‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ With Virus Storyline Pulled by Nickelodeon

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An episode titled “Kwarantined Krab” has been pulled from the SpongeBob SquarePants catalogue before its airing in the U.S.

From the current 12th season, it focuses on a virus, and has been deemed too similar to what’s been going on with COVID-19. “We have decided to not air it due to the sensitivities surrounding the global, real-world pandemic,” a Nickelodeon spokesperson said in a statement obtained by IGN.

In the episode, the Health Inspector finds “Clam Flu” at the Krusty Krab restaurant and everyone inside must quarantine. Those suspected of being infected are put in the freezer.

That’s the second SpongeBob SquarePants episode to be pulled due to a storyline. The other is “Mid-Life Crustacean,” which aired in 2003 and was removed from “rotation since 2018, following a standards review in which we determined some story elements were not kid-appropriate,” Nickelodeon told IGN. It did not expand on specifics.

In that episode, Mr. Krabs has a mid-life crisis. He then joins SpongeBob and Patrick for a night out. Speculation is that the three partake in a “panty raid” to steal what turns out to be Mr. Krabs’ mother’s underwear.

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This isn’t the first episode not to air due to a storyline being similar to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In the spring, NBC didn’t air an episode of New Amsterdam about a flu outbreak in New York because of it. (Instead, the scenes featuring a new character, Dr. Cassian Shin, played by Daniel Dae Kim, were shown before what ended up being the season finale.)