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|South Park character|
|First appearance||"Cartman Gets an Anal Probe" (1997)|
|Voiced by||Matt Stone|
|Full name||Leopold Stotch|
|Residence||South Park, Colorado, United States|
Leopold "Butters" Stotch is a fictional character in the animated television series South Park. He is voiced by series co-creator Matt Stone and loosely based on co-producer Eric Stough. He is a student at South Park Elementary School. Butters is depicted as more naive, optimistic, and gullible than the show's other child characters and can become increasingly anxious, especially when faced with the likelihood of being grounded, of which he is extremely terrified. As a result, he is often sheltered and unknowledgeable of some of the suggestive content his peers understand, and is also frequently the victim of abuse and manipulation by Eric Cartman. His name is a play on the confection butterscotch.
Butters debuted as an unnamed background character when South Park first premiered on Comedy Central on August 13, 1997; his role gradually increased, becoming one of the series' most frequently present characters beginning with season 3. Creators Parker and Stone have stated that he is one of their favorite characters.
Role in South Park
Butters attends South Park Elementary as part of Mr. Garrison's (later Mrs. Garrison's) 4th grade class (which was taken over by Ms. Nelson after Garrison became the 45th President of the United States in season 19). Storyboards and scripts for seasons 1 and 2 had his original names as "Puff Puff" and "Swanson" respectively. In "AWESOM-O", he says his birthday is on September 11, referencing the terrorist attacks of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, another sign of his misfortunes. He learns from his parents in "Going Native" that he was born on the island of Kaua'i. During the show's first 58 episodes (1997 through Season 4 episode "4th Grade" in 2000), Butters and the other main child characters were in the third grade. He lives in South Park as the only child of Stephen and Linda Stotch, from whom he perpetually faces the looming prospect of being grounded and abused. When the character of Kenny McCormick was temporarily written off the show near the end of Season 5, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, and Eric Cartman allow Butters into their group as the "fourth friend", a role he continued to fill until midway through season 6, namely, the episode "Professor Chaos". During this period, the boys would often take advantage of Butters' mild temperament by making him a stooge in their own personal schemes, especially Cartman's. The three eventually ousted him in favor of Tweek Tweak.
As a result, Butters vengefully adopted the alter ego of Professor Chaos. Intending to be a supervillain, Professor Chaos wears a green cape, and a helmet and gauntlets constructed out of cardboard and aluminum foil, a parody of Marvel Comics' Dr. Doom. Butters as Professor Chaos received much focus during the back-to-back episodes "Professor Chaos" and "Simpsons Already Did It", where he took on his younger friend Dougie as his sidekick General Disarray and ultimately failed at their several ill-prepared attempts to create "worldwide chaos". Professor Chaos has occasionally made a few appearances since, appearing to be a known supervillain to South Park's police force.
Despite being displaced from both his role as the "fourth friend" and from the eventual return of Kenny, Butters has continued to be a major character in recent seasons and is still a good friend to the group. Formerly a social outcast in earlier episodes, he has nevertheless been seen spending considerable amount of time with the other children, and continues to be a frequent source of help to Cartman, while also being the main victim of Cartman's pranks and manipulation: for instance, in the season 11 episode "Cartman Sucks", Cartman goes on numerous sleepovers with Butters so he can pull pranks on him in his sleep. Though the act is customarily performed by Stan or Kyle, Butters will occasionally reflect on the lessons he has attained during the course of an episode with a brief speech, and will sometimes muster up enough courage to act as the voice of reason when his parents or other adults in town engage in irrational behavior.
Creation and design
On August 13, 1997, Butters first appeared as a background character when South Park debuted on Comedy Central with the episode "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe". For the episode, the character was composed of construction paper cutouts and animated through the use of stop motion. Since then, like all other characters on the show, Butters has been animated with computer software, though he is portrayed to give the impression that the show still utilizes its original technique. In the tradition of the show's animation style, Butters is composed of simple geometrical shapes and colors. He is not offered the same free range of motion associated with hand-drawn characters; his character is mostly shown from only one angle, and his movements are animated in an intentionally jerky fashion. Butters has a large tuft of blond hair on top of his head, and is usually depicted wearing an aquamarine jacket with dark green pants and black shoes. While originally voicing Butters without any computer manipulation, Stone now speaks within his normal vocal range while adding a childlike inflection, a slight stutter, and a Southern accent. The recorded audio is then edited with Pro Tools, and the pitch is altered to make the voice sound more like that of a fourth grader.
