The Death of Eric Cartman
|"The Death of Eric Cartman"|
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 9
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||April 13, 2005|
"The Death of Eric Cartman" is the sixth episode in the ninth season of the American animated television series South Park. The 131st episode overall, it originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on April 13, 2005. In the episode, the other boys begin ignoring Cartman, leading to him concluding that he must be a ghost.
Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny wait at Stan's house for Sharon, Stan's mother to come home with KFC. When she arrives, the boys help her unload her groceries, but Cartman remains behind, eats all the crispy skins, and goes home to sit on the toilet. Enraged, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny decide Cartman has finally crossed the line and decide to start ignoring him. The other kids in their class go along. Cartman, unable to conceive that anyone would ignore him, thinks he has died and become a ghost.
Butters, however, is not privy to the plan and greets Cartman as he passes by in a state of despair. Cartman convinces Butters that he is a ghost, terrifying him. Cartman threatens to haunt Butters unless he helps his soul achieve peace. Cartman first has Butters apologize to everyone on his behalf, which fails to impress his ex-friends but gets his mother crying. Cartman makes emotional goodbyes to Butters, believing that he will now be permitted to go to Heaven. When this fails, Butters suggests he might need to atone for all the terrible things he has done. Cartman draws up a long list and delivers gift baskets to all his victims, including Sally Struthers, Scott Tenorman, and Kyle's synagogue. When this, too, fails, Cartman destroys Butters' room with a baseball bat and disappears before his parents turn up. A doctor is called and decides that Butters might suffer from a deep trauma. To make sure, Butters is taken to a mental institution and subjected to a terrifying series of tests. Now genuinely traumatized, Butters accepts that he has been imagining Cartman's visits, but Cartman breaks into the asylum to get his help again.
The two consult a psychic, who suggests that God has kept Cartman on Earth to help with a crisis. When they hear of a hostage situation at a Red Cross Center, Cartman and Butters set off; and Cartman stops the criminals by moving things around in the style of a poltergeist. The robbers are merely befuddled, which provides a distraction for Butters to release the hostages and the police to subdue the criminals. The two are credited with saving the day. Cartman and Butters exchange protestations of friendship once again; but the other boys turn up and praise Cartman's heroic behavior, thinking he has truly changed. Cartman now realizes that he was merely being ignored and again goes berserk, blaming Butters for his own misunderstanding and threatening retaliation. Butters's parents arrive with the doctor, and Butters realizes he is going back to the asylum.
Trey Parker says on the DVD commentary that he got the main idea for the episode while hiking on vacation in Tasmania, Australia. This is significant because Parker felt it was refreshing to have an idea just come to him rather than having to actively try to come up with ideas with the rest of the writing staff. Parker said he instantly had everything worked out except for what it would be that Cartman did to anger the other boys. It wasn't until late in the production of the episode, when nearly all animation was finished, that the opening scene was finalized. Parker, Matt Stone, and the rest of the writing crew were eating KFC one day when somebody mentioned how annoying it would have been if somebody just ate all the skin off the chicken before they ate it. They decided to go ahead with this idea because it seemed to slot in so perfectly.
The episode is included on the two-disc DVD collection The Cult of Cartmen.