A large part of what makes Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park such a funny, popular and successful cartoon is the fact that they have created a living and breathing universe which is packed with fantastic supporting characters. Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman are the crucial characters that the show centers on, but many of the secondary characters provide more humor. Some of the kids are the logical characters on the show who are used to comment on society, and this is highlighted by the wild, idiotic, controversial and bizarre characters that you find in their hilarious world.
10. Officer Barbrady
Officer Barbrady has gradually disappeared off the show, and this saw him replaced by Sergeant Yates and police who were a lot more wild and reckless. But when he was the only police officer in town (and when the show tackled smaller issues), he was incredibly incapable and seemingly the worst person for the job. This always made his investigations a highlight, but it was suggested that he actually managed to maintain the peace as the town quickly descended to chaos shortly after he retired in “Chickenlover.” This was his most prominent episode, where it is revealed that he is illiterate during an investigation, which sees him join the boys in school. Here he quickly settles and gets an A for his report on Go, Dog, Go! He promotes the boys to deputies (which Cartman takes a bit too seriously), and through his reading he manages to solve the case.
Craig was once just the kid who flipped people off for no reason and who Eric Cartman labeled “the biggest troublemaker in class.” Over the series his character has developed, and he is often seen as the leader of the other boys in class. Sometimes Craig and these other boys are rivals to the primary characters, but they often work together as one group. Craig also became one of the most realistic and grounded characters on the entire show, due to his sarcastic and cynical approach to anything out of the ordinary. This is on show in the “Pandemic” episodes, where he is captured by Homeland Security and sent to Peru. He then lashes out and states how nobody at school likes them because they come up with ridiculous ideas and end up “in some foreign country, or in outer space or something.”
8. Liane Cartman
Being the mother to a son as disturbed and evil as Cartman makes Liane Cartman an immediately sympathetic and likeable character. She is incredibly sweet and kind, unlike her son, but this sees him walk all over her. He also knows how to manipulate her to get what he wants. This has played a role in Eric’s personality, and, of course, his obesity too, as she constantly feeds him junk food. Despite her sweet side, she is also incredibly promiscuous and has slept with almost every male in town, and this is a running gag throughout the show. This makes who Eric’s father is an ongoing storyline, and in “201” it was revealed as Scott Tenorman’s (Eric’s enemy) father. These two opposing sides of Ms. Cartman make her a complex and highly entertaining character, and she is also used to highlight just how horrible and manipulative her son really is.
7. Mr. Mackey
As the school guidance counselor, Mr. Mackey probably has the hardest job in the entire town. He has to cope with misbehaving and foul-mouthed kids, terrible staff such as Mr. Garrison, the parents of the students who are no better, and, of course, Eric Cartman. Unsurprisingly, he does not do a fantastic job and is essentially the teacher that everyone rips on. He has the classic appearance and characteristics of a teacher, including his catchphrase of saying “m’kay” at the end of every sentence. He will often get angry and rant, but this does little to slow the kids down. He is not used often, but there are a few classic episodes which center on him. In “Ike’s Wee Wee,” he turns to drugs and alcohol before returning to school and delivering a famous lecture on how “drugs are bad, m’kay. And if you do drugs, you’re bad, m’kay.”
Arguably the most controversial character, Timmy is a handicapped student first introduced in season four. He has a very limited vocabulary which sees him frequently shout his own name, but he is also portrayed as intelligent and capable and is part of the gang. One crucial episode, “Timmy 2000,” caused plenty of debate and was created to highlight how the non-disabled community displays babying behavior towards the disabled. In the episode, Timmy becomes the lead singer of a band which quickly gains popularity. Some praise the band for their sound, whilst others are critical, as they believe people are making fun of his condition. Their preconceptions are then shattered when it is shown that Timmy is enjoying himself and does not feel exploited. Although he is a controversial character (it is not a show for those easily offended), he is always treated equally and is an important character.
A talking towel who does little more than get high and remind people to bring a towel, Towelie was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone to satirize the degree in which the show was being merchandised, and he is even described by Cartman as “the worst character ever.” Despite his ridiculousness, he has proven to be a fan favorite, with many appearances in the show and even stories that focus around him. He is said to be 17 in towel years (how long a towel year is remains unclear), and he was genetically engineered to be an alien spying weapon, but he was then stolen before he “got high and just sort of wandered off.” His addiction to a host of drugs caused an intervention by the South Park residents, and this saw him agree to go to rehab after a plea from his son, Washcloth.
Although the character met a grisly end after Isaac Hayes (who voiced the character) quit the show following the episode which satirized the Church of Scientology, Chef was one of the most popular and likable characters early on. The school cafeteria cook, Chef was the character that the boys went to when they needed advice. This meant that often he was the voice of reason, but equally often he would end up singing a soulful song about making love, as he spent most of his free time seducing the female residents of South Park. Prior to the emergence of Token, Chef was the only African American character and was created as a stereotype to reflect what Parker and Stone felt was the perception most inhabitants of less diverse towns had of black people. His character expanded as the show went on until the fallout Hayes had with the creators.
3. Mr. Garrison
Perhaps the most complex and twisted character on the entire show (which is saying something), Mr. Garrison starts off as a homophobic, yet closeted homosexual, and racist bigot who often vents this through Mr. Hat, a puppet he carries around. He later embraced his sexuality and came out, but this was not the end of his journey. He went on to have a sex change and would sleep with straight men, before then getting a reverse sex change; his sexuality is now ambiguous. In addition to his clear identity disorder, he is also an incredibly bad teacher who insults his students but has no control over them, and he is often seen teaching about popular culture or risqué content instead of the curriculum. His constant transformations, imperfections and encounters with the other residents of South Park make him one of the funnier characters on the show.
2. Butters Stotch
Butters has developed into a main character, but he still qualifies for this list as he started as a supporting character, but proved so popular that he came to replace Kenny during his temporary removal. Butters gradually got more screentime, and now has his own episodes and is a fan favorite. In a world as dark and twisted as South Park, a character of Butters’ childhood innocence is needed. Not only does this highlight the depravity, but sadly for Butters it makes him the target, as he is always the scapegoat, guinea pig and butt of the joke. He is targeted heavily by Cartman who ropes him into his plans, but because Butters and Cartman are outcasts, they also are shown to have a unique friendship at times. Despite his innocence and being well-behaved, his parents constantly discipline him and ground him even though it is never his fault.
1. Randy Marsh
Much like Butters, Randy Marsh proved to be so popular that he is now a main character and perhaps the most popular on the entire show. He now has his own episode in each season, and these are always highlights which provide some of the best quotes. Although an adult and father, he seems unable to let his go of his youth and is a constant source of embarrassment for Stan. He becomes too invested and obsessive with the latest fads and trends, and, like the rest of South Park’s community, he completely panics when things are going wrong and joins with the herd-like mentality. He was initially little more than Stan’s father and the town geologist, but as his character developed, he very quickly became the funniest character. This has opened up all kinds of new avenues for the creators and breathed new life into the show.