The character is loosely based on South Park co-producer Eric Stough, whom Stone and Trey Parker regard as a "goody-goody" because of his reluctance to offend. The inspiration behind the major development of Butters' was, in the words of Parker and Stone, the geeky behavior that Stough irritated the aforementioned creators with during their production of the 1999 South Park TV-to-Film adaptation South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut in the studio office of Paramount Pictures. Parker and Stone then decided to parody Stough's antics in the series by transferring it to the character of Butters and proceeding to write the episode "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub", which aired three weeks after Bigger, Longer & Uncut was released. The nickname "Butters" evolved from Parker and Stone calling Stough "little buddy" for about three years. Prior to making his first major appearance in the season 3 episode "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub", crew members referred to the character as "Puff Puff" and "Swanson", the latter name which he was identified as in the season 2 episode "Conjoined Fetus Lady", and would continue to be addressed by the two names in storyboards and scripts until it was finalized as "Butters" in the aforementioned "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub". Butters gradually became one of Parker and Stone's favorite characters, and for the show's season five finale they created the episode "Butters' Very Own Episode", which revolves entirely around Butters and his parents. The intention was to give the character a proper introduction to the South Park audience and prepare them for the larger role he would come to play in further seasons. Butters eventually took part in more and more scenes in which he is paired with Cartman, and Parker declares that the scenes involving the two together are his favorite of the series. Butters had very little dialogue in the 1999 film South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, receiving only one line total, though he does utter some grunts and other sounds during some scenes. In a 2009 audio commentary for the Blu-ray edition of the film, Parker and Stone expressed shock at how little the character was used, and agreed that any South Park movie made today would demand he play a role in the plot.
Personality and traits
Though using profanity on occasion, Butters does not indulge in foul-mouthed language as often as the other children on the show, instead preferring to use minced oaths; "oh hamburgers" is one he uses frequently, as well as "gee whiz" mostly in earlier seasons. Butters speaks with a mild stutter and tends to fidget with his hands. The other characters perceive him as "nerdy", and he obliviously maintains a wholesome attitude and mild disposition despite the tragedy and abuse that he frequently encounters. His happy-go-lucky persona has been described as resembling that of a typical 1950s sitcom child character, and is usually presented in stark contrast to the harsh treatment he receives at the hands of his friends and strict parents, including his mother's deranged attempt to murder him after discovering his father's bisexuality, as well as when his grandmother happens to be in town and constantly bullies him during her stay. Stone describes him as embodying "permanent innocence". Butters, however, sees himself as a problem child because his parents tell him so and often expresses remorse at being "out-of-control". Exceptions to this include the episode "The Ungroundable", in which Butters makes his parents worry about their ability to ground him when he refuses to be punished. This rebellious behavior begins after he joins the vampire kids at his school, but ends when he helps the Goth kids burn down a Hot Topic store. He is also known for being gullible, quickly believing anything told to him by others and tending to do whatever he is told to do with little protest, no matter how ridiculous these things seem to be. As such, he is always made an unknowing accomplice in Cartman's various devious schemes. There are cases, however, where Butters has shown a darker side, such as in episodes like "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" and "Butterballs"; in the latter of which he viciously assaulted Dr. Oz and verbally castigated his abusive grandmother.
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In other media
Butters plays a major role in the three-episode "Imaginationland" story arc, which was reissued straight-to-DVD as a full-length feature in 2008. Butters is the main playable character in South Park Imaginationland, a mobile game for the iPhone loosely based on the show's Imaginationland trilogy of episodes. In the video game South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play!, Butters can be selected as a playable character used to establish a tower defense against the game's antagonists.
He also appears in a major role as a companion fighter in the video game South Park: The Stick of Truth, where he plays as a paladin, where his abilities include healing, holy damage, and summoning Professor Chaos who can inflict a variety of status-affecting attacks on enemies or shielding the players. In the superhero-themed sequel South Park: The Fractured but Whole, he appears as Professor Chaos and is an antagonist.
A DVD box set of 13 Butters-centric episodes, A Little Box of Butters, was released in September 2010.
A pinball machine revolved around the character entitled "Butters Very Own Pinball" (named after the season five finale "Butters' Very Own Episode") is playable on the mobile app video game South Park Pinball.
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- Leopold "Butters" Stotch at South Park Studios