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  • Abandon Shipping: The great majority of Heiman (Cartman/Heidi) shippers abandoned the ship because of how poorly he treated her in Season 21. Most people who still ship them will usually resort to Fanon Discontinuity and stick to their Season 20 dynamic.
  • Adorkable:
    • Butters, a hopelessly naive and innocent Kiddie Kid, who is sweet and gullible to a fault.
    • Jimmy Valmer. He's a sweet kid who enjoys telling jokes even in the face of his stuttering.
    • Kyle. He's fairly book-smart, and very passionate about his ideals, but sometimes sees moments of anxiety and awkwardness, such as when he tries to apologize to the girls in "Doubling Down" and keeps stumbling over his words. Throw in a childlike nasal voice and you can see why fans find him adorable.
    • Scott Malkinson. His lisp and general dorky nature secures him as absolutely precious. He's also considered a woobie for being mocked about his diabetes and arguably even more of an outcast than Butters.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Much like with Beavis and Butt-Head, which Matt and Trey have both cited as being a huge influence, there are many fans who say that the show is actually in favor for what Moral Guardians think by showing that the youth of America can only turn out poorly if they have absolutely no positive influence from the adults raising them. Around Season 4, Matt and Trey explicitly stated that the overall message of the show is that humans are "born fucked up" and it's society's responsibility to just barely keep you in check, which coincidentally was around the time the boys started to mature and gain more clarity, effectively starting their journey of becoming more kind-hearted, all-American pre-teens who are Wise Beyond Their Years, with a firm grip on practical and economic knowledge to match, even if they're still in the process of growing beside and understanding it for the sake of defying their guardians' low expectations (particularly Stan). Which all rings hollow for someone like Cartman, who, you know, doesn't have a dad. Or a positive influence in his on-again off-again mom.
  • Alternate Self Shipping: There are fans who ship Eric Cartman with himself. This does have canon evidence, not just because Cartman is a narcissist, but because "Tweek x Craig" has sufficient Ship Tease with his imaginary friend Cupid Cartman, who resembles a cherub version of himself, and ends with Cartman masturbating to the thought of Cupid Cartman having sex with him.
  • Americans Hate Tingle:
    • An odd example in that some South Park fans in France strongly dislike the original English version, due to the local dub largely being considered a Superlative Dubbing; they often point to Trey and Matt voicing most of the characters as a legitimate shortcoming of the original rather than a deliberate design choice. This got to the point that French fans vocally complained on English-speaking forums about South Park: The Stick of Truth not having a French dub, resulting in befuddlement and apathy from non-French fans responding to their posts. In short: English South Park in France is like Japanese Dragon Ball Z in America, with Trey and Matt as their equivalent to Masako Nozawa.note  This got more pronounced when South Park: The Fractured but Whole did release with a French dub, but one done with a completely different cast from Belgium.
    • Same story with the Russian voice-over, which became iconic for Russian fans of the show. While the MTV/Paramount Comedy had the voices done only by two people, one of them happens to be Evgeny Rybov, a legendary and extremely charismatic voice actor.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: After a horrendous test screening, nobody expected this show to be as successful as it'd become! And even after its initial success, Trey and Matt assumed that it would be canceled by the end of Season 2, which is why they handed the reins to other writers and made Baseketball during it.
  • Angel/Devil Shipping: As of Season 19, It's not uncommon for Kyle to be shipped with Leslie even after she was revealed to be a malevolent ad that uses economic warfare to make ads the dominant species instead of humans.
  • Arc Fatigue: While the Tegridy Farms arc wasn't too pervasive in Season 22, it was accused of this quickly once it became the main focus of Season 23, with people becoming sick of it by the third episode of the season. This goes hand-in-hand with Randy being a Base-Breaking Character. Even worse, despite having supposedly ended halfway through the season, they brought it back in the season finale with the implication the cycle was going to repeat but with Tegridy selling cocaine instead. The weed plot continued into the Pandemic Special, and even people who generally liked the episode were annoyed that it was yet another episode about Randy's weed business.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Stan gets shot at school at the end of "Dead Kids" and doesn't address it in the next episode at all, except for wearing a cast on his arm. Granted, a big theme of this season was the townsfolk (except Sharon) being completely apathetic to the recurring school shootings.
  • Ass Pull:
    • Invoked and Played for Laughs with Stan's parents getting back together at the end of "Ass Burgers".
    • The Crab People on "South Park is Gay!", which becomes a discussed trope in a later episode.
    • Osama bin Laden getting shot in the face by a US Marine in "Osama Bin Laden has Farty Pants" He returns in "It's a Jersey Thing" and gets shot again, this time with even less context, as the US Marine comes completely out of the blue.
    • Saddam Hussein was in hell, then exiled to heaven after Satan got sick of dealing with him, where he's seen in one later episode. He then shows up suddenly as the prime minister of Canada. It stands to reason heaven got sick of him too, and where else was he gonna go, Detroit?
    • The mayor surviving her suicide attempt in "Die, Hippie, Die", with a measly bandage comically wrapped around her head as if it were no big deal. There was no way she could have put a bullet through her head and be healed in a couple of days.
    • Mr. Garrison getting rid of Mr. Hat after "The Death Camp of Tolerance" offscreen. The show revealed many times that Mr. Hat was a split personality of Mr. Garrison's, and it seems odd that a mental disorder like that was cured so easily. Granted, it was more about replacing him with Mr. Slave, but he doesn't return to Mr. Hat even after Slave has dumped him.
    • Kenny being a spawn of Cthulhu has been contradicted a few times. For starters, in "Cartman's Mom is Still a Dirty Slut", Kenny spawned from thin air at the beginning of the episode after he died in the previous one instead of literally being reborn from his mother. Another one is whenever Kenny's parents were surprised that he died when the "Coon and Friends" trilogy showed that they were aware Kenny kept dying and were more annoyed than distraught. The third is how the boys don't seem to remember when Kenny dies, even though there were moments where they did, like Cartman claiming he always dies in "Cartmanland". (For the last point, it should be noted that it was at a time when his deaths were treated as a normal occurrence in early seasons. Past Season 7 and of the Mysterion Arc, only Kenny and his parents are aware of them now; everyone else is mind-wiped when he resurrects.)
  • Badass Decay: For much of the series, Cartman was a Faux Affably Evil Manipulative Bastard who was able to play his friends like a fiddle, concoct elaborate schemes, and get away with it for the most part (even if there were times when he got what he deserved). Ever since the reveal at the end of the "Post COVID" two-parter that he will end up a lonely alcoholic hobo (which is heavily implied to be through his own fault), he hasn't had many victories, if any. He causes Liane to lose their home (damaging their relationship heavily) in Season 25, his scheme in the "Streaming Wars" two-parter backfires on himself, and he gets Out-Gambitted by Butters in Season 26, leaving him a blubbering wreck who technically got what he wanted after over a season...at the worst possible time.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Butters was probably the first example. He went from an Ensemble Dark Horse when he was a side character to becoming more disliked by a lot of fans due to his increased prominence and his perceived Flanderization. Nowadays, he's used less often, but more effectively.
    • Cartman. There are two types of fans: those who love him for his Crosses the Line Twice behavior (and occasional Evil Genius tendencies) and are responsible for turning him into the show's Breakout Character, and those who absolutely hate him for being a Jerkass who's disgusting, obnoxious and commits evil acts at least once per season. Basically, the split comes down to whether one believes his antics are still funny or if his actions starting in "Scott Tenorman Must Die" have rendered him beyond sympathy and likability. The creators seem to be aware of this and try to cater to both sides (there are entire episodes dedicated to making Cartman suffer for his actions such as when Wendy beats the crap out of him in "Breast Cancer Show Ever" and getting hit by lightning in "HUMANCENTiPAD").
      • In Season 20, Cartman began making an effort to improve himself and get past his bigotry (although he was still doing it in an insensitive way at times), even taking a level up in kindness when he starts dating Heidi Turner. Some embraced the change and praised it as an interesting new direction to take the character, while others hated it due wanting the old jerk Cartman back, and then there were those that believed Cartman was lying about his self-improvement and was planning an elaborate revenge against everyone who wronged him. In the end, the base was broken further because it turned out his attempt at redemption was indeed sincere and he had no plans for revenge... but he ended up suffering a perhaps inevitable relapse into Jerkassness, and is passive-aggressively hiding it from his girlfriend.
      • Season 21 furthered the divide even more. Some fans enjoyed the fact that Cartman's returned back to his old Laughably Evil Jerkass self, while others found Cartman's emotional abuse of Heidi (an issue that hit close to home for some) too reprehensible to find anything funny about his backslide into his old ways, especially when it causes her to take a level in jerkass and essentially become his Distaff Counterpart.
    • Randy Marsh. Fans either love his wacky antics or see him as everything wrong with the later episodes. A third camp thinks he's funny, but only when he plays a small role in an episode. The later episodes making him a Creator's Pet (as Parker and Stone began to project onto him more than the kids) to the point that he's the star of Season 23 only makes this divide more aggressive, especially with him taking a level in Jerkass, though this is somewhat mitigated by him being a Karmic Butt-Monkey whom everyone hates for most of his screentime. Episodes like "Season Finale", "South Park: The Pandemic Special", and most significantly South Park: The Streaming Wars Part 2 all hint at the show being aware of this divide, only to double down and continue the Tegridy Farms plot regardless, almost as a Take That, Audience!, which is either seen as hilarious, tiresome, or insulting depending on your stance. However, Randy's screentime has slowly but surely diminished since then, allowing the seasons to be more diverse regarding their protagonists.
    • Wendy. While some fans are fond of her and think of her as the voice of reason among the child characters and one of the least cruel kids in comparison to her friends, there are still others who peg her as an obnoxious Soapbox Sadie who cares more about gratification than the causes she claims to advocate. It especially got bad with "The Hobbit", with the fans split between agreeing with Wendy's anti-Photoshopping stance or hating her for the abrasive way she went about it. Much of this also hinges on whether people blame her or Stan for their Relationship Revolving Door.
