Follow TV Tropes


Recap / South Park Imaginationland

Go To
Imagine that!

Original air date:

10/17/2007 (part one)

10/24/2007 (part two)

10/31/2007 (part three)

"Imaginationland" is a three-part episode of South Park, consisting of episode 10, 11 and 12 of the eleventh season. Originally intended to be released as a separate movie, but due to the use of countless copyrighted characters the makers chose to make it a trilogy, broadcast in the regular TV series instead.

It won an Emmy for Oustanding Animated Program for One Hour or More.

The three episodes were later reissued together, along with previously unreleased footage, as the uncensored Imaginationland: The Movie.


  • Actor/Role Confusion: Kurt Russell is chosen to lead the military invasion of Imaginationland because "he was in the movie that was sort of like this".
  • All Just a Dream: Subverted. Stan, Kyle and Butters (in Part II) wake up in horror after a dream involving their previous escapades in Imaginationland, only to realize that such events really happened. In Butters' case, he woke up to his parents serving him breakfast, which was also a dream.
  • Alternate Universe: Imaginationland is a different universe than ours. It can only be entered through a portal hole and by singing the correct "Imagination" song.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Cartman's demand that Kyle sucks his balls can come off as this, Lampshaded by Jimmy in the extended cut.
  • Art Shift: Different drawing styles are used.
  • Artistic License – Law: The contract Kyle signed couldn't be enforced by a court because Kyle is underage and the contract would be considered contra bonos mores.
  • Author Appeal: Some of the fictional characters appearing are from franchises Parker and Stone like, such as Star Trek.
  • Badass Boast: "Make way for Santa!"
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Cartman finally gets Kyle to suck his balls... by imagining it with everyone witnessing it.
  • The Bet: Kyle bets that he'll suck Cartman's balls if he really saw a leprechaun.
  • Big Damn Heroes: As Popeye gets overcome by the Woodland Critters, Butters gets him more spinach.
  • Black-and-White Morality: The good fictional characters fight evil fictional characters. No matter whether they are Dick Dastardly, The Joker or Cthulhu, the only goal of the bad guys is to destroy Imaginationland's good side.
  • Blatant Lies: Subverted. It seems like Cartman is lying about the leprechaun, but it turns out that he's being completely truthful.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The lines between fiction and reality (in the South Park universe) become transparent.
  • Brick Joke: When the villains capture Strawberry Shortcake and pull her eyeball out of his socket, the Woodland Critters suggest ways to torture her before finishing her off, finally agreeing with Beary's suggestion to get someone with AIDS to pee in her empty eye socket so she "dies all slow like." Later, when Stan gets sucked into Imaginationland, he tells Kyle that he found Strawberry Shortcake dead with pee in her eye.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Mel Gibson is every bit as batshit insane as he was in The Passion Of The Jew, but he's also the only one of the Hollywood directors the government calls that is of any help at all, and he gives the government the vital idea they need to move forward with their efforts to stop the terrorists.
    Pentagon Official: Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the son of a bitch knows story structure!
  • Call-Back: Several fictional characters within the South Park universe make a comeback, including:
    • The Woodland Critters from "The Woodland Christmas Critters" episode.
    • Nibblet the canary from "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery".
    • Mel Gibson from "The Passion Of The Jew".
    • Manbearpig from the "Manbearpig" episode.
    • Santa Claus and Jesus are also seen again.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: The one aide at the Pentagon just can't keep his mouth shut about the portal to Imaginationland.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': The Bittersweet Ending. Butters returns from saving two worlds, only to be grounded by his emotionally Abusive Parents.
  • The Chosen One: Butters is the Chosen One of Imaginationland since he can use his imagination to help the good characters. He doesn't want to be one, though.
  • Compilation Movie: All three episodes have been edited as one movie and released on DVD.
