What Makes Each Episode of South Park Season 1 Important


The ultimate TV series to break all the rules, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park was the flagship for Comedy Central and remains as such today. The series has become one of the longest running animated shows of all time, and has since crossed over into video games, feature films, soundtracks, any number of pieces of merchandise, and a bunch of mini-movies on Paramount+. Not bad for a show about four eight-year-old foul-mouthed kids in a small mountain town.

But, of course, South Park is so much more than an exercise in being crass. It was misunderstood out of the gate, and arguably still is. But, without a doubt (and ironically), it was the scatological early seasons that generated the most ire — from people who hadn’t watched it, most likely.

13 Cartman Gets an Anal Probe — Episode 1

Should this piece become a season-by-season series, it will culminate with the most important episodes of South Park as a whole — the episodes that were definitive in crafting the legacy that exists today. And, naturally, “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe” could be on that list if only for the reason it was first. It will be on that list because of just how many characters’ personalities it establishes, as well as the feeling of the show itself.

The First Episode “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe” Set the Tone for the Show

In terms of what counts as a character introduction, this list is going to define it as a speaking part. So, alongside introducing the foul-mouthed quartet of Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick, “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe” also introduced audiences to a host of other instantly-iconic characters.

Specifically, Mr. Garrison (and Mr. Hat), Chef, Ms. Crabtree, Officer Barbrady, Farmer Denkins, Pip Pirrip (who would have a pretty heavy presence throughout the first two seasons), Wendy Testaburger, Liane Cartman, and Ike Broflovski.

This was also the first episode for “Kick the baby!” “No kitty, that’s a bad kitty!” and, of course, Stan yelling “Oh my God! They killed Kenny!” to which Kyle replies “You ba*tards!”

12 Volcano — Episode 2

The third episode produced, but the second episode aired, “Volcano” is a sophomore slump of an episode if ever there was one. But there are some outright hysterical moments, like the “Duck… and cover” so-called safety video. And, it contributed a few major characters to the South Park canon.

What Did “Volcano” Bring to South Park’s Legacy?

“Volcano” introduced Stan’s uncle, Jimbo Kern, and even gave the two the episode’s strongest subplot. And, by his side as always, and for the first time, was the electrolarynx-utilizing Ned Gerblanski. Two very big additions to the South Park character roster to be sure, as is their line “It’s coming right for us!” but there’s one new character who is even bigger.

This was also the first episode for Randy Marsh, and while he’s pretty far from the personality he has now, it does establish him as a geologist. Furthermore, considering “Volcano” aired before “Weight Gain 4000,” it was also the episode to introduce Mayor McDaniels. So, all in all, a lackluster episode, perhaps Season One’s weakest, but important nonetheless.

11 Weight Gain 4000 — Episode 3

Way funnier than “Volcano,” “Weight Gain 4000” was still a less important episode in terms of contributions to South Park lore. That said, it did feature the show’s take on a celebrity in a significant capacity for the first time.

Specifically, Kathie Lee Gifford, but this isn’t quite the first episode to focus on ripping on a celebrity, she’s more just incorporated into the plot.

Cartman Is Just Big-Boned

“Weight Gain 4000” gave Clyde Donovan his first speaking role, which more or less means it’s the first time he’s noticeable. The same goes for Bebe Stevens, who can also be seen in the pilot, but doesn’t speak until this third episode.

10 Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride — Episode 4

“Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride” arguably remains the best of its title character’s few episodes (in which he has a major presence). But Big Gay Al isn’t the only major character introduction in his titular episode.

The Biggest Gayest Episode

This episode also introduces not only Jesus, but the dumb duo of Fosse McDonald and Bill Allen (the two in the early seasons who called everything “Gay”), as well.

It even has George Clooney “voicing” Stan’s dog Sparky, if you can call his occasional barks a voice-acting role. Not to mention, especially for the late ’90s, it was an incredibly PC episode (though in typical crass South Park fashion).

9 An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig — Episode 5

“An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig” is a great example of early South Park‘s tone. It started out as something actively trying to gross out or offend some audience members, with a few pop culture references infused throughout. For instance, the entire character based on Marlon Brando in The Island of Dr. Moreau.

RELATED: The Worst Things Eric Cartman Has Ever Done on South Park

What Did “An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig” Contribute to South Park’s Legacy?

That late era Brando-esque character would be Mephesto, and his weird little monkey assistant (it’s really a take on a similar character in Dr. Moreau, which was a small clone of the title character).

But, this episode was also the first to give lines to Sharon Marsh, and the first to show Stan’s sister, Shelley, at all. Lastly, this was the one to introduce Cartman’s recurring line “I’ll kick you in the nuts!”

8 Death — Episode 6

“Death” is one of those episodes where the B-plot is stronger than the A. But, it’s not as if the introduction of Grandpa Marvin Marsh and his constant requests to die is unfunny.

It’s just that the introduction of Sheila Broflovski and her plotline is stronger and far more iconic. In fact, it’s basically the plot of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.

The Seeds of What Would Become the South Park Movie

Speaking of Sheila Broflovski, her plotline, and Bigger, Longer & Uncut, “Death” was the first episode to feature Terrance and Phillip. Naturally, they’re presences that remain in the show today, though many characters from the early seasons have since disappeared.

This episode also features the first real introspective moment for the boys, but it stops short of “I learned something today.” Naturally, it’s about how television can’t make anyone do anything immoral. That’s up to them.

7 Pinkeye — Episode 7

“Pinkeye” is a treat. It’s a tightly-constructed episode with equally compelling A and B-plots. In other words, it’s loaded with many of Season One’s most iconic moments.

