South Park Mocks Steve Irwin

Trey Parker and Matt Stone have managed to make the news again, this time by making fun of the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin on South Park.”

The creators of South Park have never been afraid to upset celebrities – and many of the show’s viewers. From jokes about religion and homosexuality to four-letter tirades, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have always mixed shock tactics with satire in the hit cartoon series. But they were accused of hitting a new low last night after lampooning the demise of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin just weeks after his death.

The latest episode shows an animated Irwin in Hell with a stingray poking out of his bleeding chest. Irwin, 44, died in September after he was impaled by a stingray’s barb, while snorkelling near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

South Park Steve Irwin in Hell Cartoon The South Park episode called Hell On Earth 2006, which was broadcast in the US this week, shows Satan preparing to host a Hallowe’en fancy dress party. Hundreds of dead celebrities are invited, including rapper Notorious B.I.G., Princess Diana and Hitler.

But at the party Satan receives complaints from his guests that someone is inappropriately dressed up as Irwin. Satan confronts Irwin but the Aussie environmentalist protests it is really him, not a guest in a costume. While characters have been killed off in the series before — spawning the show’s catchphrase “Oh my god, they killed Kenny!” — campaigners are particularly incensed about the stingray still being attached to Irwin’s bloodstained trademark khaki shirt.


British broadcasting watchdog Mediawatch condemned the episode as “grossly insensitive.” Its director, John Beyer, said: “I think this is in bad taste. Steve Irwin’s family are still grieving.” “To lampoon somebody’s death like that is unacceptable and so soon after the event is grossly insensitive. It is not what the family would want to see.”

I haven’t yet seen the episode but agree that mocking Irwin so soon after his death is rather tacky. Still, Irwin was a celebrity and that’s the path he chose. His death was big news, he was mourned in a giant state funeral, and he’s been mocked publicly.

Indeed, Norm McDonald made fun of the circumstances of Irwin’s death weeks ago on the Jon Stewart Show:

Take a look at some of the related posts below for more controversial topics on South Park.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    South Park … gratuitously offensive?


    When Parker and Stone get all teary-eyed about starving African kids with AIDS, then call me — *that* will be news.

  2. legion says:

    I saw the episode. I was a big fan of Steve Irwin. That said, I thought it was funny. It wasn’t gratuitous, it was entirely topical.

    For better context, Satan is throwing a party on earth. Boatloads of celebrities have been invited. The list of famous people who are (for no explained reason) in hell is long & has been done on the show before (Ghandi has several scenes in this ep). At one point, one of Satan’s minions whispers to him that someone is in a Steve Irwin costume. Satan says, basically, “Dude, that’s not cool”, and asks the guy to leave. Guy says “But Satan, it’s really me, Steve Irwin!”, and Satan says “Oh. But then you’re not wearing a costume – you can’t be in the party without a costume!” and kicks him out anyway.

    It was edgy, and I knew it would offend some. But IMHO it wasn’t “too far”.

  3. Mark says:

    Yeah, I saw the episode, and it is not as bad as the media is portraying it to be. In fact, part of the joke is the guys yelling at Steve Irwin’s character saying “it’s too soon for that costume!”

  4. kenny says:

    Hmm, it’s the Daily Mail, a newspaper always eager to search out things to be offended by.
    In the world of the uk papers the mail is generally the one reeling back in horror proclaiming its shock and disgust about almost everything.

    It must have been a quiet night on the telly over here if the mail has to go to the US to find a programme to be horrified by…..

  5. Christopher says:

    Wow, James.

    You are OK with liberal politicians who profess to be Christians to get elected but lie about attending Playboy parties.

    But a cartoon “mocking Irwin so soon after his death is rather tacky” you say.

    Glad to know you have your priorities in order.

  6. James Joyner says:


    I’m not “okay” with politicians lying. Attending Playboy-sponsored Super Bowl parties? Yes.

    Not having seen the South Park episode (it should be in the TiVo queue), I think depicting Irwin with a stingray hanging out of him for comedic purposes is “tacky.” It also, as I say, goes with the territory of celebrity.

  7. Now is the time for all good Methodists to rise up and burn down South Park. Hey, it works for the Muslims.

  8. floyd says:

    on southpark’s worst episode, they are far less offensive than most television commercials or shows on today. even when they lampoon some of my “sacred cows”, they’re less offensive than than some of my “cohorts”.

  9. Kristee says:

    You might want to get your facts right… Steve Irwin was not mourned in a “giant state funeral” his family decided against it because he would not have wanted all the fuss.

  10. Dart Forest says:

    I am not the least bit outraged by the South Park lampooning of Steve Irwin. For starters, I leave being outraged at cartoons to the Muslim millions. More importantly, it was Steve Irwin’s desperate desire to be a public figure, and he pursued this desire by regularly performing apparently dangerous acts for the sake of publicity, to the point of being filmed as he was dying. His hunger for publicity makes him fair game for the South Park lampooning. Moreover, for all we know, he would probably welcome a few more flashes of publicity!