South Park has plenty of classic episodes that everyone remembers, but there are more than a few gems that deserve a bit more love.
When a show is as brilliant as Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park and it’s been on the air as long as South Park has, then there are bound to be a few underrated episodes that fall by the wayside. Parker and Stone have been delivering a handful of the funniest episodes of television every year for a whopping 23 seasons.
Everybody’s heard of the classic episodes – “Scott Tenorman Must Die,” “Casa Bonita,” “Trapped in the Closet” etc. – but with more than 300 episodes under the show’s belt, South Park has a lot more to offer than just the top-billed classics.
10 Free Hat (Season 6, Episode 9)
Parker and Stone’s best-known lampooning of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas is their depiction of the filmmakers brutally sexually assaulting Indiana Jones as a metaphor for how it felt to watch Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
But they satirized Spielberg and Lucas years earlier in season 6’s “Free Hat,” in which the boys launch a campaign to stop Hollywood directors from adding CGI into their old classics.
9 Pinewood Derby (Season 13, Episode 6)
While it doesn’t tackle any current events and it initially received mixed reviews from critics, season 13’s “Pinewood Derby” is a terrific South Park one-off. Stan takes part in a pinewood derby race and Randy puts a stolen superconducting magnet in his model car to give them an edge over their long-time rivals, the Hollises.
The little car reaches warp speed, which leads to the discovery of alien life, and it becomes harder for Randy to keep up his lie and harder for Stan to live with the guilt.
8 A Nightmare On FaceTime (Season 16, Episode 12)
South Park’s Halloween episodes tend to be up and down, because the current-events storylines don’t always suit the spooky tone of the holiday. But “A Nightmare on FaceTime” nails it.
Randy buys a Blockbuster Video at the dawn of online streaming and when no one shows up, he begins to lose his mind in a spot-on spoof of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
7 Pre-School (Season 8, Episode 10)
The timelessness of the world of South Park means that Parker and Stone rarely explore the past of the characters, or even acknowledge that they did have a past prior to the events of the series. But season 8’s “Pre-School” is all about the past, and the consequences of past mistakes.
A flashback reveals that a kid named Trent Boyett started a fire on Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny’s orders, then they pretended not to have any involvement when their teacher Miss Claridge was burned alive. Now, Trent is out of juvie and wants to kill his old classmates.
6 Night Of The Living Homeless (Season 11, Episode 7)
Parker and Stone satirized the homeless issue with a parody of zombie movies in season 11’s “Night of the Living Homeless.” Instead of looking for “braaains” to eat like traditional Romero-era zombies, the homeless people are looking for “chaaange.”
There are many great moments in “Night of the Living Homeless,” from Randy shooting a guy in the head after the bank repossesses his house making him homeless to the running joke about Cartman jumping over the homeless on his skateboard.
5 The Hobbit (Season 17, Episode 10)
Between the seventh and ninth episodes of South Park’s 17th season, Parker and Stone treated fans to the “Black Friday” trilogy that satirized the titular commercial event through the lens of a Game of Thrones parody. This groundbreaking three-parter overshadowed the season finale, “The Hobbit.”
But “The Hobbit” was a brilliant, poignant episode touching on the impact that the media has on women’s body image. The hero of the story is Wendy, who desperately tries to expose the media’s manipulation of models’ physical appearance and the shame that comes along with it.
4 The Losing Edge (Season 9, Episode 5)
Parker and Stone have said that season 9’s “The Losing Edge” was particularly difficult to write, because it’s tough enough to write sports material as it is, but the characters had to intentionally lose baseball games in the episode.
The episode revolves around the boys hating their little league games and doing everything in their power to get kicked out of the tournament, only to discover that every other team has the same plan.
3 Medicinal Fried Chicken (Season 14, Episode 3)
It’s rare for an episode of a TV comedy to nail both its A-plot and B-plot, because it’s tough enough to have just one that’s great. But in the season 13 episode “Medicinal Fried Chicken,” South Park delivered two great storylines.
One sees Randy and his friends intentionally contracting testicular cancer to get medicinal weed and bouncing around on their giant balls like a hippity hop, while the other sees Cartman pushing illegal KFC in a parody of Scarface.
2 Goobacks (Season 8, Episode 7)
When poor people start coming back in time from an overpopulated future to raise money for their families in the present day, season 8’s “Goobacks” presents some poignant parallels with the immigrant experience.
The town’s debate over the people from the future has some hilarious political satire, including the debut of the show’s iconic “They took our jobs!” catchphrase.
1 Smug Alert! (Season 10, Episode 2)
When hybrid cars first hit the market, Parker and Stone lampooned the self-righteousness of people who drove them in season 10’s “Smug Alert!” While the hybrid cars reduce pollution in the town, their drivers’ pretentiousness fills their air with a thick cloud of “smug.”
From Stan’s “gay little song” to Cartman adjusting to life without Kyle to the spoof of George Clooney’s Oscar acceptance speech, “Smug Alert!” is a classic.
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