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Who Is The Main Character In South Park? The Internet Can't Seem To Agree

In the era where people online talk about "Main Character Energy," it's never been more important to distinguish what characteristics make someone a protagonist. In most shows, it's easy to identify who the show's actually all about, but things get muddy when looking at "South Park."

The animated series has been a huge hit for decades, with numerous exploits coming from the quiet mountain town. But over the years, many have tried to figure out who in the town is the main character. It seems easy enough to narrow it down to the four central boys — Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny. Kenny exists more as comic relief, while Cartman, more often than not, is the antagonist. This leaves Stan and Kyle, but for most, Stan comes across more as a main character with many storylines revolving around him. 

This argument is made by Brendle in a "South Park" online forum, "He seems to be the main guy. Most of the storylines involve Stan, probably. Stan is the protagonist of the show." Stan is likely the closest "South Park" has to a relatable character, but there's no arguing Cartman became the fan-favorite. Some of the show's best episodes, from "Scott Tenorman Must Die" to "AWESOM-O," focus heavily on Cartman. But is that enough to make him the main character, or is he just a popular supporting character like Urkel from "Family Matters?" It's created much division, and things have only gotten murkier in recent seasons.

Randy Marsh has really taken over as South Park's main character

For anyone who's stuck with "South Park" all this time, the main character lately appears to be Stan's dad, Randy. It does offer credence that Stan was always meant to be the protagonist since everything remains focused on the Marsh family. But it's no coincidence the main character may have changed. In an interview with Vanity Fair, "South Park" co-creator Trey Parker admitted, "What I also thought was interesting about last season was how much it centered around the adults. We used to be really scared of that, and slowly Randy—Stan's dad—became just as big a character, if not bigger, than Stan. Now, Randy's s*** is what's funny to us."

This change wasn't lost on fans, as one user wrote on Quora, "In almost all the new seasons, entire story arcs for the season now revolve around Randy. The boys are pretty much supporting players now. Even Butters gets better story lines than the boys." Randy got his own Tegridy Farms storyline that continues to play out to this day. In many episodes, while Randy gets all the action, Stan's typically in the background playing video games or Warhammer 40k. He's literally a background character in what was arguably his show. 

But then again, the key to finding the main character of "South Park" may lie in the name. The show's called "South Park." It's about a bizarre town of people representing a cross-section of America, allowing them to comment on current events. The main character is whoever's suitable for a particular story, whether that's Stan, Randy, Cartman, or even Butters. The show's strength lies in its malleability, and like most things with "South Park," it's best not to think too hard about something.