Eric Theodore Cartman is a fictional character in the animated television series South Park, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and voiced by Trey Parker. Cartman, generally referred to by his surname, is one of four central characters in South Park, in addition to Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, and Kenny McCormick. Cartman first appeared in prototypical form in a 1992 animated short Jesus vs. Frosty, and a 1995 animated short Jesus vs. Santa, and first appeared on television in the pilot episode of South Park, “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe”, on August 13, 1997.
Cartman is an elementary school student who lives with his mother in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado, where he routinely has extraordinary experiences atypical of a small town. Cartman has been portrayed as aggressive, prejudiced and emotionally unstable since his character’s inception; Trey Parker and Matt Stone describe the character as “a little Archie Bunker”. These traits are significantly augmented in later seasons as his character evolves, and he begins to exhibit psychopathic and extremely manipulative behavior, and also be depicted as highly intelligent, able to execute morally appalling plans and business ideas with success.
Cartman is sometimes considered to be the most popular character on South Park. Parker and Stone state that he is their favorite character, and the one with whom they most identify. South Park has received both praise and criticism for Cartman’s politically incorrect behavior. Prominent publications and television channels have included Cartman on their lists of one of the most iconic television and cartoon characters of all time.