The Krusty Krab has reached closing time and SpongeBob is about to leave, but is ordered by Mr. Krabs to take the trash on his way out. When SpongeBob goes around to the back of the restaurant, he peruses some of the dumpster writing, one passage in particular beginning: "Krabs is a..." As SpongeBob reads the last word, a nearby garbage man rebukes him. Unperturbed, SpongeBob repeats this new word to Patrick, who believes it to be a "sentence enhancer" used in refined conversation. They quickly take to this new addition to their vocabulary.
The next day, SpongeBob walks into the Krusty Krab and greets Patrick with their new word before sharing it with everyone else over the intercom. The Krusty Krab customers are appalled by what they hear and leave. While in the bathroom, Mr. Krabs is alerted to the empty restaurant and rushes out. After hearing of SpongeBob and Patrick's new word from Squidward, Mr. Krabs sternly informs them that it is actually the eleventh of thirteen vulgar words that should never be uttered. SpongeBob and Patrick wipe the expletive from their tongues and promise Mr. Krabs that they will never use it again.
Later, at SpongeBob's house, the friends play a rousing game of Eels and Escalators. Patrick keeps moving up escalators while SpongeBob gets sent down the eels. After losing the game, SpongeBob angrily shouts out "Number 11". Patrick then races to the Krusty Krab to tattle to Mr. Krabs while SpongeBob tries to stop him. During the chase, Patrick repeats the swear word, giving SpongeBob the excuse to tell on him instead. Thanks to Patrick's detour aboard an ice cream truck, SpongeBob reaches the Krusty Krab first and rushes to Mr. Krabs. However, SpongeBob can't get to the point, giving Patrick time to catch up and add to the clamor. Eventually, Mr. Krabs commands them to spit out what they mean to say, which turns out to be the bad word.
Enraged, Mr. Krabs takes SpongeBob and Patrick outside and tells them to wait. Fearing their upcoming retribution, the two friends apologize to each other and vow to strike the word permanently from their lips. Mr. Krabs returns with cans of paint for them to give the Krusty Krab a fresh coat as punishment. However, he hits his foot on a rock, and in his pain, he shouts all thirteen expletives. Once SpongeBob and Patrick tally the curses, they run to Mama Krabs' house to tell on her son. As Mama Krabs answers the door, she is greeted by a cacophony of swearing from all three of them, causing her to faint.
Mr. Krabs reprimands SpongeBob and Patrick for using such salty language in front of his mother. Mama Krabs, regaining consciousness, scolds all three for their sailor mouths and sets them to work painting her house. After some time, she decides to reward them with some lemonade. On her way to get it, she hits her foot on a rock and shouts in pain. What they take to be a bad word, however, is actually the car horn of Old Man Jenkins' jalopy, giving them all a good laugh.
This episode became controversial as this episode teaches children the inappropriate words, even though the episode bleeps them out with marine sound effects (i.e. foghorn, seal barking, dolphin chirping, etc.) so the kids don’t know what they said. The point is to deter swearing.
This episode also drew criticism from the Parents' Television Council and the fans who felt it encouraged children to use profanity. Despite this, the episode taught that it was wrong to do so and that it results in being punished: when Mr. Krabs told Patrick and SpongeBob they were using bad words, they were horrified. And, when they used them again, they were punished with painting the Krusty Krab and Mrs. Krabs' house.
"Sailor Mouth" was ranked #96 during the Best Day Ever event on November 9–10, 2006.
As of May 11, 2017, The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) gives this episode a rating of 9.3/10 based on 381 ratings by users. TV.com users give this episode a 9.1/10 based on 195 votes.
This section contains speculative information. This information has not been confirmed. Please keep this in mind.
This episode is very similar to the episode "Rude Removal" of Dexter's Laboratory. It is also similar to the episode "To Bleep Or Not To Bleep" of Tiny Toon Adventures. However, Rude Removal got banned and this did not.
SpongeBob had presumably sworn before in "Krusty Love," two episodes prior to this. The swears in said episode were not bleeped, but either gibberish or profanities native only to ocean dwellers and they may not have been as awful as the ones said in Sailor Mouth.
