Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s South Park is one of the most popular and longest-running animated series ever produced. Intended for mature audiences, this series is known for its use of satire to parody relevant political and social issues.
There is no denying that for over 22 years, South Park is responsible for producing some very funny content. However, it has proven time and time again that it is not afraid to stray into some very controversial territory. In fact, the show has produced content so controversial that it caused major real-world repercussions.
Here are 10 times when South Park went too far.
10 Matt Stone and Trey Parker trolled their fans
In South Park’s season 1 finale, fans were left with a cliffhanger regarding the identity of Eric Cartman’s father. A year later, fans were expecting the show to follow up where it left off. Unfortunately, this was not the case. As part of an April Fool’s Day joke, Stone and Parker messed with fans by starting season two with an episode about the show's Canadian comedy duo, Terrance and Philip.
As expected, South Park fans were very upset. In the week following “Terrance and Philip in Not Without My Anus’” release, Comedy Central received over 2,000 angry emails. Even if it was a joke, messing with fans like that is not cool.
9 Randy Marsh uses the N-Word
"With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" is regarded as one of the best South Park episodes of all time. However, it is also regarded as the most controversial for using the N-word over 40 times, uncensored. While solving a word puzzle on “Wheel of Fortune", Randy blurts out the N-word (the real word was naggers) on national television.
Surprisingly, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People praised the episode for demonstrating how it felt to be called the N-word. Positive reception aside, the moment when Randy first yells out the N-word, is guaranteed to leave a lot of viewers both shocked and uncomfortable.
8 Cartman gets revenge in the worst possible way
For years, Cartman has taken great joy in bullying others. In the episode, "Scott Tenorman Must Die", the tables finally turn on him as he becomes the victim of bullying. After Scott tricks him into buying pubic hair, Cartman tries to get back at him. After all his attempts end in failure and even more humiliation, he reaches his breaking point.
He ultimately tricks Scott into eating his parents that he had killed and later grounded up into chili. There are plenty of ways to get back at a bully, but what Cartman did goes way too far. It is at this moment that he went from being a problem child and became an evil sociopath.
7 The Woodland Critters Christmas
"A Woodland Critter Christmas", starts off innocent just like any other Christmas episode. It begins with Stan Marsh meeting holiday-themed woodland critters and helping them to prepare for their holiday celebration. That is until he finds out they are Satan worshippers who want to bring the Antichrist into the world.
This episode is considered by many to be one of the show’s darkest moments. It features some pretty messed up scenes like the critters sacrificing one of their own and having a blood orgy. Even though the entire episode is a story created by Eric Cartman, it proves that not even Christmas is safe from the show’s controversial brand of humor.
6 The show’s portrayal of sex education
The episode "Proper Condom Use" explores the theme of sex education. In traditional South Park fashion, the situation spirals out of control as the teachers fail to properly instruct the students about sex. This creates a series of misunderstandings that cause the boys and girls to enter a literal war of the sexes.
Mr. Garrison is even assigned to teach kindergarteners about sex. This results in a very disturbing scene where he demonstrates proper condom use with his mouth. The episode was so controversial that it was banned from being aired in the United Kingdom. Additionally, Australia increased the episode's rating and extended the usual time slot from 8:30 to 9.
5 Indiana Jones' Sexual Assault
When Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out, Stone and Parker were extremely upset with the film. In the episode "The China Problem", they go to extreme lengths to show just how badly they hated it by having Steven Spielberg and George Lucas sexually assault Indiana Jones, not just once but three times.
Parodying scenes from films like Boys Don’t Cry, The Accused, and Deliverance, it is a difficult sight to watch. There are plenty of ways that Stone and Parker could have voiced their hatred for the latest Indiana Jones film. However, having Indie get sexually assaulted is taking things a little too far.
4 The Steve Irwin Controversy
"Hell on Earth 2006" may be regarded as the show’s best Halloween episode, but it is also known for causing a major controversy involving "the Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. When Satan hosts a Halloween party, one of his guests includes the real Steve Irwin with a stingray sticking out of his chest.
Considering that this episode aired less than two months after Irwin’s death, it received a lot of negative criticism. Irwin’s widow Terri Irwin criticized the show for portraying him in such a cruel way and was concerned about how her children would react if they saw it. Many agree that this joke was in poor taste, highly insensitive and done way too soon.
3 The "Bloody Mary" controversy
“Bloody Mary” is one of many examples that shows how South Park is not afraid to make crude and offensive jokes regarding religion. This episode is especially offensive as it depicts the Virgin Mary bleeding menstrual blood, as well as a certain scene involving Pope Benedict XVI.
Suffice to say, viewers of Catholic faith and officials of the Catholic religion were very upset with this episode. The Catholic League demanded an immediate apology and even tried to have the episode “permanently retired”. While this did not come to pass, the show clearly crossed a line by depicting a sacred religious icon in such an appalling way.
2 They messed with Scientology
In addition to Catholicism, another religion that has been targeted by South Park's satire is Scientology. "Trapped in the Closet" follows Stan Marsh who is believed by representatives of the Church of Scientology to be the reincarnation of their founder L. Ron Hubbard.
What make’s this episode so offensive to Scientologists is that it reveals sensitive information regarding the beliefs of Scientologists surrounding Xenu. This information is divulged to only the most devoted Scientologists that have completed a lengthy series of expensive courses. The contents of this episode were considered highly offensive to many Scientologists. Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef and a Scientologist himself, felt so offended that he quit the show.
1 The show tried to depict Muhammad
One of South Park’s biggest controversies was their attempts to depict the prophet Muhammad in the episodes “200” and “201”. After “200” aired, Stone and Parker received several death threats, including one from the group Revolution Muslim, which warned them that they would end up like Dutch film director, Theo van Gogh.
As a result, Comedy Central censored all images and references of Muhammad, including his name, in “201”. They also censored the episode’s moral conclusion. Although, it had nothing to do with Muhammad. Rather it was about fear and intimidation. Since then, “200”, “201” and “Super Best Friends” – which features an uncensored depiction of Muhammad – have been banned from rerunning on Comedy Central, as well as the South Park Studios website.