Stephen Hillenburg used his love of drawing and marine biology to develop the underwater world of Bikini Bottom. On Tuesday, the cartoonist who created Sspongebob SquarePants died at the age of 57. The devastating news was confirmed by the network that has broadcast the hugely popular cartoon series since 1999, Nickelodeon.

According to the company, the famous cartoonist's cause of death was motor neuron disease (also known as ALS), a condition he revealed he had been diagnosed with in March last year.

Hillenburg graduated from Humboldt State University in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in Natural Resource Planning and Interpretation, emphasizing on marine resources. It allowed him to become a marine biology teacher at the Orange County Marine Institute (now the Ocean Institute) in Dana Point, California. Combine this experience with the Master of Fine Arts he earned in 1992, and you'll understand why this cartoon artist was so good at creating stories as teaching tools.

SpongeBob Squarepants has aired nearly 250 episodes to date. And the way the fans of the show are mourning Hillenburg's passing is clear that he and his work won't be forgotten. Since hearing the shocking news, people have been sharing the tributes with the famous cartoon characters they have created in honor of the animator who is survived by his wife of 20 years, Karen, and son Clay. Bored Panda has collected some of them, inviting you to pay your respects.(h/t variety)

#1

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

pardonmysoultry Report

João Ferreira
Community Member
1 year ago

OK, this one hit me right in the feels.

View more comments
#2

Rest In Peace, Stephen Hillenburg

Rest In Peace, Stephen Hillenburg

AWDtwit Report

Ayel
Community Member
1 year ago

this is so heartbreaking :(

View more comments
#3

We're Saddened To Hear That Stephen Hillenburg, Creator Of

We're Saddened To Hear That Stephen Hillenburg, Creator Of

muttscomics Report

Anna Lourie
Community Member
1 year ago

says Hillenburg, the ocean biologist :)

View more comments
#4

Stephen Hillenburg Was A Real Inspiration For Me. He Took A Goofy Idea And Turned It Into One Of The Greatest Cartoons In Animation History

Stephen Hillenburg Was A Real Inspiration For Me. He Took A Goofy Idea And Turned It Into One Of The Greatest Cartoons In Animation History

theaholeartist Report

Andres Washington
Community Member
1 year ago

:(

View more comments
#5

I’ve Always Wanted To Live In A Pineapple Under The Sea Rip Stephen Hillenburg

I’ve Always Wanted To Live In A Pineapple Under The Sea Rip Stephen Hillenburg

doodlebotillustration Report

Anne Kjær-Kammersgaard
Community Member
1 year ago

Poor Gary :'( This one breaks my heart.

View more comments
#6

Stephen Hillenburg’s Passing Caught Me By Complete Surprise I Cannot Thank Him Enough For Enlightening My Childhood With Spongebob Squarepants. Rest Easy, Sir

Stephen Hillenburg’s Passing Caught Me By Complete Surprise I Cannot Thank Him Enough For Enlightening My Childhood With Spongebob Squarepants. Rest Easy, Sir

endangeredcds Report

OOF
Community Member
1 year ago

So sad

View more comments
#7

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

pardopardo Report

OOF
Community Member
1 year ago

So sad

View more comments
#8

Thank You Stephen Hillenburg

Thank You Stephen Hillenburg

vadelate Report

Andres Washington
Community Member
1 year ago

Dang this sad as fluff

View more comments
#9

Why Are You Leaving Us So Soon? Rip Stephen Hillenburg (1961-2018)

Why Are You Leaving Us So Soon? Rip Stephen Hillenburg (1961-2018)

adhimuufff_ Report

OOF
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

It's ok spongebob, ur always something

View more comments
#10

Working On Some Tribute Art For Stephen Hillenburg

Working On Some Tribute Art For Stephen Hillenburg

baylee_jae Report

Meowton Mewsk
Community Member
1 year ago

I like the spirit of this one.

