South Park is about to begin its 18th season in the UK, and despite nearly two decades of episodes, it doesn’t show any sign of getting ‘lame’, as Cartman might say.Unlike other rival shows, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s cartoon has got better with age, and continues to push boundaries and stay relevant.To celebrate its return, we have chosen our personal favourite 25 from its first 247 episodes.
25. Woodland Critter Christmas – Season 8
A thoroughly bizarre but memorable episode, in which Stan finds himself in the middle of the woods with a bunch of seemingly cute woodland animals. With an irritating voiceover narrating his every move, the critters turn out to be the most evil creatures known to man. Things are pretty f**ked right here, as he would say. Eventually, it is revealed that Cartman is the creator of such an awful story, and it’s all just so Kyle can be killed in his sick fantasy. Despite all this, it’s a strangely fun Christmassy episode.
24. The Losing Edge – Season 9
The first of several Randy Marsh-heavy episodes. The South Park Cows are on an unwanted winning streak in Little League Baseball, basically because they are the only team in the entire nation who suck the most at throwing a game. The boys try anything to lose a game so that they don’t have to play any more boring baseball, but are eventually saved by Randy, who gets drunk and fights rival dads at every game, ultimately disqualifying the team. “I’m sorry, I thought this was America?”
23. Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub – Season 3
Part two of the ‘Meteor Shower Trilogy’, the episode follows Stan as he is stuck hanging with three ‘Melvins’ from school while his parents attend Mr Mackay’s party. It is the first episode to introduce Butters as a major character, which needs to be commended. While the ATF think the party is being held by a suicide cult, Randy and Kyle’s dad Gerald ‘spend time together’ in the hot tub, causing a bit of awkwardness for Randy for the rest of the evening, with hilarious results
22. Sexual Harassment Panda – Season 3
It’s almost impossible not to sing Petey’s theme tune when you read the title. Parker and Stone have said that they were so hungover and knackered after the 1999 film, that they have no memory of making the episode. After the boys hear about how sexual harassment is bad, it leads to the whole town suing each other, with Gerald getting paid millions in the process. Sadly, Petey is fired by the school to cut costs, and he finds himself on the Isle of Misfit Mascots, believing himself to be an actual panda. Silly South Park at its best.
21. Chickenlover – Season 2
This aired when South Park was arguably at its full commercial mainstream height, and while you may not remember the title, you will remember certain elements from it. Officer Barbrady is ordered to go back to school after he reveals he can’t read, and the boys soon join him in helping to apprehend a man who keeps molesting chickens. This began Cartman’s obsession of people respecting his ‘authoritaaah’.
20. The Coon – Season 13
Parodying The Dark Knight and other dark comic books, the episode introduced Cartman’s lame alter ego The Coon and Mysterion, who was eventually revealed to be Kenny in the next season. Cartman’s attempts at being a proper superhero, being compared to Bruce Vilanch and teaming up with Butters’s Professor Chaos were just some highlights from the episode. It eventually spawned several follow-ups featuring The Coon, including him joining forces with the evil entity Cthulhu, of all people.
19. Marjorine – Season 9
The boys find out about a mysterious device used by the girls which appears to tell the future, not realising it is just a paper fortune teller. They fake Butters’s death, and disguise him as a girl to infiltrate their inner circle to recover the device. The episode is particularly enjoyable when Butters finds himself loving his time as a girl after they take him in, while his parents attempt to resurrect him via an Ancient Indian burial ground.
18. You Got F’ed in the A – Season 8
Taking the mickey out of You Got Served and other dance movies, the episode sees Stan indeed getting served by a dance troupe, much to Randy’s embarrassment. After serving them back with a dose of ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, Stan has to enlist South Park’s best dancers (including a dancing duck) after the dance-off is declared ‘on’. Meanwhile, Butters’s past reveals that he once killed hundreds of people after a tap dance performance to ‘I’ve Got Something In My Front Pocket For You’. Can lightning strike twice?
17. Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow – Season 9
An obvious parody of The Day After Tomorrow and other disaster movies, it also mocked the aid response after Hurricane Katrina. After Stan and Cartman accidentally cause the town of Beaverton to flood, everyone starts panicking that global warming is going to kill them all. This leads to Randy going into super-overreaction mode in trying to rescue his son, and Stan seemingly getting away with causing the flood after everyone thinks he’s created a metaphor to stop the town trying to find blame. “I broke the dam!”
16. Over Logging – Season 12
Another classic Randy episode. The town panics like crazy (like we all do) when the internet goes down for no apparent reason. Parodying The Grapes of Wrath, the Marshes travel to “Californee way” in search of some internet, with Randy desperate to look at some porn. He eventually gets access, leading to a hilarious scene involving a certain ‘spooky ghost’.
15. Professor Chaos – Season 6
After Kenny’s ‘permanent’ death, Butters was promoted as the main fourth member of the boys’ group. However, he was deemed too lame by the boys in this episode, leading him to find vengeance by creating a superhero villain alter ego. However, his powers are pretty rubbish. Meanwhile, the boys hold tryouts for their ‘new Kenny’, with Tweek eventually chosen as the temporary winner.
14. Elementary School Musical – Season 12
The boys are completely dumbfounded by the new High School Musical fad, especially when everyone apart from them joins in spontaneous singalongs. Stan also gets concerned that new kid Bridon Gueermo is getting a lot of attention from Wendy. Eventually, the boys decide they have to get involved when they realise that Butters is even more popular than they are. Sadly for them, despite a well thought out dance routine, no-one cares about High School Musical anymore.
