Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

South Park Theory: The Town's Treatment Of Cartman Turned Him Evil

"South Park" utilizes plenty of archetypes, and when it comes to Eric Cartman, he's the jerk of the group. However, one fan of the sitcom noticed something interesting about Cartman's trajectory and formulated a theory about how he ended up the way he's known today.

Redditor u/stabhamsters pointed out how Cartman in Seasons 1 through 4 is kind of mean, but he's provoked by the other children and South Park townspeople more often. They make fun of his weight and his mother, so he lashes out. He experiences all of this at just eight years old, a crucial time in anyone's development. The Redditor adds, "However, Cartman being repeatedly bullied isn't the only thing that led to Cartman's downward spiral, it's also the fact that every time he feels happy or genuinely adamant about something he gets put down." This can be seen when Cartman is rejected by Wendy romantically, and it's clear he had genuine feelings for her. 

It's a classic case of nature versus nurture. Perhaps Cartman had some negative tendencies, but growing up in an environment that mistreated him so poorly caused him to become even worse. And this can be seen to the fullest extent in one of the newer "South Park" specials, "The Return of Covid."

South Park fans see what Cartman's capable of in The Return of Covid

The Paramount+ special sees a future where Cartman is an upstanding citizen. He has a wife and kids and no longer hates the Jewish community. This happened because he was able to get out of South Park while his friends stayed in town, and their lives stagnated. However, at the end of the special, Cartman helps his friends go back in time to change things, and when they do, Cartman's life is ruined because he's stayed in South Park. Fans actually felt sorry for Cartman having to accept a fate when he previously achieved happiness. 

The special showed there was hope for Cartman after all, but it wasn't meant to be. Other Redditors felt bad for the child, with u/u_Kyouma_zi writing, "I was lowkey sad at the end of the recent special where Eric is homeless, [because] he just looked so happy in [his] previous future." Of course, others were quick to point out that at this point in the series Cartman has committed acts of terrorism and forced a kid to eat his own parents, so perhaps sympathy is too strong of a word. 

In 1998, SPIN did a feature on the psychology of "South Park" characters, and although Cartman hadn't gone full-blown psychopath at that point, the writing was on the walls. It concluded by saying, "On the other hand, he could equally become depressed and just get fatter and fatter and isolate himself even more. Or, he could take hold of his life, maybe when he's a teenager. But it's hard to imagine a positive outcome." A positive outcome was there, as "The Return of Covid" showed, but it just wasn't meant to be.