    • Mr. Garrison. On the one hand, he's one of the oldest adult characters and is very often quoted for his Crosses the Line Twice attitude. On the other hand, many fans feel that the writers seemed to be heaping more and more unlikable traits onto him to the point of giving Cartman a run for his money. The writers using Ms. Garrison as a parody of transgender women, and then retconning Garrison to be a lesbian instead of a gay man (before just having Garrison revert to being a gay man), only furthered the divide over whether Garrison's outrageous nature was funny or just uncomfortable. And then they had him acting as a stand-in for Donald Trump from Season 19 to "The Vaccination Special," which caused a further divide between those who enjoyed his exaggerated performance as president and those who thought the Trump parody was unoriginal and detracting from Garrison's funnier qualities.
    • No one is really sure what to make of PC Principal. Many fans like him for being funny, while others hate him for being annoying and viscous. Many anti-SJW types Love to Hate him since he mocks everything their opponents stand for as part of an Intended Audience Reaction. Pro-SJW types obviously view him as a poorly thought out strawman. But with the end of the season, people are even more confused since PC Principal turned out to be Good All Along and quite badass with a tolerable speech to boot. Now anti-SJW types are conflicted about him and pro-SJW types have slightly upped their response to him, but only slightly. Those not involved in the drama simply found his actions in the end to be a fun change of pace. That said, the more downplayed roles he's gained since Season 20 has some people split about him for different reasons. While some think him becoming downplayed has made him more tolerable, others believe his limited roles have made keeping him around pointless as he seems less interested in pushing his SJW ideology on others even in moments where it could've been useful (like investigating Skankhunt's trolling). Those in the latter group also believe that the show has so far done nothing with PC Principal that couldn't have been done with Principal Victoria in the same role. His subplot with Strong Woman starting in late Season 21, however, seems to have been warmly received by most, since it gives him something to do outside of straight-up SJW jokes.
    • Towelie begins as a a parody of the Remember the New Guy? trope with his stoner antics hilarious at the start, but his later appearances are losing its high No Pun Intended thanks to his antics still being the same with little changes.
    • As the moral center of the show, Kyle tends to attract discourse even among those who like his character. He's either seen as a sympathetic character who genuinely cares about others and has good reason to fight against Cartman, or he's a stuck-up know-it-all who's not really much better than Cartman. The show has put him in both of these positions in the past, but fandom tends to lean one way or the other, either constantly defending Kyle or criticizing him. Some also blame him for stealing screentime away from Stan, while some others are happy to see him focused on more often.
    • After getting more screentime, Heidi started off as an Ensemble Dark Horse but as the show progressed, she underwent Character Perception Evolution. Some fans liked how the show turned her into an Ascended Extra and felt bad for the way Cartman treated her while others hated how the show demoted her to a bland Satellite Love Interest whose defining trait is being in an abusive relationship with Cartman.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Trey and Matt's live-action cameo in "Free Hat". Context won't help much.
    • The opening scene of "Spookyfish", where a scary alien touches down on South Park, and ends up getting squished by the school bus because it's very tiny.
    • The "Circle of Poo" musical number in "A Very Crappy Christmas". The only reference to it afterward is Mr. Hankey basically admitting to Cornwallace that it was pointless.
    • The ending of "Butterballs", while set up by a recurring line earlier in the episode, still makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in relation to the episode's plot.
    • In "Weight Gain 4000" Clyde and Mr. Garrison get into a conversation discussing whether he's playing an Indian or pioneer that feels intentionally dragged out and serves no purpose in the plot.
    • Jesus' appearance in "Butterballs", where he copies the bathroom scene from said episode that has been repeating over and over again. He comes out of nowhere and leaves as if he was never apart of the episode.
    • "Skank Hunt"'s B-Plot about Scott Malkinson constantly going to Mr. Mackey about quitting Twitter hasn't been talked about for the rest of the season, nor was it resolved in the episode.
    • The scene where Cartman's head explodes in "Medicinal Fried Chicken".
    • Cartman mentions at in the beginning of "Buddha Box" that all the events in Season 22 seems to be connected to Black Panther (2018), though the plot of Cartman using the Buddha Box to combat "anxiety" completely takes over, leaving that connection with no resolution.
    • Santa's scene in "Bike Parade." It seems that he's going to save the town from a holiday without presents, but he leaves in a rage when he hears Mr. Hankey was kicked out of town for inappropriate tweets, and his appearance doesn't affect the plot at all.
    • Towelie's appearance in "Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants" served no purpose than for the "Towelie-ban" pun.
  • Better on DVD: The shows' DVD box sets are uncensored, thus making it better to watch the show with those than by tuning into broadcast TV or cable network Comedy Central.
  • Broken Base: Has its own page.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • All of AWESOM-O. Watching Cartman suffer for days, nearly starve to death, almost be killed by the government, and STILL lose and get embarrassed by Butters is a real treat. Especially since he intentionally did something similar to Butters in the Season 7 episode "Casa Bonita".
    • Wendy giving Cartman a merciless beatdown in "Breast Cancer Show Ever" is very satisfying to watch.
    • Given the abuse Stephen Stotch made his son Butters endure throughout the series, watching Butters punch him in the balls in "Grounded Vindaloop" was definitely satisfying.
    • PC Principal giving Cartman a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in Stunning and Brave is meant to be horrifying. And yet, considering that Cartman was threatening to frame him for raping Butters (although that wasn't the reason the beatdown happened) and that Cartman is... well Cartman, it can be pretty satisfying (especially since the last time something like this happened to Cartman was seven seasons ago). That being said, taking this standpoint doesn't make PC Principal any less of a bully for the rest of the episode.
    • Heidi breaking up with Cartman for good at the end of Season 21. Since Cartman has regressed back into a sociopathic Jerkass and was emotionally abusing Heidi, eventually turning her from a Nice Girl to his Distaff Counterpart, it was immensely satisfying to watch her finally leave Cartman and ignore all his suicide bluffs.
    • For fans who were hoping Cartman would permanently get karma for all the bad stuff he's done and were disappointed that he became a Karma Houdini in Post Covid will be very satisfied to see Cartman be reduced to a lonely and miserable homeless person at the end of The Return of Covid, making it clear that karma will catch up to Cartman, make him suffer for what he's done, and ensuring fans that this time his karma is indeed permanent.
    • As gross as it was, it was satisfying to watch Linda Stotch vomit and defecate uncontrollably in "Turd Burglars" after years of receiving no punishment for her end of abusing Butters.
    • After "Informative Murder Porn" depicted the cable company as overbearingly smug assholes who force their consumers to either pay for channels they don't want or be forced to watch lame free-to-air TV, "Basic Cable" shows them sweating over the fact that streaming services are outdoing them in every conceivable way.
  • Common Knowledge:
    • Despite the common understanding across the fandom, there's no evidence that Kenny is the result of a Teen Pregnancy or that there's even a significant age gap between his parents. "Chickenpox" gives evidence to the idea that Carol knew Stuart when they were both young, as she recalls his childhood friendship with Gerald. Nevertheless, the "fact" that Carol gave birth to Kenny when she was sixteen has cropped up on sites like the official South Park wiki and even Wikipedia.
    • Despite many people assuming Cartman murdered Scott's parents, he did not directly kill them. He tricked them into trespassing onto a farm, knowing the farmer would shoot them on sight, indirectly getting them killed.
    • While it's near-universally accepted as fanon that Ms. Choksondik choked to death on Mr. Mackey's penis during oral sex (and thus literally choked on dick), the show itself has never confirmed one way or the other exactly how she died.
    • Yes, Ike is voiced by Trey Parker's daughter Betty, but only in Seasons 20 and above. He has always been voiced by various young children since the beginning, with Betty just being the most recent one and the only one presented with a behind the scenes video.
    • Kyle, while responsible for it happening in the first place at a glance, did not nuke Canada. After Kyle runs through a harrowing Motive Rant to President Garrison where he inadvertently reveals that Heidi being turned into a female version of his Arch-Enemy is the real reason he's in such a frenzy, telling Garrison to see to it that the Canadians' toxic influence and whatever else they've done "needs to be erased from the Earth", Garrison is the one that nukes Canada, due to taking Kyle's words literally and being outright aroused by them. Granted, trying to explain all this to a fellow fan that's Locked Out of the Loop won't really help matters and the following episode has Kyle ambiguously state "that [he] caused a nuclear bomb to be dropped" without it ever being brought up again in the following seasons, so it's likely at least some of this belief is motivated by people just opting to skim through the end of "Super Hard PCness"note  to see what other people are taking about.
    • Kenny dying in every single episode. This was (mostly) true of the first few seasons when the show was at its height, but Trey and Matt got sick of the joke and even kept him dead for a whole season before reviving him. After that, his deaths became far less frequent, with some seasons only killing him off in one episode or even none at all.
    • Those who only know the show via Pop Culture Osmosis often portray the show as using the same short noseless character model for every character, with even adults depicting themselves in South Park style by using that model. However, the adults have always had taller designs with noses and slightly more diverse models, and even some child characters like Ike have a Non-Standard Character Design. Later episodes also have a much more detailed style for adult characters.
  • Creepy Cute:
    • The ginger kids all have eerie smiles and alabaster skin, but they take so much abuse before being drafted by Cartman into forming a hate group that you can't help but feel sorry for them.
    • Leslie Meyers, due to her being a Humanoid Abomination with an unnerving way of talking taking the form of a 4th grade girl.
  • Diagnosed by the Audience: Cartman is a sociopath who becomes violent and seeks nasty revenge over the pettiest of offenses, constantly insists that he's better than everyone else, desperately seeks attention, goes to disturbing lengths to prove others wrong or excuse his actions, acts like a victim of his own faults, commits appalling acts For the Evulz, is unrepentantly bigoted, and in general has an unhealthy propensity to disregard moral standards, all of which bordering on compulsion. Yet no one can quite pin down what exactly is wrong with him.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Cartman is this quite often with some groups of fans, particularly in some interpretations of the "Kyman" pairing. Because of his Freudian Excuse about his mother or feeling bad for him, he'll tend to be simplified into an innocent boy driven mad by Kyle's fat jokes and that really just wants to be loved. This tends to overlap with him growing up to be a slimmer, more conventionally attractive teenager. Of course, some also like Cartman precisely for his diabolical nature, and depict him as an attractive sociopathic type.
    • Mysterion tends to be pegged as an attractive anti-hero. Although at the same time he's also Kenny, who's known for his infamous perversion, crude attitude and his willingness to do anything for money or attention. At least in pre-Mysterion seasons.
