Parody is easy; any Average Joe can imitate the Christian Bale Batman voice for a cheap laugh. You need to bring something else to it, something decidedly unique to make it standout. That’s where South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker excel.
South Park is steadily the best place for satire on television because the writers take aim at a specific news story, TV show, trend, or movie, and then push it to some extremely bizarre place that is completely unexpected. A known anti-Semite like Mel Gibson making Passion of the Christ is a joke that writes itself, but having him run around, throwing feces in full Braveheart make-up is some absurdity that only South Park would attempt.
We’ve rounded up South Park’s movie references and parodies, ranging from small nods to large scale attacks. Pretty much anything besides movie references in dialogue made this list. If we’ve missed something, make sure to point it out in the comments section.
This is our living, breathing document of South Park’s satirical excellence. We’ll continue to update it with any references we’ve missed, or with future episodes that skewer cinema. Help us out South Park fans! Here we go…
Movie: Return of the Living, Dead Evil Dead II
Season 1 Episode 7: “Pinkeye”
Perhaps one of the greatest episodes in South Park history, it is difficult to narrow down just what singular movie “Pinkeye” is parodying. South ParkStudio’s wiki states that Return of the Living Dead is the main source of inspiration for the episode. Perhaps a catch-all for all zombie movies, there is some definite George Romero to the “pinkeye” zombie disease Kenny spreads to all the townsfolk after he dies for the seventh time. Then again, it also has a great twist on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” after Chef gets infected. Ultimately though, we have to go with Evil Dead II, because after that movie, zombies and chainsaws were synonymous with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. And the boys go the full ‘Chin’ when they ignore the warning of not chopping up everyone infected with a chainsaw. Sorry, Undead Kenny.
Movie: The Omen
Season 1 Episode 10: “Damien”
No one has really seemed to question that the Son of Satan, Damien, is a classmate of the boys throughout the first season of the show. And while certain elements of this 666-bearing spawn are specific to the show (ie. The platypusification power), South Park follows the backstory of the child from The Omen fairly closely, right down to the “rectus dominus” demonic choral chanting that accompanies his powers. There’s even a pretty sly reference to the boys calling Damien’s mother “a real dog” hinting at the fact that Damien’s mother in the films was said to be a jackal.
Season 1 Episode 8: “Starvin’ Marvin”
The only good turkey is a dead turkey. This is doubly true when they rise up to lead a turkey revolt against humanity’s good taste during Thanksgiving time. In this classic episode of South Park, the turkeys rise up to devour the humans that would see them as holiday stuffing. Thus, as one brave turkey rallies his troops in blue faux-Celtic make-up, so does Chef. The dual William Wallace moment would be the first of many references to this Mel Gibson movie (and the star/director, himself) for Matt and Trey.
Movie: Godzilla, Kaiju films in general
Season 1 Episode 12: “Mecha-Streisand”
An earlier episode of the series, but certainly not lacking in the ridiculous factor. Basically this is a pretty clear Godzilla mash-up, with celebrities doubling as the Kaiju as they break out in warfare. Here we have Barbara Streisand resembling Mechagodzilla, Robert Smith (of the Cure) standing in for Mothra of Mothra fame, Sidney Poitier doing the same for the Gamera series, and Leonard Maltin being the resident Ultraman from the TV series of the same name (right down to Stan shouting at him to use robot punch”, just like in the series). That scene where the tiny twins show up asking Poitier to fight Mecha-Streisand is right out of Mothra, and the best touch of the episode might be the Japanese man singing each monster’s theme song in the background of the fight, a staple of these films, as well as a device the show would return to time and again, most notably later on in “Good Times With Weapons.”
Movie: Jurassic Park
Season 2 Episode 2: Cartman’s Mom is Still a Dirty Slut
An early and relatively subtle (by South Park standards) joke, it is revealed during “Cartman’s Mom is Still a Dirty Slut” that South Park, Colorado might also be located on Isla Nublar. Because when the George Clooney-like local doctor decides that they can only save Mephesto’s life if the generator is turned back on during a blizzard, it falls to Kenny to go outside and sacrifice himself for everyone else’s survival like he’s Samuel L. Jackson. The point is driven home when he’s told to watch out for the raptors.
Movie: Pet Sematary
Season 2 Episode 15: “Spookyfish” (and many more)
South Park has a real obsession with Stephen King (as you’ll see the further down this list that you go), and for good reason. His stories, besides being absurdly popular, are often quite earnest in their desire to unnerve – even if they’re sadistic children swinging scythes into folks’ faces. Thus enter “Spookyfish.”
While few would claim that Pet Sematary is the best King-based film, it certainly has been mined the most by Trey and Matt. In this first effort, the boys learn that they have evil twins from another dimension that are only possibly allowed to reach our plain of existence because of an old Indian Burial Ground where a pet store was built above. Of course, the pet storeowner also chose to dig up all the Indian bodies piss on them and flip them upside down in unmarked graves as well, but he was drunk so it’s all kew. Except when his pets start killing people.
But if you wish to see Matt and Trey’s favorite aspect of Pet Sematary, try counting all of the cameos of “the Old Farmer,” riffing on Fred Gwynne’s character from that movie, appears—including in season 5’s “Butters’ Very Own Episode,” season 6’s “Asspen,” season 9’s “Marjorine,” and season 16’s “Insecurity.”
Movie: Great Expectations
Season 4 Episode 14: “Pip”
One of the earliest controversial episodes of the series, for reasons having nothing to do with sex, violence, or adult content, “Pip” is an extreme detour for the show where the only South Park character that makes an appearance is the kinda-popular boy, Pip. The entire episode (which is bookended by a live-action Masterpiece Theatre riff featuring Malcolm McDowell) is a retelling of the Dickens’ novel (and by proxy, the film) Great Expectations with Pip stepping in as the lead role of Pip.
The episode is extremely unpopular for its desire to ditch its regular cast and sacrifice comedy in favor of the straight telling of an old classic. The plot of Great Expectations is pretty much followed faithfully, except for the farcical conclusion exploring Miss Havisham’s robot minions and Genesis Device. This sort of highbrow absurdity is of course what South Park would begin to be known for, but the episode is still seen by many as one of their weakest efforts.
Movie: Terminator, Akira, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Season 4 Episode 12: Trapper Keeper
Things here get typically crazy when Cartman shows up with a Dawson’s Creek trapper keeper, and a strange vigilante named “Bill Cosby” arrives to stop the world from breaking. As the episode continues we learn that “Bill Cosby” is actually from the future and called BSM-471, sent back here to destroy the trapper keeper in a plot that’s more than a little similar with The Terminator.
