Butters has had a crappy childhood, yet remains irrepressibly optimistic regardless.
In recent seasons, Kyle, for some reason, gets the short end of the stick, whether it's being misunderstood by the adults ("The Death Camp of Tolerance", "Cartman's Incredible Gift", "Le Petit Tourette"), nearly dying ("Cherokee Hair Tampons", "Cartmanland", "Manbearpig", etc.), or ending up in cruel, crazy situations that normally don't happen to children his age ("Sexual Healing", "HUMANCENTiPAD"). But once those things pass, he behaves as if it never happened. Continuity? What's that?
And then, to top it off, being outed as gay and assumed to be in a relationship with Cartman, who keeps cock-blocking him from Nicole, the new black girl in school, to get her together with Token.
At the end of "Broadway Bro Down", Sharon is momentarily angry at Randy for participating in the blowjobs conspiracy, but soon gets over it. However, she's not at all angry at him for accidentally killing Shelley's boyfriend.
Base Breaker: Cartman. There are two types of fans; those who love him for his extreme Jerkass behavior, and those who absolutely hate him for being a Jerkass who commits Moral Event Horizon-grade evil acts at least once a season. The creators seem to be aware of this and try to cater to both (the second half via entire episodes dedicated to making Cartman suffer such as when Wendy beats the crap out of him in season 12).
Randy Marsh. Fans either love him to death or want him to go away. Season 23 just adds more fuel to the fire, as he got a pseudo-spin-off that lasted more than half of the season.
Any of the adults (except for Chef and Liane) in general, depending on the episode.
The Jewish robot invasion in "Fishsticks". Which was, of course, the entire damn point.
The opening scene of "Spookyfish", where a scary alien touches down in South Park and ends up getting squished by the school bus because it's very tiny.
The end of the Tooth Fairy episode: Kyle spends the entire episode questioning his existence after Cartman learns that the Tooth Fairy is make-believe. Eventually, Kyle somehow manages to vanish, but seconds later, he comes back in a Mushroom Samba and summons the Half-Chicken Half-Squirrel.
The one scene in "Succubus" where the boys wait for Chef at the bus stop. When nightfall comes, Kenny is on the ground, eaten by rats... and the next morning, he's fine.
The joke spoken by Cartman as the boys walk to the Super Adventure Club in "The Return of Chef" totally takes the cake.
Cartman:"Hey you guys, you know what you call a Jewish woman's boobs? *beat* Jewbs."
The ending of "The Poor Kid" has a giant reptilian bird thing tearing the roof off the school and eating Kenny, which was his first and only death in season 15. This was happening while Cartman was trash-talking Kenny about his poorness.
Fans argue whether South Park was better as the lighthearted Monty Python-esque sitcom of its early seasons or the darker political satire of its later ones.
Male and female fans. Very prominent in Fan Art. Averted, however, as interaction between them is fairly low.
The Season 15 mid-season finale episode "You're Getting Old" and its somewhat serious tone is likely to be debated among loyal fans for awhile. Either it is set up as a turning point in the series, or Parker and Stone hit the Reset Button again in the subsequent episode, "Assburgers". Essentially, by the end, Stan, who has celebrated his 10th birthday and become too cynical to hang around Kyle, Kenny and Cartman, is teased as splitting from the other three. His parents, Sharon and Randy, split up as Randy admits his man-child attitude is a cover for his unhappiness. Juxtaposing these points across Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" and having no music play over the end credits, the episode creates intrigue on whether the show's character dynamic will be changed again, only this time without the Plot Coupon of Kenny being Killed Off for Real in Season 5 and continuing to stay dead throughout Season 6. Not to mention that Kyle and Cartman, two characters who historically hate each other, are seen playing video games together and smiling, a scene that may be Nightmare Fuel.
The subtext of the episode, that Matt and Trey are "getting old" and outgrowing the show, led to speculation that they may be planning to either end or radically change the series. This turned out not to be the case, as they have since renewed the show for two more seasons and the next episode ends with all the changes of the previous one being undone (albeit with a lingering note of ambivalence - see below).
In the return episode, "Assburgers," the four boys, as well as Sharon and Randy, have reunited tenuously by the end of the episode, again set to "Landslide". Kyle and Cartman go back to hating each other. The episode still ends on an ambiguously bitter note, as it is suggested that Stan has not really overcome his cynicism, but merely learned to repress it for the time being.
Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch: To most who have never seen it, or have only ever seen it in The Nineties, South Park is "that cartoon with all the swearing and fart jokes" in which "Kenny dies Once an Episode". Such people are apparently oblivious to its reputation as one of America's most beloved political and social satires.
