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Is Squidward an octopus or squid?


Squidward Tentacles is one of the most iconic characters from the popular Nickelodeon cartoon series SpongeBob SquarePants. With his large nose, ill temper, and artistic passions, Squidward stands out among the cast of optimistic and eccentric residents of Bikini Bottom. However, there has been an ongoing debate among SpongeBob fans regarding Squidward’s species – is he an octopus or a squid?

In this article, we will examine the evidence from the show to determine whether Squidward is anatomically an octopus or a squid. We will look at his physical features, artistic abilities, name origins, and comparisons to real-life cephalopods. By the end, you will have a definitive answer to this question that has puzzled SpongeBob viewers for over 20 years.

Quick Answers

– Squidward possesses traits of both octopuses and squids, but the show creators seem to have designed him as a hybrid of the two species, leaning more towards an octopus.

– Key octopus features are his round head, bulbous mantle, and suction cup-lined tentacles. He also displays advanced intelligence and creativity typical of octopuses.

– His name “Squidward” and 6 tentacles suggest squid traits, though he lacks the triangular squid mantle and beak-like mouth.

– Overall the evidence best supports Squidward being primarily an octopus, albeit a fanciful one adapted for a cartoon world.

Physical Features

One way to determine Squidward’s species is by examining his physical characteristics. At first glance Squidward appears squid-like, with his long tubular head and six tentacles. However, upon closer inspection many of his features are more octopus-like.

Head Shape

Octopuses have round, bulbous heads which taper to a point, whereas squid heads are triangular and arrow-shaped. Squidward’s head is smooth, rotund and spherical – definitely more similar to an octopus.


The mantle is the large structure behind the head that contains internal organs. An octopus mantle is globular compared to a squid’s which is long and cylindrical. Again, Squidward’s wide, round upper body aligns far more with an octopus than a streamlined squid.


Octopuses uniformly have eight arms, while squids have ten – two long tentacles and eight shorter arms. Squidward breaks the norms here with six tentacles total. However, his tentacles are covered in suckers, an exclusively octopus feature. Squids have pointed tentacle tips lacking suckers.


Squidward is a yellowish tan – a color found in some deepwater octopus species such as the dumbo octopus. Squids are rarely yellow, more often toned in oranges, reds, browns and other earth colors that help camouflage in ocean environments.

Trait Squidward Octopus Features Squid Features
Head Shape Round, bulbous Round, bulbous Triangular, arrow-shaped
Mantle Shape Globular Globular Cylindrical, torpedo-shaped
Tentacles 6 tentacles with suckers 8 arms with suckers 10 arms (8 short, 2 long) with pointed tips
Color Yellowish tan Can be yellowish Reds, browns, oranges

Artistic Talents

Beyond physicality, Squidward’s passion for artistic pursuits including music, painting, dance and sculpture points towards octopus rather than squid tendencies.

Octopuses are considered the most intelligent of all invertebrates. They use tools, solve problems creatively, and play with toys demonstrating advanced cognitive capabilities. Such mental complexity supports artistic endeavors.

Squidward is portrayed throughout the series as a lover of fine arts, classical music, and culture – hallmark octopus traits. He plays the clarinet, paints self-portraits, enjoys bubble baths, and frequents the theatre. All of these hobbies require a sophisticated intellect typically found in octopuses, and rarely seen among squids.

In one episode, Squidward gains musical fame by playing clarinet solos at a concert. This kind of performance mirrors those done by real-life octopuses like Octavio, an octopus at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium known for his “jam session” antics with aquarists. Octopuses possess the range of creativity necessary for Squidward’s artistic pursuits in a way squids simply do not.

Name Origin

Squidward’s peculiar first name appears to come from the word ‘squid’ which would imply he is in fact a squid. However, the origin may not be so straightforward.

‘Squidward’ may be a play on ‘Edward’ – an upper-class sounding human name befitting Squidward’s sophisticated personality. The ‘squid’ prefix could have been chosen primarily for the funny visual pairing it makes with his octopus appearance. After all, the show thrives on ironic humor.

Additionally, Squidward’s last name ‘Tentacles’ associates him with octopuses, famous for their eight tentacles, rather than the ten arms of squid. The name ‘Squidward Tentacles’ together seems intended to purposefully contrast with his octopus-like traits for comedic effect.

Comparisons to Real Cephalopods

To gain further insight into whether Squidward aligns more with octopuses or squids, we can compare him to his real life aquatic counterparts:


Squidward is technologically inept yet also an expert clarinet player. This dichotomy between low practical intelligence and high creative intelligence is characteristic of octopuses. Squids tend to have lower problem-solving skills and are not known for intricate talents like instrument playing.


Squidward resides in a moai apartment rather than a seabed cave or coral reef. However, Bikini Bottom dramatizes underwater life, so we cannot expect his home to literally match either octopus or squid dwellings. Importantly though, he thrives best in enclosed, den-like spaces typical of octopuses.


Squidward desires solitude and reacts irritably when his routines are disrupted. Similarly, octopuses are predominantly solitary creatures sensitive to external stimuli. They become stressed by noisy, busy environments. In contrast, squids tolerate schooling in large groups and chaotic settings. Clearly Squidward identifies as an introvert octopus.


Squidward stands upright on two legs – a human posture necessitated by the show’s animators. Nonetheless, when he relaxes, Squidward’s default position is with all appendages down at his sides like an octopus. A relaxed squid appears more buoyant, floating weightlessly.

Trait Squidward Octopus Squid
Intelligence High creative intelligence, low practical intelligence Similar high/low intelligence dichotomy Lower overall intelligence
Environment Reclusive, prefers enclosed spaces Solitary, enjoys small dens Schooling, lives openly in sea
Personality Irritable, desires solitude Sensitive to stimuli, stressed by crowds Tolerates chaotic environments
Posture Stands upright, relaxes with appendages down Arms typically down when relaxed Floats buoyantly in water


While Squidward exhibits a mix of anatomical features from octopuses and squids, the majority of the evidence suggests he is principally designed after an octopus. His round head, suckered tentacles, creative talents, reclusive personality, and introverted tendencies all point towards octopus biology and behavior.

Squidward’s squid-like traits are more selectively adapted either for visual humor or to give him a fun, distinctive cartoon identity. These include his blue skin, six tentacles, and surname ‘Tentacles’. Nonetheless, the show creators seemed careful to keep his underlying attributes aligned with those of a genuine octopus.

There may never be a 100% definitive answer on whether the writers intended Squidward as an octopus or a squid. But based on his physical attributes, talents and personality, Squidward lives up to his name just slightly more as an ‘octo’ than a ‘squid’. He will likely continue entertaining SpongeBob fans for years to come with his irascible yet lovable octo-ish ways.