#11

Rip Stephen Hillenburg, Spongebob Squarepants' Creator

Rip Stephen Hillenburg, Spongebob Squarepants' Creator

handmad_campah Report

Night Owl
Community Member
1 year ago

Wow, Spongebob is talented!

View More Replies...
View more comments
#12

Are You Ready, Kids To Say Good Bye, Stephen? I Said, Are You Ready?

Are You Ready, Kids To Say Good Bye, Stephen? I Said, Are You Ready?

milky_name Report

Anna Lourie
Community Member
1 year ago

that is so much stranger. though nice imagination!

View more comments
#13

Au Revoir, Mr. Hillenburg

Au Revoir, Mr. Hillenburg

"Your love-able creations changed the world for the better. Thank you for all the laughter! Favorite moments or episodes anyone? “pizza delivery” has always been mine"

manningzor Report

Andres Washington
Community Member
1 year ago

Warm my heart

View more comments
#14

Rest In Peace To Mr. Stephen Hillenburg For Creating The Show That Had The Biggest Impact On Me And My Childhood, As Well As A Lot Of My Current Sense Of Humour. You’ll Be Missed Dearly

Rest In Peace To Mr. Stephen Hillenburg For Creating The Show That Had The Biggest Impact On Me And My Childhood, As Well As A Lot Of My Current Sense Of Humour. You’ll Be Missed Dearly

Simon8217 Report

OOF
Community Member
1 year ago

The guy at the bottom doesn't like being there

View More Replies...
View more comments
#15

Thank You So Much Mr.hillenburg,you Made My Childhood Colourfull And Funny,i Hope Spongebob Squarepants Is Never Die, Toothanks A Lot, Rest In Peace

Thank You So Much Mr.hillenburg,you Made My Childhood Colourfull And Funny,i Hope Spongebob Squarepants Is Never Die, Toothanks A Lot, Rest In Peace

dandy_septian_prayogo Report

OOF
Community Member
1 year ago

IM NOT CRYING! dammit onion ninjas

View more comments
#16

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

lousysharkbutt Report

Lou Herout
Community Member
1 year ago

Awww, this one really touched me!!! (And I wasn't even a fan....)

#17

Thanks For The Laughs

Thanks For The Laughs

jinsayodraws Report

Margaret Byrne
Community Member
1 year ago

Rest in Peace creative and humorous Mr. Hillenburg, you brought generations together and saved parents from saccharin overload! You made nerds cool♥️

View more comments
#18

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

balladbun Report

furious_lover
Community Member
1 year ago

awww ;(

View more comments
#19

Bobby (Dedicated To Stephen Hillenburg)

Bobby (Dedicated To Stephen Hillenburg)

ErikLy Report

Christopher Columbus
Community Member
1 year ago

I would have loved to see Patrick in this one. Amazing style!

View More Replies...
View more comments
#20

Part Of My Drive To Be A Cartoonist Is Because Of Stephen Hillenburg. So, Thanks

Part Of My Drive To Be A Cartoonist Is Because Of Stephen Hillenburg. So, Thanks

"Spongebob is the reason I began doodling, I remember when I was in kindergarten, I was sitting next to my friend and she was drawing a picture of Spongebob, I thought it looked absolutely incredible. Me, being the bitter show off that I was, wanted to draw a picture of spongebob better than she did. So I started practicing. And here I am now"

sc_create Report

Charl Marx
Community Member
1 year ago

Here lies squidward's hopes and dreams 😥

View more comments
#21

Rest In Peace Stephen Hillenburg. Your With Those Other Great Creators Of Our Childhood, Rest Well In Your Pineapple In The Sky

Rest In Peace Stephen Hillenburg. Your With Those Other Great Creators Of Our Childhood, Rest Well In Your Pineapple In The Sky

s-k-e-t-c-h-y-artist Report

Jasmine Walker
Community Member
1 year ago

I wonder if that's supposed to be Charles M. Schulz. Very touching tribute.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#22

Spongebob Squarepants Maybe Is Having Fun With Stephen Hillenburg Now... It´s Nice Think In That

