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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."

Original air date: 8/13/1997

Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny are four foul-mouthed little boys from a Colorado 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:

  • Accidental Murder: One of the rookie aliens, Carl, accidentally turned several cows inside out while investigating them. This causes the cows to be terrified of the aliens for most of the episode.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Many characters were much meaner in the unaired cut.
    • There was a scene where the boys tricked Pip into going down a dangerous slide at the playground (causing him to hit his head against the swing set pole), and then laughed at his injury. This scene is skipped in the actual episode.
    • Kyle was originally much meaner to Ike, kicking the baby around a third time after promising Ike he wouldn't, and saying that he couldn't believe he was so worried when he thought he was gone forever. Like the previous, this scene is nowhere to be seen in the aired cut.
    • In the original climax, Chef showed up with his car to help the boys, only to bail on them when the aliens arrive. In the aired version, this scene is changed to Chef trying to impress two ladies in his condo with the arrival of the visitors.
    • Originally, there were lines to imply Barbrady was a part of the government cover-up, while in the aired version, this was changed to him being blissfully unaware of what's going on.
    • While still quite the doormat, Cartman's mom later has a scene where she forgets about Cartman's absence during dinner. This scene is omitted in the aired edit, making it unclear whether she was worried for her son or not.
    • The aliens' goal in the unaired version was to eat the cows, which they're shown doing at the end, while in the actual episode the few who died were killed accidentally by a rookie member, and they only wanted to investigate and run tests on them. Later in the episode, they even gift the cattle with a hypnosis device as compensation and thanks.
  • Adapted Out: Cartman's father and sister from the original cut. In the aired version (and every subsequent episode), it would only be him and his mother.
  • 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.
  • Almost Kiss: Stan and Wendy both seem in the mood after the rescue of Ike is successful, although he ruins it by vomiting on her face. Luckily, she takes it well, and they later bond over the contents of his vomit.
  • Anal Probing: The main plot is this for Cartman.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Barbrady really wants to recapture the cows for the farmer. The problem is that he's a reckless moron who runs over a child in his pursuit of the cattle.
    • While the kids' goal is to rescue Ike from the visitors, none of them are exactly heroic.
      • Kyle repeatedly prioritizes not getting grounded over Ike's safety, and is quite abrasive and Hot-Blooded overall.
      • Stan and Kenny don't seem to care about Ike all that much, and only tag along as an excuse to get out of school. Furthermore, after Kenny gets killed, Stan abandons the mission to go on a date with Wendy, and only enlists again after Wendy herself volunteers to help.
      • Cartman is a lazy and selfish Nominal Hero who is in denial about the existence of aliens, and therefore, refuses to believe that Ike is kidnapped at all. The only reason he's useful to the mission at all is because he gets used as bait to lure the visitors to the boys.
      • Wendy is the most outwardly heroic of the group, and willingly puts her date with Stan aside to help rescue Ike. With that said, she suggests using Cartman as live bait to attract the aliens, and gets him abducted again as a result.
  • Asshole Victim: Cartman goes through an ugly Humiliation Conga at the aliens' hands in this episode, but considering how much of an ignorant and insufferable prick he was to everyone around him, it's hard to feel too bad for him. Stan and Kyle clearly have No Sympathy for his predicament, and Wendy has no reservations over using him as bait to lure the aliens to the boys.
  • Ass Shove: The episode culminates with a 50-foot satellite dish emerging from Cartman's ass.
  • Big Brother Bully: Kyle repeatedly kicks his brother despite the latter's protests, and later abandons him at the bus stop after getting fed up with him. This event triggers the plot of the episode when Ike is kidnapped by the visitors due to Kyle's negligence.
  • 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).
  • Big Brother Worship: Ike loves to emulate Kyle by following him to school, although he's clearly scared of his "kick the baby" hobby.
  • 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.
  • Broken Tears: In the original cut, Kyle starts crying when he thinks that his plan to lure the aliens to Cartman has failed, and that he's never going to see his little brother again.
  • Body Horror: At least three cows were accidentally mutilated by a rookie visitor, with one of them being shown onscreen, having been turned inside out!
    Barbrady: This is nothing out of the unusual. Cows turn themselves inside out all the time.
  • Book Ends: 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.
  • Children Are Innocent:
