Butt Out

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"Butt Out"
South Park episode
Episode no.Season 7
Episode 13
Directed byTrey Parker
Written byTrey Parker
Production code713
Original air dateDecember 3, 2003 (2003-12-03)[1]
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"Butt Out" is the thirteenth episode of the seventh season of the American animated television series South Park, and the 109th episode overall. It first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on December 3, 2003.[1]

In the episode, representatives from an anti-smoking campaign rap about the dangers of smoking for the children of South Park. For fear of growing up to be giant nerds, the boys decide to take up the habit.

The episode pokes fun at the formulaic storyline of some South Park episodes (including the movie), which start with the boys getting themselves in trouble and inciting a controversy between the townsfolk and a national interest group (or a major catastrophe) while trying to avoid punishments, subsequently learning a lesson from this conflict.


An overly-upbeat anti-smoking music group called Butt Out, which incorporates outdated elements of dance and hip-hop into its routine, performs at South Park Elementary. The boys are put off by what they see as the lame, condescending nature of the performance. The performers proclaim that, if everyone refuses to smoke, they can grow up to be "just like [them]". The boys, fearing this outcome, go behind the school to immediately start chain smoking, despite it causing them to cough furiously.

When the school counselor, Mr. Mackey, approaches, the boys discard their cigarettes into a nearby dumpster, which causes a fire that burns down the entire school. When the boys are brought before the principal and their parents, the adults are enraged and ashamed at the boys smoking (but oddly, there is no acknowledgement of the school burning down). They then convince themselves that the blame lies with the tobacco companies, whose cigarette advertising campaigns have influenced the kids. The boys happily transfer the blame to avoid punishment, but Kyle recognizes the pattern of a South Park storyline and unsuccessfully tries to get his friends to avoid the coming calamity.

The town summons celebrity spokesman Rob Reiner to combat the spread of smoking among children in South Park. Although Reiner is outspokenly against smoking, he is gluttonous and disrespectful, taking pride in imposing his will on others. Cartman, however, looks up to Reiner precisely because of these qualities.

Reiner disguises himself (poorly) as a woman and infiltrates a tobacco factory along with the boys. While touring the factory, the vice president teaches them the history of tobacco and how the tobacco industry protects and defends freedom, explaining how the mandated warning labels on cigarettes enable consumers to make an informed choice, which Kyle finds reasonable. Suddenly, Reiner takes a photo of the boys in the factory, sheds his disguise, and throws one of the employees over the railing before fleeing.

Reiner takes the boys back to his anti-smoking encampment and introduces them to the "decent and caring" people of his Anti-Smoking staff, who are shown to be pale, hunched-over, hissing, and dressed in black. Reiner plans to digitally alter his photograph in order to falsely depict the executive giving cigarettes to children. By now, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny are disgusted with Reiner and his tactics, so when Reiner offers them the opportunity to appear in an anti-smoking TV commercial, they decline, but Cartman eagerly agrees.

Cartman claims in the commercial that he is dying of lung cancer from secondhand smoke, but discovers after the shoot that Reiner's group plans to kill him and cover it up by claiming it actually was from lung cancer. Cartman flees to his friends, who initially refuse to help him, fearing that they too will be killed, but eventually they agree to help. They consider returning to the cigarette factory, as they know that the vice president there will take their side and protect Cartman from Reiner. Kyle warns again that this is following a formula, and it will lead to a confrontation between the town and the factory, where they will have to admit they lied about why they smoked and talk about what they have learned.

The boys go to the factory anyway, as it's the only way to keep Cartman safe, and the townspeople confront them there along with Reiner (who is eating an entire cake). The townspeople turn on Reiner when he reveals his evil plan, and as he attempts to justify himself, Kyle begins giving a speech (while commenting once more about how the familiar formula is unfolding). Kyle says that people need to take responsibility for their own actions, and calls Reiner a fascist for imposing his will on others. Cartman, no longer respecting Reiner, stabs him with a fork, revealing "Reiner" to be a boneless sac filled with green goo, who completely drains. The parents then ground the four, as they now know that they smoked of their own free will, and though Stan is relieved that the ordeal is over and the four have "learned [their] lesson", Kyle disappointedly replies, "No, we didn't, dude. No, we didn't."


