Family Guy

Family Guy
Family Guy
Family Guy Logo.svg
A group picture of a cartoon family, with a father, mother, son, daughter, baby and dog
The Griffin family. Rear: Lois, Peter, Meg, Chris; Front: Brian and Stewie
Format Animated series
Created by Seth MacFarlane
Developed by
Voices of
Theme music composer Walter Murphy
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 10
No. of episodes 169 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Co-executive producers:
  • Alec Sulkin
  • Wellesley Wild
  • Brian Scully
  • Consulting producers:
  • Tom Devanney
  • Gary Janetti
  • Abraham Higginbotham
  • John Walts
  • Rick Mackenzie
  • Mike Elias
Camera setup Animated rendition of single-camera
Running time 20–23 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor 20th Television
Original channel Fox
Picture format
Original run January 31, 1999 (1999-01-31) – February 14, 2002 (2002-02-14);
May 1, 2005 (2005-05-01)
Preceded by Larry and Steve
Related shows
External links

Family Guy is an American animated television series created by Seth MacFarlane for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series centers on the Griffins, a dysfunctional family consisting of parents Peter and Lois; their children Meg, Chris, and Stewie; and their anthropomorphic pet dog Brian. The show is set in the fictional city of Quahog, Rhode Island, and exhibits much of its humor in the form of cutaway gags that often lampoon American culture.

The family was conceived by MacFarlane after developing two animated films, The Life of Larry and Larry & Steve. MacFarlane redesigned the films' protagonist, Larry, and his dog, Steve, and renamed them Peter and Brian, respectively. MacFarlane pitched a seven-minute pilot to Fox on May 15, 1998. The show was given the green light and started production. Shortly after the third season of Family Guy aired in 2001, Fox canceled the series. However, favorable DVD sales and high ratings for syndicated reruns on Adult Swim convinced the network to renew the show in 2004.

Family Guy has been nominated for 12 Primetime Emmy Awards and 11 Annie Awards, and has won three of each. It has garnered three Golden Reel Award nominations, winning once. In 2009 it was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, the first time an animated series was nominated for the award since The Flintstones in 1961. Family Guy has also received criticism, including unfavorable comparisons for its similarities to The Simpsons.

Many tie-in media have been released, including Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, a straight-to-DVD special released in 2005; Family Guy: Live in Vegas, a soundtrack-DVD combo released in 2005, featuring music from the show as well as original music created by MacFarlane and Walter Murphy; a video game and pinball machine, released in 2006 and 2007, respectively; since 2005, six books published by Harper Adult based on the Family Guy universe; and Laugh It Up, Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy (2010), a series of parodies of the original Star Wars trilogy. In 2008 MacFarlane confirmed that the cast was interested in producing a feature film and that he was working on a story for film adaptation. A spin-off series, The Cleveland Show, premiered on September 27, 2009, as a part of the "Animation Domination" lineup on Fox. The eighth season of Family Guy premiered the same night.



MacFarlane initially conceived Family Guy in 1995 while studying animation at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).[1] During college, he created his thesis film entitled The Life of Larry,[1] which was submitted by his professor at RISD to Hanna-Barbera. MacFarlane was hired by the company.[2] In 1996 MacFarlane created a sequel to The Life of Larry entitled Larry and Steve, which featured a middle-aged character named Larry and an intellectual dog, Steve; the short was broadcast in 1997 as one of Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons.[1]

An elder white-haired cartoon man with a white shirt and blue jeans next to a brown furred cartoon dog holding a book with a red background
Larry (left) and Steve (right) as they appeared in Larry & Steve (1997), an animated short directed by Seth MacFarlane. Larry and Steve would form the basis for the Family Guy characters of Peter and Brian, respectively.

Executives at Fox saw the Larry shorts and contracted MacFarlane to create a series, entitled Family Guy, based on the characters.[3] Fox proposed MacFarlane complete a 15-minute short, and gave him a budget of $50,000.[4] Several aspects of Family Guy were inspired by the Larry shorts.[5] While working on the series, the characters of Larry and his dog Steve slowly evolved into Peter and Brian.[3][6] MacFarlane stated that the difference between The Life of Larry and Family Guy was that "Life of Larry was shown primarily in my dorm room and Family Guy was shown after the Super Bowl."[5] After the pilot aired, the series was given the green light. MacFarlane drew inspiration from several sitcoms such as The Simpsons and All in the Family.[7] Premises were drawn from several 1980s Saturday morning cartoons he watched as a child, such as The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang and Rubik, the Amazing Cube.[8]

