Have you ever wondered if you could learn money lessons from animated sitcoms? If you have, this post is for you! Today, we are going to learn money lessons from five South Park episodes!
This post is going to be very different from my usual posts. We are going to learn money lessons from animated sitcoms. I do not know you about you. But I really like American animated sitcoms. I watched several of them in their entirety. I cannot count the times I laughed uncontrollably at some of their episodes. Yes, they are incredibly dumb. It is the point. But that is what makes them incredibly funny! I like dumb things ;) I have watched the entire collection of South Park, Family Guy, The Simpsons, American Dad, and Rick And Morty. And I have watched many episodes many times. I even know some of them almost by heart.
So let’s see if we can learn something from these dumb episodes. The lessons learned can be about investing, personal finance or anything money-related. The first post will be about South Park. For this, I chose five episodes who can teach us something about money. If this post ends up being popular, I am going to try to make several of these posts. I already have several ideas for the next episodes.
The pictures in this post are the property of Comedy Central.
The Gnomes is the seventeenth episode of the second season of South Park. This first episode actually has two money lessons for us. In this episode, Cartman, Kenny, Kyle, Stan, and Tweek need to write a paper on big corporations. They do not write it but let Tweek’s father write it. Since Tweek’s father is owning a small coffee and Harbucks coffee try to get into the town, he is quite opposed to it. So he writes a report that is against big corporations. And the entire town wants to get rid of Harbucks Coffee from their town. And they do not even taste their coffee.
Also in the same episode, the boys also discover about the underpants gnomes. These gnomes are stealing underpants from every people in town. And they are collecting the underpants for profit. Their plan is to collect underpants and profit from that. They have a three-phase plan but no phase two. Oh, and the gnomes end up killing Kenny by accident. Nothing too unusual. And finally, the gnomes are explaining to the boys about the corporations. They are not so evil as the boys were thinking.
So what can we learn from the underpants gnomes? First of all, you need a plan if you want to make money. Also, your plan needs to be complete. If you are collecting underpants for profit, you need to know what to do to turn the underpants into profit. The second money lesson here is that big corporations are not necessarily a bad thing. Some people believe that big corporations are evil. Some things can only be made by big corporations such as cars and computers. Moreover, most of the big corporations started with small companies. If they grew into a big corporation, that is generally because they did a very good job.
The Tooth Fairy’s Tats 2000
The Tooth Fairy’s Tats 2000 is the first episode of the fourth season of South Park. In this episode, Cartman loses a baby tooth and gets two dollars from the Tooth Fairy. He and the usual boys start collecting baby teeth to get enough money to buy a Sega Dreamcast. After more than one hundred teeth, Cartman’s mom has to come clean and tell her son that she does not have enough money to continue to give him money for his baby teeth.
Now they know that other mothers also do the same for the other boys. So the boys start putting baby teeth under other boys pillows. Especially, they focus on the rich boys since their parents will give more money. After some success, they find out that they are not alone in their enterprise. They are captured by a mob-like organization of other little boys that do the same at a much bigger scale. Finally, they end up working for the mob for a percentage of the profits, having no real other choices. They make a lot of money. Then, Cartman ends up crossing the mob boss who tries to kill Kenny. The mob boss goes after all of them. But finally, the American Dentist Association (ADA) manages to trap them all. And the organization is disbanded. And Kenny dies drowning having been forgotten by everybody.
There are once again several lessons to be learned from this episode. First of all, there is no endless stream of money. Money does not appear out of thin air. A source of money always has an end. Another lesson is that once you find a good source of income, you will never be alone for a long time. There will always be competition from other people who want to extract money from this same source. And finally, nothing good ever comes up from working with the mob and only bad things happen when you try to mess with them. And if you just learned that the Tooth Fairy does not exist, I am sorry ;)
Christian Rock Hard
Christian Rock Hard is the ninth episode of the seventh season of South Park. The boys want to start a music band. Cartman decides to start a Christian Rock band but the other boys do not want to play Christian Rock. So they make a bet of ten dollars for the first band to get a platinum album. Cartman is very motivated to win the 10 dollars from Kyles. Cartman hires Butters and Token to play in his band. They manage to get the first album out and start to sell it at Christ-Fest. They take the place of the main band and play instead of them by blocking them in a cellar. And they get a lot of success at the big show.
Meanwhile, the other boys are downloading music to get inspiration for their own band. After discovering that very rich musicians cannot get richer because of downloading, their band is starting a strike. Soon Metallica, Britney Spears, and other artists are joining the strike. And while doing nothing, they receive a letter that Cartman managed to sell a million copies. They soon realized that most of the artists are about the money.
