(Power, 2009) ("Eric cartman quotes," ) ("Mlb monday: donald," 2009)

Eric Cartman

By: Janelle Julian

Scott Tenorman Must Die Here is the perfect episode of South Park to show Eric Cartman's personality. WARNING: Adult themes and explicit language.


Eric Cartman, or Cartman to his peers, is an overweight 9 year-old boy in the fourth grade. His three best friends are Stan, Kyle, and Kenny. Stan and Kyle are constantly at odds with Eric because they disagree with most of his malicious schemes. Kenny is a good sport and usually does anything Eric tells him to, even though Eric uses him. He loves his mom, but is usually seen flattering her in an attempt to get a new toy or do something crazy like sign him up for the Special Olympics. She spoils him and feeds him any food he wants even though he is obese. She is also known for being extremely promiscuous. Cartman never knew his father, and it was discovered that he actually killed him while getting revenge on a ninth-grader in the episode “Scott Tenorman Must Die”. Instead of grieving the loss of his father, he cries because his father was a “ginger” (Parker, & Stone).
In the episode The Death of Eric Cartman (Season 9, Episode 6), he thinks he dies and that he needs to atone for the worst things he’s ever done, so he tells his friend Butters what he did. “…And I broke Mr. Anderson’s fence and never told him about it. I took a crap in the principal's purse... seven times. Then there was the time I convinced a woman to have an abortion so I could build my own Shakey's Pizza. I pretended to be retarded and joined the Special Olympics. I tried to have all the Jews exterminated last spring. Uuh, oh yeah, and there's this one kid whose parents I had killed and then made into chili which I fed to the kid.” As one could see from this list, Cartman has done many horrible things to people. He feels no remorse for what he does and cares about himself above all other people. He aspires to be rich, and get rid of all the Jews, hippies, poor people and red-heads on the earth. Eric is very well known for being cruel and having a really foul vocabulary. His attitudes are also racist, homophobic, sexist, egocentric, and ethnocentric.

Psychoanalytic Perspective

The psychoanalytic approach comes from the opinions of Sigmund Freud, a world-renown neurologist with an emphasis on sexuality throughout the lifespan. The focus of the approach is on what happens subconsciously and how that affects behaviors of children and adults. A major part of the psychoanalytic approach is Freud’s psychosexual stages of development. The stages are oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital and are named based on the people’s fixation of each part of the body during maturation. Freud also came up with the idea that there are three structures of the mind which are the id, ego, and superego. The id is responsible for primitive drives such as violence and sex and the main purpose of the id is to seek pleasure. The superego’s purpose is to maintain morality and it is responsible for regulating social norms. The ego balances the ego and superego and attempts to uphold reality (Huntington, 2011).
The psychosexual stages can be used to decode Eric Cartman’s personality. He seems to best fit in the anal stage which is the point in a child’s life when he or she is potty trained. If the child has problems with this, he or she may acquire anal-expulsive characteristics and enjoy toilet humor which both describe Eric (Huntington, 2011). Anal-expulsive characteristics refer to a person’s tendency to be “disorganized, messy, careless, rebellious, and sometimes cruel” ("Psychology glossary ," ). Eric displays these characteristics time and again. Cartman shows his disorganization by creating plans without thinking about consequences or even if it would work like the time he created a Christian rock band called Faith + 1 in order to become wealthy and then realizes he can’t, so he yells blasphemous insults at his fans and they leave the concert, so his plans are ruined ("South park: top," 1997). This also shows how messy situations can get because of his temper and selfishness. In order to win a bet with Kyle, Cartman decides to get the town’s Civil War re-enactors drunk off Schnapps and ordered them to invade Topeka and cause innumerable destruction to towns around the country ("South park: top," 1997). This is 100% careless because he selfishly put many people in harm’s way in order to be proven right on a ridiculous bet. An example of his rebellious behavior was when he told off his teacher in front of the whole class.
Mr. Garrison: How would you like to go see the school counselor?
Cartman: How would you like to suck my balls?
Mr. Garrison: What did you just say?!
Cartman: Oh, I’m sorry (Clears throat and pulls out megaphone), actually what I said was, “How would you like to suck my balls, Mr. Garrison?” ("That was funny:," ).
As one could tell from this exchange, Cartman was being extremely rebellious in challenging his teacher’s authority which he did not respect at all. In terms of being cruel, Eric is definitely known for that. One of the cruelest things he has ever done was feed his ninth-grade rival his parents in a bowl of chili. When the kid started crying, he licked the tears off his face saying, “Oh, the taste of immeasurable sadness. Yummy! Yummy you guys!" which is also part of the episode “Scott Tenorman Must Die”. Cartman’s favorite television show is Terrence and Phillip which is about two Canadian guys who pass gas in each other’s faces for an entire episode. He loves inappropriate toilet humor and laughs at his peers if any of them experience any embarrassing problems related to this theme.
Cartman definitely fits in with the id part of the subconscious. He is extremely selfish and his only motivation is pleasure, violence, and money. He would do anything to attain these as quickly as possible no matter what happens to other people in the process. Going back to “Scott Tenorman Must Die”, Cartman actually had two people murdered in order to get revenge; a primitive and violent urge (South Park Studios, 2001). He also laughs when people die even if it is one of his friends.