  • Creator Provincialism: A disproportionate number of imaginary characters comes from American popular culture, folklore and advertising. Also the existence of the Council of Nine implies that Popeye and Luke Skywalker are as revered as Jesus and Zeus are. Justified in that American pop culture is hugely influential, and that movies, TV series, comics and books might as well be what mythology was for the past eras.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Meeting with the brass, Mel Gibson acts like he has before. Just as the officials think this is going nowhere, Gibson tells the military to study the video for the one who doesn't belong in Imaginationland.
  • Disney Death: This happens to Kyle when ManBearPig is sucked back through the portal. He's resurrected by Cartman.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Jason Voorhees says to another imaginary villain that he doesn't want to meet the kid that created the Christmas Critters. Aka Eric Cartman.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Ever since the Cold War, the U.S. government has been working on a secret project to build a doorway into the imagination. It is called: 'Project Imagination Doorway.'"
  • Forced Creativity: When Aslan and the Council realize Butters is from the real world, he is conscripted to use his imagination to bring back characters, weapons and items that will turn the tide. He struggles at first, leading to Aslan to yell at him in frustration.
  • Gorn: Quite a lot of it.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Fictional things will likely have more of an impact on the world than most real people, and will still be around long after their gone. So in a way that makes them real.
  • Hearing Voices: After Stan gets sucked into the portal, Kyle can hear his voice while he's in Imaginationland. Everyone else thinks he's just cracking up after the ordeal he went through at the Pentagon.
  • Horrifying the Horror: The Woodland Critters give even the other monsters the creeps.
    Jason: Man, I do not want to meet the kid that dreamt those things up.
  • Hypocritical Humour: When the soldiers ask themselves whether Buddha is real they quickly conclude he wasn't. But when asked the same question about Jesus one immediately shouts: "Of course Jesus is real."
  • I Choose to Stay: As the villains approach, Jesus and Luke Skywalker advocate staying to defend Castle Sunshine. Morpheus also suggests the villains will not let them simply evacuate, anyway.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Popeye speaks in exaggerated mumbles, but Jesus understands him perfectly.
  • Irony:
    • The Imagination song has very dull, uninspired and redundant lyrics consisting of nothing more than the word "imagination".
    • With the bomb about to be deployed, Stan tells Kyle that he has to argue that imaginary creatures are real, which Kyle really doesn't want to do because of the bet with Cartman. This really ends up backfiring on him when Cartman imagines Kyle sucking his [imaginary self's] balls and everyone reminds the real Kyle of the argument he just made.
  • I Warned You: Al Gore shows off a video of a ManBearPig wreaking havoc, confirming that ManBearPig was made up all along.
  • It's All About Me: Cartman doesn't care about anything that's going on in Imaginationland. Heck, he doesn't even care if leprechauns are real or not anymore. He just wants Kyle to suck his balls no matter what.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Cartman managing to save Kyle after Kyle is suffocated by an evil imaginary monster, but only because Kyle hasn't sucked his balls yet.
  • Kill the Cutie: Mickey Mouse's face is shot off, Charlie Brown loses a leg, Santa Claus is burnt alive, Strawberry Shortcake's eye is gouged out (and peed in), a Care Bear is shot dead, Waldo is pierced with a spear, and the list goes on. Happily, Butters uses his imagination to bring all the dead characters on both sides back to life and seal the evil ones back behind their wall.
  • Lampshading: The general wonders how it can be possible for such young children to enter the Pentagon so easily.
    • In the extended cut, Jimmy points out that Cartman's obsession with Kyle sucking his balls appears to make Cartman a bit "Faggy".
    • Kurt Russell questions why he is the one leading the mission. The general tells him he was "in the movie that was sort of like this" and thus has more experience than anyone else there.
