South Park has been on the air for 17 seasons now, which probably comes as a bit of a surprise since a lot of you probably haven’t watched it in the last ten years. Yes, South Park is still going strong.
It might not be in the middle of the pop culture storm like it was back in the day, but it still gets solid ratings and Comedy Central shows no signs of slowing the money train down.
It’s headed for its 18th season, and while everyone in the world has marveled or joked about The Simpsons never-ending story, South Park isn’t too far behind. Unlike The Simpsons, though, South Park has managed to shift the focus to other characters – Randy Marsh and Butters most of all – which has given the show a much-needed boost. It’s not quite the same show that you probably remember, but that’s exactly why it’s managed to survive all this time, and why it’s probably not going away anytime soon.
When a show goes on for so long, some fans tend to leave, while other catch on to the show in the later seasons. If you stopped watching years ago, you’ve missed some crazy things.
Here are eight South Park facts you’d be shocked to learn since you stopped watching.
Kenny is Immortal
Yes, the same Kenny who died at the end of each episode. Eventually, Trey Parker and Matt Stone – the show’s creators – got tired of looking for ways to kill Kenny each week, and so they just decided to kill him off for good. He came back, though, because he always comes back, and since then it has been revealed that he is actually immortal, being literally reborn every time he dies, with his friends none the wiser.
How did he get such mystical powers? Well, his parents belonged to a Cthulhu cult. Naturally. He doesn’t die too much anymore – even a show that has been on as long as South Park recognizes it’s time to let some jokes, well, die – but what is life and death in the face of an eternity spent serving Cthulhu? Sure, it’s worked for 75% of our Presidents, but Kenny is just a child.
Chef was a Pedophile
This is just a sad and tragic story. Isaac Hayes, soul legend and the dude who gives (or gave, anyway) Chef his “Chefness” objected to the show’s depiction of his religion – Scientology. Naturally, the boys handled it well by writing Chef out of the show, but not before depicting him as a brainwashed pedophile. Look, if you’re going to annihilate a character, you might as well go all the way, but goddamn, man. Just… goddamn.
Chef is Dead
Of course, that wasn’t the end of it, as Chef’s brainwashed pedo was killed off in heinous and ridiculous fashion. They even showed him shitting himself. I guess the lesson here is don’t fuck with Trey and Matt. At least the story had a real life happy ending, as Hayes had a stroke and then wound up broke before dying two years later. Hilarious! Sigh.
Stan’s Dad is Insane
One of the biggest things you’ve probably missed is Randy Marsh – Stan’s father – turning into the world’s biggest fuck-up. He’s become part white-trash, part champion of the midlife crisis, part obsessive lunatic, and fully hilarious. Seriously, it probably sounds unbelievable, but he might be the funniest character on the entire show now.
Naturally, Randy’s, uh, many issues led to he and his wife separating, but they’re back together now, which just goes to show you that true love, fighting little league dads and giving yourself testicular cancer just so you can legally smoke weed conquers all.
The Rise of Butters
Much like Randy Marsh, Butters – you know, the gang’s dumb little sidekick – has grown in popularity to the point that he has come to almost overshadow everyone else. Really, it might as well be the Randy Marsh and Butters show now.
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Butter’s most sublimely ridiculous moment – and there have been many – probably comes in the episode “Butters’ Bottom Bitch” (yeah), which sees him start his own “kissing company”, a company that, naturally, leads to him becoming a full-on pimp. And really, this has been the secret of the show’s longevity.
They’ve managed to keep things relatively fresh by focusing more on what had previously just been bit players or supporting characters and making them funnier than anything that they’d done before.
Harrison Ford Got Raped
South Park has a long and storied history of abusing celebrities for laughs. The most famous is probably the R. Kelly Trapped in a Closet episode, which, among other things, saw the show basically out Tom Cruise, which set off a whole mess of crap, including the aforementioned falling out with Isaac Hayes.
But since then, the show has gotten arguably even more vicious. In one episode, Britney Spears tries to commit suicide, only to fail. She still manages to blow off part of her head though, and a, well, let’s call it a mentally reduced Britney is paraded around to perform for jerks and assholes all across America.
In another episode, poor Harrison Ford is repeatedly raped by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Because South Park has basically stopped being headline news, it arguably allows them to get away with crazy stuff like that even more than they did before, and nobody is safe.
Cartman had HIV
Yes, Cartman got AIDS, or at least, HIV. It happened in a blood transfusion, and after Kyle made fun of him, Cartman did the classy thing and purposefully infected Kyle. You know, as friends do.
The good news, though, is that Cartman, noted scientist that he is, managed to discover the cure for AIDS by researching Magic Johnson’s remarkable longevity with HIV – just inject massive amounts of cash. So, the boys ended up cured of AIDS by Magic Johnson and everyone lived happily ever after. Except, of course, for poor people in Africa.
I guess his magic only goes so far.
Cartman Killed His Own Father
In a shocking twist, it turns out that Cartman is actually Scot Tenorman’s brother. You remember Scot Tenorman, right? He’s the kid who got on Cartman’s bad side, so Cartman killed his parents and then made Scot accidentally eat them before licking his tears. It’s probably the most infamous episode of them all.
Naturally, it got even weirder when it was finally revealed that Mr. Tenorman was none other than Cartman’s real father. Yes, that means that Cartman killed his own dad and fed his remains to his half-brother. Finally, a show that understands family values.
Neil Bulson is a freelance writer who lives along the shores of Lake Michigan in a majestic castle where he spends his days beating his serfs and his nights writing and drinking firewater. Read more from Neil here.
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