It’s the 25th anniversary of South Park, and fans are reliving more than two decades of some of the most brilliant satire and social commentary the television world has ever seen. That includes a few movies along with 25 seasons of the television show that started as a company Christmas card in the early 1990s.
The inhabitants of South Park have become cultural icons, recognizable wherever they appear, and Kenny is the most distinctive of the four main characters. He’s the one in the orange hood that always speaks in a muffled voice so that nobody understands what he’s saying. That’s mostly because it was often lewd, filled with curses, and too hot for network TV. However, Kenny can be articulate and wise, and some of the things he says are surprisingly insightful.
Spoiler alert, not only for plot twists, but colorful language that may be offensive to some.
7 “Sometimes They Don’t Realize What Should Have Come First.”
There are a lot of great quotes in Season 15, Episode 12, “The Poor Kid” which got a lot of love from viewers and critics alike. When the McCormick kids get taken away by child protective services and placed in a foster home, Kenny’s little sister is emotionally distressed, to put it mildly. The title of this episode seems like a clever play on words at times, perhaps meant to be said more like, “Aw, the poor kid,” and Karen’s not the only one.
Her guardian angel, the superhero Mysterion (Kenny’s alter ego), arrives to comfort her. When she asks why her parents got arrested, this is one of the things he says to try and explain what happened. Another great line from his speech that is also often cited is, “You are not alone.”
6 “It Is A Place Of Wonder, And Yet To The Outsider Like Me, A Place Of Odd Tradition.”
Who’s the last character that anyone would expect to snap and start beating up on people? When Butters flies off the handle in Season 16 Episode 11, “Going Native,” his parents decide it’s time for him to return to his homeland as a rite of passage, and Kenny ends up going with him.
Kenny acts as a narrator for some of the episode, writing letters home that describe the strange local customs. He describes island life with some phrases and vocabulary reminiscent of an 18th-century explorer, part of which includes this quote, among some other gems that have his friends back home scratching their heads.
5 “A Better Place For You!”
Most people understand that Cartman’s motives are selfish, but Kenny, as Mysterion, is one of the few characters that ever get to confront him about it in season 14, episode 13: “Coon vs. Coon & Friends.” This is a continuation of the superhero saga that started in the previous season.
Cartman tries the usual manipulative, wordy explanations to justify not only what he’s doing, but why he’s better than Mysterion. Part of his argument is that “he’s making the world a better place.” Of course, the true caped crusader isn’t buying it and replies with this biting comeback.
4 “I Knew I Had To Do It For All The Lives In The World.”
The running joke in South Park: The Movie was the ability to curse, something that had to be bleeped out or muffled on the network, which was part of the point of Kenny’s character on the TV show. In the movie, Kenny dies in the first act and goes to Hell, and at the conclusion, he chooses to return to the Lake of Fire in order to end the war and save the Earth.
When he says this phrase, he still has his hood on, so the audience can’t understand him, and since it’s intended as his explanation for making the choice he did, it’s part of the joke. However, just before he descends back into the Black Pit, he pulls back his hood and says the first thing the audience has heard clearly from Kenny’s mouth: “Goodbye, you guys.”
3 “I Assume You Must Be Eric Cartman.”
It’s insightful on a basic level, since Cartman’s size always gives him away no matter what he’s wearing, and he’s the only kid in the group who doesn’t have an interchangeable body. In season 13, episode two, “The Coon,” two mysterious superheroes strive to fight crime, but their motives are very different.
Mysterion makes his first appearance in this episode, and unlike Cartman, he’s not doing it for attention or publicity. Also unlike Cartman, he can easily guess The Coon’s real identity. Cartman makes several guesses as to the identity of Mysterion but all of them are wrong.
2 “That Makes You VERY F*cking Gay.”
Kenny has the talent of being blunt with his language, which is one way to be insightful. The character demonstrates this in the second episode of season 11, which is called “Cartman Sucks.” This is also a play on words because Cartman literally sucks.
When Cartman shows off some pictures he took of Butters during a sleepover while the boys are at the bus stop, they all point out that they make him look a lot worse than Butters, one photo in particular. Kenny doesn’t mince any words about it and tells Cartman exactly how it really looks.
1 “It’s Yours, Karen.”
This isn’t insightful for Kenny, necessarily, but it’s an eye-opener for the audience like most of this episode, “The City Part of Town,” the third episode in season 19. Anyone who has seen or experienced the effects of “gentrification” understands what this episode is trying to say about society’s priorities.
Someone, however, does have their priorities straight. Kenny comes home from his low-paying child-labor job at a local restaurant, and his father sneers at him because he didn’t bring home any money. In the next scene, we find out why he has no money: because he used his paycheck to buy Karen a doll. His muffled voice confirms to her, “It’s yours, Karen.” Kenny’s not just a superhero when he dresses up as Mysterion.