According to Variety, Stephen Hillenburg, the man who created not only one of the most iconic cartoons, but one of the most memorable fictional worlds of all time, died yesterday at the age of only 57. Bikini Bottom and the sponge who lived in a pineapple under the sea are creations of a singular, unique imagination that will be accompany those fortunate enough to have been raised in the SpongeBob era for the rest of their lives. Hillenburg died after living with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) for years. 

Nickelodeon, who aired Spongebob Squarepants, said in a statement:

We are incredibly saddened by the news that Steve Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS. 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 humor 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.

Hillenburg is survived by his wife, their son and his mother.