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  • Acceptable Targets: Everyone and everything on the planet, at one point or another, has been lampooned on the show, even the show itself.
    • Amazingly, U.S. presidents usually get off fairly lightly, with most jokes about them either being too lighthearted or somewhat flattering (Matt Stone has said that this is because they're "too easy"). Donald Trump is the only exception. But that is because his campaign was seen as a joke. In universe, Mr. Garrison is the President but only because Trey and Matt have expected Hillary Clinton to win and she had been lampooned in the past.
    • Out of everyone they've ridiculed, favoured butt-monkeys include hippies, Ben Affleck (at least until Argo came out), and Barbra Streisand.
    • While several episodes in the past have made fun of Political Correctness Gone Mad, it's the main theme of Season 19. Season 20 counters this by targeting the Alt-Right.
    • While their mockery of major religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are usually tongue-in-cheek; they've been out to shit on Scientology ever since the church started lashing back at them over their parodies and the whole Issac Hayes controversy. And while they have depicted the holy scripture of Mormonism as being ridiculous and Joseph Smith looking like an insane crackpot, Mormons are usually shown as being genuinely nice people.
    • The show pulls no punches against New-Age Medicine "doctors" and supporters, the first being portrayed as greedy hypocrites and con-men, and the latter as stupid and ignorant.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Cartman's complex personality, his multiple mental illnesses, and just being messed up about sex in general thanks to his mom being the town bicycle sometimes leave people pitying him, even when he is showing his Jerk with a Heart of Jerk nature.
      • Others believe Cartman's increasing cruelty is the result of him being aware that he's The Friend Nobody Likes and deciding Then Let Me Be Evil.
      • On another complex note, in "Cartman Finds Love", is he that hellbent on fixing Nicole up with Token due to both of them being black (he's racist of course) or is he THAT hellbent in having Kyle to himself once he finds out Nicole has a crush on him? This is the same kid who wanted Kyle to suck his balls and give Kyle AIDSnote , for many years of the show's run. The canon explanation is the former, but one has to admit that several years of apparently unintentional Ho Yay is largely responsible for this. That and the fact that Cartman showed little to no interest in girls (even sometimes aversion to them) before his relationship with Heidi, 20 long seasons in.
    • Stan's increasing Angst and Sanity Slippage is either due to an early onset of puberty or the gradual decay of his parents' marriage. Based on what we've seen with his father and grandfather, it might be hereditary.
    • Either The Movie didn't really happen and Sheila Broflovski has just naturally matured or it really did happen and Sheila has been atoning for her actions ever since.
    • Wendy has also been a recipient of this, especially after "The Hobbit" with feuding fan views going to bat: Was she in the right and is she actually a believer in feminism, or is she more of a Straw Feminist only using the cause as her excuse to call others ugly and act superior to them? Was she unfairly ostracized, or was the ending "putting her in her place"? The matter isn't helped by the fact that Parker and Stone's (and Bill Hader's) characterization of Wendy differs heavily depending on the season and episode, and that while they've sometimes had her as one of the few voices of reason in the South Park universe, they've also used her as a way to lampoon feminism and activists. Even the episodes that have her painted as more in the right are subject to dissection as to whether or not she truly is, such as "Breast Cancer Show Ever" and "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset". It seems that while she has good intentions, her approach can be very heavy-handed and she can screw that up like anyone else. Regarding "Breast Cancer Show Ever" and "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset" she approached adult figures who assisted and supported her, often learning an important moral in the process, as both Principal Victoria and Mr. Slave taught.
    • The abuse Butters receives from his parents makes more sense when you realize one of them has his grandmother as their mother.
    • Speaking of Butters' grandma, when Butters gave his "The Reason You Suck" Speech, she was completely silent. Was the frown on her face the product of a Heel Realization or a Villainous BSoD? Going further with that; was she bullying Butters out of malicious enjoyment or a hugely misguided attempt to teach him to stand up for himself? When Butters did try to confront her as Professor Chaos, she did tell him to fight back against her and she does smile during the brief moment Butters tells her he "got real mean and he beat the snot outta Dr. Oz" and that it felt good before he starts in on his "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    • Gary Harrison (the one-shot kid character from "All About Mormons"): As shown in this fic, is he a genuinely happy and kindhearted kid who's proud of his family's values, or is he a secret life-hating douchebag who only pretends to be cheerful?
    • Kyle. Is he really The Conscience and Token Good Teammate, or is he a big case of He Who Fights Monsters? Episodes like "Douche and Turd" and "Ass Burgers" show he's quite willing to throw his "best friend" Stan under the bus, and other episodes like "Fatbeard" and "Good Times With Weapons" show he's willing to kill people if it suits his needs, just like Cartman.
    • Is Kenny's dad unemployed because he's an alcoholic? Or is it because he's simply too lazy to get a job? The show has implied both in the past.
    • In "Sponsored Content", was PC Principal's behavior towards Jimmy due to him being afraid of being labeled a bigot towards handicapped people? Or, considering he never actually interacted with Jimmy before this episode, is he legitimately uncomfortable around them?
