Teaching and driving are her passions in life, and she is talented at both, having taught every student other than SpongeBob how to drive. She is a very experienced shiphandler and shows a great deal of navigational and seafaring knowledge whenever she has to take the wheel. Her boating school is the only one in the ocean and is very popular. Her schoolhouse is recognizable for being attached to a submerged lighthouse and surrounded by an exaggeratedly difficult driving course, which is actually a stunt track.
Mrs. Puff and Mr. Eugene Krabs have been secretly dating each other for 16 years, as mentioned in "Whirly Brains." Eugene's love for her is enough to temporarily transcend his greed for money; however, he has been known to spend far too much on their dates. Although she goes by the title Mrs. Puff, she is not currently married; her deceased husband was caught by human divers a long time ago and turned into a novelty lamp.
Mrs. Puff has a very dubious and mysterious history, but it is clear that her past is a checkered and suspicious one full of misfortunes and criminal activity. All of her known relatives are no longer alive, but it is known that her family lineage has lived in and around Bikini Bottom since the days of the old west. However, Mrs. Puff did not grow up in Bikini Bottom as a kid. She was born in an unknown town and lived under an unspecified last name during her early years. As a little girl, she adopted a purple pet snail, who lived for a long time afterwards and was alive in "The Sponge Who Could Fly."
In her early adult years, she met her first husband Mr. Puff. The two were married until fishermen from the surface captured Mr. Puff and turned him into a novelty lamp cover ("Krusty Love"). At a later point, Mrs. Puff became a teacher and founded the first-ever underwater boating school. She ran this school until unspecified legal problems forced its closure, as mentioned in "No Free Rides." Without a job, she took up full-time bank robbery using a ski mask as a disguise (as seen in the comic Puff's Pageant). She still keeps her ski mask handy, just in case things take a turn for the worse again.
Mrs. Puff later moved to Bikini Bottom in an attempt to start a new life. She started up a new school, Mrs. Puff's Boating School. She vowed to never give up "as long as a student is willing to learn," as seen in a flashback from "Doing Time." Immediately after saying this, she met her first student, SpongeBob. Since then, every student except for SpongeBob has passed her driving test. Patrick Star, Squidward Tentacles, Sheldon J. Plankton, and Mr. Krabs have all passed her class at some point.
During her time in Bikini Bottom, Mrs. Puff has become notorious among the police force. She has gone to jail a myriad of times, normally due to SpongeBob's tendency to crash boats and cause terrible townwide destruction in the process. Her criminal record is the largest of any character on the show, and her ever-expanding list of arrests is a frequent source of humor. Mrs. Puff has been on parole for a long amount of time and, as seen in "Bumper to Bumper," wears an ankle monitor on one of her fins.
SpongeBob has attended her school ever since its opening, yet has failed his final driving exam countless times, often injuring Mrs. Puff and/or damaging the school and other people in the process.
SpongeBob, Mrs. Puff's longest-standing student, is the bane of her existence. His distracting personality, reckless driving, and inability to improve torment her to no end. SpongeBob has failed his driving test countless times, often sending Mrs. Puff to the hospital and causing immense property damage in the process. On multiple occasions, she has been sent to jail as a result of his actions. To make matters worse, SpongeBob has failed to come to terms with the reality that he cannot learn how to drive properly, largely due to his boundless optimism. Due to this, she and Squidward are on very good terms for good or evil since SpongeBob is also Squidward's bane of existence, so she has someone to relate to.
However, in comparison to Squidward, Mrs. Puff is much kinder to SpongeBob; while Squidward usually tells SpongeBob face-to-face that he hates him, Mrs. Puff has at least tried to hide her fury. Also, she has even acted nice to SpongeBob on some occasions, though these moments tend not to last very long.
Mrs. Puff is a beige pufferfish with light teal fins for limbs and five brown spots under her face. Each of her fins has three green lines on the center. Her back is light brown and covered in spikes. She has big eyes with lots of wrinkles around them, showing her old age. She also has a round beak that she usually wears pink lipstick over. She has a blonde hairpiece with an orange outline. Sometimes, when she moves quickly, her wig flies off of her head.
