In the early seasons of South Park, Kenny was killed in every single episode. It became sort of a fascination with the fans of the show, and they were always expecting what new and exciting ways the South Park people would kill off Kenny in any particular episode. Seems like Matt Stone and Trey Parker have fans in the science circles, because that little stunt with Kenny earned them the honor of having a gene named after him.
There's a gene that fruit flies possess and it's been named Kenny. The reason for it is that if the fruit fly doesn't have the Kenny gene, it will die within two days. The reason scientists name genes is because it makes them easier to remember and bring up in conversation.
Here's some other interesting gene names, and what they do / prevent:
- Tinman: Difficult heart development
- Ken and Barbie: no external genitalia
- I'm Not Dead Yet (from Monty Python and the Holy Grail): Long life.