If one would look closely on the dumpster, one can see the words "Patchy was here." This is a reference to Patchy the Pirate.
Originally, during the Eels and Escalators game, SpongeBob was going to say: "Go (dolphin chirp) yourself!" and Patrick was to say: "(dolphin chirp) you, too!" However, this was removed as it would have been inappropriate for younger audiences, because even if the word was censored it would be quite obvious what they were saying.
According to two interviews found here and here, the idea for this episode came from a childhood experience:
Learning a curse word is a classic thing that all kids go through. It was inspired by creative director Derek Drymon's experience of getting in trouble as a child for using the f-word in front of his mother. Drymon said, "The scene where Patrick is running to Mr. Krabs to tattle, with SpongeBob chasing him, is pretty much how it happened in real life." The end of the episode, where Mr. Krabs uses more profanity than SpongeBob and Patrick, was inspired "by the fact that my Drymon's mother has a sailor mouth herself."
In the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie video game, bad word number 11 is said twice in Planktopolis.
This episode was quoted to be Chris Pine's favorite episode.
In Croatian dub, the episode name is "Prostaci" translating to "Hecklers."
This episode is based on the reputation of sailors to use an abundance of profanities. The episode's title is based on the term "sailor mouth," meaning someone who swears a lot. Other terms include "swearing like a sailor." Among other names are foul-mouth and potty mouth (no relation to Potty the Parrot).
In the Russian dub, the amount of bad words Squidward knows is 8 instead of 7.
In the Brazilian dubbing, Betsy Krabs has a deep masculine voice.
This episode, along with "Artist Unknown," were the first to air after the 9/11 attacks.
Dolphin noises are heard in other episodes, but they are not used to censor expletives. An example would be the dolphin noises in "Jellyfish Jam." Another one would be SpongeBob making dolphin noises in "The Paper" and "You Don't Know Sponge."
Some of the dumpster writings:
Up with bubbles, down with air
Patchy was here
Dogfish ♥s Catfish
Starfish rool (reference to Patrick)
Nematodes are people, too
Squidward smells GOOD (the last word added by SpongeBob, who assumed that the writing was unfinished).
Krabs is a (dolphin chirp)
The "Squidward Smells" writing behind the green mess on the dumpster looks very similar to the "Something Smells" title card both in appearance and name.
Patrick calling Mr. Krabs a "red sweaty guy" may be a reference to the season one episode, "Arrgh!"
When Squidward whispered in Mr. Krabs about what word SpongeBob said, he actually said "Johnny Vandalism."
Some of the profanity sounds may be a reference to part of a Rocko's Modern Life episode, where Rocko and Heifer are at an appliance convention to help Rocko to find the correct tools to clean up Rocko's kitchen. They come across a book that has some of the profanity sounds heard in this episode.
The plot of this episode is similar to the plot of the original Powerpuff Girls episode "Curses," where Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup learn a curse word and start constantly using it. Also, there were random cartoon sounds covering up the words, just like this episode.
On the Dumpster the word, "Onix" is written, which is most likely a reference to the Pokémon of the same name.
When Mr. Krabs asks, "What kind of things?" the closed-caption says "What things?"
When the mama octopus is blocking her children's ears, the cap on the son she misses is red, but when it closed up, it was blue.
When SpongeBob says: "Yea verily. Now, let's play a nice wholesome game of "Eels and Escalators." It shows the game board, but SpongeBob's left arm and the dice that SpongeBob had on his left hand are missing, while Patrick is sitting down. The next scene when Patrick says: "Oh boy, my favorite!" He is lying down, again. This may be due to the still paint scene error.
When Mr. Krabs says: "From top to bottom." Before his right foot hits the rock, he had his teeth together because his mouth wasn't in sync with the dialogue.
When Mr. Krabs' right foot got hit, he held his left foot which was uninjured. Mama Krabs had the same error.
When Mr. Krabs pulls the penny out of Mama Krabs' pocket, it is nickel instead of copper.
In the scene with the kids laughing at SpongeBob saying bad words, A child's hat is red. In the next scene, The child has a blue hat.
When SpongeBob and Patrick promise to Mr. Krabs that they'll never use number 11 again, one of SpongeBob's eyelashes is missing.