SpongeBob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg Dies at 57

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 23: Stephen Hillenburg, the writer of a U.S. cartoon "The SpongeBob SquarePants" poses with its charactor SpongeBob SquarePants at an event held at Tokyo International Anime Fair on March 23, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan. The film of this popular U.S. Cartoon will open on April 22 in Japan. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

 – Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of Nickelodeon’s hit cartoon ‘SpongeBob Squarepants,’ passed away at age 57, Monday, the network confirmed this afternoon.

“We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants,” their tweet said.  “Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work.”

Citing the network, Variety reported that Hillenburg’s cause of death was ALS.  He had been diagnosed in March of last year.

SpongeBob Squarepants remains one of Nickelodeon’s most beloved and enduring shows.  Hillenburg began developing the characters as far back as 1989, though work on the series didn’t start until 1996.

The show premiered three years later and is still airing in its 12th season.

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