After Cartman combines with the trapper keeper (yeah, that happens), the amorphous, powerful blob that he becomes is deeply reminiscent of the Japanese anime film, Akira, and the monster that Tetsuo becomes. As Cartman/trapper keeper is attempted to be stopped, Kyle being inside of him is heavily aping Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, not only with the classic, “I can’t let you do that” line, but the layout of his “control room” in general. The whole episode is a great, big dystopian sci-fi mash-up.
Movie: Children of the Corn
Season 4 Episode 16: “The Wacky Molestation Adventure”
For our second Stephen King South Park, we travel to “The Wacky Molestation Adventure.” In an episode poised to make a stab at media lynch mobs on a touchy subject, the episode also works in one of their odder parodies, this time involving all of South Park being abandoned by adults when the children learn they can make the “birth givers” go away by telling little white lies (under Cartman’s tutelage, of course).
So, when King protagonists Mark and Linda Conter (Linda Hamilton appeared in the movie Children of the Corn) stumble upon this sight, they’re understandably a little horrified. Especially when it’s revealed that this state of apocalyptic idol worship came into existence only 10 days after the adults went away.
Time to get those tubes tied!
Movie: They Live
Season 5 Episode 2: Cripple Fight
The titular cripple fight of the episode is essentially frame for frame the same as the lengthy fight between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David in John Carpenter’s 1988, They Live. The (really rather long) fight from the original film was choreographed by Piper and David themselves and Carpenter decided it was awesome enough to leave it, in its entirety, in the final cut. Evidently Trey and Matt felt it was awesome enough that it deserved its own tribute. If you want to see just how exactly replicated the scene is, there are side-by-side comparisons available on YouTube.
Season 5 Episode 14: “Butters’ Very Own Episode”
In a lovable episode devoted to Butters, and helped him become the fixture to the show that he is now, we get a look into the twisted home of the Stotch family, and as Butters’ parents go over the deep end, he goes “missing” as his parents try to love him a little too hard.
In the shuffle, Butters’ parents befriend some other individuals, all who have “missing” loved ones courtesy of “Some Puerto Rican Guy.” As the Stotch’s bond with OJ Simpson, Congressman Gary Condit, and the Ramseys, their indoctrination ritual to the club is the same one from the 1930s film, Freaks, as they all flail about bizarrely, chanting “Gooble-gobble! Gooble-gobble! One of us! One of us!”
This all highlighting how messed up these people are, making them akin to monsters and sideshow attractions (much of what the media turned them into). It’s a minor moment in the episode, but it comes out of nowhere, lingers for a while as it’s left to stew in its weirdness, and almost becomes the episode’s mantra as it moves forward.
Movie: Several Campy Ski Movies
Season 6 Episode 2: “Asspen”
In the spirit of campy sports flicks Ski School and Ski Patrol, among many others, Matt and Trey set out to tell the story of Stan “Darsh” and his quest to defeat incumbent Aspen ski champion, and resident asshole, Tad. With the guidance of his loyal friends, a cute nerdy chick, a few slow motion sports montages and his coach, Thumper, Stan wins the big race along with the respect of the famous mountain resort. It’s one of the first South Park sport-centric episodes, and one of the best.
Movies: Star Wars Episode I
Season 6 Episode 3: “Freak Strike”
Is there anything more freakish that a young man with balls growing off his chin? Is there anything more hilarious? Cartman seems to think that will get Butters on the Maury Povich show so the boys go as far to get Star Trek geeks to put fake balls on his face. The payment? The original AVID cut of Star Wars Episode I. Why the Trekies wanted a bad Star Wars film is a mystery. Why Episode I was made in the first place is something we’ll never understand either.
Movie: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Saving Private Ryan, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark
Season 6 Episode 9: “Free Hat”
Remakes or reboots we can live with. But when Hollywood got into the fad of re-mastering old films, that’s where the boys draw the line. In “Free Hat,” besides trying to release a convicted toddler murder, the boys take on Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for updating their old classics with walkie-talkies for guns and Ewoks abound. Also, Matt and Trey make their first appearance in the episode when they come on-screen to talk about how “Cartman Gets An Anal Probe” is getting a makeover for 2002.
Movie: The Silence of the Lambs, Planet of the Apes
Season 6 Episode 10: “Bebe’s Boobs Destroy Society”
Cartman likes to play with dolls. We’ve known this for a while now. He also has a sick, imaginative mind so it’s not surprising that he spends his free time acting out the chilling scene in The Silence of the Lambs when Buffalo Bill is asking his victims to lotion up.
Cartman’s playtime aside, the big message of the episode is boys (and men) are primitive creatures. When Bebe sprouts breasts, the boys turn into apes, fighting over the right to mate with their newly popular classmate. The key to the parody is when NASA crash-lands in South Park and the astronauts see the boys acting like apes and think they’ve landed years in the future. So rather than live out Planet of the Apes, the astronauts just shoot themselves in the head. That’s what happens at the end of every Planet of the Apes film, right?
Movie: Lord of the Rings trilogy
Season 6 Episode 13: “Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers”
A longtime favorite episode of both Parker and Stone, it’s a perfect example of the boys just being boys and the naivety that’s inherent, yet often hidden, in them. In typical South Park fashion, the boys turn an innocent trip of returning a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring (to the Two Towers video store, appropriately) into a mythical quest, but it’s only when the parents realize they’ve mixed up their tapes and Butters has a copy of a very severe porno that things move up to another level as the boys are instructed to retrieve the tape as it “holds an evil power.”
Butters appropriately has become obsessed and crazed over the tape, having watched it, and he gets a whole Smeagol/Gollum thing going on, even going so far as referring to his missing tape as his “precious.” Add to this references to Clyde as High Elf of Faragon, and the 6th graders being treated like Ringwraiths, and how can you go wrong, whether you’re a LOTR fan or not.
Movie: The Animal, The Hot Chick, The Exorcist
Season 6 Episode 15: “The Biggest Douche in the Universe”
Plane movies typically suck. But two Rob Schneider movies? That’s just cruel.
First Rob Schneider was an animal.
Then he was a woman.
Now Rob Schneider is a stapler!
Annnnnd now Rob Schneider is a CAROT!
After a few crappy plane movies, Cartman lands in Scotland to meet Chef’s parents, who perform the exorcism to get Kenny’s soul out of Cartman’s ass. No need for a priest.
Movie: Black Hack Down, Three Kings
Season 6 Episode 17: “Red Sleigh Down”
South Park is almost known for their tradition of doing big Christmas episodes, ever since their first season. In this entry, the show chooses to go to Iraq rather than indulging in song and dance, injecting it with some realism. The title of the episode alone should be a clear indicator that the film, Black Hawk Down, is largely what’s being referenced here. Santa’s crash, the execution of his reindeer, the breaking of his legs, and the disasters seen in Iraq are right from the film. There’s also a healthy dose of Three Kings in there too, during Santa’s torture sequence with the car battery and forcing him to drink crude oil, with it taking dialogue verbatim from David O. Russell’s movie.