Spongebob Squarepants Maybe Is Having Fun With Stephen Hillenburg Now... It´s Nice Think In That

AelgAnglo Report

Andres Washington
Community Member
1 year ago

Lol soo happy

View more comments
#23

Thank You

Thank You

chucky.333.21 Report

Shiba Inu
Community Member
1 year ago

*cries*

View more comments
#24

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

SomosEspagueti Report

Jacob Clark
Community Member
1 year ago

this one is so heart warming :( :'''(

View more comments
#25

Goodbye

Goodbye

carlosambrizrodriguez Report

Lou Herout
Community Member
1 year ago

Awwww...All the feels!

#26

RIP To Stephen Hillenburg. One Of The Founding Fathers Of My Childhood

RIP To Stephen Hillenburg. One Of The Founding Fathers Of My Childhood

“You know, if I were to die right now, in some sort of fiery explosion due to the carelessness of a friend, well that would just be okay.” -Spongebob Squarepants

ally_cortes Report

AND PEGGY
Community Member
1 year ago

he got a lot farther by working a lot harder by being a lot smarter by being a self-starter!!!

View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#27

Sad Day For Bikini Bottom

Sad Day For Bikini Bottom

tattoos_by_yulia Report

Lou Herout
Community Member
1 year ago

I didn't know there were onion ninjas under the sea!!

View more comments
#28

R.I.P

R.I.P

anqqqxx Report

Queen MT
Community Member
1 year ago

This one is probably my favorite cuz spongebob looks like he knows that his "father" is somewhere better

#29

Stephen Hillenburg Will Be Greatly Missed. He Was A Huge Artistic Inspiration For Me, And Many Others…

Stephen Hillenburg Will Be Greatly Missed. He Was A Huge Artistic Inspiration For Me, And Many Others…

mordeshakes Report

_WEIRD_ONE_
Community Member
1 year ago

this was yesterday...

View more comments
#30

Very Quick Tribute To

Very Quick Tribute To

sculpt_with_christina Report

Genesis Harrison
Community Member
1 year ago

Don’t cry spongebob ,dear! I’ll cry :’’(

#31

Thank You, Stephen. Rest In Peace

Thank You, Stephen. Rest In Peace

mikmix3 Report

Jaguarundi
Community Member
1 year ago

Ok, can't take anymore, bye now...

View more comments
#32

Rest In Peace, Stephen, You Absolute Legend

Rest In Peace, Stephen, You Absolute Legend

"I am absolutely heartbroken over Stephen Hillenburg’s passing. Spongebob has affected and inspired me in ways I couldn’t even begin to describe, and it’s one of my favorite cartoons of all time. "

artofthetaple Report

Arissa Chavez
Community Member
1 year ago

:( Rest In Peace Stephan Hillenburg :(

#33

Spongebob Made Me So Bright, Made Me So Happy. You Have Brighten My Childhood And Adulthood, I Still Watch And Love Spongebob Till Now. May You Have Rest In Peace, Stephan Hillenburg

Spongebob Made Me So Bright, Made Me So Happy. You Have Brighten My Childhood And Adulthood, I Still Watch And Love Spongebob Till Now. May You Have Rest In Peace, Stephan Hillenburg

starzstudio19 Report

#34

So Sad To Hear That Stephen Hillenburg Passed Away Yesterday. His Legacy And Creation Will Live On Forever And Ever

So Sad To Hear That Stephen Hillenburg Passed Away Yesterday. His Legacy And Creation Will Live On Forever And Ever

tywanwade Report

Hannah Marshall
Community Member
1 year ago

So Simple yet so emotional

#35

It’s Dedicated To The Creator Of The Greatest Influence Of Our Upbringing, And I’m Pretty Sure The Inventor Of Electricity

It’s Dedicated To The Creator Of The Greatest Influence Of Our Upbringing, And I’m Pretty Sure The Inventor Of Electricity

tats.by.tori Report

Audrey Davis _ Student - BuggES
Community Member
7 months ago

i NEED this tattoo

See Also on Bored Panda
#36

It's A Sad Day In Bikini Bottom, But Tomorrow Will Be An Awesome Day At The Krusty Krab. Thanks For So Many Good Times

It's A Sad Day In Bikini Bottom, But Tomorrow Will Be An Awesome Day At The Krusty Krab. Thanks For So Many Good Times

mareoflores Report

#37

Rip Stephen Hillenburg

Rip Stephen Hillenburg

boringcompany Report

#38

Who Lives In A Pineapple Under The Sea?

