The greatest animated series of all-time is South Park, and since they just released a video game and are in the midst of Season 21 of the show, we are going to list the top ten characters for our Top Ten Tuesday this week.
10. Mr. Mackey
The tenth spot could have been any number of characters, but we give the nod to Mr. Mackey. South Park’s guidance counselor is most famous for his signature line (“mmkay”) and he’s advised the kids that “drugs are bad, mmkay,” but he’s also got a bit of a dark side, including literally throwing Cartman under a bus and flipping out on little kids for the school play not meeting his standards.
As the kids—and in turn show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone—say, “you’re the worst character ever, Towlie.” But that’s what makes him so great. The drug addict towel has no point to him, but it’s still hilarious whenever he’s in an episode, with one of the funniest appearances being his intervention in “Crippled Summer” that causes Butters to cry hysterically… “You’re a towel.”
Chef was one of the characters that made the early episodes of South Park so awesome, as his wisdom and relationship with the main characters made for some great humor and real teaching moments. The one that stands out and still stands up today is the controversy about the South Park flag in “Chef Goes Nanners,” as the boys don’t even see skin color when it comes to the people on the flag, and once the town comes to a compromise, Chef admits, “I realize that I almost let racism turn me into a racist.”
The first of the four main boys of the list, Kyle is almost always opposing Cartman (except for when they play Game of Thrones or superheroes), but he actually has more in common with South Park’s most manipulative character than many might think. While Kyle keeps it more hidden, he can be a little self-absorbed, like in Season 13’s “Ginger Cow” when his self-righteousness might actually cost world peace between different religions, but perhaps the similarities are what makes him such a good rival for Cartman. Overall, Kyle does a good job being the voice of reason when he needs to be.
6. Mr. Garrison
There hasn’t been a South Park character that’s gone through more changes than Mr. Garrison, as he’s switched beliefs, genders, and occupations—but it all eventually got him into the White House. The Mr. Garrison from earlier seasons when Mr. Hat and Mr. Twig were around was the best, as that was when he had some of his most hilarious lines and best confrontations with his foul-mouthed students. Maybe we will see him back in the classroom soon.
The most underutilized character in recent seasons, Kenny has a sort of cult following by the biggest fans of the show. Viewers can’t help but laugh at his mumbled laughs and one-liners, and he’s the town’s most noble superhero when he puts on the mask and becomes Mysterion. He almost exclusively has his face covered, but one of the funniest moments from Kenny came in “The Jeffersons” when he was a decoy Blanket and complains, to which Stan says, “Dude, whatever. At least you finally get to do something.” After that, he was killed. Again.
Stan is simply the normal kid in South Park—naïve, wants to be accepted, doesn’t want to get sucked into Facebook—but he’s sometimes overshadowed by Randy when it comes to the best characters. We think he deserves a spot in the top five, as he’s given us some of the best moments and episodes, including arguing with Scientologists (and Tom Cruise) about being sued, trying to take blame for the Beaverton flood, and of course being the focus of Cartman’s story in “Woodland Critter Christmas.”
3. Randy Marsh
The top three characters could really go in any order and it’d be hard to argue with it, but we slot Randy in at number three. South Park’s main adult character is always so overly dramatic that it makes for some of the show’s funniest moments, and he’s a character that might actually be getting better by the season. In the current season, he’s already flipped out about “his people” being wiped out when he found out he was 2.8% Neanderthal. In one of the show’s best episodes, “The Losing Edge,” Randy’s delusion is on full display when Stan’s Little League baseball team keeps advancing, but he thinks he is Rocky Balboa and the fights with dads on opposing teams are what matters: “I’ve worked hard, believed in myself, and now I’m gonna be fighting in a State Championship game. This is gonna be the biggest fight of my life.”
Butters didn’t start off as a main character, but his emergence came in the finale of the fifth season with “Butter’s Very Own Episode.” Since then, the pure-hearted Butters has been at the center of dozens of episodes and moments, and while he usually ends up grounded, he does sometimes come out on top, most notably in “AWESOM-O” and of course in “Christian Rock Hard” when he ends the episode by flipping off Cartman and saying, “(explitive) you, Eric” in his innocent voice. Hopefully not being at the top of our list doesn’t get Butters grounded.
When most people think of South Park, they probably think of Eric Cartman. There are almost too many episodes, moments, and quotes to properly explain what makes Cartman such an iconic character, but “Scott Tenorman Must Die” probably sums it up best—as only he would ground up a bully teenager’s parents into chili and trick him into eating them. While he’s continued his manipulating and evil ways in the later seasons, Cartman was basically just as funny at the beginning of the show’s run. And he’s not fat, he’s just got a sweet hockey body.