The 15 Essential South Park Episodes

South Park, in my humble opinion, is one of the greatest things to ever happen to television. It made Comedy Central what it is today, it continues to push the boundaries of what can be shown on television, and it’s also really, really funny. Here are the funniest episodes in the show’s history, plus some bonus material.

Season 1: Cartman Gets an Anal Probe

Here we have the episode that started it all. The groundbreaking pilot that was filmed using cut and paste stop motion animation, the only episode not to be animated on a computer. We’re introduced to the characters: The football jock Stan, the smartypants Kyle, the perpetually dying Kenny, and of course, the racist, evil, foul, bad tempered, conniving fatass, Cartman. The kids are at the bus stop when Cartman tells them of an awful dream he had where he was abducted by aliens and probed. Despite evidence to the contrary, some of it VERY compelling…

Oh hey guys what's up? Fishsticks for dinner last night?

…Cartman still believes it to be just that: a dream. The So called “visitors” up the ante by turning cows inside out and kidnapping Kyle’s little brother Ike. They rescue Ike after attracting the aliens with a giant satellite dish that came out of Cartman’s ass. Kenny Death Watch: The original Kenny death involves cow trampling.

Season 2: Gnomes

After the boys are tasked with doing an oral presentation to cover up Mr. Garrison’s incompetence as a teacher, they’re paired with Tweak, a paranoid jitterbug who is constantly twitching, caused by his parents deciding that the perfect treatment for his ADHD is lots and lots of coffee, and all that glorious caffeine that goes with it. They get caught up in a business battle as the Tweek family coffee shop is about to be run out of business by a national chain. After finding out that the Underpants Gnomes (who’ve been stealing Tweak’s undergarments at night, though no one believed him) actually exist, and discover the Gnomes’ Underwear Business Plan…

This makes more sense than the business plan for Jersey Shore.

They give a stirring speech in favor of corporations, driven by the fact that Tweek coffee is god awful compared to the national chains’. Kenny Death Watch: Traumatic head injuries from falling mine cart.

Season 3: The Red Badge of Gayness

We now progress to the third season, as the show is hitting its stride. It’s time for the annual South Park Civil War reenactment, and as usual, Cartman is missing the point. He dresses up as General Cartman Lee of the Glorious Confederacy, and tears a path of destruction across the country with his army of cap gun toting totally wasted on S’more Schnapps reenactment army.

His beard was glorious indeed.

It’s up to Stan and Kyle to stop Cartman from changing the course of history, and more importantly, keep from losing a bet they made with him involving slavery. The thrilling conclusion involves Bill Clinton, Marisa Tomei, Abraham Lincoln, and the Beard Removal Heard Round the World. Kenny Death Watch: taken out by a National Guard deployed warning flare, the only Confederate casualty of the war.

Season 4: Trapper Keeper

The kids are now in 4th grade, being taught by the eloquently named Ms. Choksondik. Meanwhile, Mr. Garrison has been demoted to a kindergarten teacher after previously suffering a mental breakdown. All the kids are coveting Dawson’s Creek binders, especially after Cartman ups the ante by bringing an advanced Trapper Keeper with computer technology built inside. But, gasp! A mysterious figure known only as Bill Cosby steals the Trapper Keeper and destroys it! He turns out to be a robot from the future, sent to the past to destroy the Trapper Keeper before it gains sentience and connects with the world’s computers to conquer the world. Things look bleak, the Trapper Keeper appears unstoppable. But then, the day is saved after an epic battle when the worst creature known to mankind…


Hide the children!

While all this is going on, Ike is elected class president of his kindergarten class after 300 recounts and suing everyone. Kenny Death Watch: Traumatic Exploding Door related Injuries.

Season 5: Scott Tenorman Must Die

It is during this episode that we learn how truly warped Eric Cartman is. It starts when Cartman learns that a local teenager has tricked him into paying ten dollars for used pubic hair. His desperate attempts to get his money back  makes the situation so much worse, before, after humiliating him in front of the whole town, burns his money. Cartman vows revenge.

Poor guy has no idea what's coming.

It is revealed at the Chili Con Carnie that Cartman had Scott’s parents killed, before stealing the bodies, chopping them up, putting them into chili, and feeding it to Scott. Also, he made him look like a baby in front of Radiohead, and honestly, that’s much worse. Kenny Death Watch: Death by Cackling.

Season 6: Child Abduction is Not Funny

The media has put the residents of South Park in a tizzy about children’s safety. In their typical overreaction fashion they strap tracking helmets to their heads for monitoring at all times. However, this fails to stop a real kidnapper from almost making off with Tweek. The decision to make at this point is obvious. They must build….The Great Wall of South Park.

China's contribution to cartoons the world over.

The builder and manager of the Wall is Mr. Kim, owner of the local City Wok, and he faces an immediate challenge from a roving band of Mongolians, who strive to tear down the wall using any means necessary, such as a cruise missile or a Trojan Horse full of sweet and sour pork, the classic gag that it is. Just when Mr. Kim thought he had defeated the Mongolians, the residents of South Park changed their mind about being crazy and told him to tear it down, to which he responds like any of us would: he loses his freaking mind. Kenny Death Watch: Kenny has been dead this entire episode, this whole season in fact. Taken out by cancer back at the end of Season five.