The Griffin family first appeared on the demo that MacFarlane pitched to Fox on May 15, 1998.[9] Family Guy was originally planned to start out as short movies for the sketch show MADtv, but the plan changed because MADtv's budget was not large enough to support animation production. MacFarlane noted that he then wanted to pitch it to Fox, as he thought that that was the place to create a prime-time animation show.[7] Family Guy was originally pitched to Fox in the same year as King of the Hill, but the show was not bought until years later, when King of the Hill became successful.[7] Fox ordered 13 episodes of Family Guy to air in midseason after MacFarlane impressed executives with a seven-minute demo.[10]


Executive producers

MacFarlane has served as an executive producer during the show's entire history, and also functions as a creative consultant. The first executive producers were David Zuckerman,[11] Lolee Aries, David Pritchard, and Mike Wolf.[12] Family Guy has had many executive producers in its history, including Daniel Palladino, Kara Vallow, and Danny Smith. David A. Goodman joined the show as a co-executive producer in season three, and eventually became an executive producer.[13] Alex Borstein, who voices Lois, worked as an executive and supervising producer for the fourth and fifth seasons.[14] A more involved position on the show is the show runner, who acts as head writer and manages the show's production for an entire season.[15]


The first team of writers assembled for the show consisted of Chris Sheridan,[16] Danny Smith, Gary Janetti, Ricky Blitt, Neil Goldman, Garrett Donovan, Matt Weitzman, and Mike Barker.[17] The writing process of Family Guy generally starts with 14 writers that take turns writing the scripts; when a script is finished it is given to the rest of the writers to read. These scripts generally include cutaway gags. If there are not enough cutaway sequences, writers are asked to create them. Various gags are pitched to MacFarlane and the rest of the staff, and those deemed funniest are included in the episode. MacFarlane has explained that normally it takes 10 months to produce an episode because the show uses hand-drawn animation. The show rarely comments on current events for this reason.[18] The show's initial writers had never written for an animated show; and most came from live-action sitcoms.[7]

A man with a bald head and a brown sweater, and a man with spiked brown hair and glasses, speaking into a microphone.
Matt Weitzman (left) is a former staff writer and Mike Barker is a former producer and writer of the show. Both would later create American Dad with Seth MacFarlane.

MacFarlane explains that he is a fan of 1930s and 1940s radio programs, particularly the radio thriller anthology "Suspense", which led him to give early episodes ominous titles like "Death Has a Shadow" and "Mind Over Murder". MacFarlane explained that the team dropped the naming convention after individual episodes became hard to identify, and the novelty wore off.[19] For the first few months of production, the writers shared one office, lent to them by the King of the Hill production crew.[19]

Credited with 14 episodes, Steve Callaghan is the most prolific writer on Family Guy staff. Many of the writers that have left the show have gone on to create or produce other successful series. Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan co-wrote 13 episodes for the NBC sitcom Scrubs during their eight-year run on the show, while also serving as co-producers and working their way up to executive producers.[20] Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman would later create American Dad, along with MacFarlane.[21][22]

During the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, official production of the show halted for most of December 2007 and for various periods afterward. Fox continued producing episodes without MacFarlane's final approval, which he termed "a colossal dick move" in an interview with Variety. Though MacFarlane refused to work on the show, his contract under Fox required him to contribute to any episodes it would subsequently produce.[23] Production officially resumed after the end of the strike, with regularly airing episodes recommencing on February 17, 2008.[24]

Voice cast

MacFarlane voices three of the show's main characters: Peter Griffin, Brian Griffin, and Stewie Griffin.[25] Since MacFarlane had a strong vision for these characters, he chose to voice them himself, believing it would be easier than for someone else to attempt it.[8] MacFarlane drew inspiration for the voice of Peter from a security guard he overheard talking while attending the Rhode Island School of Design.[26] Stewie's voice was based on the voice of English actor Rex Harrison,[27] especially his performance in the 1964 musical drama film My Fair Lady.[28] MacFarlane uses his regular speaking voice when playing Brian.[8] MacFarlane also provides the voices for various other recurring and one-time-only characters, most prominently those of the Griffins' neighbor Glenn Quagmire, news anchor Tom Tucker, and Lois' father, Carter Pewterschmidt.[29]

