When going down to South Park, one can be sure to have themselves a time. Famous for toilet humor and topical satire, it’s difficult to pigeon-hole this game-changing animated series. Parking may be ample, but so too are irreverent jokes and absurd twists. The series has built a reputation for crossing every line. But Trey Parker and Matt Stone have not only crossed the line, but they have also done horrible things to the line and now the line is crying – and audiences are loving it!

With over 300 episodes, it takes a lot to stand out in the canon – only time will tell if the ongoing 26th season of South Park will be remembered alongside its highest points. The best South Park episodes blend the crude and the clever, holding space for satire and silliness to coexist. The original songs hit all the right comedic notes, and the characters are so flawed that irreverence is an expectation. So come on down to South Park, and meet some of the show’s top-rated episodes on IMDb.

Updated on May 29, 2023, by Hannah Saab:

As rumors continue to dominate discussions about Casa Bonita, fans are theorizing when the iconic restaurant (which was bought by South Park‘s creators) will reopen. Of course, the establishment is now inextricably linked with one of the best episodes of South Park, which continues to boast a high score on IMDb.



15 “Imaginationland: Episode III”

Season 11, Episode 12 (2007)

Butters (Matt Stone) runs in terror in Imaginationland (2007)
Image via Comedy Central.

IMDb Rating: 9.0/10

“Imaginationland Episode III” is the final episode in a three-part storyline that received the 2008 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program for One Hour or More. In the 2007 episode that showcased South Park‘s irrevent humor, Stan and Butters team up to fend up a massive army of recognizable antagonists, while Cartman is still focused on winning his impossible bet with Kyle.

Featuring fictional characters like Aslan, Al Gore, and even Jesus, “Imaginationland Episode III” depicts an epic fight between good and evil, commenting on the dichotomy in pop culture in the process. It’s a fantastic way to end the wild arc that took the main characters to a vibrant realm.

14 “Imaginationland”

Season 11, Episode 10 (2007)

Imagination creatures in Imaginationland, South Park
Image Via Paramount

IMDb Rating: 9.0/10

Also known as “Imaginationland Episode I,” the 163rd episode of the show is first entry in the three-part series that would eventually turn into the uncensored Imaginationland: The Movie. In a spoof of Alice in Wonderland, the episode begins with a leprechaun who warns the boys of a terrorist attack, and who is apparently late for something important.

What follows is a wacky storyline that sees the main characters diving into a world full of familiar characters and incisive political commentary. The first part of the saga already highlights some of the series’ most biting critiques about censorship and capitalism, which will further influence the boys’ wild journey through the titular world.

13 “Tsst”

Season 10, Episode 7 (2006)

Caesar Milan training Eric Cartman and Eric's mom watching while eating chicken in South Park
Image via Paramount Global Distribution

IMDb Rating: 9.0/10

The episode “Tsst” counts on renowned dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, to finally discipline Cartman. The drastic move is made by Cartman’s mother, Liane, after finally giving up on changing his uncontrollable behavior. Viewers soon see exactly how Millan’s techniques change Cartman’s life.

The fan-favorite Cartman episode highlights what it takes to get the misbehaving character to follow the grown-ups, but it’s a long (and questionable) road to get there. A parody and critique of reality TV series centered on extreme parenting, Cartman and Liane’s tumultuous mother-and-son relationship is used to raise questions about using parenting challenges as a form of entertainment. It’s worth noting that the real-life Cesar Millan has commented on his portrayal in the episode, saying “it was fantastic.”

12 “Cartman Joins NAMBLA”

Season 4, Episode 5 (2000)

Cartman Joins NAMBLA in South Park

IMDb Rating: 9.0/10

In a controversial showcase of South Park‘s dark comedy, Cartman’s misguided attempt to search for more mature friends who are at his level accidentally ends up joining NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) after misunderstanding its actual purpose. All of the boys in the town are suddenly at risk after Cartman’s move, as NAMBLA is actually an association of Internet predators.

Needless to say, the episode was scandalous when it first premiered, as it used irreverent humor to comment on the sensitive subject matter. Its message about the media’s role in sensationalizing such topics is not lost on fans who are used to the way the show uses absurdity and its distinct brand of humor to tackle contentious issues.

