Tonsil Trouble

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"Tonsil Trouble"
South Park episode
Episode no.Season 12
Episode 1
Directed byTrey Parker
Written byTrey Parker
Production code1201
Original air dateMarch 12, 2008
Episode chronology
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South Park (season 12)
List of South Park episodes

"Tonsil Trouble" is the first episode in the twelfth season of the American animated television series South Park, and the 168th episode of the series overall. Written and directed by series co-creator Trey Parker, it first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on March 12, 2008.[1] In the episode, Cartman contracts HIV during a blood transfusion. When Kyle laughs at Cartman's misfortune, Cartman intentionally infects Kyle with his disease as well.


While having his tonsils removed, Cartman is accidentally infected with HIV from a blood donor. From this point on throughout the episode, Cartman dresses as Andrew Beckett, played by Tom Hanks in the movie Philadelphia.[2] Shocked, he attempts to gain the support and pity of those around him but is unsuccessful because the AIDS awareness fad has been replaced by concern about cancer.

Upon hearing the news of Cartman's diagnosis, Kyle leaves the room and bursts out laughing because of all the years that Cartman had suggested giving AIDS to Kyle and because Cartman constantly harasses Kyle. A special event is held for Cartman in which Elton John is expected to turn up and sing a song to him, however it is an extremely poor turnout and Elton John doesn't even come because, as a waitress notes, people nowadays care more about cancer than AIDS. Instead Jimmy Buffett sings to Cartman, who is absolutely furious about all this.

The next day when Cartman asks why Stan, Kyle and Kenny did not turn up, Stan says they forgot and asks if Elton John sang for Cartman. He replies that Jimmy Buffett came in his place, sending Kyle into hysterics to the point he had to run home. Stan explains to Cartman that while Kyle truly feels bad for Cartman, he just thinks it is ironic and he deserves to be punished because he is always so horrible – especially to Kyle himself. Despite being told this, Cartman plots revenge by drawing some of his own blood with a syringe and putting it in Kyle's mouth as he sleeps with help of an unsuspecting Butters. Cartman confesses he has sneaked into Kyle's room dozens of times.

When Kyle is diagnosed with HIV, he knows at once who is at fault, despite numerous suggestions that he contracted it through unprotected anal sex and blood transfusion. Enraged, he confronts Cartman in the playground and fights with him until Mr. Mackey stops him. The school authorities merely ask Cartman to apologize to Kyle for giving him HIV, and Kyle to apologize for tattling about it.

Appalled and even more enraged by this injustice, Kyle ignores Cartman's apology and goes straight to Cartman's house, telling Cartman that he intends to demolish everything he owns and his room in retaliation. When Kyle picks up Cartman's Xbox 360 to smash it, Cartman pleads with him, telling him that he has done research which leads him to believe that a cure for AIDS lies in Magic Johnson's longevity since becoming infected with HIV. Kyle and Cartman fly to Johnson's house after gaining free airline tickets by pretending to have "all-over" cancer, because AIDS is too "retro" a disease. During their trip together, Kyle becomes annoyed by Cartman's constant repetition of the phrase "I'm not just sure, I'm HIV positive", ultimately screaming that neither AIDS nor dying is funny. Johnson is sympathetic toward the boys, offering assistance, but is unsure what he has in his house that helps. Upon investigation, Kyle and Cartman find that Johnson sleeps regularly with huge piles of cash in his bedroom, because he does not trust banks; cash eventually proves to have the ability to neutralize HIV. Laboratory scientists experiment with a concentrated dose of "about $180,000 shot directly into the bloodstream" on the boys, which disintegrates the HIV – implying the solution to any problem is simply to throw money at it. Word spreads about the cure for AIDS and an event is held at which Jimmy Buffett sings "CUREburger in Paradise". Volunteers inform poverty-stricken Africa that the fight against AIDS is over because all those suffering from the AIDS epidemic have to do now is inject themselves with piles of cash - which of course they do not have. Kyle, after an unfortunate mix-up during the celebration in which the speaker addresses him and Cartman as "two brave lovers", tells Cartman he is still going to break his Xbox anyway, prompting Cartman to run after him.


On its initial broadcast, the season premiere was watched by 3.07 million viewers in the United States.[3]

The episode received generally mixed reviews with the consensus being that the episode "runs out of steam". IGN gave the episode a score of 7.2 out of 10 stating "It's a bit like 'South Park by the numbers,' as opposed to being truly inspired and insightful as the show's best episodes tend to be."[4] TV Squad also gave a mixed review, saying that "Overall, a good show with some great one-liners. Sadly, it also had a weak ending."[5] gave the episode a very positive review, praising the episode's message about AIDS.[6]

Home release[edit]

"Tonsil Trouble", along with the thirteen other episodes from South Park's twelfth season, were released on a three-disc DVD set and two-disc Blu-ray set in the United States on March 10, 2009. The sets included brief audio commentaries by Parker and Stone for each episode, a collection of deleted scenes, and two special mini-features, The Making of 'Major Boobage and Six Days to South Park.[7]

The episode is also included on the two-disc DVD collection The Cult of Cartman.[8]


  1. ^ Episode guide. South Park Studios. Retrieved on 2008-08-17.
  2. ^ Parker, Trey (November 2008). South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season: "Tonsil Trouble" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
  3. ^ TV Guide News (March 14, 2008). "Ratings: Lost Finds a Season Low". Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  4. ^ South Park: "Tonsil Trouble" Review
  5. ^ South Park: Tonsil Trouble (season premiere)
  6. ^ South Park: Tonsil Trouble Archived 2008-11-19 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Liebman, Martin (February 26, 2009). "South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season Blu-ray Review". Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  8. ^ Monfette, Christopher (October 2, 2008). "The Cult of Cartmen DVD Review". IGN. Retrieved January 25, 2017.

External links[edit]