Alex Borstein voices Lois Griffin, Asian correspondent Tricia Takanawa, Cleveland's ex-wife Loretta Brown, and Lois' mother Barbara Pewterschmidt.[30] Borstein was asked to provide a voice for the pilot while she was working on MADtv. She had not met MacFarlane or seen any of his artwork, and said it was "really sight unseen".[31] At the time, Borstein was performing in a stage show in Los Angeles. She played a redheaded mother whose voice she had based on one of her cousins.[30][31]

Seth Green primarily plays Chris Griffin and Neil Goldman.[29][32] Green stated that he did an impression of the "Buffalo Bill" character from the thriller film The Silence of the Lambs during his audition.[33][34]

Mila Kunis and Lacey Chabert have both provided the voice of Meg Griffin.[29] Chabert left the series because of time conflicts with schoolwork and her role on Party of Five. When Kunis auditioned for the role, she was called back by MacFarlane, who instructed her to speak slower. He then told her to come back another time and enunciate more. Once she claimed that she had it under control, MacFarlane hired her.[35]

Mike Henry voices Cleveland Brown and Herbert, as well as some minor recurring characters, like Bruce the performance artist and The Greased-up Deaf Guy.[36] Henry met MacFarlane at the Rhode Island School of Design, and kept in touch with him after they graduated.[37] A few years later, MacFarlane contacted him about being part of the show; he agreed and came on as a writer and voice actor.[37] During the show's first four seasons, he was credited as a guest star, but beginning with season five's "Prick Up Your Ears", he has been credited as a main cast member.[37]

Main cast members
A man with black hair and a black shirt, leaning forward, smiling into a microphone A woman with black hair, tied back, smiling, and sitting behind a microphone A man with red hair, smiling slightly and sitting behind a microphone A woman with long brown hair, smiling into a microphone A man with closely shaven hair, and slight stubble, looking to the side slightly with his eyes, behind a microphone
Seth MacFarlane Alex Borstein Seth Green Mila Kunis Mike Henry
Peter Griffin, Stewie Griffin, Brian Griffin, Glenn Quagmire, Tom Tucker, Carter Pewterschmidt, others Lois Griffin, Loretta Brown, Barbara Pewterschmidt, Tricia Takanawa, others Chris Griffin, Neil Goldman, others Meg Griffin Cleveland Brown, Herbert, Greased Up Deaf Guy, Bruce the performance artist, others

Other recurring cast members include Patrick Warburton as Joe Swanson;[38] Adam West as the eponymous Mayor Adam West;[39] Jennifer Tilly as Bonnie Swanson;[40] John G. Brennan as Mort Goldman and Horace the bartender; Carlos Alazraqui as Jonathan Weed;[41][42] Adam Carolla and Norm Macdonald as Death;[43] Lori Alan as Diane Simmons;[44] and Phil LaMarr as Ollie Williams and the judge.[45] Fellow cartoonist Butch Hartman has made guest voice appearances in many episodes as various characters.[46] Also, writer Danny Smith voices various recurring characters, such as Ernie the Giant Chicken.[47]

Episodes often feature guest voices from a wide range of professions, including actors, athletes, authors, bands, musicians, and scientists. Many guest voices star as themselves. Leslie Uggams was the first to appear as herself, in the fourth episode of the first season, "Mind Over Murder".[48] The episode "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven" guest starred the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, including Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn, Wil Wheaton, Marina Sirtis, and even Denise Crosby (season 1 as Tasha Yar), playing themselves; this is the episode with the most guest stars of the seventh season.[49][50]

Early history and cancellation

Family Guy officially premiered after Fox's broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIII on January 31, 1999, with "Death Has a Shadow". The show debuted to 22 million viewers, and immediately generated controversy regarding the show's adult content.[51] The show returned on April 11, 1999, with "I Never Met the Dead Man". The show garnered decent ratings in Fox's 8:30 p.m. slot on Sunday, nestled between The Simpsons and The X-Files.[10] At the end of its first season, the show was #33 in the Nielsen ratings, with 12.8 million households tuning in.[52] The show launched its second season in a new time slot, Thursday at 9 p.m., on September 23, 1999. Family Guy was pitted against NBC's Frasier, and the series' ratings declined sharply.[10] Fox removed Family Guy from the network's permanent schedule, and began airing episodes irregularly. The show returned on March 7, 2000, at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, but was constantly beaten in the ratings by the new breakout hit Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, coming in at #114 in the Nielsen Ratings with 6.320 million households tuning in.[53] Fox announced that the show had been canceled in 2000, at the end of the second season.[54] However, following a last-minute reprieve, Fox announced on July 24, 2000, its intention to order 13 additional episodes of Family Guy to form a third season.[51]

