NEW YORK – Those crazy kids in South Park have finally killed off Kenny for good.
The creators of the popular, low-brow Comedy Central cartoon say the hooded, mumbling character — who as a running joke died brutally during almost 80 episodes — will not be returning from the grave this time.
Kenny's multitude of deaths ranged from the surreal to the absurd: they included getting his head bitten off by rocker Ozzy Osbourne and once he got beaten to death by a spastic monkey high on sugar. Each time he died, his friends would cry out the now familiar catch-phrase, "Oh my god, they killed Kenny!" The joke went on for so long it spurred T-shirts sales, Internet sites and even a Hip-Hop song called "Kenny's Dead" by rapper, Master P.
But as it stands now, the famous phrase is as dead as Kenny.
"I think a lot of people probably haven't noticed," co-creator Matt Stone told the Knoxville News. "I couldn't care less. I am so sick of that character."
Kenny died slowly and painfully during the Dec. 5 episode after suffering from a muscular disease.
Afterward, Kenny's friends Kyle, Cartman and Stan adopted a diminutive, goody-two-shoes friend named Butters whose parents are constantly grounding him when he gets into trouble.
"After that [episode], we said, 'Why doesn't he just stay dead?' And it was like, 'OK, let's just do that.' It was that easy of a decision," Stone said.
When a new season of episodes began airing a month ago, Kenny did not come back and was actually written out of the opening credits and replaced by Butters.
Stone says that Kenny "was always kind of a prop anyway. He couldn't say anything, so it is really hard to develop a character who could never really talk."
Since Butters joined the gang, he's been subjected to a round of indignities that would have mortified the more worldly and sophisticated Kenny.
Fans venting on the Internet are disappointed and believe that the show's creators will eventually bring Kenny back . A smaller group are "REALLY angry" over the death and say they hate Comedy Central and will never watch the show again but apparently continue to tune in waiting for Kenny to come back.