    • Downplayed with Stan. While he's still a mouthy brat towards Ms. Crabtree and he understands the concept of death (and anal probes) better than Cartman, he's the most na├»ve and innocent of the team; not knowing what a "dildo" or a "fuck" is, and not getting Kenny's sex joke aimed at Wendy, and being hesitant to kiss his crush.
    • To a lesser extent, Wendy, who despite being the most cutesy of the bunch, is more proactive than even Kyle. Despite this, she seems to have the cleanest mouth of the bunch, (at least in this episode) as she shrugs when asked what a "fuck" is.
    • Played straighter with Ike, who for most of the episode remains blissfully unaware of his predicament, In the original cut's ending, Stan even quotes how easily he bounced back from being kidnapped, showing no signs of distress or PTSD.
  • 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.
    • When Kyle tells Chef about his problems, Chef tries to cheer them up with one of his songs... that is explicitly targeted at grown women. After Stan shuts him up, Chef asks if Kyle is feeling any better after the song.
  • 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.
  • Death by Adaptation: Kind of with Kenny. He dies in both versions, and revives offscreen in both as well, but in the original ending he shows up again at the bus, while in the aired episode he stays dead until the next episode.
  • Desecrating the Dead: After Cartman refuses to acknowledge Kenny's death, Kyle rips the head out of the latter's body to prove that he's kicked the bucket.
  • Dirty Kid: 8-year old Kenny encourages Stan to go third-base on his crush Wendy. He's also the only one of the bunch who actually knows what a dildo is.
    Kenny: (muffled) It's a little plastic dick that goes in a vagina.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Kyle throws a rock at the visitors' UFO. They respond by firing a laser blast at them, which hits Kenny.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
    • The school bus driver, Ms. Crabtree, flings most of the kids she was driving onto the left side of her bus by making a hard right.
    • Also Barbrady, who runs over Kenny in his pursuit of the cows.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Several of the students seen in class would later become established characters, including Butters, Tolkien, Bebe, Clyde, DogPoo, Kevin, and Red. Jason White is also seen in the cafeteria, 6 seasons before his formal introduction.
  • 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).
    • 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.
    • 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's behavior towards Ike is much more abusive here.
    • While still shown as sweet, Liane has a moment showing she's willing to put her foot down against Eric if he gets to obnoxious and actually gets him to shut up and comply, much opposed to the Pushover Parent she'd be known as through most of the series. Even if Character Development in later seasons has her assertive side resurface, she is not as successful as she is here with truly reining him in.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference:
    • 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.
    • The longtime background character Brimmy appears in the cafeteria wearing red as opposed to his regular blue colored clothing.
    • While the boys' design is far more consistent with the rest of the series than it was in The Spirit of Christmas, they have a different mouth design for each letter they utter, many of which would be eventually discarded in favor of 10-ish mostly interchangeable mouth designs.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Though some characters (namely Stan and Kyle) would undergo Character Development in future seasons, this episode mostly establishes them all for the remainder of the first season.
    • Cartman's first line is "go home, you little dildo!", directed at Ike, and his insults get worse from there.
    • Kyle is established angrily snapping at Ike for following him to school, and then even more angrily defending him from Cartman's insults. Later, when he admits not knowing what a dildo is, he immediately defends himself by accusing Cartman of not knowing it either.
    • Stan is presented as completely impartial of the chaos around him, only wanting to win over a girl, and laughing along at Toilet Humour with the other boys, showing himself to be The Everyman of the group.
    • Kenny is introduced explaining in detail to his friends what a dildo is, showing his Dirty Kid personality.
    • Wendy is introduced flirting with Stan and getting vomited on in return.
    • Ike kickstarts the episode's plot by following his brother to school to emulate him. His Baby Talk is also quickly established, courtesy of being voiced by two-year-old children.
    • Mr. Garrison is introduced giving a blatantly untrue history class to his kids (which nobody listens to) while using his puppet as a mouthpiece.
    • Established as the only adult figure whom the boys actually respect, Chef is introduced driving up to the boys, giving them life advice, and then leaving.
    • Ms. Crabtree immediately responds to the boys' greeting by yelling at them, showing that she takes no crap from the kids she drives to school.
    • After being called to investigate some dead cattle, Barbrady ignores the UFO that was flying right past him, dismissing it as a pigeon.
  • 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.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Kyle might be a Big Brother Bully with a potty mouth, but he draws the line at Cartman calling his brother a "dildo" (even though he didn't know what a dildo even was).
