Uncovering the South Park Timeline — Part 2

So… where’s the starting point

In the last article, I talked about the possibility that South Park might take place in multiple timelines. I realised it couldn’t be covered in a single article, so I’m writing a continuation of an attempt to figure out what’s up with South Park’s floating timeline. I can’t promise I’ll succeed… but I’ll try.

Previously, I mentioned that it would be easier to start with the inconsistencies present in the plot, and one notable discrepancy came about in the COVID specials, where time travel was invented by two different sources (the college nerds and Dr Kenny McCormick, respectively). I also mentioned that Trey Parker, the co-creator of the show and the guy who writes most of its script nowadays, doesn’t like to throw the reader back in time. From what I understand, episodes are presented independently. In other words, it means that while there is continuity, past events are hardly relevant to the show’s style.

This isn’t bad by itself, but when you compare South Park to other shows, you realise that it’s just a matter of writing style. Now, I’m not trying to instigate an internet war by comparing South Park to Family Guy. Still, the latter is an animated sitcom (much like South Park) that puts more emphasis on past events that happened in the show’s history. Family Guy casually references things Peter did way back in season 1, and not a single detail has been forgotten. In contrast, I’m not sure that its writers remember what happened in the past.

In between the lines, the devil hides

What emphasises the ambiguity of the South Park timeline more is a particular line uttered in the COVID made-for-TV movies. I apologise if this is a bit of a spoiler, but I have to be specific to come forth with my point, so it’s like this. In the first COVID movie, Stan and Kyle (two of the main characters) reunite after several decades of not seeing each other, and when Kyle asks Stan how long has it been, Stan replies by saying, “I guess since we were 9”.

Now, this is an interesting line when you consider one thing — assuming that everything happening since 1997 is still canon (weirdly enough, considering that the kids are chronologically in their 30s) — Stan already celebrated his 10th birthday, so why the hell would he say “since we were 9”?

Forget for a moment about inconsistencies that might come about because the writer forgot what he wrote in previous episodes; why would someone forget how old they are? I get it that it was a generalisation because he was referring to both him and Kyle, but if anything, Stan should’ve said, “I guess since we were 10”.

Now, some might say that nitpicking is too much, but I think this is mainly attributed to Parker not remembering the canon of the show himself, and it’s not entirely out of place for creators to forget what they wrote and how they wrote it. For example, those who are keen enough (or at least care enough) will notice that there are minor inconsistencies in the books of A Song of Ice and Fire, as even the author, George R. R. Martin, admitted that he himself sometimes forgets what he wrote previously. Some of this may be attributed to the complexity of the series… but back to South Park.

But whether or not Parker remembers what happened in South Park 25 years ago, several inconsistencies beg the question of “Does South Park exist on multiple timelines”, not just with a matter of age, but also other things. It was once very briefly mentioned that Kyle is diabetic, a quality dropped as soon as it was introduced.

But I realise that to find out how many timelines there are, in fact, in South Park, I would need a bigger drawing board, and I would have to turn the place into a conspiracy nuthouse. I don’t have the budget for that, but I certainly would want to find the time and maybe break this case once and for all.

In the meantime, the minor inconsistencies that I found, namely the age thing and the diabetic thing, will have to do for now until I find more reference points and where I can go with this.

Alternatively, I would probably drop it and move on to other projects, and that’s a mystery I will solve as the week continues…

Until then, have a good one…

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