There’s a joke I could make here about the fact we are lucky he’s a Family Guy… but I’m not going to make it. Whatever your thoughts on Seth McFarlane’s creation, there is no denying the staying power of Family Guy which is now deep into its 20th season. So, with Fox unlikely to cut it anytime soon, why not look back at the 10 best Family Guy episodes and rank them? Before I get into the list properly, here is some history about the show.
Family Guy first aired on Fox in January 1999 and as mentioned above is deep into its 20th season. The show follows the Griffin Family, imagine the Smiths but even more dysfunctional, and their mad antics in Quahog, Rhode Island. Oh, also randomly throughout the show Peter gets into fights with a giant chicken, Ernie. So besides giant chicken fights what else do the Griffins get up too? Well, a lot of heinous law breaking (which isn’t punished), beer drinking and a lot of cutaways. Overall, while Family Guy has definitely declined over the years there are still some funny characters like Stewie, the former world domination obsessed baby, and both Mayor Wests, Adam and Wild West (Sam Elliott). So without further ado, here are the best Family Guy episodes.
10: Petergeist (S4, E26)
Kicking off the list of best Family Guy episodes is Petergeist aka the Poltergeist parody. So what happens to cause a poltergeist to haunt the Griffins? Well, in a desperate attempt to one up Joe Peter decides to build a multiplex in his back garden. However, the only problem is that his garden is on top of native American remains. So what does Peter do? He obviously takes the skull and uses it as an athletic cup. Cue the start of the Poltergeist parodies which somehow ends up with Carrot Top getting involved. Wacky yet somewhat compelling.
9: Death Lives (S3, E6)
Unlike most animated cartoons Family Guy has Death appear as a semi-regular character. Add to this the fact he was voiced by Norm MacDonald. So, what happens in the episode? Well in a wonderfully twisted parody of It’s A Wonderful Life, Peter dies and is too stupid to learn any lessons from his mistakes. So how does he get back to Lois? Well, he brokers a deal to help Death get a girlfriend. The less said about the fact she becomes drop dead gorgeous the better. Yet another example of the madness of Peter Griffin…
8: I Dream of Jesus (S7, E2)
Now your love of this episode depends on one song: Surfin’ Bird by the Trashmen. Why? Because Peter becomes obsessed with the song and starts comedically setting up the rest of the Griffins with Bird is the Word jokes. Eventually this leads Stewie and Brian to go all Office Space on the record. Oh, something else also happens in this episode…. there’s a spot on Jay Leno impression. I feel like I’m missing out on one very key recurring character introduction and I can’t quite think of who it could be…
7: Fat Guy Strangler (S4, E17)
Sometimes you do have to marvel at some of the celebrity voice acting roles in Family Guy. Case in point, Robert Downey Jr voicing the titular Fat Guy Strangler aka Patrick Pewterschmidt. So, how does Patrick Pewterschmidt meet Peter? Long story short, Lois realises Patrick is her brother and brings him back into her life. This leads to Patrick strangling a lot of fat men before Lois and Brian can save Peter from falling victim to Patrick. How do they do this? They threaten Patrick’s invisible wife. Sure, why not? It’s not Family Guy is realistic….
6: Road to Germany (S7, E3)
So how to follow up an episode about a fat guy strangler? Well, an episode about a Jewish character, Mort, accidentally travelling back in time to Nazi Germany with Brian and Stewie trying to find him. So that only is enough to sell the episode but wait there’s more. On top of this, there’s at least four different pop culture parodies. And somehow McFarlane manages to fit in jokes about how French cows moo, reinforcing Quagmire’s grossness and the vagaries of bacon pants. This episode arguably feels like the equivalent of Christmas dinner: just utterly overstuffed.
5: Da Boom (S2, E3)
At the halfway point of the best Family Guy episodes is Da Boom aka what if Y2K actually happened. Obviously Y2K happens and Peter Griffin is left in charge of rebuilding Rhode Island. How does he accomplish this? He leads survivors to a Twinkie factory where he then founded New Quahog. And obviously he declares himself Mayor for Life. With this being Family Guy there’s a pop culture parody with McFarlane mocking the infamous Dallas it was all a dream…. So much madness again.
4: E. Peterbus Unum (S2, E18)
Narrowly missing out on the top three best Family Guy episodes is E. Peterbus Unum. Basically Peter goes to extreme lengths to get a swimming pool…. by setting up his own country and annexing Joe’s pool. Somehow this escalates to the point where the US military put Petoria, just the Griffins’ country but really just their house, under siege. Even more bizarre than this is the random scene with a naked Bill Clinton talking to his military advisors. Sometimes you really wonder what goes on in Seth McFarlane’s mind.
3: Three Kings (S7, E15)
Some part of me hates the fact they didn’t parody the Shining in this Stephen King parody anthology. Instead the three stories chosen are Stand By Me, Misery and The Shawshank Redemption. And all three work on some level. Whether it is Stewie as Annie Wilkes in Misery, Quagmire as Norm in Stand By Me or Adam West as Kiether Sutherland’s character in Stand By Me. But the undisputed highlight is Peter using the Friends clap to escape Shawshank on taco night. Inspired stuff there.
2: Blue Harvest (S6, E1)
To be honest there is a very strong case for Blue Harvest being the best Family Guy episode, even without considering it’s Star Wars credentials. However, as a parody of A New Hope it still holds up as a fantastic episode and stands above the other Star Wars parodies. Whether it’s Brian and Peter as Chewbacca and Han Solo who are desperate to steal a sofa or the Imperial March elevator music remix, there are so many highlights. I’d be here all day listing the rest of the highlights from this episode….
1: Road to the Multiverse (S8, E1)
And the best Family Guy episode is… Road to the Multiverse! If you’ve seen this episode, you’ll know why I’ve ranked it number one. If you haven’t, I’ll give you a quick summary. Stewie ends up developing multiverse travel but ends up pinging around parallel universes. These include a universe where humans and dogs switch places, a scientific utopia and many others including Lee Harvey Oswald shooting Mayor McCheese. If you were to describe Family Guy to a new viewer, this episode would be perfect. Full of cutaways and irreverent nonsense, this feels like a pure distillation of Family Guy.
What are your favourite Family Guy episodes? Let me know in the comments!