Since its premiere in 1997, South Park has been one of Comedy Central’s longest-running and most popular shows. Since then, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have released over 300 episodes (several of which have won Primetime Emmy Awards). continually pushed boundaries with snappy humor to keep audiences laughing for decades.
Also see: 13 Best South Park Catchphrases
From Chef (Isaac Hayes) as the South Park elementary school staffer to Eric Cartman disguising himself as a robot from Mars, South Park is sure to keep viewers engaged as he comments on some of today’s hottest social topics. You can count on this animated sitcom to push boundaries and test boundaries; prepare to be insulted and amused in the same episode.
See also: South Park: Five Best Cartman Moments
With so many episodes in the South Park archives, only time will tell if this season’s 26th season can be among its very best. The Most Iconic Episodes are a unique blend of crude and savvy content that fuses satire with goofy humor. Plus, all of those original songs always hit just the right comedic note. And don’t forget how delightfully flawed each character is – irreverence is their trademark. So join us on an unforgettable tour of the highest rated and best South Park episodes of all time.
10 ‘Grounded Vindaloop’
Season 18, Episode 7 (2014)
Cartman tries to prank Butters by making him think he’s in virtual reality, but his plan backfires and the other guys get sucked into multiple realities. Since they can’t tell what’s real or not, they have to rely on Steve (a customer service representative) if they want any chance of finding an exit from the simulated world.
The intertwined realities in this episode are so confusing that even the creators of the series were clear about which virtual reality was which. They were able to successfully mystify their audiences with clever satire of The Matrix and Total Recall, as well as virtual reality games. When our protagonists finally return to normality, it will be shown by live-action children.
9 “The Death of Eric Cartman”
Season 9, Episode 6 (2005)
Cartman’s prodigious appetite for KFC eventually got his friends over the edge and they unanimously agreed to ignore him. This led an unsuspecting Cartman to believe he was dead. He attempted to make amends with a couple of unfortunate attempts at remorse, which predictably offered little more than a little light-hearted entertainment.
By addressing medical trauma with gross exaggeration, this episode of South Park sends a message that resonates. Despite the classic South Park style – which often takes an unsubtle approach to meaningful themes – there’s still something to take away from any comedic blast.
8 “Trapped in the closet”
Season 9, Episode 12 (2005)
Stan is believed by local Scientologists to be the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard and quickly finds himself surrounded by followers at his home. When the leader of Scientology refuses to speak to Tom Cruise, he barricades himself in Stan’s closet – much like an angry toddler throwing a tantrum. This hilarious episode denies all accusations that he’s actually “in the closet” and includes references to R. Kelly’s urban opera Trapped in the Closet. The absurdity of it all creates such solid storytelling and impeccable comedic timing that it seamlessly blends into a fantastic experience.
After their release, the Church of Scientology launched an investigation into Parker and Stone for their controversial episode in South Park. Tom Cruise, a Scientologist, eventually sought to back out of his agreements with Comedy Central’s parent company, Paramount. Isaac Hayes, who played the beloved Chocolate Salty Balls boss, left South Park forever after the episode aired.
7 ‘Woodland Critter Christmas’
Season 8, Episode 14 (2004)
This beautifully designed Christmas episode draws inspiration from other great stories like How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Amazingly, the story takes an unexpected turn and spoils its traditional holiday flair. With the well-known Christmas carols, “Woodland Critter Christmas” reflects the Christian nativity scene, but with a special twist. It tells of the birth of a Satanic Messiah – nothing more than an Antichrist child.
When Cartman is used to voice the show’s most gruesome moments, it eases any burden of adhering to a widely accepted moral code. An inventive framework reveals that this episode is based on Cartman’s reaction to a school project, which explains the grotesque themes of this particular episode.
6 “Good Times With Guns”
Season 8, Episode 1 (2004)
With the addition of realistic weapons, the boys’ ninja game turns into a high-octane fight reminiscent of a martial arts anime cartoon. To bring some much-needed comic relief to their playtime, Butters steps in as his goofy supervillain identity, Professor Chaos — and everyone laughs.