11 “Christian Rock Hard”

Season 7, Episode 9 (2003)

Faith 1 in Christian Rock Hard in South Park

IMDb Rating: 9.0/10

Almost making it into the top 10 South Park episodes on IMDb, “Christian Rock Hard” sees the boys form a rock band, which is soon complicated by their refusal to perform after learning that fans can illegally download their music from the Internet. In the background, Cartman starts his own Christian rock band called “Faith + 1” to cash in on the craze.

Aside from being a pointed criticism of the way such bands actually prioritize making money over anything else, the episode also cleverly satirizes well-known artists who have voiced their opposition to copyright infringement – Metallica being a notable example. It parodies the Christian rock genre and mocks its profit-driven nature, while also criticizing the music business as a whole (all while giving fans some unforgettable songs).

10 “Grounded Vindaloop”

Season 18, Episode 7 (2014)

Butters wearing a virtual reality headset at school in South Park episode Grounded Vindaloop
Image Via Paramount

IMDb Rating: 9.1/10

In one of the funniest South Park episodes ever, Cartman pranks the long-suffering Butters into believing he’s wearing a virtual reality headset. When his plan backfires, the other boys enter the virtual reality, and there are so many overlapping realities that no one can tell who is real. Their only hope to exit the simulation is a customer service representative named Steve.

The overlapping realities are mind-blowingly confusing, even for the show’s creators who admitted not knowing the order of realities while working on the episode. Achieving their aim of confusing the audience, the episode is a heady satire of The Matrix, Total Recall, and open-world gaming. When the boys finally return to reality, they’re depicted as live-action children, a unique moment in the series that is strangely heartwarming.

9 “The Death of Eric Cartman”

Season 9, Episode 6 (2005)

Cartman eating chicken skin in South Park, The Death of Eric Cartman
Image Via Paramount

IMDb Rating: 9.1/10

Cartman eats the skin off every piece of chicken in the shared KFC bucket. Proving to be the final straw for his friends, they agree to ignore him, causing Cartman to assume he’s dead. He tries to make up for his evil behavior, but his hollow gestures of atonement fail to achieve much more than an opportunity for the classic original TV song “Make It Right.”

With a serious comment on medical trauma (albeit told with the most extreme hyperbole), the episode has kernels of messages that matter. Yet in classic South Park style, heartfelt messages are delivered with the subtlety of a canon ball to the face on the fourth of July.

8 “Trapped in the Closet”

Season 9, Episode 12 (2005)

An image of Lord Xenu with text beneath reading 'This is what Scientologists Actually Believe' in South Park
Image Via Paramount

IMDb Rating: 9.1/10

Tom Cruise barricades himself inside a wardrobe when the reincarnated leader of Scientology won’t speak to him. Like a toddler having a tantrum, Cruise denies accusations that he is, in fact, in the wardrobe. Interwoven are references to R.Kelly‘s 22-part hip-hopera “Trapped in the Closet”(a story about an unfaithful wife, her secret lover, and a tell-tale pie). The source material is zany enough that the ridiculous framing story seems grounded, and the wacky themes coalesce perfectly.

Parker and Stone were investigated by the church of Scientology following the controversial South Park episode‘s release. However, it would be inaccurate to assume the episode belongs to the South Park canon as all elements of production are attributed in the credits to John Smith and Jane Smith (playing off the back of an evocative closing line: “Sue me!”). As such, John Smith’s brilliant satirical writing, and Jane Smith’s vocals bring this tremendous episode to life.

7 “Woodland Critter Christmas”

Season 8, Episode 14 (2004)

Woodland Critter Christmas
Image Via Paramount

IMDb Rating: 9.1/10

This great Christmas-themed episode has stylistic parallels to A Visit From St. Nicholas and Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Following this formula, the story takes a sharp left turn, upending the wholesome quality of the Christmas caper. Featuring Christmas carol “Christmas Time is Once A Year,” the episode mirrors the Christian narrative, but tells about the birth of a Satanic savior – the Anti-Christ child.

When Cartman is used as the mouthpiece for the show’s more horrendous moments, these are absolved of the need to fit an accepted moral framework. In “Woodland Critter Christmas,” a framing narrative cleverly reveals that the episode is Cartman’s response to a school project, accounting for the horrific subject matter.

6 “Good Times With Weapons”

Season 8, Episode 1 (2004)

Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny drawn in an anime style in South Park, Good Times With Weapons
Image Via Paramount

IMDb Rating: 9.1/10

The boys are playing ninjas – when they get their hands on real weapons, the props elevate their play, and the animation style shifts to echo a martial arts anime cartoon. Butters joins the game as his goofy supervillain alter-ego Professor Chaos – a much-needed character for Butters, who generally plays the pitiable punching bag.

