An Equal-Opportunity Spoofer
From religion to Tom Cruise, Stone and Parker never pause to pull a punch.
Episode 68: “Super Best Friends”
First aired: July 4, 2001
In a dig at Scientology, illusionist David Blaine impresses the kids so much that they join the cult of Blaintology. Later, Blaine engages Jesus in a magic contest and he enlists the help of his Super Best Friends: Buddha, Moses, Joseph Smith, Krishna, Lao Tzu, Muhammad and “Sea Man.”
Controversy None at the time, but the episode was later pulled from syndication, and the website stopped streaming it.
Episode 96: “Red Sleigh Down”
First aired: Dec. 11, 2002
The boys bring Christmas to Iraq, but extremists promptly take Santa Claus hostage. Jesus saves him by gunning
down everyone in his path, but one of Santa’s captors kills Jesus.
Controversy Complaints from an advocacy group over the denigrating portrayal of Jesus, not to mention his murder.
Episode 108: “All About Mormons”
First aired: Nov. 19, 2003
Stan befriends a new super-polite neighbor, who is Mormon. Flashbacks to the religion’s founding call it “dumb,” and Stan — egged on by the gang — blows off the new guy, who calls out the kids for their bigotry. The episode ends with Cartman exclaiming, “Damn, that kid is cool, huh?”
Controversy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called the episode “a gross portrayal of Church history.”
Episode 114: “The Passion of the Jew”
First aired: March 31, 2004
Cartman’s bigotry against Jews is reinforced after seeing Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ while Kyle, a Jew, has nightmares about killing Jesus. Cartman organizes a Nazi rally, but normalcy returns when Gibson visits and everyone sees how crazy he is.
Controversy The ADL praised the show for its critique of Passion. But MTV Russia, South Park’s home in that country, did not air the episode.
Episode 137: “Trapped in the Closet”
First aired: Nov. 16, 2005
Believing him to be Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Tom Cruise seeks Stan’s counsel and eventually locks himself in his bedroom, while John Travolta, Nicole Kidman and others plead for Cruise to “come out of the closet.”
Controversy A rerun was canceled, reportedly because Cruise threatened to boycott promotion of Paramount’s Mission: Impossible III. (Comedy Central and Paramount are both owned by Viacom.)
Episode 139: “Bloody Mary”
First aired: Dec. 7, 2005
When a statue of the Virgin Mary starts to bleed, inhabitants of South Park flock to its healing powers, including Stan’s dad, who seeks a cure for alcoholism.
Controversy Joseph Califano, a Viacom board member at the time, called the episode “appalling and disgusting.” Efforts to ban the episode in New Zealand and Australia were unsuccessful.
Episodes 142-143: “Cartoon Wars, Part I’ and ‘Cartoon Wars, Part II”
First aired: April 5 and 12, 2006
The town fears a terrorist attack when it is learned an upcoming episode of Family Guy will include an image of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Cartman heads to Hollywood to discourage Fox from running the episode, while Kyle follows to stop him. Viewers needed to tune in for Part II to see if Muhammad would be portrayed.
Controversy Stone and Parker wanted to show Muhammad, but executives balked. Instead, the screen read, “Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Muhammad on their network.”
Episodes № 200-201: “Episode 200’ and ‘Episode 201”
First aired: April 14 and 21, 2010
Cruise persuades 200 celebrities to join his class-action lawsuit against the town for libeling them. He will drop the lawsuit if they help him meet Muhammad so he can obtain the magic “goo” that makes the Muslim prophet immune to ridicule.
Controversy Zachary Adam Chesser posted death threats against Stone and Parker on the Revolution Muslim website. He pleaded guilty in October to aiding terrorists and is serving a 25-year sentence. Comedy Central censored “Episode 201” by bleeping mentions of Muhammad and obscuring images. Muhammad was ostensibly portrayed as Santa Claus in a bear suit. The South Park Studios website does not stream the episodes.