    • Stan and later the general question why Kyle would agree to suck Cartman's balls under any circumstances.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: At the Pentagon, Kyle was ready to submit to the bet and just wanted to get it over with, but Cartman dragged things out to make it all perfect and purely for his amusement. He waited so long that other developments got in the way. Happens again later at the hospital.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Subverted: Mel Gibson, Michael Bay, M. Night Shyamalan, Kurt Russell and Al Gore are mocked mercilessly.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Subverted. As the others get on the dragon to escape, Butters gets jumped and kicked around by the terrorists. The dragon's already in mid-flight, so they can't turn around to get him.
  • Oh, Crap!: Stan has this reaction when he realizes Kurt Russell has encountered the Woodland Christmas Critters.
  • Overly-Long Gag: The Imagination Song is just the word "imagination" sung over and over again for hours on end.
  • Pet the Dog: On a meta level, this happens in regard to Mel Gibson. He may be nuts, but he knows how to make good movies.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Some of the codenames Cartman assigns to his friends at the beginning of the first part include "Blackie" (Tolkien) and "faggot" (Butters).
  • Precision F-Strike: Butters, who usually isn't the one who swears a lot, says "Aw, shit!" when he gets grounded by his parents at the end of the third and final part of the trilogy.
  • Previously on…: Part 2 has a standard one. Part 3 has a recap narrated by Aslan, as he is trying to get Butters to embrace his destiny.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: After being pestered so much, Kyle starts to lash out at Cartman for only thinking of the bet where Kyle had to suck his balls instead of worrying about their friends and angrily shoves him while saying he will never suck on his balls, even if they threaten to throw him in prison.
  • Rape as Comedy: The Woodland Christmas Critters rape Kurt Russell and his team, and later Popeye too.
  • Reference Overdosed: Very overdosed!
  • Running Gag: Just when Cartman's about to get Kyle to suck his balls, something else comes along to interrupt it. Also, this conversation:
    Tech: Sir, we have a security breach!
    General: What?!
    Tech: There's an unauthorized entry alert! And it's coming from Sector Two!
    General: Sector Two...?
    (Cue Cartman breaking through the glass; Kyle does this the third time)
  • Save Both Worlds: Both Imaginationland and the real world are endangered by the terrorist plot.
  • Sequel: Trey and Matt consider the trilogy as a whole to be a quasi-sequel to Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
  • Series Continuity Error: Both previous and future episodes depict several religious figures (and ManBearPig) as unambiguously real, so their appearance as inhabitants in Imaginationland is never really explained.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mr. Imagination and the "Imagination" song are two-fer shout-out; They reference both Mr. Sophistication and his Imagination song in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, as well as the Dreamfinder and his Imagination song from the EPCOT attraction Journey into Imagination.
    • In "Imaginationland I" Stan goes temporarily deaf after the impact of an explosion and stares around at the violence around them, referencing a famous scene from Saving Private Ryan.
    • The scene with a portal to another world is taken from Stargate.
    • The battle between Good and Evil mimics the one in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
    • Cartman reanimating Kyle is a reference to The Abyss.
    • Butters used by the fictitious characters to imagine their world back references The Neverending Story.
    • Countless characters from different franchises, novels, mythologies, folkloric stories, fairy tales, comic strips, cartoons, films, advertisements, TV series, video games, etc. have a cameo.
      • Advertising: Mr. Clean, Ronald McDonald, the Marlboro Cowboy, Count Chocula, the Pillsbury Dough Boy and the Cavity Creeps appear.
      • Alice in Wonderland: The Mad Hatter and Humpty Dumpty are seen among the good characters.
      • Alien: The creature appears and kills off the Mayor of Imaginationland by piercing his stomach with its extendable set of jaws, a scene made to look like the infamous "Chestburster" scene from the 1979 movie.
      • Astro Boy: Astro Boy is seen among the good characters.
      • Asterix: Obelix is seen blowing the horn for attack before the battle begins.
      • Batman: The Joker can be seen among the crowd of evil characters before the battle begins.
      • The Call of Cthulhu: Cthulhu appears.
      • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Captain Planet is seen among the good characters.
      • Care Bears: One of the care bears is executed by terrorists.
