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    The 32 Best "South Park" Episodes, Ranked

    All your favorite episodes from "Mecha-Streisand" to "Tegridy Farms."

    South Park aired "The Pandemic Special" this past week to the largest audience the show has seen in seven years. Here are the top episodes of South Park, ranked for your viewing pleasure!

    Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny at bus stop
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    32. "Grounded Vindaloop"

    Cartman uses Oculus Rift
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 18, Episode 7

    This is the most memorable episode of South Park's 18th season, in which the show dips its toe back into continuity. This is something done with bleeding-edge precision during Season 6, wherein the long-term death of Kenny was used as a device throughout the season. During this season, each episode contains a tech-centric storyline, taking a hard look at freemium gaming, auto-tuning, kickstarters, and VR. Perhaps the best thread that runs through the episodes this season is the revelation that the popular singer Lorde is actually Randy Marsh. Lorde doesn't show up in "Grounded Vindaloop"; however, the inexplicable reality-bending narrative that goes along with the boys' discovery of virtual reality makes for the most memorable single episode of the season.

    31. "Trapper Keeper"

    Trapper Keeper expels Cartman, Kyle, and Rosie
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 4, Episode 12

    This episode relies on two distinct narratives, with one timely and political with a kindergarten class president election. This is one of the earlier examples of how immediately relevant an episode with South Park's turnaround time can be. While the kindergarten class storyline, complete with an angry Rosie O'Donnell, may appear quite boring, it provides a novel, however trite, real-time metaphor to break up the more action-oriented second narrative. This far more satisfying aspect of the episode is a Seussian collection of homages to epic sci-fi films (namely Terminator, Akira, and 2001: A Space Odyssey) via sequences that revolve around a Dawson's Creek–themed Trapper Keeper uber-McGuffin. The art is fun and surrealist, and Cartman singing the Dawson's Creek theme song is, for some reason, incredibly soothing.

    30. "Cat Orgy"

    Cartman holds catnip with Shelly
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 3, Episode 7

    The first part of "the Meteor Shower Trilogy" — South Park's first midseason, multi-episode, and continuous storyline — stars an early iteration of Wild West–loving Cartman, who ends up saving Stan's sister Shelly from a rock 'n' roll predator while a very bad kitty is in heat.

    29. "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub"

    Randy and Gerald talking
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 3, Episode 8

    The second part of "the Meteor Shower Trilogy" takes the time to get to know some of South Park's adult members, namely Randy Marsh and Gerald Brofloski.

    28. "Jewbilee"

    Moses speaks to scouts
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 3, Episode 9

    The conclusion of South Park's semi-three-parter comes when Kyle takes Kenny with him to "Jew Scouts," where they must watch a showdown between Super Best Friend and macaroni picture–loving Moses and a cultist crank with a powerful conk shell.

    27. "Quest for Ratings"

    Cartman and Kyle present special report
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 8, Episode 11

    "Quest for Ratings" gives us a thematic one-off using the lead characters of South Park. In this iteration, they are made to look like morning news anchors as they take running the school news as seriously as one might take running an actual TV show. The episode succeeds in being an earlier example of meta-narrative with the boys strategically thinking of ways to drive their school news program ratings up, going especially meta with the mention of crab people (a reference to the "South Park Is Gay!" episode).

    26. "Black Friday"

    Wizard Cartman pleads with Kyle
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 17, Episode 7

    A lead-up to the release of the first South Park video game (well the first game with Parker and Stone at the creative helm) Stick of Truth, this is a three-part epic that draws from holiday cop-centric action films in regard to Randy Marsh and a Game of Thrones parody for the boys that mirrors the plot of the not-yet-released video game Stick of Truth.

    25. "A Song of Ass and Fire"

    Princess Kenny receives letter from Wizard Cartman
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 17, Episode 8

    The boys continue role-playing as fantasy characters and battling over which video game system is better: Xbox or Playstation. Princess Kenny and her Ghibli stylings really shine in the second part of this trilogy. She truly shows how great her power is as she becomes very involved with team Playstation.

