The Most ‘Cartman-Defining’ Episode of ‘South Park’, According to Matt Stone and Trey Parker

Eric Cartman from South Park is one of the most complex characters on television. The foul-mouthed fourth-grader has evolved dramatically throughout the 24 years that the show has been on the air. He went from being an obnoxious/poorly animated kid to downright evil.

And according to Matt Stone and Trey Parker, there is one episode in particular that has defined their main character the most significantly.

Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick
Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick | Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

How does ‘South Park’ stay fresh after all these years?

It’s rare that a TV show can last for over 20 years as South Park has. But the series has been on the air since 1997, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Because the series is still so relevant, some might wonder how it can stay fresh after over two decades. And according to Stone and Parker, it’s because they’re always looking for new and exciting ways to shake things up.

While speaking to Vanity Fair, Parker said,

“For whatever it’s worth, we still do everything we did when we first started. We really haven’t handed the show off to anyone. So for better or worse, it’s not like people trying to constantly recreate what South Park was—we’re constantly trying to figure out something new for it to be. And I don’t even know if it’s totally conscious—it’s just that we come in, and we don’t want to do the same thing because it sounds boring to us. So we come to every season trying to say, ‘All right, what can we do totally differently?’ And that’s part of what makes it fun for us.”

“I think probably that’s the most important thing, is we get bored easily,” said Stone. “So we’re constantly looking for something new to do, and then there’s always some kind of new form to have fun with.

The episode that changed Eric Cartman for good

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Dedicated South Park fans can probably pinpoint the episode that altered Eric Cartman the most significantly. The episode is season 5’s “Scott Tenorman Must Die,” premiering in 2001.

According to Parker in a commentary video,

“I remember ‘Scott Tenorman Must Die’ for us was a big milestone in South Park because it was the first time we realized, maybe we’re trying to do too much in episodes. And it was the first time we were like, ‘wow, there’s really not a C story in this.”

“We’ve just got this one A story of Cartman vs. this guy, and it turned out so good that we really from then on started to say, ‘Let’s forget B stories, let’s forget C stories,” said Parker. For a while, we were thinking, ‘let’s just do a really well told A story.’ That was the biggest lesson we learned from that episode.”

“And I know that the reason that a lot of the fans picked this episode was because it’s such a Cartman-defining show,” says Parker.

“But at the end of that show,” says Stone, “you’re like ‘OK, nothing is ever going to be the same with that character again.”

How long has ‘South Park’ been renewed for?

According to Parker and Stone, South Park has been renewed until 2022. And in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2019, they said they’ve never discussed quitting.
“I don’t think we have ever had an ‘OK, let’s sit down and decide if we are going to keep going,'” said Parker.