The boys’ attempt to construct an imaginary landscape in their play is really cute. However, when something goes wrong and the risks of playing with guns come to light, it can be a worrying situation for everyone involved. Luckily there are no ill effects when the episode ends.
Season 8, Episode 5 (2004)
Disguised as a robot, Cartman tries to uncover Butters’ secrets. While in disguise, Cartman discovers that there is probably something incriminating about Butters – for once it’s Butters, not Cartman, who has the power and doesn’t even realize it.
“AWESOM-O” deftly captures the classic Shakespearean theme of mistaken identity, but adds an unexpected twist with Cartman’s self-inflicted injuries. Seeing Cartman’s comeuppance always brings viewers immense satisfaction – especially after enduring his myriad misdeeds in previous South Park episodes.
4 ‘Casa Bonita’
Season 7, Episode 11 (2003)
When Kyle’s birthday party is arranged at the Mexican restaurant Casa Bonita, Cartman doesn’t let anything stop him from attending the celebration – unfortunately, Butters falls victim to one of his schemes once again.
When they arrive at Casa Bonita, Cartman realizes that it’s not as great as he thought it would be. He is disappointed in the food and finds the conversation boring. Meanwhile, Kyle is having a great time with his family, which only adds to Cartman’s frustration.
The show manages to be both funny and satirical, poking fun at everything from Mexican culture to theme park attractions. And Cartman’s continued devotion to his fabricated stories is undeniably evil. In a nod to their admiration for the restaurant, Parker and Stone actually bought Casa Bonita and saved it from failure.
3 “The Fellowship of the Ring Returns to the Two Towers”
Season 6, Episode 13 (2002)
Randy Marsh screws it up and brings home an adult film instead of a Lord of the Rings DVD, causing his parents to rush to return it before their sons notice. Meanwhile, word quickly spreads among the 8th graders that an erotic film is circulating around town that is piqued by their thieving interests. Unfortunately, poor Token has to watch this dubious content, which leaves him shattered and distraught.
The climax of Two Towers is a heartbreaking scene in which the boys’ parents attempt to explain complex adult concepts to their sons, who have yet to watch the DVD. This difficult task puts them in an awkward position of divulging mature information to their gaping, anxious youth.
2 “Make Love, Not Warcraft”
Season 10, Episode 8 (2006)
When a player in World of Warcraft starts wreaking havoc, the boys come together to construct their own characters and defeat the culprit. Combining South Park’s iconic animation style with that of World of Warcraft resulted in an episode notable enough to earn a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program.
Far from being tarnished, the legacy of Make Love, Not Warcraft, hailed as one of South Park’s most hilarious episodes, was honored with a PvP achievement patch in Wrath of the Lich King to see its delightful ending remember.
1 “Scott Tenorman Must Die”
Season 5, Episode 4 (2001)
In this episode, Cartman is scammed out of his money by school bully Scott Tenorman, a ninth grader, who persuades Cartman to buy his pubic hair under the pretense that it will help him grow up. When his friends inform him that pubic hair only counts when it’s grown naturally, Cartman realizes he was tricked by Tenorman and devises a plan of retaliation.
What makes this episode so memorable is the extreme lengths Cartman goes to to get revenge on Tenorman. It starts with Cartman planning to just embarrass Tenorman, but things quickly escalate from there. Cartman learns that Tenorman’s parents recently died and decides to use this information to his advantage by tricking Tenorman into eating his own parents’ chili.
In addition to its shock value, the episode also stands out for its clever writing and one-liners. It’s full of memorable quotes, like Cartman’s infamous line, “I made you eat your parents!” and Tenorman’s response, “Oh my god, I think I’m going to be sick.”
This episode stands out from the rest as it features members of Radiohead instead of sound-alikes. It follows a similar storyline to Titus Andronicus and ends with an iconic Porky Pig finish that pays homage to classic animation. Not surprisingly, this remarkable episode has been included in many respected lists and polls for the best animated sitcom episodes.
More BuddyTV comedy suggestions
Looking for another comedy episode to watch next? Check out some of our other items below.