It also toys with the “They killed Kenny” catchphrase by having Kyle not only say the whole thing, but say “I killed Kenny.” Not to mention, that’s his second death — and second “They killed Kenny…” of the episode.

One of the Funniest Episodes in the Early Years

Formulative classic era episodes like “Pinkeye” are especially interesting in hindsight. Stuff like Kenny’s family being poor starts really getting hammered in, but there’s also a sign that the quartet had yet to be fully figured out. In later seasons, it would just be Cartman ripping on him for being poor, but in Season One, Stan and Kyle chime in.

Stan and Kyle even needlessly insult one another occasionally. It’s a little awkward, but “Pinkeye” is one of the best episodes of a season that has aged remarkably well and remains funny to this day.

It also gives Chef quite a bit to do, which was always a good thing. And Principal Victoria, who has gone on to steal quite a few scenes throughout the series’ storied history, is introduced here.

6 Starvin’ Marvin — Episode 8

South Park is one of television’s most quotable shows, and “Starvin’ Marvin” alone is loaded with them. And, like with the episode that would follow, the title character of “Starvin’ Marvin” is a bit of a South Park legend. Which is impressive, considering he’s only been in two episodes.

A Brief Cameo of Starvin’ Marvin That Spawned a Generation of Jokes

Alongside the title character, “Starvin’ Marvin” helped solidify the ‘That’s my pot pie!’ line’s importance. But, in terms of introductions, this was the one-two punch intro of Kenny’s mom, Carol McCormick, and Kyle’s dad, Gerald Broflovski.

5 Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo — Episode 9

One of South Park‘s definitive Christmas episodes, especially because it was the first, “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo” is an all-timer. It was the first episode to give one of the four boys their own musical number, specifically Kyle’s beautiful “The Lonely Jew on Christmas.”

But, the more iconic number is Cartman’s song about Kyle’s mom. Mean, but iconic. But, “Mr Hankey” is also an all-timer by introducing, well, Mr. Hankey. Not to mention his hilarious line “You know something, Kyle, you smell an awful lot like flowers.”

RELATED: The 10 Grossest Episodes of South Park

Howdy Ho! Merry Christmas!

On top of introducing Mr. Hankey, this episode also gives South Park fans their first ‘Rabble, Rabble, Rabble!’ scene. However, while the town of South Park storms the mayor’s office, they’d yet to literally say ‘Rabble.’ But, the building blocks were laid.

“Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo” also introduced not only Father Maxi, but fan-favorite character Mr. Mackey (though outside of “Mm’kay” his personality wasn’t quite there yet). This episode was also the first to feature a live action sequence, specifically for the “Mr. Hankey Playset.”

Believe it or not, there’s more. This was the first episode to include the iconic recurring line “Dude, this is pretty f***ed up right here” as well as the first episode where Kenny does not die. A rarity, in the early years, and one more thing that helps this episode to be top-tier.

4 Damien — Episode 10

Whereas “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo” contributed a ton to South Park‘s legacy, things were a bit more limited when it came to “Damien.” But, it’s a tightly-constructed and entertaining episode nonetheless. It’s also an example of how Jesus was a frequent presence in the show’s early years.

An Introduction to South Park’s Satan

Considering Jesus has a major role here after his appearances in “Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride,” “An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig,” “Death,” and “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo,” it’s no surprise that “Damien” serves as the introduction of his counterpart.

And, even today, Satan has had as much a presence on South Park as Jesus. The only other introduction was Stan’s recurring line ‘I saw it on Star Trek‘ after doling out sage wisdom and mis-attributing the source.

3 Tom’s Rhinoplasty — Episode 11

It wouldn’t take long for Trey and Matt to realize South Park didn’t need guest stars. But, the few it’s had have been solid, like having Natasha Henstridge from Species portray the attractive new elementary school teacher. “Tom’s Rhinoplasty” is also unique in that it’s really the first Wendy-focused episode.

The First Wendy-Focused Episode

The boys are there, but this is really Wendy’s narrative. Her jealousy and eventual attack on the substitute is the episode’s main plotline.

However, when she calculatedly states “Don’t f**k with Wendy Testaburger,” an iconic line in its own right, she’s pretty darn far from the Wendy of later seasons. Furthermore, this is the first and one of only a few episodes to feature a real human’s face. In this case, David Hasselhoff.

2 Mecha-Streisand — Episode 12

“Mecha-Streisand” wasn’t the first episode to mention or even show a celebrity. But, it was the first to spend most of its time targeting one — in this case, Barbra Streisand. Robert Smith and Sydney Poitier also pop up, with the former even voicing himself.

I Think We’ve All Learned Something Today

By this point, there was less of all four of the boys ripping on one another. It was slowly being established that Cartman is the only real immature jerk of the quartet. Not to mention, this was the first episode to give Kyle his “I’ve learned something today,” with the heavy but lovely music playing in the background.

1 Some Drastic Lore Developed

While it wouldn’t be concluded for a while, “Cartman’s Mom is a Dirty S***” is South Park‘s first introduction of the multi-episode arc. Of course, they’d get far more epic than this later, like with “Imaginationland.”

What Did “Cartman’s Mom Is a Dirty…” Contribute to South Park’s Legacy?

Most importantly, this episode revealed that Cartman’s mother is also his father. But it doesn’t stop analyzing its characters’ sexuality there, as this was also the first episode to introduce the concept that Mr. Garrison is homosexual.

Lastly, this was the first episode for Cartman’s tea parties, which means it’s the first episode for Peter Panda, Polly Prissypants, Rumpertumpskin, and, most importantly, Clyde Frog.

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