Since South Park’s production schedule is so hectic, with the creative team writing and animating each episode in the week leading up to its airing, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone end up voicing most of the roles. If they come up with a new scene right before an episode is set to hit the airwaves, they can hop in the recording studio and fire off their lines in no time.
A ton of South Park characters have become iconic across the series’ run. From Eric Cartman to Randy Marsh, Parker is responsible for playing some of South Park’s funniest and most popular characters.
10 Officer Barbrady
In South Park’s early days as a surreal comedy rather than a topical one, long before it began satirizing current events, Officer Barbrady was the only cop in town, investigating whatever bizarre case presented itself in each episode.
He was phased out of the show as characters like Detective Harris rose up to lampoon police brutality, but a heartbreaking angle was added to Barbrady’s personal life when he was fired for accidentally shooting a kid in season 19’s “Naughty Ninjas” and couldn’t afford medication for his sick dog.
9 Member Berries
In a satire of the wave of nostalgia that came with J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Parker and Stone created “member berries,” an anthropomorphized fruit that reminds people about all the pop culture stuff they used to like as a kid.
The berries turn out to have a sinister side as they begin to fondly reminisce about when same-sex marriage was illegal and there was tighter border control.
8 PC Principal
In the 19th season of South Park, as wokeness was sweeping the world, the show acknowledged its own history of political incorrectness and introduced its attempts to become more PC in the form of the elementary school’s new principal, the aptly named PC Principal.
Ever since his introduction, PC Principal has quickly become one of South Park’s best characters. His S.J.W. frat boy personality is a hilarious satirical representation of the current social climate.
7 Mr. Mackey
Mr. Mackey is one of South Park’s most hilarious characters, m’kay? He’s the school counselor at South Park Elementary and he’s a pitch-perfect lampoon of every school counselor in the world.
Whether he’s teaching sex ed as an adult virgin, directing a kindergarten play about tooth decay as an angry theater diva, or singing “It’s Easy, M’Kay” in Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Mackey is always hysterical.
6 Kanye West
South Park has taken aim at every celebrity from Barbra Streisand to Tom Cruise. After all these years, one of the most memorable celebrity spoofs has been Kanye West in the episode “Fishsticks,” and later in “The Hobbit.”
Trey Parker nailed West’s delusions of grandeur as a self-proclaimed genius. West himself later tweeted about the portrayal, saying, “…it’s pretty funny! It hurts my feelings but what can you expect from South Park!”
5 Jimmy Valmer
It’s easy to assume that the woefully un-PC portrayal of South Park’s disabled characters is a bad thing, but quadriplegic journalist Jeff Shannon actually described both Jimmy and Timmy as “goodwill ambassadors” in an interview with the Seattle Times.
Jimmy’s character isn’t defined by his disability. He’s an aspiring standup comic and also runs the school newspaper. His storylines rarely have anything to do with his disability, and when they do, they usually have a good point to make.
4 Mr. Garrison
The characterization of the boys’ teacher Mr. Garrison has changed a lot over the years. At first, he was just the cynical third-grade teacher with the Mr. Hat puppet on his hand. When his sexuality was called into question, he came out as gay, and then came out as trans and got gender confirmation surgery— only to later get the surgery reversed.
Most recently, starting with the season 19 episode “Where My Country Gone?,” Garrison has become South Park’s stand-in for Donald Trump.
3 Stan Marsh
Along with his best friend Kyle, Stan is the voice of reason in South Park. He’s smarter than most of the adults in town– especially his dad– but since he’s just a kid, he has to go along with the grownups’ insane plans.
Stan has been at the center of some of South Park’s funniest (“All About Mormons”), darkest (“Stanley’s Cup”), and most incisive (“You Have 0 Friends”) episodes, as well as some surprisingly heartbreaking ones (“You’re Getting Old”).
2 Randy Marsh
Parker and Stone have said that they used to identify the most with the four boys, but as they’ve gotten older, they find themselves identifying with Randy more and more, which is why his role on the show has been expanded significantly.
Over the course of South Park’s run, Randy has saved the town from an economic collapse, blurted out a racial slur on national television, purchased a Blockbuster franchise and promptly lost his mind, and most recently, left South Park to run a weed farm called Tegridy Farms.
1 Eric Cartman
Conceived as an eight-year-old Archie Bunker, Eric Cartman is easily the most iconic character to come out of South Park. In the early seasons, the popularity of Cartman is what helped the show to really take off and become a cultural landmark.
Whether he’s cooking a kid’s parents into a pot of chili or locking Butters in a bomb shelter so he can go to Casa Bonita, there’s no limit to Cartman’s pure evil. But he’s still lovable.
NEXT: South Park: 5 Reasons Randy Is The Best Character (& 5 Why It’ll Always Be Cartman)