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South Park's best episodes, across 26 (!!) seasons

Laugh until you feel very, very guilty.

Image credit: Comedy Central

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It's the show you feel bad for laughing at, and yet, it's a show that's kept audiences in stitches since 1997. South Park, the brain child of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is certaiinly not for the faint of heart, but its brutally relevant plotlines and strangely merchandisable characters has spawned a generation of fans, and at least glancing famiiliarity from the public at large.

Of course, it can be difficult to wade through twenty-seven years of television, especially if all you really want to watch are the cream of the crop episodes. That's why we've slapped together Popverse's guide to the best South Park episodes, listed here in no particular order. Enjoy.

Grounded Vindaloop - Season 18, Episode 7

Image credit: Comedy Central

We won't lie: a lot of entries to this list are going to be from South Parks of yore - classics that fans have been rewatching for years. This entry, however, came out within the past ten years, and still stands among the best.

Using the framing device of Cartman playing a cruel trick on Butters, Grounded Vindaloop sneers at VR technology, working in parodies of scifi titans like The Matrix and Total Recall. It's actually a pretty great science fiction thriller itself, with some fun twists and an ending unlike any other South Park episode.

Black Friday - Season 17, Episode 7

Image credit: Comedy Central

South Park has parodied a staggering amount of pop culture, so it only makes sense that they'd come to the most popular show of the 2010s, Game of Thrones. Setting their parody in the cutthroat, mud-and-blood world of in-person Christmas shopping, Black Friday is the first of three episodes that tell one long Thrones-spoofing saga.

What's that? You think it's cheating that we're really telling you to watch three episodes for just one entry? Well, get used to it.

Good Times with Weapons - Season 8, Episode 1

Image credit: Comedy Central

Not content with simply their own unheard-of look, South Park has dipped into other animation styles time and again. One such example is Good Time with Weapons, where the crew act out ninja fantasies, represented on screen via actual anime visuals.

The episode is hysterical for its relatability (who of us hasn't been injuuered while pretending to be a ninja?) and a genuinely terrifying anime Cartman. And did we mention the battle sequence?

Imaginationland Episode I - Season 11, Episode 10

Image credit: Comedy Central

Ok, here's another episode that's really three episodes (sue us), but we think this one is worth the extra time. Imaginationland is a parody of just about every piece of pop culture (at least, from 2007 when it aired) mashed together into one characteristically offensive romp.

Want to see Jason Vorhees meet the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? The xenomorph meet Darth Maul? G.I. Joe meet... Jesus? This episode's for you.

Imaginationland was also released as a full film, sans a rating but with extra footage unaired on TV. You can rent South Park Imaginationland: Uncensored on Amazon.

Make Love, Not Warcraft - Season 10, Episode 8

Image credit: Comedy Central

So much of what we've already covered is what makes Make Love, Not Warcraft great - it's a scathing parody of a fantasy world, it makes brilliant use of a different animation style, and it's got its fair share of violence. Of all the episodes we've discussed so far, this is the one "for the nerds," and let's face facts, that's why we all visit Popverse.

Casa Bonita - Season 7, Episode 11

Image credit: Comedy Central

For all that South Park does in terms of parodying pop culture and politics, one of its biggest draws is its uniquely evil breakout protagonist, Eric Cartman. And of all the Cartman-centric episodes, Casa Bonita is the Cartmanest.

We won't go into too much detail here to keep from spoiling the fun, accept to say that it's a classic example of Cartman wanting something simple (a trip to the "Disneyland of Mexican restaurants") and taking that way too far, with a plan that would make the evilest of villains cringe. And as you might've already guessed, it's poor Butters that pays the price.

As if being in elementary school for nearly thirty years isn't enough.

You can stream South Park on Max.

Need more laughs but less Americanness? Try these British comedies on for size.

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Grant DeArmitt

Contributing writer

Grant DeArmitt (he/him) likes horror, comics, and the unholy pairing of the two. He has written for Nightmare on Film Street and Newsarama, despite their better judgement. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner, Kelsey, and corgi, Legs.