Eric Cartman is considered to be the most popular character on the animated series South Park. And it’s easy to see why. He’s the bad boy and in the world of satire animation, the bad characters always become fan favorites. Think Bart Simpson, Bender from Futurama, or Stewie in Family Guy; we love the evil ones!
Eric Theodore Cartman is a fourth-grade student who lives with his single mom in the fictional town of South Park. The show follows the outrageous adventures of Eric and his three close friends, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny. Despite its seemingly simple style, the dark satire is intended for adults and the content is often explicit. And Cartman has the dirtiest mouth of all!
Cartman was designed using simple geometric shapes (in keeping with the overall feel of the stop animation) and primary colors. He’s overweight with a line drawn to represent a double chin and he often appears wearing a red coat, brown pants, yellow gloves and a turquoise hat with yellow trim and pom-pom. His character is portrayed as self-absorbed, prejudiced, and generally narcissistic.
But I’m sure you know all this already right? Let’s get to the stuff you don’t know about the most lovable foul-mouthed character of South Park…
15. How His Voice Is Created
So if you’re a fan of South Park you probably already know that the voice behind Eric is Trey Parker and that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are the creators of South Park. But what may surprise you is the list of other characters that Parker voices, because it’s not just Cartman. Trey also supplies voices for Eric’s friend Stan Marsh, Randy Marsh, and Mr. Garrison. He also provides voices for many other recurring characters on the show such as Mr. Hankey, Mr. Mackey, Stephen Stotch and Timmy Burch. But Trey says that his favorite character is… of course… Cartman.
Many people want to know how Trey does Eric’s voice. Well originally he voiced Cartman without computer manipulation but these days he records his lines which are altered to give it that childlike pitch and range.
14. Cartman Is A Former Blaintologist
What do you mean you don’t know what a Blaintologist is? And you call yourself a South Park fan? Just kidding! Maybe you just missed the episode where Cartman and his friends join the David Blaine cult.
In the episode Super Best Friends (Season 5, Episode 3) David Blaine visits South Park and wows everyone with his edgy street magic. Kenny, Cartman, Stan, and Kyle are impressed and with the hopes of learning more about the magic they join the Blaintology group. But while Cartman and Kyle are going door to door to recruit more followers Stan discovers that the group is not all it’s cracked up to be.
In the episode, they reference a “holy” book supposedly written by David Blaine called “David Blaine: Teachings”. People actually started asking the real David Blaine for the book, believing it to be genuine. Now that’s the power of South Park.
13. His Insanely Long Criminal Record
Cartman doesn’t shy away when it comes to breaking the law. Although he’s only been arrested six times he’s committed almost every crime you can think of (and probably quite a few you can’t imagine as well!)
Over the course of 19 years, 20 seasons and 227 episodes he’s been involved with piracy, embezzlement, shoplifting, murder, murder by proxy, rape, arson, prostitution, terrorism, enforced cannibalism (!), attempted genocide, manslaughter, drug possession, enforced suicide, animal abuse, smuggling, armed robbery, grave robbery, hate crimes, child abuse, war crimes, vandalism, unlicensed surgery, underage driving, resisting arrest, medical terrorism and theft. Definitely not your usual fourth grader!
12. He’s A Natural Leader (So Was Hitler)
Among his friends, Cartman is a natural leader and surprisingly, he’s pretty effective as well. His behavior is pretty shocking most of the time and his motives are usually highly suspicious but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is able to get people working together towards a common goal. When it comes down to crunch time Cartman uses his seemingly endless charisma and impressive public speaking skills to get what he wants.
In the episode Passion of the Jew (Season 8, Episode 3), South Park parodies Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ. In this episode Cartman dons his cutest, but most politically incorrect outfit ever – an olive green Hitler-like suit.