    • Could Cartman's mom also be anti-Semitic? She never shows any qualms against her son's hatred of Jews and even made him a Hitler costume for Halloween. It would easily explain where Cartman gets his attitude towards Jews from... However Liane has never shown any sign of antisemitism onscreen especially around Sheila, whom she happens to be friendly towards, plus she did ground Cartman for his actions in "The Passion of the Jew" according to "AWESOM-O".
    • Is Kyle incredibly selfish for protecting his father's (Gerald) ass from anyone knowing he is Skankhunt42 to prevent his parents from divorcing (or even worse)? And then there's the fact he COULD end the gender war by revealing Gerald's identity... but of course he doesn't do it, and thus the gender war has not been resolved as of right now.
    • Butters in Season 20. Is his "wieners out" movement an example of him hating women and having Took a Level in Jerkass or is he campaigning for a legitimate cause in which only drastic actions could have it be taken seriously?
  • 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 
    • Same story with the Russian voiceover, 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 reigns to other writers and made Baseketball during it.
  • Anvilicious:
    • Like everything else, they have fun with it. "...yeah, but at least Family Guy doesn't get all preachy and up its own ass with messages!"
    • "A Nightmare on Face Time" really beat you over the head with "Nobody rents movies anymore now that the Internet and Netflix have made it easy to get any film or TV show you want to see." Though that was the point: Randy is all too aware of the jokes, and spends the episode complaining about it.
    • "Go Fund Yourself", which has the boys start a start-up business called the Washington Redskins. When the Redskins football team's owner complains to the NFL about it, rather than provide a voice actor, they use actual soundbites from press conferences on the real life controversy surrounding the team's name.
    • The Black Friday trilogy: The war between Cartman and Princess Kenny was supposed to be between Xbox One and PS4 respectively. But in the end, the epic Game of Thrones between the Factions made video games completely boring in comparison, thus why the Xbox One was immediately abandoned even if its faction was the victor. The lesson is that video games do not have the enjoyment that is in actually going out to role-play with your friends.
    • Seasons 20 and 21 with their message of Trump being a terrible president and it's a disgrace he won. Considering how neutral they've been about past presidents it's kind of jarring (they had planned to mostly ignore the issue, but wrote themselves into a corner by casting regular character Mr. Garrison as Trump's expy on the expectation that he wouldn't be winning the presidency).
  • Arc Fatigue: Cartman and Heidi's relationship in Season 21. It wouldn't have been so bad had they not broken up in the first episode — only to immediately be back together again at the start of the next one.
  • Angst? What Angst?: One noticeable example is how 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:
    • 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 was 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.
    • 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". 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.
    • 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.)
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • After the Season 10 finale "Stanley's Cup" proved to be too cruel to be funny for a lot of viewers, Season 11's premier episode "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" picked its targets much more carefully. i.e. It's white men who get humiliated the most for using a racial slur and Cartman gets knocked out by a dwarf after laughing at him for the whole episode.
    • Mrs. Garrison managed to offend a lot of transgender people, yet her sexuality was toned down considerably. While Mr. Garrison committed bestiality and tried to solicit sex from both his father and Cartman (though he thought he was soliciting sex from a pedophile and was shocked and disgusted when it turned out to be Cartman), Mrs. Garrison only ever had sex with consenting adults. The show's more enlightened attitude towards transgenderism was also shown in "The Cissy", which made a point on the dilemma of public restrooms.
    • "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.
    • Season 19 and especially Season 20's episodes were criticized for being part of a story arc rather than letting them stand on their own. Season 21 had a more loose continuity, with the only ongoing plot element being Cartman's relationship with Heidi. Season 22 likewise has some recurring plot elements (most notably the recurring school shootings) but most episodes are still able to stand on their own, being more similar to Season 18's use of continuity.
    • 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.
    • Cartman lampshades in "Unfulfilled" how the main four are always breaking apart and doing their own thing nowadays instead of working together like they used to- something many fans had been pointed out over the past few seasons- which leads to them entering the bike race together.
    • Many fans were complaining the Trump jokes grew stale in 20 and 21. Season 22 never mentioned Trump once, save for a brief cameo in the final scene.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • 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 commits Moral Event Horizon grade evil acts at least once per season. 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 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.
    • Wendy evolved from The Scrappy to this sometime after she beat up Cartman in "Breast Cancer Show Ever". While some fans are fond of her and think of her as the voice of reason among the child characters, there are still others that 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.
    • Kyle and Stan. Either the only sane ones of the series or holier than thou designated heroes who are no better than Cartman? Becomes pretty glaring when those outside of the main group sees them as the latter.
    • Mr. Garrison. While at times he could be rather hilarious, many fans feel that the writers seemed to be heaping more and more unlikable traits onto him. The tipping point is when he became transgender, it was unsympathetic. The writers then can't decide whether he likes men or women, even having him become a 'lesbian' (which, as Fridge Logic dictates, somehow he always had an attraction to women... which from the early seasons is non-existent). Another problem was that most of Mr. Garrison's humor came from his dependence on Mr. Hat, so him getting dropped and replaced with Mr. Slave didn't do go over well. And then they had him acting as a stand-in for Donald Trump in Season 19 and onwards...