Trait Perspective

The trait perspective is mostly about describing the character of people with adjectives and categories, and placing people in those categories. The history of the trait perspective starts with Hippocrates’s ideas about bodily humors. The ancient Greek doctor, Hippocrates came up with the theory of the four bodily humors which are sanguine, melancholic, choleric, and phlegmatic. Sanguine as a personality is shown as “hopeful and cheerful” and is associated with blood, melancholic as a personality is shown as “sad and depressive” and is associated with black bile, choleric is shown as “angry and irascible” and is associated with yellow bile, and finally, phlegmatic is shown as “slow and apathetic” and is associated with phlegm (Huntington, 2011).
Eric would fall under the category of choleric because of his horrible temper and how easy it is to send him into a fit of rage. Once, Eric’s cat started meowing at him while he was eating some food and he started yelling at her, very irate saying, “No kitty this is my pot pie!” (Parker, & Stone). On another occasion, he went around South Park dressed as a police officer and beat anyone who wouldn’t respect his “authoritaah” even though they weren’t breaking any laws (Parker, & Stone).When his friend Kyle, laughed at him for contracting AIDS because he is such a terrible person and Kyle thought he deserved it, he snuck into Kyle’s bedroom and gave him AIDS (Parker, & Stone).When Cartman’s mom hired the Dog Whisperer to train him, he would get continually angry when she tried to use the techniques on him to get him to stop nagging her to wait on him hand and foot (Parker, & Stone). In reality, if Cartman was a less spoiled or obnoxious kid, he wouldn’t have to be “trained”.
A more modern player in the trait perspective is the Big Five Personality theory which encompasses most of the spectrum of human personality. The five major personality traits are openness, neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness (Huntington, 2011). To pinpoint Eric Cartman’s personality, we would need to measure him on each of the traits on a continuum. Eric would be considered high in openness because he has quite an imagination, it might be a twisted one, but it is very creative. Sometimes, Eric plays outside his house and pretends to be Britney Spears while singing to a life-size cutout of Justin Timberlake and making out with said cutout (Parker, & Stone). He also dressed up as Hitler for Halloween because he has the dream of ridding the world of Jews (Parker, & Stone). Eric is extremely neurotic because he tends to be very hostile towards others when they don’t agree with his plans or when someone such as Stan or Kyle calls him out on how terrible his schemes are. Also, he is very naïve as we can see in the video of “Scott Tenorman Must Die” when he believes that pubic hair is bought (South Park Studios, 2001). Cartman can be considered extraverted to a certain degree because he is sociable and dominant- especially when you consider how stubborn he is trying to win every bet that comes his way no matter how frivolous. Most of all however, he is assertive and not afraid to stand up for what he believes in, even though plenty of his beliefs are abhorrent. Eric’s conscientiousness is low because he is very impulsive and has erratic behavior. He is not dependable at all because he will stab anyone in the back. He is persistent however, when it comes to material possessions that he wants. As for agreeableness, it’s pretty obvious from what I’ve said so far that he is not in any way agreeable. Every single thing he does is for himself. He faked having Tourette’s Syndrome in order to have some fun and to condemn Jewish people on national television (Parker, & Stone). He also shows off when he gets the chance, like the time he inherited one million dollars and spent it on a theme park that only he could enjoy. He made a commercial just to brag to everyone that he has a park all to himself and that no one else could ever enter it (Parker, & Stone).
An important part of the trait perspective is to look at the motivations of people and their psychobiological drives. Henry Murray created a list of fundamental needs humans have. The four basic needs are the need for achievement, affiliation, power, and exhibition (Huntington, 2011). Since Cartman doesn’t really have major ambitions that are considered important to be successful in society, and he really doesn’t care too much whether people like him, he is very low on the need for achievement and affiliation. Eric has a need for power over others as displayed when he pretended to be a police officer and used corporal punishment to get others to obey him. In the case of the need for exhibition, he really likes to shock people and make them laugh. In order to make him and his classmates laugh and shock them, he had Kenny take a class photo with his butt sticking out of his hood instead of his face (Parker, & Stone). As one could see, the main drives for Eric Cartman are selfish and violent.
We can see from the trait perspective that Eric is choleric, and where he stands on the Big Five personality factors. Also, we know that his motivations are violent which goes along with the fact that he represents the id portion of the subconscious.


Through the analysis of Eric Cartman’s personality it’s easy to see why he is one of the most controversial, yet hilarious characters of all time. South Park has been on for fourteen seasons, and will start a fifteenth later this April, so it’s safe to say that this show has been a major part of popular culture for a decade and a half. With the psychoanalytic perspective, we can see that Eric is most likely stuck in the anal stage with his anal-expulsive behaviors and love of bathroom humor. He also has an over-emphasized representation of the id as his personality being that he is so selfish and violent towards others.
Looking at the trait perspective, Cartman’s choleric displays of character are pervasive throughout his everyday life. The ease with which he flies of the handle for almost no reason is the most obvious example of this particular bodily humor. The Big 5 Personality assessment was extremely helpful in analyzing Eric’s personality because it gives a chance to look at five different factors and how he fits in with each one. It turns out that he is high in openness, high in neuroticism, low in conscientiousness, medium in extraversion, and extremely low in agreeableness. This mixture of traits apparently occurs in obnoxious, selfish, greedy, and intolerant children. Also, when reviewing Eric’s major drives, it seems he is mostly interested in shocking and making others laugh as well as having control over others which points to the needs for exhibition and power.
By using the psychoanalytic and trait perspectives, we are able to see some reasons behind Eric Cartman’s absurd behaviors and beliefs. While I don’t condone most of his behaviors or attitudes, he is quite entertaining to watch and he will most likely go down in history as one of the most memorable cartoon characters ever. A boring and normal personality does not get on this list.


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