List of SpongeBob SquarePants cast members

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Voice actor Tom Kenny, shown here in 2008, provides the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, the show's main character.

SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated television series created by marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg that debuted on Nickelodeon in the United States on May 1, 1999. The regular voice cast consists of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Doug Lawrence, Jill Talley, Carolyn Lawrence, Mary Jo Catlett and Lori Alan. Most one-off and background characters are voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, Sirena Irwin, Bob Joles, Mark Fite and Thomas F. Wilson. Throughout the show's run, it has employed numerous guest stars from many ranges of professions. Repeat guests include Ernest Borgnine, Tim Conway, Brian Doyle-Murray, Marion Ross, John O'Hurley and Michael McKean.

SpongeBob SquarePants chronicles the adventures and endeavors of the title character and his various friends in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom. Many of the ideas for the show originated in an unpublished, educational comic book titled The Intertidal Zone, which Hillenburg created in the mid-1980s. He began developing SpongeBob SquarePants into a television series in 1996 upon the cancellation of Rocko's Modern Life, another Nickelodeon animated series which Hillenburg directed. While creating the show, Hillenburg, with colleague Derek Drymon, was also conducting auditions to find voices for the show's characters. He turned to Kenny, who had worked with him on Rocko's Modern Life, to voice the title character.

Kenny and Catlett were the first cast members to receive award nominations for their performance on SpongeBob SquarePants. They each received Annie Award nominations in 2001, but did not win. In 2010, Kenny won the Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in a Television Production, making it the first time a cast member had won this type of award. Bumpass was the first cast member to be nominated for an Emmy Award, receiving a nomination in 2012. In 2018, Kenny won both an Annie Award and an Emmy Award for his performance as SpongeBob.

Regular cast[edit]

Background[edit]

Voice acting veteran Clancy Brown provides the voice of Mr. Krabs.
Kenny's wife, Jill Talley, voices Karen.
Dee Bradley Baker has appeared in several minor roles.
Actor Ernest Borgnine was a recurring guest star on the show, voicing Mermaid Man from 1999 to his death in 2012.

SpongeBob SquarePants has featured the voices of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Mr. Lawrence, Jill Talley, Carolyn Lawrence, Mary Jo Catlett and Lori Alan since it began. Stephen Hillenburg started developing the SpongeBob concept into a television series in 1996 upon the cancellation of Rocko's Modern Life, which he directed. While creating the show and writing its pilot episode in 1997, he and the show's then-creative director Derek Drymon were also conducting auditions to find voices for the show's characters.[1]

For the voice of SpongeBob, the main character, Hillenburg approached Kenny, who previously worked with him on Rocko's Modern Life.[2] Drymon said, "Steve [Hillenburg] wanted to find an original sounding voice [for SpongeBob]."[1] Hillenburg utilized Kenny's and other people's personalities to help create the personality of SpongeBob.[3] The voice of SpongeBob was originally used by Kenny for a minor character in Rocko's Modern Life. Kenny forgot the voice initially as he created it only for that single use. Hillenburg, however, remembered it when he was coming up with SpongeBob and used a video clip of the episode to remind Kenny of the voice.[3] Kenny says that SpongeBob's high-pitched laugh was specifically created to be unique. They wanted an annoying laugh in the tradition of Popeye and Woody Woodpecker.[4] Voice acting veteran Clancy Brown voices Mr. Krabs, SpongeBob's boss at the Krusty Krab. For the character, Brown uses a voice that he describes as "piratey" with "a little Scottish brogue."[5] According to him, his Mr. Krabs voice was improvised during his audition and it was not challenging for him to find the correct voice.[5] Bumpass provides the voice of Squidward Tentacles, and other characters. Squidward was "a very nasally, monotone kind of guy", said Bumpass. He said that the character "became a very interesting character to do" because of "his sarcasm, and then his frustration, and then his apoplexy, and so he became a wide spectrum of emotions".[6]

