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A Description Of Characters From Spongebob Squarepants Cartoon

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The aim of this research is to observe the use of signs in each character in cartoon “Spongebob SquarePants”. The research is focused on analyzing traits and behaviors of each character in this cartoon which represented signs. This paper describes meanings behind characters in cartoon “Spongebob SquarePants”. In this cartoon, there are seven main characters which have special traits. The behaviors and traits are a sign which represent something hidden. This research was made based on two research question which are representation of seven deadly sins in every character in cartoon “Spongebob SquarePants” and how cartoon “Spongebob SquarePants” influence cultures and kids in Indonesia.

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Television programs for kids cannot be separated from animation film/ cartoon. Cartoon is the most programs which showed rather than other programs for kids. According to YPMA on Januari 2008, there are 41 titles of animations/ cartoons from 61 kids programs which appeared on local television. Many kinds of animation films showed in local television were about adventure, friendship, games, imaginations, and kung fu. Animation in Indonesia is still far when compared with overseas animation industry. Furthermore, lots of animation import that circulated in our country. But not all are suitable to be consumed for children. Cultural differences are still a major problem. Cultures that exist in foreign countries do not fully comply with the existing culture in Indonesia.

Director of the Directorate General of Cultural Values Traditions of Art and Film, I Gusti Nyoman Widja SH expressed concern over the television shows that do not reflect the nation’s cultural values. Current form of globalization carries positive charge spread information but fast-moving currents of globalization can have a negative influence on the local values in society.

B. Guntarto of Critical Media for Children (Kidia) stated that a lot of cartoons that showed on television station in Indonesia are actually not suitable for consumption of primary school age children, especially pre-school. A total of 84% shows cartoon which most showed are not suitable for consumption of school age children. One of cartoons which showed in local television which reputed as carried bad influence for kids is “SpongeBob SquarePants”. This cartoon was reputed will bring bad influence to Indonesian cultures. There are issues that every character in “SpongeBob” represented the seven deadly sins. It is believed will bring bad influence for kids who watched. Subconsciously, kids will imitate what they learn in cartoon including enjoyed the programs which hidden dangerous meaning itself. “SpongeBob SquarePants” is an American animated television series, created by marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg. Much of the series centers on the exploits and adventures of the title characters and his various friends in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom. The series popularity has prompted the release of amedia franchise, contributing to its position as Nickelodeon’s highest rated show, the most distributed property of MTV Networks, and among Nicktoons’ most watched shows. As of 2011, SpongeBob SquarePants is the only Nicktoon from the 1990s that has not ended yet. The show is listed 15th in IGN’s top 100 animated series list. It is also known for being one of Nickelodeon’s longest running TV shows. The pilot episode of SpongeBob SquarePants first aired episodes in the United States on Nickelodeon on May 1, 1999, following the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. The first episodes were called “Help Wanted”, “Reef Blower”, and “Tea at the Treedome”. The “official” series premiere followed on July 17, 1999, with the second episode, “Bubblestand/Ripped Pants.” The show reached enormous popularity by 2000 during the second season, and has remained popular since. A feature film of the series was released in theaters on November 19, 2004. The series celebrated its tenth anniversary on July 17, 2009. “SpongeBob SquarePants” was renewed for a ninth season on January 3, 2011. So far the series has aired 320 individual episodes. In cartoon “Spongebob SquarePants”, there are seven main characters. SpongeBob SquarePants is an energetic and optimistic sea sponge (although his appearance more closely resembles a kitchen sponge) who lives in a pineapple under the sea with his pet snail, Gary, who meows like a cat. Living two houses down from SpongeBob is his best friend, Patrick Star, a dim-witted yet friendly pink sea star who lives under a rock. Even despite his “Mental Setbacks”, Patrick still sees himself as intelligent. SpongeBob’s next-door neighbor and co-worker is Squid ward Tentacles, an arrogant and ill-tempered squid who lives in an Easter Island moai and dislikes his neighbors (especially SpongeBob) for their child-like behavior. He enjoys playing the clarinet and painting self-portraits, but hates his job working at the Krusty Krab. Another close friend of SpongeBob’s is Sandy Cheeks, a squirrel from Texas. Sandy is an expert at karate and lives in an underwater tree dome. When not inside her tree dome, she wears an astronaut-like suit because she cannot breathe underwater. SpongeBob and Squidward’s employer is former officer cadet for the Bikini Bottom Navy force and war veteran Eugene Krabs, a miserly crab obsessed with money, who is the owner of the Krusty Krab restaurant. Mr. Krabs’ archenemy is Sheldon Plankton, a small green copepod who owns a low-rank fast-food restaurant called the Chum Bucket across the street from the Krusty Krab. Plankton spends most of his time planning to steal the recipe for Mr. Krabs’s which is popular as Krabby Patty burgers to obtain success. Those characters which have explained above reputed represented seven deadly sins. These cases will be explained in result.

