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Why can't you just graduate out of my life?
~ Mrs. Puff

Mrs. "Poppy" Puff is the boating school teacher of SpongeBob SquarePants in the series of the same name. While normally positive, she acts as an antagonist/anti-villain on occasion. On average, her general characterization has become more negative over the series' run.

With each episode, Mrs. Puff grows increasingly hateful and afraid towards SpongeBob, even developing somewhat of a phobia. This is most likely due to years of having put up with SpongeBob's failures and the trouble he has caused. However, Puff has never outright told SpongeBob that she dislikes him nor that he will never get his driver's license; while still largely SpongeBob's, it can be argued that her suffering is partially her fault as a result of this.

While most see Puff's criminal record as largely SpongeBob's fault, it should be noted that she had this record before even moving to Bikini Bottom. Some of Mrs. Puff's statements in "No Free Rides" indicate that she has been forced to move and change her name as a result of her criminality at least once.

Antagonistic Side

Some small, early examples of Puff's antagonism can be seen in the season one episodes "Scaredy Pants" and "Sleepy Time." In the former, Mrs. Puff spots SpongeBob while in her boat. SpongeBob has just been bullied, having been called "ScaredyPants" by his coworkers and strangers alike. Puff honks her horn to scare him, then laughs and calls him "ScaredyPants." SpongeBob responds, telling her to call him by his real last name. In "Sleepy Time," Mrs. Puff visits SpongeBob in a dream he is having about being able to drive. She takes his dream license and rips it to shreds, shouting, "Not even in your dreams, Mr. SquarePants!" This moment is a good example of Mrs. Puff committing an unnecessarily angry action towards SpongeBob.

Later episodes show Puff involved in other small antagonistic acts. In "Nautical Novice," Mrs. Puff is on a bus when she sees SpongeBob trying to catch up to her. She tells the bus driver to keep driving rather than stop for SpongeBob, despite the danger SpongeBob is in (he is running in the middle of the road). In "Boating Buddies," a temporarily-handicapped Squidward cannot pick up his pencil because of his bandages, rendering him unable to complete Mrs. Puff's test. Rather than supply Squidward an alternative assignment or more time, Mrs. Puff instantly fails him at the end of class, forcing Squidward to endure another week of sitting next to SpongeBob.

SpongeBob SquarePants Mrs. Puff with harpoon

Mrs. Puff with a harpoon.

Some later episodes of the series show that Mrs. Puff has become increasingly violent, and she occasionally resorts to violence as a first. In "Growth Spout," Mrs. Puff hears rummaging in her garden and immediately grabs a blunt, crowbar-like instrument. She yells outside that she is not afraid to use the weapon. This can be seen as proof of Mrs. Puff's paranoia causing her to become entirely insane, even in areas of life that do not have to do with SpongeBob. In "SpongeBob LongPants," Mrs. Puff hears that another driving instructor has passed SpongeBob. She panics, saying that it is the "end of the world," then starts to lock her doors, bar her windows, and collect rations. She is last seen holding a large harpoon and wearing a war helmet.

It is important to note that in the episode "Doing Time," Mrs. Puff tries to beg the police to not arrest SpongeBob, as he is "just a student driver" and she feels he does not deserve to be arrested. In the much later episode "Oral Report," however, her feelings on SpongeBob have notably progressed. When the police confront SpongeBob, she evilly laughs and tells SpongeBob: "Finally! The long arm of the law's caught up with you! I guess I won't be seeing you in my driver's education class for the next 5 to 10 years!" This quote exemplifies the difference between pre-movie Puff and her post-movie self.

The most prominent examples of Mrs. Puff's antagonistic side can be seen in the following episodes.

No Free Rides

SpongeBob SquarePants Mrs. Puff After Lying

Mrs. Puff after lying to SpongeBob.

"I've got to end this thing before it begins."
~ Mrs. Puff realizing her mistake about passing SpongeBob.

Mrs. Puff passes SpongeBob from her class just to get rid of him for good. She fears that SpongeBob will destroy the town because of this mistake. Later, she sneaks into SpongeBob's boatmobile and drives off with it, unaware that her student is sleeping in it. The two get into a fight and SpongeBob eventually discovers who the thief is. The boat crashes into a police car and Mrs. Puff ends up in jail.

The Bully

SpongeBob SquarePants Mrs. Puff screaming

Mrs. Puff as she sees Flatts lying on the ground.

I'm going to kick your butt!
~ Mrs. Puff, upon assuming SpongeBob beat up Flatts.

Although she is not the main villain in this episode, Puff is still somewhat antagonistic. She is oblivious to Flatts' intention to harm SpongeBob and unintentionally makes things worse by having a talk with Flatts. In this talk, she makes the mistake of using SpongeBob's name, assuming that Flatts just wants to be his friend. At the end of the episode, she sees a passed-out Flatts on the ground and believes SpongeBob beat him up, presumably prompting her to "kick SpongeBob's butt."

Demolition Doofus

SBDemolitionDoofus

Mrs. Puff after being deflated

"Why are you still ALIVE!?"
~ Mrs. Puff's infamous quote from the episode.

After one of SpongeBob's failed attempts at driving, Puff's inflation sac is ruptured and she is told she can no longer inflate, resulting in her hatred of SpongeBob to skyrocket. While at the hospital, she sees injured demolition derby drivers and enters SpongeBob in the annual demolition derby, hoping he will die in a desperate attempt to rid her life of SpongeBob. However, SpongeBob survives (due to his reckless driving) and becomes a star, much to Mrs. Puff's displeasure. She then snaps and crosses the Moral Event Horizon by driving a large monster truck and attempting to murder SpongeBob herself. Puff finally regains both her sanity and puffing ability after crashing into her boating school.

This episode is what many fans of the show consider to be her darkest role, as well as one of its worst cases of flanderization. This is what cemented her status as a villainess, as she wanted SpongeBob out of her life so desperately, to the point that she is willing to murder him in order for that to come into fruition.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Ever since the beginning of the series, Mrs. Puff has had her own criminal record, which explains her frequent arrests. Some offenses include ditching jury duty or littering, but the majority are for SpongeBob's reckless driving and being blamed for it. It has been implied by an officer that driving teachers in Bikini Bottom are held responsible for some of their students' crimes.
  • She is one of the few characters in the series to cross the Moral Event Horizon, along with Mr. Krabs, Plankton, Patrick Star, and Squidward.
  • It has been argued that Mrs. Puff's actions in "Demolition Doofus" were a direct result of her deflation. She begins to show symptoms of insanity only after deflating, progressing towards her murderous rage against SpongeBob. After regaining her ability to inflate, she regains her sanity as well.

See also