    • 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.
    • Heidi Turner has been pretty decisive ever since she became an Ascended Extra. Many fans like Heidi becoming a prominent character and giving her a more fleshed out personality (which is a rarity amongst the 4th grade girls) along with becoming a Love Interest for Eric Cartman while making him nicer along the way. Others find Heidi annoying, believing her to contribute nothing to the plot beyond being Cartman's girlfriend and doesn't deserve to major prominence. Then there's her transformation into a female Cartman in Season 21 which some found very funny and interesting, while others fans considered it redundant since Cartman returned to his Jerkass self. Then, she gets Demoted to Extra only appearing briefly in two episodes during Season 22. Some fans felt that Heidi wasn't given a proper conclusion to her character arc especially in regards to her relationship with Cartman, while others are just happy that her character arc is over and she doesn't anymore prominence since her relationship with Cartman is officially over.
    • 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.
  • 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 end of "The Tooth Fairy's Tats 2000": Kyle spends the entire episode questioning his existence after Cartman learns that the Tooth Fairy isn't real. Eventually, Kyle somehow manages to vanish, but seconds later he comes back in a Mushroom Samba and summons the Half-Chicken Half-Squirrel.
    • 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.
    • Another Brick Joke who comes off as weird even in context is the giant reptilian-bird deity killing Kenny at the end of "The Poor Kid".
    • The live-action sequence at the end of "I Should Never Have Gone Ziplining".
    • 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, 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 presentless holiday, 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.
  • Broken Base: Has its own page.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • Wendy giving Cartman a merciless beatdown in "Breast Cancer Show Ever" is very satisfying to watch.
    • Given the abuse Stephen made his son Butters endure throughout the series, watching Butters punch him in the nuts in "Grounded Vindaloop" was definitely satisfying.
    • PC Principal is forced to suck Garrison's dick after he becomes president in Season 20. However given that PC Principal is a Jerkass bully who got away with everything in Season 19, it's extremely satisfying to see him get some kind of comeuppance. Especially since, the whole time, PC Principal is terrified of talking to Garrison.
    • 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.
  • 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 being a Humanoid Abomination with an unnerving way of talking taking the form of a 4th grade girl.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • In the episode "Go, God, Go!", a Catholic family scolds Principal Victoria for teaching evolution at her school. The Catholic church supports evolution, and Catholic schools do indeed teach it.
    • In "Cartoon Wars Part II", a billboard advertising Family Guy is shown with a Monday timeslot. In reality, the show actually airs new episodes on Sundays, both via first run episodes on Fox and repeats on [adult swim].
    • The correlation between the popularity of The Force Awakens and the rise of the alt-right. In reality, plenty of alt-right figures are critical of The Force Awakens over the fact that the two main protagonists are a white woman and a black man, especially the former. Granted, the show is likely interlocking these concepts in its lesson about the dangers of excessive nostalgia.
    • "Oh, Jeez" features a moment where Bill Clinton signs a duet with Bill Cosby. In June of 2016, Cosby lost his eyesight to keratoconus, months before the episode aired. However, during that scene, he looked like he could see just fine.
    • In "Die Hippie, Die", Cartman drives the hippies away by putting on a Slayer album because "hippies can't stand death metal". It doesn't take extensive musical knowledge to know that Slayer is in fact thrash metal. This was possibly intentional to poke fun at the public's ignorance towards the genre, but it hasn't been confirmed.
    • "WTF" does the old "Wrestling is fake" argument when the boys feel ripped off for taking amateur-wrestling classes as training for pro-wrestling. This (lazily) ignores that you'd be hard-pressed to find a promotion that didn't tout a wrestler's amateur credentials to the extent that Kurt Angle, an actual gold-freaking-medalist, debuted as such and been world champion in both WWE and TNA. Additionally said episode also had Cena and Edge feuding in the then-present of 2009 yet it was based on their first feud about three years prior.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Honestly, this show deserves its own page for this. Matt Stone and Trey Parker were once interviewed if there was any line they wouldn't cross. Their answer was a blunt no.
    • The 14th season episode "It's a Jersey Thing", in which The Jersey Shore is pitted against Osama bin Laden.
    • After Jimmy labels Germans the least funny people of all, Cartman, of course, puts this trope into effect.
      Cartman: Do you know what happened to the last people to piss the Germans off? Tell him Kyle.
    • From "Mecha-Streisand", Cartman is interviewed by a news crew after Kyle finds the Triangle of Zinthar.
      Cartman: ...and I told him. I said, "Kyle, I will kick you in the nuts." But he didn't give it back to me. So I kicked him square. In the nuts. And he cried. like Nancy Kerrigan!
    • In the second episode of the "Imaginationland" trilogy, the evil imaginary figures attack Strawberry Shortcake and tear out her eyeball. The Woodland Christmas Critters then discuss ways to make her death as evil as possible:
      Beavery Beaver Hey! I know! Let's all pee in her empty eye socket!
      Deery Deer: Let's make her eat her own eyeball, and then pee in her empty eye socket.