13. Mr Hankey the Christmas Poo – Season 1
South Park arguably went from cult hit to mainstream success thanks to this episode among others in the first season. Everyone thinks Kyle is crazy when he speaks about Mr Hankey, a poo who appears at Christmas to kids who have enough fibre in their diet. A ridiculous concept, but one that is somehow Christmassy and sweet, and he even became the first and only piece of faeces to score a hit single.
12. Goobacks – Season 8
This episode is this high purely for originating the phrase, “They took our jobs!” People arrive from the distant poverty-stricken future in search of jobs, causing present-day folk to lose work as the future population work for next-to-nothing. A silly but brilliant premise that leads to the men of South Park getting in a naked pile having sex with each other in order for the future people to stop existing.
11. Go God Go and Go God Go XII – Season 10
A brilliantly-written double-bill that sees Cartman freezing himself so that he doesn’t have to wait for the Nintendo Wii. However, he isn’t found in time and wakes up in the year 2546, and finds himself involved in a new atheistic world, after Mrs Garrison and Richard Dawkins take over the planet. A war between humans and otters eventually sees Cartman back in the present day, but has he learnt his lesson? Don’t count on it.
10. Imaginationland Parts I, II & III – Season 11
Possibly the closest South Park came to a movie sequel to Bigger, Longer & Uncut. A trilogy of excellent episodes – which also combined for one film for a home release – it saw the boys travel to a magical land filled with fictional characters from all over the place. However, terrorists soon attacked ‘our imagination’, allowing the most evil characters ever to take over. Meanwhile, Cartman is on a quest for Kyle to suck his balls after he bet that leprechauns were real. A hell of a load of fun from start to finish, especially when Al Gore’s ManBearPig gets involved.
9. Kenny Dies – Season 5
After dying in pretty much every episode from the start, Parker and Stone decided they had had enough of everyone’s favourite muffled kid, and killed him for good. The episode was notable as it was one of the few times where South Park actually got surprisingly emotional. The boys struggle with Kenny’s illness, and we see a genuine rare moment of weakness and sadness from Cartman.
8. Lice Capades – Season 11
A bizarre episode on paper, but it somehow works in so many ways. The majority of the episode takes place in the hair of Clyde, not even one of the core boys. After the school is infested with lice, the episode follows a colony of lice who attempt to survive after Clyde tries to kill them off. It then goes proper disaster movie, complete with evil lice Vice President. Meanwhile, Cartman attempts to find out who has the lice a la The Thing, before it is revealed that every single person in school has lice, not just Clyde.
7. Cat Orgy – Season 3
The first in the ‘Meteor Shower Trilogy’, this was a rather sweet episode featuring Cartman getting babysat by Stan’s mean sister Shelley. The pair initially clash, but join forces after she is ridiculed by her much older boyfriend Skylar. A rare episode where Cartman shows his softer side, and we get to see him play with Clyde Frog and sing the Wild Wild West theme tune.
6. Chef Aid – Season 2
One of the biggest episodes from the first few seasons, it saw Chef get sued for copyright infringement. The boys get together to put on a Live Aid-style music event, with artists including Elton John and Ozzy Osbourne providing their voices. Episode highlights include the evil record company executive (“I am above the law!”) and Johnnie Cochran’s ‘Chewbacca defence’.
5. Good Times with Weapons – Season 8
South Park went all anime in this episode, as the boys became ninjas after buying dodgy proper weapons at a market. The animation was excellent, and the theme tune ‘Let’s Fighting Love’ is one of the funniest songs Trey Parker has written, even though it’s a load of gibberish. Butters wants to get involved as Professor Chaos, but is soon hit in the eye with Kenny’s shuriken. The boys disguise him as a dog and Butters has a pretty horrid time, but the adults of South Park are more offended by Cartman’s balls. Strangely enough, Parker and Stone don’t rate this episode, and they consider season eight to be among their worst due to their time working onTeam America.
4. AWESOM-O – Season 8
Proving that season eight was (accidentally, it seems) one of the best, this was one of the best Cartman/Butters teamup episodes, and one where Butters actually came out on top in the end. Cartman disguises himself as a robot, and Butters believes he is real and becomes his new best friend. His parents know full well it is Cartman, who struggles to keep up with the ruse, especially when he has to put up with “lame” tasks and starts getting groped by a military general.
3. Asspen – Season 6
A fan favourite, this saw the boys and their families on a skiing holiday in Aspen. While the parents are kidnapped by timeshare salesmen, the boys find themselves caught up in a bizarre fight with a douche named Tad, who begins picking on Stan for no reason. It brilliantly mocks sport films of the 1980s, and is full of hilarious moments. Tad repeatedly calls Stan “Darsh” and we get the first use of the ‘Montage’ song, later used in Team America.
2. Make Love Not Warcraft – Season 10
Parker and Stone teamed up with Blizzard Entertainment to use the Warcraft game engine in the game, as the boys get obsessed with it, so much so that they get fat and bloated after constantly attacking boars in order to beat a mean gamer. It has become a fan favourite episode, and has so many brilliant moments, including Cartman having diarrhoea and noob Randy being entrusted with the Sword of a Thousand Truths, which later became a real thing in the actual game.
1. Scott Tenorman Must Die – Season 5
There’s a reason this has been voted the best South Park episode of all time in the past. Parker and Stone have previously said that this was a milestone in the series, as it elevated Cartman to new heights and showed just how evil he could be. Ninth-grader Scott Tenorman repeatedly humiliates Cartman, who can’t seem to get his own back, until he comes up with the most devilish plan ever. It is South Park at its most dark and hilarious. Radiohead even make a rare appearance as themselves. Tenorman returns in the episode 201, enacting his own revenge on Cartman with some dreadful news. “Little crybaby.”
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