The show returned November 8, 2001, once again in a tough time slot: Thursday nights at 8:00 p.m. ET. This slot brought it into competition with Survivor and Friends. (This situation was later referenced in Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story).[55] During its second- and third-season runs, Fox frequently moved the show around to different days and time slots with little or no notice and, consequently, the show's ratings suffered.[56] Upon Fox's annual unveiling of its 2002 fall line-up on May 15, 2002, Family Guy was absent.[10] Fox announced that the show had been officially canceled shortly thereafter.[57]

Cult success and revival

Fox attempted to sell the rights for reruns of the show, but it was difficult to find networks that were interested; Cartoon Network eventually bought the rights, "[...] basically for free", according to the president of 20th Century Fox Television.[58] Family Guy premiered in reruns on Adult Swim on April 20, 2003, and immediately became the block's top-rated program, dominating late night viewing in its time period versus cable and broadcast competition, and boosting viewership by 239 percent.[10][59] The complete first and second seasons were released on DVD the same week as the show premiered on Adult Swim, and the show became a cult phenomenon, selling 400,000 copies within one month.[10] Sales of the DVD set reached 2.2 million copies,[60] becoming the best-selling television DVD of 2003[61] and the second highest-selling television DVD ever, behind the first season of Comedy Central's Chappelle's Show.[62] The third season DVD release also sold more than a million copies.[59] The show's popularity in DVD sales and reruns rekindled Fox's interest,[63] and, on May 20, 2004, Fox ordered 35 new episodes of Family Guy, marking the first revival of a television show based on DVD sales.[62][64]

"North by North Quahog", which premiered May 1, 2005, was the first episode to be broadcast after the show's cancellation. It was written by MacFarlane and directed by Peter Shin.[65] MacFarlane believed the show's three-year hiatus was beneficial because animated shows do not normally have hiatuses, and towards the end of their seasons, "... you see a lot more sex jokes and (bodily function) jokes and signs of a fatigued staff that their brains are just fried".[66] With "North by North Quahog", the writing staff tried to keep the show "... exactly as it was" before its cancellation, and did not "... have the desire to make it any slicker" than it already was.[66] The episode was watched by 11.85 million viewers,[67] the show's highest ratings since the airing of the first season episode "Brian: Portrait of a Dog".[68]


In March 2007 comedian Carol Burnett filed a $6 million lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, claiming that her charwoman character had been portrayed on the show without her permission. She stated it was a trademark infringement, and that Fox violated her publicity rights.[69][70][71] On June 4, 2007, United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson rejected the lawsuit, stating that the parody was protected under the First Amendment, citing Hustler Magazine v. Falwell as a precedent.[72]

On October 3, 2007, Bourne Co. Music Publishers filed a lawsuit accusing the show of infringing its copyright on the song "When You Wish upon a Star", through a parody song entitled "I Need a Jew" appearing in the episode "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein". Bourne Co., the sole United States copyright owner of the song, alleged the parody pairs a "thinly veiled" copy of their music with antisemitic lyrics. Named in the suit were 20th Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Broadcasting Co., Cartoon Network, MacFarlane, and Murphy; the suit sought to stop the program's distribution and asked for unspecified damages.[73] Bourne argued that "I Need a Jew" uses the copyrighted melody of "When You Wish Upon a Star" without commenting on that song, and that it was therefore not a First Amendment-protected parody per the ruling in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.[74][75] On March 16, 2009, United States District Judge Deborah Batts held that Family Guy did not infringe on Bourne's copyright when it transformed the song for comical use in an episode.[76]

In December 2007, Family Guy was again accused of copyright infringement when actor Art Metrano filed a lawsuit regarding a scene in Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, in which Jesus performs Metrano's signature "magic" act involving absurd "faux" magical hand gestures while humming the distinctive tune "Fine and Dandy".[77] 20th Century Fox, MacFarlane, Callaghan, and Borstein were all named in the suit.[78] In July 2009 a federal district court judge rejected Fox's motion to dismiss, saying that the first three fair use factors involved—"purpose and character of the use", "nature of the infringed work", and "amount and substantiality of the taking"—counted in Metrano's favor, while the fourth—"economic impact"—had to await more fact-finding. In denying the dismissal, the court held that the reference in the scene made light of Jesus and his followers—not Metrano or his act.[79][80]


