South Park is one of those shows that has an almost endless supply of unforgettable moments. Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been cranking out sidesplitting satirical content for almost 20 years now, and they show no signs of letting up. They’ve tackled public issues like the BP oil spill and stem cell research. They’ve poked fun at institutionalized religions such as Catholicism and Scientology. They’re not even afraid to blatantly make fun of celebrities like Mel Gibson, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Russell Crowe and Rob Reiner.
Although some would say that the quality of the show has dipped slightly in the last few seasons, South Park has provided numerous instances where the viewer is shocked and stunned with what the program is allowed to get away with. The intent of this list is to examine which moments over the series provided the most controversy, the most recognition, and of course, the most laughs.
Here are the 12 Most Outrageous South Park Moments.
12 Bono is a Piece of Crap
How do you make fun of Bono? He’s the lead singer of U2, one of the biggest bands in the world, and a notable activist and humanitarian. According to Matt Parker and Trey Stone, he’s also the world’s biggest piece of crap, metaphorically and literally. In the 11th season episode “More Crap,” it is revealed that Bono is actually the world’s biggest crap, taken in 1960. From a humble, oversized piece of poo, he eventually developed to become the world renowned celebrity we know today.
As the creators put it, this is why Bono can do so much good and “still come off like such a piece of shit.” While it is certainly funny to see Bono joyfully dancing next to starving Africans, the highlight of the episode comes when his crappy past is finally revealed. The U2 singer is seen breaking down into tears, where he proceeds to suck on a grown man’s nipple, which he calls “biddy,” for sustenance and comfort. Wow.
11 Poor Paris Hilton
When the South Park creators see something they don’t like, they let us know. In this episode from season 8, they clearly didn’t like all the attention Paris Hilton was getting for being nothing more than a “stupid spoiled whore.” The episode is essentially a vehicle to make Paris come off as snobbish and stupid as possible, and in that regard they certainly succeed. The highpoint is a scene where two young girls are playing with Paris’ “Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset.” The playset comes with a night-vision camera, a losable cellphone, and 16 hits of ecstasy to replicate a celebrity sex tape.
Moments like these show why South Park pulls off satire so well. Not only does it lampoon the Paris Hilton set tape, but it also points to viewers that people such as Paris shouldn’t be looked up to as role models. It’s a risky move, while at the same time delivering a relatable message.
10 The Great Debate
Another 8th season gem, in this episode the boys of South Park are disheartened when PETA forces them to get rid of the cow as their mascot. When the school conducts a vote to decide what should replace the cow, Kyle comes up with the idea to write in giant douche, while Cartman thinks it would be funnier to write in turd sandwich. Of course, the vote ties, and a subsequent election is held to decide which one will become the new school mascot. There’s plenty of great moments in this underrated episode like P. Diddy’s Vote or Die song, but the greatest comes when the two fully realized mascots, men in giant douche and turd sandwich costumes, have a debate in the school. The discussion turns into the two throwing turd-related insults at each other, which isn’t too far off with how most political debates end up.
Stan becomes disgusted with the election and swears not to vote. Of course the irony here as the show points out is that most political elections are between a “giant douche” and a “turd sandwich,” so you better get used to voting for one of them.
9 The Death of Chef
Throughout the first few seasons of South Park, Chef proved to be an immensely popular character with fans. The jolly cafeteria cook, voiced by Isaac Hayes, would frequently help the boys out of jams by singing outrageous songs about prostitutes, sex and chocolate salty balls. He was a beacon of wisdom in South Park, and that’s why fans were so shocked when the creators killed him off in 2006.
In the episode, Chef is brainwashed by a cult of pedophiles until the boys snap him out of the trance. While escaping from the cult over a narrow bridge, Chef falls, breaking several bones before hitting the bottom. Still alive, the character tries escaping when he is suddenly mauled by a mountain lion and grizzly bear. The scene is absolutely brutal as Chef has his limbs torn off, his face eaten, all while being shot at. In the end Chef succumbs to his wounds, and proceeds to violently crap his pants.
