Ranking the Worst Fathers in ‘South Park’
It’s no secret that the fourth graders of South Park Elementary School are, in general, seriously lacking effective father figures — much like the real world’s unsupervised fourth graders who watch South Park.
Few of the men in South Park, Colorado are reasonable and responsible enough to take on the monumental task of fatherhood, but that never stopped them from spurting out crass kids at every opportunity. South Park is absolutely crawling with children in desperate need of guidance and supervision, which they will never receive because there’s nothing less funny than a functional family unit and Trey Parker and Matt Stone are $40 million in the hole with the whole Casa Bonita thing.
Over in the South Park subreddit, there was a recent discussion about where the main fathers in the show rank in terms of their awfulness. Here is how we order the dads of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny starting with the least therapy-inducing…
Of all the South Park main characters, Kyle was easily the luckiest when it comes to patriarchs. Named after Matt Stone’s own father, Gerald is a moderately successful lawyer and a member of the South Park City Council, showing the ability to both provide for his family and give his oldest son sound guidance on the occasion that Kyle actually consults his father about whatever insane crap Cartman is putting him through.
He also adopted Ike after his home country of Canada was devastated by the Cola Wars. Gerald’s just a generally okay dad — even though he straight up murdered the CEO of TrollTrace.com that one time.
Randy’s ranking in the top half of this list has very little to do with his own merits as a father; it’s more that, at the end of the day, you’d still take his hedonistic chaos and selfish scheming over what’s still to come. Randy is constantly relocating his family and uprooting their lives to fit whatever harebrained plan he has to make his middle ages more kickass. He’s a drunken, violet mess who barely holds down a day job as a geologist for most of the series — as well as his night gig as teenage pop sensation Lorde.
However, Randy still loves his kids and, every now and then, will sacrifice his own self-interest for the good of his family. He’s even saved Stan’s life on numerous occasions, which is so much more than the next entry on the list can say, over and over again.
If the absolute first responsibility of any parent or caregiver of a young child is to protect them, then Stuart is an objective failure of a father. The lone service Stuart provides to his three kids is a steady diet of frozen waffles and Pop-Tarts paid for through a combination of state-supplied welfare and the proceeds from his low-level meth operation. Stuart is also an abusive alcoholic who beats the absolute hell out of his wife Carol regularly — though Carol gives it right back to her white-trash husband.
Stuart has not even attempted to prevent one of Kenny’s 126 canonical deaths, and he even laughed at son’s passing in the episode “Chickenpox.” Just an absolute dud of a dad.
Jack Tenorman (aka Cartman’s Dad)
Much like life, 90 percent of being a dad is just showing up — to baseball games, to birthday parties, to, well, anything. That lands local chili-fodder Jack Tenorman at literal dead last, having been completely absent from Cartman’s life, unless you count the short time they spent together after Bill Denkins blew Tenorman’s head off and before Cartman served his dad to his half-brother.
It’s unclear if Jack Tenorman ever knew that Cartman was his own flesh and blood, but I can say with some certainty that, if he so much as stopped by the house once to have a catch with his big-boned lovechild, Jack Tenorman’s flesh and blood would never have ended up as the main course at a chili cook off.