Theoretical Background

In semiotics, denotation and connotation are terms describing the relationship between the signifier and signified (Chandler, 2002: 140), and an analytic distinction is made between two types of signified: a denotative signified and a connotative signified. Meaning includes both denotation and connotation. Most signs have at least one normal, “common sense” meaning. This meaning, called the sign’s denotation, is shared among many people and is the most widely used meaning of the sign. But signs also may have many different “subjective” meanings that arise from each individual’s personal experiences. These are called the connotations of the sign.

The denotation of a sign represents an agreement among a group of people that they will share that meaning of the sign among themselves. Meanings of this type are said to arise through social convention. A sign may have more than one denotation meaning. In cases when a person must choose one meaning from a number of options he or she looks to the context of the sign to make the decision.

The signifier is the sign that can consist of sound or image. The signified is the concept that explains the signifier. According to Chandler, ‘denotation’ tends to described as the definitional, ‘literal’, ‘obvious’ or ‘commonsense’ meaning of a sign. The term ‘connotation’ is used to refer to the socio-cultural and ‘personal’ associations of the sign (2002:140). One of pioneers of connotative and denotative theories is Roland Barthes. According to Barthes, the messages of images or characters are constituted in two ways: through denotation, the literal meaning and reference of a sign or connotation, the meanings that are suggested or implied by the sign. Barthes came to the conclusion that connotation produces the illusion of denotation, the illusion of the medium as transparent and of the signifier and the signified as being identical (1974:9). Barthes theories of denotation and connotation are the theory that this paper use to analyze characterization of each character in cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants” which contained connotative meanings. Like a word, pictures and symbols are contained connotative and denotative meanings too. It depends from which side a person sees it. Each character in cartoon “SpongBob SquarePants” has connotative and denotative meanings too which this paper would like to explain. This paper is made based on issues that cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants” are contained the seven deadly sins, which are:

    Pride (superbia)

    Pride is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God).

    Greed (avaritia)

    Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice or covetousness, is like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power. Greed is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one need, especially with respect to material wealth.

    Lust (luxuria)

    Lust is usually thought of as excessive thoughts or desires of a sexual nature. In Dante’s Purgatorio, the penitent walks within flames to purge himself of lustful/ sexual thoughts and feelings. In Dante’s Inferno, unforgiving souls of the sin of lust are blown about in restless hurricane-like winds symbolic of their own lack of self control to their lustful passions in earthly life. But, lust in this context is not about sexual desire but about excessive thing.

    Envy (invidia)

    Like greed, Envy (Latin, invidia) may be characterized by an insatiable desire; they differ, however, for two main reasons: * First, greed is largely associated with material goods, whereas envy may apply more generally. * Second, those who commit the sin of envy not only resent that another person has something they perceive themselves as lacking, but also wish the other person to be deprived of it.

    Gluttony (Gula or gullia)

    Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony (Latin, gula) is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.

    Wrath (ira)

    Wrath (Latin, ira), also known as “rage”, may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. Wrath, in its purest form, presents with self-destructiveness, violence, and hate that may provoke feuds that can go on for centuries. Feelings of anger can manifest in different ways, including impatience, revenge, and vigilantism.

    Sloth (acedia)

    Sloth is often seen as being considerably less serious than the other sins, more a sin of omission than of commission.


This research used analysis methods to conclude the data. This paper is collects the data from the internet, which are about characterization of each character on cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants”. Not only that, read the books about theories and characterization are necessary too. The most important tool for this work is the internet connection and books. After the data are collected, it needs time to study it. In data collection, the writer took the data from watching cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants” on television, then analyzes and related it with the theories which are used in this paper.


The cases would be explain in this paper is about characterization. In cartoon “Spongebob” there are seven main characters which have different traits and attitudes. First, this paper will explain about each character and analyze what is the meaning behind each character.

SpongeBob SquarePants is the principal character in the animated television series “SpongeBob SquarePants”, which first aired in July 1999 on Nickelodeon. SpongeBob is an anthropomorphic, yellow, porous, sponge with a face. He has disproportionally thin and short extremities extending from his body (arms and legs), and resembles a kitchen sponge more than a sea sponge. SpongeBob SquarePants is extremely sweet, generous, friendly, and most of all, trusting. Although he is an adult, he has a very childish nature. Behind his good traits, he has a bad trait which is lust. In essence, lust is not just sexual desire but also an unhealthy desire to be recognized others. It means that doing something excessively.

