Accidentally Accurate and Hilarious in Hindsight: Remember the season three episode where a guy known as Sexual Harassment Panda comes to the school to talk to the kids about inappropriate behavior in school? Well... turns out it's real and it goes by the name P.A.N.D.A.
Artistic License - Medicine: In "Timmy 2000", the kids self-diagnose themselves with ADHD after learning that Timmy (who is actually mentally retarded and was misdiagnosed himself) doesn't have to do homework now that he's prescribed Ritalin and the kids become calm and boring (which only happens to those who really do have ADHD, meaning that the kids weren't lying about having ADHD). Also, the parents begin taking their children's Ritalin and become calm and boring as well (which can't happen, as Ritalin has the opposite effect when ingested by adults, which is why adult ADHD medication is different from the ADHD medication for kids). Also, there is no such thing as "Ritalout" (though, if you look closely on the scene of Chef handing out lemonade spiked with the antidote to Ritalin, "Ritalout" actually comes in a jar labeled "MDMA", which is the scientific term for the club drug ecstacy), nor is such a medication "antidote" feasible.
In "Cartmanland", Kyle suffers from a potentially fatal hemorrhoid. Hemorrhoids aren't as lethal and don't spread like cancer in Real Life (hemorrhoids can pop and hurt like hell, but the death from a hemorrhoid would come from exsanguination, especially if it was really infected and near a major blood vessel). This was likely intentional given the show'snature.
Other episodes banned by Japan's WOWOW include: "Terrance and Phillip in: Not Without my Anus" (reportedly due to Saddam Hussein's appearance, or possibly banned for the same reasons that America rarely airs it: it was a gag episode that aired en lieu of a two-part episode and people didn't much care for it), "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?"/"Probably" (reasons unknown, but most likely due to the heavy references to Christianity, as that religion is not all that well-known in Japan. The episodes are on the DVD with subtitles), "A Ladder to Heaven" (mockery of the Japanese and more Western religious references that the Japanese won't understand), and "Krazy Kripples" (due to Christopher Reeve's death). After production shifted to the Japanese FOX network, "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow" was banned in light of the 2011 tsunami.
The Miami-produced Latin American dub had numerous examples:
"Rainforest Schmainforest" was banned in 2011, after complaints about its stereotypes of Costa Rica. The ban was later lifted and a redubbed version (by Studio Center) aired in 2012, but with some censorship.
"Free Willzyx" was not dubbed due to derogatory jokes about Mexicans, although this ban was supposedly lifted in 2012. "The Last of the Meheecans" was not broadcast on MTV Latinoamerica for the same reasons, but was later included on the DVD releases.
"Pinewood Derby" was set to air in February 2010 on MTV, but was pulled due to the portrayal of Felipe Calderón.
Episodes 200 and 201 have been banned from being dubbed in Germany, Turkey, Latin America, and France (and pretty much all other countries) due to the Muhammad controversy that happened in America over that episode. An interview with the director for the French dub had stated that the episodes would have had to have double the censorship if they were translated over. These episodes are also excluded from overseas DVD releases.
The first Italian dub by SEFIT-CDC banned the season four episodes "Cartman Joins NAMBLA", "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?", and "Probably." "Cartman Joins NAMBLA" was banned because of the excessive references to homosexual pedophilia (the main plot about Cartman joining the North American Man-Boy Love Association) and infanticide (the subplot of Kenny killing his mom's unborn baby). The "Do The Handicapped Go to Hell?"-"Probably" two-parter was banned for its irreverent take on the Catholic Church (and religion in general, as "Probably" reveals that Mormons get to go to Heaven while all others [like Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Protestants, etc] end up in Hell because they didn't pick Mormonism as the one true religion).
The show as a whole was banned from South Korea after only a few episodes, as the government was flooded with complaints about its content.
Creator Backlash: Parker and Stone are noted as hating the following things about the show:
The video games from the show's early years.
The entirety of seasons one, two, and three (with season two as being so hated that they didn't bother to record commentary for episodes). Although in the same interview, they stated "Not Without My Anus" was the only episode they actually liked from the second season, as it was something weird and different.
The censorship and controversy over the episodes "200" and "201," especially the hackjob editing of "201":
In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.
