Since 1997, South Park has been bringing cut-throat comedy and poignant social commentary to homes across the nation. It’s the second longest-running animated sitcom in TV history, second only to The Simpsons. In its 25 year run, South Park has given us a number of gold nugget episodes. So today, I’ve compiled the definitive list of the 10 best South Park episodes. Obvious Spoiler Alert!
10. Medicinal Fried Chicken (Season 14, Episode 3)
In this episode, the show takes jabs at the legalization of marijuana movement, and the circumstances people will create to obtain a medical license for marijuana. There’s two really great stories that run in this episode, the first and foremost being Cartman’s rise in the ‘illegal’ fried chicken distribution industry (which is a giant nod to Scarface). Meanwhile, Randy gives himself testicular cancer to obtain a medical marijuana card (and gets all his buddies to do the same). The episode is so much fun, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Be prepared for Marley jabs and way too many ‘ball’ jokes!
9. Christian Rock Hard (Season 7, Episode 9)
This episode is the epitome of what we love about South Park. It’s cynical, witty, and religiously targeted; some of the hallmarks of the show. When Kyle challenges Cartman to a bet that he can’t get a platinum album faster, Cartman makes a Christian rock band (because according to him, those are the ‘dumbest people in the world’). He gets filthy rich, and holds a big party for the presentation of his album. But when he receives a myrrh album instead of a platinum one, he screams sacrilegious profanities at the crowd of Christian onlookers, ruining his band’s career. While some of the earlier episodes can be problematic (due to their poignancy at the time), this episode reminds us that laughing at each other can be helpful; especially when you think Christian music is good.
8. Simpsons Already Did It (Season 6, Episode 7)
This episode was the first in the series to get the ‘meta’ treatment. Throughout the episode, South Park takes shots at itself and how futile it might seem when compared to The Simpsons. We get to see the characters in a Simpson-esque animation style, with a self-referencing story that feels very Matrix. Professor Chaos finds out that his plans for world domination and general debauchery are all on re-runs of The Simpsons; referencing the idea that The Simpsons always get to a joke first (sometimes years before it even happens).
7. Tsst (Season 10, Episode 7)
While trying to discipline Cartman, his mother enlists the help of a few TV nannies (think Super Nanny). After running two or three off (and sending one to a mental hospital), the only person who can control Cartman turns out to be world-renowned dog trainer, Caesar Milan. By using dog training techniques (outfitted with KFC instead of treats), Cartman has a crisis of conscience, and becomes a good boy. But after Caesar leaves her to her own devices, Cartman’s mother realizes she’d rather be his friend; so he again becomes the brat we all love. This episode is a ton of fun, and will have you doubled over with laughter.
6. Poor and Stupid (Season 14, Episode 8)
As someone who comes from the country, surrounded by NASCAR fans, this episode is pure delight for me. Cartman wants to become as poor and stupid as possible, because he thinks that’s the only way you can become a NASCAR driver. From drinking tubes of Vagisil to kill his brain cells, to giving all his money to Butters, this episode is off the hinges right from the beginning. It has no shortage of redneck, NASCAR, and white trash jabs, mostly at the expense of Kenny. The best moment? When Cartman takes stabs at your favorite NASCAR folks on an interview panel. Absolute gold.
5. Good Times With Weapons (Season 8, Episode 1)
The Season 8 premiere stepped out of the box, and gave us one of the crown jewels of South Park. When the boys lie to a vendor at the fair, they are able to purchase some ‘authentic weapons from the Far East’. Of course, as young boys typically do, they start fighting with the weapons. In a half-anime half-original animation style, the kids have a classic adventure. When Kenny throws a ninja star into Butters’ eye, they try to take him to the vet dressed as a dog, so as not to get in trouble with their parents. In the final moments of the episode, Cartman walks across the fair main stage completely nude, thinking he has invisibility powers. Like I said, classic adventure.
4. AWESOME-O (Season 8, Episode 5)
After Cartman is video taped in drag, dancing with a Justin Timberlake cutout, he realizes he needs to control the damage of the tape. In an effort to steal it from Butters, who is planning to expose Cartman to the whole school, Cartman dresses up as a fake robot. Butters takes everything at face value, and doesn’t question Cartman as a robot (hence AWESOME-O). After getting himself into many harrowing situations (including eating toothpaste for sustenance and getting kidnapped by the US military), Cartman finally reveals himself as AWESOME-O, and Butters shows all the kids the tape of Cartman.
3. The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers (Season 6, Episode 13)
A direct parody of the Lord of the Rings series, this episode manages to pack an incredible amount in its half hour format. While everyone may not understand the LOTR references, there’s more than just fanboy comedy in this episode. In its final moments, it has one of the most uncomfortable scenes in the entire run of South Park, and it’s absolutely hilarious. You’ll be gasping for air, watching as these boys just try to get to the video store (this was released at the height of Blockbuster fame). It remains one of the funniest episodes of South Park to this day, and spawned multiple spinoff episodes and became the premise of a South Park game.
2. Make Love, Not Warcraft (Season 10, Episode 8)
With a completely integrated visual story, that finds the boys as World of Warcraft avatars, this episode stands tall above many. It takes shots at the gamer community, and holds absolutely no punches. It has some of the most grotesque imagery in South Park‘s run, as the boys gain an incredible amount of weight and become chair-bound playing World of Warcraft. Ending with Cartman using a bedpan held by his mother, and an awkward death scene that Randy acts out virtually, this episode covers all the bases, and reminds us why South Park can’t be beat.
1. Scott Tenorman Must Die (Season 5, Episode 4)
If you’re a fan of South Park, you’re probably very familiar with this episode. Long story short, Cartman cooks Scott Tenorman’s parents into a chili for the town’s Chili Cook-Off; and makes him eat it. It’s absolute insanity, and shows Cartman on his very worst behavior. Long considered the greatest episode of South Park of all time, ‘Scott Tenorman Must Die’ fulfills every dark humor fantasy we had for Cartman. And in a twist later on, it’s revealed that Cartman’s father is Scott Tenorman’s dad; so he actually killed his own father. Like I said, absolute insanity.
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