Season 7: Casa Bonita

Casa Bonita is Cartman’s favorite place in the whole world. So, when Kyle announces to his friends that as a birthday treat, he and three of his friends get to go. Except, Cartman can’t come, because Cartman is a jerk and hates Jews. Butters gets to go instead, because Butters is nice and invited Kyle to his birthday . So what does Cartman do? Why, he plots to get Butters out of the way, of course.

Considering this was his reaction to a TPing confession, this should be hardly surprising.

He tells Butters a meteor is going to hit Earth, to hide him in a bomb shelter, and when that doesn’t work, just locks him in a refrigerator. Butters ends up trying to rebuild society at the city dump, and propositions a garbage worker. Meanwhile, Cartman has managed to accompany Kyle and co. to the door of the Casa before word reaches them of Butters’ survival. For Cartman, it turns into a mad dash through the Casa Bonita with the cops on his tail, trying to enjoy all of the things it has to offer before doing a high dive off the waterfall. Kenny Death Watch: Kenny doesn’t die in this one. Not because he’s already dead, like the last one, he came back. He was just, sorta there.

Season 8: Good Times with Weapons

The Fair has come to South Park, and our protagonists manage to trick a vendor of ninja weapons into selling them some. Upon receiving the weapons, they suddenly become great ninja warriors…

Except Cartman, who became a great Ninja Sumo wrestler.

They engage Butters, now disguised as Professor Chaos, and things are progressing nicely for 9 year old boys at play until Kenny…well…

Oooooooooh no.

Being kids, they are more concerned with getting in trouble, so they disguise Butters as a dog and take him to the Vet, who tries to euthanize him. Somehow Butters escapes, and gets medical treatment, while Cartman is the only one to get in trouble because of an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction that resulted in him exposing himself to the Fairgrounds. Kenny Death Watch: No Kenny death here, though after what he did to Butters, he probably deserved one.

Season 9: Trapped in the Closet

This episode took aim at that perfect clusterbomb of a religion, Scientology, and was one of those episodes that people threatened to sue Trey Parker and Matt Stone over. Stan gets sucked into the Church of Scientology, with church officials believing him to be the 2nd coming of L. Ron Hubbard.


L. Ron would have approved, for all the wrong reasons.

Tom Cruise is upset after Stan insults his acting, and runs and hides in his bedroom closet. Despite numerous attempts to convince him, he refuses to come out of the closet. Nicole Kidman, John Travolta, and R Kelly (waving a pistol around the whole time) all beat on that closet door to no avail, with Travolta and Kelly deciding to go in the closet too. Meanwhile, Stan learns that the Church of Scientology is actually a money making scheme, and not a real religion. He tries to tell the poor gullible suckers who are shelling out money for this deal of what’s going on, to which they respond in the usual manner. “I’m going to sue you!” Kenny Death Watch: I’m not even sure he’s in this one.

Season 10: Make Love, Not Warcraft

The children have discovered the World of Warcraft, and are happily enjoying the game, when a jerkface character shows up and kills them. He’s Jenkins, who’s been playing the game for so long, he’s reached God power levels in the game, allowing him to kill players, admins, even entire servers at once. A massive strike force led by the boys ends in dismal failure, and most of the kids quit the game. All except for Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, who decide to level up the hard way, by repeating the most repetitive tasks over and over and over again for 21 hours a day, they can rise to a level that can defeat Jenkins.

Not exactly Darth Vader, but then, you haven't been around him when he farts.

After a 17 hour battle, they defeat Jenkins with the aid of a magic sword, but at what cost? They’ve become what Jenkins is: fat and disgusting creatures who subsist on Ramen and Hot Pockets. But hey, at least they’re playing the game the right way now. Kenny Death Watch: His in game character is killed repeatedly, but he survives in his tubby state.

Season 11: The Snuke

Hillary Clinton is coming to South Park! The only problem is that terrorists are also coming to South Park, and the only person to stop them is…Eric Cartman.

In South Park’s homage to 24, Cartman runs around hunting down terrorists while Kyle, at home sick, works the computers. Cartman’s immediate suspects are the Arab family who just moved there, because all Arabs are terrorists to Cartman. He attempts to get them to talk with the most horrible form of torture known to man: apple juice farts. To the face.

Given different context, this could be considered child pornography.

The plot centers around Hillary, who has unwittingly had a suitcase nuke implanted in a rather sensitive location. To quote an FBI agent in the episode: “Ms. Clinton, they slipped a snuke in your snizz.”  As Cartman runs down leads, he discovers that it isn’t Muslims at all behind this attack, in fact it’s America’s oldest enemy. No, not the Arabs,  Russians, Chinese,  Germans, Spanish, or Mexicans. Think America’s oldest enemy.

There she is, the blackguard.