      Beary Bear: How about we get someone with AIDS to pee in her eye socket, so she dies all slowlike? (the other Critters cheer at the idea)
      The Minotaur: Nobody here has AIDS!
      Woodland Critters: Awwww!!
      Beary Bear: But we've got to have AIDS before we pee in her eye socket!
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy:
    • It's clear that the show is a Black Comedy where almost anyone and anything is a fair target for Trey and Matt, along with the entire cast full of obnoxious jerks, with the main characters being Good Is Not Nice at best and Sociopathic Enfantes Terrible at worst. The closest to a completely benevolent character is Leopold "Butters" Stotch, and even then, he's not immune from bad moments. Cartman himself borderlines on the trope. He can be a complete jerk to everyone, including his own mother, but he rarely gets away with his actions. Cartman, however, never learns his lesson.
    • There are two episodes with In-Universe examples. "Douche and Turd" involves Stan Marsh suffering a case of this, refusing to vote in a school mascot election owing to the fact that one is (quite literally) a giant douche and the other is a turd sandwich. The lesson he learns from a member of PETA is that all elections involve either a douche or a turd of some sorts and one must simply choose the lesser evil. This happens again in "Butterballs" where he believes he's trying to do the right thing, but Kyle Broflovski argues that the real right thing to do is to let Butters find the courage to confront his grandmother himself. In the end, Butters tells his grandmother off, which means Kyle was in the right all along, while Stan is the one to learn his lesson the hard way.
  • 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.
    • Heidi Turner has also been given this treatment by many fans, who viewed her as a completely innocent victim and fully blame Cartman for turning her into his Distaff Counterpart. Granted she was portrayed as Nice Girl and The Woobie throughout much of seasons 20 and 21, and Cartman did play a role in her becoming a Jerkass, but "Splatty Tomato" has explicitly stated that the main reason why she became such is because she was engaging in self-victimization and not Cartman and was usually portrayed as a mean girl before season 20 gave her a prominence boost and Took a Level in Kindness.
    • 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.
  • Ear Worm:
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: enough to have its own page.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: A staple of South Park, which makes sense given that it's a Family-Unfriendly Show. Plenty of them are Spoof Aesops, though.
  • Fanon: Has its own page.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: A lot of things get this treatment by fans, such as Chef's death and especially Mr. Garrison's sex change.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • 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 fan art 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 someone, especially with Heidi now that she has permanently broken up with Cartman in "Splatty Tomato" and is back to her old self in Season 22.
  • Forced Meme: One of the reasons why the Member Berries are so disliked is that their "Member X?" "I member!" exchange feels like this.

    G-R 
  • Genius Bonus:
    • "Krazy Kripples" has Jimmy mistaking the Crips gang for a group of fellow "cripples." In reality, the Crips' name does refer to "cripple." They got the nickname for always appearing in public with pimp canes in The '70s, and the nickname stuck.
    • The leader of the Anti-Semitic sect of Judaism in "Jewbilee" worships Haman aka the Big Bad of The Book Of Esther who was an infamous Anti-Semite himself.
  • 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 10 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 considerable Latin American fandom.
    • And of course, the Japanese fanbase. It's 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.)
    • In an in-universe example: Terrance and Phillip, a Canadian show, is popular with American kids.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hypocritical Fandom:
    • Like other animated shows, South Park uses Stock Footage to save time and money, especially considering that this show is produced on a low, low budget. It is hilarious however when some South Park fans complain at other budget shows/movies when they also reuse animation cels for the same reasons.
    • There's also "Only kids watch animation... and besides, nobody watches South Park for the ANIMATION anyway!"
    • A number of fans criticize Family Guy for many things that South Park is just as guilty of doing. However, the shows vary on how well they handle what they do. The writers on Family Guy cannot write episodes that try to make points without botching them up really badly due to not caring, or not realizing what they write is really badly written before it's voice acted and animated. South Park tries to entertain as well as attack issues, a part Family Guy constantly struggles with, often with better results due to good writing and an understanding of what they're talking about from more than just one angle, or no angle at all, as well as a clear focus on what they're talking about.
    • The fandom has been accused of delving into this in Season 19, for using the show as a means to circle jerk about being anti-politically correct despite their insistence that the show is supposedly apolitical and "attacks everyone."
    • In going with the theme of ramped-up remakes, "Free Hat" featured a parody skit revolving around a remastered version of "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe". Fast forward to the Season 7 episode "Cancelled", in which the beginning of the episode plays out very much like this before the real plot kicks in.
    • If Kyle does one thing immoral, expect the fandom to basically treat him as if he's worse than Cartman. If Stan or Kenny does something just as wrong (like trying to abort his mother's baby or killing Scuzzlebutt after he saved his life) expect it to be swept under the rug.
  • I Am Not Shazam: "In this scene, Mohammed hands a football helmet to Family Guy." Nice one, Comedy Central.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • "Jared Has Aides", "Freak Strike", "Toilet Paper", "Butt Out", "Douche and Turd", "Two Days Before The Day After Tomorrow", "More Crap", "Tonsil Trouble"note , and "The China Probrem"note .
