Like most of its animated comedy cousins, South Park has a huge cast of supporting characters. But since it’s named after a town and focused on its residents, rather than a family or a workplace, those supporting characters get more storylines and development than they do in shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy.
In fact, in some cases, South Park’s supporting characters have become so popular that they get entire seasons built around them and the main four boys have been forced to take a backseat. And some, naturally, are weaker and less popular. So, here is Every South Park Supporting Character, Ranked.
It’s hard to criticize Towelie, because he was literally conceived to be a terrible character. Cartman even points this out when he says, “You’re the worst character ever, Towelie.” But for a character who was conceived to be awful, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have given him a lot of his own episodes, and they’re all among the weakest episodes of the series.
For example, he was used to satirize the James Frey controversy in “A Million Little Fibers,” which had a lot of comedic promise and ended up being a huge disappointment, and that’s mostly down to Towelie’s one-note nature.
Officer Barbrady is a symptom of South Park before it truly became South Park. He was a bumbling, buffoonish cop who could never solve any crimes and had a catchphrase. Barbrady wasn’t much more than a second-rate Chief Wiggum before the show found its feet and also figured out the best way for it to satirize the police.
He briefly returned in season 19’s “Naughty Ninjas” when he accidentally shot a kid and got fired. The episode was actually surprisingly emotional as it elaborated on Barbrady’s role on the police force and his tragic home life involving a sick dog whose medication he can’t afford. So, that went a long way towards redeeming the character.
Mayor Quimby in The Simpsons is a memorable character due to his pastiche of John F. Kennedy, while Mayor Adam West in Family Guy is a memorable character because he’s a surreal version of the actor who played ‘60s TV Batman. Unfortunately, as the only sane and intelligent person in town, Mayor McDaniels just isn’t that memorable a character.
She gets some laughs by playing it straight – like the time she shot herself in the head after losing hope and then reappeared, alive and well, with a bandage around her head at the end of the episode – but on the whole, she’s one of the show’s weaker characters.
Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo has never really been a funny character. The comedy has always come from the mere fact that he’s a talking piece of feces, which isn’t a good enough joke to sustain appearances in any more than one episode.
The recent episode “The Problem with a Poo” turned Mr. Hankey into South Park’s Roseanne Barr as he posted a bunch of inappropriate tweets that he insisted were just jokes and ended up getting kicked out of town. This had potential, but in the end, it was too repetitive and ham-fisted to be truly insightful.
In these post-The Problem with Apu days, a character like Lu Kim (a.k.a. “the City Wok guy”) comes off as racially insensitive, since he’s a stereotypical Chinese character voiced by a white guy. However, what makes it slightly less offensive is the fact that he’s based on a real City Wok guy whose restaurant Trey Parker and Matt Stone used to call up just to hear his voice.
He’s been involved in some very funny storylines, like when he was tasked with building a wall around South Park that some pesky Mongolians kept knocking down. And when he mispronounces “City Chicken” or “City Beef” as “S***ty Chicken” and “S***ty Beef,” it’s never not funny.
Although Wendy was initially introduced as Stan’s on/off girlfriend, she has grown into the show’s resident feminist and she’s a much better character for it. Her best episodes are whenever she butts heads with Cartman, as he adopts the role of the brainwashing conservative who convinces saps like Butters that his insane theories are true and she becomes the frustrated liberal who tries to set them right when they won’t listen to her.
Examples of this are when she challenges Cartman to a fight after he laughs at breast cancer and he becomes terrified that she’ll win (and then she does) or when he accused her of killing the Smurfs to make room in the school’s budget.
Detective Harris has gone by a few names over the years, from Lou to Sgt. Harrison Yates, but his name isn’t important. Fans mainly know him as the red-haired cop. Officer Barbrady was South Park’s original police character, but he was conceived as a harmless simpleton. The public’s attitude towards the police has changed since then, and as a result, so has the show’s satire of them.
Detective Harris has been used to satirize the police in hilarious ways, like how he calls framing rich black men for crimes they didn’t commit “some damn fine police work” or how he thinks every genuine police report is the setup for a racist joke. Harris is always hilarious and always contributes to inspired social satire.
Jimmy would be a mockery of disabled people if it wasn’t for one simple thing: he’s an aspiring comedian. He puts on shows and says, “Wow, what a terrific audience.” The fact that his character is built around his desire to perform stand-up comedy and not his disability is what makes him a strong character.
In fact, quadriplegic journalist Jeff Shannon has actually called Jimmy a “goodwill ambassador” for the disabled community. He’s a sweet and lovable character, which is what makes his storylines work so well, whether it involves him getting hooked on steroids or joining a gang.
Mr. Garrison is arguably the character who has changed the most over the years. He started off as a straight man, then later identified as gay, then later identified as a woman and transitioned, then later identified as a man and transitioned back, then later became the show’s surrogate for a certain president.
What makes him one of the best characters is that, despite all these changes, he’s never really changed. He’s always been angry and brazen and bigoted and opinionated, no matter what his identification. In the past couple of years as the show’s president, it’s been interesting to see how little the character had to change to embody the sitting POTUS.
Butters’ character was expanded as a gimmick for the episode “Butters’ Very Own Episode” to show his very disturbing home life with abusive parents who both have secrets, all framed as a parody of upbeat ‘50s sitcoms. However, this established the perfect dynamic for the character.
He’s the sweetest, most innocent, most harmless kid in the whole town of South Park, and yet he’s the one whose parents are the toughest on him, constantly grounding him for the most insignificant misbehavior. Butters is the patsy in all the guys’ schemes, like if someone has to fake their own death or go on Maury Povich’s show, and he always goes along with it because he’s adorably gullible.
When Randy was first introduced in season 1, it wasn’t even made clear that he was Stan’s father. He was just the local geologist who noticed the impending volcanic eruption in the episode “Volcano.” However, in the years since, he has evolved into both the dumbest and funniest character in the whole show. South Park fans are all well-aware that Randy episodes are the best episodes.
Whether he’s performing in a musical number about safe spaces or getting charity-shamed or running his own cannabis farm or giving himself testicular cancer (and with it, space hopper-sized balls) just to get a medical marijuana description, Randy is always lovably idiotic and endlessly hilarious.