[Insert French narrator voice] Ah, Valentine’s Day – ze day people love to ‘ate.
Unless, you happen to be a sponge. For Spongebob, Valentine’s Day isn’t a romantic holiday at all, but a day he spends showing each of his friends how much he appreciates them.
“Valentine’s Day” premiered on Nickelodeon on February 14, 2000 and is just one of several holiday-themed episodes from Season One of Spongebob Squarepants. Other honorable mentions include “Fools in April” (April Fools Day), “Scaredy Pants” (Halloween), and “Opposite Day” (yes, that counts as a holiday).
It’s Valentine’s Day, and Spongebob wakes up to greet the world with an armful of valentines. Giving one to Squidward, Mrs. Puff, Plankton, Sandy, and just about every inhabitant of Bikini Bottom, he saves the best valentine for last – an enormous heart-shaped balloon made entirely out of chocolate and bearing the likeness of his best friend, Patrick Star.
Instead of just giving the balloon to Patrick, Spongebob wants to create an entire spectacle (with Sandy's help, of course). He takes the unknowing starfish to the Valentine’s Day Carnival for a day of fun, promising him the “greatest, bestest, most fantabulous present ever.” In typical Patrick fashion, he presses Spongebob to tell him the surprise, going so far as to throw himself off of Mount-Climb-up-and-Fall-Off just to find it.
Meanwhile, Sandy navigates the balloon to the carnival, where she is to meet Spongebob and Patrick at the top of the Ferris wheel. Before Sandy can make it to the checkpoint, however, a flock of hungry scallops surround her and begin attacking the balloon. Despite her efforts to fend them off, Sandy reports via two-way radio that she won’t be able to make it, and for Spongebob to switch to Plan B. As Spongebob tries to explain the situation to Patrick, the sea star violently rocks the Ferris wheel in anticipation until Spongebob reaches out his hand to offer Patrick the coveted gift: a friendly Valentine’s Day handshake.
With Patrick settled down (and visibly grumpy) by the handshake, Spongebob attempts to distract him with the carnival’s moon bounce, roller coaster, and fun house – but to no avail. After a while, the two park themselves on a bench and sit in silence, until Patrick mentions that it was the thought of the handshake that counts. Despite Patrick’s fleeting maturity, he is continually interrupted by random fish that thank Spongebob for all of the amazing gifts he gave them, including one fish that Spongebob had only just met that morning. Patrick can only take so many interruptions before he finally snaps and wreaks havoc on the carnival.
After throwing a patron across the boardwalk, destroying a balloon cart, and stealing candy from a little girl, Patrick confronts Spongebob and the park-goers in a fit of rage. Before Patrick manages to throttle any of them, Sandy comes to the rescue, as she has tied ropes to the scallops and used them to pilot the balloon to the carnival. At the sight of the balloon, Patrick completely abandons his tantrum and takes a bite out of the side of it, causing it to explode chocolate sauce everywhere. “Oh Spongebob, you didn’t have to get me anything,” Patrick says, as the episode ends with the two covered in chocolate.
Spongebob loves everybody, and this is especially apparent in this episode. He even gives valentines to the very three characters that legitimately despise him: Squidward, who tears the valentine into shreds; Plankton, who stares at his valentine in utter confusion; and Mrs. Puff, who immediately crashes her boat when she receives hers. It’s also confirmed that Spongebob gave someone he had never met before a brand new bicycle as a valentine. Wouldn’t everyone want a friend like Spongebob?
According to Spongebob voice actor Tom Kenny, this episode marks the sea star’s emergence as a comedy legend. “The first great Patrick episode!” Kenny states. “I love how Patrick instantly goes from having his feelings hurt to an Incredible Hulk-like rage. Bill Fagerbakke [the voice actor for Patrick] really came into his own in this one.”
Patrick undoubtedly shines in “Valentine’s Day,” as many of his one-liners have gone down in meme history as some of the most quotable moments from Spongebob Squarepants.
“I defy you, heart man!”
“Heart on stick must die!”
“You broke my heart. Now I’m gonna break something of yours!”
You know it’s the show’s first season when you can’t see Sandy’s tail. Sandy is the backbone of the entire operation, as she flies the balloon to the carnival, defends it against a hoard of ravenous chocolate-eating scallops, and delivers it to Patrick in time to save Spongebob’s skin. Valiant, dependable, and punny. What more can we say about miss Cheeks?
[Handing Spongebob a heart-shaped acorn] “Happy Valentine’s Day, Spongebob. I’m nuts for you!”
For as silly and off-the-wall as this episode is, “Valentine’s Day” provides a few meaningful lessons. After all, the holiday itself is not exclusive to significant others. Whether you love the concept of Valentine's Day or hate it, you can take the time to show appreciation for your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, or even your enemies on this special day. Likewise, if we’re to take any of what Patrick said in this episode to heart, it would be that it really is the thought behind any gift or gesture that counts – even if that gesture is just a friendly handshake.