Potty the Parrot tells Patchy that the kids are here to see the lost episode. However, Patchy says that he has lost the lost episode, and tells the kids to forget about SpongeBob. The French Narrator introduces a segment called "Remembering SpongeBob," a musical montage of clips from past episodes from seasons 1, 2 and 3.
After a long treasure hunt where Patchy finds a tape that holds the episode, he plays the tape. The tape shows a long clip of SpongeBob doing walk cycles to upbeat music before abruptly showing the EBS color bars. After Patchy sees this, he proclaims that "SpongeBob betrayed us!" and throws out all his SpongeBob merchandise and runs away. However, Potty informs him that the tape is not over and that the real lost episode is about to begin. As a countdown to that starts, Patchy excitedly says, "Really?!" and his throwing everything away is rewinded and the episode begins.
The SpongeBob episode segment begins with SpongeBob wishing he could fly with the jellyfish. He makes several attempts to do so, including a biplane, which malfunctions and destroys Farmer Jenkins' grain silo, bat wings, a garden chair with balloons, and a giant kite pulled by a bicycle. After his failed attempts are witnessed by others, he becomes known as "The Birdman of Bikini Bottom" and is ridiculed. He tells the people that "it is a sad day in Bikini Bottom, when a guy is ridiculed for having dreams!" The people tell him that they all had unfulfilled dreams, and form a mob and start chasing him for thinking he is more important than them. SpongeBob runs off a cliff and falls into a truck of mud, then into a truck of feathers.
SpongeBob is shown in his house, having given up on his dream. He begins to dry his hair, when he receives an insulting phone call from a "fan" of the "Birdman," the caller is called "Joe Mama," and puts the hair dryer in his pants. While he talks, the hair dryer inflates his pants, giving him the ability to fly. He goes around helping people, earning their admiration and becoming a superhero of sorts. However, the lazy citizens continue to ask increasingly unnecessary favors of him, leaving him no time to fly with the jellyfish. When he tries to escape to Jellyfish Fields, the people form a mob and chase him, but are unable to catch him. However, Cannonball Jenkins blasts SpongeBob, destroying the pants and sending him plummeting to the ground. The people seem to mourn SpongeBob's death, but they actually just mourned the pants.
SpongeBob is about to go home, but suddenly, the jellyfish help him fly. They take him home as he sings an intentionally corny song about how all you need to fly is friendship. As he says goodbye to the jellyfish, Patrick says "Hey, SpongeBob, let's fly down to the Pizza House for a slice." and SpongeBob says "No flying for me, Patrick. I'll leave that to the jellyfish." Patrick then says "Suit yourself." and flies off like a superhero does. SpongeBob says "Did Patrick just...? Nah!" and the episode ends.
After the episode, Patchy attempts to play it again but does not know how to play it. He and Potty press a lot of buttons on the remote but the tape wears out and comes pouring out of the player, causing Patchy to get tangled in it. The episode ends with the narrator saying to the viewers to get lost.
Scenes with SpongeBob are shown, in order of appearance:
It is unknown as to how SpongeBob can re-inflate his pants without the hairdryer that did it in the first place.
Lou is shown in his younger version in this episode, when he was older in "Party Pooper Pants," which predates this episode.
In the marathon leading up to the original airing of this episode, celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg, Coolio, Randy Jackson, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and more guest starred with Patchy.
When Patchy flips to the sports channel, John Elway can be seen.
SpongeBob does the following things to help Bikini Bottomites:
Saved Mrs. Puff's snail from a tree.
Helped Mr. Krabs reclaim his dime.
And saved Patrick from a mime.
Save Plankton from kelp.
Relight the lighthouse
Scratch Patrick's belly.
Clean out Mr. Krabs' garage.
Balance Mrs Puff's checkbook
Clean Squidward's bath.
Help Plankton spread the sign of evil.
Help Larry pick a tie.
Rub Dennis' scalp.
When this episode played before the original airing of the half-hour special episode "Dunces and Dragons," it was shortened and ended with SpongeBob landing in the feather truck, as the screen freezes and the narrator announces the commerical break warning.
