One morning, SpongeBob starts the day at home opening a box of Kelpo, featuring "one of eight essential prizes inside." He pours out the whole box, but cannot find any prize. Suddenly, a giant anchor crashes into SpongeBob's house, which SpongeBob then believes to be a "baby" from the sky. He and Patrick alert Squidward, who explains that it is merely a giant anchor. Suddenly, the anchor shifts, crashing into Squidward's house as well. Squidward begins climbing the anchor's rope to complain to the owner, SpongeBob and Patrick following behind him.
They find out that the anchor was dropped from the Flying Dutchman's ghost ship. As the trio investigates the ship, the Flying Dutchman emerges from his cabin, terrifying Squidward. Unperturbed, SpongeBob and Patrick tell the Dutchman of Squidward's intentions to complain to him, earning Squidward a scorching. The Dutchman prepares to do the same to SpongeBob and Patrick and they attempt to jump overboard, but land back on the ship every time they try. The Dutchman explains to them that for setting foot on his ghost ship, they shall be forced to work as his ghostly crew for all eternity.
Squidward proceeds to complain about this, so the Dutchman tosses him into the "Fly of Despair," a zipper-like portal leading to a chaotic dimension. SpongeBob and Patrick, frightened into submission, help the Dutchman in his quest to terrorize the citizens of Bikini Bottom. However, the pair's idea of terror proves incompatible with the Dutchman's, so the ghost informs them that they will be eaten instead. Locked in their room, SpongeBob and Patrick's only avenue of escape is the dreaded "perfume department." Surviving this ordeal, they manage to steal the Flying Dutchman's dining sock, which he cannot eat without.
The Flying Dutchman catches the two as they try to escape. SpongeBob and the Dutchman begin fighting over the sock until the elastic threatens to give. The Flying Dutchman decides to grant them three wishes in exchange for the sock's safe return. Patrick wishes he knew about this earlier, thus setting the clock back one minute and using up the first wish. SpongeBob, in his excitement, wishes that Squidward was with them. Squidward, who managed to pass through the Fly of Despair and arrive safely home, is immediately transported back to the Dutchman's ship. The trio begin arguing over who shall get the last wish, until the Dutchman uses his method of choice to decide.
SpongeBob is chosen to receive the last wish, and so wishes that the Flying Dutchman turns into a vegetarian. SpongeBob and the others are transported in front of a familiar-looking pineapple, but soon realize they themselves have been turned into fruit and are chased by the Dutchman who is now a hippie.
Patchy returns to greet the audience. After a totally random outburst in which he tells the audience to walk the plank, he announces that they are going to read a fan letter. Unfortunately, Potty shows up with a fuse in his head from an evidently unplanned explosives stunt. Potty and Patchy are blown up and Patchy decides to sign off the show.
The episode is 16 minutes long, longer than an average length of a short but shorter than one of the halves of a 22-minute episode. The episode was later featured on the "Sea Stories" VHS and DVD releases, after being shown on television. The Sea Stories DVD release featured all three endings (see below).
When this episode was first aired, segments with Patchy the Pirate where shown to announce a poll which was held that lets viewers decide between three possible endings to the episode, with a different character receiving the final wish in each ending.
After the commercial break, Patchy introduced the two alternate endings that were shown before Spongebob's ending.
Patrick: He wishes that he had gum that never lost its flavor, and thus, they are eaten by the Flying Dutchman, begging him to let them out.
Squidward: He wishes that he had never met SpongeBob and Patrick. They get eaten and are still introducing themselves in the Dutchman's belly.
Patchy then states that if the viewer watches the episode "Land lubbin' style" (as a rerun), Nick will only play the voted ending. He also calls the viewer an official big time decision maker and a video of monkeys playing instruments is shown. Patchy says not to let it go to the viewer's head and signs off.
Since then, the Patchy voting footage has never aired again. The Patchy segments without the voting mentions are called "Patchy's Pick" which was shown on The Complete 2nd Season DVD, and the footage with the voting was shown on The First 100 Episodes DVD 8 years later.
In all future airings of this episode, only the SpongeBob ending is shown. The episode is paired with "Gary Takes a Bath," which is shorter than a regular 11-minute episode.
This episode was originally titled "You Wish," but was changed to "Shanghaied." The original Patchy segments were called "SpongeBob's You Wish Spectacular Special," and on the Season 2 DVD box set, it is listed as "You Wish/Shanghaied."
This is the first 16-minute episode (approximately 14 minutes and 30 seconds). The second is "Back to the Past," and the third is "Feral Friends."
This was Frank Weiss's first episode as an animation director.
On the First 100 Episodes release of this episode, the title card bearing the number to call and vote now reads, "Yikes matey! Original 800 number as aired has been retired to Davy Jones locker!" The original phone number was 1-800-624-4094.
The Patchy voting sequences are no longer played on the air. The commercial break warnings from the original airing were also removed, including on the VHS/DVD releases.
On the Sea Stories DVD (excluding the VHS) and on the July 26, 2003 airing, the episode (all three versions within the DVD) is featured without Patchy and Potty, and with them on the two other releases.
