The 10 Best Episodes of ‘South Park’

Trapped in the Closet 2

Oh, South Park. The notorious, the infamous, the legendary South Park. I remember being a child and watching South Park while hiding under pillows that my older brothers put over me so that my parents wouldn’t know I was there. By the time I was 11 and my parents had caved, the DVD box sets were being released and my brothers started me back at episode one. The rest was history.

I have seen every episode of South Park, some only once or twice, and others upwards of unfathomable numbers. When tasked to pick my top 10 favorite episodes out of its 20 seasons, I was naive and ignorant to think that this would be super simple. I get to watch South Park and write about it. Hell, yeah! However, once I started scanning through and picking my favorite episodes out of every season to narrow it down, I ended up with a list 60 episodes long. This was a beast.

I had to get more critical. What Cartman episode is the most Cartman-y? What’s more insulting to a religious organization: “Trapped in the Closet” or “All About Mormons”? Which is sillier: “Bebe’s Boobs Destroy Society” or “Make Love, Not Warcraft”? And most importantly, which “suck my balls” joke is the funniest? South Park is so loyal to its own brand of ridiculous vulgarity and message based programming, that when it comes to picking 10 of my favorites, it came down to (1) which episodes have withstood the test of time and (2) which were the most South Park-y South Park episodes I just can’t stop laughing at.

With season 21 having premiered last night, I give you my completely unscientific, 100% biased list of 10 of my favorite episodes of South Park…in no particular order.

Woodland Critter Christmas

Woodland Critter Christmas

Holiday cheer, the nostalgic tones of nursery rhymes, adorable woodland creatures, and a heavy dose of Satan worship and blood orgies. “Woodland Critter Christmas” follows the story of the reluctant little boy in the red poof ball hat as he helps protect the cheery creatures and Porcupine-y the Porcupine who was impregnated by their lord savior only to find out that the lord and savior they worshipped was none other than Satan. After all, why would god have sex with a porcupine? Add in an unbaptized heathen human host body in the form of our favorite Jewish ginger, Kyle, and a lesson in how to give abortions, and you have an instant classic.

I was in eighth grade when “Woodland Critter Christmas” first aired, and the hallways rang loud and proud with the voices of 13-year olds yelling “blood orgy!” Eight seasons in, it proved that you are still never quite sure what to expect out of South Park. “Woodland Critter Christmas” offered up a new and interesting way for them to land their coveted insults and F-Bombs. Having already taken away the shock of cute kids saying and doing awful things, South Park stepped it up by giving us an intelligent, heartfelt, Christmas story about the antichrist. Capitalizing on their ability to make crippling insults and raunchy humor endearing from the mouths of 8-year-olds, they cranked their tried and true formula to eleven with this over-the-top tale. It proved that no one is safe on South Park, not even woodland critters.

Trapped in the Closet

Trapped in the Closet 

Chances are, if you have only ever seen one episode of South Park, that episode was “Trapped in the Closet.” While narrowing down my list of all time favorites, it was never even a question about whether or not to include this game-changing episode. This was the episode that brought the inner workings of Scientology to the masses and lead to the end of the beloved Chef, and it all began because, “everything that is fun costs at least $8.”

Stan is looking for something fun and free to do while he is saving up for a bike, only to be manipulated and seduced by Scientologists into spending his entire bike savings to no longer be depressed. The Scientologists start believing that Stan is the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard, Tom Cruise locks himself in the closet, and the rest is history. Capitalizing on the height of people not knowing what the hell Tom Cruise was up to, South Park’s now infamous “This is what Scientologists actually believe” segment explained bluntly what exactly this shrouded religion was all about. I remember watching it and, like my family and the rest of the world, thought that it had to be a joke. “Trapped in the Closet” is an episode that had massive shock value not because they themselves did something outlandish, but because it left everyone scratching their heads and thinking…WT actual F?

Isaac Hayes, another celebrity scientologist and the voice of everyone’s favorite Chef, left the show after “Trapped in the Closet” because he claimed that he didn’t support how disrespectful Matt Stone and Trey Parker were towards religion…you know, in the ninth season of a show that makes fun of every other religion in almost every episode.



Between political issues, social issues, and religion, South Park insults everyone without hesitation. Hiding bigger issues and meanings under a not-so-thin veil of ridiculous metaphor is the crème de la crème of the series. However, watching the guys that dressed up as Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez while tripping on acid at the Academy Awards go to town on their peers in the entertainment industry always feels like it has a little extra sass on it. The three-part “Imagination land” has a little bit of everything, and it was impossible not to look at it as one really long, prefect episode.

From our government not being able to come up with any alternatives beyond bombing things to Cartman being determined to get Kyle to suck his balls to a million and one pop culture references, “Imaginationland” is a quintessential South Park television event after eleven seasons of perfecting its formula. Not only does it bring back South Park classics like everyone’s favorite satanic woodland critters and ManBearPig, but it also pokes fun at major Hollywood directors’ inability to come up with a real plot these days. The General in charge of taking down the terrorist threat on our imaginations enlists Hollywood directors Michael Bay and M. Night Shyamalan, who can’t seem to come up with anything except visual effects and twists, before turning to South Park’s infamous sado-masochistic version of Mel Gibson. “Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the son of a bitch knows story structure.”

Pile on a fantastic Saving Private Ryan homage and rapid-fire ironic unimaginative puns, and you have something that transcends a raunchy cartoon and becomes something greater. The only thing that could have made “Imaginationland” better would have been to make it bigger, longer, and uncut in a theater near you. I could write an entire article just about why Imaginationland should be required viewing. “Imaginationland” is a masterpiece, and say what you want about Matt Stone and Trey Parker, those sons of bitches know story structure.

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