"Red Sleigh Down"
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Episode no. Season 6
Episode 17
Production no. 617
Original airdate December 11, 2002
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"Red Sleigh Down" (a.k.a. "Christmas in Iraq") is episode 96 of the Comedy Central series South Park. It originally aired on December 11, 2002. After being absent for an entire season, Kenny returns at the end of this episode.


Cartman's naughty or nice accountant (Kyle's cousin Kyle) performs a tally, and it's obvious that Cartman has been too naughty to earn his coveted Christmas gift, a Haibo robot dog, in fact in Kyle's words he's been so naughty that even if he cured cancer and AIDS he'd still owe Santa two presents. He'll have to perform the nicest act ever to reverse the prior year of evil, and sets out to spread Christmas cheer to the people of Iraq. Meanwhile, at a tree lighting ceremony, Jimmy begins to sing his favorite Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" which, unknown to the gathered crowd (which includes most of the town) will take him all of the episode to complete due to his stutter.

With the use of Mr. Hankey's Poo-Choo train, Cartman and the other boys travel to the North Pole to convince Santa Claus to make a special trip. With the assistance of the Underpants Gnomes, Santa prepares his sleigh and travels to Iraq, only to be promptly shot down by a Rocket Propelled Grenade. The reindeer are dead, Santa is injured, and he is soon caught and tortured by his Iraqi captors who torture him by covering him in water and shocking his testicles. The boys realize that Cartman's little ploy may have ended Christmas for everyone, including Santa, and set out to make things right.


Jesus warns "I'm packing!"

Taking the backup sled and new reindeer (named Steven, Fluffy, Horace, Chantel, Skippy, Rainbow, Patches and Montel) from the stable, they seek out the one person who can help: Jesus, who is currently officiating midnight mass in his own name. When he hears of the tragedy that has befallen his old friend Santa, Jesus promptly arms himself with an array of automatic weapons and sets out with the boys to Iraq, brutally gunning down everyone who impedes him. Jesus and the boys break into the interrogation room where Santa (who is now being forced to drink oil) is being held and kill the Iraqi soldiers within (all except for the interrogator, who is later executed by Santa. Jesus is surprised at Santa killing someone, but Santa responds "I couldn't do it! I couldn't let him live! He shocked Santa's Balls!").

The boys carefully carry the injured Santa back to the sleigh, but a stray shot from a soldier kills Jesus moments before they can escape. Stan and Kyle revive their old catch phrase; Stan says "Oh my God, the Iraqis killed Jesus," and Kyle responds with "You bastards!" Outraged, Santa kills the soldier, acquires his fallen friend's weapons and then proceeds to blast his way out, setting off bombs which transform Iraq into a Christmas-decorated country, complete with wreaths, Christmas trees, lights and tinsel.

To the town's delight, Jimmy then finishes his song that he started at the beginning of the episode. He switches on the lights on the Christmas tree, but unfortunately they don't work, and the town is disappointed, but Santa makes it all right again.

Moments before Christmas Day begins, a rapidly recuperating Santa returns the boys home to South Park and expresses his hope that people will always remember Jesus on this day. He also gives all three boys Haibo dogs, much to Cartman's disgust, as he wanted to be the only owner and have his friends envy him. Kenny then shows up out of nowhere and the boys ask where he's been, but they do not act surprised. Kenny simply remarks that he was "hanging out" while pointing offscreen. This marks his return to the series after he was killed off in Kenny Dies, and South Park Studios FAQ has revealed that Jesus' death is somehow connected to his revival.

References to pop culture

  • “Red Sleigh Down” was heavily influenced by the 1999 movie Three Kings and the 2001 movie Black Hawk Down.
  • When Santa's sleigh is hit and spins out of control it is siminlar to the scene where the Black Hawk helicopter goes down in Black Hawk Down.
  • The part where Santa is shot down and the blurring from an aerial view to satellite view of the crashed sleigh are parodies of Black Hawk Down.
  • The robot dog that Cartman wants for Christmas closely resembles Sony’s AIBO.
  • Santa’s palace closely resembles, and is named after, the Fortress of Solitude from Superman: The Movie.
  • The torture scene involving electrodes, Santa, “Santa’s Balls,” “I’m gonna fucking kill you!” and “We’re in for a long night because I don’t know shit!”, is a spoof of the torture scene involving Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. It also spoofs the torture scene in Three Kings, with the torturer saying “My main man” and pouring oil down his mouth and the part where Santa shoots interrogator though he actually doesn't get shot in Three Kings. The torturer also looks like the torturer from Three Kings. There also is a scene very similar to this one in Team America: World Police, though that movie was made later. The line when Santa was tortured and then saved by Jesus also has some references to film Red Dragon, which was released in the same year as current episode.
  • When the Iraqi torturing Santa tells him that the Chinese first used electrolysis to the balls as a means of torture this is a reference to the torture scene of Metal Gear Solid, when Ocelot tells Snake that the French first used electrolysis as a means of torture.
  • Jesus says "You're a bad liar" to Santa when he gets shot and is about to die. This is a direct quote from 1996 film Independence Day, where the president's wife tells him this before she dies
  • The two Iraqi children with large eyes are spoofs on the RankinBass Christmas specials. At the end of the episode, the faces of Stan, Kyle, and Cartman also briefly turn into "Rankin/Bass" faces.

References to other South Park episodes

  • The scene where Kyle tells Cartman that because of his actions, no one will be getting presents for Xmas (followed by Cartman's "Christ" comment resulting in the boys asking Jesus for help) is a word-for-word recreation of the scene in Jesus vs. Frosty in which the two boys that are prototypes for Stan and Kyle, realize that they're going to need help from Jesus in order to defeat the killer Frosty the Snowman.
  • The butt-faced couple (The Thompsons from "How to Eat with Your Butt") make a reappearance in the crowd at the beginning of the episode, along with Dr. Mephisto, Big Gay Al and Chef's parents.
  • The Underpants Gnomes return in this episode serving the role of Santa's elves.
  • Kyle tells Cartman that to to redeem himself from all the naughty things he did, he would have to find the cure for cancer and the cure for AIDS. Coincidentally, he actually does find the cure for AIDS in the season twelve episode Tonsil Trouble.


  • Jesus and Santa work together in this episode even though they are shown to have a rivalry in Jesus vs. Santa.
  • This episode also marks the return of Kenny.
  • Following this episode, Mr. Hankey did not appear for some time. In fact, it would be nearly ten seasons until he reappeared, in 201.
Leftarrow "[[My Future Self n' Me]]" "Red Sleigh Down" "[[I'm a Little Bit Country]]" Rightarrow

  617: "Red Sleigh Down" edit
Story Elements

Santa ClausUnderpants Gnomes • "Poo-Choo Train" • Iraq • "The Twelve Days of Christmas"


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