Sergeant Harrison Yates is the lead detective of the Park County Police Department and as far as we know, the highest-ranked police officer in Park County. He is usually accompanied by his partner Mitch Murphey or other officers. He works alongside detectives, police officers and forensic scientists to investigate crimes and solve cases throughout the town of South Park. Dedicated over-zealously to his work, Yates pulls long hours doing research, using the most absurd methods to combat crime in the name of truth and justice, (even if it may not be all that true or just).
Whenever he is in doubt about his role in the police force, he can always count on his wife, Maggie Yates, to give him a good pep talk and get him back out there, even though he often complains about her and mistreats her.
He first appeared as a member of the FBI, but has since been seen as part of the Park County Police, a role he has consistently kept in the series since then.
While at times Yates is prone to incompetence and laziness, he is shown more often than not to be passionate to the force and excessive to the point where it parodies that of many hard boiled cop dramas. When Yates has a hunch or an idea on how to tackle his latest case, he will spearhead it without rarely ever the use of restraint or forethought. He has consulted with psychics like Eric Cartman to help with the notorious Left Hand Killer case and took on a 'questionably' dedicated undercover role to uncover a prostitution ring. Yates even went so far as to create a massive operation to 'contain' a protest of two children and even walk through the lives of famous artists to educate on how downloading their music will reduce them to only a semi-luxurious life.
These extreme and unquestioning methods seems to stem from the idea of how important Yates believes he is to the people of South Park. His egomania was in full display as a yelp critic, where he would work late hours taking on the responsibility informing the people over how his restaurant experience went.
Despite all of this, Sgt. Harrison has shown to be reasonable at times; taking the idea of child affairs very seriously... before finding out the adult was a hot chick. His own officers generally fall in line to his orders, even when they may know better, (he has a habit of referring to multiple officers as 'Mitch').
Personality and Traits
Sgt. Harrison is probably best-known for his racism and general usage of excessive force, often suggesting dealing with African-Americans by shooting them, choking them, or in wealthy cases, intentionally framing them for crimes they didn't commit. He along with many others in the police department openly admit that these were the reasons why most of them even joined the force.
- "FREEZE! I'm a cop!"
- "Jesus Christ Monkeyballs!"
- "We've got another rich black guy. I want him humiliated and dragged through the dirt, and I want it done by the books!" (The Jeffersons)
- "Twenty-five years I've been on the force. I've seen every kind of sick, depraved act known to humanity and still, when I see a black man walk by who has more money than me, I... want to vomit my gizzards right in the gutter." (The Jeffersons)
- "What are we becoming? We're supposed to... protect the people. Where have we lost our way?" (The Jeffersons)
- "The last thirteen hours we've been working on a case, trying to get a real scumbag off the streets. And when he walked up to the door... I could have sworn he was white." (The Jeffersons)
- "Nice..." (Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy)
- "You're right, we're sorry, this IS serious. We need to track this student down and - give him his luckiest boy in America Medal right away!" (Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy)
- "You really gave my little hole quite a... STRETCH!" (Butters' Bottom Bitch)
- "Hold on, that's my daddy." (Butters' Bottom Bitch)
- "We believe this is where the black people are! They're holograms, so we can't choke them or shoot them, so stand by till we figure out what the hell to do!" (#HappyHolograms)
- "I had a bad experience at Red Lobster and if the people don't know about it, they could too. Folks deserve to know where they can eat, Mitch." (You're Not Yelping)
- "I'm never gonna frame an innocent man again, unless I KNOW he's black for sure!!"
Design and Outfit
When deep undercover, a good cop sometimes needs aliases and secret identities to get the job done, and Sgt. Yates isn't above using them.
Harrison Yates has a supportive, devoted wife, Maggie, who's always there to give him a good pep talk... but when undercover as Yolanda, there's another man in his life... KeShawn, his pimp, his "daddy" and briefly, his husband.
He has no other known family, but mentions an unseen son in "Cartman's Incredible Gift", presumably with Maggie.
