SpongeBob SquarePants fans are calling on Nickelodeon to "bring back" a Season 3 episode after it was removed over its controversial and inappropriate storyline. In late March, fans of the beloved animated series noticed that Season 3's "Mid-Life Crustacean" was no longer available for viewing, having been pulled on Paramount+, which you can subscribe to by clicking here, and Amazon Prime Video. The episode featured three of the show's male characters – Mr. Krabs, SpongeBob, and Patrick – going on a "Panty Raid."
In the wake of the episode's removal, one diehard fan of the long-running series, obviously upset over the "fan-favorite" episode being pulled, created a Change.org petition calling on the network to "Bring Back 'Mid-Life Crustacean'!" The petition's creator noted that while "Mid-Life Crustacean" was removed, its sister episode, "The Great Snail Race," "still remains." The petitioner argued that "this has upset a lot of fans."
As the writer noted, the controversial episode featured Mr. Krabs experiencing a mid-life crisis. In an effort to pull him out of it, SpongeBob and Patrick Star embark with him on a "night of debauchery," which includes picking up litter, sitting in a kiddie pool, and playing Dungeons & Dragons. The night culminates with them going on a "Panty Raid," which the petitioner noted just so happens to be at "the home of Krabs' mother, who gives him an earful." While it is largely believed the episode was pulled due to this raid, with the petitioner suggesting Nickelodeon "simply thought this moment of the episode was simply inappropriate for kids," the removal has upset many.
According to the petition, "Nickelodeon already knows that a large portion of the fanbase is composed of nostalgic adults," and as such, a more appropriate measure, the petition suggests, could have been bumping "up the rating on this episode or include a warning or something else, because if media is to be removed from streaming due to its content, it should be for reasons such as racial insensitivity or anything else of the like that actually proves harmful to society." The petitioner notes that other controversial episodes, including "Are You Happy Now?," which "features a handful of grim SUICIDE JOKES," are still available for viewing. Calling Nickelodeon "hypocrites," the petitioner wrote, "if this petition fails, this episode could be removed from broadcast circulation, and we may never be able to legally view or stream these episodes again except on home video, which is barely used anymore. If we succeed, a fan-favorite episode will be restored, and the fanbase shall rejoice." The petition has since garnered 70 signatures with a current goal of 100.
According to David Bittler, a spokesman for Nickelodeon who spoke to The New York Times, "Mid-Life Crustacean," which originally aired in 2002, was removed from rotation on the network in 2018 "following a standards review in which we determined some story elements were not kid-appropriate." A second episode, the yet-to-air "Kwarantined Crab" from the show's currently airing 12th season, has also been pulled. The episode features a virus storyline, with Nickelodeon stating they "decided to not air it due to sensitivities surrounding the global, real-world pandemic." Disclosure: PopCulture is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.