Crack Pairing: Subverted since many of them are actually canon. For example: Ike and Ms. Stephenson, Satan and Saddam Hussein, Mrs. Garrison and Richard Dawkins.
Creator's Pet: Some people think Randy Marsh is becoming this, especially after Season 23.
Most of the show. The trope was taken Up to Eleven in "201" with the final speech. At first it was stupid because they were censoring it. Then it got kinda funny after a while because the entire speech was censored. Then you find out that it was censored because Comedy Central chickened out over threats to the network, and now it's not funny anymore.
This trope is taken to its logical extreme in the 14th season episode "It's a Jersey Thing". The basic premise is that New Jersey culture is growing and assimilating the rest of the country into itself, and South Park is next. The residents there decide they don't want to be West Jersey, and set up an armed revolt. Where it starts to get crazy is they decide they need help, and after asking and being turned down by California, Japan and whoever else, they decide that, in dire situations, it is okay to turn to one's enemies for help. They call al-Qaeda. The audacity of this is lampshaded during the debate over whether this is okay: "What about the families of the victims of 9/11? Their feelings still matter for another ten months, dammit!". Osama bin Laden receives the tape with the request for help, and on it, Randy Marsh says he knows bin Laden has seen humanity at its worst, but that something even more horrible is coming. The tape then cuts to the opening credits for Jersey Shore. Later, during the final battle between South Park and the people from Jersey, they are about to give up when someone joyously points to the sky and announces that al-Qaeda has come... in a fleet of commercial airliners, which proceed to dive into the Jersey crowd and explode. As if that weren't enough, there is a medal ceremony thanking and honoring bin Laden for his help, complete with kisses on the cheek and sentiments that "We're all just folk", which is interrupted by a commando dropping down from the ceiling and shooting bin Laden in the head. After a Beat, Randy triumphantly declares "We got 'im!" In effect, by the end of the episode, the line has been crossed so many times that we as viewers have essentially lost count and aren't even sure what side of it we're actually on anymore.
The aforementioned episode aired roughly seven months before the real-life bin Laden was killed by Seal Team 6, which makes it Hilarious in Hindsight.
Dude, Not Funny: Any episode, and deliberately so; Parker and Stone refer to themselves as "equal opportunity offenders" and at least one episode will elicit the reaction.
A lot of fans feel that the Season 22 premiere, "Dead Kids", was this, as school shootings are taken VERY seriously in the US, especially by families whose kids were injured or killed in such shootings.
Two Words: Craig Tucker. In the fandom, he is the most popular and liked character after the four main protagonists. Not to mention that he is shipped with practically everyone, him and Tweek being the two most shipped characters after Stan/Kyle, which is the most popular ship in the entire fandom. Yes, Craig/Tweek is even more popular than Cartman/Kyle and Kenny/Kyle. That's because he has the exact traits that make a character really popular: he is a stoical, Deadpan Snarkerbad boy, who is implied to be also tall, dark haired and pretty faced.
Everyone knows it's Butters! The character was promoted to a major role (after being seen in group shots as a generic student for years) because Matt and Trey found his kindness and innocence heartwarming. Also, they needed a character to fill the absence of Kenny in season 6, and they wanted to write up scenarios where his father keeps grounding him for ridiculous reasons.
Randy has gone from a relatively minor character to arguably the most prominent adult character. The creators seem to like Randy for the "standard middle class white dad" guy, which is important in political parodies.
Chef. Needless to say, many fans were not happy when he got McLeaned in "The Return of Chef".
Mysterion became one almost the moment he showed up. Even after being revealed as Kenny, he's STILL one of the most talked-about characters. In fact, Mysterion, before his identity was revealed, was such a major thing, that the South Park creators put out a Who Is Mysterion? t-shirt.
Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" is about this trope. Their intentionally disgusting book is hailed as the greatest piece of literature ever written because everyone who reads it (vomiting uncontrollably the whole way through) creates their own deep and profound symbolism for everything in it.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Very, very frequent, but given the nature of the show, it's safe to assume that it's intentional:
Foe Yay: Kyle and Cartman. An entire subplot of "Imaginationland: The Movie" was dedicated to Cartman trying to force Kyle into having oral sex with him. Also, in "Smug Alert!", the creators make it clear that Cartman would live a hollow and incomplete life without Kyle around to rip on.
Oh, and Cartman's very vocal proclamation of their "relationship" to keep him from getting with the new African-American girl in class.
