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Sailor Mouth

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"Sailor Mouth"
SpongeBob SquarePants episode
Sailor Mouth spongebob.jpg
Title card
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 18a (38a)
Directed by
Written by
Original air dateSeptember 21, 2001 (2001-09-21)
Episode chronology
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"Sailor Mouth" is the first segment of the 18th episode of the second season, and the 38th overall episode of the American animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants. The episode was directed by Andrew Overtoom, and was written by Walt Dohrn, Paul Tibbitt, and Merriwether Williams. Dohrn and Tibbitt also served as storyboard directors, and Carson Kugler, William Reiss, and Erik Wiese worked as storyboard artists. It originally aired on Nickelodeon in the United States on September 21, 2001.

The series follows the adventures and endeavors of the title character and his various friends in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom. In this episode, SpongeBob reads a "bad word" off a dumpster behind the Krusty Krab, but does not know what it means.[note 1] Patrick explains to him that it is a "sentence enhancer" which is used "when you want to talk fancy." The two start using it in every sentence they speak. However, when Mr. Krabs hears them, he warns the two never to use the word again or any of the 13 bad words. Later on, SpongeBob accidentally swears again. Patrick then runs to tell Mr. Krabs with SpongeBob trying to stop him. However, when Mr. Krabs accidentally injures his toe, he utters all the 13 bad words. The two cannot believe it and run to Mama Krabs to tell on him. Mama Krabs, who is appalled by their use of the words, makes the three paint her house as punishment.

The episode was well received from critics and fans, while various members of the SpongeBob SquarePants crew consider the episode to be one of their favorites, mainly due to the satirical nature of the episode. However, the episode was not immune to negative reception, and was criticized by watchdog media group the Parents Television Council and critics, who interpreted the episode as an example of promoting and implicitly satirizing use of profanity towards children.


When SpongeBob goes around to the back of the Krusty Krab to take out the trash, he reads some graffiti written on a dumpster, one of which he does not understand.[note 1] SpongeBob asks Patrick what it is and Patrick says that the word is a "sentence enhancer" which is used "when you want to talk fancy." The next day, SpongeBob walks into the Krusty Krab and says the word to Patrick and then over the intercom. The Krusty Krab customers are appalled by SpongeBob's use of his "word" and leave. Squidward then informs Mr. Krabs, who then decides to tell them that they were using profanity, and mentions that there are 13 swear words they should not use. (At one point, Squidward asks if Mr. Krabs actually means there are only seven, in reference to George Carlin's infamous seven dirty words routine.) SpongeBob and Patrick vow Mr. Krabs that they will never use swear words again.

Later, they play their favorite game, Eels and Escalators (an obvious parody of Snakes and Ladders). Patrick always gets escalators but SpongeBob always gets eels. Eventually, he loses the game and accidentally utters the swear word. Patrick then races to the Krusty Krab to sell SpongeBob out with the latter trying to stop him, inadvertently getting Patrick to say the word in the process. When SpongeBob bursts through the front door and tells Mr. Krabs that Patrick said the swear word, Patrick then joins along. Eventually, Mr. Krabs stops their gibberish explanations, and takes SpongeBob and Patrick outside and makes them paint the Krusty Krab as a punishment.

Mr. Krabs is about to give SpongeBob and Patrick the job, but he hits his foot on a rock, dropping the paint and says all 13 swear words while complaining about his foot being injured. When SpongeBob and Patrick hear all the swear words, they run to Mama Krabs' house to tattle on him. When they all reach her house, they all explain what happened at once, saying the same swear words in the process. This makes her faint, but shortly after Mr. Krabs scolds SpongeBob and Patrick for saying all those bad words in front of her she regains consciousness. Mama Krabs states that all three of them should be ashamed for saying all those words. She then gives all three of them the task of painting her house with a fresh coat of paint as a punishment. Later on, she leaves the three alarmed when she appears to be saying a 14th swear word after stubbing her toe on a rock; she claims that the sound came from Old Man Jenkins, who is driving by in his jalopy, which produces an identical sound and everyone laughs.


Walt Dohrn, shown here in 2010, wrote the episode with Paul Tibbitt & Merriwether Williams.