The show revolves around the adventures of the family of Peter Griffin, a bumbling blue-collar worker. Peter is an Irish-American Catholic with a prominent Rhode Island and Eastern Massachusetts accent.[81] He is married to Lois, a stay-at-home mother and piano teacher who, as member of the Pewterschmidt family of wealthy socialites, has a distinct New England accent.[82] Peter and Lois have three children: Meg, their teenage daughter, who is awkward and does not fit in at school, and is constantly ridiculed and ignored by the family; Chris, their teenage son, who is overweight, unintelligent and a younger version of his father in many respects; and Stewie, their diabolical infant son of ambiguous sexual orientation who has adult mannerisms, and speaks fluently in a London accent, using stereotypical archvillain phrases.[83] Living with the family is Brian, the family dog, who is highly anthropomorphized, drinks martinis, and engages in human conversation, though he is still considered a pet in many respects.[84]

Many recurring characters appear alongside the Griffin family. These include the family's neighbors: sex-crazed airline-pilot bachelor Glenn Quagmire, Cleveland Brown and his wife Loretta Brown, paraplegic police officer Joe Swanson, his wife Bonnie and their baby daughter Susie (Bonnie is pregnant with Susie from the show's beginning until the seventh episode of the seventh season); neurotic Jewish pharmacist Mort Goldman, his wife Muriel, and their geeky and annoying son Neil; and elderly ephebophile Herbert. TV news anchors Tom Tucker and Diane Simmons, Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa, and Blaccu-Weather meteorologist Ollie Williams also make frequent appearances. Actors Adam West and James Woods guest star as themselves in various episodes.


Three buildings, two of the same stature, and one smaller than the others A cartoon version of the previous image
The skyline of Providence, as viewed from the northwest looking southeast, from left to right: One Financial Center, 50 Kennedy Plaza, and the Bank of America Tower
The skyline's animated Family Guy counterpart

The primary setting of Family Guy is Quahog (pronounced /ˈkoʊhɒɡ/), a fictional Rhode Island town. MacFarlane resided in Providence during his time as a student at Rhode Island School of Design, and the show contains distinct Rhode Island landmarks similar to real-world locations.[85][86] MacFarlane often borrows the names of Rhode Island locations and icons such as Pawtucket and Buddy Cianci for use in the show. MacFarlane, in an interview with local WNAC Fox 64 News, stated that the town is modeled after Cranston, Rhode Island.[87]


"Road to" episodes

The "Road to" episodes are a series of hallmark travel episodes.[88][89][90] They are a parody of the seven Road to... comedy films starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour, which were released between 1940 and 1962.[89] These episodes usually involve Stewie and Brian in some foreign, supernatural, or science fiction location not related to the show's normal location in Quahog. The first, entitled "Road to Rhode Island", aired on May 30, 2000, during the second season. The episodes are known for featuring elaborate musical numbers, similar to the Road films.[91] The episodes contain several trademarks, including a special version of the opening sequence, custom musical cues and musical numbers, and parodies of science fiction and fantasy films.[92]

The original idea for the "Road to" episodes came from MacFarlane, as he is a fan of the films of Crosby, Hope, and Lamour. The first episode was directed by Dan Povenmire, who would direct the rest of the "Road to" episodes until the episode "Road to Rupert", at which point he had left the show to create Phineas and Ferb.[93][94] Series regular Greg Colton then took over Povenmire's role as director of the "Road to" episodes.[95]


Family Guy uses the filmmaking technique of cutaways, which occur in the majority of Family Guy episodes.[96] Emphasis is often placed on gags which make reference to current events and/or modern cultural icons.

Early episodes based much of their comedy on Stewie's "super villain" antics, such as his constant plans for total world domination, his evil experiments, plans and inventions to get rid of things he dislikes, and his constant attempts at matricide. As the series progressed, the writers and MacFarlane agreed that his personality and the jokes were starting to feel dated, so they began writing him with a different personality.[97] Family Guy often includes self-referential humor. The most common form is jokes about Fox Broadcasting, and occasions where the characters break the fourth wall by addressing the audience. For example, in "North by North Quahog", the first episode that aired after the show's revival, included Peter telling the family that they had been cancelled because Fox had to make room in their schedule for shows like Dark Angel, Titus, Undeclared, Action, That '80s Show, Wonderfalls, Fastlane, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Skin, Girls Club, Cracking Up, The Pitts, Firefly, Get Real, Freakylinks, Wanda at Large, Costello, The Lone Gunmen, A Minute with Stan Hooper, Normal, Ohio, Pasadena, Harsh Realm, Keen Eddie, The $treet, The American Embassy, Cedric the Entertainer Presents, The Tick, Luis, and Greg the Bunny. Lois asks whether there is any hope, to which Peter replies that if all these shows are canceled they might have a chance; the shows were indeed canceled during Family Guy's hiatus.[98][99][100]