Her normal attire is a blue sailor's outfit with a yellow string necktie, a blue sailor cap, a red skirt, and dark red shoes. When she is in jail, her outfit is an orange version of her normal sailor's uniform. When she is on parole, her shoes are black and she has an ankle monitor.
When Mrs. Puff is scared, stressed, or involved in a boat crash, she puffs up into a ball. Some episodes show that how much she puffs up depends on the severity of the crash. This is her defining trait that makes her a pufferfish.
Creation and development
Her size has changed over the series. In the first three seasons of the show, she developed a shape and grew in size, but in seasons 4-present, she has been getting smaller and skinnier. In "Patrick-Man!," she is slightly shorter than Patrick, but in the first appearance of both together, "New Student Starfish," she is slightly taller.
Mrs. Puff is very paranoid and has a history of mental instability. In "No Free Rides," it is implied that she had to move to another town and start a new life with a new name from the past. While this is mostly caused by SpongeBob's antics, she also suffers her pain of losing her husband, who is now a reading lamp. She is also shown to have a strict Zero-Tolerance Policy in "New Student Starfish," as she accuses SpongeBob of all Patrick's disruptions and even ignores SpongeBob when he tries to explain anything and doesn't tolerate fighting. However, teaching and driving give her great joy, so her general outlook on life is a positive one and she always remains optimistic. When she does not have to drive with SpongeBob, she loves her job.
Overall, Mrs. Puff is a very patient and friendly fish. She thinks nothing is more satisfying than passing another boating student. While she does not always show it, her dislike toward driving with SpongeBob is not only caused by his dangerous antics but by a feeling of self-doubt and disappointment in herself as well. She desperately wants to pass him and she won't feel that she has succeeded as a teacher if SpongeBob never graduates. Thus, getting SpongeBob a driver's license is a goal shared by both of them and Mrs. Puff remains dedicated to continue teaching SpongeBob until that moment.
Since SpongeBob seems unteachable, Mrs. Puff often has to think outside the box in order to get closer to the goal of getting SpongeBob to drive. She often thinks up plans to find new ways of teaching him, hoping each time that she has found the key. While her plans never succeed, they have come exceedingly close. For example, in "Bumper to Bumper", she tries to rid SpongeBob of anxiety while driving by giving him the road test in a desert in the middle of nowhere. SpongeBob is able to clear his conscience and drives very well, but the driving test ends up being nullified because Mrs. Puff violated her parole when she drove so far away.
At the beginning of the series, Mrs. Puff seems to be a little optimistic towards SpongeBob and actually treats him like a good student, save for a few moments when SpongeBob crashes during the course. However, as the series progressed, Mrs. Puff seemed to have developed an intense hatred for him and can even get a bit of mental instability by just looking at him. In "Krusty Love," her thoughts and fears about SpongeBob cause her to think that she was giving SpongeBob a driving test even though they are not at school or driving.
In the episode "Demolition Doofus," it is shown that Mrs. Puff has finally been driven completely insane by SpongeBob's antics. After losing her ability to puff up, thanks to another failed test by SpongeBob, she becomes incredibly hostile towards him. After seeing the many hospitalized competitors of the annual demolition derby, she decides to sign SpongeBob up for it, hoping that he will get killed in the derby. However, SpongeBob proves to be very hard to take down and he even eliminates all the other competitors. At this point, Mrs. Puff enters the derby in a huge truck and tries to murder SpongeBob herself, only to crash into her own boating school and regain her ability to puff up. It is also her first known time tranquilized.
Mrs. Puff is courteous and respectful to her students, unless they cause trouble like SpongeBob. Despite being an authority figure, she threatens to kick SpongeBob's butt at the end of "The Bully," believing that SpongeBob punched Flats the Flounder when in reality he passed out from exhaustion after punching SpongeBob. When someone misbehaves in class, she can get very strict. She takes her zero-tolerance policy to its most extreme in "New Student Starfish" when she is completely oblivious to all of Patrick's disruptions but blames SpongeBob for everything, even telling SpongeBob he can't when he tries to explain what is going on. Of course, Mrs. Puff only acts this way because she cares about SpongeBob and Patrick's learning experience and doesn't want them to miss anything she teaches. The thought of SpongeBob intentionally misbehaving shocks her, since he usually tries his best in class.
