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Believe It Or Not, South Park's Creators Drew Major Inspiration From All In The Family

"All in the Family" is one of the most revered classic sitcoms, thanks in no small part to the late Carroll O'Connor's iconic performance as grumpy old-timer Archie Bunker. The show broke new ground in the field of social commentary on television, tackling such topics as racism, abortion, the Vietnam War, home invasions, and numerous other hot-button issues that you wouldn't have traditionally expected to see presented before a live studio audience. It was also a favorite within the TV industry, having won a total of 45 Emmy Awards over the course of its run (via IMDb).

In bridging commentary on dark and not particularly funny subject matter with crowd-pleasing comedy, "All in the Family" does share some DNA with the animated Comedy Central staple "South Park," which has taken that concept to previously unimaginable heights over the course of its 25 season (and counting) run, plus all its associated specials and movies. But you still might not have expected that the show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, drew inspiration directly from "All in the Family" and particularly the character of lovable bigot Archie Bunker — even though they did just that.

Their original conception of South Park was essentially a show about Archie Bunker at eight years old

When most people think about "South Park," they think about Eric Cartman, who, by and large, is the show's breakout character and one of the most beloved TV characters of all time, having once ranked number 10 on TV Guide's list of the 50 best cartoon characters of all time (via CNN). His evil deeds throughout his "South Park" misadventures go far beyond anything Archie Bunker could have conceived, but at its root, you can see the similarities between the two characters and their worldviews. 

In a 2011 interview on "60 Minutes" about "South Park," Trey Parker and Matt Stone drew a direct connection between "All in the Family" and the genesis of their most significant TV creation.

"We used to talk about 'All in the Family,' and we were big fans of 'All in the Family,' and at the time in the early 90s, we were kind of sitting there going, 'you know, a show like that couldn't be on the air right now. You couldn't do it because things are so PC, you couldn't have an Archie Bunker.' We used to talk about how if Archie Bunker was eight years old ... you could do it," Parker said.

"All in the Family" creator Norman Lear went on to return the favor, appearing in and co-writing "South Park" episodes "I'm a Little Bit Country" and "Cancelled." The TV auteur's unlikely friendship with Parker was even the subject of a New York Times story in 2003.

So perhaps "All in the Family" serving as one of the primary inspirations for "South Park" isn't such a surprise after all!