    • Stan might enjoy taking advantage of his bus driver's hearing problem by repeatedly insulting her and then lying about what he said, but he's shocked at Kyle's rant at the aliens.
  • 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 by the 5th graders to eat all the hot tamales that Chef gave the boys.
  • Fat Idiot: Cartman spends most of the episode in complete denial about his experience with the aliens, insisting that it was all All Just a Dream and ignoring and dismissing any and all evidence as his friends pranking him. When the aliens kill Kenny, Cartman goes as far as to insist that he isn't dead, and doesn't even believe it when an 80-foot satellite dish starts sticking out of his ass. At the end of the episode, when he's released after being kidnapped again by the aliens, he quickly snaps back into denial.
  • 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!
  • Foreshadowing: The sentence "I'm not positive, but I think Cathy Lee Gifford is much older than she claims to be", can be seen on his classroom's chalkboard during class. This hints at Mr. Garrison's rivalry with her, which is the focus of the following episode's main plot.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: After some mild shock, the boys get over Kenny's death pretty quickly, and Kyle only shows mild annoyance when he sees rats feasting on his corpse.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: After spending the entire day searching for Ike, Stan, Kyle, and Wendy just look on as Cartman is abducted again by the aliens, ignoring his screams for help. When he gets released, they don't seem to care much that he was gone, or that he now has pinkeye.
  • Friend to All Children: Chef shows worry for Cartman when the kids tell him he's under alien control, and later gets the boys out of school so they can go save Ike.
  • 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.
  • Good All Along: Downplayed with the aliens. While they were genuinely trying to make peace with the cows, they clearly had no respect for human beings, so they remain in hostile terms with the boys.
  • Happy Ending: Kyle rescues his little brother, Stan starts his relationship with Wendy, and the cows part in good terms with the aliens and manage to evade Barbrady. Downplayed with Cartman, since although he got his anal probe removed and was released just in time for school, he now has pinkeye.
  • Here We Go Again!: At the end of the episode, Cartman is abducted, tested on, and released by the aliens, just as he was in the flashback sequence before the events of the episode.
  • Hey, You!: Wendy refers to Cartman as "the fat kid".
  • 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!
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Cartman insists that there's no such thing as aliens, about two seconds before several alien spaceships descend from the sky. ("Oh, goddammit!").
  • Intercourse with You: Chef's "I'm Gonna Make Love To You, Woman" song meant to cheer up the kids is predictably about this. It can also be heard in the background when Stan and Wendy are bonding over the contents of his vomit, though it's clear the couple didn't do nothing of the sort.
  • Irony: Cartman's Catchphrase Insult in the episode is "Dildo". Guess what he has stuck in his ass for the entire episode. note 
  • Jerkass:
    • Cartman starts off his journey to become one of Western Animation's most iconic examples of this trope by calling Kyle's baby brother a "dildo". He only gets worse from there.
    • Ms. Crabtree is always yelling at the kids with little to no prompting, and forces Kyle to sit down by throwing a hissy fit.
    • On top of being an aloof Apathetic Teacher, Mr. Garrison childishly mocks Kyle through his puppet when the latter asks to be excused from class.
    • From the unaired cut, there's the fifth graders, who force Cartman to eat his and his friends' tamales for the fun of it, and then attempt to beat the boys before being scared off by Cartman flaming fart.
    • In the same cut, the boys themselves were essentially lower-scale bullies. Their bullying and tormenting of Pip for being annoying goes far beyond their usual teasing, and is as terrible as Cartman's treatment of Butters in later seasons. These scenes are omitted in the final cut, but one of them is reused in a later episode.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • As selfish and abrasive as he can be, Kyle's touching speech to the visitors while asking them to give him Ike back shows that, deep down, he does care about his little brother. He also defends him from Cartman's insults early in the episode.
    • Stan might prioritize scoring a date over Ike's safety, but after some prompting, he accompanies the others at the end to confront the visitors and help rescue Ike, and later sincerely thanks Wendy for helping with the adventure.
  • 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." This scene is omitted in the aired cut, making him a Jerk with a Heart of Gold instead.
  • Karma Houdini: While Ike is rescued and Cartman is later released, the visitors are Easily Forgiven by the cows, and they don't receive any punishment for killing Kenny and kidnapping Cartman and Ike, or for inserting the titular probe in the former's rectum.
  • Kick the Dog: Or "Kick the Baby", but still applies.