The fish who says "No, he owes us favors!" is wearing exactly the same outfit as SpongeBob, minus the red tie. He also looks identical to Fred, but is purple in color.
This is the second time Fred wears the same clothes as SpongeBob (brown trousers, black belt and a white shirt). The first time was in "Squilliam Returns."
In the Hebrew version of this episode "Joe Mama" is called "סתם אחד" which means "just one."
In the Hebrew version of this episode, the line "And I'll save Patrick from this mime" is translated "ואציל את פטריק מחנוך רוזן" which means "And I'll save Patrick from Hanoch Rozen." Hanoch Rozen is an Israeli mime.
The clown on TV in the Patchy the Pirate segment is writer Kent Osborne.
When Mr. Krabs asks about the recyclables, SpongeBob says "Ah, shrimp," but the captions say "Now that you mention it." But when this episode aired on October 8, 2012, the DIRECTV captions said "Ah, shrimp." though this may only be for DIRECTV users. Comcast also fixed this error at some point.
Excluding the Patchy the Pirate segments (including the fake lost episode), this episode is only about 16 minutes long.
This episode was used as the basis for the plot of "The Sponge Who Could Fly Live Musical," that toured in Britain in 2009.
The storyboard includes a deleted scene with Patchy ripping off a SpongeBob band-aid while he is destroying his SpongeBob stuff, although he is not seen ripping it off in reverse.
This episode had 7 million viewers on its premiere night.
The clip from "As Seen on TV" is the only Season 3 episode to be used in the "Remembering SpongeBob" segment.
In the book, there was a scene when SpongeBob was walking back to his house, being laughed at. At one point, a pressman snaps a picture of SpongeBob in feathers. This is probably a deleted scene, as it was never shown in the episode.
The credits on the Lost at Sea DVD simply calls it "Lost Episode," despite it being called "The Sponge Who Could Fly" everywhere else on the DVD.
This episode originally could serve as the series finale of SpongeBob, because of the "Remembering SpongeBob" segment showing clips from the past three seasons. However, this episode is not the series finale, in fact it is not even the season 3 finale, the next episode is.
This episode, as well as fellow special "Ugh" is shown less frequently than all the others except for the holiday episodes.
All of Patchy's SpongeBob merchandise in his room are similar to real SpongeBob merchandise, except they show SpongeBob with large black pupils and a bow tie instead of his normal tie.
According to the audio commentary found on the "Lost at Sea" DVD, Don the parking attendant at Nickelodeon Animation Studio is the person who is standing at the front entrance in the beginning of this episode.
Sometimes, this episode airs without the Patchy the Pirate segments.
This episode was released on the VHS of the same name and the Lost at Sea DVD before it aired on TV.
The hat and goggles that SpongeBob wears when he is working with the "flying machine" (the airplane) might be a reference to Amelia Earhart.
When SpongeBob flies out of his pineapple house, he is about the same size as it.
When Mrs. Puff says "Help, please help," the captions has a woman's name who says "Help, please help" instead of Mrs. Puff's name.
When Potty says "Patchy, come back," the closed-captions say "Patrick, come back."
If one looks closely at the map the Patchy first unrolls it, Don's Import Store & Delicatessen is called "Shop O' Shop."
On the map there is a skull that Patchy was not shown passing. Since there was a wipe after the skull it is possible that he still passed it and they did not have enough time to show it in the episode.
When Fred spoke up, he was purple but when he walked up to the cliff, he was brown.
Also, he went from wearing a white shirt to no shirt.
Numerous episodes, including this one, feature planes, so SpongeBob was not the inventor of it, even though he says he is.
When SpongeBob is flying on the kite, he passes three fish, including Nancy. He later passes them again, after the kite crashed, even though he already passed them.
The SMPTE color bars appear after the walk cycle ends, then it cuts to a farther away shot showing the color bars on Patchy's TV screen. The version of the color bars in the second shot is noticeably different the one used in the first shot.
Assistant director Andrew Harvey is credited twice.