Who Lives In A Pineapple Under The Sea?

"I was sad to hear about the death of Stephen Hillenburg today. I was just talking with my kids this morning about the first time I saw sponge bob and what an impact it had on tv animation. More importantly, it made and still makes a lot of people happy. My family included"

jakeparker Report

Andres Washington
Community Member
1 year ago

2020

View more comments
#39

Rip Stephen Hillenburg, A Man Who Truly Shaped So Many Of Our Childhoods And Changed The World Of Cartoons Forever. Thank You So Much For Your Creativity And Thank You For The Laughs

Rip Stephen Hillenburg, A Man Who Truly Shaped So Many Of Our Childhoods And Changed The World Of Cartoons Forever. Thank You So Much For Your Creativity And Thank You For The Laughs

ucheomaaa Report

#40

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

Stephen Hillenburg Tribute

rawblackandwhite Report

Anna Lourie
Community Member
1 year ago

this one's creepy

View More Replies...
View more comments
#41

Man I Was So Shocked When I Heard That

Man I Was So Shocked When I Heard That

apgraphicarts Report

#42

Been A Sad Couple Of Weeks Right After Stan Lee Another Legend From Our Childhood Has Passed May They Never Be Forgotten

Been A Sad Couple Of Weeks Right After Stan Lee Another Legend From Our Childhood Has Passed May They Never Be Forgotten

DeviousClaymore Report

#43

Rest Easy Hillenburg, Thanks For The Laughs

Rest Easy Hillenburg, Thanks For The Laughs

AnimationCrave Report

#44

Stephen Hillenburg

Stephen Hillenburg

gator4_rommel Report

NC201 YT
Community Member
1 year ago (edited)

Sadness count:20

#45

I Am Extremely Sad About The News Of Sponge Bob Creator Stephen Hillenburg Passing Away

I Am Extremely Sad About The News Of Sponge Bob Creator Stephen Hillenburg Passing Away

"Sponge Bob has existed since I was a baby and it was a huge part of my childhood, it is also a huge part of my life and even a part of myself and who I am today. The reason why I’m studding animation is this show, and I will always be infinitely thankful for the huge creativity and beautiful humor of Stephen Hillenburg"

theerikasalazar Report

See Also on Bored Panda
#46

R. I. P. Stephen Hillenburg

R. I. P. Stephen Hillenburg

lovelife_ltd Report

Arissa Chavez
Community Member
1 year ago

rip

#47

Sad To Hear

Sad To Hear

man.uelh Report

OOF
Community Member
1 year ago

Ok.. back off a bit spongebob... bit creepy

View more comments
#48

Rest In Peace

Rest In Peace

thenapkinguy Report

#49

Rip Stephen Hillenburg

Rip Stephen Hillenburg

carnivorum Report

Peyton
Community Member
1 year ago

Ok that ones just weird

View more comments
#50

R.i.p. Stephen Hillenburg, Creator Of One Of The Most Imaginative, Fun, Innocent And Brilliant Worlds That No One With A Sliver Of An Imagination Could Ever Grow Out Of

R.i.p. Stephen Hillenburg, Creator Of One Of The Most Imaginative, Fun, Innocent And Brilliant Worlds That No One With A Sliver Of An Imagination Could Ever Grow Out Of

alexpardee Report

Peyton
Community Member
1 year ago

F is for friends that do stuff together

View More Replies...
View more comments