South Park is no stranger to controversy and mocking the wealthy and famous, having ‘ruined’ Ed Sheeran’s life and ‘annoyed and overwhelmed’ Meghan Markle.
The cartoon’s 299th episode, “Band in China,” had critical themes about China, prompting the authorities to erase any related information from local internet servers.
But has the long-running programme, which also has a strange ability to foretell future events, imagining anything from Donald Trump’s tweets to Brokeback Mountain, strayed too far?
Yes, certain nations, including the UK and US, have restricted or removed South Park episodes.
Let’s take a look at the five banned South Park episodes and why they sparked controversy.
Super Best Friends
Season 3 Episode 5 follows Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny as they recruit the Super Best Friends, a spoof of the 1970s programme Super Friends, to combat, well, David Blaine’s cult.
However, the Super Best Friends included various religious characters, like Jesus, Buddha, and Moses, but the inclusion of Mohammed aroused outrage.
The episode was removed from the South Park website some years later due to a subsequent death threat, which is detailed below.
When South Park switched to HBO Max and Paramount Plus in 2020, neither streamer made Cartoon Wars Part 1 or Part 2 available.
Part 1 of the Super Best Friends scandal has the entire US scared for their life when Family Guy airs an episode featuring Muhammad.
Part 2 of the narrative follows Cartman, who feels the episode is disrespectful to Muslims. He travels to Hollywood to try to get the programme withdrawn.
The episodes were inspired by the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons dispute, which began in reaction to a Danish newspaper’s publication of drawings depicting Muhammed in September 2005. This led to widespread protests and occasionally violent rallies and rioting in early 2006.
200 and 201
200 and 201 also sparked criticism for their portrayal of Mohammed, prompting Comedy Central to edit his picture when the episodes aired on linear TV in 2010.
In 200, Tom Cruise and other celebrities insulted by South Park residents threaten a class action lawsuit over their jibes, promising to withdraw it only if Mohammed agrees to meet with them.
In episode 201, the Super Best Friends return to defend South Park from celebrities and their monster, Mecha-Streisand. Additionally, Eric Cartman discovers his father’s actual identity.
Fundamentalist organisation Revolution Muslim told the authors that their representation of Muhammed in the episodes may end in murder; as a result, Comedy Central significantly edited sections of them, deleting references to Muhammad and the final statement.
An Elephant Makes Love To A Pig
An Elephant Makes Love To A Pig is one of South Park’s first episodes, from the show’s first season.
The South Park lads attempt to crossbreed Kyle’s elephant with Eric’s pig for a genetic engineering class assignment, while Stan struggles with his aggressive sister Shelley.
The latter narrative, which also had Shelley set Stan on fire at one point, prompted censoring due to concerns that children would mimic her actions, especially because it occurred shortly after a house fire was blamed on a youngster recreating an episode of Beavis and Butthead.
South Park is available to stream on Paramount Plus.