Lust was included to the seven deadly sins. If we are look in denotative meaning, characters of Spongebob Squarepants are funny and entertained. He is also a good friend and loves his job very much. But he is always doing something over load. For example, when SpongeBob mocked Sandy excessively. Not only that, almost in everything that he did, he always did it excessively. And this trait is includes to deadly sins.

The second character is Patrick Richard. He is about the same age as SpongeBob SquarePants, and is a plump, pink, friendly, well -meaning but highly- stupid. He is a best friend of SpongeBob. Behind his good character, he had bad nature which is lazy (sloth).

In denotative, we can conclude that Patrick is a funny and entertain character. The audiences often laugh because of his funny actions. But, if we are analyzing the connotative meaning, the sloth attitudes of Patrick contain the seven deadly sin. Sloth is a matter that is considered sinful, including laziness in action. Obviously this is the nature of Patrick. He lived under a rock all the time and never doing anything. Even in the episode “Big Pink Loser”, he is rewarded for not doing anything the longest.

The third character is Squidward Johannsen Tentacles. He is an octopus and has six tentacles. He uses two of them as arms and the other four as legs. Squidward lives in the Easter Island moai house between SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick. Despite his wish for peace and quiet, his two neighbors, SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick make it nearly impossible, due to their high level of childish immaturity and silliness. He is an arrogant and ill-tempered squid and dislikes his neighbors (especially SpongeBob).

In connotative meanings, the arrogant and ill- tempered of Squidward are included to the seven deadly sins. Anger involves feelings of hatred and anger. Squidward hates his life and also hate Sponge Bob, and most of his time spent on a temper tantrum. But in denotative meanings, maybe the arrogant and ill- tempered of Squidward will make us laugh at him. What he did to SpongeBob and Patrick always made the audience laughed because it reputed as entertainment. And we are not realized that wrath is included to the deadly sins.

The fourth character is Eugene Herbert Victor Krabs (or simply Mr. Krabs). Krabs is the penny-pinching owner of The Krusty Krab, a fast food restaurant in Bikini Bottom that employs SpongeBob and Squidward Tentacles. In contrast to his namesake, Krabs is something of a miser. However, he is not heartless, he cares about SpongeBob SquarePants (who keeps his restaurant afloat), dotes on his daughter Pearl Krabs, and in one episode, he found his second love (after money) in Mrs. Puff. Mr. Krabs’s rival is Sheldon J.

Plankton, the owner of rival restaurant The Chum Bucket across the street from his restaurant.

In denotative meaning, we can see that Mr. Krabs is a good character. He always support SpongeBob in anything. But if we are sees in connotative meaning, Mr. Krabs is a greedy character. He thought that money is everything. He will do anything to get the money even if it will come dangerous to him or others. This trait was included to seven deadly sins.

The fifth character is Gary the Snail. Gary is Spongebob’s pet snail, although his behavior in several aspects resembles a house cat. Gary is an intelligent, fully domesticated, sea snail born in Bikini Bottom. His intelligence shines through in the fact that he generally has much smarter solutions to SpongeBob’s dilemmas than SpongeBob does. Gary tends to disagree with some of SpongeBob’s ideas, and usually makes an effort to warn SpongeBob. Some of Gary’s meows are lower pitched, some are higher pitched; these could possibly indicated that Gary uses different tones of his voice to communicate with SpongeBob SquarePants.

In denotative, Gary is a funny character. His traits can entertain the audiences who watched. But if we are sees in connotative meaning, he has a bad trait which is gluttony. He always ate heartily. He does not want to share each other. He always spent something just by himself.

The sixth character is Sandra Sandy Squirrel. Sandy is a very talented and athletic squirrel born in the state of Texas on May 21, 1984, who moved to Bikini Bottom in the South Pacific Ocean underneath Bikini Atoll, for as yet unrevealed reasons. She lives in an air-filled habitat structure called the “Treedome”. Physically, Sandy is one of the strongest in Bikini Bottom. She claims to be stronger than Larry as the strongest one in Bikini Bottom and she can even pull down gigantic ships and boats from the surface of the ocean as seen in Sandy, SpongeBob and the Worm.

From the explanation above, we can see that Sandy has pride trait. This case was revealed by her claimed that she was the strongest one in Bikini Bottom.

Connotatively, it means that she has bad character which is pride. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Sandy is proud of who he was and where he came from. He was proud of the fact that he was from Texas, and delighted if everyone knows about it. He is also proud of the fact that he is mammals and terrestrial creatures, such as in the episode “Pressure”, where he tried to prove that the land creatures better than sea creatures. But if we look as denotatively, she is a good character and entertained. She always helped anyone who needs her.

