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The Sponge Who Could Fly

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"The Sponge Who Could Fly"
SpongeBob SquarePants episode
The Sponge Who Could Fly promo art.jpg
Promotional artwork for the episode depicting SpongeBob and the jellyfish flying together with various residents watching them
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 19 (59)
Directed by
Written by
Narrated by Tom Kenny
Original air date March 21, 2003 (2003-03-21)
Running time 22 minutes
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Plankton's Army"
Next →
"SpongeBob Meets the Strangler"
SpongeBob SquarePants (season 3)
List of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes

"The Sponge Who Could Fly", also known as "The Lost Episode", is the 19th episode of the third season and the 59th overall episode of the American animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants. It was written by Paul Tibbitt, Kent Osborne, and Merriwether Williams, with Andrew Overtoom and Tom Yasumi serving as animation director and Mark O'Hare as the director of the walk cycles in the beginning of the episode. The episode was produced in 2002 and aired on Nickelodeon in the United States on March 21, 2003.

The series follows the adventures and endeavors of the title character in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom. In this episode, SpongeBob wishes he could fly with the jellyfish. He makes several attempts to do so, but all of these fail. At home, SpongeBob is drying his hair and receives a phone call, he puts the hair dryer in his square pants, and the dryer inflates them, giving him the ability to fly. He goes around helping people, earning their admiration and becoming a superhero of sorts. However, other characters continue to ask increasingly unnecessary favors of him, leaving him no time to fly with the jellyfish.

The episode became available on the VHS of the same name and the Lost at Sea DVD on March 4, 2003. Tie-in promotions made with Burger King, which released a series of toys. Upon release, "The Sponge Who Could Fly" gained seven million views receiving mixed reviews from television critics, especially concerning the live action segments. "The Sponge Who Could Fly" was adapted into a musical called SpongeBob SquarePants Live! The Sponge Who Could Fly!, which toured selected cities in Asia, in 2007. The musical was renamed to SpongeBob SquarePants: The Sponge Who Could Fly! A New Musical when it toured the United Kingdom in 2009.


The beginning opens with Patchy the Pirate, as he has presumably lost the "Lost Episode of SpongeBob" prior to the episode. After lamenting that he lost the episode, he sets off to find it using a treasure map. Throughout several difficulties, he eventually finds a slightly dirty VHS tape which holds the episode. He then returns home in glee, and watches the episode. However, the tape only shows a clip of SpongeBob doing a series of walk cycles to techno music before abruptly showing the SMPTE color bars. Patchy gets angry, thinking SpongeBob betrayed him, and gets rid of his SpongeBob merchandise, including his SpongeBob underwear, which results in him running away. The real episode then begins to start playing, and Patchy returns, fixes all of his stuff literally in reverse, then enjoys the episode.

In the episode, SpongeBob wishes he could fly with the jellyfish. He makes several attempts to do so, including a biplane, bat wings, a lawn chair with balloons, and a giant kite pulled by a bicycle. All of these attempts fail, and SpongeBob faces ridicule from others. He tells those mocking him that "it is a sad day in Bikini Bottom, when a guy is ridiculed for having dreams!" They respond that they all have had unfulfilled dreams, and start chasing him. SpongeBob runs off a cliff and falls into a truck of mud, then into a truck of feathers.[1]

Back home, having given up on his dream, SpongeBob dries himself out when he receives an insulting phone call and puts the hair dryer in his pants. While he talks, the dryer inflates his pants, giving him the ability to fly. He goes around helping people, earning their admiration and becoming a superhero of sorts. However, the other characters continue to ask increasingly unnecessary favors of him, leaving him no time to fly with the jellyfish. When he tries to escape to the Jellyfish Fields, a mob forms and chases him, but is unable to catch him. Cannonball Jenkins, formerly a farmer and later on, a sailor, launches himself at SpongeBob, popping the pants and sending him plummeting to the ground. Everyone then hold a funeral for his now-deflated pants. Upset, SpongeBob decides to go home, but the jellyfish help him fly and take him back there. Patrick arrives and asks if they could "fly over" to the pizzeria, but SpongeBob decides to leave the flying to the jellyfish, only for Patrick to literally fly off himself.[1]

The story then shifts back to Patchy, who wants to replay the episode, but his difficulty with the TV remote causes him to accidentally destroy the tape. The episode ends with the narrator telling the viewers to get lost.


