it."[4] Lender then searched for books with scannable pictures of Count Orlok.[4] However, the image of Count Orlok used in the episode was taken from the Internet.[4] He said, "I searched what little there was of the Web back then."[4] Nick Jennings Photoshopped the smile on Count Orlok to make sure it matched Lender's board drawing.[4] Lender said, "It was my baby, and I held its hand until we shipped it overseas [to Rough Draft Studios in South Korea]."[4] Before his idea of Count Orlok, Lender thought of "Floorboard Harry",[4] a deleted gag that concludes the broadcast episode, in which he initially flickers the lights.[4]

"Graveyard Shift" was released on the DVD compilation titled SpongeBob SquarePants: Nautical Nonsense and Sponge Buddies on March 12, 2002.[5][6][7] It was also included on the SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 2nd Season DVD released on October 19, 2004.[8][9] On September 22, 2009, "Graveyard Shift" was released on the SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes, alongside all of the episodes of seasons one through five.[10][11] On September 14, 2010, the SpongeBob SquarePants: 10 Happiest Moments DVD was released and included "Graveyard Shift" as one of its features.[12][13][14][15]


"Graveyard Shift" received very positive reviews upon release. Emily Estep of ranked the episode No. 4 on her "Top 10 Episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants" list, saying, "[It] is another scary episode of SpongeBob, and it's my favorite one."[16] 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."[16]

In his review for the DVD Talk, Jason Bovberg praised the episode for its "spooky wonderfulness,"[9] stating that the episode scared his daughter.[9] 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."[17] 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."[17] He praised Count Orlok's cameo, "especially when they animate the vampire's face into a goofy, giddy smile."[17] Mike Jackson of DVD Verdict said the episode is one of his "personal faves."[18] 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."[18]


  1. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 2nd Season ("Graveyard Shift" credits) (DVD). United States: Paramount Home Entertainment/Nickelodeon. October 19, 2004. 
  2. ^ Lender, Jay. "SpongeBob SquarePants". Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  3. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants : The Graveyard Shift; Krusty Love". Zap2it. Retrieved September 2, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Heintjes, Tom (September 21, 2012). "The Oral History of SpongeBob SquarePants". Hogan's Alley. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: Nautical Nonsense and Sponge Buddies. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2004.
  6. ^ Bovberg, Jason (April 15, 2002). "SpongeBob Squarepants: Nautical Nonsense and Sponge Buddies". DVD Talk. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  7. ^ Lacey, Gord (March 8, 2002). "SpongeBob SquarePants - Nautical Nonsense/ Sponge Buddies Review". Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  8. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 2nd Season. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2004.
  9. ^ a b c Bovberg, Jason (October 11, 2004). "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Second Season". DVD Talk. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  10. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2009.
  11. ^ Lacey, Gord (September 29, 2009). "SpongeBob SquarePants - The First 100 Episodes (Seasons 1-5) Review". Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  12. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: 10 Happiest Moments. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2010.
  13. ^ Basile, Nancy. "'SpongeBob SquarePants: 10 Happiest Moments'". Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  14. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants: 10 Happiest Moments". Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  15. ^ Pritchard, Paul (September 9, 2010). "SpongeBob Squarepants: 10 Happiest Moments". DVD Verdict. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Estep, Emily (December 5, 2011). "Top 10 Episodes Of Spongebob Squarepants". Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c Mavis, Paul (September 16, 2010). "SpongeBob SquarePants: 10 Happiest Moments". DVD Talk. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b Jackson, Mike. "Spongebob Squarepants: Nautical Nonsense / Sponge Buddies". DVD Verdict. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 

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