    • For being a brief character that's otherwise only appeared in cameos, Damien can easily be watered and simplified down into a tragic bad boy and anti-hero, and has quite the fans willing to overlook that he hated Pip and actually turned his "friend" into fireworks just so he could be considered cool to the other kids note .
    • Reality is often celebrated for calling out the corrupt charity participants on their gluttony, dependence on safe spaces, and driving Butters to attempted suicide by forcing him to handle their social media comments. Although he is given solid points and the creators of the show do intend the participants to come off negatively, Reality was the one who gave Butters the final push to insanity by showing up in his room and threatening him.
    • Scott Tenorman. Yes, Cartman clearly took things way too far, but that doesn't change the fact that Scott is a cruel, sadistic bully who picks on kids half his age for the joy of seeing them miserable. He also could have avoided the Disproportionate Retribution by giving back the money he scammed Cartman for, but he burns it instead just so he can have an excuse to never give it back. None of this excuses what Cartman did, but to treat Scott as a Woobie or Hero is a bit much.
    • There's a tendency in fandom to woobify the characters' moms while vilifying the dads, even when the mothers are portrayed as just as dysfunctional as their husbands:
      • Carol McCormick (Kenny's mom) tends to be seen as less abusive than Stuart, or that she's just as much a victim as the children. But she's just as aggressive as Stuart (possibly even moreso in early seasons, since she gave Stuart a black eye) and willing to beat him up, and has the same addiction issues as him. She is more concerned with her family's wellbeing, but episodes like "Best Friends Forever" and "Mysterion Rises" show that she gets just as caught up in fighting as Stuart does at the expense of watching her children. The Common Knowledge that she underwent a Teen Pregnancy often creates the perception that Stuart groomed her as a child, but this isn't true and she's never depicted as a victim of his abuse, just in a mutually toxic relationship with him.
      • Linda Stotch (Butter's mom) is often depicted as the kinder of Butters' parents, since Butters is mostly terrified of his strict father. It's true that Linda is more demure, and Stephen cheating on her does make her slightly more sympathetic, but she's just as strict and judgmental towards Butters, was just as physically abusive towards him in "Jared Has Aides," and she's the one who tried to kill Butters after learning about her husband's infidelity.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: enough to have its own page.
  • Evil is Cool:
    • Eric Cartman showed he can be a horrifyingly competant Chessmaster in "Scott Tenorman Must Die". He executed a flawless Batman Gambit to punish Scott for humiliating him and not giving him back his money. Bonus points as up until the final moments, he looked like an Innefectual Smug Snake until he was proven to be a Not-So-Harmless Villain.
    • Wendy Testaburger is also capable of being this, "Tom's Rhinoplasty" being the most prominent example. Not only that but she's arguably the only person who is capable of outwitting Catman, and has beaten him to a bloody pulp at one point. As she said herself you don't want to fuck with Wendy Testabuger.
    • Lennart Bedrager. He's actually an American who rose to power in Denmark and created Troll Trace in order to troll the entire world. He knew that when people had the power to look up anyone's internet history, everyone would become paranoid and everyone would hate each other when they see what they did online. And why did he do it? Because it's fucking hilarious!
    • Leslie Meyers is a sentient ad and the Big Bad of Season 19, masterminding the plot to take over the titular town for her kind. Masquerading as a 4th grader in South Park Elementary, she introduces everyone to PC Principal having him force the residents to gentrify their town. This results in the price of living in South Park to increase, causing people who can't afford living there to move out while her kind discreetly takes over having done so with many other towns beforehand. After being captured by the newsmen and exposed as an ad by Jimmy Valmer, she persuades Jimmy into helping her escape, before beating him unconscious and ordering Nathan to kill him. She then frames PC Principal for all her crimes and manipulates Kyle Broflovski into convincing everyone to leave South Park to find PC Principal, while she obtains complete control of their town.
  • Fandom Heresy: Being openly offended by anything in the show, even if you enjoy the series as a whole. Fans will push the idea that South Park is an Equal-Opportunity Offender and belittle anybody who criticizes an episode as going "too far," claiming they shouldn't watch South Park at all.
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • "The Coon" implies that Professor Chaos and Mysterion have been rivals for as long as Mysterion has existed, but we don't see much of this beyond their Wimp Fight. Fanfic writers fill in the blanks for what Mysterion and Professor Chaos' other fights are like.
    • Also the subject of loads of fanfiction is Trent Boyett's release from prison in five years and his vow to get revenge against the boys (which he promised to make even more severe than what he would have done to them the first time).
  • Fanon: Has its own page.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • Because of how divisive some of the later seasons are, some fans like to watch the first six seasons and ignore everything after that. Other popular stopping points are seasons eight, twelve, fourteen, seventeen, and twenty-four.
    • Other fans go the opposite route and ignore the first six seasons due to its sheer amount of Early-Installment Weirdness, Stan and Kyle being much bigger jerkasses, Cartman being less evil and more bumbling, Kenny being more one-note, and Butters and Randy not being as prominent. It doesn't help that most of the season's supporting characters (such as Pip, Big Gay Al, Ms. Crabtree, the Mayor, Barbrady, and Jimbo and Ned) are quite contested in the fandom.
    • Though it still has its defenders, Season 20 gets this the most out of all seasons, due to changing the status quo in such a way that many felt negatively affected the next few seasons, such as the gender war (including Stan and Wendy breaking up and not interacting until Season 26), Garrison becoming the US president and not returning as a teacher until Season 24, and Cartman and Heidi's relationship that carried over to Season 21.
    • A lot of status quo-changing events get this treatment by some fans, such as Chef's death, Pip's death to a lesser extent, PC Principal replacing Victoria as the school principal, the Tegridy Farms arc, Mr. Garrison's president "phase" and especially his sex changes, and Cartman and Heidi's relationship.
  • Fandom Rivalry: The series has many rivals but here are its biggest ones:
    • Old school fans vs. Modern fans. Fans of the former seasons hate the later seasons for relying too much on story arcs to be funny while fans of the latter seasons hate the former seasons for being too Strictly Formula for its own good. Likewise, the focus shift from the four main boys to secondary characters tends to split fans on whether growing the character list was such a good idea.
    • The forever war between those who prefer South Park or Family Guy. Fans of the former hate the latter for being too mean-spirited, offensive, disgusting and not by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Fans of the latter hate South Park for relying too much on continuity to the point where it comes across as more Narm-y than funny and find that the show gets too much attention and praise to the point where people are willing to ignore its flaws. That being said, there is still a third party who likes both shows equally.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Stan/Kyle is incredibly prominent in fanwork, to the extent that those who know little about the series might assume they're canonly together. They're already very close to one another in the actual show, and they manage to complement one another nicely while being different enough to provide an interesting ship dynamic.
    • Hooooo boy, Craig/Tweek. They have interacted in the show only once or twice and now they are the second most shipped characters after Stan and Kyle, who are the protagonists, anyway. Talking about ensemble darkhorses, huh? This becomes Hilarious in Hindsight with the airing of "Tweek x Craig". It all began with Parker/Stone asking fans to actually give them Craig/Tweek fanart for the episode.
    • After The Stick Of Truth, quite a few fans started getting into the New Kid being shipped with Annie, seeing how he rescued her from bullies that tried to break her Justin Bieber doll as a good way to justify starting a relationship between them.
    • Given that Kyle briefly dated Heidi in "Doubling Down", many fans are hoping Kyle will get a long-term relationship with Heidi, and it's generally more popular than the canonically-unhealthy Heidi/Cartman.
    • The canon Stan/Wendy has its fans, but Stan tends to be shipped more with Kyle on sites like Tumblr and Archive Of Our Own. Some fans compromise and ship Kyle/Stan/Wendy.
    • It's more popular to ship Kyle and Cartman with each other than with any of the people they crushed on in canon. It doesn't hurt that they've been Mistaken for Gay in episodes like "Tonsil Trouble."
    • Butters/Kenny is quite popular despite having only one episode with any significant interactions between them, whereas the canon Kenny/Kelly, Kenny/Tammy, and Butters/Charlotte are rarely mentioned.
    • Butters has been shown in canon to have crushes on both Wendy and Red (notably in "Sarcastaball"), but oddly enough he tends to be paired more often in fan works with Bebe despite almost every interaction between them being negative. Some see it as a big case of Opposites Attract with the potential of Slap-Slap-Kiss, with the events of "The Worldwide Privacy Tour" adding even more fuel for the latter. Meanwhile, his only actual canon girlfriend Charlotte tends to be ignored almost entirely both by fans and the actual show (who has never been seen again since she broke up with him in Season 20), and it's notable that he seems to be the only boy who didn't get back together with his girlfriend after the gender war was finally over.
    • Among the Japanese fanbase, Cartman/Kenny is by far the most popular ship, mainly due to them being the two most vulgar members of the main four boys who are treated as Black Sheep. Them also being the Coon and Mysterion respectively evokes a lot of Foe Yay Shipping amongst Japanese fans.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With Happy Tree Friends fans, unsurprisingly, considering that the latter show has just as much Black Comedy that Crosses the Line Twice just as much as South Park does. Not to mention some fans find Fliqpy to be similar to Cartman, for obvious reasons.

    G-R 
  • Genius Bonus: The leader of the antisemitic sect of Judaism in "Jewbilee" worships Haman aka the Big Bad of Book of Esther who was an infamous anti-Semite himself.
    • Ike's birth name, Peter Gintz, references the real-life patrilineally Jewish Petr Ginz, who was the editor-in-chief of Vedem while stationed in the Terezín concentration camp, an amateur literary magazine much like the plot of today's Shy, note  chronicling American novels and Petr's own drawings of famous dignitaries and astronauts, in addition to him already having written several novels since the age of 8. As you can probably tell, he himself was a Child Prodigy (and, unfortunately, only a short-lived Teen Genius gassed to death at age 16).
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • The German-speaking fandom is the second largest after the English-speaking fandom. It has become so popular that the channel it airs on has started to show the newest episode ten days after their US debut in English with subtitles not only giving German viewers the chance to see it earlier (until it has been properly dubbed) but also get a chance to hear the original voices and untranslated jokes.
    • The Japanese fanbase is not as big as it was around Season 7, but it's still loyal and responsible for some of the anime-style fanart. Japanese South Park fans also tend to love Happy Tree Friends. The Japanese fandom was alluded to in "Tweek x Craig" with Japanese girls (and some other Asian girls mistaken as Japanese) drawing yaoi fanart of the titular pair.