Movie: Independence Day
Season 7 Episode 1: “Cancelled”
“Cancelled” is a fan favorite episode because it touches on a few great ideas. What if Earth was just a giant reality TV show? What if aliens could morph into ice cream-shitting tacos? What if Jeff Goldblum’s character from Independence Day was the nerdy scientist that almost gets the earth demolished? Great stuff. South Park’s 100th episode questioned whether shows could be good once they surpassed that major milestone. If you read through the rest of this list you can see it’s a resounding yes.
Season 7 Episode 2: “Krazy Kripples”
In one of the better earlier examples of South Park’s effortless ability to mash-up social commentary with randomness and have it all make sense, is an episode that puts stem cell research under the microscope while contrasting it with the Bloods and Crips gang wars. The pretty clear reference going on here is that when Christopher Reeve begins taking stem cells he more or less turns into Superman, with Gene Hackman (or, Hack Man, as he calls him) who played Lex Luthor alongside him in the classic films, is subverted into the hero as he tries to stop Reeve. It even ends with Hackman banishing Reeve to imprisonment in the Phantom Zone. While Superman is clearly the main target, the episode still manages to get a reference in to the 1988 film, Colors, in the driveby shooting that’s done to Jimmy’s house, too.
Movie: The Godfather Part II/Silence of the Lambs
Season 7 Episode 3: “Toilet Paper”
Back when Officer Barbrady actually did things on South Park, he found himself at the center of a confounding toilet paper mystery that was far, far outside of his aptitude. To catch a child who would dare toilet paper a house, he needed to think like such a monster, this is why he enlists Josh, Hannibal Lecter in a Charmin’ loving eight-year-old’s body. Josh helps Officer Barbrady bring the culprits (the boys) to justice, but at a very, very high cost: his escape, which leads to a chilling end-credit sequence of Josh heading over to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for some master class TP’ing.
Cartman takes a guilt-ridden and ready to confess Kyle on a quiet boat ride into the mist, and as Kyle spills his guts, Cartman prepares to spill his brains with the use of a whiffle bat. Not as effective as what Al Neri used on Fredo, but it might have eventually got the job done. A nice parody of Nino Rota is also here.
Movie: A Christmas Carol
Season 7 Episode 9: “Christian Rock Hard”
“Christian Rock Hard” is nearly a perfect episode of South Park for the album cover alone. Seeing Cartman take on a Christ-like pose as a martyr for saps’ Christians’ money is the stuff of legend. But there is also a terrific parody of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and by extension its film adaptations, to be found here. When the boys get caught for illegally downloading music off Napster, the local South Park hard case detective (NOTE: not Officer Barbrady) becomes the Ghost of Christmas Present, laying it on thick for the boys’ criminality.
One by one, the boys are taken to see how illegal downloads have hurt Metallica, Britney Spears and Master P. From not being able to install a shark tank to downgrading from a Gulf Stream IV to a Gulf Stream III, it is all tragic stuff. But the worst of it befalls Master P’s sweet, innocent Tiny Tim son. For all his life, the boy has wanted a simple French Polynesian island to call his own. But if the boys continue to download music illegally, the detective foresees an island without an owner. For such is the folly of man.
A similar parody sequence is used in the episode “Child Abduction is Not Funny.”
Movie: Say Anything
Season 7 Episode 14: “Raisins”
If there’s a list to be made of movies parody we’re getting tired of, this has to be in the top ten. Damn you, John Cusack. Bebe suggests that Stan goes all “Say Anything” to Wendy’s window, jukebox in tow. Instead of sticking to the script and playing “In Your Eyes,” he goes with “Shock the Monkey.” Epic mistake.
Movie: The Wizard of Oz
Season 7 Episode 15: “It’s Christmas in Canada”
The Wizard of Oz is one of the most popular parody topics out there, so it only makes sense that South Park would dip into that well at some point, as is exactly the case in this Christmas installment. The familiar references are pretty impossible to miss with Ottawa and its “only road” being the surrogate Oz. There’s an appropriate cast of misfits that are all in need of getting fixed too, as Ike tries to meet his birth parents. There’s a Mountie with a sheep instead of a horse, a French-Canadian mime who can’t drink wine, a Newfoundlander named Steve who can no longer practice sodomy in Newfoundland, with the new Prime Minister of Canada subbing in for the Wicked Witch. We even get a beyond brilliant (and at the time, incredibly timely) reference to Saddam Hussein in a spider hole (remember that?) as the man behind the curtain, too.
Movie: Ninja Scroll, Anime in general
Season 8 Episode 1: “Good Times With Weapons”
Seen as a fan favorite amongst many South Park viewers, the episode sees the boys acquiring some Asian-influenced weapons from a vendor and then basically battling Craig, Token, Jimmy, and the rest of the boys in town. While doing so, the episode entirely changes animation and art styles in order to (seamlessly) emulate anime at large, its target du jour. Great lengths are taken to have the cartoon replicate Ninja Scroll and other like-minded action anime, such as the anime segments being presented in cinemascope, the beyond perfect Japanese theme music that plays, complete with interspersed broken English and subtitles, and the anime-like ambience that’s present throughout the background of the episode.
But it’s the little touches too, like the dialogue, names, and nonsensical nature of the plotting and fighting that push this homage to next level territory. The episode even manages to have a pretty solid message at the end about the ridiculous double standard set over violence versus sex in regard to censorship, a prominent issue for anime.
Movie: The Passion of the Christ (2004), Braveheart
Season 8 Episode 3: “The Passion of the Jew”
This is less of an outright parody and more of an ode to the power of cinema. Matt and Trey had to comment on the most polarizing film of 2004, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. What we got was Cartman so moved by the film, he sets out on a mission to get everyone in the world to see the film, Hitler costume and all. The Passion has the opposite affect on Kenny and Stan, who go as far to demand a refund from Mel Gibson himself. In one of South Park’s best celebrity parodies, Mel Gibson is a shit-smearing, underpants-wearing Braveheart of energy. Oh and he LOVES torture. Like, feel free to squeeze his nipples. Side note: The film is also referenced in “Good Times with Weapons.”
Movie: You Got Served
Season 8 Episode 4: “You Got F’d in the A”
A not too overly complicated take on the 2004 dance film, You Got Served, which basically sees the boys trying to form a five-person dance crew to take on some Orange Country kids. This episode is one big attack on the needlessness of a movie like this, while mountains are made out of molehills such as auditions, dance styles, team members, and the trauma from the past that keeps these people from dancing (such as Butters last attempt at tap dancing leaving eleven people dead).
If the plotting wasn’t enough to seal the deal, the episode is also full of kids yelling “It’s on!” as people perform ridiculous dance moves, declaring that they’ve been “F’d in the A!” when the other team’s skills have surpassed their own, taking the already outrageous “catchphrases” from the film and making them even stupider.
Movies: Adam Sandler Films
Season 8 Episode 5: “AWESOME-O”
AWESOME-O is your best robot friend. It’s also a movie-making machine. When Butters and Cartman hit Hollywood, they come up with 1,000 movie ideas, 800 of which feature Adam Sandler. Adam Sandler falls in love with a golden retriever. “We’ll call it ‘Puppy Love’!” “Adam Sandler is trapped on an island and falls in love with a coconut.”
We’re counting these on our list because they aren’t too far off from the turds Mr. Sandler has been putting on screen lately…
Movie: Something Wicked This Way Comes, Poltergeist, The Matrix: Reloaded, Independence Day
Season 8 Episode 9: “Something Wall Mart This Way Comes”
While actually being a larger take on Ray Bradbury in general with the idea of this outside force coming into a community, this episode sees a “Wall-Mart” get built in town, with everyone becoming addicted to shopping and the boys needing to stop it. Inside the Wall-Mart, the boys encounter a man who says that he is Wall-Mart, and can take many forms. He’s obviously designed as a reference to The Matrix: Reloaded, as overly philosophical dialogue clichés are indulged in by him.
While a lot of supernatural works are being lampooned here, the episode also doesn’t waste the opportunity to reference Independence Day at the very end as Chef tells the soldiers to spread the word on how to beat Wall-Mart, just like Will Smith does with the alien invasion.
Movie: Cape Fear
Season 8 Episode 10: “Pre-School”
Have you ever had a secret from your past that you didn’t want to come back and get you? Both corrupt lawyers from the 1962 and 1991 version of Cape Fear, played by Gregory Peck and Nick Nolte, respectively, felt that way. And so do the boys when they blamed a fire they started in pre-school—which left their teacher completely paralyzed—on another innocent student. He’s been in juvenile hall now for five years, but he’s getting out, and revenge will be his. Owing more to the Martin Scorsese remake, this kid goes the full De Niro when he swirlies Butters to the point of hospitalization. Oh hamburgers, indeed.
Movie: The Core, 28 Days Later
Season 9 Episode 2: “Die Hippie, Die”
“Die Hippie, Die” is one of South Park’s great achievements. How else could one explain that Cartman inexplicably became a hero that saved the day? When a bunch of freeloaders who “want to save the world, but only smoke pot and smell bad” invade South Park in order to turn it into another Woodstock, Cartman’s anti-liberal paranoia has unbelievable founding, and it is up to the boys and a crackerjack team of heroes to save the day by drilling into the center of the hippie mob in order to stop their free-loving music. Based on the absurdly stupid plot from 2003’s The Core, Cartman’s anti-hippie machine comes fully stocked: even with a black guy (Chef) who is there solely to sacrifice himself so all the other white characters can live. They also parody a scene from the zombie-flick, 28 Days Later in this episode.
Movie: Free Willy, Space Cowboys
Season 9 Episode 13: “Free Willzyx”
If you’re going to do a parody of Free Willy, then the best way to do it is 12 years after the film came out and nobody caring anymore. This episode follows the basic setup of the film as the boys visit an amusement park and the whale there asks them to help him get back to his original home, the moon, or he’ll die. This is of course a prank being played by Sea Park workers, rather than actually the whale speaking to them, but it doesn’t matter.
The boys set out to do something as seemingly impossible as the plot of the film, constantly nodding at how ridiculous it all is. This culminates in what the episode is most famously known for, the extreme visual gag that ends the episode with Willzyx dead on the moon, which is in itself, a reference to the bittersweet ending of the film, Space Cowboys.
Movie: The Perfect Storm
Season 10 Episode 2: “Smug Alert!”
As previously mentioned, Matt and Trey seem to have a problem with what they view as the smugness of certain liberal issues or mindsets—and San Francisco is the smugiest place of them all! So, when Kyle’s parents move to the Frisco Bay to get away from the narrow mindedness of small town rednecks, Stan creates a sappy song about his love for hybrid cars. Big mistake.
Faster than you can say “George Clooney’s Oscar Acceptance Speech,” the smugness from South Park has mingled with San Fran’s smugness into the Perfect Storm of Smugness. Cartman was once again right all along. Kyle would have surely died if not for the quick thinking of Eric, who enters the American city he hates the most (they’re more like a European city, anyway) to save his favorite frenemy to Jew Bash for later. The smuggest part? That they go after Mr. Clooney after he cameoed in the South Park movie.
Movie: Altered States, The Dark Crystal
Season 10 Episode 7: “Tsst”
While this episode that chronicles the disciplining of Cartman may not be a movie reference in itself, there are some strong ones present within it. There’s of course the ridiculous mention of Nanny Skekis from The Dark Crystal, as she is lumped amidst the other theoretical monsters that star in Nanny 911 and Supernanny as a hopeful Cartman trainer. But what’s an even deeper cut is when Cesar Milan, Dog Whisperer, attempts to rehabilitate Cartman and make him good, Cartman battles with his demonic, evil side, with this playing out much like how a similar internal struggle is depicted in the end of Altered States. Cartman sees blue “ghosts” of himself that say what he does before he does it, his body and shape transform and flash different colors and “feedback” as this evil side is exorcised. Even the episode’s ending is aping on The Omen with the idea of Cartman not being all innocent and good, and the same chords of “Ave Satani” close out the episode ominously.
Movie: The Mighty Ducks
Season 10 Episode 14: “Stanley’s Cup”
This episode has no difficultly hitting that underdog sports movie vibe that was perfected in The Mighty Ducks, and pleasantly invites the comparison at every turn. There’s even a running bit where a faux voice over guy for movie trailers continues to spell out Stan’s situation for him, showing how closely it is to one of these films. The episode ends with the Detroit Red Wings proudly winning a merciless, bloody game against a little league team, relishing in the victory that this coach wins and shares with his fractured family, all of which are characters we’re just seeing for the first time. The episode goes out on a stereotypical freeze frame emphasizing that this is a happy ending, just not for Stan or any of us.
Season 11 Episode 6: “D-Yikes!”
Whatever Garrison is calling him or her self these days, the fourth grade teacher has always had trouble fitting in. When Ms. Garrison finally finds comfort in her sexuality and a place where she can let her sexual ambitions run wild, it’s threatened to be taken away by Persians. In a direct 300 parody, Garrison leads a charge to save her favorite lesbian hangout, Les Bos, from the Persian onslaught. We’ll never be able to look at scissors the same way again.
Movie: Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead
Season 11 Episode 7: “Night of the Living Homeless”
It feels like zombie films hit a certain apex in the past decade, but just never stopped being popular, so it’s only natural that South Park would explore a story that’s referencing Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, and both Dawn of the Dead films. The germ of this (get it?) is started with the growing homeless person epidemic in South Park, and with them being seen as sub-human (doubling as a quick commentary on how we view them as monsters). The homeless are a perfect zombie analogue as they shout out “change” in place of “brains” as they stumble towards potential victims. People of course get stranded on top of the Community Center, with countless homeless beneath them, not unlike Dawn of the Dead. Randy even finds himself turned into one of their kind once he loses his change and finds himself asking around for some.
Movie: All of Them
Season 11 Episodes 10, 11, 12: “Imaginationland trilogy”
In what was originally conceived as the second South Park feature film before being broken down into a three-part series, it only makes sense that a long-form story about terrorists attacking our imagination would be the most reference-filled installment ever. I mean, you might as well call this the Referenceland trilogy, because that is the whole point of this thing.
Whether it’s with the Saving Private Ryan homage in the scene where the Islamic terrorists destroy most of Imaginationland and the inhabitants that occupy it, right down to Stan’s fuzzy, blurred, intermittent point of view. Or the fact that the government’s ultimate solution is a Stargate-esque portal that was built during the Cold War as an entry point to Imaginationland (as well as sending Kurt Russell along with the army due to his “experience”).
Not only are these episodes deep in their goals of satirizing Hollywood, with M. Night Shymalan, Michael Bay, and Mel Gibson being recruited and their respective filmmaking styles (not to mention films like The Village, The Happening, and Transformers with their unnecessary twists, or needless explosions) being attacked as they’re asked to come up with creative idea to beat the terrorists. But the other treasure trove of references is in the makeup of Imaginationland itself, right down to its peaceful population and the evil creatures kept behind the wall.
To name a few, we see the boys riding Draco from Dragonheart, stormtroopers and Darth Maul from Star Wars, Jason Voorhes from Friday the 13th, Ninja Turtles from the film series of the same name, Predator, and the Xenomorph from Aliens.
There’s also the Council of Nine that legislates the land, containing faces from The Matrix, The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia. This collection of episodes is not only dense with references, some still probably hidden away deep in the background of frames, but also seen to wide acclaim and some of South Park’s strongest material ever.
Season 12 Episode 1: “Tonsil Trouble”
Cue up Bruce Springsteen.
Cartman was bruised and battered, couldn’t tell what he felt…
He was unrecognizable to himself, with AIDS and stuff…
He saw his fat reflection in a window, didn’t know his own fat face…
Oh Kyle’s gonna leave him wastin’ away…
On the Streets of Philadelphia…
It’s not so hard to change the lyrics to songs for AIDS benefits, Jimmy Buffet. In “Tonsil Trouble,” South Park borrows from the 1993 drama Philadelphia, one of the first mainstream films to tackle the issue of HIV, AIDS and its impact on the LGBT community. Of course Cartman isn’t an AIDS-stricken lawyer like Tom Hanks’ character, he’s just a fat little shit that gives AIDS to Kyle but is able to rectify the situation by finding a cure through Magic Johnson’s money.
Movie: Heavy Metal
Season 12 Episode 3: “Major Boobage”
Here is yet another razor sharp episode where the animation style is directly referencing the parody at hand. Kenny begins partaking in a new hallucinogenic drug (called “cheesing” because, you know, “it’s fon to due”…), which becomes responsible for the Heavy Metal-esque breast-centric visions he begins to have, complete with a fresh art design (they actually filmed porn star Lisa Daniels and then ended up rotoscoping and animating over the footage for the effect). The result is a very surreal episode that’s confident in its execution of taking Kenny to a magical fantasy world straight out of the ‘80s film. Kenny’s drug trips are even set to the songs, “Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride),” “Heavy Metal,” and “Radar Rider” all of which appear in the original film.
Movie: Stand and Deliver
Season 12 Episode 5: “Eek A Penis!”
“How do I reach these keeeeds?”
Ah, the “White People Method.” It’s how us white people have gotten ahead for centuries. Cartman hones in on what exactly gets white people ahead in life, cheating, and brought it to inner city schools in “Eek A Penis!” In a parody of the 1988 classic Stand and Deliver, Cartman, or “Mr. Cartmenez,” looks and sounds like the film’s protagonist Jamie Escalante, but instead of teaching trouble teens AP Calculus, he shows them how to cheat, just like New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Movies: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Deliverance, The Accused
Season 12 Episode 8: “The China Problem”
Matt and Trey can make their points subtly, but it’s more fun when they come right out and shove it in your face. Here’s a episode that got surprisingly little backlash, considering they used rape, multiple rape scenes at that, to show how bad George Lucas and Steven Spielberg butchered the last Indiana Jones movie.
With the parody of the infamous “squeal like a pig” scene from Deliverance and the bar rape scene in The Accused, Matt and Trey take it a little too far but you still can’t help to laugh.
That probably makes us all terrible people.
The episode was dedicated to the legendary Isaac Hayes, as known as the voice of South Park fan favorite Chef, who passed away a few months before the season began. Hayes, a music, TV and film star, is known for writing the score for Shaft. We couldn’t do this list without a Shaft reference. Rest in peace, Isaac.
Season 12 Episode 10, 11: “Pandemic” & “Pandemic 2: The Startling”
South Park took on the nonsense of found footage films with Randy in charge of a shaky cam for two episodes in a row. Specifically, it was a parody of Cloverfield, but with the monster revealed to be a giant guinea pig and Randy portrayed the obnoxious cameraman that made the original film completely unbearable.
Movie: High School Musical
Season 12 Episode 13: “Elementary School Musical”
There’s nothing subtle about this installment, in which the South Park Elementary population is obsessing over the High School Musical films. This isn’t some covert parody inspired by the film. The film is directly causing the “epidemic” that’s going on. The boys are even seen watching the movie as a means to better understand what’s going on with everyone. So as musical fever overtakes the school, the episode itself becomes its own song and dance showcase featuring numbers that are quite similar to the subject matter of the ones out of the Disney films. There’s even the introduction of new student, Bridon Gueermo, which continues to fit with the model set by the movies. All of this reaches its apex when the boys themselves are performing their own dance number; their gestures and the animation being incredibly reminiscent of the films they’re making fun of.
Movies: Twilight Saga
Season 12 Episode 14: “The Ungroundable”
Nobody likes Twilight—nobody except Vampire kids, who are so totally not like Goth kids, God. They’re just posers! Well, at least except for Butters, who learns that he could become a true child of the night and thus…ungroundable! It is a fairly stock episode that trades too much on spoofing Twilight and its legion of fans without bringing much new to the table. So, in that sense, it is one of South Park’s weaker parodies. But then again, who doesn’t hate Twilight then or especially now?
Movies: Dances With Wolves, Avatar, The Smurfs
Season 13 Episode 13: “Dances With Smurfs”
This was a fun one loaded with pop culture references. To start, Cartman weasels his way into the morning announcements jobs at the school by screwing over Casey Miller, the 3rd grader with a golden voice much like the late Casey Kasem. Then Cartman turns into Glenn Beck. Then the episode becomes an outright Dances With Wolves parody, only with Smurfs. Matt and Trey couldn’t let us forget that Avatar was really just one big rip-off of the Kevin Costner western.
Cartman’s money line, “We’re from two different worlds but we spoke the common language of passion,” just about sums up all three movies, I believe. Though I don’t recall anyone in The Smurfs saying: “fuck the smurfs they can suck on my fat tits too!”
Movie: Watchmen, The Dark Knight
Episodes: The Coon/Coon 2: Hindsight/Mysterion Rises/Coon Vs. Coon and Friends
In recent years, South Park has taken it upon themselves to do at least one two or three-parter every season. The whole Coon/Mysterion saga is one of their better efforts with the format, assumedly because they have such a deep well to pull from with The Dark Knight trilogy as well as Watchmen depicting corrupt superhero worlds.
The score of these episodes is intentionally riffing on James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer, the people who did the scores for Nolan’s Dark Knight films. Cartman and Mysterion additionally refer to themselves as “the symbol this town needs” which is right out of The Dark Knight along with a lot more heavy handed, obvious dialogue and imagery used here. Even Mysterion’s voice is a clear rip-off of what Bale is doing with the Batman character. And there’s an even weirder, funnier digression after Cthulu is let loose in “Mysterion Rises” where the Coon and him basically go off on a big My Neighbor Totoro riff.
The very fact that underneath all of these references, the episode is full of reveals, twists, and secret alliances that comic and superhero movies have entrenched themselves in, shows that even if you ignored all of the above, in execution and tone alone, this collection of episodes is still faithful to what they’re referencing.
Season 14 Episode 4: “You Have 0 Friends”
Matt and Trey clearly A) really love Tron and B) hate Facebook. In this episode, Stan Marsh learns the true meaning of Facebook, which is to get as many friends you’ve never met in real life as possible. However, when he attempts to unplug from the mainframe, he is absorbed into a world of digital bikes and gladiatorial contests lit by neon suits. It is basically just an excuse to do a Tron episode, but why is that a bad thing?
Season 14 Episode 3: “Medicinal Fried Chicken”
A KFC ban in Colorado means no gravy for your tators or salty goodness of ripping the skin off the Colonel’s chicken with your teeth before you take a big bite. It also means Cartman turns into a borderline crackhead after suffering from KFC withdrawals. His quest to bring the Colonel’s recipes back to Colorado turns him into the Tony Montana of the fast food world, complete with hot naked chicks sorting and cutting the chicken, snorting lines of original recipe skin and a reenactment of the famous Scarface shootout scene.
Movie: Inception, Nightmare on Elm Street
Season 14 Episode 10: “Insheeption”
It’s pretty par for the course for South Park to anchor an episode around the big blockbuster of the year, and so Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending Inception makes perfect sense to be the connective tissue through an episode about curing Stan and Mr. Mackey’s hoarding problem by going into Mackey’s dreams. When the two of them (plus a sheep herder/hoarder) get lost in these dreams, of course the idea of creating a dream within a dream, just like in the film, is resorted to as a means to saving them.
This all goes as far as (more or less) the cast of Inception coming in to work their dream magic, the doctor emulating Zimmer’s drum-heavy rhythmic score of the film over his explanation of what’s going on, and the trigger-happy nature of the movie resulting in guns almost always being fired. Naturally, dream warrior savant, Freddy Kreuger of Nightmare on Elm Street fame, is even recruited and subverted. The icing on the dream cake here is that repeatedly through the episode, characters who don’t understand the logic of what’s happening are told it’s because they’re not smart. Complexity is added upon mock intelligence as we’re told, “Just because an idea is overly convoluted and complex, doesn’t make it cool.” So, did you understand Inception?
Movie: A Clockwork Orange
Season 14 Episode 11: “Coon 2: Hindsight”
In the middle of all the comic book movie references, “Coon 2: Hindsight” busts out a slow-mo scene backed by classical musical. When the Coon starts kicking and scratching the crap out of Mosquito and Mint-Berry Crunch, blood flying everywhere, it’s a clear mirroring of the moment in A Clockwork Orange when Alex turns on his droogs.
Movie: Human Centipede (First Sequence)
Season 15 Episode 1: “HumancentiPad”
This is South Park doing what they do best, by combining a huge social trend like the iPad with an absurdly popular (albeit it in an entirely different way) film like Human Centipede. Apple’s new wonder product and those maddeningly long iTunes user agreements that no one ever reads are the targets here. Kyle, as well as two other victims who click-without-reading are turned into Steve Jobs’ latest product, the HumancentiPad, pushing all of this to the extreme, and not just referencing the film, but outright soaking itself in it for the entire episode.
Movie: Jack and Jill
Season 15 Episode 7: “You’re Getting Older”
So South Park outright shit on Adam Sandler’s beyond laughable, indefensible supposed-to-be-a comedy, Jack and Jill. The gist of the episode is yes, Stan is in the midst of a coming of age depression and starts seeing everything as “shit.” In this case, he’s really is seeing shit when he has the misfortune of sitting through the trailer for the latest Adam Sandler movie. Kyle, Kenny and Cartman are fed up with Stan’s attitude toward everything, going as far to defend Adam Sandler for shitting in their eyes, ears and mouth.
The Jack and Jill joke ends at the trailer, but you have to stay to see Jim Carey dance with a bunch of little turds in his apartment, and the next film in which the president is a shit-spewing duck, or dog, whatever.
Matt and Trey perfectly captured the interchangeability and blandness of Hollywood blockbusters in “Awesome-O,” but here it took a dump to make their point.
“Whatever, you’ll pay to go see it!” “Fuck You!”
Movie: Psycho, Paranormal Activity
Season 15 Episode 6: “City Sushi”
An underrated episode that puts the focus on Lu Kim, owner of South Park’s City work, and what’s going on inside that head of his. We begin things with the premise that Butters has a multiple personality disorder, which sees him going all Paranormal Activity in a delightful way as he records himself through the night and watching the bizarre footage afterwards, right down to that now-classic shot of Dr. Janus just standing there for hours.
Butters even says his idea was inspired by the film. The much more “subtle” (but not really) reference is in the form of how Lu Kim, the owner of City Wok is actually the sufferer from multiple personality disorder, which is not only reminiscent of Psycho, but the episode closes on a total love-letter to the film, with the dialogue and footage perfectly replicating the ‘60s film, as Kim tells us that “he’d never harm a fly” as he sits in isolation, his fractured life overlaid on top of him.
Movie: Monty Python’s Life of Brian, The Last of the Mohicans
Season 15 Episode 9: “The Last of the Meheecans”
Aside from the fact that the title of this episode is an obvious reference to another film (or possibly the book), The Last of the Mohicans, there’s also a somewhat subtle reference to Life of Brian in the scene where Butters is celebrated as a Mexican messiah. It doesn’t seem to be much of an homage beyond the mise en scene (yes, I do think it’s funny to use the phrase “mise en scene” in a discussion of South Park). The dialogue doesn’t really match up at all. But compare the shots in both scenes and you’ll see they’re very similar! Yes, they are!
Movie: The Dark Knight Rises
Season 16 Episode 10: “Insecurity”
The movie parody doesn’t play a huge part in “Insecurity,” but the Bane mask certainly comes in handy when the wives of South Park are *allegedly* getting banged by the UPS man. When Randy and Cartman are trying to strike fear into the heart of their Amazon-package delivering enemy, the chilling Bane voice and creepy mask does the trick.
Season 16 Episode 11: “Going Native”
Anytime a cruise ship sinks (which in real life isn’t all that often), we’re immediately reminded of the Titanic. Whether it’s the real event of 1912 or the 1998 movie that started Leo-Mania, Titanic earns a spot on our list because like an iceberg, Butters is capable of taking out an entire ship with one swing of the golf club.
Movie: The Shining
And for yet another Stephen King tip of the hat, Matt and Trey finally got around to spoofing the Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson classic, The Shining.
In “A Nightmare on Face Time,” Randy Marsh gets the bright idea to buy a Blockbuster video store just in time for Halloween. This was also just in time for relevancy, because the real final Blockbuster video stores closed for good about a year later. But in South Park’s world, they’ve been closed for many decades before that. Haunted by 1940s WWII-era ghosts who have come to rent comedies from the ‘80s, the intentionally disorienting setting leaves everyone laughing but Randy. In fact, Randy has nothing but anger in this one as he becomes increasingly unhinged and obsessed with making sure Stan takes his medicine…or at least his order for some McNuggets after his video store is destroyed.
Movie: World War Z
“We interrupt this really kew song…”
During South Park’s long 9-month hiatus in between season 16 and 17, the Trayvon Martin trial reached a verdict. While we waited for Cartman’s response to the situation, World War Z became one of the hit movies of the summer of 2013. In Cartman’s daydreams, he’s Brad Pitt, saving his family from irate, zombie-like African Americans out for vengeance after the George Zimmerman verdict. Not exactly the plot of World War Z. The two topics blossomed into a memorable episode, complete with Cartman getting shot by George Zimmerman, Token getting shot by Cartman, and a better ending than the “terrible” ending to the original movie.
Movies: Prometheus, The Stand
“Gluten Free Ebola” sees the whole gluten free craze sweep over South Park and while it initially seems to be an innocent trend in the community, in reality there are actually some very disastrous effects involved with the diet. South Park decides to lean into sci-fi aspect when the episode’s scientist examines and performs his experiments on a gluten sample. This scientist really goes through the wringer in this installment, but the moment where he eats the gluten is a clear parody on Prometheus’ alien specimen examination scene.
During South Park’s crisis of faith regarding what to do with gluten, Cartman experiences some prophetic dreams that shake him to his core. In this dream, Aunt Jemima calls onto him and gives him guidance about what needs to be done about the future. This trippy experience is a direct nod to how Mother Abagail communicates to people through visions in the TV miniseries adaptation of The Stand, right down to the framing. In The Stand, the various characters either receive visions from the just Mother Abagail or the corrupt Randall Flagg. It’s pretty great to compare a gluten free trend to a virus pandemic.
Movie: Full Metal Jacket
South Park’s nod to Stanley Kubrick’s war epic, Full Metal Jacket, is mostly superficial, but it’s still there! “The Magic Bush” sees South Park abuzz with drones and an unexpected amount of voyeurism on the rise as a result. Accordingly, Craig’s mom becomes a bit of a local “celebrity” and drone videos of her end up on the Internet. We can see that one of the videos of Craig’s mom is titled “Full Metal Bush,” which obviously references Kubrick’s film, but the connections don’t go any deeper than that.
Movie: The Devil’s Advocate
The “freemium” mobile game craze takes over South Park and brings out the deeper addictive tendencies that lie within individuals. This all turns out to be a diabolical scheme from Canada and the Canadian Devil, Beelzaboot. During their quest to the bottom of all of this, Stan prays for guidance and is visited by Satan of all people. Satan takes the opportunity to really explain to Stan what addiction is and how it works. This talk between the two of them plays very much like the scenes between Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate, which is one of Trey Parker’s favorite films. Satan’s extreme mannerisms are just like those of Pacino.
Movies: Brokeback Mountain, Heathers
South Park has always been a master at diving into incredibly niche topics that resonate with a select audience. Season 19’s “Tweek x Craig” digs into the idea of slash fiction, specifically the genre of yaoi drawings. Inexplicably, Craig and Tweek that finds that their friendship has turned into a yaoi phenomenon and it’s put every one of their actions under the microscope. The “why” of this relationship gets scrutinized from different angles, but at one point Thomas Tucker asks Craig, “Why can’t you quit him?” in reference to Tweek. This line is nearly verbatim to what’s arguably Brokeback Mountain’s biggest line, which resonates even more here since in the context of what’s assumed to be a homosexual relationship.
When South Park approaches an underground area of fascination, they’re always sure to provide their audience with the proper context. “Tweek x Craig” features Wendy putting on an informative presentation about yaoi culture for South Park Elementary. This presentation is peppered with yaoi drawings of Tweek and Craig, which South Park actually sourced out from real artists’ online work. Many drawings are featured, but one in particular by junkoandthediamonds intentionally plays on the film Heathers’ imagery, which makes the pairing even more comical since the leads in that are women.
Movie: Ex Machina
Season 19 Episode 9: “Truth and Advertising”
“Truth and Advertising” tries to bring South Park’s sprawling 19th season to a close and set up its conclusion. The episode puts PC Principal in a place of danger, but there are much bigger revelations in store with the show’s other recent addition to the cast, Leslie. In “Truth and Advertising” it turns out that Leslie is not a real person and is in fact a robot. Actually, she’s just an elaborate form of an advertisement, which is even more chilling in terms of how advanced the ads have grown in South Park. This concept in general compliments Alex Garland’s robot thinker, Ex Machina, but the reference become explicit when Leslie gets interviewed and the power goes all wonky, just like with Ava’s interview in the film. It’s one of the show’s more obscure references, but it’s great.
Movie: Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Star Trek
South Park’s entire 20th season is a commentary on nostalgia itself as that’s really what was taking over cinema and pop culture at the time. Season 20 introduces the controversial Member Berries and they dominate the season. The entire point of the Member Berries is that they draw attention to elements from old franchises that have unceremoniously returned in reboots. For instance, the Member Berries harp on Star Wars: The Force Awakens for things like its incorporation of Chewbacca, how 2016’s Ghostbusters has Slimer turn up, or Spock’s role in the new Star Trek film series. Since Member Berries are all about pop culture, they’re constantly bringing up famous films.
Movie: Star Trek, Star Wars
Season 20 Episode 5: “Douche and a Danish”
This listing, while similar to the Member Berries in nature, is still different enough to warrant its own mention here. Much of South Park season 20 had the presidential election in its crosshairs and it catapulted Mr. Garrison to a very different role within the series. “Douche and a Danish” has Mr. Garrison begin to mount his attack against J.J. Abrams and why he’s at fault for the countries problems with his many franchise reboots. Garrison’s attack on Abrams and his blockbuster films starts in this episode, but it carries over through the whole season and becomes a real driving force for Garrison.
Movie: The Godfather
Season 20 Episode 8: “Members Only”
“Members Only” sees Mr. Garrison struggle with the aftermath of being made president and Gerald’s efforts to evade the wrath of the troll community. It’s a busy episode, but there’s always time for a solid Marlon Brando gag. This episode introduces the head Member Berry and he wastes no time pushing his weight around with Mr. Garrison and the White House. This elder Member Berry threatens the White House to bring back “the real Stormtroopers” and his entire look and demeanor is modeled after Brando’s take on mob boss, Don Corleone, in The Godfather. It’s an easy gag that people have been doing for decades, but it works.
Movie: The Imitation Game
Season 20 Episode 9: “Not Funny”
“Not Funny” brings to a head many of the season’s storylines, but the most significant one is Cartman and Heidi’s mission to Mars. The two are still facing roadblocks in their quest to escape Earth and its negativity, but Heidi makes some serious headway here. “Not Funny” has Heidi pull off some highly intricate emoji analysis that gives her the information to figure out how to solve the Mars problem. Heidi’s mental gymnastics and the way that they’re depicted on screen feel very reminiscent of how Alan Turing’s brain connects the dots in The Imitation Game. The timing certainly works out and it feels like the kind of gag that the show would indulge in.
Movie: Star Wars – Return of the Jedi
The end of South Park season 20 is quite the epic showdown that puts an end to all of the Mars business, knocks Troll Trace out of commission, and saves mankind in the process. There’s a lot to celebrate in this finale, but one of the biggest moments is the showdown between Gerald—aka skankhunt42—and the CEO of Troll Trace, Lennart Bedrager. Gerald might win in quite the unceremonious way, but the location of the battle and the way in which Bedrager falls to his demise is a pretty obvious nod to the Emperor’s death at the end of Return of the Jedi.
Movie: The VVitch
South Park at times gets a little too big for its own good in recent years, but “Sons a Witches” is a perfect example of the show tapping into its earlier energy. The episode takes something as absurd as an actual witch and then finds a way to make some biting social commentary at the same time, in the case, the increasing amount of “witch hunts” that were happening in the entertainment industry. The episode’s subject matter deals with witches, which brings The Witch to mind, but a bunch of the cinematography, music, and mood of the entry also feel reminiscent of the recent horror film.
Movies: Black Panther, Love Story
South Park season 22 kicks off with a bang—actually a lot of them—as it unflinchingly looks at the dark topic of school shootings. The season premiere cleverly pairs this with Cartman’s detective routine to prove reveal Token’s true feelings on Black Panther. Token says that he didn’t see the movie, but Cartman is suspicious of these claims and thinks that Token did see it, but just didn’t think that it was anything special. With a topic of this nature the episode spends a lot of time getting into specific details of Black Panther, but Cartman also explicitly compares the film to The Lion King and talks about the similarities between the two films.
Cartman finds himself occupied with Black Panther-based espionage throughout “Dead Kids,” but the episode also sees Randy attempt to deal with Sharon’s recent bout of depression over how crummy everything has gotten. Randy is quick to discount Sharon’s sadness with menstrual-related reasons or that she’s going through menopause. During Randy’s attempts to understand what’s going on with his wife and how his life may change, he sings the song “Where Do I Begin?” This song is basically the most famous track from the movie Love Story, and his morose rendition of it here calls back to its use in the film.
Movie: The Problem With Apu
South Park brings fan-favorite character, Mr. Hankey, back into the mix and the character quickly learns that the world is a very changed place. “The Problem With a Poo” chronicles Mr. Hankey’s fall from grace after some disastrous Tweets, which has become an all-too-common event in real life as of late. The results of all of this see Mr. Hankey exiled from South Park and he actually sets up shop in The Simpsons’ Springfield. The episode’s title itself is obviously a reference to the truTV documentary, The Problem With Apu that looks at The Simpsons character. However, this episode also deals with PC culture and similar subject matter as the doc does, too.
Movie: Friday the 13th
“The Scoots” sees the children of South Park adopt fancy new e-scooters in order to maximize their candy obtaining abilities on Halloween. The episode pits the youth of South Park against the adults in a fun way that gets unexpectedly out of control. Halloween means a lot of costumes, which can sometimes be an area rife with movie references. “The Scoots” doesn’t go overboard here, but the cell phone tower guard’s costume is Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th slasher franchise, which is particularly funny considering the role he plays in the episode.
Movie: Star Wars – A New Hope
“Time To Get Cereal” very much functions as a sequel to South Park’s “Manbearpig” episode from years back. South Park is an absolute disarray as dead people begin to pop up everywhere and Manbearpig goes on a destructive rampage. Al Gore in many ways is this episode’s (and the next one’s) hero and so “Time To Get Cereal” makes sure to display him in a complimentary light. “That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time,” is a highly recognizable line from the original Star Wars film that’s said in response to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Al Gore gets to deliver this line verbatim when he drops in to save the day here.
Movie: The Muppets Take Manhattan
“Budddha Box” contains a fairly clever look at “anxiety” and how we all suffer from it, but the best sequence in the episode is by far the indulgent “PC Babies” fantasy that comes out of nowhere. The PC babies in general are a fun addition to the series and a surprising addition to PC Principal’s character, but their showcase here is just so much fun. The whole “PC Babies” title sequence and gag is a riff on Muppet Babies, which was obviously its own TV show, but it started as a fantasy sequence gag from Muppets Take Manhattan, first. So technically, this is still a reference that initially connects to a film! All this means is that a “PC Babies” spin-off series needs to happen.
Now it’s your turn, South Park fans. If we missed a parody or reference, let us know in the comment section so we can add it to our list!