The show uses catchphrases, and most of the primary and secondary characters have them. Notable expressions include Quagmire's "Giggity giggity goo", Peter's "Freakin' sweet", and Joe's "Bring it on!"[97] The use of many of these catchphrases declined in later seasons. The episode "Big Man on Hippocampus" mocks catchphrase-based humor: when Peter, who has forgotten everything about his life, is introduced to Meg, he exclaims "D'oh!", to which Lois replies, "No, Peter, that's not your catchphrase."[101]

Reception, legacy, and achievements


Family Guy has received many positive reviews from critics. Catherine Seipp of the National Review Online described it as a "nasty but extremely funny" cartoon.[102] Caryn James of The New York Times called it a show with an "outrageously satirical family" that "includes plenty of comic possibilities and parodies."[103] The Sydney Morning Herald named Family Guy the "Show of the Week" on April 21, 2009, hailing it a "pop culture-heavy masterpiece".[104] Frazier Moore from The Seattle Times called it an "endless craving for humor about bodily emissions". He thought it was "breathtakingly smart" and said a "blend of the ingenious with the raw helps account for its much broader appeal". He summarized it as "rude, crude and deliciously wrong".[105] The series has attracted many celebrities, including Emily Blunt, who has stated that Family Guy is her favorite series; she has expressed strong interest in becoming a guest star on the show.[106] The New Yorker's Nancy Franklin said that Family Guy is becoming one of the best animated shows; she commented on its ribaldry and popularity, and said the show was of better quality than The Simpsons.[107] The show has become a hit on Hulu; it is the second-highest viewed show after Saturday Night Live.[108] IGN called Family Guy a great show, and commented that it has gotten better since its revival. They stated that they cannot imagine another half-hour sitcom that provides as many laughs as Family Guy.[109] Empire praised the show and its writers for creating really hilarious moments with unlikely material. They commented that one of the reasons they love the show is because nothing is sacred—it makes jokes and gags of almost everything.[110] Robin Pierson of The TV Critic praised the series as "a different kind of animated comedy which clearly sets out to do jokes which other cartoons can't do."[111] Family Guy has proven popular in the United Kingdom, regularly obtaining between 700,000 and 1 million viewers for re-runs on BBC Three.[112]

Many celebrities have admitted that they are fans of the show. Robert Downey, Jr. telephoned the show production staff and asked if he could produce or assist in an episode creation, as his son is a fan of the show, so the producers came up with a character for Downey.[113] Lauren Conrad met MacFarlane while recording a Laguna Beach clip for the episode "Prick Up Your Ears", (season 5, 2006).[114][115] She has watched Family Guy for years and considers Stewie her favorite character.[114] Commenting on his appearance in the episode "Big Man on Hippocampus", (season 8, 2010), actor Dwayne Johnson stated that he was a "big fan" of Family Guy.[116] Johnson befriended MacFarlane after he had a minor role in Johnson's 2010 film Tooth Fairy.[116] R&B singer Rihanna has admitted to being a fan of Family Guy,[117] as has pop singer Britney Spears; she tries to imitate Stewie's British accent.[118] She offered to appear in a cameo to hit back at the similar animated show South Park, but MacFarlane declined, stating he did not want to start a feud with the series.[119]