    • The show is also quite popular in France. Popular enough that when the video game got released without a French dub, there was a furious backlash, especially given how popular the French dub is. (Also the fact that many French fans prefer to listen to a French-dubbed work, read up more on the Americans Hate Tingle page.)
    • It is also very popular in Latin America and Spain, mainly thanks to their respective Superlative Dubbings.
    • The show is also very popular in the former Soviet countries. First three seasons and movie were dubbed and translated by only one man, Dmitry Puchkov. Also, in the late '90s to late 2000s Russian censorship didn't affect the show.
  • Gotta Ship 'Em All: The kids get paired with a lot of other kids, slash, femslash or straight. The four main kids get paired with about everyone, Wendy and Bebe get to be paired with about everyone. Even Red and the other girls get their fair share of being paired. Harsher in Hindsight when it's revealed how many of the children were couples before the girls initiated a school-wide break up.
  • Growing the Beard: Trey Parker and Matt Stone consider Season 4 to be the point where this happened, and absolutely hate the entirety of Seasons 1-3 bar "Terrance and Phillip in: 'Not Without My Anus'". Ironically, Seasons 1-3 were the highest rated in the history of the show, while Season 4 was the lowest rated. Even still, the new shift toward Darker and Edgier social commentary and current events has seen the show through an unprecedented 22 seasons, with consistently high ratings for Comedy Central.
    • Some fans see Season 5's "Scott Tenorman Must Die" as the turning point due to the dark turn Cartman's character took and the veer towards even more edgy comedy.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • Big Gay Al was ousted from the Boy Scouts for being gay in "Cripple Fight", but didn't hold it against them and stated that they shouldn't be forced to accept him against their will. In 2015, the Scouts finally allowed gay people to be scout leaders.
    • It was announced in August 2021 that the real-life Casa Bonita was being purchased by Trey and Matt, nearly 18 years after the episode was aired, because the restaurant filed bankruptcy and Trey and Matt wanted to save the restaurant. Even better, workers were very well-paid and the quality of the food vastly improved under their management.
  • Hype Backlash:
    • The sheer amount of hype the series receives by its fanbase has resulted in some people turning against it, thinking that the series gets too much praise to the point where people are willing to ignore its flaws, deeming it as an average or okay show at best or a mediocre one at worst. Not to mention how some fans act whenever someone criticizes the show.
    • Some of the more popular ships such as Stan x Kyle and Tweek x Craig are slowly starting to get this due to their huge popularity among the fanbase.
    • Butters has proven to be so popular with the fanbase, that even his fans have admitted to thinking that the fandom gives him too much hype.
  • Iron Woobie: Butters. Despite having Abusive Parents and a sadistic grandmother, and being constantly humiliated by the boys (mainly Cartman), he never loses his good nature.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: Some fans say they liked the show better back in its early days when Moral Guardians condemned the show and concerned parents who had cable (or access to a VCR or a DVD player) banned it from their households. Now that it is Comedy Central's highest rated show and widely popular, some people don't like it anymore.
  • It's Short, So It Sucks!: From Season 25, each season has only 6 episodes and two specials airing later the same year. While the length of the season is still equal to 10 regular episodes (as has been the case since Season 17), having so few episodes in the main part of each season has left fans wishing that the seasons had more time to get off the ground before they ended.
  • It Was His Sled: Pretty much everyone, regardless of whether they have watched the episodes featuring him or not, knows that Mysterion's true identity is Kenny. Future episodes don't bother hiding this fact either.
  • Jerkass Woobie: You could make this case for almost every character in the show, especially when they are not normal woobies.
    • Scott Tenorman can count as such in particular. To start, after Cartman killed his parents and tricked him into eating them, one can't help but show sympathy for him. Even though he was a bully and became a psychotic villain afterwards as a result of this, he did care a lot about his parents.
    • Cartman does occasionally get subtle moments of sympathetic spotlight, usually under a Heel Realization of how lonely his monstrous behavior makes him. Every now and then the boys will do something cruel to him without his usual provocation as well. Naturally it comes off as somewhat petty compared to what he does in retaliation but still...
      • "The Death of Eric Cartman" is a good example of this. Everyone at school starts ignoring him to the point where believes he is dead and is now a ghost, all because he ate all the chicken breading off an order of KFC. Though that was more the straw that broke the camel's back.
      • More conventionally in "Jewpacabra" as Cartman does it all to himself, but getting chained up and left as bait does given him a rare sympathetic moment.
      • "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000" seems to imply that Cartman's behavior might have been caused by the other boys' bullying. With Cartman gone, they deem Clyde to be the new fat kid, and Clyde starts to gain Cartman-like attributes in response to their teasing.
      • Considering it was before his Moral Event Horizon, Cartman does deserve some sympathy in "Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut", where it's revealed Cartman is very insecure about not having a father and at one point feels completely heartbroken when he realizes that he might never know who his dad is. To top it all off, despite not doing anything too bad in the episode, he's humiliated on TV thanks to Stan and Kyle.
    • Shelley qualified twice: in "Cat Orgy" when her much older boyfriend dumped her for not putting out and she tearfully admitted to Cartman that no guys her age would date her because of her looks and in "Broadway Bro Down" when her (age-appropriate this time around) boyfriend died.
    • Ms. Crabtree. It's possible that she's suffering extreme trauma and that might be leading to her yelling and screaming.
    • Kyle counts too when he's not a regular woobie, considering that a lot of horrible things happen to him over the course of the series and he'll often do the wrong things for the right reasons.
    • Nathan. At least in "Handicar" where he seems to suffer far more abuse this time around while also acting far less cruel and evil than he did in his previous appearance. And it's learned that his parents are as bad to him as he is to others, maybe even worse.
    • In The Movie Satan, who was previously seen as a threat to the mortal world, is revealed to be this due to suffering constant abuse under Saddam Hussein. However, he becomes much less of a jerk from the movie onward.
    • Butters as of Season 20. True, he definitely Took a Level in Jerkass and his newfound hatred of women is hardly sympathetic, but when you consider the reason he became that way to begin with...
      Bill Clinton: What happened, son? Did a girl break your heart?
      Butters: (tearing up) ...No.
    • Stan is often this outside of being a regular Woobie (similar to Kyle), most notably in how he Took a Level in Cynic in recent seasons or how he tries to distance himself from Randy (often fruitlessly, being dragged back in to his antics for whatever reason), whom he's grown to actively hate.
    • Mr. Garrison becomes a retroactive on in "Eek A Penis" when it's revealed his decision to transition came when he was on painkillers and not thinking straight, meaning the doctor took advantage of someone who couldn't consent to the procedure which ruined his relationship with Mr. Slave.
  • The Inverse Law of Fandom Levity: This show is the Trope Codifier for the Animated Shock Comedy and has a crass, cynical, Equal-Opportunity Offender attitude; even its more serious moments are punctuated with edgy humor. It has a dedicated shipping-heavy fandom on sites like DeviantArt and Tumblr dedicated to depicting the characters in wholesome Slice of Life situations, heartfelt narratives taking the Black Comedy more seriously (often involving Hurt/Comfort Fic), and far more earnest depictions of LGBT people and minorities. The show itself even parodied Yaoi Fangirls in Season 19's "Tweek x Craig," with the titular boys being shocked at in-universe fangirls drawing out-of-character romantic and sexual art of them. Ironically, this kickstarts the two being an unironic Official Couple whose relationship is a bit more in-line with their fandom portrayals.
  • Jerks Are Worse Than Villains: Eric Cartman is a sociopathic Villain Protagonist with extremely vile sins including abuse to women (his treatment of Heidi) and mass murder. Nevertheless, he manages to be quite enjoyable primarily for being Laughably Evil and a consistently humiliating barrage of Laser-Guided Karma moments. That said, the most dislikable characters in the series are Butters' Abusive Parents, Stephen and Linda Stotch. They often ground Butters over such trivial matters and ignore him when he is in serious danger. They even went so far as to callously sell him to Paris Hilton for $250 million in the episode "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset". While Cartman's misdeeds are known to be hard to take personally due to them usually being very over-the-top, Stephen and Linda's overall treatment of Butters hits close to home for many people, especially with how they generally avoid punishment.
  • LGBT Fanbase: The show garnered up a decent-sized one in the mid-2000s as the amount of fanfiction began to increase, due to the Ho Yay moments between Stan/Kyle, Cartman/Kyle, Cartman/Butters, etc. It grew even more upon the introduction of Tumblr and Reddit. It officially reached its peak when the Season 19 episode "Tweek x Craig", an episode where Yaoi art of Tweek and Craig causes the two to act like they're in a relationship, aired in 2015. The main reason for the show's LGBT fanbase is due to the prominent focus on the male fourth graders; it's worth noting that due to the lack of prominent female child characters other than Wendy, Bebe, and Heidi, femslash is a rarity in the South Park fandom and thus gets outnumbered by the slash.
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • In "World War Zimmerman", Cartman shoots Token while invoking "Stand Your Ground". The next scene has him only injured in the arm.
    • The cliffhanger of "Dead Kids" has Sharon remarking in terror that Stan has been shot. While the situation did frighten the fanbase, it was clear that they wouldn't kill off one of the main characters of the show. Sure enough, he only wears a cast in the next episode and he never addresses being shot ever again.
  • Love to Hate: Eric Cartman. He's so utterly despicable, but remove him from the show, and suddenly it becomes a lot less funny.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page.
  • Memetic Psychopath: There's Eric Cartman, but since the Movie Sheila Broflovski has turned into this due to Never Live It Down. Since then (even when if she has tolerant moments) most people will still know her as an insane fanatic.
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: The show has a loyal fan-following among gay people despite having some unsavoury gay characters like Mr Garrison, Saddam Hussein and Butters' father, likely because they're balanced out by more positive depictions of gay men such as Big Gay Al, Satan, Mr. Slave (to an extent), and for younger fans especially, Tweek and Craig.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Like his spiritual forebear Archie Bunker, there is a Vocal Minority of Cartman's fanbase who completely miss the satire inherent in his racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic rants. You're supposed to laugh at Cartman, not with him.
    • Likewise, there are those who fail to recognize that the show employs stereotypes (racial, sexual, regional, national, religious, etc.) for the purpose of mocking them, rather than endorsing them. A lot of fans just find the stereotypes funny at face value.
