South Park has been a consistent presence on the television landscape for decades now, known for its outrageous and bizarre storylines that are often designed to skewer the latest news and trends.


The show has recently found a new lease of life on streaming service Paramount Plus, which is home to most episodes (some are notably absent) as well as a series of extended specials – the latest being The End of Obesity.

If the new instalments get you in the mood to dive into the archive, you've come to the right place. Here, we've compiled a list of the 15 best and most legendary episodes of South Park for your next (re-)watch.

Expect controversy, adult humour and some utterly surreal concepts.

15. Kenny Dies (S5 E13)

One of the most famous running gags from the early years of South Park was the routine killing of Kenny McCormick, who suffered a wide variety of unpleasant deaths over the course of the first five seasons. That was, until this momentous instalment, which killed Kenny – and this time it stuck (well, for a little while anyway).

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The episode follows the group as they come to terms with Kenny being diagnosed with a terminal disease, with the creators noting that this is the first time any of them have given significant thought to their friend's mortality. The topic is also a gateway for co-creator Trey Parker to comment on stem cells, in a surprisingly informative subplot.

14. You're Getting Old (S15 E7)

A slight gear shift from the typical South Park formula, You're Getting Old was highly praised for its relatable themes of growing up and coming to terms with change, as Stan Marsh begins to see the world extremely negatively after his 10th birthday. It's a surprisingly affecting storyline with a knockout cliffhanger addressed in the following episode.

Back in 2011, this chapter was interpreted by some viewers as a bold message from creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, implying that they had lost their passion for making South Park. However, they later clarified that – while challenging – they do still enjoy the process, and continue to put themselves through it more than a decade later.

13. The Death of Eric Cartman (S9 E6)

Cartman frantically shakes a classmate in the school playground
South Park. Comedy Central/HBO Max

While he certainly has his fans, it's nice to see the maniacal Eric Cartman taken down a peg from time to time. By the time of this season 9 episode, his "friends" in South Park have grown weary of his devious schemes and agree to collectively ignore him, which naturally leads the troublemaker to assuming that he's dead.

Believing himself to be a restless spirit in this mortal world, he becomes so desperate to get to heaven that he even starts doing good deeds to get there. But how long can that possibly last? The Death of Eric Cartman is a fan favourite for its sharp script, which includes several classic lines as the exclusion escalates.

12. Fishsticks (S13 E5)

Kanye West has become an increasingly controversial figure in recent years, but the South Park writers wasted no time before parodying his behaviour, producing this thorough roasting in April 2009. The episode sees Jimmy come up with a joke swiftly hailed as the funniest of all time, with the world-famous rapper being the only one who doesn't understand it.

Things escalate in typically absurd South Park fashion, with West (voiced in the episode by South Park co-creator Trey Parker) ultimately embracing his destiny of being a "gay fish". It's a title that followed him in the real world for some time, with the musician referencing it most recently in the 2021 demo of his song, Life of the Party.

11. Imaginationland (S11 E10-12)

A mysterious figure with a purple top hat steers an airship, while the South Park boys stand glumly behind him
South Park. Comedy Central

This trilogy of episodes from South Park's 11th season sees the show veer into fantasy territory, with the gang discovering a land inhabited by characters and creatures from the human imagination. They then get drawn into an epic battle for this mystical realm, after an attack allows the evil creations to wreak havoc over the good.

The three episodes that comprise this ambitious storyline are often compiled together, securing it the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program (One Hour or More) in 2008. Expect parody cameos from some of the most recognisable characters in pop culture and a particularly unpleasant Cartman with just one thing on his mind.

10. Good Times with Weapons (S8 E1)

The rather modest animation style of South Park has allowed the show to keep up with current events more closely than any other scripted comedy, but it's nevertheless exciting to see the show try something slightly more ambitious in Good Times with Weapons.

Heavily influenced by anime, this outlandish chapter sees the gang acquire martial arts weapons from a local market, transforming them into formidable warriors who proceed to clash with their arch-nemesis Professor Chaos. A treat for fans of the medium, this chapter is also a personal favourite of co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

9. Butters' Very Own Episode (S5 E14)

The naive and trusting Butters Stotch takes centre stage for the first time in this episode, which demonstrated the character's growing popularity among both the viewers and the writers. Here, he is once again the victim of a nefarious scheme, as his mother attempts to kill him after he discovers that his father is gay.

While some of the references from the time have not aged spectacularly well, this episode is still regarded as one of the best by South Park fans, remembered for its dark humour and its parodying of 1950s sitcoms. Butters would go on to become a key part of the show, with Parker and Stone being particularly fond of the character.