    • "Fat Camp", "Free Hat", and "Bass to Mouth" have the respective Idiot Subplots of Kenny becomes famous for doing nauseating acts, the adults wanting a baby killer named Hat McCullough freed from prison, claiming that "the babies were killed in self-defense", and the faculty of South Park Elementary poisoning the entire school just to keep anyone from committing suicide even though Eric (the one who gave them the idea) was the only one who was driving students to suicide.
    • Lampshaded in "Night Of The Living Homeless". The adults' idiocy escalates an ever-present worldwide problem up to a matter of life or death for the whole town.
    • "The Magic Bush" has Butters' father blindly believing his drone has a mind of its own and undergoing Sanity Slippage after his son flew the drone without his permission, and whenever someone suggest Butters flew it, he insists Butters couldn't have because "He's not allowed to fly it without my permission." This wouldn't have been as bad if this wasn't the same guy who grounds Butters for everything even things beyond his control
    • Season 20 revolves around everyone going to more and more extreme lengths to stop a troll online (Gerald), and no one even once considers tracking the IP address.
  • Internet Backdraft:
    • Comedy Central received thousands of e-mail complaints from angry fans regarding "Terrance and Phillip in: 'Not Without My Anus'", which was meant as an April Fools Joke on fans who were waiting for the reveal of Cartman's father following the cliffhanger at the end of the Season 1 finale "Cartman's Mom Is a Dirty Slut".
    • Mr. Garrison telling people to vote against him in the 2016 election, and the clear disdain Matt and Trey express for Donald Trump in general, has led to some right-leaning fans accusing the creators of being Hillary Clinton shills.
    • Trey and Matt received similar complaints from left-wingers when they announced that they wouldn't be taking any digs at Donald Trump in Season 21, though this didn't stick, which led to an even bigger Broken Base than Season 20 made.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 is revealed to be this due to suffering constant abuse under Saddam Hussein.
    • 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.
  • LGBT Fanbase: The show garnered up a decent-sized one in the mid-2000s as the amount of fanfiction began go 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.
  • Love to Hate: Eric Cartman. He's so utterly despicable, but remove him from the show, it becomes a lot less funny.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page.
  • Memetic Molester:
    • Parodied by a mascot known as Sexual Harassment Panda. Then In-Universe, "Red Hot Catholic Love" led to all of South Park believing the Catholic Church as this.
    • Imaginationland turned Eric Cartman into this due to his obsession to make Kyle suck his balls. The sexual antics he does with Butters doesn't help either.
    • Mr. Garrison, due to his huge sexual dysfunction problem bordering on Depraved Bisexual. Started out a homophobe but became extremely gay, trans, lesbian, a gay lesbian at the same time, a BDSM freak, and generally any sexuality you could think of. In his presidential campaign, his only national policy was to literally FUCK THEM ALL TO DEATH!!!
      "I say let's round them up, pull down their pants, and fuck them until their spirits left their bodies" — Garrison answering a question from a reporter
  • Memetic Psychopath: There's Eric Cartman, but since the Movie Shiela 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:
    • While "The Cissy" was viewed as good or average by the majority of viewers, it was EXTREMELY popular with trans (and trans supporting) fans of the show.
    • There are a number of episodes that poke fun at Canada (like one that paints it like it's Oz). That said, it has a surprisingly-plentiful fanbase among Canadians. Hell, it's to the point where at least one YouTube comment jokingly said that this clip is 100% accurate.
    • There's a handful of handicapped fans who love Jimmy and Timmy.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Yeah, there are people out there who actually agree that "gingers have no souls." And act on it.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • The "Nice" Meme. 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.
  • 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 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.
    • Some fans view Cartman's Mom's Doormat behavior as this.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Gets its own page. The standout in most people's minds is likely Cartman's, encapsulated with six gloating words: "I made you eat your parents!"
  • 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:
  • Never Live It Down:
    • 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.
    • Although it only happened over the course of the first five seasons, the show was and still is best known for Kenny dying on almost every episode.
    • Everytime Cartman showed signs of Ho Yay, especially towards Kyle and Butters. This was toned down in Season 20 because of his relationship with Heidi Turner, though it resurfaced with Butters in the finale.
    • Some fans still holds Cartman in contempt for his treatment of Heidi in Season 21, despite Heidi already out of a relationship with him and completely recover from his abuse by Season 22.
  • 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.
  • 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 reprecussions 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.
  • 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.
  • Periphery Demographic:
    • The show is extremely popular with Yaoi Fangirls on Fan Fiction Dot Net and Deviant ART. Blame all the ambiguous (and obvious) Ho Yay and interesting character interactions.
    • Quite a few conservative Christians (who would normally condemn this show for its vulgarity) have come around to being fans of the show, due to its unabashed liberal bashing.
    • 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).
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: Style (Stan/Kyle), Creek (Craig/Tweek), Kyman (Kyle/Cartman), K2 (Kyle/Kenny), Crenny (Craig/Kenny), Bunny (Butters/Kenny), Candy (Cartman/Wendy), 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 & the generally poor representation of the show making Matt Stone & 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.
