Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny are four foul-mouthed little boys from a Coloradan hick town. During a typical morning waiting for the school bus, Kyle's baby brother, Ike, gets abducted by aliens — who are connected with several mysterious cow mutilations and abducting Cartman and putting a communication probe up his butt.
"Cartman Gets an Anal Probe" contains examples of:
- Agent Scully: Officer Barbrady doesn't believe in the farmer's suspicions.
- Aliens Steal Cattle: Turns out the aliens were trying to communicate with the cows. The mutilations were just a mistake from one of the less experienced aliens.
- Allergic to Love: Stan vomits whenever he has affection for Wendy.
- Anal Probing: The main plot for Cartman.
- Ass Shove: The episode culminates with a 50-foot satellite dish emerging from Cartman's ass.
- Big Brother Instinct: As much as Kyle is annoyed with Ike, he desperately wants to save him (although initially it's because his parents will be upset).
- Black Helicopter: A farmer claims to Officer Barbrady that he's seen them flying around. When a whole bunch of them stampede by, Barbrady claims it was just a pigeon.
- Bookends: The episode begins and ends with Cartman telling his friends that he had a strange dream about aliens that turned out to be reality.
- Cassandra Truth: The boys struggle to make anyone else but Chef believe aliens have kidnapped Ike. Played for Laughs against Cartman, who stubbornly insists he only dreamt his abduction, even when a giant anal probe forms out of his ass. He can only scream a frustrated "AW DAMMIT!!!" when an enormous spaceship hovers right above him in response.
- Cluster Bleep-Bomb: Kyle's rant to the aliens.
- Comically Missing the Point: Officer Barbrady doesn't believe there's something strange going on and insists that cows mutilate themselves all the time.
- Crop Circles: A report on alien sightings features a crop circle formation in the exact likeness of Cartman.
- Crush Parade: Kenny is killed by a laser beam, stampeding cattle, and Officer Barbrady's car.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Several of the students seen in class would later become established characters, including Butters, Token, and Bebe.
- Early Installment Weirdness
- This was the only episode to be animated in stop-motion with paper cut-outs, though some scenes like the satellite dish coming out of Cartman's ass were animated using the digital method when the pilot was reworked for television. The only other episode using the original technique was a short scene from "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig" (that actually was a cut scene from this episode, where the boys talk to Pip at the lunch line).
- In an example of color schemes not yet being set, Bebe wears a green jacket instead of her usual red one, and Red is shown to be wearing purple.
- The longtime background character Brimmy appears in the cafeteria wearing red as opposed to his regular blue colored clothing.
- Mr. Hat has no visible eyes, while Mr. Garrison has a slightly different face and glasses.
- Two Hasidic boys (one later identified as "Jason") can be seen as minor characters in the cafeteria, and appear in other episodes. "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo" and further episodes identify Kyle's family as being the only Jews in South Park, which is then retconned itself in later seasons.
- As mentioned in Off-Model, the unaired version didn't have Wendy or Pip visible in the classroom as students, but two other girls that were never seen beyond that part were shown in the classroom. Bebe was also not visible in the classroom beyond her cameo in the bus scene.
- "Dildo" was Cartman's Catchphrase Insult throughout the episode.
- In sharp contrast with his much more protective behavior from later episodes, Kyle behavior towards Ike is much more abusive here.
- Establishing Character Moment: For Cartman, Mr. Garrison, Chef, and Barbrady mostly. Stan and Kyle's personalities would be further established later in the season.
- Establishing Series Moment: The episode starts off innocently enough with the boys singing "School Days" while waiting for the bus, only for Kyle to be annoyed once Ike shows up, exclaiming, "Aw, damn it!" Cartman then calls Ike a dildo before Kyle punts his baby brother across the street into a bunch of mailboxes. By the time Cartman starts talking about getting an anal probe, the show makes it very clear that it'll be pushing the boundaries of what's considered acceptable on cable television.