The animation of "Sailor Mouth" was directed by Andrew Overtoom, and the episode was written by Walt Dohrn, Paul Tibbitt, and Merriwether Williams. Dohrn and Tibbitt served as the episode's storyboard directors, and Carson Kugler, William Reiss and Erik Wiese worked as storyboard artists.[1] Series creator Stephen Hillenburg has described the episode plot as "a classic thing all kids go through." Much of the storyline for the episode was inspired by the writers' own experiences from childhood.[2] The episode originally aired on Nickelodeon in the United States on September 21, 2001. The episode marks the introduction of Mr. Krabs' mother, Mama Krabs, who was voiced by former SpongeBob SquarePants creative producer and current executive producer Paul Tibbitt.[3][4][5]

The writing staff used their individual childhood experiences as inspirations to come up with much of the story lines for this episode.[6][7] The idea for "Sailor Mouth" was inspired by creative director Derek Drymon's experience "[when] I got in trouble for saying the f-word in front of my mother."[7] Drymon said, "The scene where Patrick is running to Mr. Krabs to tattle, with SpongeBob chasing him, is pretty much how it happened in real life."[7] The end of the episode, where Mr. Krabs uses more profanity than SpongeBob and Patrick, was also inspired "by the fact that my [Drymon's] mother has a sailor mouth herself."[7]

Voice actor Tom Kenny reveals in the description of this episode in the iTunes collection, SpongeBob SquarePants: Tom Kenny's Top 20 that they actually improvised fake profanities that would be censored by the silly sound effects later. He adds jokingly, "I was laughing so hard [recording this episode], they recorded me while I lay on the floor of the sound booth."[8]

The scene where SpongeBob and Patrick playing a game of Eels and Escalators, which is a parody of Snakes and Ladders, was difficult for the crew to animate, since many shots featured certain board pieces changing location.[3] According to the series' season 2 DVD commentary, it was planned to have a scene that had SpongeBob saying "Go 'dolphin noise' yourself" followed by Patrick saying "'Dolphin noise' you too!" during the Eels and Escalators game. It was removed in the final episode check because it would have been inappropriate for the younger audience.[3][4][5] The initial decision to use dolphin noises in place of a traditional bleep was also influenced by concerns over the episode's suitability for its audience. Stephen Hillenburg recalled in 2016, "I pitched the idea that SpongeBob and Patrick learn a swearword. Everyone said no. I couldn't even use a bleep. So I used a dolphin sound instead."[9]

Storyboard artist, Erik Wiese admitted in the Season 2 Audio Commentary for "Sailor Mouth" that it was a challenge to storyboard Walt Dohrn's idea and vision of the Eels and Escalators scene.

"Sailor Mouth" was released on the DVD compilation called SpongeBob SquarePants: Sea Stories on November 5, 2002.[10][11][12] It was also included in the SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 2nd Season DVD released on October 19, 2004.[13][14] On September 22, 2009, "Sailor Mouth" was released on the SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes, alongside all the episodes of seasons one through five.[15][16]


The episode received generally positive reviews from fans but was heavily criticized by critics and parents for its nature and profanity.

Erik Wiese, who helped to storyboard "Sailor Mouth", considers it to be his favorite episode, mainly due to its random and satirical nature, saying "Sometimes SpongeBob just catches me off-guard."[3] Nancy Basile of ranked the episode at number two for her list of the Top 10 SpongeBob SquarePants Episodes. She said "'Sailor Mouth' just barely missed being in the number one slot."[17] Basile praised the episode's plot and called it "genius[...] because children can relate to the forbidden thrill of using curse words, and adults can laugh at the parody of TV censorship."[17] In an interview with Paul Tibbitt, one of the episode's writers, he told that "Sailor Mouth" is his second favorite SpongeBob episode.[18]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

"Simply, the group goofed by citing an episode of the cartoon series called "Sailor Mouth" as a touch-point for bad language. [...] Here's the funny thing: The episode is all about the perils of using bad language[...] Those words are never heard, ever, and are replaced with more dolphin sounds than you'll get in a day at Sea World (Sic) [...] The PTC, of course, saw fit to use this positive episode as a negative. The group's media release claimed the dolphin sounds represent the F-bomb and a word for buttocks. Those words do not exist in the episode - and are only created in the minds of adults or young folks exposed to such language in the schoolyard or, dare I say, at home."

