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'SpongeBob SquarePants' creator Stephen Hillenburg has died, aged 57

Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of American animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants, has died at the age of 57.

Hillenburg died after a battle with motor neurone disease, his family have confirmed.

“We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS,” Nickelodeon said in a statement.

“He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family. Steve imbued ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ with a unique sense of humour and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”