The last main character is Sheldon J. Plankton. Plankton owns a restaurant called the The Chum Bucket that made the only competition of Mr. Krabs’ business in Bikini Bottom. Sheldon Plankton is the smallest of the characters in SpongeBob SquarePants, he is so tiny that he can fit into SpongeBob’s hand. Plankton is the only villain and antagonist character in SpongeBob SquarePants. He makes all sorts of major schemes to achieve his goals and most of the time gets involved with characters that are a lot stronger than him; actually, the fact that he is so small does not prevent him to have a huge ego and a really self-deceptive perception.

From the explanation above we can conclude that denotatively, Plankton has bad characters. He always wants to steal “krabby patty” recipe although he always failed to get it. If we are look as connotatively, Plankton has envy trait. Envy is one the seven deadly sins. For example, Plankton always envy to Mr. Krabs success, so he always tried to steal Mr. Krabs recipe of “krabby patty”. We concede the point that it is funny when we saw Plnkton’s behavior when he tried to steal. But maybe we never realize that in this character planted envy trait which included to one of seven deadly sins.


There are seven main characters in cartoon “SpongBob SquarePants”. Each character had own traits and behaviors. The denotative meanings of whole characters in this cartoon are they are all entertained and funny. The audience can consoled by their own traits. But when we look deeply, each character contained the seven deadly sins which are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. Subconsciously, when we are watched

cartoon “SpongBob SquarePants”, maybe it was entertained. But we never realized that each character in that cartoon hiding dangerous thing which are the seven deadly sins. So, we have to selective to choose what we are watched. We have to analyze whether it is good for watched or not especially for kids (pre or school age children). Children are very easy to influence something even if bad things. If we let our kids to watching this cartoon, it means that indirectly we are planted bad influences for kids such as the seven deadly sins which contained in characters in cartoon “SpongBob SquarePants”. If the inside of the children have planted such a bad influence, we are worried that they’ll make it happen in life. Of course this greatly affects the existence of national culture as the successor of the nation. Here indispensable role of parents in choosing a good show watched by children, because children have a habit of imitating. If this is too long left, we are not aware of having planted the bad influence of this cartoon in children. Not only that, there was also the issue that this cartoon can make the children harder to concentrate. This had been demonstrated by research conducted by the Virginia University. This study concluded that the existing character of the characters in cartoons like SpongeBob is considered less realistic for children aged 4 years. As a result, children are so hard to concentrate when thinking about something else. In addition to distraction, the influence of such impressions on the children also looked at the ability to complete a job. Children tend to be hard to finish one job because of problems with one of the intelligence component called executive ability. So not all the programs that we think are good and funny as well impact the entertainment and pleasure. It could be contained within the bad things that can damage morale and cultures. So we should be more selective in choosing a show to watch.


  1. Chandler, Daniel (2002) Semiotics: The Basics. London: Routledge.
  2. Barthes, Roland (1973/ 1974) S/Z. London: Cape
  3. Broto. 15 Mei 2008. “Tayangan Televisi Tak Cerminkan Budaya Bangsa”. http://www.menkokesra.go.id Kapanlagi.com, 23 Maret 2005.
  4. “Sekitar 84% Tayangan Film Kartun Tidak Layak Dikonsumsi Anak”. http://www.kapanlagi.com
  5. Prihadini, Isti. 14 Mei 2009. “Diet Kartun Untuk Anak”.
  6. http://www.pikiran-rakyat.com/
  7. http://hermawayne.blogspot.com/2011/02/sponge-bob-dan-7-dosa-besar.html
  8. http://members.outpost10f.com/~lindax/spongebob/character_spongebob.html
  9. http://www.colorado.edu/communication/metadiscourses/Papers/App_Papers/Lockwood.htm
  10. http://basisnews.com/2011/09/01/facts-about-the-cartoon-character-plankton-from-the-spongebob-squarepants-series/
  11. http://www.detikhealth.com/read/2011/09/12/164959/1720535/764/kartun-spongebob-bikin-balita-susah-konsentrasi
  12. h3<3>Appendices

  13. These are some pictures that taken from cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants” which contained the seven deadly sins.
  14. This picture showed that the lust of SpongeBob SquarePants. He was always doing something lustfully.

  15. This picture showed the laziness of Patrick. The laziness (sloth) is included to the seven deadly sins.
  16. This picture showed the wrath of Squidward.
  17. This picture showed the greed of Mr. Krabs. He was thought that money is everything.
  18. This picture showed the pride of Sandy. She was believed that she is the strongest one in Bikini Bottom.
  19. This picture showed the envy of Plankton. He always tried to steal Mr. Krabs recipe of “krabby patty” because he just envy with Mr. Krabs success.
  20. This picture showed the gluttony of Garry. In this case, the gluttony is more about food.

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