Sergeant Yates is a career man and spends most of his time around his police colleagues, most of whom will defend him despite his incompetence. He's particularly close to Detective Murphey, and they've worked on a number of cases together for the Park County Police, particularly the Martin Jefferson and Indiana Jones cases.
In both "The Jeffersons" and "#HappyHolograms", Sgt. Yates and his team come into conflict with an identity of Michael Jackson, whom they can't defeat because they are unsure of his race and therefore whether or not to use excessive force.
The lead detective, most senior officer, and de-facto head of the Park County Police Department, Yates is fiercely dedicated to the department and takes his duty very seriously. The detectives and officers working under him never question his authority and defer to him at all times, only stepping in to advise him when they feel he is overworking himself and needs a break.
He is also a member of the Yelpers' elite.
Though he is dedicated to his work, often going for multiple shifts or days at a time without rest and relaxation, Yates has been seen on occasion returning home to the residence he shares with his wife, Maggie, where he spends what little free time he has playing video games.
Sometimes spending several days straight working there, Yates has been in charge of the Park County Police Station for a long time, directing officers' work and holding major press conferences outside. He had his own office for a while, separated from the other detectives by glass, but is now instead typically seen working at a public desk alongside his fellow officers, sometimes into the late hours of the night.
Appearances and Sightings
- Christian Rock Hard (s07e09; debut)
- Casa Bonita (s07e11)
- The Jeffersons (s08e07; first identified as Sgt. Harrison Yates)
- Cartman's Incredible Gift (s08e14)
- Free Willzyx (s09e13)
- Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy (s10e10)
- Cartman Sucks (s11e02)
- Eek, a Penis! (s12e05)
- The China Probrem (s12e08)
- The Coon (s13e02)
- Butters' Bottom Bitch (s13e09)
- 200 (s14e05)
- City Sushi (s15e06)
- 1% (s15e12)
- A Nightmare on Face Time (s16e12)
- Informative Murder Porn (s17e02)
- The Magic Bush (s18e05)
- Cock Magic (s18e08; first identified as Detective Harris)
- #HappyHolograms (s18e10)
- The City Part of Town (s19e03; cameo)
- You're Not Yelping (s19e04; re-identified as Harrison Yates)
- Naughty Ninjas (s19e06)
- Not Funny (s20e09)
- Sons a Witches (s21e06)
- The Scoots (s22e05)
- Time To Get Cereal (s22e06; re-identified as Harrison Yates)
- Nobody Got Cereal? (s22e07)
- Tegridy Farms Halloween Special (s23e05; re-identified as Detective Harris)
Behind The Scenes
Detective Yates' voice is provided by series co-creator Trey Parker.
Although the character made his official debut in "Christian Rock Hard", similar prototypes had appeared in the previous two seasons, chiefly a Senior Detective who worked alongside Barbrady during the fifth and sixth seasons, and Lieutenant Dawson in "Lil' Crime Stoppers", who played a much similar role. A visual prototype for Yates appeared in the background of the latter episode as well, with the same hair but a different, less hairy face. At the same time, these episodes sought to establish a new Police Department much larger than Officer Barbrady's previous presence.
His final design debuted as an investigator in the Federal Bureau of Investigation in "Christian Rock Hard", but the building's interior and exterior were reused from the Park County Police Department first seen earlier in the season, and a few episodes later in "Casa Bonita", he made his first appearance as a police officer, alongside a silent Officer Barbrady.
The character truly came to form, however, in season 8's "The Jeffersons", where he first appeared in proper form as a high-ranking police sergeant, alongside his partner Detective Murphey and his wife Maggie Yates, and with the overzealous nature and racism that has defined him ever since. It's also the first time he's been called Harrison Yates, a name that has remained attached to the character ever since. (Despite a few hiccups, see below.)
"Butters' Bottom Bitch" (1309)
1st Scene Written
This was the first scene that was written for "Butters' Bottom Bitch". You'll notice here that -- despite being called Sergeant Yates forever -- Trey usually uses the character name "Detective Harris" when writing.
