21 Minor Mysteries From Nickelodeon Shows That Don't Need To Be Solved But Must, At Least, Be Discussed

    Let's be detectives, but for extremely unimportant mysteries.

    1. Here's a softball: How exactly did that pineapple get under the sea?

    SpongeBob's house

    Was there a tragic accident involving a tropical fruit transit ship? Do abandoned pineapples litter the ocean floor, awaiting a kitchen sponge to make them their home?

    SpongeBob in the front door

    2. Speaking of which, why is SpongeBob a kitchen sponge when his parents are sea sponges?

    SpongeBob's parents

    Full disclosure, when I was a kid, I thought his parents were cookies, which fits just as well within the logic of the Sponge-Verse.

    SpongeBob and his parents standing in front of a thank you cake

    3. And how old is SpongeBob supposed to be, anyway?

    SpongeBob in a baseball cap waving

    He has a job and a mortgage, but also, he's 12.

    SpongeBob assembling Krabby Patties

    Actually, scratch this question. It's this exact duality that makes the character a sponge of, and for, the people.

    SpongeBob hovering above hordes of hungry people

    And if you're wondering if I'm going to ask about the recipe for Krabby Patties, the answer is no, because some mysteries aren't mine to solve.

    Squidward receives a plate towering with Krabby Patties

    4. OK, moving on. How do Carly and Spencer Shay afford their massive downtown apartment in iCarly?

    The living room and kitchen of the apartment

    Their dad is in the Air Force and their mother is never mentioned, so I assume one of their great-grandparents founded Coca-Cola? Or a major airline?

    The cast in Carly's redecorated bedroom

    Are they in any way related to this man?

    Logan Roy from Succession

    Or this one?

    Daddy Warbucks

    5. More importantly, where can I buy these giant plastic monkey decorations?

    Monkey in a barrel decorations adorning the walls

    6. Speaking of cold hard cash, how expensive do we think tuition is at Zoey 101's Pacific Coast Academy?

    Two students at PCA eating at a waterfront cafeteria

    The average cost of a year's worth of boarding school tuition in the US is $56,875, but adjusting for that waterfront property and famous reputation, we can safely assume that a spot at PCA is more expensive.

    two images of PCA from the opening credits

    This is an unscientific estimate, but I would guess it hovers somewhere around the "too damn much" mark.

    Zoey's two roommates in their dormroom

    7. Was the tuition high enough to cover the insurance needed to allow all these 15-year-olds to ride Vespas everywhere? (Fine, "Jet-X's," but they're Vespas.)

    Zoey on a pink Jet-X scooter

    There's not a high school faculty on this planet that thinks, You know what will make our job easier? Teenagers, but faster.

    Zoey and her friends riding the Jet-X's

    8. ...OK, just one more money question: Remember True Jackson, VP, the show about a teenage fashion designer who got hired to be the vice president of a major label?

    True sitting at her desk

    Yeah, how much was she making? Are there any exceptions to child labor laws at the executive level? I had to get my parents to sign a permit saying I could work at a gift shop when I was in high school, but somehow it feels like True's playing by different rules.

    True Jackson

    9. And is it just me, or does the whole "bright young artist sucked into the corporate world" thing not seem as fun and aspirational now as it did in 2009? Where is True in 2021? Is she burnt out, because she's been working a full-time job since she was 14? Did the pandemic make her rethink her dedication to her career? Does she work to live, or live to work?

    Keke Palmer and her two co-stars dressed as flight attendants

    ... Anyway, here's a fun picture of Keke Palmer on set with vintage Justin Bieber.

    Keke Palmer and a young Justin Bieber

    10. Could non-benders in the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe learn how to bend if they really wanted to?

    Katara and Aang bending while Sokka stands there with his boomerang

    As far as I can tell, benders are born, not made, and it's an essential plot point that only one person (the Avatar) can learn how to bend more than one element. But at the same time, bending was taught to humans by animals (and also the moon, 'cause the Water Tribe is just different like that). For instance, Toph talks about how badgermoles were the original earthbenders.

    Baby Toph playing with a badgermole

    So, can't someone without natural bending abilities sign up for a few tutoring sessions with the moon and figure that shit out?

    A water tribe warrior staring at the moon

    "But you can't talk to the moon," you say. "Not like that, you can't," Yue replies.

