The creator of the long-running hit Nickelodeon show SpongeBob SquarePants has died. News of Stephen Hillenburg’s passing was announced by the network Tuesday. He was 57.
The network’s statement confirmed that Hillenburg passed away due to complications with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a condition he revealed back in March.
“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,” the network said.
“Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere,” the statement continued. “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 shared the news on social media, marking “a moment of silence to honor his life and work.”
💛 We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work. 💛
— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) November 27, 2018