‘South Park’
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‘South Park’: 15 shocking moments

In 15 seasons on the air (the 16th season began Wednesday), Trey Parker and Matt Stone have found a way to skewer just about every race, religion, interest group and orifice. They’ve taken on sacred cows and wallowed in cheap laughs. Surprisingly, a lot of times the groups involved weren’t offended. In fact, the show has won Emmys, a Peabody and been nominated for a GLAAD award. But not everyone can take a joke, and sometimes the boys from Colorado manage to shock and offend just about everyone. Here are some of the most outrageous moments from their first 15 seasons. (Comedy Central)
Air date: Nov. 16, 2005

The shock: It’s heavily implied that actor Tom Cruise is a closeted gay man by having him hide in a closet while the characters constantly call: “Come out of the closet.”

The reaction: Cruise was reportedly unhappy with the episode, and when a rebroadcast was pulled from the Comedy Central schedule, Parker and Stone suspected pressure from the actor or Scientology to be involved. However, Cruise has since denied any knowledge of the incident. Actor Isaac Hayes was offended by the treatment of Scientology in the episode and quit the show in protest. (Comedy Central)
Air date: March 19, 2008

The shock: A distraught Britney Spears, fed up with the circus of her life, attempts suicide. Even though she blows off the top of her head with a shotgun, she survives and has to continue performing, to continued criticism and catty comments.

The reaction: None. The satire hewed depressingly close to reality. (Comedy Central)
Air dates: April 5 and April 12, 2006

The shock: The people of the U.S. are left fearing for their lives after “Family Guy” announces it will show the prophet Muhammad, an act considered blasphemous by the Islamic faith. Due to pressure from the network, the climax of the two-part episode was censored.

The reaction: The episodes received criticism from the Catholic Defense League and the Parents Television Council for their jokes about Christianity. (Comedy Central)
Air date: March 22, 2006

The shock: After actor Isaac Hayes left the show because of the series’ criticism of Scientology in the “Trapped in the Closet” episode, his character was written out by having him join a cult called Super Adventure Club that has beliefs very similar to those of Scientology.

The reaction: Surprisingly, the Church of Scientology did not pursue legal action against Parker and Stone. Hayes died two years after the episode aired. (Comedy Central)
Air date: March 31, 2010

The shock: A medical marijuana shop replaces the local KFC, causing the men of South Park to give themselves testicular cancer in order to get prescriptions. However, their testicles grow to an abnormally large size.

The reaction: Kentucky Fried Chicken officials were not thrilled with the depiction in the episode, stating that the company had not been consulted before its inclusion. (Comedy Central)
Air date: Dec. 7, 2005

The shock: A statue of the Virgin Mary bleeds profusely from an unusual orifice.

The reaction: The episode originally aired on the evening before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, so Catholics were naturally upset. Groups from around the world urged Comedy Central not to repeat the episode, and a board member of Viacom, Comedy Central’s parent company, even issued his own personal statement criticizing the events depicted. Though the episode was temporarily pulled, it has since been shown on Comedy Central. (Comedy Central)
Air date: Oct. 8, 2008

The shock: George Lucas and Steven Spielberg rape Indiana Jones “Deliverance"-style, “Accused"-style and “Boys Don’t Cry"-style.

The reaction: Though there was no official reaction from the Spielberg or Lucas camps, other media groups took offense at the portrayal of rape on TV. The studio, Paramount, reportedly hoped to make the episode just go away. (Comedy Central)
Air date: July 20, 2001

The shock: A common word for excrement is uttered 162 times during the episode (a counter in the corner of the screen helps keep track).

The reaction: The Parents Television Council featured this episode in a 2004 report on sex, violence and profanity on cable TV. (Comedy Central)
The air date: Oct. 25, 2006

The shock: Two months after the death of adventure reality show host Steve Irwin due to stingray attack, he appears at a party thrown by Satan with stingray still sticking out of his chest.

The reaction: The family of Irwin was enraged by his appearance in the episode. A friend of the family issued a statement saying Irwin’s widow was “devastated” by the appearance. Representatives of the network defended Parker and Stone’s attempts at humor. (Comedy Central)
Air date: April 21, 2004

The shock: Michael Jackson, disguising himself with a mustache and calling himself Martin Jefferson, carries out an inappropriate relationship with the boys of South Park.

The reaction: Jackson’s reputation was pretty well tarnished by the time this episode aired. Still, it was particularly daring to depict Jackson in such a way before his molestation trial had begun. (Comedy Central)
The air date: Nov. 29, 2000

The shock: Rather than continuing the edgy adventures of the residents of South Park, Parker and Stone instead chose to do a retelling of Charles Dickens‘ “Great Expectations.”

The reaction: Fans were bewildered about why the show’s creators chose to do an episode that was so out of their style. Even the animation looked different. Parker later admitted that the episode was one of the least popular of the entire run. (Comedy Central)
The air date: March 28, 2007

The shock: Terrorists hide a nuclear device in Hilary Rodham Clinton’s vagina. The queen commits suicide.

The reaction: Despite the degrading treatment of a standing U.S. senator and presidential candidate, it was the British people who took offense at the prospect of the queen shooting herself in the mouth. A commentary in England’s Guardian newspaper noted the calls for the episode’s banning (which did not occur). (Comedy Central)
The air date: Nov. 16, 2011

The shock: Less than two weeks after the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State came to the attention of the media, “South Park” included a string of Penn State jokes.

The reaction: Penn State alumni were outraged by the episode. (Comedy Central)
The air date: April 1, 1998

The shock: Parker and Stone promised to reveal the identity of Cartman’s father in the second season premiere. But as an April Fool’s gag, they instead aired an episode that had nothing to do with anyone in South Park. Instead, it focused on the cartoon characters Terrance and Phillip.

The reaction: Fans were not amused by the switcheroo and made their displeasure known to Comedy Central. As a result, the follow-up episode, which was originally scheduled to air in May, was pushed up to air the following week. (Comedy Central)
The air date: Dec. 1, 1999

The shock: Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo hosts a variety show featuring songs from the “South Park” Christmas album.

The reaction: Though there was little initial reaction, almost 10 years later, Russian authorities received multiple complaints about this episode and considered prosecutors’ calls to ban the “extremist” cartoon. ()