Stephen Hillenburg (57), the creator of Nickelodeon’s most famous cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants, died Monday after a battle with ALS.
"SpongeBob" is Nickelodeon's biggest all-time hit, and has aired for nearly two decades since its premiere on May 1, 1999, bringing characters SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Sandy Cheeks, Plankton, Pearl Krabs, Mrs. Puff and Larry the Lobster to life.
According to Mashable"Hillenburg revealed his ALS diagnosis in 2017. Also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, ALS is a nervous system disease that cause the brain and spinal cord to deteriorate, causing muscle weakness, discomfort, and loss of motor control. While therapy can slow down the onset of ALS, there is still no known cure." ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a rare terminal illness that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
💛 We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work. 💛— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) November 27, 2018
According to variety, Nickelodeon paid tribute to Hillenburg and expressed condolences to his friends and family. "We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS,” Nickelodeon said in its statement. “He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family. Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination."
Hillenburg also directed The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, which came out in 2004. He intended it to be the show's finale, and left the show for many years after, only returning in 2014.