6 South Park Characters Who Became More Likable Over Time

South Park has an endless amount of characters who’ve made fans laugh over the years. There are certain South Park residents who have struck a chord with audiences ever since the crude comedy’s debut in 1997. However, some other individuals are acquired tastes that have taken longer to connect and come into their own.

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26 seasons in, South Park has an enviable cast of eclectic characters, but not all of them hit the screen fully formed. South Park has experienced a tremendous amount of change, its cast notwithstanding. Cast changes can be a double-edged sword, but South Park has carefully figured out what their audiences want and what no longer serves their comedic sensibilities.

Updated March 21, 2023 by Daniel Kurland: Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park has become a pop culture touchstone that’s come a long way from its crude, reactionary roots. Not only has South Park changed its general attitude and mission statement, but plenty of the show’s characters have gone through radical changes, largely for the better. South Park listens to fan feedback and several South Park residents have turned into beloved figures after rocky starts.



10 Tolkien Black

Stan Marsh and Tolkien Black looking at each other while eating in South Park

South Park has truly played a masterful long game with Tolkien Black. For decades, Tolkien and his family would be recipients of easy racially charged jokes. Tolkien has gradually played a greater role in the series and he’s recently undergone a huge shift following his family’s transition into the marijuana farm business, opposite the Marsh family’s Tegridy Farms.

Tolkien’s best episode comes in season 26 when Stan clues into the fact that his friend’s name is Tolkien and not “Token,” as he thought it was for years. This embarrassing transgression has oddly united the two friends.

9 Jimmy Valmer

Jimmy Valmer gets ready in South Park

Jimmy Valmer is the type of character who could result in a show’s cancelation if they’re not respectfully handled. South Park is far from innocent when it comes to its representation of Jimmy, but the show works hard to make sure that he’s not the punchline or subject of mockery.

It’s a brilliant decision on South Park‘s part to make Jimmy the community’s premier comedian. This respectful status that Jimmy has acquired is the right context for him. He continues to play the role of someone who’s wise beyond their years, and people come to him for guidance.

8 PC Principal

PC Principal at South Park Elementary in South Park

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PC Principal is another later addition to South Park who steps in to replace South Park Elementary’s forgettable Principal Victoria. Ever since PC Principal’s bold debut in the season 19 premiere, “Stunning and Brave,” he’s been a consistent highlight each season.

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PC Principal reflects the changing times, but he’s also matured beyond his original purpose, found love, and started an adorable family. What could have been an annoying watchdog figure who represents extreme PC values, PC Principal co-opts the concept into a fan favorite character.

7 Harrison Yates

Harrison Yates at home with his wife in South Park

Harrison Yates is an unconventional cop who’s dedicated, and admittedly flawed, approach to serving and protecting has pushed out South Park‘s previous police, Officer Barbrady. Harrison fulfills many hard-boiled police procedural stereotypes rather than the bumbling energy Barbrady brought to the table.

Audiences have realized Harrison isn’t just a fleeting presence, and he’s turned into one of the more popular later additions to South Park. Harrison’s brash personality makes him the perfect vessel for South Park to use when parodying the gritty true-crime dramas that have taken over television.

6 Terrance & Phillip

An angry Terrance and Phillip hold boxes in South Park

The evolution of Terrance and Phillip is special because no one expected these two to turn into anything more than a one-note joke from a fictional TV series within South Park. South Park has turned Terrance and Phillip into microcosms for celebrity and paparazzi culture in general, as well as an easy source of comedy when it comes to Canada.

Terrance and Phillip have gained surprising depth that surpasses some of the main characters. Terrance and Phillip have transformed from tools that are used to troll the audience into genuinely fun and empathetic three-dimensional characters.

5 Butters Stotch

Butters with a junkyard dog at the dump in South Park

Butters Stotch first gets introduced as a background character who’s in the same class as Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny. Butters doesn’t really amount to much until Kenny’s lasting death at the end of season five prompts his friends to find an official replacement and Butters rises to the occasion. Fans like Butters for his perpetual innocence. He’s also one of the few kids in South Park who actually acts their age.

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Butters is a character who works well on his own, but he’s also become a phenomenal foil for Cartman in episodes like “AWESOM-O” and “The Death of Eric Cartman.” Butters has found an even greater following though his exaggerated super villain alter ego, Professor Chaos. Even in this heightened state, Butters has a charming quality that’s hard to hate.

4 Randy Marsh

Randy from South Park farting into a microphone.

None of the parents in South Park served much of a purpose during the start of the series and many of the adults still amount to background players in the series. Randy Marsh, Stan and Shelly’s dad, is the exception to the rule, and he’s become as popular as Cartman, Stan, or any other main character.

There are plenty of standout South Park episodes that put Randy in the spotlight, such as “Bloody Mary,” “Sarcastaball,” and “Over Logging.” In fact, South Park has trusted Randy’s ability to lead stories so much that they’ve allowed him to uproot his family to the rural Tegridy Farms for multiple seasons

3 Timmy Burch

Timmy Burch gets excited in South Park

Timmy Burch has found a surprising affinity with the South Park fandom since his earliest appearances, but he’s only become a more reliable source of entertainment as the series has gone on. A weaker show would only denigrate Timmy, but his differences haven’t hindered his popularity in the slightest.

South Park has some fun with the rivalry that forms between Timmy and Jimmy, only for the two to emerge as a properly united front. Some of South Park‘s funniest episodes revolve around Timmy and Jimmy’s combined efforts, like when they establish a truce between feuding gangs, the Crips and the Bloods. Few characters can convey so much in as few words as Timmy.

2 Ike Broflovski

Ike bursts through a door in his pajamas in South Park

Despite having a minor role in the series as Kyle’s younger brother, Ike Broflovski has become more popular over the years. Ike is present in the very first episode of South Park, which isn’t something that many current characters can claim. In the series premiere, Kyle strives to rescue his brother from extraterrestrials, but he’s also no stranger to odd acts of cruelty that involve his younger sibling. “Kick the Baby” is one of the more regrettable running jokes that’s peppered throughout South Park‘s earliest seasons.

Over time, Ike evolves into more than just a frustrating extension of Kyle. Ike’s Canadian status gets put under the microscope, he makes waves when he runs for class President, and he even winds up in a misguided relationship with his teacher at school. Ike will never replace Kyle in South Park, but he becomes a more likable and developed character with each new appearance.

1 Kenny McCormick Went From A Joke To A Hero

Kenny stares at himself in a broken mirror while dressed in his Mysterion costume in South Park

Kenny McCormick has been a main character since the start of South Park. That being said, one of South Park‘s earliest traditions is the idea that Kenny would morbidly perish at the end of each episode. South Park moves past this formulaic idea in season five and an extended absence for Kenny’s character is exactly what audiences needed to better appreciate him.

Kenny’s return was met with excitement, but the character has only grown more interesting by continuing to break away from expectations and tradition. South Park spends a decent amount of time with Kenny’s superhero vigilant alter ego, Mysterion, who’s easily the standout character during the show’s comic book-inspired saga. The audience even gets to hear Kenny’s nihilistic take on what it feels like to perpetually die and the burden that he’s had to carry for so long. Kenny’s come a long way from a mumbling gag.

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