Family Guy has become one of the longest-running television shows that Fox has ever broadcast. Even after its cancellation in 2002, it came back in 2004 and has been continued to bring loads of comedy ever since then. Quahog’s favorite family, consisting of Peter, his wife Lois, and their three children Chris, Meg, and Stewie have been through some of the wildest but funny adventures for longer than some of our kids have been alive.
The show has a decent collection of Emmy Awards and doesn’t seem as if it’s stopping, much like its ongoing predecessor at Fox, The Simpsons. But with a show that’s been on for 20 seasons, it is quite hard to put together a list of the best out of them all.
The following is a selection of the 10 best, from the lowest to the top. But please, don’t judge this writer too harshly.
Blue Harvest – Season 6, Episode 1
This one is technically chosen at the beginning of this list to get it out of the way. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing special about it. This re-telling of the first Star Wars movie ever released in theatres, A New Hope, does such a great job making fun of the iconic film and yet pays enough homage to it that it doesn’t seem like it’s insulting the original story. And if you’ve seen the original movies before seeing this episode, you’ll never see those original movies the same way again, which might be for the better!
Of course, Seth MacFarlane, without whom the show wouldn’t even be possible, had to do the next two instalments of the original three Star Wars episodes, which are funny, but nothing beats the very first one.
Road to Rupert – Season 5, Episode 9
One of the best episodes that feature a Brian-and-Stewie adventure makes this list, easily. Stewie’s cherished teddy bear Rupert is mistakenly sold at the neighborhood yard sale, which instantly begins an outlandish quest for the Griffins’ youngest’s most prized possession. While this is the episode’s main plot, a hilarious side story also ensues where Peter, who had foolishly lost his driver’s license, must rely on Meg for transportation. A touching but short-lived bond is established between the two before Meg goes back to being the usual butt of the jokes.
In the meantime, Stewie eventually travels far and wide to end up getting himself into a downhill ski race with Rupert becoming the victor. What quickly ensues afterward is one of the funniest carjackings ever seen. Enough said.
Road to the Multiverse – Season 8, Episode 1
The season opener to the show’s eighth season cleverly shows off the range that the creative team is capable of, just to present the characters of the show in different versions of themselves. Forget about how Brian and Stewie end up experiencing all these alternate universes. Just think of seeing Brian as a human and Stewie as a dog, part of a world where humans and dogs switch roles? Or the Family Guy universe animated in the classic Disney style that features a whimsical original song about pie?
The visual changes are thanks to the universe-jumping that Brian and Stewie embark upon after the genius-baby develops technology for such traveling. There are even quick glimpses into worlds where both Brian and Stewie would be in their own little heavens, respectively.
Stewie Kills Lois – Season 6, Episode 4
Despite such a young life, doing away with his own mother was Stewie’s life-long dream. It took him a handful of seasons but apparently, he did it.
Of course, like so many who act on impulse, he regrets his actions while everyone else around him seems to have moved on from it. What’s really striking though here is not just the speed with which the rest of the Griffins got over the loss of Lois, but that there’s actually a “new” Lois taking her place in the house. If you haven’t seen this episode, just watch and enjoy.
Da Boom – Season 2, Episode 3
This episode was from the first run of the show before it was originally canceled. It featured a scenario where all of the old “Y2K” fears came true, including an apocalyptic wasteland of an environment that also had the Griffins afflicted by nuclear-related physical mutations.
It actually aired days before the real turn of the century in 2000, which is one of the most clever things the series has ever done. Plus, it also featured the first “round” of one of the show’s most-loved tropes, the everlasting fisticuffs between Peter and the Giant Chicken.
The Simpsons Guy – Season 13, Episode 1
This was an episode that many fans wanted to see happen between the Fox animated show that originally pushed the envelope and the one that followed in its footsteps on the same network, wildly decimating said envelope. The Simpsons end up hosting the Griffins in Springfield and both clans humorously clashed cultures, even featuring Peter and Homer throwing hands in a Giant Chicken-style fight. Ultimately, both families bonded pretty well in a touching and consistently funny episode.
For the nerds in some of us, it was also entertaining to see how both families, who aren’t drawn the same, exist in the same world, but it’s something they poke quick fun at once Peter and Homer meet. Their respective universes present their human societies with their own particular physical features that are obviously different between both shows. The only thing they seem to have in common is that everyone has four fingers naturally, a common feature throughout the genre.
Death is a B*tch – Season 2, Episode 6
Another pick from the show’s early years is where Peter’s days were numbered when Death showed up in Quahog, looking to cross the head of the Griffin household off his list. How did Peter end up on the Grim Reaper’s radar? Well, Peter faked his own death on an insurance form which of course is quite foolish, but par for the course for Peter. Death somehow sprains his ankle while in hot pursuit of Peter, leaving the aforementioned Death having to leave his duties to Peter while he heals.
The late and legendary funnyman Norm MacDonald lent his voice talents as the Grim Reaper in the first of many appearances of the character, though Death would be later played by another comedian, Adam Carolla.
PTV – Season 4, Episode 14
This pick is certainly an ironic one as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was in the role of antagonist to Peter’s passionate desire for what should be allowed on TV. The irony lies in the fact that the show in real-life likely made the real FCC want to engage in the sort of censorship that they attempted in this episode. In some parts, a suit would show up to drown out bad words with an airhorn or literally stand with a black box to cover up certain body parts on Peter that should probably never see the light of day.
In the often traditional style, there is a rather catchy tune about the “frickin’ FCC” that’ll get even the most conservative viewer tapping their foot. Pair that with a montage of content that the FCC at the time didn’t allow on the air and this pick easily ranks among the show’s best ever.
And Then There Were Fewer – Season 9, Episode 1
This episode was longer than the usual half-hour adventures that fans of the show are used to, coming in at a full sixty minutes in length. A murder mystery that opened the ninth season had all of the show’s regular characters attend a dinner party where one of them gets offed and a classic Agatha Christie-style plot ensues.
The entire episode is funny and paced well, especially considering it’s double the length of a standard one. It even proves that the show can be quite entertaining without a whole lot of raunchiness and crude humor at its core. And as an added bonus, Stewie reverts to his old ways to close the episode with a satisfying bang.
Back to the Pilot – Season 10, Episode 5
Keeping up with Brian and Stewie’s time-traveling exploits, this episode features a journey back to the very first episode of the series. Seriously, they went all the way back to when the characters looked a little less smoothly drawn and Meg was voiced by Lacey Chabert, for example.
Brian alters the usual timeline of their universe by informing past Brian about 9/11, which drastically changes the future. In a similar fashion to the greatest time-travel adventure in the history of man, Back to the Future, these two best friends must repair the past to save their future timeline from disappearing. Along the way, the duo also cleverly makes fun of several technical errors, decisions made, and classic events during the show’s early years, back when Fox had them on a short leash.
Another fun fact for the Family Guy nerds out there is how the viewing aspect ratio changes between both the past scenes containing present-day Brian and Stewie (4:3) and the present day (16:9), within the episode, keeping the gimmick pretty authentic.
So there you have it, the 10 best Family Guy episodes in the series’ history thus far. But who knows, perhaps the best is yet to come.