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Best 'Family Guy' episodes

  • Best 'Family Guy' episodes

    Saved not once, but twice from cancellation, Fox’s “Family Guy” is now one of TV’s longest-running sitcoms. Chronicling the exploits of the Griffin family, each episode dispenses with irreverent sight gags and unexpected cutaways at a breakneck pace. Because the writers and animators cram so many jokes into a given frame, not every single one lands. By extension, entire episodes can fall under the banner of “total misfire,” to the chagrin of fans and delight of detractors. Nevertheless, when the show works, it definitely works.

    Of course, no discussion of “Family Guy” is complete without the name Seth MacFarlane. When studying animation at the Rhode Island School of Design, he created a thesis film called “The Life of Larry.” Interweaving animation and live-action, it featured the kind of whizbang pacing and crude humor that would later define so much of MacFarlane’s output. At its heart was a boorish middle-aged man named Larry Cummings, who lived with his talking dog, patient wife, and teenage son. MacFarlane later released a sequel called “Larry and Steve,” which aired in 1997 on the Cartoon Network. The seeds of “Family Guy” had thus been planted.

    Jump ahead two decades and the show is still going strong. Call it derivative, random, or downright tasteless, but it still retains a loyal following and even churns out the occasional classic episode. The series also continues to irk TV watchdog group the Parents Television Council, which has been railing against MacFarlane’s brand of anything-goes humor since it first hit the primetime airwaves. One might say that in today’s increasingly sensitive climate, “Family Guy” delivers an old-fashioned jolt of uncompromising expression. That’s not to mention the iconic gags, the onslaught of cultural references, zany characters, or infectious musical numbers, all of which respectively live on by way of reruns, memes, and viral videos.

    As mentioned, not every “Family Guy” segment or episode is a triumph of execution. However, the show’s best episodes inspire genuine laughs while satirizing various subject matters to prescient effect. It’s the top 50 of those episodes that Stacker celebrates today. Each entry is ranked according to its IMDb user rating, and any ties are broken by IMDb user votes. The season, episode number, and airdate of each episode are also included.

    Here are the best “Family Guy” episodes of all time as of Aug. 12, 2019.

    You may also like: Best 'Simpsons' episodes of all time

  • #50. Something, Something, Something, Dark Side

    - Season 8, Episode 20
    - IMDb rating: 7.7
    - IMDb votes: 5,401
    - Aired on: May 23, 2010

    The power goes out in the Griffin household and that can only mean one thing: another “Star Wars” parody. This time around, the show re-creates “The Empire Strikes Back” with a considerable eye for accuracy and detail. Featuring a swath of celebrity guest performances, the episode was released as a direct-to-video special before hitting the airwaves.

  • #49. Big Trouble in Little Quahog

    - Season 17, Episode 4
    - IMDb rating: 7.8
    - IMDb votes: 591
    - Aired on: Oct. 21, 2018

    After scaling themselves down to microscopic size, Stewie and Brian embark on an adventure of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” proportion. Along the way, they flee from hungry dust mites and befriend a group of amicable water bears. A number of episodes built around Stewie and Brian’s misadventures are big hits with the fans and this one is no exception.

  • #48. HTTPete

    - Season 16, Episode 18
    - IMDb rating: 7.8
    - IMDb votes: 751
    - Aired on: May 6, 2018

    Putting internet culture in its crosshairs, this latter-day episode follows Peter as he takes up the millennial lifestyle. His subsequent journey skewers everything from social media to cell phone dependence to vaping. Were it any other show, trigger warnings would apply.

  • #47. Roads to Vegas

    - Season 11, Episode 21
    - IMDb rating: 7.8
    - IMDb votes: 918
    - Aired on: May 19, 2013

    Sending up a string of Old Hollywood road trip films, the “Road to...” series takes Stewie and Brian well outside the Quahog city lines. In this seventh installment, they plan a trip to Vegas by way of Stewie’s teleporter machine. When it turns out the machine is also a cloning device, Vegas-style sci-fi comedy antics ensue.

  • #46. Viewer Mail #2

    - Season 10, Episode 22
    - IMDb rating: 7.8
    - IMDb votes: 979
    - Aired on: May 20, 2012

    Originally aired back to back with the season 10 finale, this penultimate episode breaks down into three fan-inspired segments. Targets include British sitcoms and Robin Williams before the episode closes out with the world through Stewie’s eyes. Actress Cate Blanchett and comedian Jeff Ross guest star.

  • #45. The Blind Side

    - Season 10, Episode 11
    - IMDb rating: 7.8
    - IMDb votes: 993
    - Aired on: Jan. 15, 2012

    Bearing no resemblance to the award-winning movie of the same name, “The Blind Side” follows Brian on his latest blind date. Not only does it turn out that Brian’s date is literally blind, but she happens to hate dogs. Writing for the AV Club, critic Kevin McFarland dubbed it a “decidedly above-average episode.”

  • #44. Petergeist

    - Season 4, Episode 26
    - IMDb rating: 7.8
    - IMDb votes: 1,174
    - Aired on: May 7, 2006

    Ripped straight out of 1982’s “Poltergeist,” this season four parody finds Peter building a home multiplex theater atop sacred Indian burial grounds. As persistently edgy the episode might be, some of its original gags were deemed too inappropriate for television. Like a number of top “Family Guy” outings, this one features uncensored scenes on the DVD version.

  • #43. Patriot Games

    - Season 4, Episode 20
    - IMDb rating: 7.8
    - IMDb votes: 1,234
    - Aired on: Jan. 29, 2006

    After making an impression on Tom Brady (voiced by the actual NFL star), Peter ends up as the starting center for the New England Patriots. When he’s traded to the London Silly Nannies, it sends him and the family on a trip to England. In addition to Brady, the episode guest stars Troy Brown, Carol Channing, Jay Leno, and Bob Costas.

  • #42. He's Too Sexy for His Fat

    - Season 2, Episode 17
    - IMDb rating: 7.8
    - IMDb votes: 1,251
    - Aired on: June 27, 2000

    Thanks to the wonders of liposuction and other surgical procedures, Peter takes on an entirely different physical appearance. Along with the new physique comes new opportunities and a massive new ego, prompting him to join the Quahog Beautiful People's Club. IGN critic Ahsan Haque noted that the story line had “no redeeming moral value whatsoever,” though the satire is fairly self-evident.

  • #41. North by North Quahog

    - Season 4, Episode 1
    - IMDb rating: 7.8
    - IMDb votes: 1,322
    - Aired on: May 1, 2005

    Three years after it was canceled (for the second time), “Family Guy” returned from the TV junkyard with this season four debut. While on a second honeymoon with Lois, Peter steals Mel Gibson’s latest film, “Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This.” What follows is a direct parody of Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest,” complete with a showdown on Mount Rushmore.

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