South Park is a show known primarily for stirring up controversy, bad-taste humor, and satirical takes on pop culture. However, one element of the series that is often overlooked is its emphasis on action. While seemingly about the lives of a few boys living in a small Colorado town, they often find themselves on action-packed, reality-altering adventures.
Some are small but fun; others are so big they take multiple episodes to tell the whole story. The citizens of South Park have taken on a variety of celebrities, and locations, sometimes involving themselves in current affairs, all the while delivering their signature sense of humor along the way.
10 ‘Lil’ Crime Stoppers’ — Season 7, Episode 6 (2003)
Every kid at some point in their life has imagined playing a detective police officer. But a kid’s idea of stopping crime is far different from reality. In “Lil’ Crime Stoppers,” the boys decide to start a detective agency, solving crimes such as the disappearance of a pie on a windowsill and finding a girl’s lost doll.
The town’s police congratulate the boys by promoting them to junior detectives – where they’re immediately tasked with significant drug busts. The funniest part is that while the boys don’t do anything, the criminals they target dispose of themselves by sheer circumstance.
9 ‘Free Willzyx’ — Season 9, Episode 13 (2005)
“Free Willzyx” begins with the boys watching the killer whale show at a SeaWorld-esque theme park. Park workers Mike and Brian prank the boys by pretending the whale can talk and that he’s actually a prince from the moon.
Never discovering the deception, they quickly manage to free the whale from his enclosure and put him on a Mexican spaceship to get home. Unfortunately, this attracts the attention of several parties, including the police, animal rights activists, and Mike and Brian, desperate to catch the whale back before they lose their jobs.
8 ‘Good Times With Weapons’ — Season 8, Episode 1(2004)
South Park has gleefully lampooned various storytelling mediums, but their riff on anime might be the most action-packed. In “Good Times With Weapons,” the boys discover a booth selling Asian-style weapons at the local fair. After tricking the vendor into giving the weapons to the boys, they play as ninjas going around town, battling evildoers.
Of course, their imagination depicts themselves as stereotypically buff, heroic, shonen anime characters, and their fight scenes follow it. That is, until Butters is hit in the eye with a ninja star, and the boys have to face the consequences.
7 ‘Cartoon Wars’ Parts 1 & 2 — Season 10, Episodes 3 & 4 (2006)
On top of commenting on media censorship, “Cartoon Wars” also served as an action-packed way for the writers to get their hate of Family Guy off their chest. In the South Park universe, the former announces an upcoming episode will depict the religious prophet, Muhammad, causing panic across America.
Cartman convinces Kyle to come with him to get the episode pulled – the former less out of a moral stance and more because he hates the show. The two travel to Hollywood, even meeting a kid closely resembling Bart Simpson along the way, as they discover the funny truth behind the Family Guy writing staff.
6 ‘Make Love Not Warcraft’ — Season 10, Episode 8 (2006)
Make Love Not Warcraft dedicates itself to the aesthetic and stakes of World of Warcraft, to the point that large portions of the episode were animated by its creative company Blizzard Entertainment. All the kids in town (except Butters) have been hooked on Warcraft, but their progress is constantly halted by an expert player – a typical internet troll.
They continually build themselves up in the game to match the troll’s stamina while becoming acne-ridden and obese in the real world. Finally, even Randy begins to get in on the action, and the owners of Blizzard decide to give him the sword that could defeat the troll once and for all.
5 ‘Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants’ — Season 5, Episode 9 (2001)
“Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants” was the first episode broadcast after 9/11, and the town of South Park has been living in fear in the weeks since. On top of dealing with wearing gas masks everywhere, the boys now have to send a dollar to Afghanistan for charity. After they receive a goat in return, they try to return it but end up flying there themselves.
After they get caught by terrorists, they find themselves face to face with Osama bin Laden himself. From then on, Bin Laden becomes subjected to Looney Tunes-esque violence, ending positively and appropriately patriotic.
4 ‘Pandemic’ & ‘Pandemic II: The Startling’ — Season 12, Episodes 10 & 11 (2008)
Seeing the popularity of Peruvian Flute Bands, the boys decide to start one to earn some cash. But soon, the U.S. Government begins a crackdown ban on Peruvian Flutes, seeing their popularity as a pandemic. So they force the boys to help overthrow Peru, never giving away that it’s all a ploy for giant live-action Guinea Pigs to take over the world.
Their classmate Craig finds himself in the spotlight, though he tries to avoid it at every opportunity. Meanwhile, Randy has gotten himself a new video camera and continually films the chaos around him like he’s in Cloverfield.
3 The Coon Trilogy – ‘Coon 2: Hindsight’, ‘Mysterion Rises’, and ‘Coon Vs. Coon & Friends’ — Season 14, Episodes 11, 12, & 13 (2010)
While Cartman’s first attempt to become a popular superhero led to funny results, his second led to an epic superhero trilogy. Unfortunately, he struggles to reign control over his new group of heroes, all the while the deity Cthulhu is accidentally released, beginning a reign of darkness across the world.
This trilogy answered several essential questions for fans, like who is Mysterion? How can Kenny return to life after dying in nearly every episode? What would happen if Cthulhu behaved less like an unholy eldritch abomination and more like Totoro?
2 ‘Imaginationland Episodes I, II, & III’ — Season 11, Episodes 10, 11 & 12 (2007)
After the boys discover a leprechaun, they are whisked away to Imaginationland, the home of every being and character created by human imagination. Unfortunately, a group of terrorists follows them there, destroying a wall separating the good and evil characters.
As Imaginationland descends into war and chaos, it seems Butters might be their only hope, much to his anxiety. Hundreds of different characters from various areas of pop culture appear, delivering an action-packed pre-Ready Player One-esque narrative that only South Park could come up with.
1 The Black Friday Trilogy – ‘Black Friday’, ‘A Song of Ass & Fire’, and ‘Titties & Dragons’ — Season 17, Episodes 7, 8, & 9 (2013)
It’s the holiday season of 2013, and two things were on everybody’s mind: Game of Thrones and Black Friday. The kids of South Park are torn between whether they want to get the Playstation 4 or the Xbox One during the Black Friday sale.
Meanwhile, Randy has taken a job as a security guard at the mall to take advantage of the shop’s savings deals. But soon, the war between the consoles and the shopping frenzy will reach fevered levels. Even the likes of Bill Gates and George R. R. Martin become entangled in the action-packed madness.
KEEP READING: 10 Best Seasons of ‘South Park’, Ranked From Worst to Best