The episode "Chef Goes Nanners", which they admit they rushed out so they could leave the office early for the holiday weekend.
"Pip 2000" (the Great Expectations parody with Malcolm McDowell as the narrator), which is hated by all staff members that worked on it, but especially by Trey Parker himself. As a result (and the fact that it wasn't received too hotly by the fanbase either), it's one of the episodes that Comedy Central doesn't rerun very often. However, it is on the season four DVD and can be found online, so it's not like it's gone forever, like the real version of "201" or the scene in "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig" where Shelly sets Stan on fire (the latter which only survives via a leaked video rip).
"South Park Is Gay!" was also an episode that they rushed and felt shameful over in retrospect, as it introduced the "Crab People" when they ran out of ideas to successfully continue the episode (after scrapping its initial subplot). Most South Park fans who think the show isn't as good as it used to be do claim this episode as the one that made the show jump the shark.
And now Cartman's rendition of Lady Gaga's Poker Face is actually in the Rock Band Music Store.
His rendition of "Heat of the Moment" in "Kenny Dies" has also taken on a life of its own, as well as his penchant for singing "Come Sail Away" by Styx, which ended up becoming a full song performance on Chef Aid: The South Park Album.
Dueling Dubs: Italy had the original heavily-censored SEFIT-CDC dub that covered the first four seasons, followed by the less-edited adaptation by ODS.
Latin American adaptations: Seasons 1 and 2 have three completely separate dubs. The first was an edited version by Audiomaster 3000 that aired only in Mexico on a local TV station. The second was BVI Communications' initial 1998 dub (which passed to Globecast for the last few episodes), and the current is a 2011 redub by BVI. The redubbing was reportedly done in order to keep voice cast consistent with the then-current seasons they'd adapted. The scripts for the first BVI version were also recycled for a later adaptation produced in Spain.
Season 7 has two alternate dubs, one by BVI for MTV and the other by Kitchen Inc. (that went unaired and is only available on the DVD release)
"Timmy 2000" and "Trapper Keeper" have the original Globecast/Kitchen Inc. dubs, as well as redone versions by BVI.
"Rainforest Schmainforest" has the original banned Globecast dub, a censored 2011 redub by Studio Center, and an alternate uncensored redub that was never aired (according to one of the actors that worked on it).
The film has two competing dubs that were produced around the same time in 2000. The first did not dub any of the songs and censored profanity, while the second was less censored (and dubbed the songs) but criticized for being too literal with its translation.
There are two dubs of the movie that exist in Hungary. The original was widely criticized for not retaining most of the show's voice cast, which lead to a redub by Filmmúzeum.
There is a French dub of the series, as well as a short-lived Quebecois adaptation that only covered season 1. The movie also has an obscure Quebecois dub to compete with the better-known French version.
Executive Meddling: "200" and "201" not only got censored by Comedy Central ("Muhammad"'s appearance and the ENTIRE ending speech by Kyle and Jesus were censored), but it was only aired once on the night it premiered (as opposed to the usual two times, the second being a reair). They probably had very good reason to, though, considering a single vaguely worded warning posted on a "smallest-fish-in-the-smallest-pond" extremist Muslim group's website when the prior episode aired. It didn't help that the week in between "200" and "201", the Times Square Car Bomb plot was foiled. Said car was parked hear the Viacom headquarters, where Comedy Central is based.
"An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig" had a scene cut before broadcast where Shelley repeatedly sets Stan on fire with matches, then proceeds to drench him with water each time. This explains the puddle that appears under Stan after he gets beat up. Comedy Central ordered the scene cut due to fear of children possibly imitating the act, in light of the Beavis and Butthead controversy. It survives in a poor quality rip that circulated online in the early days of the show.
Edited for Syndication: The pre-prime time airings of seasons 1-10, in addition to losing their original title sequences have content present in their original broadcast edited out. For example, Kenny eating his own puke in "Fat Camp" and the Wal-Mart owner in "Something Wal-Mart This Way Comes" crapping his pants are replaced with black-on-white text screensdescribing the censored scenes. Relatively inoffensive shots and dialogue, such as the closeup of Craig's middle finger in "Tweek vs. Craig" and the General saying "You're a little faggot, kid!" in "AWESOME-O" are cut out, while some scenes are modified entirely (Cartman's "Jennifer Lopez" hand puppet, rather than giving Ben Affleck a blowjob, merely has him kiss her/it).