    • The "Nice" Meme from "Miss Teacher Bangs A Boy." It was meant to mock society's Double Standard on statutory rape, but there are now guys who use it completely unironically.
    • In the Season 19 Episode "Where My Country Gone?", the song of the same name where Mr. Garrison rants about immigration in changing up South Park was taken seriously by far-right fans of the show who did not understand the blatant satire.
    • "Board Girls" was wholeheartedly embraced by transphobes, when it was meant to criticise possible leniencies that women's sports might have regarding contestants claiming to identify as women, as opposed to ripping on trans women themselves. This is likely the reason why "Heather" is based on Randy Savage, to exaggerate her masculinity to the point of ridiculousness. Not helping that many of these people don't distinguish "trans woman" from "man pretending to be a woman," and often already caricature trans women as aggressively masculine.
    • Some fans take Tweek as genuine ADHD representation due to a one-off line where his parents brush off his tics and anxiety as symptoms of ADHD. In context, Tweek's symptoms are because of his parents constantly giving him coffee, which is later revealed to be laced with meth. The point was to satirize how ignoring serious underlying problems with a child can lead to misdiagnosis, which was further emphasized in "Ass Burgers" (though more fans got the point from that episode that Stan did not actually have Asperger's Syndrome).
  • Moe:
    • Despite (or maybe because of) the vulgarity of the show, most of the children have a generally cute/adorable appearance to them. Of particular note include Kenny, Butters, Heidi, Ike, Karen, Pip, Tweek, Wendy, and even Leslie. Stan and Kyle have occasionally crossed into this trope as well.
    • The "anime" version of Princess Kenny is a direct parody of Moe stereotypes, particularly of magical girls. In-universe, all the Sony employees find her absolutely adorable.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • While Cartman was already a big jerk from the start, his exact moment of crossing the line is his Kansas City Shuffle against Scott Tenorman, after the latter discovers a familiar finger in his bowl of chili. He's done lots of evil things since, varying in their badness, but this was where it became clear that he was more than a Bratty Half-Pint and his selfishness posed an actual threat to others. Horrified, Kyle and Stan even acknowledge they should never piss him off again.note 
      Cartman: Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah, I made you eat your parents.
    • Randy's undeniably far past the line by the end of "Mexican Joker," when he brutally kills many people with explosives (specifically, he kills anyone growing marijuana in their gardens), because he wanted to have a monopoly on the local marijuana business. Unlike the other instances, Randy isn't reacting to a perceived threat nor is he simply acting as the metaphorical devil in the shoulder for someone else. He's directly murdering innocents for no reasons other than greed and spite. From this point on, he's treated like a borderline Villain Protagonist whose family turns against him, and he commits even more violent acts for his business, which eventually lands him in jail.
    • Leslie Meyers crosses it in "Truth And Advertising" when she gives Jimmy Valmer, a handicapped kid, a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown after emotionally manipulating him, thus revealing herself to be a bad guy and by extension the Big Bad of Season 19.
    • Skankhunt42 (real identity: Kyle's dad, Gerald) crossed it by cyberbullying every single woman he could find on social media, including a support group for breast cancer victims. This drives all the girls to take it out on the boys—who were just as outraged as they were—by permanently breaking up with them. And why he was being a cyberbully in the first place? He did it for fun! Even the other trolls (who at least have some Freudian Excuse to explain why they're lashing out at society through trolling) find him disgusting and feel he goes too far with his actions. And in "Members Only", any chance he could have had at redeeming himself is automatically destroyed when he frames Ike for all of his trolling.
    • Denmark's leader, Lennart Bedrager, crosses it when he reveals that he plans to cause World War III and allow the people of Denmark to die just because he thinks it'll be funny.
  • More Popular Replacement: Butters is more well-known and beloved than Pip, whose whole character comes off as little more than a lazy, dated English stereotype.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • Anytime Ike talks. His voice is just so cute.
    • Any time Kenny laughs. It's just so precious even though it's muffled. His sobbing is also genuinely tearjerking.
    • Chef's soul singing helped give the early seasons their own distinct identity back when the series was still finding its feet.
  • Narm Charm:
    • Mr. Adler reminiscing about his dead fiancee. The flashbacks are funny, but his pain sure isn't.
    • The child actor who voices Nelson in "Stanley's Cup" takes Black Comedy material and delivers it like it was being played straight, making every scene with him a Tear Jerker.
    • Most of the show's characters are voiced by either Parker or Stone, resulting in the auditory equivalent of Only Six Faces (i.e. a disproportionate amount of characters that sound just like Stan, Kyle, Randy, etc.). Some fans find this to be an integral part of the show's charm, and that it fits right in with the Stylistic Suck of the animation.
  • Nausea Fuel: Has its own page.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Wendy is not likely to ever live down having Ms. Ellen launched into the sun. On the one hand, this is partly justified as not only was it incredible cruel in its own right, but it was more evil than anything Cartman had done at that point or would do for awhile. On the other hand, Wendy has never done anything like this ever again and has since been shown to be one of the more moral South Park characters, to the point where she qualifies as a second Arch-Enemy to Cartman after Kyle and Tolkien. In any case, she is not the psycho killer the fans and fan fictions claim that she is.
      • On a lighter note, Wendy's also not likely to live down kissing Cartman. No matter how many episodes past since then, no matter how long she has been with Stan, and no matter how much Wendy and Cartman have been shown to hate each other since then, fans have continued to ship the two of them together because of it, even though the episode itself established that she only fell for Cartman due to circumstance.
    • Sheila Broflovski has mellowed out considerably over the years, becoming one of the saner, more rational parents in South Park. Yet most fans still see her as the villainous Knight Templar Parent she was in The Movie.
    • Kyle laughing at Cartman when he got AIDS. Fans (especially Kyle's haters) use this as an example of Kyle being a hypocritical Jerkass and immoral. While a bit ruthless, fans seem to forget that after all the horrible things Cartman has done to Kyle (refusing to give Kyle the kidney he desperately needs unless payed ten million dollars, poorly trying to kill Kyle, convincing the other children in school that Kyle was the one who did 9/11, getting a court order that Kyle has to suck his balls or be arrested, etc) and all the horrible things he's done to other people, Kyle has no real reason to or obligation to be nice to or feel bad for Cartman. Even in the episode, Cartman giving Kyle AIDS is way worse than what Kyle did.
    • While Kyle was partially responsible for Canada getting nuked, it was technically Mr. Garrison who actually performed the act. Kyle only gave Mr. Garrison the idea to do so, while acting irrationally, by accident when he took Kyle way to literally when he talked about erasing Canadian culture from the earth. Naturally, Kyle is horrified when he see what Mr. Garrison did based off what he said. When talking about this event, especially in reference to how evil South Park characters are, fans will often cut out the middle man and claim that Kyle nuked Canada himself. They also tend to ignore that the reason he started acting like that was because Heidi had started treating him just like how Cartman had always treated him after his attempts to help her, with the rest of the school (including Stan) joining in on her and Cartman's torment of him, refusing to give him a break, or console him, even it was clear he was going off the deep end.
    • Stan's alcoholism. It's only really present in "Ass Burgers," and despite the ending implying he still has a drinking problem, he doesn't drink or act drunk in any subsequent episodes until the "Post-COVID Special," which takes place forty years into a Bad Future and is eventually retconned. Yet fandom often depicts Stan as consistently alcoholic at any age for the sake of angst or comedy, sometimes even making him as self-indulgent about it as Randy. He's rarely shown as addicted to anything but alcohol, despite "Guitar Queer-O"note  and especially "Freemium Isn't Free"note  suggesting Stan has an addictive personality in general, not just when it comes to alcohol.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games:
    • The 2014 RPG, South Park: The Stick of Truth, was widely received as not only the best South Park game to date, but a decent game in its own right, though it's fairly short. The 2017 sequel South Park: The Fractured but Whole was also highly praised, and while some felt it wasn't as good as The Stick of Truth, it was still an incredible game in its own right.
    • 2009's South Park Let's Go! Tower Defense was also generally well received.
    • In contrast to the 1999 physical table, the two South Park tables featured in Zen Pinball are considered to be excellent.
  • No Yay:
    • "Mr. Jefferson" and Cartman develop a...very intimate relationship. Stan even has a nightmare about them almost making out!
    • Cartman's obsession with Kyle very often veers into sexual territory, most infamously his obsession with making Kyle suck his balls in the Imaginationland trilogy. Kyle wants nothing to do with this, of course, but that's part of the appeal for Cartman, given his sadistic tendencies. There's also the numerous times Cartman tries to get Kyle's face in his ass (usually to fart on him).
    • The way Cartman treats Butters has uncomfortable undertones of its own, since Cartman loves to manipulate and mistreat Butters for laughs when he's not just using him as a lackey. The standout is in "Cartman Sucks," where Cartman drugged Butters during a sleepover (and later tripped Butters into sucking Cartman's penis) so he could take a picture of himself sucking Butters' penis, which has major date rape subtext. Cartman also stole Butters' underwear prior to "Stunning and Brave."
  • Offending the Creator's Own: Some Jewish people take issue with Cartman's comments about Jews as making light of antisemitism, but co-creator Matt Stone, off whom Kyle is based, is ethnically Jewish (though he was raised agnostically) and has stated, on numerous occasions, that he doesn't identify with it.
  • Once Original, Now Common:
    • The first few episodes of the show were very controversial when they first aired, but look rather tame nowadays. Even the foul language is more heavily bleeped than it would need to be today.
    • South Park was largely responsible for a slew of "adult humour" imitators that relied chiefly on one-upping each other in sheer iconoclasm and Cringe Comedy, like the now-notorious Drawn Together. It's also very interesting to note how in the first seasons, South Park was compared poorly to The Simpsons as a less intelligent show, but nowadays The Simpsons is compared poorly to South Park for being less daring and up-to-date.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • Chef was fighting zombies with dual-wielded chainsaws over a decade before Zombieland.
    • Seasons 18 and 19 have received praise for their season-long story-arcs and tighter continuity. However, this wasn't the first time the show did that. Season 2 had a brief arc about Mr. Garrison replacing Mr. Hat with Mr. Twig, the first half of Season 4 had a subplot of Cartman trying to obtain ten million dollars and Mr. Garrison coming to terms with his sexuality, and Season 6 focused on the repercussions of Kenny's death from the season prior.
