‘South Park’s’ Kenny still dies but finally develops as character

Wyatt Miller

The final installment of “South Park”’s “Game of Thrones”-esque console wars trilogy ends Wednesday night. While a new red wedding may be on the horizon, let’s observe a character who experiences death almost on a daily basis — Kenny McCormick. 

Kenny is one of the most iconic characters on “South Park.” With his orange parka, muffled voice and alarming sexual expertise, Kenny has remained a staple of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s animated magnum opus since the beginning. One of the most notable gags involving Kenny is that, in earlier seasons, he dies in nearly every episode. The daily deaths continued until season five when Stone and Parker, growing sick of the character, decided to kill him off permanently in an episode appropriately titled “Kenny Dies.” But the little Coloradan proved too important to keep away and was inexplicably resurrected again in season six.

While the killing tradition has continued to a lesser degree in later seasons, Parker and Stone have instead allowed Kenny to actually develop as a character rather than assign him to a one-note gag role. In more recent seasons, Kenny’s backstory has been considerably fleshed out and his mysterious immortality is even explained. As a result of his parents’ teenage Cthulhu-worshipping ways, Kenny is cursed to be an immortal abomination. Every time he is killed, his mother births a new baby Kenny who then ages rapidly to his 8-year-old form, ready for his next adventure. In this trilogy especially, Kenny shows a deep-seated resentment of this immortality, to the point of being pointlessly suicidal. While “South Park” has never been afraid to delve into darker themes, Kenny’s acknowledgement of his condition gives this previously one-note character a complex, psychological edge.

Another distinction of Kenny is his precocious sexual knowledge. Whenever the forever-fourth grade boys run into a sexual quandary, Kenny always seems to be the first to clear up the confusion. Though Kenny is explicitly heterosexual in his urges, he recently embraced his more feminine side. He takes on the Daenerys Targaryen-esque role of Princess Kenny. A maiden in the fairest sense of the word, Princess Kenny seems to contradict nearly everything audiences knew about the character. While it is indeed unusual to see the little guy in such an uncharacteristic role, it does offer a nice change of pace from his normally fierce heterosexual nature. 

“South Park” continues to defy and usurp viewer expectations and season 17 has been its boldest run of episodes so far. While Kenny’s role as Princess may be coming to an end, viewers still have many twisted adventures to look forward to with this little immortal, sex-crazed rebel.