Let's not forget him and Wendy in "Chef Goes Nanners".
In The Coon/Cthulhu/Mysterion Saga, Cthulhu is animated with advanced computer animation in contrast to everyone else, who look like shitty little construction paper cut-outs. While at first this may appear to just be another parody of the show's animation like the way Mecha Streisand and the remade aliens were animated in "201" and "Free Hat" respectively, it can also be interpreted as illustrating how otherworldly Cthulhu is. The original stories of H.P. Lovecraft like "Call of Cthulhu" would go into great detail about how hideous Cthulhu was in his appearance, being so alien he drives men mad when they look at him. Having three dimensions and a more detailed body may just be the way his appearance manifests in the South Park universe.
After the reveal of Kenny's immortality, Kenny's screams of horror in The Movie when he first arrives in Hell can be interpreted as him freaking out at the fact that, this time around, he's not resurrecting.
Fridge Horror: In "Mysterion Rises", Kenny reveals that his superpower is immortality and that, no matter how many times he dies and catches glimpses of the afterlife, he'll always wake up in his bed the next morning. Not only that, but everyone who witnesses him dying gets their memory wiped the moment he comes back, leaving him as the only one who remembers the experience. Considering his dozens of deaths over the course of the series, you really have to wonder what kind of mental strain that would leave on a nine-year-old.
Episode 201 has a in-universe example when Scott Tenorman reveals that Cartman's father is not only a Denver Bronco, but Scott Tenorman's father, Jack... whom he had killed in "Scott Tenorman Must Die".
Considering that the Clip ShowParody Episode had a fake clip of Cartman's father being revealed as John Elway, who was a Denver Bronco at the time...
In "Douche and Turd", there's PETA terrorists protesting against a cow being the school's mascot. Kyle states that "If we change the mascot, the terrorists win!" Then comes episodes 200 & 201 and their subsequent Bowdlerization at the hands of the network...
Every single one of Kenny's deaths before "Kenny Dies" become this when we find out that Kenny is immortal and hates feeling the pain of dying every time.
"Cartman Sucks" had a running gag with the scenes of Butters at the Christian camp where all the sexually-confused boys kill themselves rather than live with trying to change their sexuality. Kinda hurts now, given the rash of LGBT teen suicides that was in the news in 2010.
In "Clubhouses", Randy and Sharon briefly separate after a series of arguments. They get back together at the end of the episode. The episode itself is funny... but then along comes "You're Getting Old...", which is basically "Clubhouses" but Played for Drama.
A similar example, the previous season finale "Creme Fraiche" largely revolved around Randy and Sharon's relationship troubles as a result of Randy's antics. Randy's obsession with becoming a celebrity chef in this episode is in fact one of the specific examples Sharon brings up in their final argument.
Speaking of "You're Getting Old", a lot of Randy's antics in previous episodes suddenly become depressing after watching this episode when he reveals that all the crazy things he does are weak attempts to pump some excitement into his boring life.
"You're Getting Old" also does this to "Prehistoric Ice Man". A plot point in that episode was that Stan and Kyle's friendship becomes strained, and both decide to make Cartman their new best friend.
In "Die, Hippie! Die!", lots of jokes are made about Chef being the Sacrificial Lamb on the dangerous mission because he's the black guy, and (in a lot of horror and action movies) the black guy is the first to go. He doesn't, but this was the last episode Isaac Hayes recorded new dialogue for. The very next episode Chef plays a major role in is "The Return of Chef", in which he dies an incredibly horrifying death (made worse by the fact that Chef's voice actor, Isaac Hayes, died for real in 2008).
The entire plot of "Cartoon Wars" became a Funny Aneurysm Moment after the "200"/"201" debacle. Let's recap: A network, set to air an animated series with a Muhammad joke, steps in at the last minute and censors all references to Muhammad. Say, does this remind you of anything?
At the end of "Professor Chaos", we are abruptly asked "Which of these six South Park residents was killed, and will never be seen again?". Since this is a parody of cliffhanger endings, the answer is immediately given as Ms. Choksondik. Besides her, the suspects were the Mayor, Officer Barbrady, Jimbo, Mr. Garrison, and... Chef.
It explains the South Park-esque sequences in FLCL too. Amusingly, the director's commentary for FLCL commented that South Park is as much a Widget Series to the Japanese as FLCL is to the US. It showed up again in Gainax's also-crazy series, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, which itself seems to have taken inspiration from South Park's no-holds-barred commitment to raunchiness.
