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Ever since a We Are Family Foundation video promoting equality was uploaded by Dr. James Dobson in 2005, the SpongeBob SquarePants series sparked mass controversy and lead to thousands of complaints from parents and rumors of the character being gay. However, creator Stephen Hillenburg has since dismissed these rumors and confirmed that the character is asexual. Ever since the series has been an occasional subject of controversy. The following is a list of episodes noted for being involved in public controversies and criticism.
- "Sailor Mouth" — The Parents Television Council criticized the message of this episode for its promotion of profanity use toward young audiences.
- "Rock-a-Bye Bivalve" — Many news outlets and parents viewed this 2002 episode as a strong indication of SpongeBob's homosexuality, due to him and Patrick's parenting of a baby scallop and overall depiction of a gay couple.
- "Selling Out" and "SpongeBob's Last Stand" have also been panned by the Parents Television Council for their promotion of environmentalism and left-wing politics due to their negative portrayal of big business.
- "SpongeBob You're Fired" — This 2013 SpongeBob SquarePants TV special was critically panned by numerous outlets as a result of Patrick Star's glorification of unemployment. Attention was also brought to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in regards of this episode, and numerous news reports in 2013, most notably Fox News, highlighted the controversy by headlines.