Season 12: Super Fun Time

Have you ever been to a place where the people working there are a little too dedicated to their jobs? Well, you’ve never been to Pioneer Village, which is a replica of an 1864 pioneer village. The employee motto is “never break character,” and this would be put to the test when the kids from South Park Elementary come to visit. In the tradition of elementary schools the world over, the kids have to pick partners and stay with those partners the whole day. Cartman, hated by the entire class, is forced to partner with Butters, who vows to hold Cartman’s hand the entire day. There’s a vibe of vows going on here.

Suddenly, the boring day at Pioneer Village is interrupted by a gang of thieves, on the run after a Burger King heist. They take everyone in the village hostage, and after a discovery of a fire escape/mineshaft combo put there for safety reasons, the thieves demand the code so they can escape from the cops. The problem is, the workers at the village can’t even acknowledge that there is a fire escape as that would be breaking character, and they have vowed never to break character. It costs several of them their lives.

People hadn't died for such a stupid reason since the Pillow Fight Massacre of '85.

You’re probably wondering what Cartman and Butters are doing there. Well, Cartman ditched the Pioneer Village in favor of a Chuckie Cheese type venue, dragging Butters along with because Butters vowed not to let go of Cartman’s hand. Kenny Death Watch: Kenny’s life is threatened when the thief puts  a gun to his head, but is saved after Stan makes “the ultimate sacrifice.”

Season 13: The Coon

South Park is in need of a symbol, a crime fighter that goes above the law when necessary. It needs a superhero, and Cartman attempts to fill this role as his alterego, the Coon. No one takes him seriously, not only because he’s bad at superhero stuff, and he invents crimes and tries to get attention for himself, but also because there’s another superhero, Mysterion, that does a lot better job of it.

Take a guess which one Cartman is.

So, Cartman, being Cartman, does a very un-superhero like thing: he plots with the resident supervillain, Professor Chaos, to dispose of their common enemy. But Cartman plans a double cross: once Chaos takes out Mysterion, he plans to take down Chaos and save the day. But, as superheroes often do, Mysterion wins the day after a terrific slap battle with Chaos, and Cartman, is just ignored, like usual. Kenny Death Watch: Where is Kenny in this episode? Wink, wink, nudge nudge.

Imaginationland: the Movie

Originally shown as a three part story during Season 11, it’s now common to show it in one sitting. It’s one of those South Park episodes that is critically applauded; in fact, this one won an Emmy. The boys are taken on a trip to a fabulous place called Imaginationland, a wonderful place where all of the fictional beings imagined by people reside. Everything from Santa Claus to Superman to Ronald McDonald and the Care Bears. This happy place of fun and frivolity is SUDDENLY BLOWN TO CRAP BY TERRORISTS.

The terrorists suicide bomb the wall separating the good side of Imaginationland from the bad side. This is a problem because the bad side contains all the unspeakably evil beings imagined by man, such as Freddy Krueger, Darth Vader, and the Cavity Creeps. This is bad for humanity because something something terrorists.

Also, Mel Gibson, just, fondling his nipples.

While the people at home debate whether it’s best to just nuke Imaginationland to save us from it, Butters finds himself at the center of the ultimate battle between good and evil, and Cartman will trek all the way across the country to force Kyle to perform the ultimate act of submission on him. Kenny Death Watch: He’s blown up in the initial terrorist attack on Imaginationland.

South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

This was South Park’s first and so far only foray onto the big screen. It’s some of their best work, taking aim at censorship, pointless crusades and violence, and prejudice. It all starts when the boys sneak into the movie theater to see an adult film made by their heroes, Terrence and Phillip, a pair of Canadian comedians whose brand of comedy consists of cursing at each other and farting.

Their parents are shocked to find out they saw the movie, especially after they start using some of the movie’s more “colorful” phrases. But like everything else in South Park, the adults overreact badly, blaming Terrence and Phillip for corrupting America’s youth, and having them arrested. The Canadian government protests, as the entire economy up there depends on them, but because of deep seated prejudice against Canadians, they are ignored. So, they retaliate by sending the Air Force to bomb the Baldwin house.

Rest in peace, you princes of Hollywood.

So, thanks to a series of completely logical events, Canada and the US are at war. The kids try to prevent Terrence and Phillip from being executed for war crimes, as well as a Hell on Earth style takeover. Many celebrities are killed, including Conan O’Brien, Bill Gates, and the Arquette family, as a climactic battle rips South Park apart. Kenny Death Watch: his death is actually a key plot point. He suffers serious burns and dies after his incompetent doctor…

Go figure.

…botches a heart replacement operation by putting a baked potato into his chest cavity. Denied entrance to Heaven because he never went to church, he is sent to Hell, where he witnesses Satan having relationship problems with his boyfriend, Saddam Hussein. By encouraging Satan to stand up for himself and leave that douche man, he inadvertently saves the day, and volunteers to go back to Hell in order to put everything back the way it was before the war. His self sacrifice gets him a ticket to Heaven instead, where we last see him getting his wings via a pack of big breasted angels who we can only hope are about to engage in some very unsaintlike activity with the boy.

Welp, there you have them. 16 hilarious South Park episodes (yes, I lied in the post title) and 1 movie that stands the test of time. Now go buy a DVD box set of South Park for that special someone–it’s the perfect holiday gift if you ask me.

By Ben Adelman

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