In-universe example: In the episode "Cartman Joins NAMBLA", the boys are playing a board game called "Investigative Reports With Bill Kurtis". Cartman gives Kyle an AIDS card in the game and the other characters are horrified by this. Years later, the episode "Tonsil Trouble" had Cartman deliberately giving Kyle AIDS.
Isaac Hayes' death in August 2008 makes Chef's incredibly horrifying death in "The Return of Chef" even harder to watch.
The "HUMANCENTiPAD" episode is now this, as the episode satirizes Apple and Steve Jobs, who died five months after the episode aired.
The big controversy came when they ripped off a College Humor skit down to individual lines, and admitted that they had not watched the movie before parodying it.
They had watched the movie before parodying it. They used the College Humor video as the basis for their parody because, since the movie was still in theaters, they couldn't get a copy of it to rewatch for themselves while writing the episode.
Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls", Cartman describes independent movies as being about "gay cowboys eating pudding". 7 years later, Brokeback Mountain fills two-thirds of that criteria. Parker and Stone even said in an interview "if there's any pudding eating, we will sue".
In "The Passion of the Jew", Mel Gibson is portrayed as a raving lunatic who loves torture. The leaked tapes to his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva makes this exaggeration even funnier.
In "The Coon", while Mysterion is fighting Professor Chaos, there is a moment where he gets knocked down for a few moments, and the crowd of people watching think he's dead. Fast forward to the episode "Mysterion Rises", where we find out that Mysterion is Kenny, and is unable to die.
In "Cartoon Wars Parts 1 and 2", which is about Cartman trying to get Family Guy cancelled referencing Trey Parker and Matt Stone's dislike for that show becomes more ironic when Family Guy creator, Seth McFarlane later played the voice of Mike in illumination's Sing, while South Park co-creator Trey Parker voiced the villain in another illumination movie Despicable Me 3 a year later.
Remember the episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft", wherein Butters said he prefers playing Hello Kitty: Island Adventure? About that...
Also, in "Whale Whores" (which aired on October 28, 2009), Cartman does a cover of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" on Rock Band, which is odd, given that "Poker Face" (both the original and Cartman's cover) did not appear in the game until nearly five months later, when it became a downloadable song!
This is made even funnier when you consider that the buzz created by the song appearing in Rock Band was a major factor in Harmonix calling Lady Gaga about song rights (which is why Cartman's cover was available at the same time).
In The Movie, the censored version of Asses of Fire is 1-minute long, because the original was so vulgar. A couple years later, an edited, 2-minute family friendly version of Freddy Got Fingered was released on VHS/DVD as a joke.
Osama bin Laden being shot in the head by US soldiers on multiple occasions (namely the season five episode "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants" and the season 14 episode "It's A Jersey Thing") becomes funnier after bin Laden's death became a reality in 2011.
A meta example: two years before the episode "Assburgers" ever came into existence,
Hypocritical Fandom: Like other animated shows, South Park uses Stock Footage to save time and money, especially considering that this show is produced on a low, low budget. It is hilarious however when some South Park fans complain at other budget shows/movies when they also reuse animation cels for the same reasons.
It's Popular, Now It Sucks: Some fans say they liked the show better back during its early years when it was new and edgy, and most kids had to watch the show in secret since their parents had banned it from the house. Now that it is Comedy Central's highest rated show and widely popular, some people don't like it anymore.
Jerkass Woobie: Scott Tenorman. After Cartman killed his parents and tricked him into eating them, one can't help but show sympathy for him. Even though he was a bully and became a psychopathic villain afterwards as a result of this, he did care a lot about his parents
A big YMMV, but Cartman in "HUMANCENTiPAD".
Cartman does occasionally get subtle moments of sympathetic spotlight, usually under realisation of how lonely his monstrous behavior makes him. Every now and then the boys will do something cruel to him without his usual provocation as well. Naturally, it comes off as somewhat petty compared to what he does in retaliation, but still...
They've probably been really disappointed for the last decade or so.
Like You Would Really Do It: Inverted. Kenny made such a habit of dying in every episode that now that they've more or less abandoned the gag, when they want to make the audience think someone's going to die, they stick Kenny in the situation to reinforce the possibility.
Magnificent Bastard: Cartman can pull this off when he wants to. Despite being typically an idiot, he is also a master manipulator. A good example is when he almost managed to cause the South to secede just by using beer to entice his troops, with only one mentioned casualty. And that's not even getting into manipulating Cthulhu.
