Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV URBAN LEGEND: Originally Cartman from South Park had both a father and a sister.
Throughout the long run of their hit animated TV series, South Park, about the misadventures of four boys in South Park, Colorado (Eric Cartman, Kyle Broflovski, Stan Marsh and Kenny McCormick) its creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have always liked to mess with conventions. This was perhaps never quite as evident as how they handled their Season 1 cliffhanger. The final episode of Season 1 was dubbed “Cartman’s Mom Is a Dirty Slut,” and it deals with the mysterious identity of who was Eric Cartman’s father? The second season debuted on April 1, 1998 and instead of resolving the cliffhanger, as an April Fool’s prank, Parker and Stone delivered Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus, an episode completely focused on the minor characters of Terrance and Phillip and having nothing to do with the previous episode’s cliffhanger. The second episode of the season didn’t come out until three weeks later.
“Cartman’s Mom Is Still a Dirty Slut” revealed that Liane Cartman was actually a hermaphrodite and that she was Cartman’s father, with the mother now being a mystery (twelve years later, it was revealed that the hermaphrodite story was a lie and that Liane was Cartman’s mother and his real father was the father of Eric’s rival, Scott Tenorman). So more than one episode of South Park has revolved around who Cartman’s father was. This is particularly interesting since originally, Cartman’s father appeared in the very first episode of the series!
The first episode of South Park was titled “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe,” and it details the story of a group of alien “visitors” coming to South Park and performing anal probes on the citizens, including Cartman. The aliens abduct Ike, the younger brother of Kyle and Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny band together to rescue Kyle’s brother. Eventually, the boys use the anal probe that the visitors left in Cartman’s ass to lure them back to Earth in time to rescue Ike. Since this was the pilot for the series, the show’s creator, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, were working without any real idea of how they were going to do the show. For instance, originally they intended for the alien visitors to play a bigger role in the series. A residual side effect of that is that the visitors show up repeatedly throughout the show’s run, as I detailed in an old TV Legends Revealed (some of their appearances are extremely hard to spot). Besides the plot of the show itself, their inexperience with even MAKING a TV show was evident.
The first episode was produced through stop motion animation and construction paper cutouts. This was how they did their two short films in 1992 ans 1995, both named “The Spirit of Christmas,” that got them their chance to make a pilot for Comedy Central in the first place. However, such a method would be too time-consuming for a regular series, so every episode since has been done completely on computers.
In addition, they ended up producing way too much content for the episode. They made 28 minutes worth of material for their half hour time slot. Comedy Central, of course, only could air 22 minutes. Parker and Stone’s solution was to cut out 9-10 minutes of material and then create 3-4 minutes of new material to explain away the changes to the story due to the initial edits. For instance, there was a plot where some older kids force Cartman to eat hot tamales, which results in him shooting fire from his ass. This was revised to the anal probe being the cause for Cartman shooting fire from his ass. An entire sub-plot involving their British classmate, Pip, was removed and re-used in a later episode in the first season.
But perhaps most notably for South Park history is that one of the scenes removed from the episode was a scene with Cartman at home eating dinner with his mother….AND his father and sister!
Yes, originally Cartman had a traditional family arrangement at home. THey only appear in one scene and they don’t speak, but they’re there! Early on Parker and Stone had not given a whole lot of thought to the peripheral characters of the series, planning to fill them in as time went by (Stan’s father, Randy, for instance has slowly become one of the most important characters in the series). So when they cut out the scene with his family, they obviously then decided that Cartman’s home life would be that he was an only child of a single mother. And that, naturally enough, led to a whole lot of tangents involving his now-single mother, including the revelation that his mother was very promiscuous, that she posed for Crack Whore Magazine in the seventh episode of the series and that she kept the identity of Cartman’s real father from him.
Imagine how different the show would have been!
The legend is…
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