If these scenes teach us anything, it’s that the more you tell Matt and Trey they’re offensive, or they can’t do/say that, the more offensive they’ll be and the more they’ll do/say it. They just don’t care, and that’s something to be admired. Some might call it immaturity, but fans know it’s the necessary pushing of boundaries and exercise of free speech, that’s increasingly important in the sociopolitical climate we’re in.
If what they were doing was wrong, they’d have been taken off air years ago, so surely that’s evidence enough that we need South Park and it’s edgy comedy. What’s considered ‘too far’ is relative, fans are used to their style, while some people take scenes out of context, and some people just can’t take a joke.
And if it was so bad, why would The Cure’s lovable front-man, Robert Smith (who is one of few celebrities to voice their own character) have such great things to say about the show: "Of all the things I’ve done, all the people I’ve met, it all counts for nothing compared to being on South Park.”
Here are 15 Shocking Times South Park Went WAY Too Far.
Cartman’s tonsillectomy goes wrong in "Tonsil Trouble" (season 12, episode 1), and after receiving an infected blood transfusion, he finds out he has AIDS. Kyle finds this hilarious considering how horrible Eric has been over the years. So Cartman feeds Kyle a syringe of his infected blood while he’s asleep, giving Kyle the disease too. But Cartman has a plan, involving basketball superstar Magic Johnson, who has had AIDS for 50 years and is doing just fine.
This is when things start to get cringey. It turns out, in the South Park reality, Magic Johnson is resistant to the virus because he is surrounded by money, and the kids end up injecting themselves with money to cure themselves of HIV.
While this is crazy controversial, and some might say it crosses the line, the point is clear, and it’s a pretty sobering message: money can buy the cure (or at least comfort, in this diseases case) but what about all the people who suffer from AIDS and can’t (metaphorically) inject themselves with money? They die, that’s what.
"Stupid Spoiled Wh--- Video Playset" (season 8, episode 12) is an entire episode poking fun at Paris Hilton. The episode also cements Wendy Testaburger as the great feminist voice of reason, which makes her useful in times like these, to prove a point of how toxic celebrities like Paris Hilton are to young girls.
Miss Hilton is not painted in a pretty light, shown constantly intoxicated and throwing up globs of semen. She tries to adopt Butters after all her previous pets kill themselves.
But the most shocking, line-crossing scene of this episode laced with disgusting moments, comes as Hilton and Mr. Slave have a competition to see who’s more promiscuous and Mr. Slave stuffs Paris all the way up his own bottom.
Paris didn’t seem too offended, though, saying in an interview: "I haven't seen it, but when people copy you, that's like the most flattering thing”. Perhaps if she had seen it, she’d change her mind. The show’s creators were shocked by her response, with Matt saying in an interview: "That shows just how f----d up she is. That's terrible that she's flattered by it."
The plot to "The Snuke" (season 11, episode 4) quickly turns into a 24 spoof when a new kid starts at South Park Elementary. After giving the impression that Cartman is just being racist (which he definitely is) it turns out there is a terrorist conspiracy going on, and Hillary Clinton is at the forefront of it.
Yes, Mrs. Clinton has been infiltrated by terrorists, and they’ve hidden a bomb in her lady-parts. The possible nod to Clinton’s links with the Middle East and her military background won't even be that shocking to longtime fans of the show, but it did infuriate fans of the former First Lady and almost President.
The British are involved too, and after the British’s attempts to ‘end the American Revolution’ are foiled, this is when things stop being ridiculous, and actually turn pretty dark. Seeing her plans fail, Queen Elizabeth, British Monarch, shoots herself through the mouth with a handgun. This scene sank too low for even the British stiff upper lip to handle, causing outrage in the UK tabloids.
Everything about season 12, episode 8, "The China Probrem" is just super offensive. That title for starters, and Cartman’s American Liberation Front to stop the Chinese, as well as when Eric and Butters dress up like Chinese people in the most racist way possible, but these are things all fans expect from the show.
What fans probably didn’t expect to see was Indiana Jones get raped by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Just the shows way of saying that Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull sucked, Kyle becomes obsessed with the character getting raped by the directors. And in true South Park style, they have to provide graphic evidence of this, in case you didn’t believe young Broflovski.
There’s three scenes of the famous archaeologist getting sexually assaulted, each referencing a different rape scene in a different cult movie. Later in the episode Spielberg and Lucas gang-rape a Stormtrooper. It might all be just a critique of Hollywood, but it’s an insanely shocking way to do it.
Surprisingly, Matt and Trey have actually been praised for their inclusion of disabilities in the show, with Timmy being the resounding winner of a 2008 BBC poll for the greatest TV character with a disability (sorry Jimmy!). But with a title like "Krazy Kripples", season 7, episode 2, is quite obviously not going to be very politically correct.
Timmy and Jimmy start a club for cripples, and end up in gang wars with notorious street gangs, Blood and Crips.
The controversial moments don’t focus on Timmy and Jimmy, though, instead they focus on former Superman, Christopher Reeve. Reeve visits South Park to spread awareness of Stem Cell research, which sounds innocent enough, until it’s revealed, that in order to regain his mobility (and eventually become a superpowered villain) Christopher Reeve is cracking open fetuses and sucking out their juices. It's one of South Park’s grossest moments, as well as one it’s most contentious.
The whole of season 9 was pretty politically controversial, as we saw the US Presidential race given a South Park make-over. And scarily, it wasn’t so different. Mr Garrison is the show's representation of Donald Trump, and they didn’t have to do much over exaggeration.
But one scene in "Sponsored Content" (season 19, episode 8), involving the wannabe President, took things close to the edge, especially with the Paris Terror Attacks happening so close to the release date; namely when Garrison was asked how he would deal with Syrian Refugees, and his answer was “F--k em all to death.”
Comedy Central Netherlands released a statement explaining their decision to cut this scene from their airing of the episode (translated by a Reddit user): “Due to the events in Paris we have chosen to make temporary adjustments to our programming and not broadcast a few episodes of a number of shows, including this scene of South Park [sic]. The full episode can be found on southpark.nl so that everyone can decide for themselves whether or not they want to watch it.”
It’s a sure sign you’ve gone "too far" when edits have to be made and censorship has to happen.
A sweet Christmas tale, with a rhyming narration and storybook style, "Woodland Critter Christmas" (season 8, episode 14) turns dark, as can be expected from the show.
A group of woodland critters ask Stan for help in stopping an evil mountain lion from killing one of the creatures, which has conceived what they believe to be their savior. The only problem is, as it turns out, the animals are Satanists, and their savior is in fact the Anti-Christ. Which is all crazy messed up on its own.
But nothing can prepare viewers for the graphic, violent blood orgy the woodland critters take part in after sacrificing Rabbitty the Rabbit and devouring his entrails. It’s a scene that is so disgusting it would haunt the dreams of anyone that saw it.
This is just one case where the show has crossed the line, creating a horrific scene, with no ulterior motive other than to be shocking and gross. If such nonsensical scenes like these make a point of anything, it’s a reminder that it is just a cartoon. Something people seem to forget sometimes.
Cartman has had plenty of dark and downright diabolical moments over the years, but nothing could be darker than the events of season 5, episode 4: "Scott Tenorman Must Die".
It turns out the great bully and con artist Eric Cartman doesn’t like being bullied or conned, so when Scott Tenorman, an older kid, does just that, Cartman seeks revenge. And boy, does he get it.
One step ahead of Scott’s prank of tricking Eric into eating pubic hair-laced chili, Cartman tricks Mr. and Mrs. Tenorman into being murdered by a crazy farmer, chops them up, and puts them into a chili, which Scott then eats.
The thing that makes this moment stand out, other than a child being fed his own parents of course, is that it’s one of the shows most shocking moments, but nobody from the real world was mocked or mimicked. It was just a straight up gut-wrenchingly disgusting moment, without any tongue in cheek satire.
After learning that paparazzi earn crazy amounts of money, the boys try to get a picture of Britney Spears, luring her in to defecate on Butters dressed as a squirrel, obviously. That doesn’t work, so they say they’re Britney's children, and the singer gets her hopes up that her children have actually come to see her. They haven’t, so fed up with life, Britney shoots herself, leaving her with only the bottom half of her head, and scrutinized for not being able to sing well because of it.
What’s even more shocking than all this, though, is when it’s revealed that Britney is only harassed by the media so much because she must be killed as a human sacrifice, required for a good harvest. And they succeed, as they photograph her dying body on the floor, and Stan and Kyle look on in horror.
It’s a tough call if the guys were actually trying to stand up for celebrities in this episode, and show what they have to endure, with every moment of their lives in the limelight, the good, the bad, and everything in-between. Or maybe they were just ripping on the past-it pop-star.
South Park’s fart-powered video game masterpiece, The Stick of Truth, is the closest fans have come to actually being in the show, so obviously it came with its own shocking moments. Learning a fart martial art (martial fart?), and fighting alien conspiracy hobos and Nazi zombies are just some of the game's’ elements that weren’t censored in the UK and Australia.
The seven scenes that clearly took it "too far", and were censored, included some very graphic anal probing using varying sex toys, and scenes in which the player had to survive an abortion - both involved pressing a button on their controller to "clench sphincter."
