Super Bowl 2019 halftime show: SpongeBob SquarePants makes a brief appearance

Some fans are happy that the show -- and thus its late creator -- got acknowledged. Others say it wasn't enough.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

How much tribute is too little?

Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

SpongeBob SquarePants fans, was Sunday your best day ever? Or not so much?

As was hinted at multiple times, Maroon 5 used the Super Bowl 53 halftime show to pay tribute to the animated series, whose creator, Stephen Hillenburg, died in November.

But the tribute was short. So short. Shorter than SpongeBob's success in boating school. 

Fans had been hoping or maybe even expecting that Maroon 5 would play Sweet Victory, a song SpongeBob performs with a marching band at the Bubble Bowl -- the underwater equivalent of the Super Bowl that appeared in the show's second season. An online petition for the song had also helped build up expectations.

Instead, a brief clip of Squidward, SpongeBob and pals from that performance were shown on the big screen at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz stadium during halftime.

For some fans, that was enough. "Stephen Hillenburg your legacy lives on," wrote one Twitter user.

But others had hoped for more. "Wtf!! This is all we got for sweet victory?" wrote one.

Nickelodeon, the network that has aired SpongeBob in the US since 1999, also tweeted about the character's brief cameo on the Nickelodeon Animation account. In another tweet on the subject, Nickelodeon offered a GIF that it tongue-in-cheek claims is the rest of the performance.

There were several pregame hints that the tribute would be happening, including a peek at SpongeBob in a video released by the band, and a glimpse spotted by news anchor Jamal N. Williams earlier in the week at a rehearsal.

More than 1.2 million fans had signed a pregame Change.org petition asking the band play to Sweet Victory at halftime.

First published Feb. 3, 2019 at 7:40 p.m. PT.
Update Feb. 4 at 7:52 a.m. PT: Adds Nickelodeon's response.