"DERP!" Originally used to refer specifically to anything Matt and Trey considered bad comedy (e.g. slapstick, "wacky antics", Rob Schneider), this one has taken on a life of its own to the point of becoming regularly used internet slang generally meaning "stupid" in some form or another, and has also spawned the expanded forms "herpderp" and "herpaderp"
"I'm not your friend, guy! He's not your guy, buddy! I'm not your buddy, friend!"
"Oh, the tears of unfathomable sadness!"
"You're a towel!"
"You wanna get high?"
The "Cartman voice" is instantly recognisable, as are many of his catchphrases.
Somehow, it goes Up to Eleven when Cartman allies himself with Cthulhu, sends his friends to another dimension, destroys synagogues and San Francisco and massacres innocent people at Burning Man. All the while thinking that he's "doing good".
Don't forget when Stephen Stotch sent Butters to live with Paris Hilton.
Nausea Fuel: The opening scene of "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina". Right before Mr. Garrison's sex-change operation begins, the doctor says "I think if more people could just see a sex-change operation, they would know how perfectly natural it is!". That tells you right there that Discretion Shots are not coming anytime soon. The rest of the sequence has the process described - and shown - in detail, complete with Art Shifts to live-action.
Mr. Hankey is pretty much this trope incarnate.
Nurse Gollum's parasitic twin.
"World Wide Recorder Concert" ends with the entire planet shitting their pants.
Ms. Choksondik's sagging breasts. When she raises her arms, they peek out under her top.
The scenes where people defecate out of their mouths in "Red Hot Catholic Love".
Jason Voorhees:"Dude, I would not want to meet the kid that thought those things up!"
Kenny revealing that, after fourteen seasons, he's immortal and remembers every single death (in the seasons when he did die on a regular basis), and that he has been severely traumatized because his friends never remember him dying. It turns out he's the spawn of Cthulhu.
"I can't die. I've experienced death countless times. Sometimes, I see a bright light. Sometimes, I see Heaven or Hell. But eventually, no matter what, I wake up in my bed wearing my same old clothes. The worst part? No one even remembers me dying. I go to school the next day and everyone is just like 'Oh, Hey Kenny!', even if they had seen me get decapitated with their own eyes."
No Problem With Licensed Games: South Park: The Stick Of Truth and South Park: The Fractured But Whole. It helps that you get to play as your own character instead of just playing as the characters from the show.
The girls from "Raisins" aren't well-liked, especially Lexus for toying with Butters.
Mr. Garrison fell into this in later seasons, due to being a mild Spotlight-Stealing Squad and getting an absolutely pointless sex change.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Played deliberately in the "You're Getting Old"/"Assburgers", after an enormous number of life changes occur as a result of him maturing (including his parents divorcing and Kyle and Cartman becoming friends and business partners), Stan is just coming to appreciate the new directions in his life and new possibilities there are. Cue a stack of Reset Buttons reverting everything back to normal, much to his despair.
Seasonal Rot: Starting with Season 12, episodes fell into controversial territory.
Season 23 is considered this by a lot of fans; mainly because of the Tegridy Farms subplot going on for 7 episodes (the first 6 consecutive episodes plus the season finale) and Randy being a Karma Houdini.
And yet again in "You're Getting Old", in which Stan and his friends watch the trailer for Jack And Jill. The actual trailer hadn't even came out yet at the time the episode aired, so all Matt and Trey had to go by were the title and the fact that Adam Sandler stars as both characters.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The only thing that stopped the episode "Britney's New Look" from being South Park's answer to "Homer vs. Dignity" was the anvil.
Jimmy and Timmy exist to show that disabled people are humans too, with all their ambitions and negative attributes displayed alongside their handicaps.
Strawman Political: Isn't averse to pulling out strawmen every once in a while. More cynical viewers might argue that their entire method of political commentary typically involves pitting various strawmen against each other before settling on a Golden Mean Fallacy.
Tear Jerker: "Kenny Dies", full stop. According to Word of God, Parker and Stone wanted to see how far they could go in one episode without telling a single joke. Kenny's death is made all the more traumatizing by the way Stan and Kyle respond to it: as opposed playing the Only Sane Man or The Snark Knight, as they do in almost every other episode, they act like two actual children who've never dealt with death before and don't know how to respond to it.
Which elicited some laughs, simply because of the juxtaposition of "...they're mourning for the character who always dies?" But then you get to "Heat of the Moment", sung by Cartman of all people.