All this doesn’t sit well with everyone, least of all his friend/arch-enemy Kyle Broflovski. Kyle can’t stand Eric’s constant narcissism, scheming, and disrespect for other cultures. Throughout the series, this rivalry between characters comes to represent the struggle between good and evil.
11. He’s A Talented… Ventriloquist
We all know that Cartman is more than just a little delusional right? But at the same time he does have quite a few interesting skills and among them is throwing his voice. This first becomes evident in the episode Fat Butt and Pancake Head when he presents a report about Latino culture and introduces the class to his special guest, Jennifer Lopez. Instead of the real Jennifer, he uses his hand with a drawn on face and ventriloquism skills to “interview” her.
In other episodes, Cartman refers to his “talking” hand as Mitch Connor, and this is where it gets weird. That’s because it seems Mitch Connor is more than just a figment of Cartman’s imagination because he appears to know things that Eric doesn’t. Like who Eric’s real father is…
10. Eric’s On Social Media!
If you want to follow South Park characters on social media then you’re in luck – almost all of them have official Facebook and Twitter profiles that are run by the South Park team. That includes Mr. Hankey – The Christmas Poo and Towelie – by the way!
Of course Eric is right up there at the top of the list with 4.6 million likes on his FB fan page and another 113K followers on his Twitter account. In comparison Stan has 2.2 million fans on FB, Kyle has 3.1 million, and the closest to Eric is Kenny (why are we not surprised) with 3.8 million. He might be rude, obnoxious, politically incorrect and unstable, but he’s by far the most popular little bad boy in South Park.
9. The Inspiration Behind Eric
Many of the characters in South Park are based on real people, including Kenny, Cartman’s mom, Mr. Mackey, and Randy. They are built around people that the creators know in real life. Even Kyle and Stan – they are modelled on creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s own personalities. But now what about Cartman? Believe it or not he’s based on a real person too, a high school classmate of Trey’s.
Cartman is also modeled on a fictional character called Archie Bunker. Archibald “Archie” Bunker (played by Carroll O’Connor) appeared in a 70s TV sitcom called All in The Family. Stone and Parker loved this blue collar, bigoted war veteran so much that they built Cartman to have many of the same deplorable, yet entertaining, traits.
8. His Pet Kitty Was Voiced By Jay Leno
Cartman has two pets; a pot-bellied pig called Fluffy and a mangy looking gray cat named Mr. Kitty. The two pets have never appeared together in the series so far. Cartman often chastises the cat when she meows for food with his infamous catchphrase, “No, Mr. Kitty!” Although this might seem abusive, it does seem that Eric has a strong bond with cats. In Major Boobage when cats are made illegal he hides Mr. Kitty in his attic and rescues other abandoned cats and stores them in there too.
Mr. Kitty (who is a girl cat by the way) made her first appearance in the very first episode of the series and has previously been voiced by Jay Leno. Celebs wanting to be on the show are often offered minor roles like this but most times turn them down. One exception is George Clooney who agreed to provide the voice for Stan’s gay dog Sparky.
7. His Mispronunciations
One of Cartman’s most endearing characteristics is his mispronunciations. These have lead to thousands of funny memes on the internet. It’s almost as though he has some kind of speech impediment but sometimes he just seems to mispronounce words to annoy his friends. Cartman also has a strange accent that cannot be placed and sounds completely different to his other South Park friends.
Eric often mispronounces his friend’s names by making “in” sounds instead of “en” sounds – for example Kinny for Kenny and Windy for Wendy. He also replaces “ool” sounds with “ewl” in words like cool and school which he says as “kewl” and “schewl”. Cartman also has loads of catchphrases in the show, many of which feature his mispronunciations. The most famous of these is “respect my authority” which he pronounces as “Respect Mah Authoritah”.
6. Cartman Killed His Real Dad
True story, Cartman killed his own dad. But he did it without knowing who his dad was. Wait, that still doesn’t make it any better does it?