"Butt Out" was written and directed by Trey Parker. Matt Stone said the episode was inspired by a desire to spoof both California's strict smoking bans and film director Rob Reiner; Stone said, "We try not to be, 'All right, here's the point we want to make.' But things like California's smoking ban and Rob Reiner animate both of us. When we did that Rob Reiner episode, to us it was just common sense. Rob Reiner was just a great target."[2]

A television promo for the episode showed a deleted scene involving Butters interacting with the "Butt Out" group.[3] The final scene where Kyle tells Stan they didn't learn their lesson was not included in the episode's original broadcast.[4]


The episode satirizes anti-smoking education presentations by external providers that come across as cheesy or irritating to the young adult demographic they target, effectively negating any message they might be trying to send across. The episode also satirizes adult pretension, a common theme in South Park episodes, in their ineffective and nonsensical responses to the smoking problem in South Park.[5] According to Brian C. Anderson, it also lampoons the pretentiousness of the Hollywood movie industry and liberalism, particularly through the use of Rob Reiner, the real-life American director widely known for advocating smoking restrictions. Reiner and, by extension, Hollywood adopts a holier-than-thou attitude with regard to smokers, and show a lack of understanding toward the poor and middle-class.[6] The episode advocates accepting personal responsibility for smoking rather than blaming the tobacco industry or external forces like Hollywood and television (which are often accused of condoning and glamorizing drug use, particularly with alcohol and tobacco); as such, tobacco executives are portrayed as reasonable and decent, while Reiner and Hollywood representatives are nasty and elitist. Another theme is Rob Reiner constantly eating and overweight to the point that he can't fit through a car door, pointing out that although fast food is as dangerous as smoking, it is overlooked.[7]

Although it was legal to smoke inside of bars in Colorado at the time of the episode's airing in 2003, the state would later ban smoking in most public places in 2006, including bars.


"Butt Out" received mostly positive reviews. Conservative writer Brian C. Anderson praised the episode saying the portrayal of Reiner, Hollywood and their anti-smoking efforts "perfectly captures the Olympian arrogance and illiberalism of liberal elites."[6] Anderson said this was particularly illustrated by a scene in the episode in which Reiner yells at a sawmill worker for smoking in a bar, and tells him he should relax by spending time in an expensive vacation house like Reiner does. Anderson described it as a "classic sequence".[8]

Amanda Kiser of The Battalion praised the episode's portrayal of anti-smoking educational performances: "Watch the 'Butt Out' episode of South Park if you were not fortunate enough to witness such a spectacle as a preteen. Granted, the truth is substantially less ridiculous, but it is still incredibly, nauseatingly self-consciously hip."[9] Richard Ives of Times Higher Education also praised this aspect of this episode: "Teachers to whom I've shown these clips sigh in recognition."[5] The Daily Record of Scotland praised the episode, which they said was extremely "timely".[10]

In a 2017 Reddit interview with fans, when asked of his portrayal in the episode, actor Rob Reiner's reply was "I thought it was funny, but I'm not quite that fat."[11]


  1. ^ a b South Park - Butt Out | South Park Studios US, 2003-12-03, retrieved 2023-11-07
  2. ^ Gillespie, Nick; Walker, Jesse (December 5, 2006). "South Park libertarians: Trey Parker and Matt Stone on liberals, conservatives, censorship, and religion". Reason. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  3. ^ South Park Episode 713 Commercial (2003). YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11.
  4. ^ "Episode 713 - Butt Out". South Park Scriptorium. Archived from the original on 2008-03-19. Retrieved 2023-09-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  5. ^ a b Ives, Richard (2007-05-04). "Leave the drug wars to cartoons and cops". Times Higher Education Education Supplement. p. 14.
  6. ^ a b Rich, Frank (May 1, 2005). "Conservatives ♥ 'South Park'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  7. ^ Anderson, Brian C. (2005). South Park Conservatives. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing. pp. 82–85. ISBN 0-89526-019-0.
  8. ^ Anderson, Brian C. (2005-04-17). ""I hate conservatives, but I really. . . hate liberals";Cartman, Kenny, Kyle, Stan and the rest of the South Park gang couldn't spell PC if they tried". The Press-Enterprise (California). Riverside, California. p. D01.
  9. ^ Kiser, Amanda (2007-10-30). "Truthiness in advertising". The Battalion. College Station, Texas.
  10. ^ "TV: Satellite Pick of the Day". Daily Record. Glasgow, Scotland. 2004-11-24. p. 30.
  11. ^ "Rob Reiner here signing in for my first AMA. Here we go…". Reddit. November 8, 2017. Retrieved July 21, 2023.

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