    24. "Titties and Dragons"

    Bill Gates prepares to fight
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 17, Episode 9

    The conclusion of this three-part series really heats up when a far more ripped Bill Gates than we saw in Bigger, Longer & Uncut really wipes the floor with a Sony executive at a Red Robin.

    23. "Something You Can Do With Your Finger"

    Wendy, Kyle, Cartman, Randy, and Stan perform
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 4, Episode 8

    The boys form their own boy band, awakening a passion from Randy's past he can't turn away from.

    22. "Stunning and Brave"

    PC Principal introduces changes to South Park
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 19, Episode 1

    The new era begins... A new form of South Park rises like a phoenix from the glistening pecks and aggressive overbite of PC Principal. The recreation of South Park is not episodic but a full epic about making some sharp changes to already heavily shaped characters that cause them to remain topical caricatures of themselves forever after in a brave, new, politically correct world.

    21. "PC Principal Final Justice"

    Kyle protects Leslie
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 19, Episode 10

    Just as typical television shows had changed to be an ever-continuing narrative, necessitating a viewing of the previous entry, so too does the new South Park require such an approach to fully understand the season's topical climax and denouement. "PC Principal Final Justice" wraps up Season 19 neatly, in a way that could not be repeated come Season 20.

    20. "Tegridy Farms"

    Randy and Towelie demonstrate "tegridy"
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 22, Episode 4

    Randy Marsh rediscovers himself, as he has done many times in the past. But it seems this time it has taken. The man who at times has identified himself as tweenwave sensation Steamy Ray Vaughan, a Broadway Spider-Man, and even famous musician Lorde seems to have finally found his calling as a weed farmer with a special kind of "tegridy," much to the chagrin of his family. The creation of Tegridy Farms represents a shift in the South Park universe from seeing Randy as a side character to seeing him as a character with as much, if not more, screentime as the four main boys.

    19. "You Have 0 Friends"

    Stan deletes his Facebook profile
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 14, Episode 4

    The boys all have unique experiences with Facebook, some more epic than others, all of them bad. From Cartman showing Kyle the phallic nightmare that is Chatroulette to Randy obsessing over his son becoming his Facebook friend to Stan experiencing a Tron-like intimacy with his Facebook avatar, "You Have 0 Friends" looks at the issues Facebook was creating long before anyone was worried about their data being sold or other such social dilemmas.

    18. "You're Getting Old"

    Stan stares wistfully
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 15, Episode 7

    The figurative becomes all too literal as Stan begins a coming-of-age adventure in which he is diagnosed by a medical professional as a cynical asshole. This episode promises a shift in relationships within the South Park universe with Stan breaking away from Cartman and Kyle, as well as Randy and Sharon getting a divorce. The events of this seemingly explosive episode are mostly reversed by the next installment, but it still reveals a discomfort with the status quo from the creators...foreshadowing the kind of changes that begin taking place around Season 19. That said, some shifts seem to truly take root here: Cartman and Kyle seem to remain less at odds, and Randy learns that he can go his own way without worrying about repercussions in his marriage or home life. "You're Getting Old" is an excellent prologue to the flavor of South Park we are seeing play out at present.

    17. "Medicinal Fried Chicken"

    Randy enjoys legal weed
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 14, Episode 3

    The origins of Randy's love affair with marijuana begins here, long before the creation of Tegridy Farms. In this episode, we see Randy is more than willing (along with most of the other men of South Park) to go to incredible extremes to be allowed legal marijuana. This episode features Randy and friends hopping around on their own cancerous testicles as if they are bouncy balls, truly an iconic image that cannot be unseen.

    16. "Go, God, Go"

    Cartman travels to the future
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 10, Episode 12

    Part one of this two-parter focuses on Eric Cartman's desire for a Nintendo Wii and noted atheist and elementary school evolution teacher Richard Dawkin's desire for Mrs. Garrison. Cartman's plan to play the Wii without having to wait is to freeze himself and have Butters revive him three weeks later. Is this a treatise on transhumanism to the ultimate degree? This episode features Butters as Professor Chaos, contemplating his own moral choices while Garrison's body is displayed in a way that...truly makes one think.

