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Eric Theodore Cartman is a fictional character in the American animated television series South Park. One of four main characters, along with Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, and Kenny McCormick, he is generally referred to within the series by his surname. He debuted on television when South Park first aired on August 13, 1997; he had earlier appeared in The Spirit of Christmas shorts created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone in 1992 (Jesus vs. Frosty) and 1995 (Jesus vs. Santa).
Voiced by Trey Parker, Cartman is an obese, immature, spoiled, selfish, manipulative, lazy, foul-mouthed, mean-spirited, sadistic, racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic, xenophobic, sociopathic, narcissistic, and ill-tempered elementary school student living with his unwed mother in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado, where he routinely has extraordinary experiences not typical of conventional small-town life. Despite his many personality flaws, he is also depicted as being highly intelligent, outspoken, cunning and streetwise. He is one of few multilingual characters on the show, and is depicted speaking Spanish, French and German. He tends to make effective use of his capabilities by executing morally appalling—yet highly successful—business ideas.
Cartman is one of the most popular characters on the show and has remained one of the most recognizable television characters ever since South Park became a hit during its first season. Parker and Stone describe the character as "a little Archie Bunker", and state that he is their favorite character, and the one with whom they most identify. During its fifteen seasons, South Park has received both praise and criticism for Cartmans tendency to be politically incorrect and shockingly profane. Prominent publications and television channels have included Cartman on their lists of the most iconic television and cartoon characters of all time.