Mr. Lawrence had met Hillenburg previously on Rocko's Modern Life. When working on the pilot episode of SpongeBob, Hillenburg invited him to audition for all of the characters.[7] Since other voices had been found for the main cast already, Lawrence started out by voicing a variety of minor characters. This included Plankton, who was initially only set to appear in one episode.[7][1] Mr. Lawrence stated in an interview with Thomas F. Wilson that Nickelodeon executives told Hillenburg, "'we could stunt-cast this. You know, we could have Bruce Willis do this voice.' And Steve was just like, 'it's Doug [Lawrence], don't you hear it? This is the character! This is the guy!'"[7] Jill Talley, Tom Kenny's wife, voices Karen Plankton. Being a Chicago native, she uses a Midwestern accent for the character.[8] Electronic sound effects are underlaid by the series' audio engineers to create a robotic sound whenever she speaks.[9] Talley and Mr. Lawrence often improvise their characters' dialogue. In 2009, Lawrence called improvisation his "favorite part of the voice over."[10] He elaborated in a 2012 interview, saying, "I always enjoy the back-and-forth. [Talley and I] start to actually overlap so much talking to each other that [the voice directors] have to tell us, 'hey, stop doing that, separate what you're saying!'"[7]

Fagerbakke voices SpongeBob's best friend, a starfish named Patrick Star. He auditioned for the role after Kenny had been cast as SpongeBob. Fagerbakke said, "Steve is such a lovely guy, and I had absolutely no feeling for the material whatsoever." He described his experience in the audition, saying "I was just going in for another audition, and I had no idea what was in store there in terms of the remarkable visual wit and really the kind of endearing child-like humanity in the show. I couldn't pick that up from the audition material at all. I was just kind of perfunctorially trying to give the guy what he wanted."[11] Carolyn Lawrence provides Sandy Cheeks' voice. When Lawrence was on a sidewalk in Los Feliz, Los Angeles with a friend who knew SpongeBob SquarePants casting director Donna Grillo, her friend said to the director that Lawrence had "an interesting voice". Grillo invited Lawrence to audition and she then got the role.[12][13] Mrs. Puff's voice is provided by American actress Mary Jo Catlett, who is known for her live-action roles on television programs from the 1970s such as Diff'rent Strokes and M*A*S*H.[14] As of 2017, voicing Mrs. Puff has become her only remaining regular television role; Catlett described herself as "basically retired" in 2013, since she feels that voicing Mrs. Puff requires less preparation than her performances in person.[15] Lori Alan voices Pearl. During her audition for the role, she was shown an early drawing of Pearl and took note of how the character was much larger than the rest of the cast. She decided to reflect the character's size in her voice by making it deep and full in tone. She aimed to make Pearl's voice invoke the sound of whales’ low vocalizations while also sounding "spoiled and lovable."[16] In an interview with AfterBuzz TV, Alan said that she knew Pearl "had to sound somewhat like a child," but at the same time needed "an abnormally large voice."[17]

In the Christmas special "Christmas Who?", the characters of Patchy the Pirate, the president of the fictional SpongeBob SquarePants fan club, and his pet called Potty the Parrot debuted. The former is portrayed by Kenny in live-action, while series creator Hillenburg voiced the latter.[18] After Hillenburg's departure as the series' showrunner in 2004, Tibbitt was given the role voicing Potty the Parrot.[19] Mr. Krabs' mother, Mama Krabs, who debuted in the episode "Sailor Mouth", was voiced by staff writer Paul Tibbitt.[20][21][22] However, voice actress Sirena Irwin overtook Tibbitt's role as the character reappeared in the fourth season episode "Enemy In-Law" in 2005.[23] Irwin also provides the voices of other characters in the show, including Margaret SquarePants, SpongeBob's mother.

Voice recording sessions always include a full cast of actors, which Kenny describes as "getting more unusual".[24] Kenny said, "That's another thing that's given SpongeBob its special feel. Everybody's in the same room, doing it old radio-show style. It's how the stuff we like was recorded".[24] It takes about four hours to record an 11-minute episode.[25] For the first three seasons, Hillenburg and Drymon sat in on recording sessions at Nickelodeon Studios, and they directed the actors.[26] In the fourth season, Andrea Romano took over the role as the voice director.[26] Wednesday is recording day, the same schedule followed by the crew since 1999.[26] Casting supervisor Jennie Monica Hammond said, "I loved Wednesdays".[26]

The cast members get residuals every time the episodes they appeared in are aired, which Carolyn Lawrence described as "a very complicated mathematical calculation."[25] Lawrence said in 2008 that it was a "declining scale" and they were "still in negotiations... both sides are still talking." She further stated that "they're still trying to work it out."[25]

Main cast[edit]

