SpongeBob SquarePants fans have mixed reactions to tribute during Super Bowl halftime show

By Danielle Garrand

/ CBS News

For some fans of "SpongeBob SquarePants," the brief tribute to the cartoon during the Super Bowl LIII halftime show made Sunday the best day ever. For others, it wasn't such a "Sweet Victory." The beloved cartoon's creator, Stephen Hillenburg, died in November.

Many of the show's viewers hoped he would be honored at this year's Super Bowl halftime show in Atlanta, headlined by Maroon 5, with a rendition of the song "Sweet Victory."

The song originated in a 2001 episode of the Nickelodeon hit titled "Band Geeks," during which SpongeBob and other characters perform at "The Bubble Bowl," a football game that imitates the Super Bowl. The episode, and song, quickly became an iconic part of the show and is a favorite among many fans.

The song was so beloved that a change.org petition titled, "Have 'Sweet Victory' Performed at the Super Bowl" garnered over 1,200,000 signatures. The aim was to honor both the show's creator and the tune itself.

"As a tribute to his legacy, his contributions to a generation of children, and to truly showcase the greatness of this song, we call for Sweet Victory to be performed at the Halftime Show," said the petition, started by user Isreal Colunga.

The moment from the show has also surged in popularity recently and become somewhat of a meme sensation since internet paired it with Travis Scott's hit "Sicko Mode." Word came out that Scott and fellow rapper Big Boi would be joining Maroon 5 as guest performers — driving fans to suspect that "Sweet Victory" could be making an appearance.

Maroon 5 also fanned the flames of speculation when the band's official Twitter account posted a video tease of their Super Bowl performance last month. The clip included a second of SpongeBob footage. While it wasn't a clip from "Sweet Victory," it was the only cartoon featured in the video, reports CBS Sports.

Those who love the song got their wish — kind of. A short clip of the "Sweet Victory" performance featuring SpongeBob, Squidward and other characters was shown on the Mercedes-Benz stadium big screen as an introduction to Travis Scott's rendition of "Sicko Mode."

Some fans, and even the the cartoon's official Twitter account were happy to see the show and its creator seemingly honored. "So honored and humbled! Thankful for being included and for all our fellow sea creatures 💛💛," the show tweeted.

Others on Twitter weren't so thrilled with the short clip and expressed their disappointment.

SWEET VICTORY #SpongeBob #SuperBowl Rest in piece Stephen Hillenburg your legacy lives on. pic.twitter.com/G8UjwH7v3G

— Alli (@_allibally_) February 4, 2019

So honored and humbled! Thankful for being included and for all our fellow sea creatures 💛💛 pic.twitter.com/F8lesQvDBz

— SpongeBob (@SpongeBob) February 4, 2019

My biggest hot take from #SuperBowl2019 was how DISRESPECTFUL it was to tease “Sweet Victory” from Spongebob and then NOT EVEN PLAY IT! #spongebobdeservedbetter pic.twitter.com/yXzgIQZRfZ

— Hayleigh Gowans (@HayleighGowans) February 4, 2019

me watching the halftime show #spongebob #halftimeshow pic.twitter.com/kcuDVVjdMz

— holly™️ (@hollytm_) February 4, 2019

First published on February 4, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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