Bruce Willis Nearly Ruined The Most Popular Animated Series

Nickelodeon wanted Bruce Willis to voice Plankton in Spongebob Squarepants back when the character was planned for just one appearance.

By Douglas Helm | Published

Patrick and Spongebob from Spongebob Squarepants

Could you imagine movie star Bruce Willis voicing Plankton in SpongeBob SquarePants? In an alternate timeline, you wouldn’t have to imagine this as it was almost the reality. Speaking on the Nerdist podcast Big Pop Fun, Doug Lawrence talked about how Nickelodeon wanted to bring in a big name for the role and Willis was that name, apparently Plankton was meant to be a one-off character, so this wouldn’t have been that out of place.

Of course, they decided not to go with Bruce Willis, and Doug Lawrence voiced the famous SpongeBob SquarePants antagonist ever since. While Willis might have done the gig well enough, they undoubtedly wouldn’t have been able to afford him for more than one episode, and Plankton might not have become a part of the regular cast. Instead, Lawrence’s deep-voiced take on the character has become iconic, and it’s hard to imagine any other voice in the role.

Bruce Willis is a great actor, but if Plankton was just a one-off role, then we would have missed out on a ton of great episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants. Episodes like F.U.N. which featured the titular song would have likely never happened. Plankton was also a constant thorn in Mr. Krabs’ side thanks to his rival (failing) restaurant The Chum Bucket, and his constant attempts to steal the secret formula.

In fact, making Bruce Willis do a one-off appearance as Plankton means the 2004 The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie may have been completely different. Plankton was the main antagonist of that movie, and it pulled in $141.1m million at the global box office. So, Nickelodeon is probably pretty glad that they went with Doug Lawrence for the role too.

Plankton from Spongebob Squarepants

With Bruce Willis retiring from acting, it is a shame that we never got a cameo from him in a different episode of SpongeBob Squarepants. While he might have been the wrong choice for the role of Plankton, the series has had plenty of big celebrity cameos and voice roles through its many seasons. Some notable celebrity voices that have been featured include Adam West, Mark Hamill, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Betty White, Johnny Depp, Victoria Beckham, Andy Samberg, and many more.

Funnily enough, Bruce Willis did end up getting to voice a character from a popular animated Nickelodeon show, but it wasn’t SpongeBob SquarePants. In 2003, Nick released The Wild Thornberrys and Rugrats crossover film Rugrats Go Wild, where Willis voiced Spike the dog. While Spike appeared in many episodes of Rugrats, he couldn’t speak until coming across The Wild Thornberrys protagonist Eliza, who could talk to animals.

While it would have been interesting to hear Bruce Willis as Plankton on SpongeBob SquarePants, it’s probably for the best that it didn’t happen. Willis has had plenty of success in the meantime, and his final films are set to be released this year. As mentioned, Willis is sadly retiring from acting due to his medical diagnosis of aphasia.

You can see Bruce Willis in Detective Knight: Independence and Assassin in 2023. Detective Knight: Independence is set for a January 20 release. Assassin is set to come out on March 31.