Mrs. Puff is known to love food, especially chocolate cake and pasta. Sometimes, she uses idioms involving junk foods such as cake, like in "The Getaway" when she tells Dorsal Dan "you're no chocolate cake" as a way of saying "you're no good." She is even shown to like steamed coral in "Krusty Love", although it is shown in other episodes to be a very unappetizing and tasteless food.
There are a few things that Mrs. Puff notably hates. Her list of common annoyances in "Doing Time" includes phone solicitors, company potlucks, insurance payments, and especially road rage. She has an irrational fear of low-quality daytime television, to the point where watching it makes her burst into tears in "The Krabby Kronicle."
Her classroom pet peeves are rowdy behavior in the hallways and students talking to each other during a lesson. She also does not like it when a student interrupts her teaching and tries to teach the class themselves. This is highlighted in "Nautical Novice" when SpongeBob tries to impress Mrs. Puff by providing the class with an abundance of boating-related knowledge on their field trip in an attempt to earn his driver’s license. Instead of making her proud, SpongeBob actually makes Mrs. Puff angry because he does all of the teaching instead of her.
Ironically, she does not hate spending time in jail and actually likes it in prison because it offers her a break from the stresses of school life, particularly SpongeBob's reckless driving. In "Doing Time," she explains to SpongeBob and Patrick: "I like it here. These are my people!" Earlier in the episode, she is shown happily doing menial prison tasks like breaking rocks and making license plates while singing a cheery song.
Because her profession involves driving and a lot of boat crashes, she has an insurance agent and a personal therapist. Her agent has never made an appearance on screen, but she is known to call him or her whenever she knows SpongeBob will be around. Sometimes, such as in "Teacher's Pests," Mrs. Puff has to interrupt class to call her therapist and ask for a "mega dose" of anxiety medication.
Mrs. Puff is often accused of SpongeBob's reckless driving and havoc wreak, with the authorities believing that she fails to educate him, and usually gets arrested in each instance. She was blamed for SpongeBob's destruction of Bikini Bottom in "Hall Monitor," leading to her arrest. In "Patrick-Man!," Patrick frames Mrs. Puff for stealing a boat when she was trying to free a student trapped in it. The authorities believe him and thereby arrest Mrs. Puff. In "The Sponge Who Could Fly," Mrs. Puff is among the many citizens rioting against SpongeBob for refusing to do anymore favors.
During the comic Puff's Pageant, it's revealed that Mrs. Puff has robbed multiple banks, and that she may go back to robbing banks if she loses her boating school.
In "Hall Monitor," SpongeBob causes a lot of damage to Bikini Bottom. However, the police arrest her instead, even though SpongeBob was the one who destroyed the city and not her.
In "Mrs. Puff, You're Fired," she is fired because SpongeBob has failed his boating test far too many times. However, all the other students are able to pass and even when the best instructor is hired, he still can't teach him.
In "Oral Report," SpongeBob steals her boatmobile and causes some damage. However, she is arrested simply for being SpongeBob's instructor, overlooking the fact that she didn't instruct her students to do what he did and the fact that SpongeBob stole her boat and is simply "unteachable."
In "Patrick-Man!," she tries to help a driver out of his boat. However, Patrick accuses of her stealing it, prompting her arrest.
Mrs. Puff owns the Bikini Bottom boating school, which functions like a driver's education class under the sea. The schoolyard is made of a sunken lighthouse, a yellow school building, and a boardwalk. Maritime objects for décor, like buoys and anchors, make up the fence that surrounds the area. Just like Mrs. Puff's sailor outfit, most things at the boating school have a nautical theme.
Unlike real courses for driver's ed students, the enclosed test course at Mrs. Puff's school is a stunt track, exaggerated for comedic effect: there are bleachers for an audience of fans, stunt ramps, a race-style finish line, and even a hoop of fire. In some episodes, the testing course is even more elaborate with moving cutouts of obstacles and pedestrians ("Mrs. Puff, You're Fired").