    15. "Go, God, Go XII"

    Allied Atheist Alliance prepares for battle
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 10, Episode 13

    Eric's adventures in the future continue as his three-week freeze turns into hundreds of years. The future Cartman travels to is one that looks shockingly similar to that of Vernor Vinge's science fiction masterpiece Fire Upon the Deep, complete with tine-like otters. The "Go, God, Go" episodes are really a feast for the eyes!

    14. "Chinpokomon"

    Cartman and Stan shop for Chinpokomon
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 3, Episode 11

    Season 3 was produced alongside the South Park film Bigger, Longer & Uncut. The improvements both in narrative and visual aesthetic are vast and noticeable. The Chinpokomon episode is a perfect example of this evolution: There are faux episodes of a Pokemon parody, large interiors at Japanese corporate toy headquarters, and several hilarious live-action commercials taking aim at marketing for children. BLU obviously gave the creators an appreciation for using the minimalist South Park aesthetic with a film auteur's sensibility.

    The episode also explores the parent's perspective alongside the boy's perspective, pivoting from the larger perspective of the madcap mountain town to a more streamlined look at specific relationships — more true to how the show would continue. While the lesson learned by Kyle seems to be a paradoxical "be an individual, follow the group," the real lesson of the episode is that perhaps there is more danger in the uncertainty of entertainment properties built on the premise of marketability than a show like South Park that, while also shamelessly marketed, does not pretend to be anything it is not: notably an animated program for mature audiences that looks at Middle American society with a sharp, honest wit. Another lesson for parents unsure their children should be watching a show like South Park: Make it clear that you enjoy the show, and their interest will most likely wane.

    13. "Awesom-O"

    Awesom-O and Butters have a heart-to-heart
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 8, Episode 5

    Awesom-O really speaks to the power of strong character design. Awesom-O is all at once a well-designed cartoon robot, an illustration of youthful ingenuity, and Cartman in disguise trying to save his own ass from dangerous social blackmail. The episode moves at a slower pace, really leaning in to the military-infused pitfalls that would most likely be the result of an AI with the intelligence of the world's most twisted fourth-grader.

    12. "Raisins"

    Butters enjoys Raisins girl's company
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 7, Episode 14

    Stan and Butters explore the emotional roller coaster that is losing a first love. This episode might be most famous for introducing the "goth kids" to the South Park universe. It also shows the emotional range that can be explored in the South Park medium... I'm not crying. You're crying!

    11. "All About Mormons"

    Joseph Smith communes with the divine
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 7, Episode 12

    An episode almost entirely devoted to telling the story of the Mormon religious belief system. Stan and Randy are persuaded to appreciate the Mormon way of life for a moment, until they realize they just don't vibe with the lifestyle. Did this episode pave the way for both The Book of Mormon AND Trapped in the Closet?

    10. "The Simpsons Already Did It"

    Cartman, Kyle, and Stan as Simpsons characters
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 6, Episode 7

    Professor Chaos, the death of Mrs. Chokesondick, a society of mutated sea monkeys, South Park characters drawn like Simpsons characters, and Tweak's first time in the sun since his run in with the underpants gnomes. This is South Park at it's most cartoony, and in a way this is its meta-commentary about reinventing itself — appropriate for Season 6, the season wherein Kenny is dead for the entirety — and the challenge of such an act in a world where almost all adult animation sitcom tropes have been exercised in one way or another.

    9. "Scott Tenorman Must Die"

    Cartman watches Scott Tenorman
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 5, Episode 4

    This episode was a turning point for Eric Cartman and goes down in history as his most defining episode to date. When an older bully tortures Cartman to his breaking point, he is paid back in a way far more punishing than his behavior warranted. Cartman at his worst proves to be something far more sinister than pure ignorance and far more frightening to those who keep his company.

    8. "Towelie"

    Towelie chooses to get high and save his friends
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 5, Episode 8

    "Towelie" introduced us to one of marijuana's most adorable advocates: Towelie the very marketable towel. This episode is excellent as it coincided with the release of Nintendo GameCube in its focus on a fictional video game system called the Okama Game Sphere. The crux of the story is basically an absurd plot to a generic sci-fi video game, with the goal for the boys, heroes of the story, being to wrap up said plot as quickly as possible to play the new video game system. Towelie is at the center of the adventure and has the audacious need to constantly get high.

