“Oh my God, they killed Kenny!” “You bastards!” has become a cultural catchphrase.
Kenny McCormick is a one of the main characters on South Park, an animated adult television series that airs on Comedy Central. Kenny is best known for his recurring deaths across numerous episodes and seasons. He is apparently immortal, but no one aside from him seems to particularly notice, or care.
Kenny attends South Park Elementary School along with Eric Cartman, Kyle Broflovski, and Stan Marsh. He comes from a poor, dysfunctional household where he lives with his unemployed and alcoholic father, mother, and 2 siblings. He most often wears an orange parka that more than covers his head and mouth. His speech is usually not discernible; it’s muffled and garbled as a result of being covered by the parka, which is actually a saving grace for the censors because little Kenny is extremely foul-mouthed and cruel. Perhaps not being fully understandable is what helps him retain an aspect of innocence, because even though he is a fresh kid who will do disgusting things to impress people and is obsessed with the female anatomy, Kenny is a beloved character. Kenny has been memorialized in pop culture and has even been referenced in 2 of rapper Eminem’s songs.
The inspiration for the character was a friend of South Park co-creator Trey Parker. The real-life Kenny was the poorest kid in the neighborhood, always wore an orange parka, and would be absent from school for lengthy periods of time. The school kids jokingly began to say he was dead (again and again) when he was absent. Through the life of the series, Kenny has died over 100 times in a multitude of ways, including getting run over, trampled, crushed, shot, blown up, drowned, eaten by rats, decapitated, microwaved, chain-sawed, and asphyxiated. He has also been done in by getting chicken pox, laughing himself to death, dying of boredom, exploding from holding in flatulence, and more. What hasn’t killed Kenny is the real question. Last checked, he had never been eaten by a shark.
Kenny has an alter ego, Mysterion, who is South Park’s champion and defends the town from evil. As Mysterion, Kenny proves to be resourceful and intelligent and uses his inability to die selflessly to save others. So what makes Kenny immortal? The answer is not clear. Speculation is that his parents’ membership in the Cthulhu-worshipping death cult has given Kenny this ability, and that he can only be truly killed by another immortal.
Every time Kenny dies, there is a lot of analysis by way of South Park fans. Kenny was mercifully spared death and resurrection in seasons 12 and 17. But with season 18 approaching, it will be interesting to see what’s in store for the little kid in the orange parka.
- List of Kenny’s Deaths. South Park Wikia website. http://southpark.wikia.com/wiki/ List_of_Kenny%27s_deaths.
- Kenny McCormick. South Park Wikia website. http://southpark.wikia.com/wiki/ Kenny_McCormick.