SpongeBob SquarePants

SpongeBob SquarePants has been renewed for a ninth season, Nickelodeon announced Monday.

Nick ordered a 26-episode season, which will push the hit children's cartoon over the 200-episode mark.

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"SpongeBob's success in reaching over 200 episodes is a  testament to creator Stephen Hillenburg's vision, comedic sensibility and his dynamic, lovable characters," Brown Johnson, Nickelodeon's animation president, said in a statement. "The series now joins the club of contemporary classic Nicktoons that have hit this benchmark, so we're incredibly proud."

SpongeBob has been the No.1 animated series with kids aged 2-to-11 for the last 10 years. The Nov. 11 special, Mystery with a Twistery, drew 6.6 million viewers, and was the 2010's top animated telecast in that same demographic. The show's next special, Legends of Bikini Bottom, will premiere Jan. 28.

The ninth season is slated to begin airing in 2012.