|“||Well, I like to kick people's butts.||„|
|~ Flats' first lines.|
Flats the Flounder (simply known as Flats) is a recurring character in the first season of SpongeBob SquarePants and the main antagonist of the season 3 episode "The Bully". He also makes cameo appearances in the sixth, eleventh, and twelth seasons as well as the end credits of the SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. He is a brutish bully who has a hobby of injuring others and attempts to beat up SpongeBob SquarePants several times.
Flats first appears in the episode, Sandy's Rocket, where he is in a bathroom in front of a mirror. Flats opens the mirror in which SpongeBob is inside and captures Flats.
In the episode, Texas, Flats is one of the people in the Texas party for Sandy where he is holding a square. He and everyone gathers around Sandy and cheers when she ultimately decides to stay. However, when Patrick mentions "dumb ol' Texas", he and everyone frowns, most likely worried that Sandy will get furious for what Patrick said.
In the episode, The Bully, Flats is first seen as Mrs. Puff's new student. He takes a seat next to SpongeBob, but when the latter introduces himself, Flats threatens to kick his butt. SpongeBob initially takes it as a joke, but Flats rips his chest hair off and his chest spells "I MEAN IT", SpongeBob immediately realizes Flats means it.
Mrs. Puff then asks for a volunteer to draw a basic four way intersection and chooses Flats, who then draws various diagrams of him beating SpongeBob up. Although it terrifies SpongeBob, Mrs. Puff is instead impressed by his "creativity". Class ends and SpongeBob makes a hasty retreat into a toilet, but is found by Flats seconds later. SpongeBob attempts to strike a conversation, but the bully simply states that he will kick SpongeBob's butt "twice as hard" and leaves.
SpongeBob picks up a nearby phone and discovers his friend Patrick on the line. He asks for Patrick's help but soon realizes that Flats is in fact inside Patrick's house and they are old community college friends. Patrick tells SpongeBob that Flats has to leave, since he is going to kick somebody's butt. SpongeBob panics and flees, while Patrick is still on the line. In a state of panic, SpongeBob confides in Mrs. Puff about Flats' intentions. Appalled, she agrees to speak with Flats. During recess, Mrs. Puff tells SpongeBob that she spoke to Flats, and he said that he is from a place where kicking someone's butt means to befriend and hang out with them. As a clearly oblivious Mrs. Puff continues explaining, SpongeBob notices Flats making a sand replica of SpongeBob before kicking it down.
SpongeBob runs out of school campus and bumps into Flats' father and informs him of Flats' behavior. However, Flats sees this and chastises his own father for talking to strangers. Flats' father tells SpongeBob that his son will kick his butt.
SpongeBob flees into the city and hides in a trash can, but Flats confronts him inside of garbage truck and chases him through the city. While running, a banana peel falls out of SpongeBob's trash can and Flats drives over it, causing his truck to flip over and crash, critically injuring Flats.
He wakes up in the hospital some time later, and is informed that SpongeBob performed five hours of CPR to save his life, even though the doctors assured him he would be fine after a few minutes. Moved, Flats claims he will remember this kindness while kicking SpongeBob's butt, causing SpongeBob to flee to his home, but Flats arrives and kicks his door down seconds later. SpongeBob puts a blindfold on and prepares for the worst. Flats punches him in the chest, but SpongeBob does not feel it. He removes his blindfold and realizes that his sponge-like body is absorbing the blows.
SpongeBob then goes about his daily routine as usual, all the while Flats punching him. SpongeBob wakes up the next day, pours a bowl of cereal, and goes to school, still being punched by an exhausted Flats. Flats passes out from exhaustion so their classmates cheer for SpongeBob. SpongeBob stops their cheering, claims that Flats is the true victim, for he went down a violent road to nowhere, and holds his fist. Mrs. Puff the enters the class, and after seeing Flats' unconscious body and SpongeBob's enclosed fist, she believes that SpongeBob "beat up a new student" and angrily threatens to kick his butt.
Flats later makes cameo appearances in the end credits of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Squid Noir, Don't Feed the Clowns, and SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout.
- It's never really explained why Flats wants to kick SpongeBob's butt, though fans speculate it's for revenge for SpongeBob trapping him in Sandy's Rocket. Given the negative continuity of the show, however, it's unknown if this is the case or if Flats just wanted to bully SpongeBob out of random spite. However, since Flats tells Mrs. Puff that he likes to kick people's butts, it's possible that he simply chose SpongeBob as a random victim.
- Coincidentally, his voice actor Thomas F. Wilson is best known for playing the bully Biff Tannen in the Back to the Future film series.
- Although he goes to Mrs. Puff's driving classes, Flats is later seen driving a truck to run over SpongeBob. However, this may indicate that Flats lacked a license and was driving illegally.
- Some fans believe that the main reason Flats was able to intimidate SpongeBob at the driving school without being punished is because Mrs. Puff let him do so as a way to get back at SpongeBob for all the troubles he causes for her. However, it can be easily pointed out that Mrs. Puff didn't do anything out of poor character judgement instead of malice.
- In the biggest twist of irony, despite being the driving theme of the entire episode, Flats never actually kicks SpongeBob in the butt and decides to punch him instead.