Hey, It's That Guy! — Behind The Scenes Edition: Parker and Stone are friends with Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live, Superbad, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Paul, and Adventureland), and Hader was hired as a writer/producer/occasional voice actor for the show since the show's 12th season. He was the voice of one of the rednecks on "More Crap" (and now that he's a full-time writer, he will contribute more to the voicework on the show. "Let Go, Let Gov" had him as the voice of Alec Baldwin) and was seen on the documentary "Six Days to Air: The Making of South Park."
For the Japanese fans, Violinist of Hameln, Ranma ½ and Dog Days director Junji Nishimura animated several season 11 and 12 episodes (Most noticeably "Major Boobage", "The List" and "Super Fun Time") and was further credited in several episodes of the earlier seasons.
Hey, It's That Voice!: The Japanese dub got three different voice casts: One for the WOWOW version of the series (when the series debuted in Japan for first time, covering seasons 1-7), another for the Japanese branch of the Fox Network (which has only covered season 8 at present), and another for the movie:
Kenji Nomura worked in the WOWOW version voicing many random roles (not to mention it was one of his first jobs as a voice actor). Those roles included Officer Barbrady, Token Black, the Goth Kids, Scott Tennerman and even Mrs. Choksondik.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: "200" and "201" will never appear on TV again (uncensored or otherwise), though a recent press release confirmed that they would in fact be featured on the season DVD sets. However, much to the fans' displeasure, the version of "201" that appears on the DVD is the edited version. Also good luck with ever seeing "Super Best Friends" again on television (though "Super Best Friends" is available — with Mohammed shown and referred to by name — on the season five DVD set, which was pressed and released years before the Mohammed debacle).
The Audiomaster 3000 dub of season 1 has vanished into obscurity, and the original theme song has also disappeared (only the re-recorded version for season 2 is known to still exist). Season 2 is easier to come by in circulation, as MTV had aired it at one point and the Televisa DVD releases included the Audiomaster dub of "Chickenpox" (even though most of the episodes on the season 2 DVD used the 2011 BVI vocal track).
No Export for You: Japan has yet to receive any episodes beyond those of season 9 (which only aired in a subtitled format on their FOX satellite network). For a time, any episodes beyond that of season 7 were that case, as WOWOW's license to the show expired after 2004.
South Korean fans have to rely on fansubbed versions as the show, due to the Republic of Korea Broadcasting Committee banning it from Tooniverse after parents had complained of its vulgar and violent content (it's unknown how many episodes were dubbed of season 1 and left unaired).
The dub of the series broadcast in the Czech Republic has only ever aired seasons 1 to 6, leaving the rest of the show unadapted and those fans to be very far behind in their version.
Channel V's Mandarin Chinese dub broadcast in Taiwan only managed to get to season 7.
Old Shame: Trey and Matt feel this way about the show's first three seasons (with season two as their most hated season), described by Trey in an Entertainment Weekly interview as being "just embarrassing to watch," despite that the first three seasons are home to some of the series' most memorable episodes, like "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe," "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride," "Weight Gain 4000," the "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut" two-parter, "Terrance and Phillip in 'Now Without My Anus'"note though that episode was hated for interrupting the conclusion of a highly-anticipated two-parter, "Mecha Streisand," "Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo," "Ike's Wee-Wee," "Sexual Harassment Panda," "Rainforest Schmainforest," "Chicken Lover," "The Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka," "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig," "Chinpokomon," "The Succubus," "Underpants Gnomes," "Starvin Marvin," and the Christmas Episode dedicated to Mary Kay Bergman.
The Other Darrin: Pretty much all the major female characters in the show went through this. Originally Mary Kay Bergman performed all the women voicesnote save for Bebe and a few other guest characters, who were also either voiced by Jennifer Howell, Toddy Walters, or other occasional actresses, but after her death in 1999 her voices were taken over by Mona Marshall and Eliza Schneider, starting with the final season 3 episodes she hadn't yet recorded. In turn, Schneider left the show in 2003 (due to a salary dispute stemming from union issues) and she was replaced by April Stewart.
