Steve Hillenburg, the show's creator, executive producer and head writer, says he's quitting when his deal with Nickelodeon is up later this year. But since Hillenburg sold all of his "SpongeBob" rights to Nickelodeon years ago - in exchange for seeing his concept make it onto TV - the show could theoretically go on with out him.
A Nickelodeon spokesman confirmed that the future of the show - which is seen each week by about 3 million kids - is up in the air.
Nickelodeon could continue to produce new episodes without Hillenburg, as it did years ago another one of the channel's animated show's "Ren & Stimpy," a move Nickelodeon staffers acknowledge probably contributed to the show's demise.
Hillenburg thinks that once he leaves, it's not likely that the network would continue the show without him.
"I think they respect that my contribution is important," Hillenburg said. "I think they would want to maintain the original concept and quality."