  • 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.
    • Generally averted with Jimmy, instead. He supplanted the wildly popular Timmy (TIMMEH!!!), but his very nice and bright personality gained him much respect.
    • 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, who by the end of the episode essentially gets away with bullying both students and parents alike. though time will tell if he actually stays or not. Now that the season is over, PC Principal is here to stay, but his badass actions and speech in the end of the season have generally gotten him Rescued from the Scrappy Heap.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: PC Principal won a lot of his detractors over as the season progressed, 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.
  • Rewatch Bonus: A lot of Kenny's scenes take on new meaning after he reveals the nature of his condition.
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    S-W 
  • Sacred Cow: Matt and Trey, the series' creators. Despite the fact that not everyone agrees with their political views, most people agree that their methods and messages are very difficult to criticize due to the surprisingly intelligent and over-the-top methods that they do so through South Park. It helps that they will often criticize all sides of an argument in a hilarious manner, unlike similar shows such as Family Guy that often reduce political issues to a one-sided Black and White Morality depiction and are more sloppy in their satire.
  • 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 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".
    • "The Hobbit" gives us Lisa Burger. She might have been The Woobie for her one-sided crush on Butters, but after she gets Photoshopped she turns into an abrasive and arrogant bitch. While the fandom may debate extensively about how Wendy handled the issue in this episode, they all unanimously agree that Lisa was terrible.
    • The Member Berries, what should have been a one-episode gag, got beaten into the ground throughout Season 20. Their constant utterance of "Member X? Oh yeah, I Member!" felt like an obnoxious Forced Meme. Their primary purpose was for Trey and Matt to constantly remind the viewer that they didn't like Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Their story abruptly ended after the 2016 presidential election, and it will likely stay that way. In fact, all they got during Season 21 was a fleeting cameo in "Doubling Down".
    • Butters' parents are generally hated by fans, due to blaming him for things that aren't his fault, accusing him of things he didn't do, grounding him for everything short of breathing, and worst off all, the amount of both emotional and physical abuse they inflict upon him. This hatedom is downplayed whenever they show that they really care for Butters despite all the pain they've put him through, not to mention they become less abusive to him in the show's later seasons, though this is likely a result of being Out of Focus.
  • Seasonal Rot: It's generally agreed that South Park has held up much better over the years than longtime rival animated sitcoms such as The Simpsons and Family Guy, but it's had its ups and downs nonetheless:
    • Season 17 is considered this due to its short length and large amount of lackluster topical episodes (though many fans love the "Black Friday" trilogy).
    • 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. The attempt at connecting Trump's support with the praise for J. J. Abrams' The Force Awakens is particularly confusing. Separated into their own plots, they could've worked, but as it is they're connected only by the reasoning that The Force Awakens was very reminiscent of A New Hope, and thus is hearkening back to the old days, while Trump's rhetoric was seen as regressive rather than progressive, a flimsy connection at best. In fact, many on the right attacked The Force Awakens due to what they saw as pandering to PC/SJW elements.
    • Season 21, despite dropping the serialization of the past two seasons, was criticized by a large number of fans and critics for retaining the heavy topicality that plagued the series since season 17 (the season premiere, White People Renovating Houses, being an obvious satire of the 2017 Charlottesville Rally, for instance). It was also criticized for the subplot revolving around Cartman and Heidi which remained in the background for the entirety of the season and succumbed to Arc Fatigue.
    • While Season 22 fixed a few of the problems from past seasons, such as lessening the serialization even further and removing the Trump jokes, it replaced them with new problems. First of all the first few episodes of the season relied on repetition of the same joke for the entire episode. Later episodes seemed to rely more on "clapter" rather than actual jokes, and were completely lost on fans who were unfamiliar with the topics. The most jarring example was the ManBearPig two-parter where the show seemed to think all the viewers played Red Dead Redemption 2. The ManBearPig two-parter, while better received than most episodes of the season, had a rather jarring case of the creators backpedaling on their past mistakes in the show which felt very out of place. Lastly, the show seemed very intent on cramming in as many 2018 references as they could into a single episode making a lot episodes feel like cluttered messes as opposed to having a straightforward plotline. It comes as no surprise, that "Tegridy Farms" and "The Scoots", by far the most well-received episodes of the season were also the only ones that didn't reference current events in any way, leading many to conclude that the constant topicality of recent seasons is ultimately doing more harm than good.
  • Self-Fanservice: Well, fan art usually portrays South Park characters rather differently. Possibly parodied in the show itself with "Princess Kenny", and definitely parodied in "Tweek x Craig".
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Discussed in the commentaries: 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 also 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.
  • Shallow Parody:
    • Parodied mercilessly in "Cartoon Wars", specifically as relating to how pop culture jokes and references are written on Family Guy.
    • "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. It also had a Greco-Roman wrestling instructor repeatedly saying professional wresting isn't real, as if that's supposed to somehow invalidate wrestling, or be news for wrestling fans. Matt and Trey most likely didn't know that today's wrestling fans know that wrestling is scripted, and criticizing it for that would be like criticizing a movie for having a script.