Unacceptable Targets: Muhammad. Parker and Stone went for lampooning the fact that he's not an acceptable target, instead - particularly because 5 years before the Muhammad taboo entered the limelight, he had been depicted with no repercussion. "201", the second episode of their 200th anniversary two-parter, had all mentions of Muhammad's name censored by the network, along with the "I learned something today" speeches at the end (which didn't even mention Muhammad). Comedy Central went so far as pulling it from ever airing again - they won't even let it be streamed on the show's official website.
It's the Same, Now It Sucks: "201" is on the Season 14 DVD/Blu-Ray release, but since Comedy Central refused to clear the original uncut version of the episode for home video release, it remains censored - despite every other episode on the set going uncensored ("200" even has every use of Muhammad's name unbleeped). At the time it happened, Margaret Wente of The Globe and Mail went as far as to say that the censorship of "201" could be "the lowest point in the history of American TV". To account for this discrepancy, there is a disclaimer on the set that the episode is the version that aired on TV, and it includes the following statement from Matt & Trey:
"In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park, we have never done a show that we couldn't stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn't some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle's customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn't mention Muhammad at all, but it got bleeped too."
The "I learned something today" speeches at the end were censored not because they mentioned Muhammad, but because they summed up the aesop of the story: advocating freedom of speech for any topic, as well as criticize anyone that would not allow such a thing. Basically, the characters explicitly spelled out a moral that the network spent the majority of running time obviously going against. In other words, Comedy Central deemed themselves an unacceptable target and censored that part of the episode for that reason. Either that, or someone at Standards & Practices had a sense of humor.
Before the Muhammad controversies, there was "Trapped in the Closet", which mocked both Scientology as a phony religion extorting money and Tom Cruise for being in the closet. Neither may seem like unacceptable targets, but both have a history of suing/threatening to sue anyone for doing that. Notably, when "Trapped in the Closet" was to be re-run weeks later, it was pulled last-minute and replaced with "Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls". The network publicly claimed this was done as a tribute to Chef, as Hayes had recently left the show. However, concurrently, there was word that Cruise threatened Paramount/Viacom not to do promotional work for the third Mission Impossible movie if the episode was ever rerun. While that may not be true, it's noteworthy that after said movie had a lackluster American box office, "Trapped in the Closet" returned to the re-run schedule.
Unintentional Period Piece: "Cartoon Wars" has, to put it mildly, not aged well. Sure, it was a fair attack on what Family Guy was back in 2006, but Family Guy is now so different that modern viewers might think the South Park producers watched maybe five minutes of Family Guy out of context and built an episode around that.
Unpopular Popular Character: Butters, Kenny and Cartman, within the dynamics of the main characters; but according to Craig, Stan and Kyle are also disliked by the town at large.
The Untwist: "Stanley's Cup". The boys lose. The sick kid dies. Did anyone not see this coming?
Were Still Relevant Dammit: Most cartoons take too long to make to be truly topical, while this show takes days, making it a major aversion to this trope.
The one time they were beaten to the punch (regarding Glenn Beck's challenges to the White House) was because just days before the episode aired Jon Stewart on The Daily Show had done a similar razing, which some people argued was more vicious and/or funny.
"Faith Hilling" came across as this.
What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?: Yes, it is an animated series. And yes, the protagonists are children. But it contains way too much graphic violence, raunchy language, sex, swearing and other mature content to be seen by young kids.
The Woobie: Butters' personality is enough to melt even the hardest of hearts. The fact that his parents take all of their problems out on him makes him this.
Even though Butters is the TRUEButt Monkey in the show, he gets over the pain he suffers. Kyle, unfortunately, doesn't get over it as fast, and has taken more pain than Butters, and in wider varieties. To name several examples, he had kidney failure, had a hemorrhoid that nearly killed him, almost died at a tolerance camp, his dreams of playing basketball were crushed, he was taken away to San Francisco, got mauled by ManBearPig (he survives), convinced that he was the ugliest kid in school (he wasn't, long story), accused of hoarding drugs (cat pee), labeled a "sex addict" along with Butters (Irony), lost a bunch of friends on Facebook, and developed a crush on Heidi Turner, only to lose her back to Cartman. He even cries when the second-to-last one happens. Aww...
Although not as much as Kyle, Stan would also be a Woobie at times. Seasons 7 and onward made it more and more prominent as time went on.
"I don't think I'm a happy person. Every night, I fall asleep to the sounds of my own screams... and every morning, I wake up to the sounds of my own screams. Do you think I'm a happy person?"
In the Coon and Friends trilogy, Kenny/Mysterion has been revealed to be one.