When successful TV series spawn their own spinoffs, audiences are always extra critical of the by-product. Sometimes they work, like “The Legend of Korra,” and sometimes they find it hard to even get to fly, like “The Patrick Star Show.”
On Thursday, Nickelodeon has officially green-lit “The Patrick Star Show,” the second spin-off to the hit cartoon series SpongeBob SquarePants which focuses on the follies of SpongeBob’s best friend, Patrick Star, and his equally silly family. The announcement coincides with the addition of Kamp Koral, the first SpongeBob SquarePants spin-off, to the Paramount+ platform.
The upcoming animated sitcom, which will initially have 13 episodes, is produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio, the creative team behind the original SpongeBob series.
According to Deadline, it follows a “younger Patrick Star living at home with his family, where he hosts his own show for the neighborhood from his television-turned-bedroom.” There, he is joined by his younger sister Squidina, who operates the show, Patrick’s parents Bunny and Cecil, and his grandfather, GrandPat.
The original ensemble — SpongeBob, Squidward Tentacles, Sandy Cheeks, Mr. Krabs, and Plankton — will make a frequent appearance too.
When news that the beloved starfish is getting his own show broke, it was wildly spread by dedicated SpongeBob fans. A close inspection would show, though, that not all shared it in a positive tone. Almost all of the disapproval stems from one main concern: that the green light disrespects Stephen Hillenburg’s dying wishes.
You see, Stephen Hillenburg, the person who created the SpongeBob SquarePants series, only had one wish when he passed in 2018: that the SpongeBob series does not lead to spinoffs.
And he was very vehement about this. During a 2009 interview with Television Business International where he was asked about spinoffs zeroing in on other characters, he had this to say:
“The show is about SpongeBob, he’s the core element, and it’s about how he relates to the other characters. Patrick by himself might be a bit too much. So I don’t see any spin-offs.”
Several of his SpongeBob colleagues can attest to Hillenburg’s request too. When Vincent Waller, a former storyboard artist, creative director, and the current showrunner, was asked about potential crossovers, he said that “Steve prefers [they] don’t do crossovers.”
SpongeBob animator Paul Tibbitt, who worked on the show for 18 years, echoed Hillenburg’s plea when news of the Kamp Koral spin-off first came out in 2019, saying that “Steve would have hated this [show].”
In a feature written in 2018 for the show’s 20th anniversary, Tibbitt also went on record to reveal that Hillenburg would threaten to leave the show once producers start to stir ideas for a spinoff.
“In the animation business, you know, there always used to be the sort of joke. When you run out of ideas, you just do Muppet Babies. Steve [Hillenburg] would always say to me, ‘You know, one of these days, they’re going to want to make SpongeBob Babies. That’s when I’m out of here’,” Tibbitt said.
Despite Hillenburg’s demands, Nickelodeon still owns the rights to the SpongeBob franchise. And after two films, tons of merchandise, and even a Broadway musical to boot, the network is still bent on wringing every last cent out of the beloved sponge.
What’s worse for fans is the notion that Nickelodeon may have had these ideas for a while now, and are only putting them into motion now that Hillenburg can no longer challenge any of them.
As fans rallied against Kamp Koral in 2019, they are doing the same under posts promoting The Patrick Star Show.
The worst part? Nickelodeon executives don’t plan to stop, as they are still setting up the SpongeBob universe, akin to the MCU, to win back their younger audiences.
The Patrick Star Show is set to premiere on Nickelodeon by the third quarter of this year.