    • 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.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: In SPADES. 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.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • You'd pretty much have to agree with Cartman's thoughts about today's music videos in "Butterballs". Hell, Cartman sometimes says things that, believe it or not, are true in some way.
    • 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 formers' 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.
    • In the two-parter episode “Pandemic,” Craig is portrayed in the wrong for getting angry & constantly complaining about the ordeal that the main boys roped him into. While Craig was being a complete jerk and irritating with his complaining, how would you feel if someone convinced you to spend your birthday money on a scheme that ended up backfiring in the worst way, which resulted in you being kidnapped by the government and forced to be far away from your family and not even knowing when you’ll ever see them again?
  • 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 force to leave South Park.
  • Tainted by the Preview: Since 2008, all of the show's episodes were able to be streamed for free on southparkstudios.com. Needless to say, fans were NOT happy when the website switched to Hulu (which is notorious for its lack of international availability) for streaming.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • The new intro for Season 17 takes a more 3D/clay animation style compared to the past seasons, but it's been received rather negatively compared to the previous ones that utilized clips from past episodes and such.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • 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.
    • "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 was just faking transgenderism like Cartman was. Similarly, Stan is implied to be experiencing real gender issues by having a "Which Restroom" Dilemma. This is never brought up again.
    • 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.
    • Some were disappointed that Professor Chaos or the boys Ninja alter egos from "Good Times With Weapons" didn't appear in Imagionationland.
    • "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.
    • Heidi finally makes her Season 22 appearance in "The Problem With a Poo". In this episode Kyle suffers a similar ordeal she did last season so it would be interesting for the two to swap roles with Heidi trying to get Kyle out of his toxic relationship with Mr. Hankey, right? Instead Heidi is relegated back to being a background character.
    • 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."
  • 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".
  • Unacceptable Targets: Muhammad. Parker and Stone went for lampooning the fact that he's not an acceptable target, instead — particularly because 5 years before the Muhammad taboo entered the limelight, he had been depicted with no repercussion. "201", the second episode of their 200th anniversary two-parter, had all mentions of Muhammad's name censored by the network, along with the "I learned something today" speeches at the end (which didn't even mention Muhammad). Comedy Central went so far as pulling it from ever airing again — they won't even let it be streamed on the show's official website. You can find it here, but it being a TV rip means the bleeps are still in place. Subverted in Latin America, where the dub kept the mentions of Muhammad.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Kenny inverts this for some viewers. His face-hugging hood and muffled speech make him seem a bit less human than the other characters, which gives him some mascot-like "cute" appeal that's only helped by his nature as The Woobie and in spite of (or maybe also helped by) his hedonistic tendencies. Coincidentally, he's indeed a Humanoid Abomination.
    • Some viewers might feel this way about when the characters ACTUALLY move their legs when walking. In the early seasons this doesn't happen but in the recent ones it does and it's a bit jarring to see.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • In "The City Part of Town", we're supposed to feel bad for the South Park citizens for feeling insulted by Jimmy Fallon's jokes about them. Considering they do the same on a regular basis to celebrities, their reaction comes off as more hypocritical than sympathetic. This may have been intentional.
    • Kyle can come off as this for some viewers. He's meant to be sympathized 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. Examples of this include "Cartmanland" and "Tonsil Trouble".
  • 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 till his death; fans, however, love him.
    • Not so much a character, but 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: The message of "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina" is that just because cosmetic surgery (i.e. sex change) makes you look like something doesn't mean you truly are what the surgery aimed for, and it compares being transgender to Kyle becoming black and his father becoming a dolphin.note  The episode came out at a time when the general public saw sex change as a joke; the much-later episode "The Cissy" is more sympathetic to the trans community.
  • 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.
    • Season 4 has aged extremely well with many issues satirized actually becoming more prevalent than when they first aired such as people assuming a crime towards a person being a minority is directly a crime towards that minority, people condemning Western medicine in favor of pseudoscience holistic medicine, the South Park flag being changed for being considered racist, and actually having to work to lose weight.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • 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.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: Most cartoons take too long to make to be truly topical, while this show takes days, making it a major aversion to this trope. The one time they were beaten to the punch (regarding Glenn Beck's challenges to the White House) was because just days before the episode aired Jon Stewart on The Daily Show had done a similar razing, which some people argued was more vicious and/or funny. However, this also causes the episode subjects to become dated in a few years when their subject matters are no longer relevant.
    • The Facebook episode "You Have 0 Friends" comes off as this, as a result of Trey Parker's reluctance to get into Facebook.
    • "Faith Hilling" pokes fun at this, though even that episode may not age as well as others given the subject matter.
    • "Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers", which talked about emo kids five years too late.
    • The show's ability to avert this trope with its short production time can sometimes be hampered by extended hiatuses, especially when a season is aired during one part of the year (usually the fall) rather than aired in two chunks during the spring and the fall. For example, the Season 22 premiere made fun of Black Panther. While the film is still popular and regarded as groundbreaking, the episode aired about eight months after the film's release, and its status as a hot button topic had fallen out of favor as other movies of its genre dominated it in relevancy.
