Not unlike fellow animated comedy The Simpsons, South Park has been accurately predicting the future for years.
Through its zany, often gross-out storylines involving the adventures of four boys living in the titular Rocky Mountain town of South Park, Colorado, the show has managed to predict everything from the Carnival Cruise defecation disaster of 2013 to PC culture to Ebola to banning Confederate flags and statues.
Now that a South Park vaccination special is due to air on 10 March at 8 PM on Comedy Central, here's a look at eight times the prophetic series accurately “predicted” the future.
Three years before the Carnival "poop cruise" disaster of 2013, South Park dropped an offhanded quip in Season 14, episode 14 ("Creme Fraiche"). As Randy and Sharon watch TV, a newscaster says, “Passengers said the carnival cruise line smelled like poop, but that that was an improvement.” A few years later, an engine fire caused the electric toilets on an actual Carnival cruise ship to stop working. No need to recount what happened next – it wasn't pretty, and it didn't smell good.
Osama Bin Laden
Eight months before Osama Bin Laden was shot and killed by a Navy SEAL in 2011, South Park was ahead of the game when the episode titled “It's a Jersey Thing” had the al-Qaeda leader shot by a Special Forces commando.
In Season 19, South Park introduced a new character, PC Principle, whose mission is to enforce all things Politically Correct. The character, who debuted in 2015, appeared to predict the way PC – and you could even go so far as to say “cancel” – culture would become a central topic in future political debates.
Banning the Confederate flag
In the season 4 episode “Chef Goes Nanners”, the residents of South Park discuss whether they should change their town’s flag when Chef (voiced by Isaac Hayes) declares it racist, seemingly predicting the discussions Americans would have about whether or not to ban Confederate flags and other racially charged signage.
In 1999, an episode from Season 3 called “Chinpokomon” poked fun at the popularity of the Pokémon video game franchise when the South Park kids become obsessed with a Japanese fad called “Chinpokomon” and decide to buy every piece of merchandise related to the game. Turns out, the Chinpokomon devices actually track each player’s location and send the information back to the game’s developers, much like the real-life Pokémon Go.
Sports teams changing names
In the previously mentioned episode “Chef Goes Nanners”, South Park character Uncle Jimbo asks what’ll come next if and when South Park decides to change its flag, “What about the baseball team, the Cleveland Indians, huh? Should they change their name because it’s racist?” Some years later, in December 2020, the baseball team announced its decision to formally change its name in the wake of protests from fans and Native American groups.
In 2014, South Park aired an episode titled “Gluten Free Ebola”, where town residents begin to experience violent gluten-related deaths. That same week, an Ebola strain was discovered; two nurses contracted the virus, but they both recovered.
In the second season of South Park, an episode titled “Chef’s Salty Chocolate Balls” appeared to predict the award-winning 2005 film Brokeback Mountain when Cartman refers to independent films as being about “gay cowboys eating pudding”.
In an interview with the Associated Press in October 2005, series creators Parker and Stone addressed the prophetic moment, with Parker saying, “...if there’s pudding eating in there, we’re going to sue”, while Stone claimed, “No [we're not prophets], but Cartman is.”
“South ParQ Vaccination Special” premieres 10 March at 8 PM on Comedy Central.