‘South Park’ mocks Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and suggests he’s stuck in the past

four cartoon characters stand beside a sign that reads "South Park"
“South Park” has taken aim at Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.
(Comedy Central)

“South Park” has always had a knack for being tapped into the pop-culture zeitgeist and often moves quickly to comment on current events. And now it’s the first animated sitcom to address the war on Ukraine.

A week after Russia invaded Ukraine, the show’s Wednesday episode, “Back to the Cold War,” mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin for catalyzing an international crisis.

For the record:

9:53 a.m. March 9, 2022A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the teacher character Mr. Garrison as Mr. Mackey.

While Ukrainian cities Kharkiv, Chernihiv and the capital, Kyiv, are under attack, the irreverent series brought attention to the war the best way it knows how: By framing it as an outlandish allegory involving an equestrian dressage competition that pits the gullible character Butters against a stoic Russian competitor.

A fire in a Ukrainian nuclear reactor has been extinguished, radiation levels remain normal and the plant is in the hands of Russian forces, authorities say.

March 4, 2022


The Season 25 episode starts with the South Park Elementary’s school teacher, Mr. Garrison, confusing Putin’s name with the more crude “Pootin” during a class discussion about the conflict.

Then, school counselor Mr. Mackey runs the students through terrifying nuclear-bomb drills out of the 1960s, with references to famous ‘80s hits such as Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers” and war films including “Rambo,” “Red Dawn” and “WarGames”

The episode further poked Putin by imagining a World War III scenario where Mr. Mackey activates a DEFCON 3 alarm to warn against Russian nuclear threats. But he does it through the outdated DOS (Disk Operated System), a simple and minimal memory processing system.

It’s a pointed joke about Putin being stuck in the ‘80s, as driven home when he’s shown dancing to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s 1984 single “Two Tribes.”

The creative duo behind ‘South Park’ will produce the show for Comedy Central through 2027, plus spin off 14 made-for-streaming movies for Paramount+.

Aug. 5, 2021

The Comedy Central episode ends with Mr. Mackey ridiculing the Russian leader, who prides himself on being a strongman autocrat, for getting older and becoming increasingly aggressive because his penis allegedly “doesn’t work the way it used to.”

Another animated series was also back in the news recently for predicting the crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Fox’s long-running series “The Simpsons” anticipated the Russian invasion during a 1998 episode titled “Simpson Tide” in which Homer Simpson unwittingly prompts a similar crisis.