      • Christine: The evil car is seen in the background.
      • The Chronicles of Narnia: Aslan the lion is part of the Council of Nine.
      • A Clockwork Orange: Alex Delarge can be seen among the crowd of evil characters before the battle begins.
      • Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Creature is among the villains.
      • Danger Mouse: Danger Mouse is seen among the good characters.
      • The Dark Crystal: A Skeksis is among the villains.
      • Dick Tracy: Dick Tracy is seen.
      • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Dr. Jekyll is seen drinking the potion that makes him transform into Hyde at the start of the battle.
      • Dragonheart: Draco flies the children away to safety from the terrorist attack.
      • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: E.T. is seen shot down in the first episode.
      • Excalibur: Mordred is seen among the Evil characters.
      • Fairy Tale: Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, The Little Mermaid and Cinderella appear among the good characters.
      • Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The Brown Hornet can be spotted.
      • Frankenstein: The Frankenstein's Monster is seen among the Evil characters.
      • Franklin: Franklin the Turtle is seen among the good characters.
      • Friday the 13th: Jason is seen among the evil characters and is shocked at the cruelty of the Woodland Christmas Critters.
      • G.I. Joe: Cobra Commander is seen among the villains.
      • Gremlins: Gizmo is seen between the good characters.
      • Greek Mythology: Zeus is part of the Council of Nine. Perseus is one of the guards of the Castle of the Good characters. Medusa is also seen in the background fighting among the Evil characters. Icarus and Pegasus can be seen in the sky. A Minotaur and Cerberus are noticeable among the crowd of evil characters surrounding Strawberry Shortcake. When Santa jumps down from the castle wall, we can see Hercules fighting, and he is one of the characters who wants to talk to Kyle.
      • Hanna-Barbera: In the background we notice Quick Draw McGraw, Baba Looey and Jonny Quest.
      • Handy Manny: Pat the Hammer makes an appearance.
      • Harry and the Hendersons: Harry the yeti is spotted among the good characters.
      • Harry Potter: Harry Potter is seen among the crowds.
      • Hellraiser: Pinhead appears and is decapitated.
      • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): Orko and She-Ra are seen among the good characters. Skeletor among the bad.
      • Hr Pufn Stuf: H.R. Pufnstuf appears.
      • The Incredible Hulk appears.
      • Indiana Jones: Indiana Jones is seen among the good characters.
      • Iron Maiden: The Iron Maiden mascot Eddie the Head can be spotted before the camera zooms on to the bridge where Aslan, Butters and the others are standing.
      • James Bond: When Butters appears in his bubble to save everybody, James Bond can be spotted on his right side.
      • Jem: Jem is shown participating in the fight with the characters.
      • John Henry: Seen near the end before the rocket destroys Imaginationland.
      • Legend: Meg Mucklebones appears among the evil characters.
      • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: The Headless Horseman appears and claims to be the evilest character.
      • The Legend of Zelda: Link is seen, and Ganondorf appears among the army of evil characters.
      • Little Orphan Annie can be spotted during the terrorist attack.
      • Little Shop of Horrors: Audrey II is one of the Imaginationland villains.
      • Looney Tunes: Before the battle begins Wile E. Coyote and Marvin the Martian can be noticed among the crowd. In another scene Gossamer appears.
      • The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf is part of the Council of Nine.
      • The Matrix: Morpheus is part of the Council of Nine.
      • Mickey Mouse's head is shot off in a deleted scene only seen on the complete Imaginationland DVD.
      • Mighty Mouse appears in the background between the good characters.
      • Mortal Kombat: Goro appears among the evil characters.
      • Mothra: Mothra is seen flying in the air during the first episode.
      • My Neighbor Totoro: Totoro can be seen among the good characters.
      • The NeverEnding Story: Falkor is seen flying thru the sky.
      • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Jack Skellington is seen among the good characters.
      • A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger is seen among the evil characters.
      • 101 Dalmatians: Cruella Devil is seen in the background.