    Yue, the human embodiment of the moon spirit

    11. What the hell happened to Sokka in The Legend of Korra?

    An older Sokka in legend of korra

    Every other major character from the original series gets a family and an adult life, to some degree; even Iroh, who is dead by the time the sequel series begins, makes an appearance in the Spirit World.

    Iroh in the Spirit World

    But Sokka gets nothin', other than a brief cameo that confirms that he represented the Southern Water Tribe in Republic City at some point and kept talking about his boomerang well into adulthood (thank god). Did he have children? A partner? Does he get to hang out with Yue in the Spirit World? Did he manage to stay off the cactus juice? IF ONLY WE KNEW.

    Sokka getting high on cactus juice

    12. Most importantly, is Bosco, the Earth King's beloved pet bear, the only non-hybrid animal in existence?

    Bosco eating at the table at a ball

    If he is, Bosco should be revered as much as the Avatar, if not more. (Look, there's been a lot of Avatars, but only one Bosco.)

    The Earth King in peasant disguise with Bosco

    13. Is Danny Phantom...you know...dead?

    Danny Phantom in ghost mode

    The show kicks off with the human Danny wandering into a dangerous piece of machinery and gaining ghost superpowers as a result, and writing out that premise makes me afraid someone's going to try to do a gritty reboot of Danny Phantom (please don't do a gritty reboot of Danny Phantom).

    the opening theme song of Danny Phantom

    So when Danny "goes ghost," does that mean he's briefly dead? Is his real superpower his own death? (If so, that's metal.) Or are we meant to subscribe to the Miracle Max (of The Princess Bride fame) philosophy of "mostly dead," meaning "slightly alive"?

    Miracle Max explains the difference between mostly dead and all dead

    14. While we're on the topic of Danny Phantom, let's review. Normal, human Danny Fenton looks like this:

    Danny in human form

    And super-powered, possibly deceased Danny Phantom looks like this:

    Danny, as a ghost with white hair and green eyes

    How is he able to maintain a secret identity? At the very least, he should've invested in a mask or a fake mustache. And yet no one makes the connection, not even his own parents, whose first reaction upon seeing Danny Phantom should've been, "How did our only son learn how to fly? And, oh my god, did he die? And then bleach his hair?"

    15. Will Jenny from My Life as a Teenage Robot ever grow up?

    Jenny, the teenage robot, lying on bed reading magazines

    Is there a software update for that? Will she get a chance to experience life as a middle-aged robot? Or has she been damned to an existence of perpetual adolescence?

    Jenny holding a dead monster above her head

    16. Did everyone else know that Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Featured Film? (It lost to Shrek, if you're curious.)

    Jimmy in his rocket ship

    And that Sir Patrick Stewart voiced this gooey egg monster thing?

    the king alien/robot speaking to Jimmy Neutron

    Sorry, I know that those aren't really plot questions, but I just learned these two pieces of information, and it would be a dereliction of my duty as a person writing about Nickelodeon to not share them with the world.

    Jimmy and his friends, who have been captured by the robot/aliens

    17. Was the Nick Hotel the paradise that the TV ads made it out to be?

    The nick hotel pool and water park complex

    And did it ever stand a chance against the Mouse That Shall Not Be Named?

    Disneyland's Cinderella castle

    18. Has there ever been a celebrity who was like, really pissed about getting slimed at the Kids' Choice Awards?

    Justin Bieber and Will Smith after being slimed

    Or do they know it's Nick's house, Nick's rules?

    Katy Perry being slimed

    19. Why isn't a new edition of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide released every year, like the Farmer's Almanac?

    Ned and his friends laughing at their lunch table, with tip: When you're sitting with your friends, you are at the cool table

    As far as I can tell, Nickelodeon only ever released this one book based on the series back in 2006. But middle school has most likely a) changed a lot since then and b) remained just as much of a bummer, so why not revisit the "self-help but for 13-year-olds" well?

    The cover of the book based on the series

    20. Is there even a remote possibility that Arnold of Hey Arnold! fame doesn't wake up every morning blinded by the unforgiving sun?

    Arnold standing on the bed of his bedroom, which has a ceiling made of skylights

    No disrespect to this bedroom, which is legendary for a reason, but this glass ceiling is clearly a retina roaster.

    Arnold's glass ceiling

    21. And finally: How?

    A picture of CatDog, a dog and a cat who are connected in the middle