"The Sponge Who Could Fly" was written by Paul Tibbitt, Kent Osborne and Merriwether Williams, with Andrew Overtoom and Tom Yasumi serving as animation directors. Tibbitt and Osborne also functioned as storyboard directors, and Carson Kugler, Caleb Meurer and William Reiss served as storyboard artists. The episode originally aired on Nickelodeon in the United States on March 21, 2003, with a TV-Y parental rating.[2] "The Sponge Who Could Fly" was one of the few episodes of the third season that aired during the production of the series' 2004 feature film.[3] In 2002, series creator Stephen Hillenburg, with his crew, halted production of the show to work on the film,[4] resulting in few airings of new episodes.[3] Nickelodeon announced nine "as-yet-unaired" episodes would be shown.[3] During the break in TV production, "The Sponge Who Could Fly" first aired during a two-hour "Sponge"-a-thon, while the other eight were broadcast subsequently.[3]

Mark O'Hare directed and animated the walk cycles in the beginning of the episode.[5] The cycle originated when supervising producer at the time Derek Drymon called O'Hare.[5] O'Hare said "Derek would call me out of the blue for freelance, and it was tough to know the context of stuff."[5] He remembered the crew gave him a "bad" synthesizer song and he was told to do "some kind of weird walk to it."[5] He said "I animated this bizarre SpongeBob walk and turned it in, and that was that."[5] Eventually, Drymon saw the cycle and referred to it as "The Lost Episode" walk.[5] O'Hare had no idea what Drymon was talking about until he learned it was already used in an episode.[5] O'Hare said "so I just figured that it ended up on the cutting room floor, like a lot of stuff you end up doing in animation. I had no idea that he was referring to the actual name of the show ['The Lost Episode']."[5] The live action scenes were directed by Mark Osborne (brother of the episode's storyboard director Kent Osborne), and were hosted by Tom Kenny in character as Patchy the Pirate, the president of the fictional SpongeBob SquarePants fan club.[6]

"The Sponge Who Could Fly" was released on a VHS tape of the same name on March 4, 2003.[7][8][9] "The Sponge Who Could Fly" was released on the DVD compilation titled SpongeBob SquarePants: Lost at Sea also on March 4, 2003. The episode was also included in the SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 3rd Season DVD on September 27, 2005.[1][10][11] On September 22, 2009, "The Sponge Who Could Fly" was released in the SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes DVD, alongside all the episodes of seasons one through five.[12][13]


To promote the episode, Nickelodeon launched an on-air campaign called "SpongeBob's Lost Episode", which culminated with the premiere of "The Sponge Who Could Fly".[14][15] Nickelodeon also partnered with Burger King to release a line of toys as a marketing tie-in to the event. The toy line consisted of eight figures, including SpongeBob Silly Squirter, Swing Time Patrick, Jellyfish Fields, Plankton Bubble Up, Squirt N' Whistle Squidward, Plush Shakin' SpongeBob, Karate Chop Sandy and Gravity Defying Gary.[14][15] The promotion ran for five weeks, during which time one of the popular items on the "Big Kids" menu, Chicken Tender, came "in fun star and lightning bolt shapes."[14][15] Craig Braasch, vice president of global advertising and promotions for the Burger King Corporation, said "These eight new, fun, seaworthy toys inside our Big Kids Meals provide hours of aquatic entertainment for our young customers."[14][15]

Each of the toys released included a "clue card" containing a SpongeBob SquarePants character riddle.[14][15] By visiting Nickelodeon's website, the viewers could answer the riddle in order to win digital SpongeBob trading cards.[14][15] They could also enter a sweepstakes to win an at-home SpongeBob SquarePants party for 25 people where "The Sponge Who Could Fly" was viewed on the winner's new large-screen television.[14][15] Pam Kaufman, senior vice president of marketing for Nickelodeon, said "We are proud of the relationship we have built with Burger King Corporation and excited that SpongeBob is returning for his second Burger King promotion. The promotion is sure to bring the young Burger King customers all of the fun they have come to expect from Nickelodeon and SpongeBob SquarePants."[14][15]


The cartoon's OK; what should be lost is the live action material.