    • While children wrestling was something that people thought South Park made up, there actually was a wrestling federation for children.
    • Recent seasons have gone far and beyond to show why Cartman deserves his fate as a Future Loser to show his fate isn't Karmic Overkill. The show had already done this in "Death Of Eric Cartman" by reminding us all the lives Cartman destroyed and this is before he would go on to destroy even more lives ("Tsst", "TMI", "Bass To Mouth").
  • One-Scene Wonder: Patty Nelson from "Le Petit Tourette" is the only other girl besides Wendy and Heidi Turner who Cartman has ever shown attraction to.note  She only appeared in one brief scene, but she's got a good amount of fanart and the third most popular straight pairing involving Cartman after Cartman/Wendy and Cartman/Heidi.
  • Padding: Nearly every episode of the first season stops for a minute or so at a time to give Chef an extended musical number. While it falls under Rule of Cool at first thanks to Isaac Hayes' legendary singing chops, the songs feel increasingly crowbarred-in as the season goes on, and most fans didn't complain when subsequent seasons only gave Chef musical numbers in episodes where he was central to the plot.
  • Periphery Demographic:
    • The show is extremely popular with Yaoi Fangirls on FanFiction.Net and DeviantArt. Blame all the ambiguous (and obvious) Ho Yay and interesting character interactions.
    • Quite a few conservative Christians (despite initially being the group who hated South Park the most) have since become fans of the show, due to its unabashed liberal bashing. Even when it's taking a liberal position South Park is more likely than most shows to paint conservatives and traditionalists as misguided rather than outright villainous.
    • The show also has a small but dedicated Japanese audience because of how very bizarre and surreal the show frequently becomes.
    • The show is popular with the geekdom in general due to its willingness to venture outside the Geek Reference Pool, which is quite unlike many other sitcoms (animated or otherwise).
    • Despite the show being aimed at adults, many fans first watched the show when they were children, due to amusement with the Toilet Humor, the child characters being relatable and likely because their parents told them not to watch it.
  • Pop Culture Holiday: Official social media celebrates "South Park Day" on August 13, the anniversary of the first episode's airdate, and encourages fans to draw celebratory fanart and wear cosplay on that day.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: The trend is toward real words when you can make them: Style (Stan/Kyle), Creek (Craig/Tweek), Bunny (Butters/Kenny) and Candy (Cartman/Wendy) are some of the most popular. Of course this doesn't work for everything, so we also have Kyman (Kyle/Cartman), K2 (Kyle/Kenny), Crenny (Craig/Kenny) and many, many more.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games:
    • The Acclaim published video games based on the series — South Park, South Park: Chef's Love Shack, and South Park Rally — received a less-than-stellar reception upon release, with the experience of having little control in the game's direction and the generally poor representation of the show making Matt Stone and Trey Parker more protective of what they licensed the series out for.
    • The pinball machine, at least at first. See Vindicated by History below.
    • South Park: Tennorman's Revenge, a time travel themed platformer exclusive to Xbox Live, received a mediocre reception upon release.
  • Realism-Induced Horror:
    • "Butterballs" represents an accurate portrayal of bullying. While Grandma Stotch's treatment of Butters is unnerving enough (i.e. physically abusing him and threatening him if he doesn't keep quiet about it), the media that wants to exploit Butters' situation (including Stan, of all people) is not too uncommon either. This can bring Paranoia Fuel to those who experience bullying themselves.
    • Even those who could tolerate Cartman's selfish and bigoted acts of evil for being ridiculously over-the-top found his treatment of Heidi in Season 21 deeply upsetting due to how realistically the show depicted emotional abuse.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Tweek was regarded by some fans as one for Kenny and, to a lesser extent, Butters. A number of fans resent Sergeant Yates for usurping Officer Barbrady's role.
    • After "Stunning and Brave", where Principal Victoria got Put on a Bus, PC Principal has quickly earned this status, being viewed as a Hot-Blooded Knight Templar with little (if any) likability to him, as well as being a Karma Houdini. This softened over time, though, as he underwent Character Development.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • PC Principal won a lot of his detractors over as the season progressed and he became less of a Straw Character, but cemented his status as being rescued when he pulls a Heel–Face Turn in the Season 19 finale and kills Leslie. It continues in Season 20 where he's much more of a Reasonable Authority Figure and less of a Jerkass to the students. His relationship with Strong Woman from late Season 21 onward gave him a more complex storyline that made more of his hatedom warm up to him.
    • Stephen and Linda Stotch were widely-hated for grounding and in some cases beating up Butters for very flimsy reasons, even when Butters had absolutely no control over a situation, giving the impression that they were Child Haters who tortured Butters For the Evulz. In later seasons, both have become much more loving towards Butters, and only ground him when he actually deserves it, with the episode "Franchise Prequel" rescuing the former big time with his grounding of both Professor Chaos and Vladimir Putin being a major Catharsis Factor in the episode.
  • Rewatch Bonus: A lot of Kenny's scenes take on new meaning after he reveals the nature of his condition.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: In Season 20, Cartman gets a total personality change that leads him into a very mushy relationship with Heidi, which was a bit contentious since it relied on a season where Cartman wasn't much like Cartman at all (though it's far from the most contentious decision in Season 20). It was the only plotline (besides the Garrison/Trump arc) to carry over to Season 21, this time with the relationship taking a turn for the toxic. It was fairly interesting and dramatic for those invested in the characters, but not exactly for those invested in the comedy and sick of the reliance on continuity.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • While Craig's dad Thomas is not exactly a pleasant guy (and it's implied in one episode that he cheated on his wife), he does accept Craig's sexuality and treats him fairly amicably. This doesn't stop Tweek/Craig fanfiction from depicting him as an abusive homophobe for the sake of gayngst.
    • Kyle tends to be portrayed as more malicious than he actually is, usually in an effort to make him look just as bad as Cartman. His hatedom (and even some of his fandom) exaggerate his selfish traits while downplaying his strong moral compass, assuming he only cares about spiting Cartman or looking like a good person and not about actually helping others. His Big Brother Instinct towards Ike is often tossed aside in favor of his early-season depiction as a Big Brother Bully who kicks Ike around like a football, despite the only recent occurance of him kicking Ike being in South Park: The Stick of Truth as a special team attack that Ike actually enjoys.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Trent Boyett from "Pre-School". Despite being a ruthless jerk, the fact that the boys threw him under the bus after a game of "Firemen" went horribly wrong has many viewers rooting for him to get even with them.

    S-W 
  • Salvaged Story:
    • "Safe Space" was a highly risky episode, as it could easily be misread as condoning cyberbullying. Come Season 20 and the consequences of harassing undeserving targets are shown to be very real.
    • After years of environmental research made the climate change skepticism represented in "Manbearpig" look ignorant, Matt and Trey essentially admitted they were wrong with the Season 22 episode "Time to Get Cereal," which turns the titular metaphor for global warming from an Attention Whore's made-up conspiracy to a Cassandra Truth's real and dangerous prediction.
    • There's a sort of cycle with Randy: Fans complain that he's getting too much focus, Matt and Trey take notice and use him less, but then he slowly starts getting more attention until fans start to complain again, et cetera ad infinitum.
      • Season 23 as a whole is a good example. The season's first five episodes were focused entirely on Randy and Tegridy Farms. The next four episodes moves the focus away from Randy, and onto some of the minor characters, like the PC Babies and Sheila Broflovski. Then the tenth and final episode of the season revolves around Randy again.
  • The Scrappy: Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo—first appearing in Season 1's Christmas Episode—was originally intended to be an Ensemble Dark Horse Breakout Character à la Slimer (although... see Ghostbusters for how that turned out), and was heavily marketed and designed to be quite Merchandise-Driven. However, his shrill annoying voice, general lack of personality, and role as a pointless gross-out prop led to unpopularity with fans. He has been entirely phased out of later seasons—with Towelie largely taking up his former role, and specifically being designed to parody mascot characters—and he only appeared once in a "Hey, remember me?" kind of gag and is forced to leave South Park in "The Problem With A Poo".
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • Season 2, while not disliked by fans anywhere near as much as it is by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is still considered the weakest of the show's early seasons due to Trey and Matt's lesser involvement while they were working on Baseketball (and later South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut), resulting in it being unusually long (it remains as the show's longest season to date), many episodes being Whole Plot References to other works (including two being lifted wholesale from Star Trek: The Original Series alone), and a lot of the other episodes just being generally forgettable. It also faced severe backlash early on due to the episode "Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus", which was aired in place of the much-hyped follow-up to "Cartman's Mom Is a Dirty Slut" as April Fools' Day, leading to the actual follow-up "Cartman's Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut" airing earlier than slated.note  However, despite it being initially expected to lead the show to its cancellation, the season actually laid a fair bit of the groundwork for Bigger, Longer & Uncut and also gave rise to a lot of the show's best-remembered memes (Mr. Mackey's "Drugs are bad, m'kay?", the Chewbacca Defense, the entirety of the episodes "Chickenlover" note  and "Gnomes",note  etc.), which helps it in retrospect.
    • Season 20 fell into this when its unusually complex Story Arc was abruptly altered by real world events. Parker and Stone hadn't prepared for the possibility that Donald Trump, whom Mr. Garrison was serving as an Expy of, would be elected President of the United States over Hillary Clinton (who was being used straight up), so the final four episodes had to be substantially rewritten in a very short span of time—in the case of the post-Election Day episode within less than 24 hours or risk coming off as completely irrelevant. The results were that several significant characters, in particular the Member Berries, fell Out of Focus while most of the plot threads were not brought to satisfying conclusions. Furthermore, since the following seasons almost seemed to go out of their way to erase the impact of Season 20, its drastic character changes for some characters almost come across as a big Jerkass Ball for Gerald and Butters and an even bigger Kindness Ball for Cartman in retrospect, since they all barely amount to much in the large scheme of things (outside of Butters and Cartman's stories being foreshadowing of their portrayal as adults in Post-Covid).
    • After the success of the Season 22 episode "Tegridy Farms", Season 23 was the season where Randy officially stole the show away from everyone else, with every episode focused in some way around "Randy does something stupid to try and sell his weed." Many fans' opinion is that this disproportionate focus on Randy's antics ended up ultimately detracting from what were otherwise fine episodes like "Band in China" and "Let Them Eat Goo". When the arc finally ended at Episode 6, many fans were disappointed that Randy got away with everything Tegridy would later be brought back for the finale, which implied a venture into the cocaine business, though this was replaced with more weed humor in the hour-long special that premiered in Season 24's slot.