This episode contradicts "The Battle of Bikini Bottom," because Patrick says he has clean hands. It's possible that this episode takes place after "The Battle of Bikini Bottom."
The Flying Dutchman can apparently open inter-dimensional rifts, such as the entrance into a human perfume department that SpongeBob and Patrick use to escape and the pit of horrors that Squidward is thrown into.
This was the first SpongeBob special to be shorter than a special (22 minutes) but longer than normal (11 minutes), at a length of 16 minutes. It was paired with the 6-minute episode "Gary Takes a Bath."
This is the only episode with three different endings.
The manner in which the Flying Dutchman chooses who gets the last wish gives Patrick the greatest chance of winning, as he receives one point of the finger for every point both SpongeBob and Squidward get.
The Complete 2nd Season DVD contains an audio commentary on this episode.
Squidward was in the Fly of Despair for about 7 minutes of the episode.
This episode and "Gary Takes a Bath" were banned in the United Kingdom and Australia due to its frightening and dark storyline involving ghosts, along with a disturbing and offending slow-motion scene involving a tired and scared SpongeBob and Patrick getting sprayed with perfumes along with spooky, unsettling music. It was deemed too uncomfortable to watch for viewers. After seven years of not airing, both episodes finally returned to Nickelodeon (UK & Ireland) and Nickelodeon Australia in September2008 for another chance to air. It also aired with "Gary Takes a Bath" in Australia in November2010 and on February 27, 2011 in the UK.
In Indonesia, though it is allowed to be aired, the scene where Squidward is thrown by the Flying Dutchman into a bottomless pit full of demonic faces is rarely aired. This, however, was due to time constraints like others.
In Latin America, all endings have aired at least 2x and are randomly chosen.
In the Latin American version, the Squidward ending is canon.
During the shot where Patchy is fired away, his foot and peg leg look like they are still standing on ground, which is probably true as the foot doesn't move at all. It is just the peg leg that is moving off of the set while the moving background is made and the flying pirate is tilted after recording.
When SpongeBob and Patrick return to their cabin on the ship after their scaring spree, their ice skates, which they used during their final "scare," are hanging on the wall.
Because of an alteration between the original airing and the reruns and The Complete 2nd Season release, the scenes in the latter versions are cut down and some are redubbed to act as simple introductions to the cartoon.
In the Croatian dub, the episode name is "Loši Mornari" translating to "Bad Deckhands."
Also, it is sometimes called "Jednooki Bira" translating to "Patchy Chooses."
On the October 30, 2016 airing, the sister episode was absent, the closing credits were shown at the episode's ending and it was paired with "Patrick-Man!"
This episode takes place after "Ghost Host" because in that episode, Squidward says that he doesn't believe in ghosts, but he meets the Flying Dutchman in this episode.
This is the first episode that didn't pair with its sister episode when it first aired to the US.
On the March 11, 2017 airing (Day of the 2017 KCAs), at the episode's ending John Cena punches the screen sending the pieces to fly down and one piece transitions to the KCA crowd. If you listen closely, the episode ends as normal.
On the June 10, 2017 airing on Nickelodeon Poland, the Patchy epilogue was cut due to time limits.
The scene where the Flying Dutchman's head turns 360 degrees around is a reference to The Exorcist.
The concept of three wishes was popularized by the Disney film Aladdin, whose Genie grants three wishes.
SpongeBob's line, "Squidward, this ship belongs to the Red Baron," may be a reference to the real Red Baron of World War I infamy, Manfred von Richthofen. Snoopy's arch nemesis from Peanuts is also based on this historical figure.
According to the audio commentary, the little trick SpongeBob does with his fingers was happening in the culture at the time.
When Squidward first grabs the anchor's rope, it's much thicker than when the group actually begins climbing.
As the Flying Dutchman picks the recipient of the last wish, his finger moves to SpongeBob before the final selection. However, in the viewer-chosen ending with SpongeBob, the Flying Dutchman then points to Squidward, skipping Patrick. In Squidward's ending, the finger points to SpongeBob twice before ending with Squidward. It is only Patrick's ending that matches the order of the previous scene, going from SpongeBob to Patrick to Squidward and ending on Patrick.
At the beginning of the episode, it is morning. However, when SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward got on the ship, it is night for the rest of the episode.
After SpongeBob is chosen to get the last wish, Squidward knows that they are about to be eaten, even though he wasn't present when SpongeBob and Patrick were informed.
In the SpongeBob ending when Squidward is pointing, his arm disappears for a few frames.
Patrick does not have a nose (as shown in "Something Smells"), so if he only covered his eyes while running through the perfume department he would have been fine. Even so, he wore a safety mask as a futile attempt to avoid perfume.
At one point while Squidward falls through the Fly of Despair, two of his four legs are missing.
In the current aired version of this episode, Patchy's lips sometimes don't match with what he is saying. This is because in the current rerun version of the episode, some scenes are edited down and dubbed over, due to the originally aired version being a contest where people were able to select one of the three alternate endings 'live' by calling an on-screen number, which is no longer in service.
On the July 26, 2017 airing on Nickelodeon Poland, the Nickelodeon logo was missing. However, the age rating was still shown.