8. All About Mormons (S7 E12)

Besides South Park, the most popular work by Trey Parker and Matt Stone is probably their stage musical The Book of Mormon, which this episode can be considered something of a precursor to. The episode sees Stan befriend a boy whose family follows Mormonism, and thus learns about the history of the religion.

Suffice to say, Parker and Stone are not shy about their scepticism of the institution, but the episode does pay some respect to the individuals themselves, inspired by the kind, welcoming Mormons that the writers have met in their own lives. Like the stage show that followed, this episode boasts a catchy tune that could stay in your head long after viewing.

7. The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers (S6 E13)

Described by Parker as an episode concisely summed up as "boys being boys", this Lord of the Rings-inspired effort sees the crew tasked with returning a copy of the fantasy epic to their local video rental store (an inclusion that shows its age). But they are shocked to discover that the tape has been mistakenly swapped with an adult film.

It's another episode that has fun messing with the character of Butters, casting him as South Park's answer to Gollum, who is equal parts confused and fascinated by the mature material he shouldn't have been watching. Middle-earth knowledge is not essential, but probably adds to the experience.

6. Simpsons Already Did It (S6 E7)

It's hard to talk about American animation without mentioning The Simpsons, with the long-running series now well past its prime but still celebrated for an illustrious golden age. While the show is often criticised these days for boiling down to absurd scenarios and celebrity cameos, it was submitted to South Park's satirical eye as early as 2002.

Trey Parker pens the script to this entry, which sees Butters (in his supervillain alter ego Professor Chaos) attempt to take over the world, but all of his evil schemes are unwittingly ripped directly from episodes of The Simpsons. The episode asks if there is anything new under the sun – and whether that even matters.

5. AWESOM-O (S8 E5)

The odd dynamic between the wholesome Butters and the sinister Cartman never fails to create comedy gold, with this classic episode being no exception. The story sees Cartman attempt an elaborate prank on his frenemy, disguising himself as a robot in order to gain Butters' trust and learn any embarrassing secrets he can.

Of course, the plan spirals dramatically out of control, with consequences as unpredictable as they are hilarious. This is another episode that holds a special place in the hearts of creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, with the quality being astonishingly high considering it was put together in a mere three days.

4. Trapped in the Closet (S9 E12)

If it's sheer gutsiness that you're looking for, few episodes come close to Trapped in the Closet, which ruthlessly satirises the Church of Scientology and two of its most high-profile members. While the religion has received much coverage in the years since, South Park was among the first major voices to criticise some of its practices – and not without cost.

Indeed, the show's mocking of the beliefs and story on which Scientology is founded led Chef voice actor Isaac Hayes – a member of the church – to quit the show, a development that was also addressed in outrageous fashion in the following season's premiere. At the time of writing, this episode is not available to stream on Paramount Plus.

3. Make Love, Not Warcraft (S10 E8)

The characters of South Park as World of Warcraft avatars
South Park's Make Love, Not Warcraft. Comedy Central/South Park Studios

Another Emmy-winning instalment in the long-running series, Make Love, Not Warcraft sees the South Park boys become addicted to the online role-playing game World of Warcraft. In collaboration with the developers, Blizzard Entertainment, the team animated the episode partly inside the game itself, providing an extra layer of authenticity and ambition.

The episode sees the gang attempt to stop an experienced player from routinely killing their comparatively junior characters, poking fun at gamer culture in a loving way. The writers would go on to prove their commitment to the medium, writing two South Park video games, both of which were well received by critics.

2. Casa Bonita (S7 E11)

Here's a classic episode which is about to gain new relevance. Casa Bonita takes its name from a real-life Mexican restaurant and tourist attraction in Colorado, which was a favourite of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's from when they were kids. It's also the location of Kyle's imminent birthday party, which Cartman desperately wants an invitation to.

When it becomes clear that he's been excluded – owing to his past behaviour and odious views on the world – he makes it his mission to make Butters disappear, in the hopes of claiming his place. The real Casa Bonita sadly shuttered in 2020, but was subsequently purchased by Parker and Stone, who have spent $40 million refurbishing it.

Their efforts are the subject of an upcoming Paramount Plus documentary titled ¡CASA BONITA MI AMOR!.

1. Scott Tenorman Must Die (S5 E4)

South Park's Eric Cartman smiles as he looks up at the older, taller Scott Tenorman
South Park. Comedy Central

And here we have it – a popular choice for the best ever South Park episode, but not without good reason. Scott Tenorman Must Die is the kind of strange and blackly comic story that only this show could tell, seeing Cartman enact an elaborate revenge plot on an older kid, Scott, who tricked him into buying pubic hair.

The punishment that Cartman cooks up is enough to make even the most seasoned horror movie villain shudder, cementing the show's mascot character as a truly disturbed figure – although its debatable whether he's ever reached these murky depths again.

South Park is available to stream on Paramount Plus.


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