Gary is SpongeBob's pet snail and the two are shown to love each other very much. It is suggested in "Treats!" that SpongeBob has had Gary ever since the former was a little boy, as it was also revealed that he was adopted. SpongeBob is revealed to have bought him at the Animal Shelter in "Plankton's Pet."
Gary often serves as an advice giver to SpongeBob when no one else in Bikini Bottom is willing to help him and the latter often takes said advice despite it only being given in meows. However, SpongeBob occasionally takes advantage of him or forces him into certain situations despite Gary's objections.
Their love for each other
SpongeBob often views Gary as a best friend rather than just a pet, as implied by the musical number "Gary Come Home" from "Have You Seen This Snail?" Though the two have come into conflict from time to time, they usually reconcile near the end and admit that they still love one another no matter what. SpongeBob is shown to go through stages of depression when isolated from Gary, as seen in "Dumped" when the latter neglects him in favor of his best friend Patrick and when he feels regretful for making Gary run away in "Have You Seen This Snail?" and puts up lost pet fliers as a result.
In "Have You Seen This Snail?," Gary runs away from SpongeBob's house after not being fed, though he leaves a letter to thank SpongeBob for taking care of him. SpongeBob is devastated by this and feels guilty for neglecting his friend. He goes to find him but has no luck and starts crying at his loss. SpongeBob then continues his search by passing out fliers with Gary on them. Very soon, Gary meets an elderly fish named Granny, who takes him in and gives him more attention. Gary has a picture of SpongeBob with him, but is angry at his neglect. Gary later finds one of SpongeBob's fliers and realizes that SpongeBob was looking for him, which means he really does care for him. Gary decides to go back before he realizes that his new owner wants to feed him to death. After escaping her, he returns to SpongeBob, who is overjoyed at his pet's return.
In "SpongeBob You're Fired," Gary notices SpongeBob's sadness and comforts him after he lost his job. While feeding Gary, SpongeBob is happy to know there was one person who depended on him.
Times their relationship has become rocky
Despite their friendly relations, SpongeBob has often fought with Gary and put him through stressful situations.
- In "Gary Takes a Bath," SpongeBob pulls off several desperate attempts to get Gary to bathe even though snails are opposed to water (a phobia based on the real-world depiction of felines' disapproval of water). He even manages to break his shell in a game of leapfrog to transport him to the bathtub.
- In "The Great Snail Race," SpongeBob pressures Gary into winning the eponymous event by overtraining him, which leads to his eyes and shell exploding during the race.
- In "Have You Seen This Snail?," when trying to get SpongeBob's attention off of the Dirty Bubble challenge so he can feed him, the latter refuses to do so since he is trying to focus on the paddleball, leading Gary to running away from home and feeling as though SpongeBob doesn't care about him.
- In "A Pal for Gary," SpongeBob wrongfully blames Gary for all the damage that his new "friend," Puffy Fluffy, has done, even when Fluffy is clearly seen eating Gary right in front of him. Gary is shown to be irritated by SpongeBob's obliviousness and support for the monster near the end of the episode.
- In "Gary's New Toy," Gary's obsessive attachment to a new toy ball causes him to abandon SpongeBob in favor of said ball. As a result, the latter is forced to leave his house and reside under a bench.
- In "House Worming," Gary becomes far too fed up with the new worms infesting SpongeBob's holes and kicks him out of his own house as a result.
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