Hayes, a Scientologist, had quit the show at the end of the previous season, reportedly because South Park had made fun of the Church’s mythos. Not ones to take a cast member quitting lightly, Stone and Parker decided to kill Chef off in the most ruthless way possible. Needless to say, this shocked a few viewers.
8 The Virgin Mary Statue is Bleeding
Parker and Stone nail two birds with one stone in this episode by not only panning Catholicism, but by also criticizing the Alcoholics Anonymous program for being too closed minded. When Stan’s dad Randy gets pulled over and slapped with a DUI, he’s forced to attend AA meetings. There, he is convinced that his alcoholic behavior is a disease, and that the only way to conquer the illness is by putting faith in a higher power. Randy starts to develop psychosomatic symptoms of a life threatening illness, when in Stan’s opinion all he has to do is “stop drinking so much.”
Randy, convinced that his alcoholism is killing him, needs a miracle. And what a coincidence, in the next town over a Virgin Mary statue has started bleeding out its backside, with many believing that the blood holds healing powers. The focal point of the episode has Randy lean into the Virgin Mary, face lit up with excitement, as he continues to be sprayed with the statue’s "miracle blood."
7 A Critter Christmas Blood Orgy
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, Rudolf: all beloved classics that teach us the true spirit of Christmas. Perhaps it’s because Christmas specials are so ripe for parody that Trey Parker wrote this Season 8 episode, which features satanic woodland critters that want to usher in a new era of evil by giving birth to the antichrist. Yes, you read that right. Adorable talking bears, foxes, rabbits and skunks that worship the devil.
South Park forever changes the meaning of Christmas Special with this episode. Mountain lions perform abortions, Santa shoots fuzzy animals in the face, but the standout moment is undoubtedly the scene where the Christmas Critters viciously slay Rabbity-Rabbit and proceed to have a blood orgy with his carcass. Stan, like the viewer, watches in horror and disgust. It’s a moment that makes us laugh and cringe at the same time.
6 It Hits the Fan
In the episode, the word "shit" is used uncensored for the first time in the crime show, Cop Drama, and the ratings proceed to go through the roof. Suddenly, the word is culturally acceptable, and everyone in South Park — even the kindergarteners — are jumping on the bandwagon. The word is repeated over and over, with a counter on the screen that records just how many times it’s uttered. The boys however soon find out that the word is cursed, and that uttering it in succession causes the formation of the black plague.
The episode’s shining moment comes when a TV channel states that they are going to replace all the dialog in their shows with the word, calling the event “Night of 1,000 Shits.” Of course viewers of the show are put off by the broadcasting, stating that the swear word loses its impact if overused.
The moral here is that censored words shouldn’t be used as a marketing ploy, or they lose all their fun. Of course using the word “shit” more than 200 times in an episode is excessive, but it gets the point across in a funny, ironic fashion that is classic South Park.
5 Randy Gives Himself Testicular Cancer
South Park has a talent for holding up a mirror to society and pointing out all our absurdities. In this instance, the show presents how absurd the regulations for marijuana really are. The plot has Randy finding out that there is a medicinal marijuana dispensary in South Park. The only problem is that he needs a doctor’s referral in order to buy legal pot. Randy comes up with the brilliant idea to give himself cancer, eventually shoving his testicles into a microwave and nuking them for an hour.
The results are positive, in that Randy is positive for testicular cancer. He is able to buy his weed, but what he wasn’t counting on was having his balls enlarge about 100 times their normal size. Randy is forced to wheelbarrow his testies everywhere until he accidentally finds a more convenient method; bouncing up and down on them. The moment remains burned into every viewer’s mind, as Randy and his stoner cohorts weeble-wobble their way down the sidewalk on their scrotum sacks, high as kites.
4 Scott Tenorman’s Demise
This was the moment that definitively transformed Eric Cartman from a potty mouthed 4th grader to a revenge seeking sociopath. Up until this point, we knew Cartman was a racist, insecure hate monger, but we didn’t know he was a stone cold killer. But that’s exactly what he is in this episode when an older boy by the name of Scott Tenorman tricks him into buying his pubic hair. After he’s duped, Cartman tries a number of botched attempts to get his money back, but Scott Tenorman is one step ahead the whole time.