- Farts on Fire: Cartman's anal probe causes him to fart fire, which at one point burns Pip and Mr. Kitty.
- In the unaired version, the fire came from Cartman being forced to eat all the hot tamales that Chef gave the boys.
- Fire Alarm Distraction: Chef pulls the fire alarm so that the boys can leave school and rescue Ike when he has been abducted by alien visitors.
- Flat-Earth Atheist: Cartman remains firm in his beliefs that everything that happened to him was just a dream, even in spite of the fact that everything seems to be happening to him, specifically.Cartman: You guys can't scare me. I know you're making it all up.
Stan: Cartman, there's an 80-foot satellite dish sticking out of your ass.
Cartman: Sure you guys, what-ever!
- Freak Out: "WHERE HAS THAT FINGER BEEN, KYLE?!?!?"
- Funny Background Event: In the unaired version of the pilot, DogPoo (the dirty, Pigpen-esque kid) can be seen at the playground digging in the snow to roll around in the dirt underneath.
- Implausible Deniability: Cartman fervently denies that he was abducted and experimented on by aliens, up to this point:Stan: Cartman, there's an 80-foot satellite dish sticking out of your ass!
Cartman: (with exactly what Stan just described) Sure you guys, whatever!
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: In the original ending, Ike returns to the bus stop, and Kyle once again kicks him away despite promising not to do it anymore, even commenting, "I still can't believe how upset I was when I thought he would be gone for good."
- Lack of Empathy: The aliens ignore Kyle's pleas of wanting his brother back.
- Mistook the Dominant Lifeform: The aliens consider cows to be the most intelligent species on Earth.
- Oblivious to His Own Description: When Cartman sees Crop Circles that resemble his face, he assumes they look like Tom Selleck.
- Off-Model: The animation in this episode switches from the crude, construction-paper cutout style to the computer-generated style, as Trey and Matt patched together the original pilot with some new and alternate scenes that weren't in the original version.
- Due to the classroom scene being changed for the finished version, Wendy and Pip abruptly appear out of nowhere when Cartman farts fire. In shots before this (and in the full scene in the unaired pilot), their seats were taken by an unnamed blonde girl and a second red-haired girl.
- Subverted somewhat with the HD remaster, which remade all of the computer-generated scenes (and even a few from the original pilot) in the pilot's artstyle. While it doesn't match the original footage perfectly (for example, the stiffer animation from the 1997 digital scenes is retained), it gives the aired version a consistent look. It also fixes the classroom scene so that Wendy doesn't appear out of nowhere, and while the girl sitting behind Cartman still turns into Pip, the shot of Cartman saying, "That's-that's just a little joke." was remade to include Pip to make the mistake less obvious.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: When Cartman's anal probe summons the visitors, Kyle gives them a heartfelt plea to return Ike to him. When the visitors ignore him and attempt to leave, he hurls a string of profane insults in response.
Cartman: Okay, that's does it! Now listen! Why is it that everything today has involved things either going in or coming out of my ass?! I'm sick of it!
- Before that, Cartman becomes completely fed up with Stan and Kyle's continuing on with their "joke".
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: This marks the first time Cartman says "Screw you guys, I'm going home."Kyle: Go on and go home, you fat chicken!
- Shout-Out: The aliens control Cartman to sing "I Love to Singa". The cows are later given the aliens' control device, and they use it to make Barbrady sing the same song.
- Sustained Misunderstanding: After Kenny dies and Cartman continues to disbelieve in the aliens existing.Kyle: Cartman, they killed Kenny.
(Cartman briefly looks at Kenny's corpse)
Cartman: ...He's not dead.
- Take That!: The very first of what would become countless....Kyle gets Ike to jump from the alien ship by telling him to do an "impression of David Caruso's career".
- They Killed Kenny Again: Kenny survives being shot by aliens and trampled by cows, but he dies when he's run over by Officer Barbrady.