In South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut, Mike Judge (of King of the Hill, Beavis and Butt-Head, Office Space, and Idiocracy fame) voiced Kenny when he's finally seen not wearing his parka. Outside of The Movie, Matt Stone voices Kenny (Stone covers his mouth with his sleeve to achieve Kenny's muffled speech), while his unhooded self is voiced by Eric Stough ( except as Mysterion). While his voice is the movie is clean, cute, and soft, his voice in in the series is nasal (more so then Craig possibly—justified in that Matt Stone also voices Craig). It makes perfect sense why he can voice such a low, nasal voiced, super hero like Mysterion.
Clyde's mother was originally voiced by April Stewart, but wound up voiced by Trey Parker in "Reverse Cowgirl" due to Stewart being unavailable to re-record her lines for it after the script was rewritten.
Ike is another big example of recasting, although justifiable in his case due to being voiced by children. He's had at least nine (confirmed) different actors so far, and all were either children of staff members or local young talent based out of Los Angeles. There may be more children that had voiced him, as his actors haven't been credited since at least "Royal Pudding", and the show staff prefers to think of the children as a group.
Some of the girls that aren't Wendy and Bebe have been known to have their voice actresses rotate (due to them not being as much a priority for consistent voices). Red and Milly are two examples. In these cases, actresses such as Mona Marshall, Jessica Makinson, and Paula Holmberg (who quit after season 11) have helped fill in when Stewart was either sick or to ease up the need of her having to voice all the young girls.
The Other Marty: Karri Turner originally voiced all the female characters in the pilot, but Mary Kay Bergman re-recorded the roles for the aired version.
Damien was originally voiced by Mike Judge, but he was unable to commute back to re-record his lines when the script was changed (Judge lived in Texas, while production was handled out in California), leaving Matt Stone to dub over the dialogue and voice the new/altered lines as well.
"Freak Strike" had Trey Parker originally voicing Vanity (the out-of-control teenager on the Maury Povich show) in a voice similar to what he used for Ms. Choksondik. This version could be heard in early promos for the episode. By the time the episode actually aired, Jessica Makinson had been brought in to re-record the dialogue so Vanity would have an actual woman's voice.
Reciprocal Fiction Paradox: This trope even occurs within a single show: South Park and Terrance and Phillip have watched each other's television shows. This gets a bit muddled as Terrance and Phillip are "real" actors in the South Park universe with a television show the South Park kids watch, but the characters (one assumes) Terrance and Phillip play have watched South Park.
It gets even weirder when you consider that Terrance and Phillip are referred to in-universe as cartoon characters.
Schedule Slip: The season 17 episode "Goth Kids 3: Rise of the Poser" was scheduled to air on October 16, 2013, but a power outage at South Park Studios prevented the episode from getting completed on time and was rescheduled for October 23rd. The episodes "Scott Tenorman Must Die" and "Overlogging"note the episode where everyone in South Park moves to California after the Internet shuts down aired in its place.
Talking to Himself: Played straight at first and then lampshaded pretty hard. Parker and Stone voice almost every character and even they admit they don't have much of a range. Occasionally, they will have other voice actors, but most of them are people who work with them on the show (which explains why Adrian Beard is the voice of Token and why Bill Hader voiced a redneck on "More Crap"). In the early episodes, George Clooney and Natasha Hendstrige (a.k.a "That chick from Species") had roles on the show (Clooney was the voice of Stan's gay dog, Sparky, while Hendstrige voiced Miss Ellen the substitute teacher), but very rarely does this show have celebrity guest stars. Bill Hader is the closest thing to a celebrity voice actor that Trey and Matt have now, with emphasis on "voice acting" since Hader was known on SNL for sounding just like or almost like the celebrities he impersonates note (some notable ones include Al Pacino, Seth Rogen, John Malkovich, Alan Alda, Keith Morrison, James Carville, Eliot Spitzer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Bowie, Dave Matthews, and Clint Eastwood) and coming up with bizarre voices for his recurring or one-shot characters (Greg the Alien, Stefonnote which is based on an unnamed New York City barista who looked and dressed like Stefon, Colonel Nastynote the resident relationship therapist on Cee-Lo Green's talk show Gettin Freaky with Cee-Lo Green, and Vinny Vedecci).