Yes, he’s a charmer that Scott Tenorman. That’s why Cartman enacts the most dastardly, diabolical plan he’s ever come up with. In one fell swoop, Cartman is able to have Tenorman’s parents killed, grind their corpses into chili, make Scott EAT IT, and then have Scott’s favorite band Radiohead show up to make fun of him. Cartman caps the whole thing off by licking Scott’s tears from his face, proclaiming them to be “delicious and yummy.” This moment shows Cartman as his most sadistic, which is both hysterical and frightening.
3 The Super Best Friends Introduction
The Justice League is the ultimate superhero team, made up of earth’s greatest heroes who serve to protect the world from its most dangerous threats. In the 1970s, the DC comic team was adapted into an animated program appropriately named Super Friends. Trey Parker and Matt Stone create their own version of the Super Friends in season 5 of South Park, only with a slight twist. Instead of filling the roster with superheroes, the team is made up of famous religious figures like Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Moses, Joseph Smith, Krishna, Laozi and . . . Sea Man.
The episode has controversy written all over it. It involves David Blaine as the head of a brainwashing cult, a vehicle Parker once again uses to mirror Scientology. To combat him, Jesus calls upon the other religious figures to thwart Blaine and his evil army. The parallels the show makes between the Justice League and religious figures are brilliant, especially in the moment that Jesus makes the Super Best Friend introductions:
Buddha with the powers of invisibility. Muhammad the Muslim prophet with the powers of flame. Krishna the Hindu diety. Joseph Smith the Mormon prophet. Laozi the founder of Daoism. And . . . Sea Man with the ability to breathe underwater.
2 Muhammad on Family Guy
While “Super Best Friends” depicts the Muslim prophet Muhammad, the controversy surrounding the shows’ depiction didn’t arise until the airing of “Cartoon Wars.” This two part episode was at first a giant disapproval of Family Guy, but turned into an episode concerning free speech. When Family Guy announces that they are going to show Muhammad, there is a nationwide panic. The episode follows Cartman and Kyle as they race to Fox studios; Kyle trying to save Family Guy and Cartman trying to destroy it.
While its harsh criticisms of Family Guy are noteworthy, the episode is made notorious with the moment they again try to show the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The message of the day here is free speech; what can and should be allowed to be shown. While Parkers and Stone pushed for Muhammad to be shown on the episode, Comedy Central had to step in at the last minute and censor the famous religious figure, for fear of terrorist threats.
1 “THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE”
This one was a game changer; possibly the most controversial and, at the same time, funniest moment in South Park history. Parker and Stone have been known to criticize institutionalized religions, from Catholicism to Judaism, but this was the first time that they really went after Scientology, and boy do they go after it.
The plot has the Scientologist community convinced that Stan is the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology. Stan is then visited by famous Scientologists Tom Cruise and John Travolta, who then proceed to trap themselves in Stan’s closet after he appears dismissive of the movies they’ve made. While the episode certainly gains notoriety through questioning Cruise’s sexuality (he just won’t come “out of the closet”) it sealed its fate the moment it animated a sequence detailing the Church’s questionable mythology.
The sequence provides information on the beginnings of Scientology, in which an evil intergalactic overlord named Lord Xenu took different alien races and dropped them in the volcanoes of Hawaii to thin out the population. The souls of the dead aliens are then brainwashed to believe a false reality who then latch onto history’s first humans, creating all of our negative emotions. Obviously.
The entire scene is played out with an overlapping caption at the bottom stating “THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE.” In actuality it isn’t too far from the Church’s mythology, but there was major backlash from how the show presented it as a farce. The episode was pulled from Comedy Central with rumors going around that it was Tom Cruise’s doing. Scientologist Isaac Hayes, and the voice of the character Chef on the show, even quit the program, stating that Parker and Stone were “intolerant.” Intolerant? Perhaps a touch. But funny? Absolutely.
Did your favorite South Park moment make the cut? Which episode shocked you the most? Let us know in the comments below.