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Help Wanted
Season 1, Episode 1a
Help Wanted.png
Air date May 1, 1999
Written by Stephen Hillenburg
Derek Drymon
Tim Hill
Episode guide
Reef Blower

Help Wanted is the first episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. It aired on May 1, 1999. 


The French Narrator introduces SpongeBob SquarePants, a sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea. SpongeBob's foghorn alarm clock rings (honk! takes a quite long time), waking him up in the morning. He tells his pet, Gary the Snail that he must be in good shape because this particular day is important. He jumps off his diving board, and lands in his pants. He goes to his exercise room and lifts a bar-weight (which is actually two stuffed animals). Afterwards, SpongeBob declares that he is ready. He runs outside and down the street to the Krusty Krab, repeatedly saying, "I'm ready" while his neighbor and best friend, Patrick Star, cheers him on. SpongeBob sees the 'Help Wanted' sign on the Krusty Krab window. He then declares that he is ready to obtain the job, which he has dreamed of for years; however, he loses his confidence when he nears the Krusty Krab. Patrick confronts him and quickly convinces him to go for the job, and so SpongeBob does so, thereby declaring he is ready three more times. Squidward Tentacles, the head cashier, is cleaning the window (his head is drawn and "loser" is written above it). Squidward sees that SpongeBob wants the job, and so he tries to tell the restaurant-owner Eugene H. Krabs that SpongeBob does not qualify for the job. SpongeBob walks into the Krusty Krab and asks for the job before Squidward can say anything, however. To get rid of him, Mr. Krabs tells SpongeBob that he can join the 'Krusty Krew' if he passes a "test"–which is to obtain a "Hydrodynamic Spatula with Port and Starboard Attachments and a Turbo-Drive" (essentially sending SpongeBob on a wild goose chase) believing that there is no such thing and that SpongeBob will never come back trying to find it. He was very curious about it.

As soon as SpongeBob leaves, five buses drop off a large crowd of hungry Anchovies. They barge into the Krusty Krab, demanding Krabby Patties. Attempting to keep things in order, Squidward complains about their behavior, then requests that there be a neat, single-file line in front of the cash register. The anchovies angerly protest, forming a riot of angry anchovies set to resemble a stormy sea. This forces Squidward and Mr. Krabs to climb up the 'mast'. Thinking that it is the end for them, they say their good-byes. Suddenly, SpongeBob arrives, flying with his "hydrodynamic spatula with port and starboard attachments and a turbo-drive" (according to SpongeBob, the Barg'n Mart only had one in stock). Mr. Krabs and Squidward are flabbergasted at the fact that SpongeBob actually passed the "test." SpongeBob flies into the kitchen and as fast as he can, satisfies the needs of the angry anchovies.

When the last anchovy gets his Krabby Patty, Mr. Krabs is delighted. He immediately hires SpongeBob, by welcoming him to the Krusty Krew and giving him a nametag. Then, Mr. Krabs calls for three cheers for SpongeBob. Even though Squidward is upset, Mr. Krabs does not listen to him because he wants to go and count the "booty" he just made in his office.

At the end, Patrick walks in and asks for a Krabby Patty. SpongeBob races into the kitchen and makes a huge stream of Krabby Patties which hit Patrick and send him flying out of the restaurant, causing him to make his traditional scream of protest and pain. Squidward, in a sarcastic and singsong tone, tells Mr. Krabs to come see his new employee.


While pitching the cartoon to Nickelodeon executives, Hillenburg donned a Hawaiian shirt, brought along an “underwater terrarium with models of the characters”, and Hawaiian music to set the theme. The setup was described by Nick executive Eric Coleman as "pretty amazing". When given money and two weeks to write the pilot episode (“Help Wanted”), Derek Drymon, Stephen Hillenberg, and Nick Jennings returned with, described by Nickelodeon official Albie Hecht, “a performance I wish I had on tape”. Although described as stressful by executive producer Derek Drymon, the pitch went “very well”; Kevin Kay and Hecht had to step outside because they were “exhausted from laughing”, making the cartoonists worried.

SpongeBob SquarePants aired its first episode, "Help Wanted / Reef Blower / Tea at the Treedome," on May 1, 1999, following the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. The series later made its "official" debut on July 17, 1999 with the second episode "Bubblestand / Ripped Pants."


The pilot episode was made and recorded in 1997, so it has many differences to the rest of the series. However, the original version of the episode had many other minor differences corrected later. For example, this is the only episode where SpongeBob’s bed is on the right (excluding Pickles and Employee of the Month), and his blanket is solid blue, as opposed to purple with flowers. Differences in voices are another example. SpongeBob’s voice is slightly lower and Patrick’s is deeper. Designs and colors are also different. For example, SpongeBob has fewer holes than in newer episodes, Mr. Krabs’ eyelids are bright pink opposed to red, Patrick’s pants are in a slightly different color, Squidward’s complexion is paler, his laugh is different, the comedic “splat” sound is different, and his nose does not puff in and out when he laughs. Gary’s eye pupils are red dots and his irises are smaller, he lacks eyelashes, and he has a lower tone of voice in the “meow” (although Tom Kenny claims to use a new “meow” for each episode (where Gary is shown meowing). Squidward also appears to have rows of bamboo poles behind his house. Differences in SpongeBob’s house are also present in this episode, but not in others, such as there is only one window in the front. Also, SpongeBob and Patrick are a little bit fatter. Also, SpongeBob’s alarm clock has a different ship horn sound than his alarm clock in later episodes. The changes were made when the series officially aired.


Living in the Sunlight, Loving in the Moonlight was used in this episode but due to copyright issue, the pilot episode was not on the 1st Season home video. The episode appeared as bonus feature on The Complete 3rd Season. The episode was also released on 10 Happiest Moments and The First 100 Episodes. The episode also features SpongeBob singing a Barg'N Mart jingle.

Deleted Scene

There was a scene where SpongeBob says: I will never take off this hat! This was cut for unknown reasons.