When Matt Stone and Trey Parker were developing South Park, they really wanted to channel the same energy that All in the Family’s Archie Bunker had in the 1970s. Knowing that they couldn’t pull this kind of humor past the censors on a new and relatively small network like Comedy Central in the late 1990s, they created Eric Cartman.
Though Eric Cartman and Archie Bunker share a number of inappropriate personality traits, the fact that Cartman was pitched as an 8-year-old boy allowed Stone and Parker to explore this kind of humor in a way that was deemed acceptable.
But as it turned out, South Park pushed the envelope with Eric Cartman, and we were introduced to one of the most racist, evil, psychotic, self-centered, and inappropriate characters that we could think of in recent memory. And if you don’t believe us, we have the ultimate list to prove it.
So sit back, and enjoy eight of our favorite examples of Eric Cartman being an absolutely unhinged sociopath.
Tsst – Season 10, Episode 7
By season 10 of South Park, Cartman’s atrocious behavior was a well-known, and fan-favorite aspect of the series. But to Cartman’s mother Liane, his behavior had gotten to the point where she needed outside intervention to help reform her troubled child.
After failing to get Nanny Stella from Nanny 911 to rise to the challenge, she recruits Jo Frost from Supernanny to take over. But it only takes three days for Cartman to break Jo Frost down to a pathetic shell of her former self, which leads to her admission into a psychiatric hospital where she is found eating her own feces, and proclaiming that he’s “from hell.”
In a last-ditch effort to reclaim her authority (read: authoritahhh!), Liane seeks out help from Cesar Millan after watching Dog Whisperer. Millan uses the same tricks that he does to assert dominance over dogs, and teaches Liane how to become “pack leader.”
“Cripple Fight” – Season 5, Episode 2
Up to this point in South Park, there was only room for one handicapped child, and we couldn’t imagine the series without Timmy and his wheelchair.
But when Jimmy Valmer, a boy with cerebral palsy and a stutter, introduces himself in season 5, he instantly wins over his classmates with his positive attitude and joke-telling. Cartman immediately notices Timmy’s jealousy, and does everything he can do to provoke a “cripple fight.”
To Cartman’s satisfaction, it doesn’t take long for Timmy and Jimmy to start delivering blows in an epic fight sequence that is a faithful frame-for-frame recreation of the fight scene between Nada and Frank in 1988’s They Live.
Though the townsfolk weren’t nearly as enthusiastic as Cartman to watch two disabled children try to kill each other, Cartman was still sure to run through town and let everybody know that it was going down.
Cartman Sucks – Season 11, Episode 2
One of the more satisfying through lines in South Park is Cartman’s enthusiasm for the art of photography. In “Cartman Sucks,” Eric has his share of fun taking a number of incriminating pictures of Butters in provocative poses while he’s sleeping.
Not only does Cartman do an entire study on lighting, aperture settings, and his ass, he also takes a picture of Butters with a tampon stuffed in his mouth that he aptly titles “The Sleeping Menstrual.”
But Cartman takes things a little too far when he puts his penis in Butters’ mouth, thinking that it would make his friends question Butter’s sexuality.
Kyle points out that it’s not Butters’ sexuality that would be called into question, but rather Cartman’s. In the classic South Park fashion, the photo goes missing, and Cartman suspects foul play on Kyle’s part.
Cartman’s Incredible Gift – Season 8, Episode 13
When Cartman goes into a brief two-day coma, he has reason to believe that his head injury made him a psychic. Meanwhile, the South Park police are trying to track down a serial killer who cuts off the left hands of his victims as a souvenir. So naturally, Sergeant Yates recruits Cartman to help him track down the serial killer using his new god-given talent.
In the typical Cartman fashion, Eric uses his “incredible gift” to get a number of innocent people severely beaten by the police and wrongfully arrested.
The problem, however, is that more killings occur while these people are locked up, leading the South Park police to believe that there are several copycat killers on the loose, while still turning to Cartman for further guidance.
The Death of Eric Cartman – Season 9, Episode 6
When all of the South Park boys decide to ignore Cartman after he ate all of the chicken skin off their KFC, Cartman thinks he’s actually dead and that his friends can no longer see him. Well, everybody except Butters, who wasn’t clued in by the rest of the boys.
Since Cartman sincerely believes that Butters can communicate to him from beyond the grave, he gets to work trying to make amends with everybody who’s ignoring him, speaking through Butters.
Cartman trashes Butters’ room in a fit of frustration, leading Butters’ parents to believe that he’s in the middle of a psychological crisis for claiming to have the ability to see ghosts. As a result, Butters is put through a torturous amount of psychological tests by his parents and psychiatrists alike so they could find out what’s troubling their little boy.
Casa Bonita – Season 7, Episode 11
You may be noticing a running theme in South Park involving Cartman putting Butters through the wringer. When you consider Cartman’s ruthlessness compared to Butters’ innocence, it’s easy to point out that this is inherently good comedy. And you can’t blame Matt Stone and Trey Parker for leaning into this kind of storyline.
In “Casa Bonita,” Kyle decides to invite Butters instead of Cartman to his birthday dinner at Casa Bonita, Cartman’s favorite restaurant. When Cartman insincerely makes amends with Kyle, Kyle tells him that if Butters can’t make it to his birthday party, then he’ll allow him to attend.
That’s all that Cartman needed to hear, and he quickly devises a plan to kidnap Butters and lock him in a bomb shelter so he could go in his place.
The Passion of the Jew – Season 8, Episode 3
It’s no mystery to any South Park fan that Cartman is an outspoken antisemite, and “The Passion of the Jew” truly captures the depths of his hatred toward the chosen people of Israel.
After forming a Passion of the Christ fan club, Cartman quickly changes course and starts to dress like Adolf Hitler in full Nazi regalia.
The fan club members, confusing Cartman’s fluent German for the Aramaic language that is spoken in the Mel Gibson movie, blindly follow his orders.
At the episode’s climax, they’re marching through the streets chanting, “es ist zeit für säuberung,” and “es ist zeit für rache,” which translates to English as “It is time for cleansing,” and “It is time for revenge.”
For such an egregious act of fear-mongering and attempted ethnic cleansing, Cartman gets grounded for two weeks.
Scott Tenorman Must Die – Season 5, Episode 4
Though there is no way to accurately count Cartman’s staggering, yet indirect kill count in South Park, “Scott Tenorman Must Die” highlights his unflinching ability to commit murder for the sake of petty revenge.
After being conned out of $16.12, Cartman swears to everybody that he will exact revenge upon Scott Tenorman, who sold him a bag of pubes for $10, and then ripped him off for the remainder of the sum through a clever accounting prank.
After a number of failed revenge plots, like trying to get a pony to bite off Scott Tenorman’s wiener, Cartman busts out the big guns, and decides to throw a chili cook-off where he could humiliate his new arch-nemesis.
To everybody’s disgust, Cartman orchestrates an elaborate plot to get Scott’s parents killed so he could grind their bodies up into chili, and feed them to him. At the conclusion of this episode, Kyle and Stan come to the realization that they should never mess with Cartman again.