  • Self-Fanservice: Well, fanart usually portrays South Park characters rather differently. Possibly parodied in the show itself with "Princess Kenny", and definitely parodied in "Tweek x Craig".
  • Shallow Parody:
    • Parodied mercilessly in "Cartoon Wars", specifically as relating to how pop culture jokes and references are written on Family Guy by just slamming random words together in a scene. Ironically, the two-parter itself only depicts Family Guy as the Griffins sitting around their living room setting up unrelated cutaway gags and doing nothing else with the plot.
    • "W.T.F" attempts (emphasis on attempts) to satirize wrestling by saying it's all just soap opera theatrics. In it, the main characters start a wrestling federation and just recite lines, as if they were doing a play. The episode completely ignores the athleticism of wrestling, even ignoring the fact that a wrestling show has, you know, wrestling matches.
    • Played straight again in "Insheeption", which parodies Inception using College Humor as research instead of the film itself.
    • And yet again in "You're Getting Old", in which Stan and his friends watch the trailer for Jack and Jill. The actual trailer hadn't even came out yet at the time the episode aired, so all Matt and Trey had to go by were the title and the fact that Adam Sandler stars as both characters. The only thing that they predict is that the movie is a pile of shit.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Usually, Stan/Kyle fans fight against Cartman/Kyle and Stan/Wendy fans, who fight against Cartman/Wendy fans, who fight against Cartman/Heidi fans alongside Cartman/Kyle fans, and they also fight against Cartman/Butters fans, who fight against Kenny/Butters fans, who fight against... you get the drill.
  • Squick: Happens a lot.
    • Mr. Garrison's sex-change operation in "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina" is probably the most disgusting thing they've ever shown. Followed immediately by Garrison having anal sex with Richard Dawkins and motorboating Garrison's gross, deformed breasts on-screen.
    • Stan's grandfather having sex with an elderly ex-contortionist will give you nightmares.
    • In "Rainforest Schmainforest", a man is swallowed whole by a python and immediately crapped out.
    • Cartman smelling Butters' used underwear in "Stunning and Brave".
    • In "Wieners Out", we are graphically treated to Gerald and Sheila engaging in piss porn. With Ike and Kyle witnessing it. Poor boys need a ton of therapy after that.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • In "Sons A Witches", Cartman gets upset over Heidi's poor management skills. While nobody actually believes this should warrant a murder, viewers did share the former's annoyance over someone who has overwhelmingly poor time management.
    • While PC Principal is rather extreme with his methods, his heart's in the right place. The only person he ever assaulted for being Politically Incorrect was Cartman, and Cartman is an extreme bigot.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • The Member Berries get one in "Doubling Down" their only appearance in Season 21, where Mr. Garrison tells them to shut up.
    • Mr. Hankey gets one in "The Problem With a Poo" where he's made a pariah for his offensive behavior and is forced to leave South Park.
    • If you hate Randy for being a Creator's Pet, you can at least take comfort in the fact that he doesn't get Character Shilling, with many episodes showing that the other characters (and especially his family) hate him. "Season Finale" is the best example, with Stan and Shelley openly hoping that he gets sent to prison while Sharon can't quite mask her glee either.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • The "Fourth Grade Years" title sequence used for the second half of Season 4 and all of Season 5 had also been a similarly contentious change.
    • Fans were not happy when Terrance and Phillip were aged up in "Super Hard PCness" just for the sake of old-people jokes, especially in a series that uses Comic-Book Time where the main cast are still 10 years old.
    • Some longtime fans prefer the more anarchic, edgy humor of the early seasons, before the show became more focused on politics and topical humor.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Damien. Considering how many possible avenues the character could have traveled down (including ones with his father, and/or the other schoolchildren), his being written out after his only episode is something of a letdown.
    • Terrance. The antagonistic son of the town Mad Scientist, with his own Co-Dragons? Yes, please.
    • The Three Murderers from Season 10's "Hell on Earth 2006". Satan decides to host a massive Halloween party, and assigns Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy to pick up the life-sized Ferrari cake Satan has ordered. This goes completely awry because in addition to being, well, three murderers, they are also comically inept, and cannot stop infighting. Their subplot is often cited as one of the funniest bits of the episode, and they had a lot of potential to be recurring characters. While they end up killing one another by the end of the episode, they could've still come back since they were all dead to begin with and Satan has sent them back to earth. There was massive potential for some hilarious Three Stooges-style Black Comedy, but they never appeared again.
    • Mark and Rebecca, particularly the latter, from "Hooked On Monkey Fonics". Their nerdiness and naiveté as a result of being homeschooled provided some interesting contrast with the other kids, and while they end up attending normal school with the other kids at the end of the episode, Mark is relegated to a silent background character and Rebecca never appears again. This is especially frustrating as the latter's awkward tics, general strange behavior, and eventual exaggerated "slutty" persona let her stand out among other female students. It's possible Rebecca may not have appeared again simply out of respect, due to being one of the last new characters voiced by Mary Kay Bergman before her suicide.
    • Leslie Meyers. Despite being the Big Bad of Season 19, she doesn't get much prominence beyond being on a receiving end of a Running Gag during school assemblies, and even when she does get a major role during the last three episodes her personality isn't really fleshed out, and is basically treated as a Generic Doomsday Villain. Thus some fans were disappointed that PC Principal killed Leslie before she was given any character depth.
    • Darth Chef from "The Return of Chef". Even though he is still at large by the end of the episode, he has yet to reappear beyond a brief cameo in the opening credits despite the plot potential that could come from the boys realizing he's still alive and potentially having to face off against a fully-brainwashed Chef. He could even serve as a possible means for Chef to return to the show proper (albeit with a different voice actor). Even when Chef briefly returns in South Park: The Stick of Truth, it's as a Nazi Zombie with Darth Chef not even being referenced.
    • Scott Tenormann. He was shown to be one of the very few characters on the show who's capable of going toe-to-toe with Cartman in terms of manipulation and scheming and overall being very smart in the debut appearance. And yet he doesn't return until a whopping 9 seasons later when he tries get revenge on Cartman for getting his parents killed and turning them into chili. He also drops the bombshell that Scott's father and Eric's father were one and the same, meaning the two of them were half-brothers. However, despite this shocking revolution and Tenormann himself vowing he'd return, he still has yet to make a proper reappearance. Roundtable had created two separate videos about this subject, where they speculate potential storyline ideas involving Scott.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Late into "Cartman's Mom Is A Dirty Slut" we see that Gerald, Kyle's father, is among the many candidates for being Cartman's father. But after Kyle has an understandably negative reaction to learning this, Gerald is completely forgotten for the rest of the two parter, with the possibility of Cartman and Kyle being half-brothers not even being touched on.
    • Played deliberately in the "You're Getting Old"/"Ass Burgers", after an enormous number of life changes occur as a result of him maturing (including his parents divorcing and Kyle and Cartman becoming friends and business partners), Stan is just coming to appreciate the new directions in his life and new possibilities there are. Cue a stack of Reset Buttons reverting everything back to normal, much to his despair. The one change that is hinted to stick at the end of the episode, Stan becoming an alcoholic, never comes up again (though some other episodes hint at Stan's addictive tendencies), even though it would serve as a good comparison point given Randy is consistently an alcoholic.
    • "Cartman Finds Love" ends with the entire school believing that Cartman and Kyle are a couple. This is never brought up again despite the vast amount of comedic potential.
    • No one ever mentions the Wii U in the "Black Friday" three-part saga. Not once, is it ever referred to as being a third choice. Same applies to PC gaming.
    • After "The Cissy" a lot of people were disappointed to find out that Wendy's trans persona "Wendyl" was an act, and she returned to being a girl in subsequent episodes with no mention of actual gender issues. Similarly, Stan is implied to be experiencing real gender issues by having a "Which Restroom?" Dilemma. This is never brought up again. This stands out given that Season 18 was one of the first seasons with an ongoing storyline, but the only references to the events of "The Cissy" were the continuation of the Lorde plotline or puns on "transgender."
    • Cartman replaces Wendy as the student body president in "Dances With Smurfs". Like most changes to the status quo in the show, it's never mentioned again.
    • "Cash for Gold" could've been the first South Park episode to have Cartman primarily come into conflict with Stan, rather than Kyle or Wendy. Given how vehement Stan was in his opposition of gemstone networks, and how Cartman was trying to set up his own gemstone network, the two could've easily come to blows. But this does not come to be, as Stan does not really confront Cartman about his gemstone network.
    • The ending of "The Hobbit" is considered this for some, as the effects of all the girls (including Wendy) giving into the Photoshop craze is never brought up again and completely discarded next season.
    • This scene from Season 21's "Moss Piglets" seemed to be setting up a Distaff Counterpart of the four boys as a group, which would have provided interesting story opportunities in light of the gender segregation that has been ongoing since Season 20. By the end of the season, however, Heidi's new characterization as a female Cartman has been dropped after only a few episodes, and with the lack of any real female stand-ins for Cartman, this leaves the scene in question as nothing more than a simple throwback to the bus stop scenes that used to be prominent in the show.
    • At the end of Season 21, Heidi breaks up with Cartman for good, and her ending implies that she’ll still be a recurring character, making amends with Kyle and the other kids and even having a more fleshed out personality besides being a former love interest of Cartman. Sadly, the ending seemed to be little more than an excuse to put her to the sidelines again, as she has not been even remotely relevant in later seasons. Given the controversial reception Matt and Trey received on their relationship with as well as serialized formats as a whole, it doesn’t appear Heidi will ever be given true justice.
    • Many thought Tweek should have played a larger role in "Buddha Box," as some sort of Straight Man to call out Cartman and the rest of the town's ingenuine anxiety disorders, considering he suffers from constant anxiety and he's been depicted as a Buddhist in the show before. A lot of shippers wished Craig and Tweek had more to do in the episode in general (especially given the preview using a Craig scene where he talks about Tweek, leading many to assume they would be the focus of the B-plot), with Tweek having to deal with Craig's issues as a role reversal of "Put It Down."
