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Kenny from South Park was inspired by an actual friend of the creators

In 2000, Trey Parker admitted that many of the South Park characters were based on real people that he and Matt Stone knew, and that he should've changed names.

Kenny in South Park

Four young boys from a small mountain town in Colorado have become American icons since their inception in 1997. Stan, Kyle, Cartman and the most legendary of all – Kenny – make up the cast of long-running animated series South Park. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have admitted that they based many of the characters on people they knew, and didn’t even really think to change their names.

Speaking at an event at the Paley Center in 2000, South Park‘s Trey Parker said; “There was actually a friend of mine whose name was Kenny. Seriously, we should have changed names more than we did cause now I could get in trouble.”

“My friend Kenny would be at the bus stop, he had the little orange coat and he would always say shit we couldn’t understand. And we were like; ‘we can’t fucking understand you.’ And he was the poorest kid in the neighborhood and he would always sort of disappear and we’d be like; ‘what happened to Kenny? Is he dead?’ A lot of the characters are based on real people.”

Kenny has always been the most distinctive and the most beloved South Park character – with his orange parka, his hood so tight that it obscures most of his face and muffles his speech. During the first five seasons, Kenny died in almost every episode before reappearing in the next with no definite explanation. Kenny is definitely a major part of making South Park one of the best 90s TV shows.

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Stan and Kyle are apparently based on Parker and Stone themselves, with their friendship being explored throughout the series. Some other popular South Park characters include Chef (voiced by Isaac Hayes) and Mr. Garrison. 1999’s South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut is one of the best animated movies ever, and certainly one of the funniest.

South Park’s 26th season finished airing in March 2023, and it’s still going strong. The series is starting to become comparable to The Simpsons for its longevity. The South Park movie and the recent specials can be found on Paramount Plus.

Check out our guide to the best comedy series.