Aging in animation is a strange thing. Sure, the in-universe time generally flows slower than real time, but there are some anime series and Western animated series that do allow their characters to age, even if they need a time skip for it to happen (for example, One Piece or Dragon Ball).
On the other hand, there are decade-long animated series, like The Simpsons, that do show time passing, but the characters remain the same ages. What about SpongeBob SquarePants? How old is he and is he getting any older?
SpongeBob SquarePants was born on July 14, 1986, which means that he is 35 years old in 2021. Since he does have a birthday and the show sees time passing, we can conclude that he is getting older and that time does affect him, unlike some other animated characters. Still, based on some other facts, we can also confirm that his age remains a question of debate.
The rest of the article is going to elaborate on these facts, giving you all the necessary information for you to completely understand just how complex, and interesting the question of SpongeBob’s age is.
How Old Is SpongeBob SquarePants?
One episode of the television show, “Sleepy Time”, gave us a look at SpongeBob’s driver’s license, which also contained his date of birth. From that official document, we managed to find out that he was born on July 14, 1986. That would make him 13 at the time the show premiered, which doesn’t really make sense, since he was definitely too young to work then.
Now, probably due to this discrepancy, his date of birth was removed from later episodes, which made a somewhat clear question more complex. SpongeBob’s age should be 35 if time in Bikini Bottom flows at the same rate as time on the shore, but neither the show nor the show’s creator haven’t really confirmed that fact to be fully canon.
So, how old is SpongeBob? Is he a child or an adult? Despite the revelation of his date of birth, it seems that everyone opted for this fact to remain ambiguous.
Stephen Hillenburg, the show’s creator, joked on one occasion that SpongeBob is 50 in “sponge years.” Now, we don’t actually know how “sponge years” translate to human years, but taking into account the fact that the average lifespan of a yellow sponge is roughly 100 years, that would make SpongeBob middle-aged, which is certainly not true.
Later, though, Hillenburg did explain that SpongeBob actually has no specific age and that “he is old enough to be on his own and still be going to driving school”. This hasn’t really helped us in the long run, but we finally have a confirmation that SpongeBob is an adult, which was great, since he has exhibited too many childlike traits, thereby confusing everyone.
How Old Is SpongeBob in Human Years?
If we consider the fact that his date of birth was revealed in the show to be July 14, 1986, it would mean that he is, at this moment, 35 years old in human years. But, with Hillenburg joking with the concept of “sponge years” and the fact that SpongeBob doesn’t have any specific age, we cannot be 100% certain about the veracity of our calculations.
Is SpongeBob SquarePants Getting Older?
Well, SpongeBob SquarePants does seem to get older. He has celebrated four birthdays on the show, although we don’t really know which birthdays they were. Now, he doesn’t seem to be getting any older, but since we know that he is an adult, we shouldn’t really expect too many changes on him.
People change the most while they’re becoming adults, but the process of growing old is much slower, with the changes kicking in slower than earlier. This is why we haven’t seen any noticeable changes in his appearance over the years, despite him celebrating at least four birthdays.
SpongeBob was, if you remember well, almost about to reveal his age in the episode “SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout”, which was when he celebrated the last of the four above-mentioned birthdays. Still, the revelation was cut off, rather abruptly, by the episode ending, so his exact age still remains a mystery.
How Old Is SpongeBob SquarePants in 2021?
SpongeBob SquarePants is currently in its 13th season, having been on the air since 1999. This means that 22 years have passed since the show’s premiere and during that time, SpongeBob SquarePants has become one of the most popular animated shows ever.
Now, based on mere counting, SpongeBob SquarePants should be 35 years old, going into his 36th year as we’re writing our text. But, the fact remains that, as we have said, there is no official confirmation that SpongeBob’s really that old and that the time in Bikini Bottom passes at the same rate as time on the surface. This is why we can only say this about his age with relative certainty!
If we consider the other known facts, for example, the comical fact that SpongeBob was 50 at one point during the show, he would be somewhere around 60, possibly up to 70 years of age, but that was in “sponge years”, whatever that actually means.
What else do we know? Not much. We know he doesn’t have a specific age, we know that he is an adult and we know that he has celebrated four unspecified birthdays during these 20 years. From that, we infer that he is certainly more than 20 years old and that he is at least four years older than he was when the show began.
That isn’t much, that we can agree upon, but seeing how the creators never intended for SpongeBob to have a specifically defined age, and that the data we have is ambiguous, we do think that it is more than enough for us to have at least a framework to work within our text.
SpongeBob does age, that much we know. But his exact age is unknown and will probably remain like that forever.