Using Yates to Create Scale
If you look at this production art used while designing the fraternity cake prop, you'll notice Yates (aka Yolanda) next to the cake. He's there to show scale.
At the Park County Police Department, Sgt. Yates can be found at his desk at any time in gameplay, reading through his notebook - but he's too busy to talk to the new kid unless the Nazi Zombies are already about -- on Day 3 only, he'll offer you a junior detective badge if you can collect five Nazi Zombie rings by defeating them in battle.
He was originally slated to have a larger role, as seen in trailers, but it was cut.
- Despite claiming to have been on the force for twenty-five years, Officer Barbrady is said to be the town's only police officer in season 2's "Chickenlover", and later in "Naughty Ninjas" it is reinforced that Barbrady was long the only policeman in town.
- If the Park County Police covers a county with multiple towns, it's possible Yates previously worked in another branch and transferred over.
- Sergeant Yates debuted way back in Season 7's "Christian Rock Hard" as member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Despite his initial obsession with framing black men for crimes, he's never seen interfering with Steve Black or his family within the show itself, though this does happen in South Park: The Fractured But Whole.
- Yates has mentioned having a son in "Cartman's Incredible Gift" but he's never been seen or referenced since.
Sergeant Yate's Wife
Despite his relatively long stint as a prostitute "Yolanda", yes -- Sergeant Yates is married. His wife, Maggie, debuted back in Season 8's "The Jeffersons".
Myths & Legends
What's in a Name?
Initially merely a nameless red-haired detective in his debut, the character has rarely been identified by name on-screen. Three names were offered:
- He was first known as Sergeant Harrison Yates in season 8's "The Jeffersons".
- He was referred to as Lou a few months later in season 8's "Cartman's Incredible Gift".
- In South Park: The Stick of Truth, he was identified as Sgt. Yates, though only in text.
- The name Detective Harris had been used by Trey in scripts for several years, but was never used on-screen until season 18's "Cock Magic" and later, "#HappyHolograms".
In season 19's "You're Not Yelping", he was again referred to as Harrison Yates - and seen alongside his same wife from "The Jeffersons" - reinforcing his original name, which has been used in multiple instances since, but especially by his wife.
In season 23's "Tegridy Farms Halloween Special", he is again referred to by another officer as 'Detective Harris'.
The character remains generally known in fan circles as 'Harrison Yates', although some articles have avoided using a name altogether. Some fans have speculated that 'Harris' may be a shortened form of 'Harrison', although it would be informal for his officers to identify him by a nickname.
Trey and Matt have identified him as 'Detective Yates' in the Season 19 commentary track as well as more recently on the track for "Time To Get Cereal", audibly correcting themselves from Harris.
Barbrady and Yates
For years, Officer Barbrady and Sergeant Yates very rarely, if ever appeared in the same episode, leading to confusion over their relationship and positions. While Yates is known as a Sergeant, "Fun With Veal" suggested Barbrady was South Park's Chief-of-Police, which would place him above Yates... however, episodes and games have contradicted the relationship between Barbrady's South Park Police and Yates' Park County Police. In South Park: The Stick of Truth, they seem to be a single 'South Park County Police' unit, or SPCD, but for many years, Barbrady and Yates seemed to be in separate stations and departments.
Barbrady has also never been seen inside the new Park County Police Station, only ever appearing in the old South Park Police Station, last seen in "The Snuke".
Barbrady and Yates are seen together in "Casa Bonita", "The Coon", "Medicinal Fried Chicken", "200" and "201", but do not interact in these episodes -- the two are finally seen together properly in season 19's "The City Part of Town", dining together in SoDoSoPa, and are first seen working in the field together a few episodes later in "Naughty Ninjas". It's also shown that Barbrady has a photo of himself and Detective Yates in his apartment, although Yates does not allude to Barbrady's absence directly.