Before we get to his dad let’s first talk about Eric’s mom. The running joke about the sweet-talking Liane Cartman, who loves to spoil Eric, is that she is really a skanky, crack-smoking prostitute. The character is based on Trey Parker’s ex-fiancé, who he caught cheating. Burn!
But who is Cartman’s dad? For more than twelve seasons Eric believed that his mom was a hermaphrodite and also his biological dad but in the episode “200” we find out this is not the case. Cartman’s hand, Mitch Connor, reveals this to be false and a paternity test leads Eric to discover that his dad was Jack Tenorman, who he killed in season five.
5. He’s Been Abducted By Aliens (No, They Aren’t In Every Episode)
It was evident from the very beginning of South Park that Cartman was going to be central to most of the plotlines. In the first episode entitled Cartman Gets an Anal Probe aliens visit South Park and start performing anal probes on the residents, including Cartman and his friends.
The aliens were set to play a larger role in the series but the creators eventually decided against this because they didn’t want the show to look like a rip off of The X-Files.
There’s a popular urban legend around the aliens in South Park too. This legend is that there is an alien hidden in every episode of South Park – often in the background or between frames. As cool as this would be it’s just not true. The myth has been addressed a number of times on the South Park Studios FAQ. They are in about half the episodes though so look out next time you watch!
4. His Futurama Cameo
Now here’s one that is sure to surprise you – Eric made a cameo in Futurama!
His head appears in the Head Museum in the episode Benders Big Score and can be seen as Leela and her boyfriend walk through the museum together. In case you didn’t know Futurama is set in the year 3000 and one of the ways they work pop culture and historical figures into the show is by having their speaking heads inside glass jars. Even the president of Earth is Richard Nixon’s head in a jar!
The Head Museum has famous heads of US presidents, movie and TV stars, politicians, supermodels and even porn stars. However Eric is one of only two fictional characters to have been spotted in the museum. The other is Homer Simpson.
3. His First Appearance Was As Kenny
The pilot episode of South Park was created almost entirely using paper cut outs and stop animation. The paper cut out style was inspired by Terry Gillian’s cut out style from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Matt Stone and Trey Parker only had a budget of $300,000 to make the pilot and their budget could not stretch to include digital animation. Of course, the episode was a huge success and they were granted a higher budget so this was the first and last episode to not be animated digitally.
Although most people think that Cartman’s first appearance was in this episode he actually featured in an animated short made by Trey and Parker in 1992 called The Spirit of Christmas: Jesus vs Frosty. Although in the video his character is referred to as Kenny.
2. Real Cheesy Poofs?
Eric has a bit of a weight problem although he’s in total denial about it. He just loves to snack and any South Park fan will know that his favorite snack is definitely Cheesy Poofs.
Cheesy Poofs are first mentioned in the pilot episode Cartman Gets an Anal Probe and we usually see him eating them while sitting on the couch watching TV. They are often referenced in weird ways, for example, if you listen to the demonic voices during the episode Damien (season 1, episode 10) you can sometimes hear them chant “cheesy poofs”.
In 2011 South Park fans were delighted when Cartman’s fictional snack became a reality. Comedy Central and Frito-Lay teamed up and produced 1.5 million packages of Cheesy Poofs to celebrate the show’s 15th season.
1. He’s A Pop Culture Icon
Cartman may be the nastiest fourth grader ever but the way that Parker and Stone have used him to address real world problems is brilliant. Using simple satire they have managed to address those uncomfortable deep-seated issues that people are generally too ashamed to discuss.
Cartman is a pop culture icon anyway you look at it. In 2014, IGN placed Cartman first on their list of “The Top 25 South Park Characters” adding that he was the obvious choice and calling him “the biggest contribution to the world of animated characters that South Park has made”.
He’s also been declared the second-scariest character on television beaten only by Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. And in 2002 TV Guide ranked Cartman 10th on their list of “Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters”. We couldn’t agree more, what’s there not to love about Eric?