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Squidward's Suicide Title Card

I just want to start off by saying that if you want an answer at the end, prepare to be disappointed. There isn't one.

I was an intern at Nickelodeon Studios for a year in 2005 for my degree in animation. It wasn't paid, of course; most internships aren't, but it did have a perk beyond education. To adults, it might not seem like a big one, but most kids at the time would go crazy over it.

Since I worked directly with the editors and animators, I got to view new episodes days before they aired.

I'll get right to it without giving too many unnecessary details: they had very recently made the SpongeBob movie. The entire staff was somewhat sapped of creativity, so it took them longer to start up the season. But the delay lasted longer for more upsetting reasons. There was a problem with the Series 4 premiere that set everyone and everything back several months.

Me and two other interns were in the editing room, along with the lead animators and sound editors, for the final cut of an episode. We received the copy that was supposed to be "Fear of a Krabby Patty" and gathered around the screen to watch.

Now, given that the "final cut" isn't final yet, animators often put up a mock title card at the beginning. It's sort of an inside joke for us, with phony, oftentimes lewd titles being used such as, "How Sex Doesn't Work" instead of "Rock-a-Bye-Bivalve", in which SpongeBob and Patrick adopt a sea scallop. Nothing particularly funny, just work-related chuckles.

So when we saw the title card "Squidward's Suicide", we didn't think it more than a morbid joke. One of the other interns did a small throat laugh at it.

The episode started with the happy-go-lucky music playing as normal. The story began with Squidward practicing his clarinet, hitting a few sour notes like normal. We hear SpongeBob laughing outside. Squidward stops, yelling at him to keep it down, as he has a concert that night and needs to practice. SpongeBob says okay and goes to see Sandy with Patrick.

The bubbles splash screen comes up, and we see the ending of Squidward's concert. This is when things began to seem off.

While playing, a few frames repeat themselves, but the sound doesn't. It's supposed to be synced with the animation, so yes, that's not common. But when Squidward stops playing, the sound finishes, as if the skip never happened.

There is slight murmuring in the crowd before they begin to boo him. Not the normal cartoon booing that's common in the show, mind you; you could very clearly hear malice in it. Squidward's in full frame and looks visibly afraid. The shot goes to the crowd, with SpongeBob in center frame - he too is booing, which is very much unlike him. That isn't the oddest thing, though. What's odd is that everyone has hyper-realistic eyes. All very detailed. Clearly not shots of real people's eyes, but something a bit more real than CGI. The pupils were red. Some of us looked at each other, obviously confused, but since we weren't the writers, we didn't question its appeal to children yet.

The shot goes to Squidward sitting on the edge of his bed, looking very forlorn. The view out of his porthole window is of a night sky, so it isn't very long after the concert. The unsettling part is that at this point, there's no sound. Literally zero sound. Not even the feedback from the speakers in the room. It's as if the speakers were turned off, though their statuses showed them working perfectly.

Squidward just sits there in this silence, blinking, for about 30 seconds, then starts to sob softly. He puts his hands (tentacles) over his eyes and cries quietly for a full minute more. All the while, a sound in the background is very gradually growing from nothing to barely audible. It sounds like a slight breeze through a forest.

The screen slowly begins to zoom in on his face. By slowly, I mean that it's only noticeable if you look at shots 10 seconds apart side by side. His sobbing gets louder, and more full of hurt and anger. The screen then twitches a bit, as if it twists in on itself for a split second, before going back to normal. The wind-through-the-trees sound gets louder and more severe, as if a storm is brewing somewhere. The eerie part is that this sound, and Squidward's sobbing, sounded real. It was like it wasn't coming from the speakers, but that the speakers themselves were holes that the sound was travelling through from the other side. As good a sound as the studio likes to have, they don't have the equipment to be able to produce audio of that quality.

Below the sound of the wind and sobbing, very faintly audible, something sounded like laughing. It came at odd intervals and never lasted more than a second, so you had a hard time pinning it (we watched this 'episode' twice, so pardon me if things sound too specific, but I've had time to think about them). After 30 seconds of this, the screen blurred and twitched violently, and something flashed over it, as if a single frame was replaced.

The lead animation editor paused and rewound frame by frame. What we saw was horrible. It was a still photo of a dead child. He couldn't have been more than 6. His face was mangled and bloodied, one eye dangling over it, popped. He was naked down to his underwear, his stomach crudely cut open and his entrails splayed out beside him. He was laying on some pavement that was probably a road.

