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A Strange Mate From Trey Parker's Hometown Inspired Kenny's Character For 'South Park'

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A Strange Mate From Trey Parker's Hometown Inspired Kenny's Character For 'South Park'

The orange parka wearing boy from South Park, Colorado has been a staple to the animated TV series since his debut in 1997. He stood out early on in the series because of his hilarious, weird, outrageous and sometimes controversial ways of dying in every episode.

It's hard to imagine a method of death that Kenny hasn't been through over the years. But killing a character every chapter became an exhaustive process for South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, so they stopped this tradition after season six.

But Kenny was actually inspired by someone that Parker knew in real life.

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In a Q&A session in 2000, the 48-year-old was asked how Kenny was 'born' and why he was always ceremoniously (and sometimes unceremoniously) killed off in every episode.

Trey told the crowd: "There was actually a friend of mine whose name was Kenny. Seriously, we should have changed names more than we did. But my friend, Kenny, who at the bus stop, he always had the little orange coat and he would always say shit and we couldn't understand him, like 'we can't fucking understand you'.

"He was the poorest kid in the neighbourhood and he would always sort of like disappear, like 'what happened to Kenny, is he dead?"

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This real-life friend would always return a few days later without any explanation, which is what formed the basis of Kenny's character. Despite the youngster going through some pretty horrific death scenes on the show, he would always return the next episode with no mention of the fact he died, and his mates, Cartman, Kyle and Stan wouldn't reference it either.

For much of the sixth season, Kenny wasn't on the show after dying from muscular dystrophy. Matt Stone told the Knoxville News-Sentinel: "[Kenny Dies] was the one episode where [all the characters] cared [he was dying] for once.

"After that, we said, 'Why doesn't he just stay dead?' And it was like, 'Okay, let's just do that'.

"It was that easy of a decision. I think a lot of people probably haven't noticed. I couldn't care less. I am so sick of that character."

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While his absence gave rise to Butters and Tweek, Kenny was (thankfully) reintroduced to the main line-up. Since then, he's only been killed off a few times and his inability to stay dead has been alluded to by some characters. It was best explained in season 14 in Coon 2: Hindsight.

The Coon and Friends dress up as superheroes and have fake superpowers, yet Kenny, who becomes Mysterion, is the only one who actually possesses an ability, which is immortality. He becomes so annoyed that his mates don't mention him dying all the time, he goes on a quest to find out where he got his powers.

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In typical South Park style, it wasn't from a mysterious planet or a radioactive spider, but because his mum and dad were a part of a Cthulhu-worshipping death cult. Just casually.

While some might think the show is nothing but banter, Kenny's deaths have been the subject of literary analysis. Richard Hanley wrote the book South Park and Philosophy: Bigger, Longer, and More Penetrating which looked closer at the underlying philosophy of the TV series.

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One of the articles, titled 'Killing Kenny: Our Daily Dose of Death', explained that Parker and Stone would create these continual deaths to help audiences deal with their own mortality and the inevitability and sometimes randomness of death. Another essay pointed towards the similarities between Kenny's deaths and the notion of existentialism.

If high school English classes taught us anything it's that you can find meaning in absolutely nothing so there could be an endless amount of theories about what Kenny and his lifespan really means.

Featured Image Credit: South Park

Topics: TV and Film, Interesting, Weird, Inspiration, South Park

Stewart Perrie
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