The late Mary Kay Bergman was a case of this for nearly all the female characters as well, with only a few (such as Bebe or guest roles) being voiced by other actresses such as Jennifer Howell and Toddy Walters note Although due to a behind the scenes falling-out with Trey Parker, Walters did not do any voice work beyond season 3. After her death, the roles became split between Eliza Schneider, Mona Marshall, and the occasional other actress (Howell or guests note Although there are no records of their exact roles, the actresses included Dee Dee Green, Shay Hughes, and Megan Staley), although Schneider took up the bulk of the work and many of her characters interacted. April Stewart now handles most female characters that interact, although Mona Marshall and other actressesnote Jennifer Howell continuing to voice Bebe, Paula Holmberg and Jessica Makinson voicing other women and female fourth-graders have taken on other parts.
Too Soon: While the show does this all the time, only in the Halloween episode where Steve Irwin shows up to Satan's costume party does the show call itself out for this.
Lampshaded in "Jared has Aides", where Cartman tries to make a joke about Kenny's recent death and is told it's too soon and that it takes 22.6 years until a tragic event becomes funny...which sets up a Brick Joke at the end of the episode.
In "It's a Jersey Thing" 9/11 gets its turn.
"What about the families of the victims of 9/11? Their feelings matter for another ten months, damn it!"
Six Days To Air: The Making of South Park aired the week of Steve Jobs' death. The episode whose production it was chronicling? "HUMANCENTiPAD". The one which cast Jobs as a Big BadMad Scientist.
Trope Namer: This animation named the following tropes:
Troubled Production: The Latin American Spanish dub, big time. In fact, it reaches Apocalypse Now-style levels of techinical, cultural and translation problems regarding the dubbing of the series. You can read about the whole issue here (In Spanish)
Urban Legendof Zelda: The unfinished line "I've never seen so many children molested since..." in "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" was long rumored to included "Michael Jackson" at the end in its first airing and/or alleged international airings. However, no proof was ever found for the dialogue to have ever existed, and it was later confirmed to be a hoax.
Back during the 2000s, a fan had come up with a theory for a "deleted scene" in Bigger, Longer, and Uncut that they presented as an explanation how Kenny could go to Heaven in the end (despite the fact he was pulled to Hell before). However, some had taken this theory seriously and as proof that a missing character ("Flower") and plotline existed, and it eventually became spread as a fact on some fansites.
While three people who had worked on computer production of the film had claimed there was enough deleted material over time to fit on "three or four DVDs", Trey Parker and Matt Stone had since debunked the claims and stated that the deleted scenes from the movie are only alternate takes, not genuinely deleted, to justify the lack of a special edition DVD (along with the fact that they hate doing commentary tracks).
What Could Have Been: Nancy Cartwright was approached to do the female voices, but she found the show's content to be offensive. Considering the "Trapped in the Closet" episode and the fact that Cartwright is a member of the Church of Scientology, one begins to wonder if she would have done the same thing as Isaac Hayes (read: leave the show due to the episode's backlash).
Barry White was originally considered for the voice of Chef, but White found the content to be offensive as well (and White was a devout Christian).
Karri Turner was Parker and Stone's choice after Nancy Cartwright and had recorded roles for the unaired version of the pilot, but was let go as they felt her voice wasn't distinct enough for the characters that they wanted her to voice (see "The Other Marty"). However, she did get to voice Kathie Lee Gifford in "Weight Gain 4000".
Write Who You Know: Kenny is based on a childhood friend of Parker who was also poor and used a parka which muffled his speech. He would often be absent from school, and the two would joke that it was because he was dead, which is where the "They Killed Kenny" joke came from.
Tuckerization: Since Stan=Trey and Kyle=Matt, the parents of the duo (Randy/Sharon and Sheila/Gerald) are named after the creator's as well.
Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Shows are written the week before they air, and the episodes are often finished frighteningly close to their airtime. It's kind of like the television writing equivalent of writing and turning in a college term paper. The only time this backfired was with "Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Poser," when a power outage at South Park Studios pre-empted the episode and led to a Schedule Slip for the first time in the show's 17 years on the air.