David Kronke in his review for the Los Angeles Daily News.[16]

Upon its release, "The Sponge Who Could Fly" was viewed in seven million households.[17] However, the episode received mixed reviews from critics. David Kronke of the Los Angeles Daily News criticized the special as being a standard episode that has been padded out to an extra length, with the live action Patchy the Pirate segments not being that entertaining.[16] In his review for the DVD Verdict, Bryan Pope criticized "The Sponge Who Could Fly" as a "misstep."[11] Pope said "Season three remains the high point for the series, producing such classics as 'No Weenies Allowed', 'SpongeBob Meets The Strangler', and 'Krusty Krab Training Video', a hilarious parody of industrial training videos. The one misstep is 'The Lost Episode' ['The Sponge Who Could Fly'], which veers too far away from Bikini Bottom and into unfunny live action territory."[11]

Dana Orlando of the Philadelphia Daily News expressed the opinion that both the cartoon and the live action segments of the episode were funny, and described "The Sponge Who Could Fly" as one of the best episodes to date.[18] In 2003, the episode received a Hors Concours Honor for Recently Telecast Programs at the Banff Rockie Awards.[19]

Tom Maurstad of The Dallas Morning News responded negatively to "The Sponge Who Could Fly, saying "it's not a very good episode."[3] He described the episode as "another SpongeBob-and-his-love-of-jellyfish story" that does "not [have] enough laughs" and having "too much drippy sentimentality."[3]

Musical adaptation[edit]

The 2009 UK musical adaptation of the episode called SpongeBob SquarePants: The Sponge Who Could Fly! A New Musical opened at the Hackney Empire in London.

"The Sponge Who Could Fly" was adapted into a musical called SpongeBob SquarePants Live! The Sponge Who Could Fly!.[20][21][22] It was launched in Singapore at The Singapore Expo Hall on May 31, 2007, and was the first customization of SpongeBob into a live musical event, joining a list of TV-inspired live offerings from Nickelodeon that includes Blue's Clues and Dora the Explorer.[20] The musical also marked the first time Nickelodeon premiered a live tour outside the United States.[20][21] The show is a story of courage and coming of age which tells of SpongeBob's desire to fly with the jellyfish of Jellyfish Fields.[22] It traveled to five cities across Asia, including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, and Manila, before it toured cities of Australia and New Zealand.[20][21] A Mandarin-language version toured China and Hong Kong in the fall.[20]

The script was written by Steven Banks, who had become the head writer for the series in Season 4, with songs by Eban Schletter.[20][21][22][23] Gip Hoppe served as director, with choreographer and associate director Jenn Rapp, and the set was designed by Rialto vet David Gallo.[20] The musical was produced by Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group, partnered with Broadway Asia Entertainment.[20]

In 2009, the show toured the United Kingdom and Ireland with the name of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Sponge Who Could Fly! A New Musical.[24][25][26][27] It opened at the Hackney Empire in London, England on February 3, 2009.[28][29][30] The musical toured the UK from March 2009 for six months with performances at the Hammersmith Apollo, Southend, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Reading, Salford, Sunderland, Nottingham, Liverpool, High Wycombe, Plymouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Oxford, Killarney and Dublin.[28]

Alison Pollard choreographed and directed the UK adaptation and said that the episode already had a few songs in it, which helped with the conversion to a musical.[31] She said "The episode chosen for the show already had four or five really catchy tunes in it, and the idea that he wants to fly with jellyfish is nice for the stage as well."[31] The adaptation includes twelve songs of various styles.[31]

English actor Chris Coxon played the role of SpongeBob.[32] Coxon was a fan of the series and said "If I'd been told a year ago that I would be playing SpongeBob today I would have loved it, although I'm not sure I would have believed it."[32] Coxon admitted it was difficult to adapt the show into a musical.[32] He remarked "It is difficult because you are trying to recreate this character that is so fluid on screen. For example I'm just getting used to my square costume, although it does have an incredible design, so that, although I am restricted, I can do a lot of the things he does in the cartoon."[32]

Critical reception[edit]

The energetic performances and colourful set design more than make up for this and at 90 minutes (including the break) the show is short enough to prevent little ones from getting itchy feet.

Gordon Barr and Roger Domeneghetti in their review for the Evening Chronicle.[33]

The musical was well received by most critics. In his review for The Sentinel, Chris Blackhurst brought along a seven-year-old child called Dylan Brayford, and his 34-year-old godfather, James Humphreys, from Nantwich to watch the musical.[34] The two "weren't disappointed." Blackhurst said "The fast-paced tale of courage and dreams kept both entertained with plenty of hilarious moments for the children and a sprinkle of gags which flew over younger fans' heads but brought a wry smile to mums and dads' faces."[34] Brayford summed it up, saying "It was good, but not quite as good as the TV show."[34]