Mrs. Puff's classroom building looks small, but it actually contains two floors, an entire hallway, and multiple rooms, the main one being her classroom. The hallways have lockers, photos of Mrs. Puff on the walls, and trophy cases. There are also two restrooms for boy and girl students. In "New Student Starfish," SpongeBob has names for all of the places at boating school: the Hallway of Learning, the Fountain of Learning, the Lockers of Learning, the Stairs of Learning, and—for the second flight of stairs—"just the stairs."
Boating school students spend the majority of their time in the classroom, where there are desks made of seashells. Mrs. Puff has a collection of posters on the walls that show labeled diagrams of boats and maritime signal flags. The walls are also decorated with ship paddles, steering wheels, and paintings of the ocean. She usually teaches the class by writing on her chalkboard, which looks like any other writing surface but is actually similar to a one-way mirror, allowing her to stand outside the classroom and watch students from behind it without them knowing.
Near the chalkboard is the board for Good Noodle star stickers, which Mrs. Puff awards to students for good behavior. Each student's name is written on the board and one star is added if they answer a question correctly or have outstanding classwork. If a student misbehaves, she takes one of their stars away. Most students only have a couple stars, but SpongeBob has loads of them collected near his name on the board. He obsesses over the stars and can't bear to lose any.
The course at Mrs. Puff's school is divided into numbered lessons, each one taking up one full day of school. For example, the lesson of the day in "New Student Starfish" is Lesson 22: Docking. Her students only need a handful of specific school supplies: mainly their driver's manuals, which are similar to textbooks in a regular school, and writing utensils. Lessons usually involve a lecture from Mrs. Puff that students are expected to take notes on.
Many aspects of boating school are more similar to elementary school than to driver's ed; for example, recess and lunchtime are part of the everyday schedule. There is no cafeteria, but students are allowed to eat outside on the benches. If they choose, students like Squidward can also have lunch in the bathroom stalls, as seen in "Boating Buddies." Mrs. Puff gives rowdy students detention, albeit very rarely. When a student is in detention, they have to stay seated in their seashell desk for an entire hour without doing anything. This is negative reinforcement for their bad behavior.
Like most teachers, Mrs. Puff routinely gives out homework and papers for her students to complete. Some of the assignments she gives are based on a simple driving-related topic. Other times, they are more particular or superfluous, like reading about aspects of boating history ("Nautical Novice"). SpongeBob always does his classwork diligently and in short amounts of time, but when he has homework from Mrs. Puff, he has a tendency to procrastinate on it until the last minute. This can be seen in "Procrastination," where Mrs. Puff assigns SpongeBob an essay about what not to do at a stoplight. He spends the entire night finding ways to put it off, eventually dozing off into a nightmare about his house burning down because he never wrote his paper. Luckily, he wakes up and uses everything he did to procrastinate as examples of what not to do at a stoplight.
Mr. Puff (husband)
Mrs. Puff is revealed to have had a husband in the episode "Krusty Love." However, he passed away and was turned into a lamp at a gift shop. She has since had trouble recovering from this tragedy with SpongeBob stating that she does not like to talk about it.
SpongeBob SquarePants has attended Mrs. Puff's Boating School ever since its founding. He was the first student to show up when she announced it was open. He is a relentlessly obedient and well-intentioned student who knows the answer to every question, aces the oral exam every time he takes it, and obsesses over earning the Good Noodle stars that Mrs. Puff displays near her chalkboard. He often brings her apples as a courtesy, and she even has a whole crate of them below her desk. He would be her best student if it weren't for his tendency to freak out whenever he actually steps inside of a boat. He has failed his final driving exam countless times, often injuring Mrs. Puff and damaging her school in the process. He knows every rule of the road, but wishes he could only drive like he knew them.
SpongeBob does not just respect Mrs. Puff as a teacher; he idolizes her and she acts as a motherly figure to him. She is said to be his favorite teacher, as well as one of his best friends. In the book "The Art Contest," SpongeBob even paints a masterpiece resembling the Mona Lisa in Mrs. Puff's likeness. SpongeBob gets upset whenever she is not at school and has cried over her many times. He oddly seems to think her criminal record is a good thing; in a tweet from Nickelodeon, he said, "
Mrs. Puff is no common criminal! She is the most unique criminal you will ever meet."