Family Guy and its cast have been nominated for thirteen Emmy Awards, with four wins. MacFarlane won the Outstanding Voice-Over Performance award for his performance as Stewie;[120] Murphy and MacFarlane won the Outstanding Music and Lyrics award for the song "You Got a Lot to See" from the episode "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows";[120] Steven Fonti won the Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation award for his storyboard work in the episode "No Chris Left Behind";[121] and Greg Colton won the Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation award for his storyboard work in the episode "Road to the Multiverse".[122] The show was nominated for eleven Annie Awards, and won three times, twice in 2006 and once in 2008.[123][124][125] In 2009 it was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, becoming the first animated program to be nominated in this category since The Flintstones in 1961.[126] The Simpsons was almost nominated in 1993, but voters were hesitant to pit cartoons against live action programs.[127][128] Family Guy has been nominated and has won various other awards, including the Teen Choice Awards and the People's Choice Awards.[129][130][131] In the 1,000th issue of Entertainment Weekly, Brian Griffin was selected as the dog for "The Perfect TV Family".[132] Wizard Magazine rated Stewie the 95th-greatest villain of all time.[133] British newspaper The Times rated Family Guy as the 45th-best American show in 2009.[134] IGN ranked Family Guy at number seven in the "Top 100 Animated Series" and number six in the "Top 25 Primetime Animated Series of All Time".[109][135] Empire named it the twelfth-greatest TV show of all time.[110] In 2005 viewers of the UK television channel Channel 4 voted Family Guy at number 5 on their list of the 100 Greatest Cartoons.[136] Brian was awarded the 2009 Stoner of the Year award by High Times for the episode "420", marking the first time an animated character received the honor.[137] In 2007 TV Guide ranked Family Guy number 15 in their list of top cult shows ever.[138]

Criticism and controversy

Family Guy has received a negative treatment from some critics. One of the initial critics to give the show negative reviews was Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly; he called it "The Simpsons as conceived by a singularly sophomoric mind that lacks any reference point beyond other TV shows".[139][140] The Parents Television Council (PTC), a non-profit watchdog, has attacked the series since its premiere and has branded various episodes as "Worst TV Show of the Week".[141][142][143] In May 2000 the PTC launched a letter-writing campaign to the Fox network in an effort to persuade the network to cancel the show.[144] The PTC has placed the show on their annual lists of "Worst Prime-Time Shows for Family Viewing" in 2000, 2005, and 2006.[145][146][147] The Federal Communications Commission has received multiple petitions requesting that the show be blocked from broadcasting on indecency grounds.[148] Tucker and the PTC have both accused the show portraying religion negatively, and of being racist.[149][150] Because of the PTC, some advertisers have canceled their contracts after reviewing the content of the episodes, claiming it to be unsuitable.[151][152] Critics have compared the show's humor and characters with those of The Simpsons.[153][154]

Various episodes of the show have generated controversy. In "The Son Also Draws" (season one, 1999) Peter jokes that "Canada sucks"; this caused controversy with Canadian viewers.[155] In "420" (season seven, 2009) Brian decides to start a campaign to legalize cannabis in Quahog; the Venezuelan government reacted negatively to the episode and banned Family Guy from airing on their local networks, which generally syndicate American programming. Venezuelan justice minister Tareck El Aissami, citing the promotion of the use of cannabis, stated that any cable stations that did not stop airing the series would be fined;[156] the government showed a clip which featured Brian and Stewie singing the praises of marijuana as a demonstration of how the United States supports cannabis use.[157] In "Extra Large Medium" (season eight, 2010) a character named Ellen (who has Down syndrome) states that her mother is the former Governor of Alaska, which strongly implies that her mother is Sarah Palin, the only woman to have served in the office of governor in the state. Sarah Palin criticized the episode in an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, calling those who made the show "cruel, cold-hearted people."[158]

Other media

Comic books

A comic book based on the Family Guy universe is being produced. Published by Titan Comics, it will be edited by Steve White and illustrated by Anthony Williams and S. L. Gallant. The writing and the illustrations will be supervised by the show's producers.[159] The comics will consist of a main story, a short story, and a gag strip. The first comic book was released on July 27, 2011.[159]

Live performances

As promotion for the show, and to, as Newman described, "expand interest in the show beyond its diehard fans",[160] Fox organized four Family Guy Live! performances, which featured cast members reading old episodes aloud. The cast also performed musical numbers from the Family Guy: Live in Vegas comedy album.[160] The stage shows were an extension of a performance by the cast during the 2004 Montreal Comedy Festival.[160] The Family Guy Live! performances, which took place in Los Angeles and New York, sold out and were attended by around 1,200 people each.[161]

In 2007, at the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, MacFarlane performed (as the digitally inserted Stewie and Brian) the ceremony's opening number. He performed a song insulting modern television to the tune of the song performed in the episode PTV. The song insulted TV shows such as Two and a Half Men, Desperate Housewives, and Scrubs, as well as the final scene of The Sopranos.

