Moreso than any Nickelodeon cartoon since Ren and Stimpy, Spongebob Squarepants has been known to bake in "adult" humor into its episodes. Even if you haven't watched the show all that often, chances are if you've been on the internet long enough, you've probably seen poorly compressed JPEGs of Spongebob telling Gary the Snail not to drop the soap. Then there was the time Spongebob was caught watching porn, and that part where the show is set in a town called Bikini Bottom.
But some of these dirty references are a little more subtle, but plainly obvious from the right perspective. Reddit user MasterLawlz has mapped out one of these instances in a convincing and hilarious fan theory. The basic gist: In the first season episode "Karate Choppers," every single reference to karate is a metaphor for sex. It might sound like something a stoned townie would tell you when they corner you at a bar, but it really does line up pretty well.
Let's go through the episode and see what MasterLawlz is talking about. First, Spongebob enters his pineapple house, suspicious that Sandy the Squirrel might be nearby. When she surprises him, Spongebob rushes offscreen for a moment before entering a karate battle with Sandy.
That's right. Spongebob made sure to wear protection before practicing "karate" with his lady friend. When Spongebob says "Safety first!" he really means "Don't worry, I got a rubber." Really, it's probably more for Sandy's sake than Spongebob's -- you know he's absorbed pretty much every STD in Bikini Bottom with that porous body of his.
The "karate" that immediately follows is basically Spongebob showing Sandy all the moves he knows.
Following the "karate = sex" theme, you could interpret this as Spongebob demonstrating his prowess in the bedroom. Though I shudder to think what the equivalent of a Double Overhanded Squirrel Knot would be in real life.
Soon after this exchange, we cut to Sandy alone in her bedroom at night. She gets a call: It's Spongebob, ready for karate once again.
Of course, you could also see this as a horny Spongebob (unsuccessfully) proposing a late night booty call to Sandy. For an idea that sounds silly at first, it's tough to deny how well the theory fits into the story.
As the episode continues, Sandy and Spongebob continue their daily sparring, like their spontaneous bout at a grocery store. Sandy even surprises Spongebob with karate on his way to work. Keep mentally replacing everything martial-arts related with sex stuff -- it still works.
The pair of them are karate-ing so often that Spongebob starts getting distracted at work. It's all he can think about. He even thinks about Sandy's karate when looking at his customers at the Krusty Krab.
That wink says it all.
Eventually Spongebob's karate obssession starts affecting his performance at work. He's so paranoid that he believes he hears Sandy in the bathroom, and mistakenly starts a karate fight with Mr. Krabs.
Mr. Krabs definitely has grounds to be angry here. Even for Spongebob, assaulting your boss while he's on the shitter is pretty high up there on a list of fireable offenses. It gets even worse when you think about Spongebob accidentally performing "karate" on an unaware Mr. Krabs in the restroom.
Afraid of losing his job, Spongebob pledges to quit karate cold turkey. This doesn't please Sandy, who continues goading her sparring partner into "karate fights." With the fan theory's context in mind, it's more than a little disturbing to see Sandy persist while Spongebob stands still and repeatedly asks her to stop.
Sandy does relent after a time, and she agrees to put their karate days behind them. Unsure of what to do if not go at it with each other, the pair of them head to the park for a picnic. They reiterate to themselves how over karate they are, that they don't need to do it, and that they're definitely not thinking about it right now. But when they hear someone else fishing in the underwater park (don't think about that too hard), it's kind of a trigger.
Were it not for Spongebob's precarious employment situation, the two would have probably pounded away at each other right there and then. But instead, they continue the facade and break out the picnic food -- in this case, "barnacle loaf." Which, if we're bing honest, is just a big ol' sausage that you apparently have to chop with your hand.
The very sight of a karate-like move being performed on what is absolutely a giant penis ends up triggering them both. Spongebob and Sandy relapse into karatemania, going on a chopping spree that results in dozens if not hundreds of sandwiches being made.
After their marathon session, Spongebob relaxes in what can only be described as post-coital bliss.
Now, up to this point, you could maybe make the argument that "karate" is a stand-in for something else. Really this is a story about addiction and co-dependent enablers, which would seem to line up with Spongebob and Sandy having drug problems. But you'd think if that were the case we'd see one of the two of them get desperate enough to "do karate" alone -- then again, who among us hasn't done that?
No, I think the real clincher here (you know, besides the big dick sausage) is the ending. Mr. Krabs comes across Spongebob and Sandy in the park, but he doesn't fire anyone. Instead, Mr. Krabs takes a look around at the stacks and sandwiches and realizes there's money to be made. That's where karate comes in.
The Krusty Krab's newest attraction is something of a live show -- Spongebob and Sandy are getting their jollies off in front of a crowd excited to see expert karate masters do their thing. This makes a lot more sense if it represented a sexy floor show, as opposed to two drug addicts.
If you want more details, there's a bit more info on MasterLawlz's Reddit post. Some of the nitty gritty does go a little too far into the weeds to prove what's already a convincing theory. Just try to keep an open mind when they explain which part of the episode represents analingus. Tristan Cooper can be found on Twitter.