Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants (Season 5, Episode 9) - South Park

When South Park Crossed the Line: Episodes You Have to See to Believe!

By: Matt

South Park is a long-running show that’s been shocking audiences since 1997. While many assume that cartoon programs are nothing more than sweet, innocent shows for kids, South Park is anything but! It’s a crude show made for adults, featuring controversial subject matter and poking fun at things most people would not dare speak of!

Some steer clear of South Park, but the jokes live on to this day. With over 25 years of challenging the censors and creating controversy for laughs, there’s no shortage of South Park episodes that will leave you thinking, “Did they really just go there?” But here are ten episodes where South Park truly crossed the line, proving why the show holds the crown for being the most fearless show on television.

1. Krazy Kripples (Season 7, Episode 2)

A lot is going on in this episode from 2003. It touches on many controversial topics like gang warfare, stem cell research and disabilities. In this episode, Jimmy joins the Crips, incorrectly assuming that the gang included people who were disabled from birth while their enemies, the Bloods, included people disabled after birth. 

It then includes a depiction of Superman actor Christopher Reeves sucking the blood from fetuses to help him walk again. Needless to say, that one didn’t go over well. Pair all that with Cartman becoming a broker for pre-natal bodies, and the episode ruffled many feathers!

2. Woodland Critter Christmas (Season 8, Episode 14)

Woodland Critter Christmas (Season 8, Episode 14) - South Park

This winter-season episode features Stan stumbling upon some innocent-looking woodland creatures. Woodland critters are often synonymous with the Christmas season, and South Park pokes fun at that by later revealing these creatures to be preparing for the coming of the antichrist! Many say the entire concept makes fun of religion, but the creators of South Park take things even further.

Stan later visits an abortion clinic to learn how to abort the antichrist. Despite all that, the antichrist arrives and enters Kyle for world domination! It’s one of the more memorable episodes of South Park. While it caused tons of controversy, it’s still a fan favorite!

3. Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants (Season 5, Episode 9)

Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants (Season 5, Episode 9)  - South Park

Many South Park fans consider the show’s fifth season to be when it truly hit its stride, and this episode is an example of why. This episode came out in November of 2001, just a few months after the September 11th attacks in the United States. The timing alone was controversial, but the plot was even crazier.

It features a cartoon satire of the infamous terrorist. The characters arrive in Afghanistan and encounter him. The episode is chaotic and makes Bin Laden the brunt of many jokes. While some saw the episode as a great way to make America laugh after such a tragedy, others criticized it because the terrorist was still at large.

4. Canada on Strike (Season 12, Episode 4)

Canada on Strike (Season 12, Episode 4) - South Park

South Park has many recurring jokes, one of which is its unique depictions of Canadians. The show features satirized Canadians in many episodes, but this one is among the most memorable. It parodies the financial failures of the Canadian government, depicting issues like unemployment and hunger in true South Park fashion.

Many also consider the episode ahead of its time due to its inclusion of some of the Internet’s biggest influencers fighting to the death for popularity. Throw in several digs at gay people, and it’s not difficult to see why the episode is a prime example of South Park pushing the boundaries and being purposefully offensive for laughs.

5. The China Problem (Season 12, Episode 8)

The China Problem (Season 12, Episode 8) South Park

“The China Problem” came out after “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” In the show, the boys rip the film to shreds. There are even sequences of the Indiana Jones creators, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, graphically assaulting the titular character. The episode is a thinly veiled dig at toxic fandoms, another topic many fans believe was far ahead of its time.

Another major controversy with this episode was its stereotypical depictions of Chinese people. Cartman believes China will take over the U.S., so he dresses up as a Chinese caricature.

6. With Apologies to Jesse Jackson (Season 11, Episode 1)

With Apologies to Jesse Jackson (Season 11, Episode 1) - South Park

Racism continues to be a hot-button topic, but South Park was never afraid to dive head-first into jokes about race. Take this episode as an example! It features Stan’s dad Randy spelling out a racial slur on live television, turning him into a target back at South Park. The show pokes fun at celebrities who use racial terms in real life, features Randy kissing the behind of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and other over-the-top happenings.

One of the more controversial aspects of the show is its gratuitous use of slurs. Racial slurs are used throughout, making it a difficult-to-watch episode for some fans. 

7. Hell on Earth 2006 (Season 10, Episode 11)

Hell on Earth 2006 (Season 10, Episode 11) - South Park

This episode is one that many South Park fans love. It depicts Satan coming to Earth to have a huge party. In this episode, Satan is an empathetic character, which is something that religious groups weren’t too keen on upon release. It also shows many recognizable fictional villains and real-world tyrants.

One of the more cringy aspects of the episodes is the appearance of the late Steve Irwin. South Park showed Irwin attending Satan’s party, complete with the stingray that took the real Steve Irwin’s life. Irwin’s appearance was so controversial because the episode aired not even 60 days after the famed “crocodile hunter” died in real life.

8. Bloody Mary (Season 9, Episode 14)

Bloody Mary (Season 9, Episode 14) - South Park

By comparison, this episode is relatively tame in terms of jokes. However, its entire theme revolves around a topic that almost always draws controversy: Religion. South Park is no stranger to poking fun at religion, but this one pressed all the wrong buttons among some viewers.

It features over-the-top visuals and gross-out humor. The plot features a bleeding statue of Mary and is a thinly veiled satire of the dangers of blind devotion to religion, a topic that was too much for viewers in mid-2000s America.

9. Cartoon Wars (Season 10, Episodes 3 and 4)

Cartoon Wars (Season 10, Episodes 3 and 4) - South Park

This two-part episode was a huge treat for fans of adult cartoon programming. It features from The Simpsons and South Park, a crossover many were waiting for. During this episode, Family Guy threatens to show an image of the Prophet Muhammad, which leads to Muslim terrorists threatening revenge. This episode came out in 2006, nearly a decade before life imitated art with the Charlie Hebdo shootings in 2015.

The episode poses questions about free speech and actively pushing the limits with South Park’s broadcaster, Comedy Central. Behind the scenes, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone reportedly fought Comedy Central over depictions of Muhammad, resulting in a tongue-in-cheek goading on-screen.

10. Mr. Garrison’s Fancy New V*****a (Seasons 9, Episode 11)

Mr. Garrison's Fancy New V*****a (Seasons 9, Episode 11) - South Park

Mr. Garrison is one of the more controversial characters in the South Park universe, and this episode is an example of why. The character primarily served as the teacher of the main cast, and the characters often made gay jokes at Garrison’s expense. In this episode, the teacher undergoes a gender transition, and South Park shows a few seconds of actual sex reassignment surgery.

Overall, many consider this episode to be tone-deaf. There are a ton of problematic scenes. Mr. Garrison’s character as a whole is the source of controversy throughout the show’s run, but this episode was among the most shocking to feature the character.

Pushing the Boundaries of Comedy

Those are just ten of South Park’s most controversial episodes. But with over two decades on the air, there are many more! Episodes like these are why fans love South Park. The creators are unafraid to cross those lines, start conversations and poke fun at some of the darkest aspects of modern life.

If you’re a big fan of South Park, these are all can’t-miss episodes. However, brace yourself for some truly shocking cartoon hijinks!