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Recap / South Park S 5 E 13 Kenny Dies

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Original air date: 12/5/2001

Kenny's Running Gag is Played for Drama when he's put in the hospital for a terminal disease that may kill him. Cartman is determined to get the government to remove the ban on stem cells to save his friend's life.


"Kenny Dies" contains examples of:

  • Anti-Humor: The fact that Kenny is going to die is not played for laughs. The creators have gone on record to say that they "wanted to see how long they could go without telling a single joke."
  • Break the Cutie: Happens to Stan at the end when he realizes it's too late to see Kenny, since the latter is already gone.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Early in the episode, when Cartman is told how stem cells could be used to replicate any adjacent cell in the body, he wonders aloud if he could replicate his own Shakey's Pizza that way. The episode ends with him indeed creating his own Shakey's using stem cells.
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  • Children Are Tender-Hearted: When Kenny is terminally ill, all his friends show varying degrees of concern for him, especially Stan, who can't bring himself to visit Kenny because he can't stand to see Kenny in such a state. Cartman, however, ends up zigzagging this; he weeps over the possibility that Kenny may be Killed Off for Real and initially uses aborted stem cells to save him, but he ends up using the stem cells to build a second Shakey's.
  • Death of a Child: Kenny dies from muscular dystrophy. Unlike his other deaths, this one is played straight.
  • Downer Ending: Kenny dies for real (until the end of Season 6, when he returns) and Stan was unable to see him before he died.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Kenny dies. Simple as that.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Inverted when Kenny tells the doctor he doesn't want to take his jacket off despite it being pretty warm.
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  • Foreshadowing: Cartman asked about stem cells possibly clone a restaurant (Shakey's Pizza Place), while claiming to use them to save Kenny's life. At the end of the episode, he clones Shakey's Pizza Place using the aborted fetuses that he had found.
  • God Is Evil: Chef explains to Stan that God takes those closest to us because it makes him feel better about himself, and that tears are what give him his great power.
  • Hope Spot: Stan finally works up the courage to see Kenny, goes into the hospital exuberantly, proudly holding a gift in his hand. Patients and doctors everywhere congratulate him on getting over his funk. Then he enters the room and... sees the bed is empty, is told that Kenny passed on, and that his final words were "Where's Stan?"
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Kenny is first shown coughing a bit, and it is noted that he's had the cough for a while. The titular death is the result of "a muscular disease."
  • Internal Deconstruction: This episode serves as such in regards to Kenny's deaths. Normally, Kenny gets killed in a very over-the-top fashion, with his friends reacting with mild shock at best and utter apathy at worst, and he returns the next day no worse for the wear. This time, however, Kenny dies from a realistic circumstance, his friends (including Cartman) are completely devastated by it, and his death sticks up until the Season 6 finale.
  • Kick the Dog: Cartman decides to use the stem cells to create a duplicate restaurant for himself rather than using them to save Kenny.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The episode starts like a normal episode before the boys are called to the principal's office.
    • The episode is rather sad throughout, but it returns to funny when Cartman reveals he actually used the stem cells he collected to make a replicate of Shakey's Pizza and then gets attacked by Kyle for it.
      Stan: (feeling much better) Hey, I wasn't Kenny's worst f-f-friend. Cartman was!
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Stan can't bear to see Kenny in the hospital, and by the time he is ready to see him, Kenny is gone.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Kyle gives one to Cartman at the end.
  • Running Gagged: This was the last time that Kenny was killed off Once per Episode since the series began. He would occasionally be killed after his return, but his deaths were limited to once or twice per season.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Cartman denies that he was crying and says there is something in the air.
  • Saw It in a Movie Once: Cartman knows that stem cells could cure disease because he saw it on 3-2-1 Contact.
  • Shout-Out: The beginning of the episode features a brief nod to The Benny Hill Show.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: The last time it's used as a Running Gag, except it wasn't treated like one.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode: While the comedy is still there in some instances, this is the first episode where the tone is mostly dead serious. While Kenny's deaths were always Played for Laughs in previous episodes, this death is played completely straight and Kenny gets Killed Off for Real, at least until the end of Season 6.
    Stan: Did [Kenny] say anything before he went?
    Kyle: He just said, "Where's Stan?"
  • Waxing Lyrical: Cartman appears before Congress, and after making his speech, says "I'm not the best speaker in the world. Maybe I can put it best in the words of a timeless song." He then proceeds to lead them by singing Asia's "The Heat of the Moment."
  • Wham Episode: Right there in the title, and Kenny's final use of his Running Gag wasn't Played for Laughs. It was Played for Drama.
    Stan: No! This can't happen! Kenny can't die! Kenny can't die!!
  • Wham Line: When the boys are sent to the principal's office, Mr. Mackey has this to say in regards to Kenny:
    Mr. Mackey: Boys, your little friend Kenny went to the hospital last night, m'kay. And, well, he's pretty sick.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: With the help of Chef, Stan finally musters the courage to meet with Kenny... only to find his hospital room empty.
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