South Park premiered on Comedy Central in 1999. Since then, it has become one of the most renowned television series of all time.
Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, two friends from Colorado, the series follows four boys as they venture through elementary school together. It sounds like it could be a children’s program, but of course, most people know that the show is in no way meant for young kids to watch.
The unaired pilot included construction paper characters and stop-motion animation. It took hundreds beyond hundreds of hours to make. Times have changed, however. Now, an episode only takes a little less than a week to create and the series has become a true classic.
South Park has been on the air for quite a long time now. So, of course, there is still plenty to learn about it when it comes to the show itself.
Here are the 15 Things You Never Knew About South Park.
15. Kyle Was Supposed to Die Instead of Kenny
“Oh my God, they killed Kenny!” Kenny died in pretty much every episode back in the day. Things have now changed, though, and Kenny no longer dies in each and every episode anymore.
However, during season 5, a major shift happened. Kenny, who died every episode only to come back perfectly fine the next week, was permanently killed off.
Of course, Kenny is one of everyone’s favorite characters, so they brought him back in season 7. Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone wanted to focus more on Butters and had grown sick and tired of always killing Kenny.
However, the original idea wasn’t to kill off Kenny. Due to the characters of Kyle and Stan being so similar in personality, the plan was to actually kill off Kyle and then replace him with Butters instead. Obviously, they didn’t follow through with this idea. Poor Kenny…
14. Isaac Hayes Didn’t Actually Quit the Show
Chef was a major character throughout the first few seasons of South Park. As the show went on, he gradually became less relevant. It wasn’t until the season premiere of season 10 that his absence was truly recognized, though.
The episode “The Return of Chef” was all about how Chef had been manipulated into a club that changed him and took him away from his friends. What many fans might not know, however, is that the show mimicked what was happening in real life.
Issac Hayes voiced the character of Chef. He was an Oscar winner and talented musician who passed away shortly after leaving South Park. Many believed that he had quit the show after becoming a Scientologist, insisting that Hayes was upset with how “mean” the show was. This actually ended up not being the case.
Hayes was incredibly sick and unable to take care of himself towards the end of his time on South Park. According to his son, Hayes was perfectly fine with South Park and it had been someone else who had quit on his behalf.
Sources have indicated that the Scientology community had forced Hayes to go against South Park. So, while no one truly knows who quit South Park for Hayes, it was most likely someone who was involved in the Scientology community, and not Hayes himself.
13. Jennifer Lopez Pushed Trey Parker After the Oscars
The movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was nominated for a Best Music, Original Song Oscar in 2000. The song was called “Blame Canada” and was written by Trey Parker and Marc Shaiman.
Not really being the type to normally hang out at the Oscars, Parker and his crew decided to dress up in gowns that had made headlines before the show. Matt Stone wore Gwenyth Paltrow’s pink Oscar dress, while Parker wore Jennifer Lopez’s low cut green printed Grammy Awards dress.
Their outfits were a hit and the event has been remembered as one of the best red carpet moments in Oscar’s history. That being said, not everyone was too thrilled that the two were wearing what they were wearing.
According to Try Parker, Jennifer Lopez wasn’t too pleased with him wearing a dress she had previously worn and actually pushed him while at a party later on. While this is speculation, Parker is pretty sure it was because he mocked her by wearing her dress.
On the flip side, it’s not the only thing he’s ever done to mock Lopez, as she’s a somewhat regular target on South Park.
12. Kenny is Based on a Real Person From Trey Parker’s Past
Most characters in South Park are based on real people. For example, the character of Kenny McCormick is based on someone who is almost exactly like the cartoon version of Kenny.
When Trey Parker was in elementary school, he would go to the bus stop everyday and see his friend named Kenny waiting there. Parker describes real life Kenny as having “the little orange coat and he would always say sh*t we couldn’t understand… And he was the poorest kid in the neighborhood.” Essentially, cartoon Kenny and real life Kenny are the exact same person.
Apparently, real life Kenny would always disappear randomly and the kids would all ask each other “hey, what happened to Kenny? Is he dead?” So, apparently, Kenny always dying was never a random thing. It’s actually been a running joke since Trey Parker was a small child.
11. The Show Was Sued Over the Use of The Lollipop King
Exavier Wardlaw is (apparently) the creator of a children’s television program called The Lollipop Forest. Never heard of it? Most people haven’t. Unfortunately for the South Park team, not knowing the program existed didn’t mean anything, since Wardlaw ended up suing them.
In 2007, South Park had a storyline that progressed throughout three episodes called “Imaginationland”. Essentially, there’s a place where all imagined characters live called Imaginationland, which is where the Lollipop King lives.
Wardlaw sued South Park on the grounds that it was copyright infringement, claiming that they had stole his character and subjected it to grotesque things. He demanded that Parker and Stone remove all images and videos of the Lollipop King.
If you watch reruns of South Park on Hulu, you can still see the Lollipop King in all his glory, so it seems like Wardlaw didn’t succeed in getting South Park to remove the Lollipop King from the show after all.
This is also not the first time the show has been sued, however, since South Park has been on air for such a long time now.
10. Trey Parker and Matt Stone Took Acid Before the Oscars
When Trey Parker and Matt Stone went to the Oscars in 2000 for their movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, they weren’t only rebelling by wearing dresses. In fact, they had both taken a hit of acid before they arrived at the ceremony.
For anyone who might not know, the Oscars ceremony is extremely long and can be exhausting for those who attend it. A hit of acid seemed like a good idea to Parker and Stone at first, but it’s curious how they were able to keep up their high throughout the entire ceremony.
In 2011, Parker and Stone were being interviewed when announced they had done acid for the Oscars. They later stated that they didn’t want people to think they had done cocaine. Back then, the term they used for what they had done was called “sheening” and they made it known that they only did it for fun.
9. Butters is Based on South Park’s Animation Leader
Animation coordinator Eric Stough has been around since the very beginning of South Park. He helped Trey Parker and Matt Stone with the construction paper for the very first unaired South Park pilot. Stough has known Parker since they were kids, and all three of them attended the University of Colorado Boulder together.
Stough was the inspiration for the character of Leopold “Butters” Stotch, as Stough’s nickname in real life is also Butters. This leads to a lot of similarities– his name is Butters Stough, while cartoon Butters is called Butters Stotch. Butters’ name wasn’t just created because it sounded like butterscotch, though that is definitely part of the reasoning behind it.
8. Most of Cartman’s Lines are Ad-Libbed While Most of Kenny’s Lines Are Scripted
You can rarely understand Kenny, which is the point of his character. The kid is supposed to say things that can’t be easily understood.
Eric Cartman, on the other hand, is not afraid to be heard. He says some of the craziest things. Plus, he’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s favorite character on the show, which says a lot.
However, Cartman is pure evil— he’s crazy, funny, and everyone in South Park seems to hate him. That’s why it’s so interesting to discover that many of Cartman’s lines are actually ad-libbed, and are not in fact written into the script. This means that some of his best lines have come from true moments of improvisation.
In contrast, Kenny’s lines are usually all scripted. Even the things that the audience can’t understand in the slightest have been written into the script. Matt Stone voices Kenny and, in order to make Kenny sound muffled, he talks into his sleeve. So, during any given production day, it’s left up to chance what the audience can hear and what they can’t.
7. Kyle and Stan’s Parents are Based On Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s Parents
Randy Marsh has become a major player on South Park. However, before Stan and Kyle’s parents got their own storylines, they were just meant to be the parents of Kyle and Stan, the two characters that Matt Stone and Trey Parker created based on themselves.
Parker’s parents are named Sheila and Randy Parker, just like Stan’s parents, and Parker’s dad is a geologist, just like Randy Marsh is on the show.
Additionally, Stone’s parents are named Gerald Stone and Sheila Belasco. His dad is Catholic and his mom is Jewish, and Stone also has very similar hair to Kyle when he grows it out.
6. Trey Parker and Matt Stone Gave Themselves New Names for the Credits
If you check IMDb, you’ll see that Trey Parker and Matt Stone have a couple of aliases. For Stone, one of those happens to be “M.C. Goldstein,” while for Parker, it’s “Tupac Scwartz.”
In the original version of the pilot, they used these names instead of their actual ones. At the time, they only thought the show was going to last for a few episodes since Comedy Central didn’t give them that much to work with.
Fortunately, South Park has lasted for many, many years and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Therefore, Stone and Parker decided to go back to giving themselves credit by using their real names, even though the show has evolved a lot throughout the years.
5. Mr. Hankey is Also Based on Someone From Trey Parker’s Past
South Park hasn’t had a Christmas episode in a really long time due to scheduling issues. For awhile, they were known for their fantastic Christmas episodes, specifically episodes that involved Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo.
Mr. Hankey is a character that Kyle refers to when it’s Christmas time. Since Kyle is Jewish, he doesn’t really get what the other kids in town do when it’s Christmas, but Mr. Hankey is far beyond religion that even Kyle can believe in him.
In 1997, John Kricfalusi, the creator of The Ren & Sitmpy Show, accused South Park of stealing his idea of having a dancing and singing piece of poo as a character.
In order to defend the show and avoid legal trouble, Parker admitted that Mr. Hankey was not something he stole. In fact, it was something that his dad had created. Parker created Mr. Hankey based on an embarrassing part of his childhood.
When Parker was a kid, he frequently forgot to flush the toilet. His dad told him that if he didn’t start flushing the toilet then “Mr. Hankey” would climb out of the toilet and eat him.
4. Kenny Sings About His Admiration of the Female Body in the Theme Song
Since Kenny can hardly be understood half the time, it’s difficult to censor him. In the first season of South Park, Kenny could have actually been censored if the gods of television had wanted to him to be. However, since he couldn’t be understood completely, South Park got away with not censoring him at all.
Throughout the very first season’s theme song, Kenny sang: “I like girls with big fat t–ties! I like girls with deep vaginas!” If you go back and listen to the first season’s theme song after having knowing what he sings, you can easily and clearly decipher each and every word.
3. South Park’s Female Voices Changed… Twice
Mary Kay Bergman tragically passed away in 1999. She was only thirty eight years old, and her death was ruled a suicide.
Bergman was a renowned voice-over actress and did many of the voices on South Park, including the voices for Liane Cartman, Mayor McDaniels, Sheila Broflovski, Wendy Testaburger, and Principal Victoria. She also did various other voices on the show and worked on other programs as well.
After Bergman’s death, Eliza Schneider took over Bergman’s former voice-acting roles up until 2003. After that, April Stewart took over, and has been doing most of the female voices since then.
Bergman had been part of the South Park movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and was supposed to sing the song “Blame Canada” at the Oscars. She sadly passed away just before the event, so Robin Williams sang the song as a tribute to her.
2. Trey Parker’s Ex-Fiancée Inspired the Roles of Both Liane Cartman and Wendy Tetaburger
Trey Parker was, at one point, happily engaged to his high school sweetheart Liane Adamo. Things were going great, until she left him for an a cappella singer.
Wendy Testaburger, Stan’s girlfriend on South Park, is loosely based on Adamo. In fact, the relationship between Stan and Wendy is based on Parker’s relationship with Adamo, specifically the part of Stan not being able to control himself from throwing up every time he kisses Wendy.
Things took a turn though when the couple broke up, with many insisting that Adamo had cheated on Parker, which is how the character of Liane Cartman came to life.
Liane Cartman is a woman who is eager to please men and is probably getting paid to do it. She’s promiscuous and is not known around town for good things. Thus, it’s absolutely safe to assume that Parker named Cartman’s mom Liane because of his former fiancée.
1. South Park Won The Peabody Award in 2005
The Peabody Award is meant to “honor the most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in television, radio, and online media.” Therefore, in 2005, one of those prestigious awards was given to none other than South Park.
South Park isn’t just a show about butt jokes and making fun of politics. It has actually made a lot of profound statements over the years. It’s hilarious, witty, and entertaining, which is exactly what a winner of the Peabody Awards should be.
During it’s online acknowledgement, the Peabody Awards gave their reasoning for giving South Park the award: “Constantly doing battle with critics, with those whose values it challenges or lampoons, and with its own network, this cartoon for adults continues to push the boundaries of what is meant by ‘freedom of speech.'”
The Peabody Awards praised Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and the whole South Park team.
Which piece of South Park trivia surprised you the most? Do you know any other interesting facts about South Park? Let us know in the comments!
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