  • What an Idiot!: "Cow Days": Not only are the carnival workers crooked as hell, but once the townspeople declare shenanigans, the carnies call them "screwy" right to their faces. What did they think was going to happen?
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Yes, the animation looks childish and crude, and yes, the protagonists are children. But 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 teens and preteens. In fact, that's probably a large part of why it has.
  • The Woobie:
    • Butters' personality is enough to melt even the hardest of hearts. The fact that his parents take all of their problems out on him makes him this.
      Butters: I don't think I'm a happy person. Every night I fall asleep to the sounds of my own screams... And every morning I wake up to the sounds of my own screams. Do you think I'm a happy person?note 
    • Kip Drordy.
    • Nelson in "Stanley's Cup".
    • In the Coon and Friends trilogy, Kenny/Mysterion has been revealed to be an Iron Woobie.
    • Stan can be seen as this or a Jerkass Woobie, but he certainly qualifies as this in You're Getting Old given the fact it was his friends abandoning him after he was diagnosed with cynicism.
    • Kenny's sister Karen. "The Poor Kid" can attest to that.
    • Mr. Mackey in "Ike's Wee Wee".
    • Britney Spears in "Britney's New Look". The writers were apparently sick of people being mean about Britney for no good reason.
    • Satan is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds in The Movie.
    • Wendy might be considered The Scrappy or at least a Base-Breaking Character, but after the end of "The Hobbit" you will want to give her a great big hug.
    • Pip. He's bullied mercilessly by EVERYONEnote (even more so than his eventual replacements Butters or Scott Malkinson, who at least get SOME social acceptance), he lost both his parents, any and all of his accomplishments are ignored by kids and adults alike. How he managed to keep that cheerful demeanor up to his death remains a mystery.
    • Kyle himself qualifies as this on occasions, when he isn't a Jerkass Woobie, the episode "Ginger Cow" is a crowning example of this. By the time the episode ends, you will end up feeling very sorry for Kyle. Season 21 really takes a toll on him, due to his involvement with Heidi Turner, trying to get her to realize just how bad Cartman is and succeeding, only for Cartman (who believes himself a victim of her abuse when it's the other way around) to manipulate Heidi into taking him back and rejecting Kyle (who genuinely does care for Heidi). It gets even worse in the next season's episode "The Problem With A Poo" as Kyle's involvement with Mr. Hankey causes him to become an outcast by the town and Kyle eventually gives up helping Mr. Hankey. (On the plus side, Heidi returns to her old self in this episode after hearing his Armor-Piercing Response and breaks up with Cartman last season, so Kyle does succeed in helping someone.)
    • Tweek is this to some, especially those who have suffered from anxiety or the like and can relate.
    • Cartman's mother in "Tsst".
    • Clyde in "Reverse Cowgirl". His mom was a complete asshole to him and then he accidentally killed her when he forgot to put the toilet seat down. The funeral wasn't any better for him.
    • Officer Barbrady in "Naughty Ninjas". The entire episode is basically a Trauma Conga Line for him. To elaborate: he loses his job despite being the original cop because PC Principal told the police there was a Code Red at the school (which was actually just Leslie talking) and he accidentally shot someone. And then, he gets home to his apartment where he promises to get another job so he can care for his sick and elderly dog, with his wife implied to be dead. But due to the cop hatred, he cannot find a new job and ends up homeless. He receives a cruel Hope Spot when the mayor and everyone ask him to save the town from ISIS, actually the gang playing Ninja, and he accidentally shoots them when Randy knocks his arm trying to stop him after finding out the truth. And then he's thrown under the bus by Randy and fired again. Though things do get better for him at the end of the season when he helps to save the world from the ads.
    • If you thought Butters was the definitive Woobie, wait until you see Heidi Turner. A picture of her mother is vandalized by Gerald, she leaves social media and is essentially considered dead, is left with only Cartman (but he did fall in love with her), her attempt to stop Gerald falls flat and fails to reunite the school genders, has to leave her home with him so they can be safe from TrollTrace because Cartman is afraid of his past catching up to him, and then ends up losing his trust and love. All within Season 20 alone. It gets worse when the next season opens: Cartman flat out breaks up with her because he managed to convince himself she's emotionally abusive, since she isn't a doormat or a slave to him. Then he goes back on his word and begs for her back, likely because he missed the attention, and continues to pay her little mind. A Trauma Conga Line to rival that of Barbrady above. The poor girl has gone through so much just for who she loves, since who she loves likely doesn't really love her back considering his narcissism. Arguably worst of all is how Butters (yes, the very same Butters who went through so much) was the reason Cartman ended up wanting out of the relationship, but not only will Heidi never know, it's likely Cartman would have filled in the gaps anyway without his intervention. Many have gone on record to state that she deserves better than what life gave her, with Kyle being used as an Audience Surrogate to express their sympathy towards Heidi. Thankfully, things do get better for her when she finally breaks up with Cartman for good and fully recovers from his abuse by season 22.
      Kyle: Heidi is a nice girl! How can you be so awful to her?

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