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South Park: the Early Years

Updated on March 2, 2015

The Prequels

South Park, a show from Comedy Central created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, made its debut in 1997. Starring Stan, Kyle, Eric "Cartman", and Kenny. A great show, it contained familiar gimmicks like Kenny dying, the boys going on some surreal adventure, and eventually learning a lesson through the adventure. However, all great works of fiction had to start somewhere. Created in 1992 and 1995, the precursor to the South Park franchise, The Spirit of Christmas consisted of two shorts that featured four boys who would eventually become Stan, Kyle, Eric "Cartman", and Kenny, getting into trouble during Christmas. Like typical South Park fare, each short had the boys get caught-up in some Winter shenanigans like an evil Frosty the Snowman or Jesus getting into fisticuffs against Santa Claus, observe the carnage that ensued, and then saw the conflict get resolved in some convoluted manner. With the success of The Spirit of Christmas, South Park was able to make its proper debut as a series in 1997 in the episode Cartman Gets an Anal Probe. The first episode established many things for the series as a whole like Cartman being the butt of every joke, characters like Mr. Garrison and Mr. Hat, and the designs of the characters that still remained unchanged in modern times. South Park has become an iconic example of pop culture for modern viewers and will most likely reamin on the air for a long time, but it is nice to see the source material that helped make this show what it is today.

Frosty the Snowman with the magic hat. Carnage ensues.
Frosty the Snowman with the magic hat. Carnage ensues. | Source

Jesus vs. Frosty

This short started with the four boys who would become Stan, Kyle, Eric "Cartman", and Kenny singing the Frosty the Snowman song while building a snowman. But when one of the boys was about to put a hat on the snowman they were building, another boy stopped them. When asked for an explanation, the boy says that the snowman will come to life. But rather than express joy to that idea like the other boys, this one boy said that his sister in Minnesota put a hat on a snowman, and it nearly killed her. Ignoring this warning, the three other boys put the hat on the snowman. But rather than turn into a happy, joyful snowman, the snowman turned into an evil, tentacled snowman. Who proceeded to kill one of the boys by throwing him. The bo who argued against putting the hat on Frosty of course got mad at the other boys for putting the hat on Frosty, but all of the other boys could only say that they were sorry and could only ask what they should do now. Then Santa Claus appeared. But it was not really Santa Claus, but Frosty dressed-up as Santa Claus. Who then proceeded to kill another boy. Left with o other option, the two remaining boys implored baby Jesus from the nativity for help. Baby Jesus did help, by throwing his halo at Frosty's head, causing the hat that gave him life to fall-off. Now with the threat of Frosty gone, the remaining two boys went home for Christmas presents.

Jesus fighting Santa Claus. As surreal to watch as it is to hear.
Jesus fighting Santa Claus. As surreal to watch as it is to hear. | Source

Jesus vs. Santa

The second South Park prequel, Jesus vs. Santa, featured more familiar models for the South Park main characters. This short started with the South Park protagonists singing Christmas carols. Suddenly Stan decided to point out that Kyle, the Jew, does not celebrate Christmas and should only sing Hanukkah song. When Kyle actually tried to sing a Hanukkah song, Catman said it was stupid. Once that happened, one of the more well-known fights between Kyle and Cartman began. Pretty soon Jesus descended from Heaven. When asked why Santa was in South Park, Jesus replied that he was seeking retribution, which Stan took to mean that Jesus was going to kill Kyle because he was Jewish. Fortunately, that was not the case. Jesus just came to South Park to kill Santa. So when the boys took Jesus to the mall, where Santa was, both characters were antagonistic to each other. Their argument about the meaning of Christmas got so heated that Santa Claus declared that only one of them could survive. Stan, of course, remarked about how messed-up the situation was. During the fight Santa Claus seemed to have the advantage over Jesus, being able to throw him for a significant distance. When Stan and Kyle expressed support for Santa Claus, Jesus looked at them angrily, which forced them to change their support. When both of them started firing energy projectiles at each other, some of the extra children ended up dying, including Kenny. Ultimately, the conflict was resolved by the appearance of Brian Boitano. When Brian Boitano sad that Christmas was about people getting along, Jesus and Santa Claus parted on better terms. Also, once Kyle pointed-out at Hanukkah let people have eight days of presents, everyone, cartman included, decided to like Hanukkah.

One of the side-effects of Cartman getting abducted by aliens.
One of the side-effects of Cartman getting abducted by aliens. | Source

Cartman Gets An Anal Probe

Here was the pilot episode. The episode that would determine if South Park would receive any additional episodes. Catman Gets An Anal Probe. This was the episode where certain elements of South Park became fan-favorites. Kenny dying. Mr. Garrison and Mr. Hat. Stan puking at Wendy every time she tried talking to him. These were introduced in this episode and reused in later episodes. Cartman Gets An Anal Probe started with Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny waiting for a school bus to take them to school. Suddenly, Ike, Kyle's little brother, appeared. Adter showing a neat trick where Ike could cause huge amounts of destruction, Cartman started acting exhausted. When asked, Cartman explained that he apparently had a dream where he was abducted by aliens. While Cartman staunchly believed that he was just dreaming, everyone was adamant that Cartman really got anally probed. When Chef, a friend of the boys, stopped to talk to them, he got to hear about Cartman's story, even he believed the story, and even explained what an anal probe was for the boys and the audience. Eventually the boys got to scholl and Cartman gor to experience one gimmick due to his abduction, farting out fire. Eventually Cartman's fart did things like cause a robot to appear out of his butt, force Cartman to dance a silly song against his will, and even construct a giant satellite dish that contacted aliens. Eventually Cartman got abducted again, but received pink-eye from the aliens instead. This episode was crass, disgusting, and started many family-unfriendly antics for South Park, but the show itself was hilarious enough to make more episodes.


South Park has become a major franchise in television. However, it is important to remember the rough drafts of the show to really appreciate how far it has progressed. Jesus vs. Frosty helped establish the atmosphere and tone South Park would take in future episodes. Jesus vs. Santa helped make the aesthetics that gimmicks that South Park would utilize in future episodes. Cartman Gets An Anal Probe, being the pilot episode of the official South Park franchise, took all of the likable aspects about the two shorts that helped make South Park as a source of animated hilarity, and make an actual episode involving Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny.

This show has come a long way.
This show has come a long way. | Source


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    • Lynn Savitsky profile image

      Lynn Savitzky 

      3 years ago from New Jersey

      I was 14 when this series first came out and it was totally groundbreaking at the time for being one of the only cartoons with lots of swearing and dirty jokes on the air. You picked some good episodes for this list!

    • Jake Peralta profile imageAUTHOR

      Jake Michael Peralta 

      3 years ago from Indio, California

      Although its interesting to see profanity used again in modern episodes.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      3 years ago from Peru, South America

      I didn't realize that The Spirit of Christmas was the precursor to South Park. The evolution of the series was interesting to read about. Thanks!

    • Jake Peralta profile imageAUTHOR

      Jake Michael Peralta 

      3 years ago from Indio, California

      Anything with Chef was the best for me.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      To me, the early years of South Park were the best.


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