Kenneth “Kenny” McCormick is a main character in the animated adult television series South Park, along with his friends Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, and Eric Cartman. His oft-muffled and indiscernible speech—the result of his parka hood covering his mouth—is provided by co-creator Matt Stone. He debuted on television when South Park first aired on August 13, 1997, after having first appeared in The Spirit of Christmas shorts created by Stone and long-time collaborator Trey Parker in 1992 (Jesus vs. Frosty) and 1995 (Jesus vs. Santa).
Kenny is a third, later fourth-grade student who commonly has extraordinary experiences not typical of conventional small-town life in his hometown of South Park, Colorado, where he lives with his impoverished family. Kenny is animated by computer to look as he did in the show’s original method of cutout animation. He also appears in the 1999 full-length feature film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, in which his true appearance and voice was first revealed, and various South Park merchandise.
In a running gag most prevalent during the first five seasons of the series, Kenny would suffer an excruciating death before returning alive and well in the next episode with little or no definitive explanation given. Stan would frequently use the catchphrase “Oh my God! They killed Kenny!”, followed by Kyle exclaiming “…You bastards!” Media commentators have published their interpretations of the many aspects of the running gag from philosophical and societal viewpoints. Since the show began its sixth season in 2002, the practice of killing Kenny has been seldom used by the show’s creators. Various episodes have set up the gag, sometimes presenting a number of explanations for Kenny’s unacknowledged reappearances.
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