Cartman makes a very large parade to celebrate for its million copies sold. He tries to rub it to Kyle. But once he receives the award, he realizes that Christian award is not a platinum album but a Myrrh album. Hence, he lost the bet. And he becomes furious and shouts blasphemy. All the audience is lost. Since Cartman lost all the money to throw the parade, the band does not have any money left. Token ends up beating Cartman and Butter leave him as well.
There are two lessons that we can learn from Cartman in this episode. First of all, if you start in some endeavor, you need to do your research correctly. Do not mix a Myrrh album and a platinum one ;) Every time you are starting to invest in something, you need to research it correctly. There is no point doing something that you do not understand. And the second lesson here is that you should not spend everything you got at first on a parade, or anything else, simply expecting the income to last. If you want success to last, you need to save some part of your income and correctly reinvest it into your endeavor. You can celebrate of course. But do not spend it entirely. You cannot know how long your success will last.
Go Fund Yourself
Go Fund Yourself is a much more recent episode of South Park. It is the first episode of the eighteenth season. In this episode, the boys want to start a startup company on Kick Starter to stop going to school. Their plan is to start a company that does nothing. They have a hard time finding an available name. All the dumb names are already taken and patented. But they find out that the trademark of Washington Redskins got pulled. So they take it and start their startup company. Their motto is to do nothing and they tell people to Go F*** themselves. But, soon, a lot of people are pledging money to their startup.
Of course, this offends the official Washington Redskins. But since the trademark got pulled, there is nothing legal they can do. So they decide to take action. They go to Kickstarter headquarters, kill all the people and destroy all the servers.
Once they discover that they will not get any money out of their Kickstarter, they are first destroyed. But they do not give up and pivot their company into a Kickstarter-spinoff. At first, they make a lot of money and finally do not have to go to school. However, after the Washington Redskins team is almost disbanded and their leader is beaten by the Cowboys on the game field. At this point, the people finally take offense by the name of the company and boycott it. The boys have no choice but to go back to school. Much to their dismay.
The first lesson that we can learn from this episode is that you will not get money by doing nothing. Even though some people may get some money doing nothing, they are the exceptions. There are many ways of making money but doing nothing is not one of them. The second important is that you need to protect your trademark. If you are doing money with a company that has a name, you need to protect that name. If it is not protected, it may get taken by another company or entity. And this company may make very bad publicity for your own company. This is something more important than many people think.
Freemium Isn’t Free
The episode Freemium is not free is the sixth episode of the eighteenth season of South Park. In that episode, Jimmy is telling everybody about the new game of Terence and Philips, the Canadian comedy actors. This is a free game, so why should not the boys try it. They all end up trying the game. They find the game very find and stop playing it. Except for Stan that gets addicted to it. And while the game is free, it contains a lot of micro-transactions. Stan spends a lot of money on this dumb game. And he is not able to fight his addiction to the game.
On the other side of the border, Canada is rebuilding its country with the money from the game. It turns out that the game is being developed by the Prince of Canada and the Canadian minister of mobile games. Terence and Philips are not happy with exploiting people money. But they end up taking the check and leaving anyway. It is not until they discover that the game is making money on top of addicted people that they want to stop it. But they discover that the Canadian minister of mobile gaming is, in fact, the Canadian devil, Bielzebuth.
During that time, Stan is still fighting his addiction. He decides to ask aid from a greater power. He discovers that in case of game addiction, the greater power is, in fact, the Devil. The Devil explains to Stan how addiction is working. When the Devil discovers the game Stan, he understands that the Canadian Devil is behind this. He borrows Stan’s soul and goes to Canada. The two devils fight one another. And finally, the Devil is killing the Canadian Devil. This leads to the very powerful conclusion: If you get involved with freemium games, you make a deal with the Canadian Devil!
This time, the lesson learned is a bit less practical and a bit more philosophical. One thing that we can learn from this episode is that you should not get involved in evil things to make money. You should not exploit people’s addiction to make money. It will backfire in the end. You should be ethical about the ways of making money. I do not say that freemium games are necessarily evil. But they are definitely not free.
I am pretty sure that you did not think you could learn money lessons from South Park. As you can see, even if South Park episodes are really dumb, you can still learn things from them :) Of course, the dumbness of the episodes is funnier than the learning. But hey, a bit learning on the side is not bad either ;)
Writing this article was a lot of fun. It took quite longer than usual since I
had to wanted to watch the episodes again even though I knew most of them by heart ;) I hope this was a fun post to read as well ;)
The next installment will probably be about money lessons learned from Family Guy. Peter Griffin being so dumb with money, I already have many ideas of episodes that I could put into the post!
What did you think of this post? Do you like South Park? Do you have other examples of money lessons learned from animated TV shows?