The most upsetting part was that there was a shadow of the photographer, but no crime tape, evidence tags, or markers, and the angle was completely off for a shot designed to be evidence. It would seem they were the person responsible for the child's death. We were, of course, mortified, but pressed on, hoping that this was just a sick joke.

The screen flipped back to Squidward, still sobbing, louder than before, half of his body in the frame. There was now what appeared to be blood running down his face from his eyes. The blood was also done in a hyper-realistic style, looking as if you'd get it on your fingers if you touched the screen. The wind sounded now as if it were that of a gale blowing through the forest; there were even snapping sounds, like of branches. The laughing, a deep baritone, lasted for longer intervals and came more frequently. After about 20 seconds, the screen again twisted and showed a single frame photo.

The editor was reluctant to go back. We all were, but he knew he had to. This time, the photo appeared to be of a little girl, no older than the first child. She was laying on her stomach, her barrettes in a pool of blood next to her. Her left eye was damaged in the same way as the boy, and she was naked, except for underpants. Her entrails were piled on top of her above another crude cut along her back. Again, the body was on the street and the photographer's shadow was visible, very similar in size and shape to the first. I had to choke back vomit, and one intern, the only female in the room, ran out. The show resumed.

About 5 seconds after this second photo played, Squidward went silent. All sound cut out, like it did when the scene started. He put his tentacles down, and his eyes were now done in hyper-realism like the others' were at the beginning of the episode. They were bleeding, bloodshot, and pulsating. He just stared at the screen, as if watching the viewer. After about 10 seconds, he started sobbing, this time not covering his eyes. The sound was piercing and loud; the most fear-inducing thing of all was that his sobbing was mixed with screams.

Tears and blood were dripping down his face at a heavy rate. The wind sound came back, and so did the deep-voiced laughing, this time with a still photo that lasted for a good 5 frames.

The animator was able to stop it on the 4th and backed up. This time, the photo was of a boy about the same age, but the scene was different. His entrails were being pulled out from his stomach wound by a large hand, the right eye popped and dangling, blood trickling down it. The animator proceeded. The next frame was different, but we couldn't tell how. He continued to the next image and it was the same thing. He then went back to the first and played them quicker, and I lost it. I vomited on the floor, the animation and sound editors gasping at the screen. The 5 frames were not 5 different photos; they were frames from a video. We saw the hand slowly lift out the guts, we saw the kid's eyes focus on it, we even saw two frames of the kid beginning to blink.

The lead sound editor told us to stop; he had to call in the creator to see this. Mr. Hillenburg arrived within about 15 minutes. He was confused as to why he had been called down, so the editor just continued the episode. Once the next few frames were shown, all screaming and sound again stopped. Squidward was just staring at the viewer, his face taking up the full frame for about 3 seconds. The shot quickly panned out, that deep voice said "DO IT!", and we saw a shotgun in Squidward's hands.

He immediately puts the gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger. Realistic blood and brain matter splatters the wall behind him and his bed, and he flies back with force. The last 5 seconds of the episode show his body on the bed, on its side, one eye dangling from what's left of his head above the floor, staring blankly at it. Then the episode ends.

Mr. Hillenburg was obviously angry at this. He demanded to know what the hell was going on. Most people left the room at this point, so there were just a handful of us left to watch it again. Viewing the episode twice only served to imprint the entirety of it in my mind and cause me horrible nightmares. I'm sorry I stayed.

The only theory we could think of was that the file had been edited by someone in the chain from the drawing studio to here. The CTO was called in to find out when it'd happened. Analysis of the file did show it was mixed with new material. However, the timestamp of the change was a mere 24 seconds before we began viewing it. All equipment involved was examined for foreign software and hardware as well as glitches, such as if the timestamp was showing us the wrong time, but everything checked out fine. We didn't know what'd happened, and to this day, nobody does.

There was an investigation due to the nature of the photos, but nothing came of it. No child seen was identified and no clues were gathered from the data involved, nor physical clues from the photos. I never believed in unexplainable phenomena before, but now that I've had something happen to me and can't prove anything about it beyond anecdotal evidence, I think twice about things.

Credited to u/SuicideSquidward 
Originally uploaded on August 8th, 2010