      • Pac-Man: The ghosts from this video game appear among the good characters. Pac-Man himself can be spotted when the good characters charge.
      • Paul Bunyan: When the battle begins Paul Bunyan can be seen in the background. When Jesus decapitates Pinhead Babe the Blue Ox can be seen in the background.
      • Peanuts: Charlie Brown is blown up. Lucy and Snoopy have a cameo appearance.
      • Peter Pan: Captain Hook is seen in the crowd.
      • Popeye is part of the Council of Nine. Later his arch nemesis Bluto can also be seen in the crowd among the Evil characters.
      • Predator: Predator appears and scares Butters off.
      • Raggedy Ann: Raggedy Ann and Andy appear in the first episode among the good characters.
      • Robin Hood can be seen.
      • Rocky and Bullwinkle: Rocky is seen in the air when Jesus storms to attack the villains at the start of the battle. Bullwinkle can be spotted in the crowd when the rocket is about to hit Imaginationland.
      • ROM: Spaceknight: Rom is seen when Luke Skywalker is handing out weapons to everyone.
      • Santa Claus: Santa is burned alive in the first episode, but later reimagined back in combat by Butters.
      • The 7th Voyage of Sinbad: The cyclops is seen bursting out of the gate.
      • Silver Surfer is seen.
      • Sinistar: Sinistar is spotted in the crowd.
      • The Six Million Dollar Man: Also appears.
      • The Smurfs: Several Smurfs are seen among the good characters.
      • Song of the South: Uncle Remus and Br'er Rabbit appear next to each other.
      • Spider-Man: The Green Goblin is seen.
      • Star Trek: Members of the "Enterprise" and the Tribbles from "The Trouble with Tribbles" episode make an appearance. Khan from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is also seen.
      • Star Wars: Luke Skywalker is part of the Council of Nine. An army of Stormtroopers, Darth Maul and Yoda can also be spotted.
      • Strawberry Shortcake is tortured by the evil characters. Her friend Blueberry Muffin is also seen later in the episode, receiving a sword.
      • Street Fighter: Akuma stands around a fire among the other villainous characters. Sagat can be spotted when Jason Voorhees whispers to Khan from "Star Trek" that he doesn't want to meet the boy who dreamt up the Woodland Critters.
      • Super Mario Bros.: Mario, Wario and Bowser are seen.
      • Superman is one of the good characters who gives Stan moral support, although he is not seen onscreen. The opening credits for Part I also parody the opening credits of the Superman films.
      • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: One turtle is seen.
      • Tarzan: Seen swinging a vine when the battle begins.
      • Terminator: The Terminator is among the villains.
      • The Three Musketeers: Athos, Aramis and Porthos are seen during the battle.
      • ThunderCats: Cheetara is seen among the good characters. Mummra among the evil ones. Snarf accompanies Butters to the Castle of the Good characters.
      • Tintin: Tintin and Snowy are seen in the background.
      • The Transformers: Optimus Prime and Voltron appear among the good characters.
      • TRON: Two guards from this movie guard the castle of the Good characters.
      • War of the Worlds: Two of the aliens can be seen.
      • Where the Wild Things Are: One of the monsters is noticeable among the good characters.
      • Where's Waldo?: Waldo is pierced with a spear.
      • The Wind in the Willows: Mr. Toad is seen between the good characters.
      • The Wizard of Oz: Glinda the Good Witch is part of the Council of Nine. Dorothy and Toto are shot to death. The Scarecrow also makes an appearance. When the evil characters are gathering in front of the gate one can spot the Wicked Witch behind Alex Delarge.
      • Wonder Woman is part of the Council of Nine.
      • Yellow Submarine: Blue Meanies and the Dreadful Flying Glove are seen between the Good characters, despite being villains in that film. Presumably since they converted to good at the end of the film.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • Despite everything happening throughout the trilogy, Cartman will stop at nothing to make sure Kyle upholds his part of the bet, which is to actually suck his balls, even rudely yawning when Kyle tries to explain everything else that happening just to emphasize how little he cares about anything else. By the end of the arc, Cartman creates a scene where imaginary Kyle to accomplish this to his imaginary self, and rubs it in the real Kyle's face.
    • Butters' parents confront him about his Imaginationland adventure, only to ground him for not cleaning out the basement.