In Class Confusion, SpongeBob bursts into tears after Mrs. Puff is absent at school. He tells Patrick, "Mrs. Puff wasn't at school today, and there was a sub who didn't do anything the right way, and I was supposed to stay after school for extra help!" Patrick calms him down, saying, "I'm sure Mrs. Puff will be back tomorrow...you'll be failing another driving test before you know it!" SpongeBob replies, "I hope so," giving the impression that he may be failing on purpose just so that he can continue to go to Boating School.
One of the most important moments showing how deeply SpongeBob cares for Mrs. Puff is "Gone." SpongeBob finds that all of his friends have gone missing and vows to continue their legacies for them by carrying out their professions. He imitates the other Bikini Bottomites with ease, but it is Mrs. Puff's absence that makes SpongeBob crack. He goes straight from his happy demeanor to a sobbing mess while imitating her. He is unable to finish pronouncing Mrs. Puff's name without crying. He also states he will never be happy again as he cannot replace Mrs. Puff and his other close friends.
SpongeBob longs to be Mrs. Puff's best student and occasionally becomes depressed over his helplessness behind the wheel. In "Burst Your Bubble," after crashing during his driving test yet again, SpongeBob solemnly walks home in despair. Behind his house, he blows up a bubble version of Mrs. Puff to tell him the words he longs to hear: "You're a very good driver, SpongeBob, and my favorite student!"
Mrs. Puff, on the other hand, tends to find SpongeBob exasperating but nevertheless tries to be patient and acts friendly around him. They have a very close bond since SpongeBob is her perpetual student. She knows his phone number ("Procrastination") and has visited his house countless times. It is shown in many episodes that she is a motherly figure that SpongeBob looks up to. Episodes such as "Hall Monitor" and "Oral Report" reveal that Mrs. Puff sees SpongeBob as her responsibility, like a parent would view their child.
Mrs. Puff tends to care for Squidward more than SpongeBob due to having good driving skills as opposed to SpongeBob. It is even shown that she portrayed him in a documentary as a "good boater." They also share a common dislike of SpongeBob, as he is always getting both of them into trouble for things that sometimes aren't even their fault.
Mrs. Puff is commonly annoyed by Patrick, as shown in "New Student Starfish," when he was being an annoyance and also wrote an offensive note behind her back. In "Doing Time," SpongeBob brings Patrick along to help break Mrs. Puff out of jail and she asks, "Why'd you bring him?," sounding a bit annoyed. In "Driven to Tears," he says that she isn't the boss of him, thus annoying her. However, he does show that he knows how to drive, thus leading to SpongeBob's jealous side taking control of himself. Also, in "Patrick-Man!," Patrick accuses her of stealing a boat, even though she is actually trying to help someone to escape from it. However, she is falsely accused and sent to prison for it.
Mr. Krabs and Mrs. Puff have been dating secretly for at least sixteen years. In "Whirly Brains," Mrs. Puff and Mr. Krabs go on a date behind a dumpster. It is mentioned that they have been in a relationship for sixteen years. In "Feral Friends," they almost kiss before they are turned into feral creatures.
They first meet in "Krusty Love" where Mr. Krabs notices Mrs. Puff at the Krusty Krab and tries to talk to her. He is so nervous that he can't speak in real words or full sentences. However, Mrs. Puff says he has a "way with words" and immediately accepts, having fallen a little for him already at this point. They go on their first date at the Fancy! restaurant. Later, Mr. Krabs' lovestruck instincts get the best of him and he orders SpongeBob to buy Mrs. Puff all kinds of superfluous things. Luckily, Mrs. Puff tells Mr. Krabs that she doesn't feel comfortable accepting so many gifts and would rather "go Dutch." She even gives him a little money in return and kisses him on his forehead as the episode ends, foreshadowing their continued relationship.
In "Life of Crime," when SpongeBob and Patrick find out about everything Mr. Krabs stole ("borrowed") from his friends, Mr. Krabs points out that he actually received Mrs. Puff's hair curlers as a gift and did not steal them. When SpongeBob and Patrick leave, Mr. Krabs cuddles Mrs. Puff's hair curlers and says "That was a close one!"—showing that he cherishes them.
