Top 10 Underappreciated South Park Episodes
VOICE OVER: Callum Janes
WRITTEN BY: Matt Klem
"South Park" has a lot of great episodes, but we feel these are underrated. For this list, we'll be looking at great episodes of this long-running animated program that don't get as much love as they should. Our countdown includes "Night of the Living Homeless," "The Breast Cancer Show Ever," "Asspen," and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Underappreciated Episodes on South Park. For this list, we’ll be looking at great episodes of this long-running animated program that don’t get as much love as they should. Do you have a favorite episode that people rarely talk about? Let us know in the comments.
#10: "The Return of Chef"
It was the end of an era. Isaac Hayes had voiced the character of Chef since the show’s inception. But after a public disagreement with the show’s creators, he exited at the end of season 9. Season 10’s opener served as both a farewell to the beloved character, and yet another jab at Scientology through the lens of the “Super Adventure Club”. The show has killed off recurring characters before, but never in such a spectacular fashion. Combine that with the clever use of previously recorded dialog, and this episode is that one no true fan should miss.
#9: "Night of the Living Homeless"
With that title alone, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what the show was poking fun at this time around. Sure, they did a zombie themed episode in season one, but it wasn’t until season 11 that they really did the genre justice. Replacing the undead with people without homes, “South Park” offers a great send-up of George A. Romero’s classic film “Night of the Living Dead” and its sequels. The episode reaches apocalyptic proportions, offering biting social commentary on discriminatory attitudes towards the homeless.
#8: "Bass to Mouth"
Aside from the clear play on words, this season 15 gem stands out for its look at the right to privacy and tabloid culture. When a gossip website called Eavesdropper appears online, students are both enthralled and enraged by the embarrassing details they discover. It’s made even better by the fact that these details are disclosed by a literal rat who runs the website. The episode showcases how tantalizing scandals can be until you’re the one being talked about. As an added bonus, Lemmiwinks returns to save the day, giving us even more reasons to love this little critter.
“Oh, they took our jobs!” Now here’s an episode that spawned 1,000 memes. The catchphrase may have cemented itself in pop culture history, but the episode it came from tends to be easily forgotten. An obvious parody about illegal immigration, "Goobacks" sees the town become overrun with visitors from the future, all looking for work. Frustrated at being ousted by the newcomers, the locals go to extreme lengths to prevent them from ever being born, thus saving their jobs. It’s a satirical take on a real world issue that isn’t easily solved. However, Stan’s point about making the future better for everyone does suggest that working together is far better than a big ole pile of naked people.
#6: "Pinewood Derby"
Now here’s an interesting recipe. Take one wholesome dash of Cub Scouts, one cup of intergalactic robbery, and some “Star Trek” Prime Directive sauce and you’ve got yourself a serving of “Pinewood Derby”. It’s a funny take on how the world might react should we learn that we’re not alone in the universe. Sure, the nations of the globe do come together, but not in solidarity. No, it’s all about showcasing how greed and dishonesty brings out the ugly in everyone. Ultimately, Randy’s antics cost the planet membership in a larger community. At least it provides the audience with a lot of laughs.
#5: "The Breast Cancer Show Ever"
This is a perfect example of how Cartman loves to dish it out, but is terrified of taking anything in return. After he mocks Wendy’s presentation on breast cancer, she declares her intent to fight him on the school playground. Knowing she’s serious, Cartman does anything and everything to avoid it, but comes up short. Watching him panic throughout the episode is entertaining enough, but the fight is where the real entertainment lies. We’re not condoning violence, but watching Eric get his comeuppance from Wendy is what every fan didn’t know they wanted. It’s a karmic delight that can be played back every time we see him do something awful.
#4: "The Losing Edge"
We all know of those parents at little league games who go a little too far with their kids. Now take that aggressive energy, and plug it into Randy Marsh. Getting drunk and beating his fellow parents becomes his own “Rocky” challenge as the kids play baseball. It’s a turning point in the show where Randy became a much more prominent character in the episodes that followed. Antics aside, we also get a window into the minds of childhood boys who simply don’t want to play the game at all. It’s an interesting take on whether it’s the kids, or their parents, that truly want the sports hero image.
#3: "I Should Have Never Gone Ziplining"
It’s an otherwise mediocre episode, but there’s one compelling reason to tune it in: the live action boys. In a rare switch-up, the “re-enactment” portion of this reality TV spoof is all done with live action actors. We get several minutes of Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny in the flesh, sitting on a boat after having been bored to tears by ziplining. The actors are all far too old to reflect the characters correctly, but that too fits into the frame of the satire of poorly made documentary style television. The addition of narration from Eric Meyers makes this parody all the more worth watching, given his history of narrating other reality based programming.
An underdog must win a competition in order to get the girl, and save something from being sold or destroyed. Sound familiar? It’s a common movie trope associated with a whole variety of sports films. For “South Park”, Stan is the hero, and skiing is the sport of choice. What makes this so entertaining is how well the episode pokes fun at those stereotypical plots. Stan doesn’t even know how to ski yet somehow he ends up saving the day. Add to that the subplot about timeshares and you’ve got a great combination for laughs.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“The Death of Eric Cartman”
He’s Not Dead. He’s Just On Ignore
“Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus”
An April Fools’ Day Prank Most Fans Disliked
Some People Should Take a Sarcasm 101 Class
“Medicinal Fried Chicken”
You Can Only Go Forward, Unless You’re Timmy
#1: "Quest for Ratings"
With Matt Stone and Trey Parker being the driving force behind the writing team at “South Park”, their own ups and downs are often reflected in the episodes. After having just finished their work on “Team America: World Police”, the writers were exhausted. Their fatigue was put on display through the episode “Quest for Ratings” where the boys themselves are trying to get other kids to watch their “Super School News” show. As Kyle, Cartman and the others struggle to come up with ideas for their own episodes, you can clearly see the parallels to the real world. It’s a perfect episode that illustrates the struggles of writing episodic television.