    • Played for laughs with the various heroic characters trying to inspire Kyle to save the day. God gets to go after Cap'n Crunch.
  • Slow Clap: After Stan and Kyle's speech about the importance of imagination Cartman leads everybody in the room to slowly start applauding.
  • Stealth Pun: Orko from Masters of the Universe has a D on his sweater instead of an O, thus making his name "Dorko". (also a bit of Take That!)
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: During the press conference, a random reporter asks if the military thought of having Kurt Russell lead a team through a portal.
    Military Guy: We tried that! And Kurt Russell got raped by Christmas Critters!
  • Sudden Downer Ending: For Butters, at least. The episode ends with him suddenly waking up in the real world and believing it to be All Just a Dream, before his parents tell him that it was all real and ground him due to being in Imaginationland instead of helping his mother clean out the basement. In response, Butters tries to imagine himself not being grounded by them, which leads them to reveal that only works in Imaginationland. With that, Butters is left grounded and alone with nothing but his annoyance.
  • Suddenly Shouting: "BELIEVE IN SANTA! RIGHT NOW!"
  • Suddenly Voiced: Jason Voorhees is heard speaking a line for the first time, in a bizarre lisping voice for added Rule of Funny.
  • Take That!: Towards Michael Bay and M. Night Shyamalan for relying on special effects and plots twists, respectively, to make up for their shortcomings as movie directors. Subverted with Mel Gibson in that, while he's portrayed as being just as insane as he was previously, the government agents acknowledge that he at least understands story structure.
  • Talking Animal: Several are seen, including Aslan the lion.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • Stan upon hearing Kurt Russell reporting the team has encountered Christmas-themed woodland critters.
    Stan: Christmas Critters... Get them out of there!!!
    • After Shyamalan and Bay washed out, the general has this attitude when Mel Gibson starts getting wacky. He's nonetheless surprised and pleased when Gibson provides a good idea on how to proceed.
  • The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: A slightly Downplayed Showdown occurs when Jesus Christ (wielding an M60 machine gun) squares off against the Xenomorph.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After Kyle spoke his speech on imagination, Cartman repays him by trying to get him to suck on his balls due to the fact that technically he won the bet, but Kyle is then angered at how Cartman only cares about the bet and chews him out.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: "I just saw Strawberry Shortcake tied up and dead with pee in her eye."
  • Vocal Dissonance: After several villains speak in the kind of deep voices you'd expect, Jason Voorhees speaks in a much lighter, relaxed voice.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Muslim terrorists attack Imaginationland at the end of the first episode, causing the wall to break and all the evil characters to invade Imaginationland. The rest of the trilogy is just the Evil characters fighting off against the Good ones. The terrorists are last seen being attacked by a giant evil character, who literally sweeps them out of the story.
    • It could be implied though in the film version that they A. Suicide Bombed with Rockety Rocket or B. got killed by the evil creatures and were never resurrected with the latter likely to happen.
  • Would Rather Suffer: After dealing with all of the events of the three-parter, Kyle tells off Cartman for caring more about their bet and informs him he's not going to suck his balls ever. Even if the court did order him to under threat of prison, he'll gladly do the jail time just to prevent giving Cartman the satisfaction.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: After winning in court, Cartman's attempt to get Kyle to honor their bet keeps getting derailed: first by the military grabbing Stan and Kyle, later by the portal's malfunction, and finally by a legal verdict determining imaginary creatures are not real (thus overturning his earlier court victory).


Video Example(s):


Shyamalan, Bay & Gibson

The first Imaginationland episode, has three brief but great jabs towards M. Night Shyamalan (who can only think of twists), Michael Bay (who can't tell the difference between an idea & Special Effects) and Mel Gibson (who's as crazy as ever...but still knows his story structor).

How well does it match the trope?

4.82 (28 votes)

Example of:

Main / TakeThat

Media sources: