‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ cast reflects on series turning 20: ‘Where did the time go?’

“SpongeBob SquarePants" is officially 20 years old.

The Nickelodeon creation, which launched July 17, 1999, has ruled as the No. 1 kids’ animated series on TV for the last 17 years. The beloved show has since generated a universe of beloved characters, pop culture catchphrases and memes, theatrical releases, consumer products, a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical and a global fan base — just to name a few.

Fox News recently caught up with some of the cast at the New York Comic-Con to talk about this milestone. Carolyn Lawrence voices Sandy Cheeks, Bill Fagerbakke plays Patrick Star and Clancy Brown stars as Mr. Krabs.

Fox News: Can you believe it's been 20 years for "SpongeBob SquarePants?"
Carolyn Lawrence: I cannot believe it's been 20 years. What the heck. Where did the time go? It happened so fast! It's so interesting because it went really really quickly... I don't know, I can't explain it.

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"SpongeBob SquarePants" officially turns 20 years old.

"SpongeBob SquarePants" officially turns 20 years old. (Nickelodeon)

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Bob Fagerbakke: With a lot of different careers people might expect to have a job for 20 years. Not obviously with actors because we're basically shiftless carnies you know. To have something that long is extraordinary. And trust me, any actor that dreams of someday having a job for 20 years is probably not in the right profession.
 
Clancy Brown: We were just saying that it doesn't feel like 20 years. People always talk about the very first time we did it and it feels like we just did it. We're not keeping track. As a matter of fact, we're only in Season 13. So it's been 20 years but it's Season 13. I don't trust math. Math is not right. Twenty years — forget that — we just did it. It's just started.
 
Fox News: Do you remember when you landed the part?
Lawrence: Yeah but I had no idea. I mean I was always excited to book a job. But who knew? I mean who knew it would be so crazy? So that was a wild turn of events. 
 
Fagerbakke: I can't say I remember that moment. I certainly remember when I met [animator] Stephen Hillenburg during the audition. I could tell immediately that he was an extraordinary person. And then when I knew I would get to work with him, of course, I was happy too because at the end of the day you know if you can do strong material and work with good people, you can't really ask for anything more.

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"SpongeBob SquarePants" has been on the air since 1999 with zero plans to slow down.

"SpongeBob SquarePants" has been on the air since 1999 with zero plans to slow down. (Nickelodeon)

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Fox News: Do you remember when you realized how big "SpongeBob" had become?

Lawrence: I think when I saw products at Target I was like, "What the what the what?" (Laughter.) I've done so many things but never something that would be that mass-marketed in that way. 
 
Fagerbakke: Well, there was this sea change I think it was probably in Season 2 when Wall Street Journal did an article about it and we think the New Yorker. And all of a sudden, we were getting all this press. So that was really exciting because you're kind of just like in your little soundstage and those little studios and you're doing your thing. And as far as you know there are just some kids watching it and the kids at the elementary school when I pick my kids up, they're very excited. And then boom!
 
Clancy Brown: We kind of stopped doing it after the third season. We all thought that was the end. And I think when they came back and said well you know what guys I think we want to record more. And they actually paid us a little bit more. And that's I think that's when I realized wait a minute, they would never pay us more if they weren't making a hell of a lot of money.

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"SpongeBob SquarePants" explores the misadventures of a talking sea sponge who works at a fast-food restaurant and lives in an underwater pineapple.

"SpongeBob SquarePants" explores the misadventures of a talking sea sponge who works at a fast-food restaurant and lives in an underwater pineapple. (Nickelodeon)

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Fox News: Does "SpongeBob SquarePants" go down as one of the best cartoons of a generation? 
Lawrence: I think so. I think it's going to go down in history. It's so hard to think about like it's so surreal honestly. That it's still hard for me too to grasp how large it is. When I travel and you go to other countries and it's there and people are talking about it and. It's amazing and so if I think about it too much my head explodes. But yes I think it will. 
 
Fagerbakke: We all were influenced by great cartoons like Looney Tunes, like the Warner Brothers and Chuck Jones. I mean that animation had a lot of impact on us. And if we can be thought of as being a classic cartoon that's a wonderful thing and certainly not something I can speculate about. I just love my job. 
 
Brown: It's the best cartoon ever made and It will be the best cartoon ever ever ever. Until the end of Earth.