For more than 20 seasons, South Park has captivated Comedy Central’s audiences with its surreal humor and commentary on current events. Since the show’s inception in 1997, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have pushed the envelope to create undoubtedly one of the most successful TV comedies in existence. 

We've seen Parker and Stone make fun of religious and public figures, as well as celebrities, all centered around the insanity of the tiny, titular Colorado town. How crazy do things get in South Park? The witty cartoon has parodied a gyrating Justin Bieber and smashed his head, like The Mountain did to Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones. The show has poked fun at Occupy Wall Street and the extreme lengths gamers go to for some extra XP in an episode based on World of Warcraft. They’ve taken on Scientology, Lorde, Saddam Hussein, and Kanye West.

But, perhaps the most brilliant part of Parker and Stone’s hit comedy is how they parody multiple current events into one episode. For instance, the HumancentiPad episode in season 15 satirizes the abhorrent Human Centipede film, while also pointing out the ridiculously long agreement terms that people seemingly automatically agree to online without reading. In 2016, South Park even wove together storylines that mocked the presidential election, Internet trolls, and the outcry over Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem all at once.

The show has changed comedy, animated television, and even the mere idea of viral content. But at the end of the day, what really makes South Park great is its expansive cast of characters. There are favorites like Towelie, Captain Hindsight, and Mr. Hankey who pop up from time to time. Then, there are characters who are central to the series that appear in nearly every episode like the main quartet of Cartman, Kenny, Kyle, and Stan. They all play important roles in bringing the show to life and creating a ridiculous, entertaining viewing experience. So, let’s take a look at the best South Park characters. After all, without them in all their crass glory, the show could probably air on Nickelodeon.