Because making jokes is the Matt and Trey way of relieving their anger at the censorship, Matt explained the humorous title cards that were added into the game over the censored scenes by the duo: “We’re talking about 30 or 40 seconds out of the whole experience but we wanted people to know exactly where the line was: this is what you couldn’t see but for some reason the rest of the world could and we have no idea why. It’s not cool – it’s lame, ridiculous and stupid.”
A shocking announcement in season 14, episode 9: "It’s A Jersey Thing", comes in the form of Sheila Broflovski revealing that she is from New Jersey, and carried Kyle there, before moving to Colorado. Seeing Kyle brush his Jewfro into a greased back Jersey-style hairdo was hilariously surprising to see.
Things get really tongue in cheek, almost offensively shocking, when California Mayor Arnold Schwarzenegger refuses to help the people of South Park get rid of their Jerseyite infestation, so they take the next (South Park) logical step and seek the assistance of Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, by sending bin Laden a videotape requesting his help.
And their plan works, a fleet of Al-Qaeda suicide pilots fly in, crashing into the ground, and killing all of the Jerseyites.
The Daily Mail called them “sick scenes reminiscent of the 9-11 terrorist tragedy”, but that could be said about any explosion on TV or in movies. It is a shocking scene, and clearly some would absolutely say they went too far, but fans expect this of the show and know they were only poking fun at the insufferable Jersey Shore.
Season 15, episode 14, "Poor Kid", has a dark plot in itself, as we see Kenny and his siblings taken into care after their parents are jailed for running a meth lab. It's a touchy subject, which is never a good start when something's getting the South Park treatment, and some scenes went too far for some people’s tastes.
Referring to the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal - which happened a mere two weeks before the episode aired - the case worker the children see, Mr. Adams, makes several pretty dark jokes.
While this did seem like bad taste at the time, something South Park have always been good at is bringing important things (that usually aren’t taken seriously enough) to the forefront of people’s minds through jokes. And that’s what they did here - controversy leads to attention, sometimes for the right reasons.
Making Satan a camp, whiny, but kinda lovable idiot is already pretty offensive to those that believe he is the cause of all evil. Adding in the Roman Catholic Church’s upset at not being invited to his Halloween party, and the appearance of three notorious serial killers - Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy - who are in charge of the cake, obviously, made "Hell on Earth 2006" (season 10, episode 11) a pretty messed up episode.
One scene in particular though saw the show go way too far, way too soon.
Steve Irwin appears at Satan’s party, complete with stingray still hanging out of his chest. Satan, thinking he’s just someone in a costume, tells him he’s upsetting people with his costume, and that it’s "too soon." He then finds out it is Steve Irwin, and kicks him out of the party for not wearing a costume.
This is all cringe-worthy on its own, but the worst part: the episode aired just two months after Steve Irwin’s death. But as a spokesperson for Comedy Central summed it up perfectly: "South Park has offended people in the past and probably will again. Regular watchers would not be shocked."
Scientology and some of its more famous followers have been the subject of ridicule from Matt and Trey for years. "Trapped in the Closet" (season 9, episode 12) was the second episode to rip on the cult, and saw the show literally put Tom Cruise in a closet that he wouldn’t come out of. Get it?
But that’s not the best/most offensive part of the episode, as far as Scientologists are concerned anyway. Nope, that credit goes to the scene in which Matt and Trey tell the story of evil alien Lord Xenu; the story on which Scientologists base their beliefs, with the caption "THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE."
Technically all they did was tell the story, but the way it’s done emphasizes just how ridiculous the story is. And, to top it all off: you have to be a Level Three Scientologist, put years of worship and thousands of dollars into the Church, before you get to know this story.
"Cartoon Wars 1 and 2" (Season 10, Episodes 3 and 4) and "200"/ "201" (Season 14, Episodes 5 and 6) are some of the most controversial episodes of South Park ever. The latter are the only episodes that have spawned death threats to the creators.
Looking past the not-so-sly digs at Family Guy, "Cartoon Wars" covers the topic of censorship with no subtlety whatsoever. In the episode, terrorists threaten America because Family Guy were going to show a depiction of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, so Kyle and Cartman try to stop Fox airing the episode. They fail. Matt and Trey planned to show the prophet as part of the Family Guy episode, but Comedy Central blocked the image in real life.
Episodes "200" and "201" see everyone the show has ever mocked try to get revenge, seeking help from Muhammad, because he cannot be ridiculed. It was these episodes that encouraged Muslim Radicalists to send a message to the show telling them not to show the prophet, or there would be retaliation.
Several countries demanded apologies from the studio, and the episodes have been pulled from almost all releases of Season 14, confirming the real message Matt and Trey were trying to spread here: that censorship is stupid.
Have these scenes crossed the line, and gone "too far"? Or are there other scenes in South Park that you find offensive? Let us know in the comments!