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titlecard

063 - Have You Seen This Snail?

´╗┐SpongeBob is walking home with a very heavy bag of snail food for Gary, and Patrick tells him that he has something important to tell him, but SpongeBob ignores him and passes Patrick's House before he can say it. At his front door, SpongeBob finds a package. He leaves the snail food on the porch and opens the package to find a Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy paddleball set. SpongeBob begins to play with it, and finds the "Dirty Bubble Challenge" inside the box, which presents him with the absurdly impossible task of hitting the paddleball 29,998,559,671,349 times in a row. He accepts the challenge, and repeatedly attempts it, never being able to successfully hit the ball even once. Meanwhile, Gary goes to his food bowl to eat, but finds it empty. He confronts SpongeBob for his food, but SpongeBob is too preoccupied with the paddleball and tosses Gary aside. Feeling disowned, Gary abandons SpongeBob, who does not even notice as he leaves. Gary wanders across the sea aimlessly, eventually departing on a bus to parts unknown.

Sometime later, Patrick goes to SpongeBob's House to tell him what he was going to say, remarking that he hasn't seen him in a couple of days. He finds that the house has deteriorated into an unkempt mess, and finds a psychologically broken SpongeBob lying in fetal position in his private quarters. SpongeBob tells him that he became this way from taking the Dirty Bubble Challenge, and Patrick wails at the mention of the challenge, saying that he beat the challenge years ago and won, but then he lost the trophy they sent. SpongeBob, who has now gotten over the challenge, invites Patrick into the kitchen for cookies and milk. He gives Patrick a "fresh" glass of milk, and trips over Gary's food bowl. He remembers that he must feed Gary, and retrieves the bag of food from his porch, remarking that it has gathered a lot of dust for "a couple hours." When he calls Gary for dinner, and when he does not come, SpongeBob asks Patrick how long he was taking the Dirty Bubble Challenge. Patrick, judging by the condition of the milk, which has spoiled to the point of being completely solid, tells SpongeBob that he was gone for about seven to ten days. SpongeBob begins desperately looking for Gary, until he checks in the mailbox, where he finds a note from Gary telling him that he has run away in search of a new owner that will remember to feed him. SpongeBob is devastated by this.

Meanwhile, Gary comes to a seedy and uninviting neighborhood, and after a close encounter with a gang of alley snails (Who just wanted to give him Nachos), Gary is found by an old lady who recognizes him as "Ms. Tuftsy." She takes Gary into her house, where she pampers and overfeeds him. Meanwhile, SpongeBob desperately searches all over Bikini Bottom for Gary, but to no avail. The next morning at work, SpongeBob is extremely depressed and unproductive, and Mr. Krabs tells him that "any problem you have can be solved with a little hard work." SpongeBob interprets this as meaning that he must work harder to find Gary, and with newfound confidence, leaves the Krusty Krab to continue his search. He puts up fliers around town that directly apologize to Gary and ask him to come home. They put one on the door of a crafts store, and when Patrick sees that the store is having a sale on scented pine cones, he rushes in to get some. Inside, he sees Gary with Grandma, and asks her where the scented pine cones are. She tells Patrick that she bought all of them, and Patrick leaves, oblivious to the fact that he has found Gary and not mentioning it to SpongeBob.

This is followed by a song set to a montage of a heartbroken SpongeBob (along with Patrick) unsuccessfully searching for Gary and publishing media asking him to come home (including a billboard, a television public service announcement, and skywriting). After returning from a day out with his new owner, Gary indicates that has to go to the bathroom, and Grandma gives him a stack of fliers given to her by "a chubby little boy." Gary sees that the stack of flyers is from SpongeBob, and realizes that he does indeed care about him. While Grandma is in the kitchen getting the meatloaf she had been cooking for him, Gary tries to find an exit, and stumbles across a closet full of dead snail shells. Gary realizes that Grandma is overfeeding him and that may be the reason of all the empty snail shells. Grandma chases Gary, and now outside, He hides in a back alley, where he encounters one of the alley snails he met earlier. He pushes him into the open, where Grandma believes him to be her snail and takes him in place of Gary. Meanwhile, SpongeBob has given up on looking for Gary, and wishes to see him one last time, when Gary suddenly comes to him. SpongeBob promises to never neglect him again, and takes him inside to feed Gary, saying that he must be "starving," unaware of what Gary has been through, which Gary responds with a denial meow stating that he's full.