There have also been many small hints and references to their infatuation with each other, like them sharing a dance in "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler" and "SpongeBob's House Party." Mrs. Puff is shown to own a framed photo of Mr. Krabs in "Spot Returns." According to SpongeBob, "If your boss thinks your driving teacher is more attractive than a Krabby Patty with cheese, it's true love."
Despite being in a relationship, Mr. Krabs invades Mrs. Puff's property at night to obtain food for Pearl in "Growth Spout." Mrs. Puff arms herself with a crowbar but never finds out who broke into her house. In "Summer Job," Mrs. Puff asks Mr. Krabs if he thinks they should go on a date, but he instead says that she should work at the Krusty Krab.
In "Teacher's Pests," Plankton is enrolled at Mrs. Puff's school. Despite Plankton's intense rivalry with Mr. Krabs, Mrs. Puff does not seem to mind him. She only gets upset when Krabs and Plankton argue. In "Plankton Paranoia," Mrs. Puff helps to organize Plankton's surprise party for Mr. Krabs.
Mrs. Puff has nearly died almost every time SpongeBob takes a driving test with her.
"Boating School" - SpongeBob crashes and sends Mrs. Puff to the hospital twice.
"Valentine's Day" - When SpongeBob gives her a valentine, Mrs. Puff gets distracted and crashes her boat into a fire hydrant.
"Dying for Pie" - The boating school lighthouse is seen as one of the buildings that blow up because of the bomb Squidward gives SpongeBob.
"No Free Rides" - Mrs. Puff accidentally drives Boaty off of a cliff and onto a police vehicle.
"Doing Time" - The boating school explodes into a mushroom cloud at the beginning. Later, Mrs. Puff becomes trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of screaming while SpongeBob recklessly drives through the sky.
"Pranks a Lot" - After SpongeBob and Patrick scare her, Mrs. Puff deflates like a broken balloon.
"Mrs. Puff, You're Fired" - Mrs. Puff is nearly hit by SpongeBob's boat when he tries to drive without a blindfold.
"Driven to Tears" - It is not shown, but SpongeBob fails his driving test at the beginning of the episode and likely endangers Mrs. Puff as always.
"Boat Smarts" - Mrs. Puff and Squidward are greatly endangered when SpongeBob causes them to crash.
"Nautical Novice" - Mrs. Puff is on board when SpongeBob nearly drives the ship that was turned into the Bikini Bottom Museum of Boating into town. She warns him that they will be "flattening millions of innocent lives" if the boat is not stopped.
"Boating Buddies" - Mrs. Puff is first endangered when SpongeBob recklessly drives and crashes the testing boat through a variety of shops with her inside. Later, Mrs. Puff is shrunken along with SpongeBob and Squidward. When they run onto a potato chip, a mailman nearly eats them.
"Summer Job" - She crashes into the Krusty Krab with her boat.
"Bumper to Bumper" - She and SpongeBob take a wrong turn onto a dangerous ten-lane seaway, where they nearly crash into dozens of other boats.
"Code Yellow" - While Mrs. Puff is being treated by an iron lung machine in the hospital, SpongeBob tries to drive the machine and ends up catapulting Mrs. Puff out the window.
"Burst Your Bubble" - At the beginning of the episode, SpongeBob crashes the testing boat with Mrs. Puff inside on a busy street. Later, Mrs. Puff tries to drive a bubble boat on the open road and bumps into many other drivers.
"The Getaway" - At the beginning, she and SpongeBob drive in a graveyard and fall into a grave. Later, she and Dorsal Dan go on a dangerous high-speed chase to catch up with SpongeBob, nearly crashing multiple times.
"Drive Happy" - Mrs. Puff swerves her boat and crashes into a junkyard. She then gets crushed by a boat-smashing machine, but is okay afterwards.
"My Leg!" - SpongeBob once again crashes into Mrs. Puff's lighthouse with her in the vehicle.
"Built By Me: Nicktoons Network" - During the "Don't Be a Jerk (It's Christmas)" music video made in stop-motion with LEGO sets, Mrs. Puff is in a boat crash with a fish student and escorts him onto a stretcher.