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South Park Theory: Officer Barbrady Is Not Really A Police Officer

Officer Barbrady was one of the more amusing aspects of "South Park" in its early seasons, instantly becoming a fan-favorite character. Whenever something nefarious transpired, he'd be there to keep the peace and ineptly try to solve the crime. As the years went on, Barbrady was pretty much phased out to the point where slightly more component police officers are now in charge of investigating anything illegal happening in town. And one fan theory suggests why Barbrady was even put in charge in the first place.

Redditor u/ttmlkr lays out the theory: "This raises the question how the hell did he get the job as the towns "only" police officer if he's illiterate? I believe that Barbrady is either the town idiot, or an adult with autism, and the entire town feels bad for him and lets him play police officer for small petty crimes." There are pieces of evidence to support this, like when a crime happens and all Barbrady can see is, "Move along, people. Nothing [to] see here," as though he's been conditioned to say that no matter what. 

He clearly doesn't know how to take care of prisoners, as evidenced in one episode where he arrests a couple but forgets to feed them in their cells, causing them to die. "South Park" does have an actual police unit, led by Harrison Yates, so is it possible everyone else in town is simply humoring Barbrady by making him think he's a legitimate cop?

No one ever takes Officer Barbrady seriously in South Park

Officer Barbrady isn't the first incompetent cop portrayed on TV, but he may be the dumbest. He can't seem to do anything right and frequently overlooks evidence connecting someone obvious to the crime. There's also the fact that canonically he's illiterate, which would likely disqualify anyone from holding that position. On top of that, Redditor u/ttmlkr points out, "Barbrady wears a big misshapen police badge (looks like it could've been made by him) and runs his entire operation out of little tiny building."

A lot of other "South Park" fans agree that it feels like Barbrady got his position out of pity than competence. While it may require more investigating, another Redditor has another piece of evidence that could lend credence to the theory, "If I'm not mistaken, I don't think we've ever actually seen him fire his gun before... It very well could be a fake or a toy." After all, if the town is going to let someone play police, they wouldn't want him to have an actual gun where he could legitimately hurt someone. 

Of course, all this gets called into question with Season 19's "Naughty Ninjas." The episode brings a more depressing lens to Barbrady's life, where he only wanted to be a police officer so that he could feel needed and care for his elderly dog. It was a chance to bring more gravitas to a one-note character, and hopefully, he returns in future episodes to prove he can be more than the butt of a joke.