Nickelodeon broke the sad news on Tuesday afternoon that SpongeBob SquarePants, creator Stephen Hillenburg passed away at the age of 57.

“We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants,” Nickelodeon wrote in a tweet. “Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work.”

Variety States that the cause of Hillenburg’s death was ALS, which he earlier revealed he had been diagnosed with Back in March 2017.

“We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS,” Nickelodeon said in a statement. “He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family. Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. 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.”

Hillenburg gained popularity while working as a director on Rocko’s Modern Life. Till the time, the show’s final season came around, he was promoted to creative director.

From there, he went on to create Spongebob Squarepants for Nickelodeon, which happens to be the one of the most popular series ever created by the network. Season 12 of Spongebob SquarePants is set to debut in 2019.

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