    7. "Timmy 2000"

    Timmy and the Lords of the Underworld perform
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 4, Episode 3

    This episode marks the second appearance from South Park's first character with a disability. The episode critiques Middle America's inability to understand the nuances of mental handicaps (prescribing all the town's children the ADD drug Ritalin without proper reason) and cruelly mocks Phil Collins (who at the time had beaten South Park for the Academy Award for Best Song). The precision of what to celebrate and what to skewer has long been one of South Park's greatest strengths, as those who look for problematic narratives often come away feeling that the show has actually done a service for the often underrepresented. Timmy remains one of the show's most successful non-core students, and this episode remains his swan song.

    6. "Fishsticks"

    Kanye West doesn't understand why people think he is a gay fish
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 13, Episode 5

    It seemed no celebrity was as ripe for evisceration than Tom Cruise with his "Trapped in the Closet," "200," and "201" appearances until the South Park team caught onto Kanye West. Unable to understand a fourth grader's joke about fishsticks, West is convinced the entire world believes him to be a gay fish. This episode proves its merit at a conclusion wherein Kanye embraces his identity and performs the musical number "Gay Fish," a track so solid it garnered its own limited edition vinyl release.

    5. "Mecha-Streisand"

    Robert Smith battles Mecha-Streisand
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 1, Episode 12

    Mecha-Streisand is perhaps the best example of South Park's introduction to the masses: the marketable quality of the boys, the early Monty Python–esque absurdity, and a peak at what would evolve into an unflinching specificity in aggressive celebrity critique.

    Where a show like The Simpsons would attempt to simply transmute a celebrity guest into a beautiful, yellow simulacrum...South Park made it clear from the get-go that they are more interested in the cruel essence of disregard for celebrity culture. Upon Barbara Streisand's hideous caricature's arrival, her poorly executed singing begins, which is immediately met with "That sucks, dude!" from Stan. The simultaneous enormity of a Mecha-Streisand paired with the simplicity of the construction paper aesthetic battling makes for captivating shlock.

    4. "Major Boobage"

    Kenny hallucinates
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 12, Episode 3

    This love letter to 1981's masterpiece of adult animation Heavy Metal features Kenny, a beautiful space babe, and cheesing cats — an activity that seems to have similar effects to those of designer bath salts.

    3. "Gnomes"

    Underpants gnome smokes pipe
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 2, Episode 17

    Gnomes is a great example of South Park's ability to make a valid point about human behavior, perhaps even insofar as helping define the fiscal stance of what Andrew Sullivan famously coined the "South Park Republican." In this episode we meet not only Tweak and his family, but also underpants gnomes who, while they do not necessarily reappear throughout the series, remain iconic. They make appearances in games, apps, and other marketing material for the show. Who can forget their famous credo: "Step 1, Collect Underpants; Step 2, ?; Step 3, Profit." An obvious ode to Parker and Stone's love of Monty Python and much like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects the hilarity brought about by the entrepreneurial, pipe-smoking underpants gnomes.

    2. "Christian Rock Hard"

    Faith+1 photo shoot
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 7, Episode 9

    An incredible music episode wherein Cartman exploits marketing directly to an evangelical audience to win a bet related to having the most successful band when he is booted from the newly formed rock band MOOP, fronted by Stan, Kenny, and Kyle. MOOP proves to be far less successful than Cartman's new Christian group Faith+1, but they do get a lesson in illegal music downloading and its toll on the morbidly wealthy. Due to a technicality, Cartman does not win his bet against MOOP and as a result becomes blasphemously disillusioned when it comes to Jesus.

    1. "Trapped in the Closet"

    Tom Cruise is trapped in the closet
    Comedy Central / South Park Studios

    Season 9, Episode 12

    The episode that finally explained Scientology to an entire generation, while throwing a few high-profile men in a closet together. One of the most audacious episodes that, while it might not have caused the same level of existential worry "200", "201", or a rerun of "Super Best Friends" approached...certainly saw a lot of people credited as John Smith worried about getting sued. This is a South Park education session at its most evolved, if not at its most dangerous.