In 2009 a special televised performance show aired titled Family Guy Presents Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show, in which voice actors Alex Borstein and MacFarlane performed songs from the show, as well as a parody of Lady Gaga's song "Poker Face" in the voice of Marlee Matlin, who appeared onstage as a guest during the performance. Some new animated gags also appeared in the show.[162]


On July 22, 2007, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, MacFarlane announced that he may start working on a feature film, although "nothing's official."[163] In TV Week on July 18, 2008, MacFarlane confirmed plans to produce a theatrically released Family Guy feature film sometime "within the next year."[164] He came up with an idea for the story, "something that you could not do on the show, which [to him] is the only reason to do a movie." He later went to say he imagines the film to be "an old-style musical with dialogue" similar to The Sound of Music, saying that he would "really be trying to capture, musically, that feel."[165] On October 13, 2011, Seth MacFarlane confirmed that a deal for a Family Guy film had been made, and that it would be written by himself and series co-producer Ricky Blitt.[166]


MacFarlane co-created—alongside Mike Henry and Richard Appel—the Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show, which premiered September 27, 2009. They began discussing the project in 2007.[167][168] Appel and Henry serve as the show's executive producers and showrunners, handling the day-to-day operations, with limited involvement from McFarlane.[169] Henry and Appel conceived the show as "more of a family show, a sweeter show" than Family Guy.[170] The first season consists of 22 episodes,[171] and the show was picked up by Fox for a second season, which consists of 13 episodes. The announcement was made on May 3, 2009, before the first season began.[172] It was extended to a full second season.[173] Appel signed a new three-year, seven-figure deal with Fox to continue serving as showrunner on The Cleveland Show in 2010. Fox chairman Gary Newman commented: "What is special about him is his incredible leadership ability."[174] The show follows the Family Guy character Cleveland Brown, who is voiced by Henry, as he leaves the town of Quahog and moves with his son to start his own adventure.[167]

Video games

The Family Guy Video Game! is a 2006 action game released by 2K Games and developed by High Voltage Software. The game received mixed reviews, averaging 50% favorable reviews for the PlayStation 2 version,[175] 51% for the PlayStation Portable version,[176] and 53% for the Xbox version,[177] according to review aggregator Metacritic. The game received praise for its humor,[178] but was criticized for its short playtime[179] and "uninteresting gameplay".[180] On November 2, 2009, IGN journalist Ryan Langley reported the production of a Family Guy-based party game for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. He cited the LinkedIn profiles of former HB Studios developer Chris Kolmatycki and Invisible Entertainment co-owner Ron Doucet, which stated that the individuals had worked on the game.[181] MacFarlane recorded exclusive material of Peter's voice and other Family Guy characters for a 2007 pinball machine of the show by Stern Pinball.[182] A game called Family Guy Online was announced.[183]


As of 2009, six books have been released about the Family Guy universe, all published by HarperCollins since 2005.[184] The first, Family Guy: Stewie's Guide to World Domination (ISBN 978-0-06-077321-2) by Steve Callahan, was released in April 26, 2005. Written in the style of a graphic novel, the plot follows Stewie's plans to rule the world.[185] Other books include Family Guy: It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One (ISBN 978-0-7528-7593-4), which covers the events of the episode "It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One";[186] and Family Guy and Philosophy: A Cure for the Petarded (ISBN 978-1-4051-6316-3), a collection of 17 essays exploring the connections between the series and historical philosophers.[187]

Family Guy has been commercially successful in the home market.[188] The show was the first to be resurrected because of high DVD sales.[189][190] The first volume, covering the show's first two seasons, sold 1.67 million units, topping TV DVD sales in 2003, while the second volume sold another million units.[189][191] Volumes six and seven debuted at fifth place in United States DVD sales;[192][193] volume seven was the highest-selling television DVD, selling 171,000 units by June 21, 2009.[193] Family Guy Presents Blue Harvest, the DVD featuring the Star Wars special "Blue Harvest", was released on January 15, 2008, and premiered at the top of United States DVD sales.[194] The DVD was the first Family Guy DVD to include a digital copy for download to the iPod.[194] In 2004 the first series of Family Guy toy figurines was released by Mezco Toyz; each member of the Griffin family had their own toy, with the exception of Stewie, of whom two different figures were made.[195] Over the course of two years, four more series of toy figures were released, with various forms of Peter.[196] In 2008 the character Peter appeared in advertisements for Subway Restaurants, promoting the restaurant's massive feast sandwich.[197][198]

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External links

Quotations related to Family Guy at Wikiquote Media related to Family Guy at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
3rd Rock from the Sun
Super Bowl lead-out program
The Simpsons
Family Guy
Succeeded by
The Practice

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