The way the boys build on an imaginary landscape is genuinely wholesome. But when things go wrong, the dangers of playing with weapons are unavoidable. Fortunately, they don’t get in trouble – as the episode concludes, “Parents don’t care about violence when there are sex things to worry about.” With a nod to parental priorities and the original song “Let’s Fighting Love,” this episode packs a punch.


Season 8, Episode 5 (2004)

Butters hugs Awesom-O, a robot made from cardboard boxes, in South Park
Image Via Paramount

IMDb Rating: 9.2/10

Disguised as a robot, Cartman tries to uncover Butters’ secrets. While incognito, Cartman learns that Butters actually has dirt on him – in a rare moment for Butters, he’s in the driver’s seat, wielding a power he doesn’t even know he has.

There’s a Shakespearean feeling to the mistaken identity motif, however, Shakespeare isn’t known for conclusions involving a shoot-out at a military base while a man holds his own intestines. Comeuppance for Cartman is always satisfying, providing catharsis for the build-up of horrific behavior that the characters and audience have endured. Featuring original song “My Robot Friend” and a gratifying finale to Cartman’s evil plan, “AWESOM-O” ticks all the boxes.

4 “Casa Bonita”

Season 7, Episode 11 (2003)

Image via Comedy Central

IMDb Rating: 9.2/10

Episodes depicting Cartman at his most monstrous tend to rank highly for audiences, and “Casa Bonita” is no exception. When Kyle’s birthday is planned at Mexican restaurant Casa Bonita, Cartman will stop at nothing to get an invitation. Butters is once again a casualty of his plan.

Cartman’s extravagant commitment to the narrative he creates is impressively wicked. In a fitting tribute to their love for the venue, Parker and Stone purchased the real Casa Bonita, saving it from closure. Those wishing to plan a party can expect the reopen date soon, and attendees would do well to plan their guest list with care.

3 “The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers”

Season 6, Episode 13 (2002)

Kyle, Eric and Stan dressed as Lord of the Rings characters in South Park, The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers
Image Via Paramount

IMDb Rating: 9.3/10

Randy accidentally mixes up a Lord of the Rings DVD and an extreme adult film, and the boys go on a quest to return the DVD to the Two Towers rental store. Parents scramble to get the DVD back before the kids see it, eighth graders find out what the DVD is and want to steal it, and poor Token watches the DVD and is severely traumatized.

A tremendous finale has the boys’ parents describing very adult situations to their sons who haven’t even seen the film. Their fumbled attempt to shield the boys from explicit material places the parents in the position of exposing graphic truths to their innocent, and visibly concerned, children.

2 “Make Love, Not Warcraft”

Season 10, Episode 8 (2006)

The four main characters in South Park Make Love Not Warcraft
Image Via Paramount

IMDb Rating: 9.5/10

When a character in World of Warcraft starts killing other characters, the boys build up their own characters to take down the pillaging player. Blending the South Park animation style with the World of Warcraft style (with the help of the game creators at Blizzard) the episode received a Primetime Emmy Award, quashing Trey Parker’s fears that the episode would ruin the South Park legacy.

Far from ruining the legacy, “Make Love, Not Warcraft” was touted as one of the top funniest episodes of South Park by numerous fans and critics, and a patch in Wrath of the Lich King included a “Make Love, Not Warcraft” PvP achievement to honor the episode’s wholesome final scene.

1 “Scott Tenorman Must Die”

Season 5, Episode 4 (2001)

Scott Tenorman with a bowl of chilli and a shocked audience behind him in South Park
Image Via Paramount

IMDb Rating: 9.6/10

Cartman gets pubic hair first – unfortunately, he doesn’t realize he’s meant to grow it on his person, rather than buy a bag of it from mean-spirited eighth grader, Scott Tenorman. Realizing the ruse, Cartman plans his revenge.

Contrasting their usual imitation of celebrity voices (famously indicated in the title screen, which states this is done ‘poorly’), this episode features the members of Radiohead. Bearing strong narrative similarity to Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (aside from the pubic hair) and referencing classic animation with a Porky Pig ending, the episode has deservedly been included in many “Best of” lists and polls and represents the very best the animated sitcom has to offer.

NEXT: Funniest Celebrity Guest Appearances ‘South Park’

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