Family Guy is an animated sitcom — for adults, just in case that’s not clear — that began running in 1999. Created by Seth MacFarlane, the popular program took a two year break but resumed in 2005 and is still going strong. Family Guy is known for its sarcastic commentary on American culture, and the subject matter means that shows are often edgy. Just for fun, we rounded up 10 of the most controversial episodes of Family Guy.
“I need a Jew”
Family Guy regularly takes on Jewish stereotypes, and as a result, many people complain about the show’s anti-Semitism. A controversial episode from 2003 had Peter singing a song to the tune of “When You Wish Upon a Star” — only he was singing about needing a Jew to teach him how to do his taxes and whine and other stereotypical things. Fox didn’t air the episode initially until certain parts were cut, but it still managed to offend people.
“Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!”
Nothing is off limits on Family Guy, including medical conditions and disabilities. Peter eats 30 hamburgers, has a stoke, limps to the car in a cringe-worthy way, shuts his useless arm in the door and proceeds to sing REM’s “End of the World” as he recklessly drives through town. He crashes into a tree by the river, where a rowing team comes by calling out, “Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!”
“Prom Night Dumpster Baby”
This particular Family Guy episode is exactly what the title says: a baby is left in a dumpster on prom night (the mom happily runs back in to enjoy the rest of prom). The dumpster baby, swinging his still-attached umbilical cord, sings a song about being left in the dumpster. Teens delivering babies and leaving them in dumpsters… not everyone thinks that’s something to laugh at.
“Peter vs. The Crippletron”
If you watch Family Guy, you know that disability is a regular theme. Joe, Peter’s neighbor, is in a wheelchair. The jokes about disabilities work because Peter is usually portrayed as the idiot in these situations. He’s doing something that allows the audience to laugh at him. The “Peter vs. the Crippletron” episode was particularly controversial, however, because Joe joins forces with other wheelchair-bound people who form a giant “Crippletron” to gain access to the diner and they more or less mock disabilities themselves. Basically, the scene leaves us laughing at disabilities in general versus finding humor in the mistreatment of people with disabilities.
“Partial terms of endearment”
This particularly controversial episode of Family Guy never even aired in the U.S. Lois becomes pregnant and has an abortion because Peter wants her to end the pregnancy. However, Peter then does a 180 and joins the rallying anti-choice crowd. Abortion is always a controversial topic to navigate and apparently, it was just too much for Family Guy.
A 2008 episode of Family Guy went after McCain and Palin. Stewie notices three Nazis and the characters steal their uniforms. Upon close inspection, he finds a McCain-Palin campaign button on the Nazi jacket. Burn.
“The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire”
AIDS advocacy groups were not amused by a 2005 Family Guy episode that made a joke out of the disease. In it, Peter recalls an incident years earlier where he danced around a sick man’s bed singing, “You got the AIDS!” Not everyone thought it was a laughing matter.
“I guess it’s just the way God made them”
Family Guy isn’t afraid to tackle the issue of racial stereotyping, and in this particular episode, they focused on Asians. Memorable quotes:
“Have you guys noticed how many Asians there are at this school? How’s they get so smart?”
“I don’t know. I guess that’s just the way God made them.”
“Gentlemen, I give you the Asian… Compact, hairless and fiercely intelligent. The penises, while tiny, are extremely efficient. We’re projecting 10 billion within five years. Also, they’ll be different varieties that will all hate each other for some reason.”
Is a guy beating his wife ever funny? This controversial Family Guy episode wasn’t actually looking for humor in the situation, but rather showing a depressingly common situation. It didn’t go over all that well — maybe it’s because viewers are used to some sort of comic bent and because one didn’t exist, the point was missed.
“Laura Bush killed a guy”
When Laura Bush was 17, she was failed to yield to a stop sign and was in a car accident. The accident resulted in a friend’s death. A 2008 controversial Family Guy episode had Peter dressed up as Laura Bush and Lois dressed as “the guy she killed” for Halloween.
While many people are outraged by the crass humor and lack of political correctedness on Family Guy, the show must be doing something right. Family Guy has been on TV for 15+ years, and one of the many things that it does is it reminds us not to take ourselves so seriously.