Stephen McDannell "Steve" Hillenburg (August 21, 1961 – November 26, 2018) was an American marine biologist, marine science teacher, and animator best known for creating the Nickelodeon series SpongeBob SquarePants. He owned the series' production company, United Plankton Pictures, and was also a writer for Rocko's Modern Life. In 1998, he married his wife Karen Hillenburg, whom he named Karen Plankton after. They had one son together.

On November 26, 2018, Hillenburg passed away from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).


  • He served as the creative director/producer for the last season of Rocko's Modern Life.
  • Hillenburg was the first creator of a Nickelodeon animated series (Nicktoons) to pass away.
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