    • The Tegridy Farms plot line of Seasons 22 and 23 began with Randy starting a marijuana farm as a personal protest against the rising popularity of vaping. Despite this, the show never discussed the major controversies surrounding vaping devices that emerged shortly before Season 23 aired.
    • Chef becoming Darth Chef in "The Return of Chef" was completely dropped and never followed up on again aside from Darth Chef appearing in the opening sequence, even though he's technically still at large and the Super Adventure Club faced no consequences for brainwashing him. South Park: The Stick of Truth even implies said fate is officially non-canon by showing Chef as a fully organic zombie.
  • This is Your Premise on Drugs: One early review for the show described it as "Peanuts on acid".
  • Ugly Cute:
    • There are quite a few who regard Eric Cartman as this despite or because he is a Fat Jerkass.
    • Heidi as a female Cartman. Sure she was obese and had a few zits during that time, but she still showed signs of vulnerability that still made her an endearing character, especially during "Splatty Tomato".
  • Unintentional Uncanny Valley:
    • Jeff Bezos is animated more smoothly than the rest of the characters, which makes his movements comparatively more jarring and unnatural looking.
    • Skinny Cartman in "Fat Camp" is rather jarring to look at as it's Cartman being shaped like the rest of the child characters. Though it turns out to be a completely different person disguising at Cartman so it may be intentional.
    • Mr Garrison's new partner Rick has more realistically-proportioned ears than Mr Garrison, which can make any shot of the two look a little off-balance.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • In the two-parter episode "Pandemic", Craig is portrayed as being in the wrong for getting angry and constantly complaining about the ordeal that the main boys roped him into. While Craig was being a bit of a jerk and somewhat irritating with his complaining, it's quite hard to blame him considering the boys convinced him to spend his birthday money on a scheme that ended up backfiring in the worst way, which resulted in him (and the others) being kidnapped by the government and forced to be far away from his family, not even knowing when — or if — he'll ever see them again.
    • Heidi Turner at the end of Season 21. While she does become a female Cartman, the show downplays her trauma as a case of Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse as a means of making others unsympathetic towards her, even though it was their lack of sympathy that gave Cartman a chance to swoop in to begin with. The narrative acted like her attitude absolved them of their faults.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Kyle Broflovski is meant to be sympathized with because he (along with Stan) is the Only Sane Man and constantly has to deal with Cartman's shit, but at times, he ends up looking like a self-righteous, entitled Hypocrite. Season 5's "Cartmanland", shows that his faith in God depends on Cartman's misery. Episodes like "Good Times With Weapons", Douche and Turd "The List", "Fatbeard", and Super Hard PCness also show how easily he can be driven to commit atrocities for petty reasons. Unlike Stan (who is no stranger to What the Hell, Hero? moments), Kyle is rarely meaningfully called out for any of these events (sans the latter example), except by Cartman, who is usually meant to be in the wrong anyways. Other times where he is called out, it's to show how ostrasized he is.
    • Sharon in the Tegridy Farms arc is supposed to come off as a battered wife to Randy's delusional selfishness and entitlement. However, she never actually tries to take action against Randy; her attitude towards him is that of just insulting him rather than taking the kids and leaving him or trying to get him to admit his actions on tape. She comes off as more guilty by association.
    • Liane Cartman, especially in later seasons, is supposed to be sympathetic for having a horrific brat like Eric for a son. However, she's just as much to blame for Eric's behavior for spoiling him rotten, only ever disciplining him if his actions negatively affected her. Even after her son tricked a kid into cutting his leg off. The arc where the Cartmans live in an abandoned hot dog stand was supposed to be Eric's fault for his brattiness, but in the end, Liane still failed to put her foot down with him.
    • Arc Villains Gerald, Randy, and Mr. Garrison in Season 25 and onward. While the narrative does hold them all accountable for their abrasive and selfish personalities (and it's not uncommon for some main or supporting characters to get away with reprehensible actions in an episode), their list of crimes in Seasons 20, 23, and 24 respectively is so large at this point that it pushes them past the Moral Event Horizon for many (namely Gerald's hidden identity as Skankhunt42, Randy's murder of Winnie-the-Pooh and Garrison's murder of the pangolin that was meant to end COVID), making any attempts to portray them as anything other than Villain Protagonists fall flat for many fans. However, Season 24 only gives Cartman any permanent Karma Houdini Warranty for crimes he committed as a kid, while Gerald is Easily Forgiven by Kyle and Ike after a few seasons, Randy gets to keep his family (and possibly his business) in the revised future, and Garrison gets to be in a healthy relationship with Rick in Season 26, making them all effective Karma Houdinis.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Having run for over twenty years, the show is famous for being very topical in its humor, as its extremely short lead time (with each episode being written, animated, and edited in the course of a week), allows for ''very'' precise and topical humor that often becomes dated in less than a year and, thus, it's easy for even a casual viewer to determine what year any given episode was first aired without viewing the end credits. As such, it has lampooned just about every hot topic in pop culture, politics, and American society as a whole that has cropped up during its run, from Barbra Streisand, Pokémon and The X-Files in the 1990s to The War on Terror, World of Warcraft, and Tom Cruise's public meltdown in the 2000s to PewDiePie, safe spaces, Twilight, Minecraft, Fortnite and pop culture nostalgia in the 2010s to the COVID-19 Pandemic in the '20s. That said, being the textbook example of an Animated Shock Comedy, the cartoon's use of raunchy and offensive humor rife with controversial shock value that attracted the attention of Moral Guardians, endless celebrity-bashing, nihilistic attitude, overly libertarian politics and "both sides" approach to every real-life topic identify it as a cultural product of the late '90s and 2000s (see one of the examples below).
    • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut references "Don't Ask Don't Tell", Free Willy, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Saddam Hussein, and the V-Chip.
    • Saddam Hussein was a recurring character early in the series (his first episode being "Terrence and Phillip: Not Without My Anus" in April 1998). He abruptly stopped appearing after May 2003 — he had one episode after that point, "It's Christmas in Canada" (December 2003), which has him being dragged out of a hiding hole in a clear reference to his then-contemporary capture by American soldiers.
    • One episode from 2001 tries to show how Tolkien's family is relatively wealthy by having them as the only people in town with a DVD player while everyone else uses VHS tapes. A later 2012 episode has Stan saying that renting DVDs "is more ancient than Madonna's boobs".
    • The episode "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants" (the first post-9/11 episode) has people worrying about terrorism and anthrax attacks. Plus, with Osama's death in 2011...
    • A 2004 episode has the town's girls (with the exception of Wendy) wanting to be "stupid spoiled whores" just like Paris Hilton, (and Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Tara Reid too) skimpy clothes and fake tans included.
    • Another episode pokes fun at "zero tolerance" bullying policies at schools (by painting the bullied ones as being worse than the bullies) at a time these were seen as rather controversial.
    • "Canada on Strike", aside from the Ripped from the Headlines nature of the titular strike attacking the '07-08 writer's strike, features the overall message that the internet isn't a proven revenue source and people shouldn't expect to make careers off it. It goes so far as to feature a whole bunch of Youtube viral stars, rooted in the "cute animals and weird people singing or getting in slapstick" era of the site, and treats their attempts to make money as idiotic ("theoretically, I'm a millionaire!"). Inside of a few years, streaming through Netflix or other services would become one of the most lucrative revenue sources around, and many Youtubers have managed to leverage the site into profitable ventures and careers—primarily through gaming and Let's Play streams, which aren't even mentioned. Even at the time, the creators had managed to score a pretty lucrative deal for putting South Park on streaming sites, so they should probably have recognized that it was about to get big.
    • "A Scause for Applause" ends with Jesus leading the townspeople in a "Free Pussy Riot" rally, which became this after the members of Pussy Riot were freed in 2013.
    • Matt and Trey seem to have become aware of this in recent years, and the 2015 season takes some jabs at the show's 2000ish nature as it mockingly "transitions" into the 2010s with an emphasis on "political correctness".
  • Unpopular Popular Character:
    • Butters practically defines the trope. He's the show's biggest Butt-Monkey, but fans love him, largely because of all the suffering he endures.
    • Pip was on the butt end of harassment until his death; fans, however, still love him.
    • Not so much a character, but the fictional show "Fighting Around The World" was given poor reception by all the characters in "The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer". A majority of the fandom, including Russell Crowe, found it the funniest part of the episode and have even said they would watch it if it was a real show.
    • Eric Cartman, who's universally hated by all the kids in-universe but is regarded out-of-universe as the most popular character in the show.
  • Values Dissonance: In the first few seasons, the boys would use the words "gay" or "retarded" as slang for "stupid" which was still a common thing to do prior to The New '10s.
  • Vindicated by History: The pinball machine initially got a lot of complaints, both because of its offensive content and because of its layout and rules, so much so that Sega, the company that made it, quit the pinball business. However, if the reviews at the Internet Pinball Database is anything to go by, the South Park pinball machine now brings in good money when out in public, is one of the more sought-after South Park items for collectors, and is genuinely liked by pinball fans who are also South Park fans.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • The backgrounds in general, mainly in new seasons, are this.
    • The updated title sequence (mentioned above), which was made by acclaimed titling house Imaginary Forces.
    • "Make Love, Not Warcraft" was really raised up by the in-game segments, which were animated by Blizzard themselves.
  • Wangst:
    • Kyle in "Cartmanland", he loses the will to live because Cartman inherited a million dollars and bought a theme park.
    • And Mr. Mackey in "Royal Pudding". While he does a Freudian Excuse about him wanting to do a play about Tooth Decay (since Tooth Decay killed his father), he does go too far in his abuse of the kindergarten students and Kyle for messing up his play, with Kyle receiving most of the abuse.
  • Watched It for the Representation: The show attracted a lot more young LGBT fans shortly after "Tweek x Craig," the episode that parodied the Yaoi Genre and paved the way for Tweek and Craig to become the first canonically gay students in the series. Despite Tweek and Craig being secondary characters at best, a lot of these fans care more about them than any major character.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Yes, the animation looks childish and crude, and yes, the protagonists are children. But its downright demeaning depiction of the children notwithstanding, it contains way too much graphic violence, raunchy language, sex, swearing, and other mature content to be seen by young kids. Which hasn't stopped it from finding a huge and adoring audience among middle-and-high-school students. In fact, that's probably a large part of why it has.
  • The Woobie: Now has its own page.

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