Recap / South Park S 1 E 6 Death

Airdate: September 17, 1997

While the parents of South Park head to New York to protest a TV channel over its most vulgar flagship show, Kenny gets explosive diarrhea (which spreads to the protesters) and Stan, whose 102-year-old grandfather keeps asking him to kill him, tries to get advice over whether it's right to assist someone with suicide.

"Death" contains examples of

  • Accidental Misnaming: Grandpa Marsh calls Stan by the name "Billy". The same goes to his grandfather.
  • An Aesop: The boys explain that parents shouldn't be out fighting to fix bad things and should instead spend more time with their children, adding that many parents blame television for "corrupting" their children because they expect it to be like a babysitter towards them.
    • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Considering that South Park, along with Beavis and Butthead and The Simpsons before it, were also condemned for being vulgar cartoons out to corrupt younger viewers with its subversive content, this show's moral about parents needing to take TV less seriously and be actual parents to their children is one that a lot of Moral Guardians need drilling into their skulls (both back then and now, considering that Seth MacFarlane's shows get into similar scrapes with Moral Guardians over content).
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The boys and Death pause their chase to watch Terrance & Phillip on a store window TV. When the broadcast is interrupted by the protest, the chase resumes.
  • Bowdlerization: Later airings edit Cartman's line "Kyle's mom is a dirty Jew!" by having the "dirty" in "dirty Jew" bleeped out. Unfortunately, it made the line seem more vulgar than intended. The DVD version has it edited the same way, while Netflix's print (which is now gone, so good luck finding it) has the line completely uncut.
    • Syndication prints of this episode cut out the scene where the boys ponder other ways for fun now that Terrance & Phillip has been cancelled, including huffing gasoline, smoking crack and watching porn.
  • Continuity Nod: Stan says he can't kill his grandfather because "he can't even kill a deer", a reference to "Volcano".
  • Dope Slap: Cartman slaps Kyle in the back of the head for his mom calling the other moms and preventing them from watching Terrance & Phillip.
  • Driven to Suicide: Grandpa Marsh
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Phillip was voiced by Matt Stone in this episode, while Terrance was voiced by Trey Parker. They would switch roles when the characters were brought back in later stories.
    • Sheila and Sharon have different names in this episode (see Name's the Same).
    • Terrance and Phillip is explicitly described as a cartoon in this episode, with their odd appearance being because in-universe they are crude animations. In "Bigger, Longer and Uncut'' this would be retconned to them being real comedians and all Canadians looking like that in the South Park universe.
      • The duo were also supposed to be English, with Phillip's very first line having a distinct upper-class English inflection.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending
  • Foreshadowing
    Cartman: Just because your mom is a bitch doesn't mean the whole world has to suffer.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Death and the boys temporarily give up the chase to watch some Terrence and Phillip together.
  • The Grim Reaper
  • Here We Go Again: After their protest is over, the parents to back to New York when they see the suggestive content in She's the Sheriff.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The adults protest Terrance and Phillip for making fart jokes, while at the same time making jokes about their diarrhea.
  • Moral Guardians: The first of many, many Take Thats against them.
  • Name's the Same: Here, both Kyle and Stan's moms are named Carol. This was before they were named Sheila and Sharon respectively.
    • A man named "Mr. McCormick" is killed by being flung into the brick wall outside Cartoon Central. At the time, fans had wondered if this was meant to be Kenny's dad. Trey Parker would later confirm in the commentary that the similar name was a coincidence and that they hadn't realized it at the time.
    • Also counts as Hilarious in Hindsight, since the man gets killed in the process.
  • Negative Continuity: Despite Terrence and Phillip getting cancelled by the end, they're back on the air in later episodes.
  • Reality Subtext: The parents protesting over Terrance & Phillip mirrors what the creators thought how parents would react to South Park.
  • Running Gag: Every time Stan asks someone if it's okay to kill someone who is suicidal, they respond with "I'm not touching that with a ___-foot pole," with the number in the blank starting at 20 and ending at 60.
  • Shout-Out
    • Sheila demands more "quality" programming like Full House.
    • Terrance & Phillip end up getting replaced by She's the Sheriff (which isn't a cartoon).
  • Suicide as Comedy: Grandpa's suicidal feelings are played entirely for laughs, particularly since he continues to act like a Grumpy Old Man about it.
  • Take That!: Grandpa Marsh finally gets Stan to assist him in suicide by getting him to know what being old is like. He proceeds to lock him in a closet and forces him to listen to Enya music.