Gordon Barr and Roger Domeneghetti of the Evening Chronicle described the show as "a silly riot of colour[...] as you'd have to expect from an adaptation of a cartoon TV show."[33] They lauded the song called "Ker Ching" performed by Mr. Krabs, saying "[It] stands out above the rest."[33] Viv Hardwick of The Northern Echo said "Younger ones are just pleased to see a colourful collection of characters, vaguely resembling the ten year-old TV show cast, cavorting around the stage."[35] Hardwick praised the role of Charles Brunton as Squidward Tentacles while John Fricker (Patrick Star) and Martin Johnston (Mr. Krabs) were said to "win the biggest costume contest."[35]


  1. ^ a b c SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 3rd Season. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2005.
  2. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants : The Sponge Who Could Fly". TV Listings. Zap2it. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Maurstad, Tom (March 19, 2003). "'SpongeBob SquarePants' special Friday night on Nickelodeon". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved September 11, 2013.  (subscription required)
  4. ^ Koltnow, Barry (November 14, 2004). "SpongeBob creator is soaking up success". East Valley Tribune. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Heintjes, Tom (September 21, 2012). "The Oral History of SpongeBob SquarePants". Hogan's Alley. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  6. ^ Bianco, Robert (March 21, 2003). "Critic's corner". USA Today. p. 12E. 
  7. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants - The Sponge Who Could Fly (VHS)". Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  8. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants - The Sponge Who Could Fly [VHS]". Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  9. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants. / The sponge who could fly". WorldCat. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  10. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants - Season 3". Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Pope, Bryan. "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Third Season". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  12. ^ SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes. DVD. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2009.
  13. ^ Lacey, Gord (September 29, 2009). "SpongeBob SquarePants - The First 100 Episodes (Seasons 1-5) Review". Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h "Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants Rides a Tidal Wave of Fun Into Burger King(R) Restaurants Nationwide". PR Newswire. March 17, 2003. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h "SpongeBob SquarePants Makes a Splash at Burger King". Junk Food News. June 25, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Kronke, David (March 21, 2003). "SpongeBob, Right on Track, Squeezed Dry". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved November 15, 2008.  (subscription required)
  17. ^ "SpongeBob Cleans Up, Kids and adults soak up Nickelodeon cartoon". Philadelphia Daily News. April 7, 2003. Accessed on November 15, 2008
  18. ^ Orlando, Dana (March 17, 2003). "New 'SpongeBob' wrings out some good laughs". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  19. ^ "Nickelodeon Awards". Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h "'Dirty' dances at B.O.". Variety. 295 (12): 4. April 18, 2007. ISSN 0011-5509. 
  21. ^ a b c d "SpongBob SquarePants Live! to Play International Tour". April 17, 2007. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b c "SpongeBob SquarePants - The Sponge Who Could Fly!". Big Panto Guide. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  23. ^ "SpongeBob flying into the regent". Leek Post and Times. January 21, 2009. p. 25. 
  24. ^ Bernhardt, Colette (February 14, 2009). "Event preview: The Sponge Who Could Fly, on tour". The Guardian. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  25. ^ Adsheads, Jeni (May 21, 2009). "SpongeBob SquarePants Musical: The Sponge That Could Fly review: release your inner child". Click Liverpool. Archived from the original on September 7, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  26. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Sponge Who Could Fly! A New Musical". The Lowry. March 24, 2009. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  27. ^ "SpongeBob SquarePants – The Sponge Who Could Fly". Toon Barn. December 5, 2008. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b "Family: Endnotes: Weekend planner: Things to do with your family this week: Book ahead". The Guardian. January 3, 2009. p. 8 (Family Pages). 
  29. ^ Ball, Ryan (November 25, 2008). "SpongeBob Musical Hits U.K. Stage". Animation. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  30. ^ Roberts, Katie (November 26, 2008). "SpongeBob SquarePants treads the boards". Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  31. ^ a b c "Yellow fellow soaks up more adulation". The Sentinel. January 23, 2009. p. 23. 
  32. ^ a b c d "SpongeBob SquarePants, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street". The Scotsman. March 6, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  33. ^ a b c Barr, Gordon; Domeneghetti, Roger (April 23, 2009). "A Splashing Show". Evening Chronicle. p. 29. 
  34. ^ a b c Blackhurst, Chris (February 12, 2009). "Tale is absorbing for young and old". The Sentinel. p. 19. 
  35. ^ a b Hardwick, Viv (April 24, 2009). "Theatre critics". The Northern Echo. p. 25. 

External links[edit]