"Woodland Critter Christmas" is episode 125 of the Comedy Central series South Park, and originally aired December 15, 2004. It was the last episode of the series to have a Christmas theme for ten years until 2014's "HappyHolograms."
In the summer of 2013, fans voted "Woodland Critter Christmas" as the best episode of Season 8.
This episode, which like many Christmas shows has an anapestic rhyming narration and storybook style, begins in the forest, where "the boy in the red poof-ball hat" discovers a group of talking animals building a Christmas tree. They convince a surprised but apathetic Stan to help make a star for their Christmas tree before he goes home. That night, they wake him in his room and explain that one of the animals, a porcupine named Porcupiney, is pregnant with the creatures' Savior. Drowsy and annoyed, Stan nevertheless agrees to help them build a manger for the baby. However, another problem soon appears: the Critters explain that one of their members conceives their Savior every year, only for the pregnant animal to be killed by a mountain lion. Exasperated, Stan goes to its mountain and manages to kill the beast (by tricking her into jumping off a ledge), but is dismayed to find that the lion was the mother of three now-orphaned cubs. Stan is further horrified to discover that the woodland critters are Satan worshippers, and that their Savior is actually the Antichrist. They celebrate Stan's victory by sacrificing Rabbitty the Rabbit (much to his delight), devouring his flesh and having an orgy with his blood.
After much coercion from the narrator, Stan tries to stop the animals himself. But they easily rebuff him with their Satanic powers, which will apparently grow stronger as the Antichrist's birth approaches. Since the Critters claims that only a mountain lion can kill the Antichrist, Stan (heeding the narrator's instructions) returns to the mountain to enlist the orphaned cubs. Since they're too small to take on the Critters, however, they can only stop the birth by learning to perform abortions. (Stan refuses to bring them, but the narrator simply forces him using a scene cut.) Meanwhile, the evil Critters are searching for a human host for the Antichrist, who must have never been baptized. They discover Kyle, who is Jewish, and kidnap him to serve their purpose.
Stan returns in time to discover that the Antichrist (a hairless, jabbering little creature) has already been born, and that his best friend Kyle is tied to a Satanic altar. Santa Claus arrives and, when he learns what is happening, pulls out a shotgun and slaughters all the Critters. He explains that the Antichrist will die without a human host to inhabit, but Kyleâ"-now free from the altarâ"-declares that he wants the Antichrist to possess him, so that he can make the world better for the Jews. Kyle allows the creature to possess him, and is about to unleash a devastating blow on the world when--
The story suddenly cuts away to Mr. Garrison's fourth-grade class, where Cartman is reading a Christmas-themed story he wrote to the other students. Kyle tells Cartman to stop, claiming that the story is just another way to mock Kyle's religion at Christmas time. Mr. Garrison, fearing complaints from Kyle's mother, forces Cartman to stop. However, the rest of the class, including Stan, plead with Kyle to let Cartman continue so that they want to hear the ending; Kyle objects that the ending is obvious, that Kyle (in the story) will merely be killed by Santa Claus so that Christmas is saved. Cartman says that that is not the ending, and as the other kids persist, Kyle angrily allows Cartman to continue.
Back in the story, Kyle begins to react with horror at how evil the Antichrist feels and begs the others to get it out of him. Santa, however, says that they have no choice but to kill Kyle before the Antichrist can consume his soul and unleash his reign of terror on the world. Thinking quickly, Stan has the lion cubs perform an abortion on Kyle's anus, removing the Antichrist, which Santa unceremoniously smashes with a sledgehammer. Santa gives Stan a special Christmas wish, which Stan uses to resurrect the mountain lion he killed. Everyone then goes home to a happy Christmas. The narrator (i.e, Cartman) concludes, "they all lived happily ever after, except for Kyle, who died of AIDS two weeks later," as we see an image of a sickly Kyle in the hospital. The episode ends with a Christmas-themed title card reading, "The End," and the real Kyle (unseen) shouting, "Goddammit, Cartman!"
According to this episode's mini-commentary, this episode was one of the most difficult to make. After making the feature film Team America: World Police and the 13 other episodes in South Park's 8th season all in 2004 (a year which Trey Parker and Matt Stone describe as "The Year from Hell"), Parker, Stone and the show's other writers were completely drained of ideas. The staff tried to come up with an idea, but nothing came up through Thursday and Friday which is considered a huge drawback with South Park's rushed production. On Saturday afternoon the staff decided to just do the idea of parodying John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together holiday special, which had been in gestation for some time. The critters participate in Satanic behavior like the possessed crew of the 1997 movie Event Horizon, which also inspired Stone and Parker to create the characters. With some doubt, the show developed into an episode involving a rhyming narration and ending with it being a story by Cartman, the creators ended up quite satisfied with it. The episode was also in the style of Christmas stories such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The episode has special bumpers, announcing it to be "A Woodland Critter Christmas," with Squirrelly then saying in a cheerful voice, "Hail Satan!"
- The character designs of the woodland critters is meant to spoof the overly cute look of animals from the stop motion Rankin/Bass holiday specials of the 1960s and 1970s.
- Initially, the animals claim Porcupiny was a virgin when the Savior was conceived; later they claim Satan had sex with her to conceive the Antichrist. They also refer to the conception as "immaculate", confusing the Immaculate Conception of Mary with Jesus' Virgin Birth.
- According to the South Park commentary with Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the blood orgy is a reference to the science fiction film Event Horizon.
- In the blood orgy scene celebrating Porcupiny's pregnancy and the death of the Mountain Lion, the critters sacrifice Rabbitty. This is in reference to a rabbit test where after confirming a pregnancy, "the rabbit dies".
- The scene where the mountain lion falls off the cliff resembles a similar scene in The Lion King.
- When the animals use their Satanic powers, "Ave Satani" ("Hail Satan," the theme song to The Omen) plays in the background.
- When Stan is watching TV, The Jeffersons can be heard playing briefly.
- The birth of the Antichrist is a direct reference to Rosemary's Baby.
- "Woodland Critter Christmas" Full episode at South Park Studios
- "Woodland Critter Christmas" Episode guide at South Park Studios
- "Woodland Critter Christmas" at the Internet Movie Database