SpongeBob SquarePants creator, Stephen Hillenburg, has died at age 57, after suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gherig's disease or ALS).
Nickelodeon confirmed Hillenburg's passing to Polygon and said that he was a friend to everyone at the business.
“We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS.
“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 humour 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.”
Nickelodeon also tweeted that it would be taking a moment of silence to honour his life and work.
The SpongeBob SquarePants franchise is one of the most well known in recent times. With over 700 licence partners across the globe, Hillenburg's legacy will be remembered by millions, well beyond the toy and media industries.
Hillenburg worked for Nickelodeon for over 25 years.