Actor Character(s)
Tom Kenny[27][24] SpongeBob SquarePants Gary the Snail
Patchy the Pirate French Narrator
Hans Harold SquarePants
Dirty Bubble[A] Grandpa SquarePants
Other miscellaneous characters
Bill Fagerbakke[27] Patrick Star
Other miscellaneous characters
Rodger Bumpass[27] Squidward Tentacles
Other miscellaneous characters
Clancy Brown[27] Mr. Krabs
Other miscellaneous characters
Mr. Lawrence[27] Plankton Potty the Parrot[B]
Realistic Fish Head Larry the Lobster
Other miscellaneous characters
Jill Talley[27] Karen
Other miscellaneous characters
Carolyn Lawrence[27] Sandy Cheeks
Other miscellaneous characters
Mary Jo Catlett[27] Mrs. Puff
Other miscellaneous characters
Lori Alan[27] Pearl
Other miscellaneous characters

Other regular cast[edit]

Actor Character(s)
Carlos Alazraqui Scooter
Other miscellaneous characters
Dee Bradley Baker[26][28] Bubble Bass Squilliam Fancyson
Old Man Jenkins Perch Perkins
Other miscellaneous characters
Sirena Irwin[29] Mama Krabs[B] Margaret SquarePants
Other miscellaneous characters
Bob Joles[30] Man Ray[C]
Mark Fite[31][32] Various characters
Thomas F. Wilson[33][34] Various characters

Recurring guest voices[edit]

Actor Character(s) Notes
The Flying Dutchman[27] Doyle-Murray appeared in ten episodes throughout the first eight seasons. He returned in the eleventh season starting with the episode "The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom" after a six-year absence.[35]
Grandma SquarePants[36] Ross has made four appearances since her first appearance in "Grandma's Kisses" from the second season.[37]
King Neptune[38] O'Hurley has appeared four times as King Neptune since the character's first appearance in 2000.[39][40]
Captain Frostymug
Lonnie
McKean appeared twice during the show's ninth season, voicing Captain Frostymug in "License to Milkshake" and Lonnie the shark in "Sharks vs. Pods".[41][42]

Former cast members[edit]

Actor Character(s) Notes
Brad Abrell
Bubble Buddy Abrell voiced Bubble Buddy and other minor characters during the show's second season. He reprised his role as Bubble Buddy for the eighth season episode "Bubble Buddy Returns" and the eleventh season episode "Bubbletown" but has not made an appearance since.[43]
Mermaid Man Borgnine made the most guest appearances on the show, voicing the character from 1999 to his death in 2012.[44][45]
Barnacle Boy[46] Conway first appeared in 1999 with his former McHale's Navy co-star Ernest Borgnine, who voiced Mermaid Man;[44] he has since made over 15 appearances. In September 2018, showrunner Vincent Waller confirmed that Conway would not reprise his role as Barnacle Boy again due to health issues.[47] Conway died on May 14, 2019.
Potty the Parrot Hillenburg voiced the recurring character during the show's second and third seasons. When he left the show as the showrunner, writer Tibbitt was given the role voicing the character as it reappeared in the fifth season episode "Friend or Foe".[19]
Various characters Paxton voiced many minor child characters in the show's first three seasons, but has not recorded new dialogue since.[48][49][50] An archival recording of Paxton's voice is used in the tenth-season episode "Unreal Estate."
Potty the Parrot Tibbitt took over the role of Potty from Stephen Hillenburg starting with "Friend or Foe" and last voiced the character in the eighth season episode "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!".
Camryn Walling
Various characters Walling voiced several child characters throughout the show's first two seasons, but has not recorded new dialogue since.[43] An archival recording of Walling's voice is used in the tenth-season episode "Unreal Estate."
Welker voiced several animal characters—including Clamu, Baby Oyster, Mystery the Seahorse, and the gorilla—during the third season, but has not appeared since.[43]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Actor Award Category Role Episode Result Ref(s).
2001 Mary Jo Catlett Annie Award Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Television Production Mrs. Puff "No Free Rides" Nominated [51]
2001 Tom Kenny Annie Award Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Television Production SpongeBob SquarePants "Wormy" Nominated [51]
2008 Tom Kenny Annie Award Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production SpongeBob SquarePants "Spy Buddies" Nominated [52]
2010 Tom Kenny Annie Award Best Voice Acting in a Television Production SpongeBob SquarePants "Truth or Square" Won [53]
2012 Rodger Bumpass Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Squidward Tentacles Nominated [54]
2018 Tom Kenny Annie Award Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production SpongeBob SquarePants Won [55]
2018 Tom Kenny Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program SpongeBob SquarePants Won [56]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Orlando, Dana (March 17, 2003). "SpongeBob: the excitable, absorbent star of Bikini Bottom". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2008-11-08.
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  5. ^ a b Beck 2013, p. 86, 88
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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]