In the middle of the night, an unseen creature lurks into Bikini Bottom and causes havoc, taking gigantic bites out of everything in sight. Soon it appears at SpongeBob's house and decimates the pineapple, SpongeBob waking up just in time to see the beast. The next morning at the Krusty Krab, he tells the frightened crowd of the Alaskan Bull Worm that he saw, and the townspeople corroborate his tale of woe. They agree that they need a plan to protect themselves from this monster.
Patrick suggests physically pushing the town to a safer location, but this idea is immediately shot down. Among the other suggestions is that someone should take on the beast, and that someone willing to do the job turns out to be Sandy. She shows the crowd that her tail has also been eaten by the worm, and vows to go defeat it to get her tail back. Nearly everyone cheers, but SpongeBob is terrified and asks Sandy to reconsider. Sandy doesn't stay to listen to his pleas and rushes out, so SpongeBob goes after her. The townspeople then decide, as a backup plan, to start shoving the city out of harm's way.
SpongeBob catches up to Sandy and again tries to to dissuade her from her crusade. Sandy scoffs at his fears, sure of her own strength and of the need to retrieve her tail. SpongeBob meekly informs her that he's the one who has her tail, but when she asks to see it, all he can produce is a paperclip and a piece of string. Nevertheless, he keeps trying to stop her from proceeding. Nothing he does slows her down, so he begs her to give up, that she has no idea what she's up against. Sandy, annoyed at SpongeBob's constant worrying, commands him to agree that there's no animal too big or dangerous for her to handle.
They reach a large, moist cave that seems to be the lair of the worm, and against SpongeBob's protestations, Sandy heads inside to do battle with the creature. She manages to wrangle the wriggly monstrosity and tie it in a knot, proudly presenting it and her reunited tail to SpongeBob. He timidly points out that what she's defeated is not the Alaskan Bull Worm, but rather its tongue. After contemplating the fact that the cave itself is the worm, Sandy sagely decides to hightail it.
The giant worm gives chase, but even as SpongeBob and Sandy run for dear life, SpongeBob can't help but point out he was right all along, coercing Sandy into admitting it. Still needing a way to escape, Sandy takes the paperclip and string SpongeBob showed her earlier and uses them to snag a branch of coral. She swings them out of the charging worm's path, leaving it to hurtle off a cliff. Sandy and SpongeBob congratulate themselves and head off to inform the town of the worm's defeat.
Meanwhile, the townspeople have finished moving the city to the bottom of the cliff and give a cheer, just as the plummeting worm lands right on top of it and utters a pitiful "Ow."
This is the second episode where a character enters a creature cavity thinking it is a cave, the first was "Prehibernation Week."
Patrick's idea to take Bikini Bottom and push it somewhere else has become popular on the internet and is popularly known as "Pushing Patrick" or "Push It Somewhere Else Patrick."
At one point, Squidward says that Patrick's idea may just be crazy enough to get everyone killed. Ironically, at the end of the episode, everyone is crushed by the worm when it crashes on top of the town.
YTV sometimes listed this episode as "The Worm" on the television guide instead of its actual name.
SpongeBob wears a squirrel mask in this episode that had previously appeared in the episode "Karate Choppers."
The Alaskan Bull Worm from this episode appears later in the Creature from the Krusty Krab video game. However, in the game, SpongeBob falls into the worm and builds an airplane to escape.
The meaningless words said by SpongeBob to slow down Sandy is very similar to the french word "Blargen Fedibble Mechech," which basically means nothing except to show some sort of emotion, in this case, that would be affliction.
The episode's plot is a parody of the movie Tremors. It features worm-like monsters called Graboids which terrorized and ate people. The end of this episode, which shows the Alaskan Bull Worm fall off the cliff, is a parody of the end of Tremors.
The episode references the novel Dune when Sandy finds the worm sign and when she and SpongeBob ride the worm.
At the beginning, when everyone is discussing how to capture the worm, it is a parody of the classic film Jaws.
In the scene where Sandy enters the worm, she thinks the tongue is a worm. This may be a reference to the fifth Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back, where the Millennium Falcon flies into the worm's mouth, thinking it's a cave.
When the mother says that the worm ate her children's homework, it is a reference to the excuse of what children say to get out of their homework, when they say a dog ate it.
When the worm is chasing Sandy and SpongeBob, it is shown to be as tall as five times Sandy's height, but when it falls off of the cliff, it is shown to be bigger than all of Bikini Bottom. Additionally, the worm's size is inconsistent throughout the chase scene.
When Sandy realizes that she only beat up the worm's tongue and that what she thought was a "cave" was the actual worm, the captions say "(voice breaking)" over her lines, even though she was nowhere near tears. The person who typed out the closed-captions probably made this mistake because Sandy was so hesitant from being nervous.
When Sandy says, "Well, I gotta admit, that slowed me down, but I'm still going for him," her voice is out of sync with the animation.