TV URBAN LEGEND: Cartman “South Park” originally had both a father and a sister.
Throughout the long run of their hit animated TV series “South Park,” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have enjoyed messing with convention. That was perhaps never more evident than with the Season 1 cliffhanger, “Cartman’s Mom Is a Dirty Slut,” which tackles the mystery of Eric Cartman’s father.
The second season debuted on April 1, 1998, and instead of resolving the cliffhanger, as an April Fools’ prank Parker and Stone delivered Terrance and Phillip in “Not Without My Anus,” an episode that focused entirely on those two minor characters. The second episode of the season didn’t arrive for another three weeks. “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 (12 years later it was revealed the hermaphrodite story was a lie and that Liane is Cartman’s mother, and his real father is the father of Eric’s rival Scott Tenorman). So more than one episode of “South Park” has revolved around who Cartman’s father is. That’s particularly interesting, as originally, Cartman’s father appeared in the very first episode of the series!
Titled “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe,” the first episode of “South Park” centers on alien “visitors” coming to town and performing anal probes on its citizens, including Cartman. The aliens abduct Ike, the younger brother of Kyle, and Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny band together to rescue him. Eventually, the boys use the anal probe the visitors left in Cartman to lure them back to Earth in time to rescue Ike. Because this was the pilot episode, Parker and Stone were working without any real idea of how they were going to do the show. For instance, originally they intended for the aliens to play a bigger role in the series. A residual side effect is that the aliens show up repeatedly throughout the series’ 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 series was evident.
The first episode was produced using stop-motion animation and construction paper cutouts. That was how they produced their 1992 and 1995 short films, both named “The Spirit of Christmas,” that landed them the opportunity to make a pilot for Comedy Central. 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, could only air 22 minutes. Parker and Stone’s solution was to cut out nine to 10 minutes of material and then create three to four minutes of new material to explain away the changes to the story due to the initial edits. For instance, there was a plotline in which some older kids force Cartman to eat hot tamales, which results in him shooting fire from his ass. That was revised so the anal probe triggered Cartman’s flaming flatulence. An entire subplot involving their British classmate Pip was removed and re-used in a later episode in the first season.
But perhaps most notable for “South Park” history is that one of the scenes removed depicted Cartman at home eating dinner with his mother … AND his father and sister! Yes, originally Cartman had a traditional family arrangement. They only appear in one scene, and they don’t speak, but they’re there! Early on Parker and Stone hadn’t given a whole lot of thought to the peripheral characters, planning to fill them in as time went on (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 Cartman’s family, they obviously then decided that he would be the only child of a single mother. And that, naturally enough, led to a lot of tangents involving his now-single mother, including the revelation that his mother was promiscuous, 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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