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The characters in the American animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants were created by artist, animator, and former marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg. The series chronicles the adventures of the title character and his various friends in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom. Most characters are anthropomorphic sea creatures based on real-life species. Many of the characters' designs originated in an unpublished educational comic book titled The Intertidal Zone, which Hillenburg created in 1989.
SpongeBob SquarePants features the voices of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Mr. Lawrence, Jill Talley, Carolyn Lawrence, Mary Jo Catlett and Lori Alan. Most one-off and background characters are voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, Sirena Irwin, Bob Joles, Mark Fite and Thomas F. Wilson. In addition to the series' regular cast, various celebrities from a wide range of professions have voiced guest characters and recurring roles.
The show's characters have received positive critical reception and attention from celebrities. They have made frequent appearances in media outside of the television show, including a theatrical film series and many video games. The characters have also been referenced and parodied throughout popular culture. The title character SpongeBob became a merchandising icon during the height of the show's second season and has seen continued commercial popularity.