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Recap / South Park S 1 E 1 Cartman Gets An Anal Probe

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"Then I was lying on a table, and these scary aliens wanted to operate on me."

Airdate: August 13, 1997

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.
  • Big Brother Instinct: As much as Kyle is annoyed with Ike, he desperately wants to save him.
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  • Black Helicopter: A farmer claims to Officer Barbrady that he's seen them flying around. When a whole bunch of them pass by, Barbrady claims it was just a pigeon.
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: Kyle's rant to the aliens.
  • Crop Circles: A report on alien sightings features a crop circle formation in the exact likeness of Cartman.
    Cartman: Hey! That kinda looks like... Tom Selleck.
  • 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 in the series, including Butters, Token and Bebe.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: This was the only episode to have actually been photographed with real 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.
    • Mr. Hat has no visible eyes, while Mr. Garrison has a slightly different face and glasses.
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    • 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 other later 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 of the pilot 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.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For Cartman, Mr. Garrison, Chef and Officer 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 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 of the episode, the fire came from Cartman being forced to eat all the hot tamales that Chef gave the boys.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
    Cartman: Dildo!
  • Shout-Out: The aliens control Cartman and Barbrady to sing "I Love to Singa."
  • Sustained Misunderstanding: After Kenny dies and Cartman continues to disbelieve in the aliens existing.
    Kyle: (pulls off Kenny's head) Cartman, they killed Kenny.
    (Cartman briefly looks at Kenny's corpse)
    Cartman: ...He's not dead.
  • Take That!: 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: Despite being shot by aliens and trampled by cows, Kenny dies when he's run over by Office Barbrady.


Example of: