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Help Wanted

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"Help Wanted"
Help Wanted title card.png
Show: SpongeBob SquarePants
Season number: 1
Production code: 1a
First airing: May 1, 1999
Sister episode(s): "Reef Blower"
"Tea at the Treedome"
Writer(s): Stephen Hillenburg
Derek Drymon
Tim Hill
Storyboard: Stephen Hillenburg (writer)
Derek Drymon (artist)
Animator(s): Alan Smart

“Today's the big day, Gary!”

"Help Wanted" is the first segment of the pilot episode of the SpongeBob SquarePants series. It first aired on Nickelodeon in the United States on May 1, 1999, following the televised broadcast of the 1999 Kid's Choice Awards. It centers on the titular character SpongeBob SquarePants, who applies as the fry cook of the popular fast-food restaurant, the Krusty Krab. The segment was paired with "Reef Blower" and "Tea at the Treedome" in its first airing.

The show was first conceived by marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg in 1994, although work did not begin on developing it until after the cancellation of Nickelodeon's Rocko's Modern life, on which Hillenburg was the show's creative director. Most of Rocko's staff emigrated to SpongeBob SquarePants, including Tom Kenny and Mr. Lawrence, who ended up voicing SpongeBob SquarePants and Plankton, respectively. Inspired by the 1989 film Powwow Highway, Hillenburg initially conceived the series pitch around SpongeBob and Squidward Tentacles going on a road trip; this concept was scrapped, though it would be reused for the first segment of the fifth episode of Season 1, "Pizza Delivery". Instead, Hillenburg and SpongeBob's show writer, Derek Drymon, based "Help Wanted"'s realized plot off an experience Hillenburg had during his Boy Scout years.

Despite being completed in 1997, the pilot would not air until 1999, during which the pilot was slightly altered into its final form. During its broadcast, "Help Wanted" was viewed in over 2,000,000 households and received positive critical reviews, effectively launching the franchise and kickstarting the global phenomenon that would be SpongeBob SquarePants. In addition, the episode also resuscitated popularity for its featured Tiny Tim cover, "Livin' in the Sunlight, Lovin' in the Moonlight".



SpongeBob uses his hydro-dynamic spatula to hover over the ravenous anchovies.

The French Narrator introduces the underwater town of Bikini Bottom, highlighting a particular resident: SpongeBob SquarePants, whom he considers to be his favorite aquatic creature.

SpongeBob eagerly prepares to apply as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab; however, his confidence wanes once he arrives at the restaurant. Initially set to leave on the preconceived notion that he is not good enough, SpongeBob is quickly dissuaded by his best friend, Patrick Star, who rouses him with SpongeBob's qualifications and passion for fry cooking. With his enthusiasm restored, SpongeBob enters the restaurant for his job application, much to the chagrin of his neighbor and the Krusty Krab's cashier, Squidward Tentacles. Not believing him to be qualified for the position, the Krusty Krab's owner, Mr. Krabs, concocts a test for SpongeBob, involving him obtaining a fictional high-caliber hydrodynamic spatula. When he leaves after accepting his task, Squidward and Mr. Krabs laugh at SpongeBob's expense.

Soon after, anchovies in busloads arrive at the Krusty Krab, overrunning the establishment despite the two's desperate attempts at maintaining order. As SpongeBob shops at the Barg'N-Mart for the requested spatula, the situation at the Krusty Krab descends into total chaos, with Squidward and Mr. Krabs accepting their demise at the anchovies' hands. SpongeBob suddenly returns, demonstrating the existence of the nonfictional hydro-dynamic spatula before serving the anchovies a plethora of Krabby Patties. Once they depart, an impressed Mr. Krabs awards SpongeBob the position of fry cook to Squidward's dismay; Patrick soon arrives with an order of one Krabby Patty, causing SpongeBob to go into a cooking overdrive. Squidward calls for Mr. Krabs, mockingly asking him to "see your new employee."

For the episode's transcript, see here.


1997 Pilot Version

1999 Recut Version



SpongeBoy Ahoy!/Early Production Artwork

Production Cells/Model Sheets


Critical Reception


Cultural References

Differences from later episodes

As the first and pilot episode, "Help Wanted" has many differences to the rest of the series. The original version had several minor differences that were later corrected.

  • It is the only episode where SpongeBob's bed is on the right side of his room.
  • SpongeBob's voice is slightly lower and Patrick's is deeper.
  • Mr. Krabs' eyelids are bright pink instead of just red.
  • Squidward wears a regular orange shirt instead of brown-orange, his complexion is more pale and his laugh is different.
  • The "splat" sound effect is different.
  • Gary's eye pupils and irises are smaller.
  • Squidward has rows of sticks behind his house.
  • SpongeBob's alarm clock has a different ship horn sound than in in later episodes
  • There is only one window in front of SpongeBob's house.
  • SpongeBob had a pet scallop in a cage in his bedroom.


  • Stephen Hillenburg was misspelled "Stephen Hilleburg" in the opening credits.
  • SpongeBob says "I'm ready" at the Krusty Krab three times. The last time he says it, his collar turns red.
  • Initially, this episode was not included on the SpongeBob season 1 DVD set, presumably because of the Tiny Tim song. The episode has since been available on the season 3 box set as a bonus feature.
  • The episode was completed in 1997, and was released on an employees only VHS called The Best of Nicktoons 1998 VHS which the original pilot's intro.
  • The episode (alongside Reef Blower and Tea at the Treedome) premiered right after the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards at 9:30/8:30pm central.
    • This is the third time a new NickToon premiered after the Kids Choice Awards. The first being The Angry Beavers on April 19, 1997, and CatDog on April 4, 1998
      • The slot originally went to a full fledge series based on KaBLaM! short, Sniz and Fondue. But plans changed after the show's creator, Mike R. Brandon, left the studio due to being overworked with other projects. SpongeBob took its place.[1]
      • The episode premiered with 6.9 million viewers, 3.6 million kids ages 2-11, and 3.3 million teens and adults.[2]
      • The original airing of the episode was re-discovered and uploaded to internet archive by lovforlogos. Officially announced by CDCB on twitter on October 30, 2020.[3]
  • The animation is lower quality than later episodes.
    • In the scene where SpongeBob rapidly bounces off the walls, ceiling, and floor of the Krusty Krab, only a yellow square is shown.
    • When the Anchovies jumped up and down, they were only shown as blue and brown oval-like shapes.
    • There's an animation mistake when SpongeBob says his final "I'm Ready!" His inner shirt is red instead of the usual white.



External Links


  1. Sniz & Fondue - Wikipedia
  2. Nick Debuts First-Run Show on Saturdays | Multichannel News (
  3. CDCB on Twitter: "The full series premiere of SpongeBob has finally been found. @loveforlogos is the man!"