  • Kids Are Cruel: In the unaired cut, the boys (especially Cartman) made a habit out of tormenting their classmate Pip. In the actual episode, the only boys shown to actively bully others are Kyle (with his brother) and Cartman (with everyone he encounters).
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Unlike Kenny, Cartman uses dirty words without knowing what they even mean.
  • Lack of Empathy:
    • The aliens ignore Kyle's pleas of wanting his brother back (if they could understand him, that is).
    • Cartman, Stan and Kenny don't seem to care much about Ike, only tagging along to get out of school. Stan and Cartman also ditch the mission after Kenny's death. (In Stan's case it's to go on a date with Wendy, while in Cartman's case it's to go home and have dinner). Kyle doesn't fare much better, only seeming to care about getting in trouble instead of Ike's well-being.
  • Mind Control: The anal probe Cartman has apparently also enables the aliens to force him to sing "I Love to Singa". Later they give the cows a device that allows them to do this as well as a parting gift, which they promptly use on officer Barbrady.
  • Mistook the Dominant Lifeform: The aliens consider cows to be the most intelligent species on Earth.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Pip from the original cut. He even shows sympathy for Cartman's situation despite the guy being a complete prick to him.
    • Wendy takes Stan's "quirk" in stride, and is arguably the one most worried for Ike's safety, despite likely being a stranger to him.
  • No Sympathy: When Kyle is worried about getting in trouble, Stan responds by farting.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: When Cartman sees Crop Circles that resemble his face, he assumes they look like Tom Selleck.
  • Parental Neglect: In the original version, a scene with Cartman's family (which are all Adapted Out save for his mother and his cat) shows them having dinner without him, his mother having completely forgotten about him.
  • Pet the Dog: After abducting him a second time and removing the damaged anal probe, the aliens release Cartman and drop him off at the bus stop just in time for school.
  • Poking Dead Things with a Stick: Stan pokes Kenny's corpse with a stick to prove to Cartman that Kenny's really dead.
  • Puppy Love: Stan and Wendy. He goes gaga for her when he sees her, and she playfully flirts with him when they're in the mood.
  • Rage Breaking Point: 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.
    • Before that, Cartman becomes completely fed up with Stan and Kyle's continuing on with their "joke".
    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! It's completely immature!
  • Rasputinian Death: Kenny was blasted by the Visitors' UFO. Stan and Kyle assumes this killed him, but he gets back up, only to be trampled by a herd of cows. He also survives this, but is then ran over by Officer Barbrady, which finally kills him.
  • 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!
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: At the end of the episode, Cartman is abducted and experimented on again by the aliens, only this time he now has pinkeye instead of an anal probe.
  • Shipper on Deck: Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny all encourage Stan to make a move on Wendy. However, Kyle stops being so enthusiastic when it becomes a detriment to his plan to rescue Ike.
    Kyle: Maybe you can kiss her!
    Cartman: Or slip her the tongue.
    Kenny: (muffled) Or you can play with her pussy first, then kiss her.
    Stan: What? How do you know she has a cat?
  • 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.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The original ending had the runaway cows being feasted on by the aliens. In the aired cut, they make friends with them and later manage to evade Barbrady by hypnotising him with the visitors' device.
  • Sustained Misunderstanding: After Kenny dies and Cartman continues to disbelieve in the aliens existing. At this point, however, it's clear he's just delusional.
    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". Ike promptly makes a nose-dive into the snow.
  • 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.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kyle gives a brutal one towards the aliens after his "I learned something today" speech fails.
    Kyle: "Hey, you scrawny-eyed sh*ts, what the f*ck is wrong with you?! You must be some kind of f*cking a**hole to be able to ignore a crying child! You know what you f*ckers like! You like to f*ck! And sh*t! And f*ck! And f*ck! And f*ck!"
  • With Friends Like These...:
    • When Ike is kidnapped, neither Stan, Cartman, or Kenny seem to give a rat's ass. Stan becomes more helpful by the end, but even then, he's still mostly apathetic to the whole situation.
    • Kyle and Stan put Cartman in danger by using him as bait to lure the aliens to them. When the plan ends with him being abducted again, they couldn't care less, since Kyle has Ike back and Stan has scored with Wendy.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The aliens essentially rape Cartman with a probe before the events of the episode, and later they try to kill Kenny with a blast from their UFO.


I Love to Singa

Cartman is controlled by aliens into performing the titular 1930s song.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (26 votes)

Example of:

Main / MindControl

Media sources: