In preparation for South Park: The Stick of Truth, which comes out next week for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, here are the ten best episodes of South Park, presented in no particular order.
(Note: this was a hard list to make. There are too many great South Park episodes, so some couldn't make the cut. Feel free to drop your own favorites in the comments below.)
When a young boy makes the transition into manhood, he is blessed with certain physical attributes. In Cartman's case, he gets pubes. After the other boys tell him that pubes don't count unless you grow your own, Cartman realizes he's been tricked. When Scott Tenorman won't give him his money back, Cartman goes medieval on him. Radiohead guest stars and plays a role in Cartman's elaborate plan for revenge.
Why: Cartman was really just a foul-mouthed fat kid until he decided to get revenge on Scott Tenorman. That was the turning point. Now he's a brilliant sociopath, and the best character on television. (Watch here.)
An alien satellite dish is placed in Cartman's butt. Shortly after, the boys are abducted by the aliens that installed it. They find out that the planet Earth is simply an intergalactic reality show. When word gets back to their home planet, the aliens decide to cancel the show. Something must be done.
Why: Jeff Goldblum, the taco crapping ice cream, the Joosians... "Oh man, I can't believe I sucked your jagon." (Watch here.)
When the boys hit the slopes of Aspen, Stan is challenged to race the best skier on the mountain. In the tradition of the epic ski adventure movies of the 80's, he must win the race in order to save the youth center, get the girl and free the trapped spirits of the Wakacha Vampire Indians.
Why: When a South Park parody is on, it's on. And they absolutely nail the 80s teen comedy in this one. (Watch here.)
South Park takes on the look of Japanese Anime. The boys are transformed into Japanese Warriors after they buy martial arts weapons at a local flea market. Their sworn enemy, Professor Chaos, confronts them and a highly stylized battle ensues.
There's trouble in the online gaming world when a mad gamer won't play by the rules. The boys dedicate their lives to defeating the renegade and saving the World of Warcraft.
Why: The best thing about South Park's much-discussed World of Warcraft episode isn't the ridiculous concept or even the authentic animation (produced with help from Blizzard themselves.) It's that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are funny enough to do an episode about gaming addiction without resorting to Big Bang Theory-style cheap jokes and hackneyed punchlines. This one's a classic. (Watch here.)
Cartman decides to help Jimmy with his comedy routine. Everyone loves the new joke they come up with. The joke starts to take off and it even hits all the late night talk shows. The boys are thrilled with how popular it's become until somebody tries to take all the credit.
Why: Gay fish, yo. (Watch here.)
Anticipation for the biggest shopping day of the year is building. The dark days of winter are coming and that can only mean one thing: the fight to be the first in the mall on Black Friday has begun. The boys prepare to battle the crowds the day after Thanksgiving to get the best deal on the new gaming systems.
Why: The three-part Black Friday series just aired last fall, but it deserves a top slot on the list for hitting the next-gen console wars so well. Plus, the trilogy segues directly into Stick of Truth. (Watch part one here.)
Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny are caught up in the latest fad from Japan: Chinpoko Mon! In their effort to collect everything Chinpoko Mon, all the children in South Park have become fanatics. Meanwhile, the Japanese toy manufacturers have hidden anti-American messages in all their products, thereby enlisting children throughout the U.S. to aid in completing their Primary Main Objective: bombing Pearl Harbor again.
Why: Because I lose it every time I see the kids turn Japanese. Also, shoe. (Watch here.)
Stan is approached by a group of adorable woodland critters and asked to help them build a manger in anticipation of the birth of their Lord and Savior. Stan complies, only to find out that they serve Satan.
Why: South Park has gone to some really dark, brutal places over the past two decades. This was the best by far. (Watch here.)
The Brovlofski family is dealt a devastating blow when Ike's Canadian birth parents show up unexpectedly and want their baby back. When the townspeople decide to forego Christmas gifts and take up a collection to get Ike home to South Park, the boys are distraught. Before all the money for their Christmas presents gets spent, they hightail it to Canada to bring Ike home themselves.
Why: Because it's a musical. (Watch here.)