—Richard Huff, New York Daily News.[19]

According to a report titled Wolves in Sheep's Clothing,[20] which documents the increase in potentially violent, profane, and sexual content in children's programming, the Parents Television Council, a watchdog media group, and fans believed the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Sailor Mouth" was an implicit attempt to promote and satirize use of profanity among children. The episode originally aired during the 2001–02 television season, ironically the season in which the PTC named SpongeBob SquarePants among the best programs on cable television,[21] but the report cited a repeat broadcast of the episode from 2005 to prove its point that it promoted use of profanity among children.[20] In a later report, several members of the PTC listed "Sailor Mouth" as an example of how levels of profane, sexual, and violent activity has increased in children's television programming.[22] Nickelodeon, in response to the incident, said "It's sad and a little desperate that they stooped to literally putting profane language in the mouths of our characters to make a point. Has the FCC looked at this?"[23] Richard Huff of the New York Daily News criticized the report for misinterpreting "Sailor Mouth" over its intent to satirize profanity implicitly.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Throughout the episode, swear words are bleeped by the sound of dolphin vocalizations, although other noises such as seal focalization, lighthouses, etc are heard at the end.


  1. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 2nd Season ("Sailor Mouth" credits) (DVD). United States: Paramount Home Entertainment/Nickelodeon. October 19, 2004.
  2. ^ Cavna, Michael (July 14, 2009). "The Interview: 'SpongeBob' Creator Stephen Hillenburg". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Wiese, Erik (2004). SpongeBob SquarePants season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Sailor Mouth" (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
  4. ^ a b Dohrn, Walt (2004). SpongeBob SquarePants season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Sailor Mouth" (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
  5. ^ a b Overtoom, Andrew (2004). SpongeBob SquarePants season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Sailor Mouth" (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
  6. ^ Cavna, Michael (July 14, 2009). "The Interview: 'SpongeBob' Creator Stephen Hillenburg". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d Drymon, Derek (2010). "The Oral History of SpongeBob SquarePants". Hogan's Alley #17. Bull Moose Publishing Corporation. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  8. ^ "SpoongeBob SquarePants: Tom Kenny's Top 20". iTunes. 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  9. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (November 29, 2016). "How we made SpongeBob SquarePants". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group.
  10. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: Sea Stories. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2002.
  11. ^ Bovberg, Jason (November 15, 2002). "SpongeBob Squarepants: Nautical Nonsense and Sponge Buddies". DVD Talk. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  12. ^ Lacey, Gord (November 16, 2002). "SpongeBob SquarePants - Sea Stories Review". Archived from the original on November 2, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  13. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 2nd Season. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2004.
  14. ^ Bovberg, Jason (October 11, 2004). "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Second Season". DVD Talk. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  15. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2009.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ a b Basile, Nancy. "Best 'SpongeBob SquarePants' Episodes". Retrieved May 4, 2013.
  18. ^ "First News readers interview SpongeBob SquarePants exec producer Paul Tibbitt!". First News. June 22, 2012. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  19. ^ a b Huff, Richard (March 7, 2006). "A four-letter word for decency police: Lame". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
  20. ^ a b Kristen Fyfe (March 2, 2006). "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: A Content Analysis of Children's Television" (PDF). Parents Television Council. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
  21. ^ "PTC's First Annual Top Ten Best & Worst Cable Shows of the 2001/2002 TV Season" (Press release). Parents Television Council. August 1, 2002. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
  22. ^ PTC Staff (August 1, 2005). "New PTC Study Finds More Violence on Children's TV than on Adult-Oriented TV". Media Research Center. Retrieved October 4, 2007. "During the study period Nickelodeon aired an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants entitled "Sailor Mouth," the subject of which is foul language: Innocent SpongeBob does not understand the dirty word graffiti he sees on a dumpster but Patrick tells him it's a "sentence enhancer" for when you want to talk fancy. The rest of the episode features SpongeBob and Patrick using bleeped foul language. The bleeps are made to sound like a dolphin which makes the whole thing seem humorous. At the end SpongeBob and Patrick realize the words are bad and promise to never use them again but the episode ends with them telling Momma Krabs the 13 bad words Mr. Krabs has just said. All are punished by Momma Krabs for "talking like sailors."
  23. ^ "Bash SpongeBob, but don't put foul words in his mouth". Multichannel News. March 6, 2006. Archived from the original on November 6, 2013. Retrieved October 31, 2013.

External links[edit]