Family Guy is no stranger to controversy, and here are 10 boundary-pushing episodes that ended up causing more than a few controversies for Fox.
Family Guy’s dark humor is one of the things it does better than South Park, but, sometimes, the show doesn’t know where the line is, making references to everything from Celebrity tragedy to historical travesties.
Though finding comedy in anything may be a positive outlook to have on life, the writers of the show may not know that what they find humorous other people might find offensive. Or maybe they do know that, and they are actually trying to offend people, which could be just as likely.
JFK PEZ Dispenser
This is one of the few jokes which even Seth Macfarlane, the creator himself, admitted went too far. The joke comes from an unknown character that we’ve never seen before. In “A Hero Next Door,” a child’s John F. Kennedy PEZ dispenser gets blown up when it’s accidentally shot at.
The child isn’t too upset, as he pulls another dispenser out of his pocket, this time in the form of Bobby Kennedy. The two men were assassinated in 1963 and 1968, respectively, and it’s a reference that Macfarlane regrets.
Prom Night Dumpster Baby
Based on the story of Melissa Drexler, who reportedly gave birth during prom and threw the baby in a dumpster, only to return to the venue to dance the night away. In “Prom Night Dumpster Baby,” Family Guy does what it does best, by turning the tragic into pure unapologetic humor, as the baby comes to life and sings with a backing band of many other unfortunate dumpster babies.
AIDS Barbershop Quartet
There are a lot of terrible things that Peter has done, but “The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire” features one of the worst thoughts Peter has ever had.
In this episode, Doctor Hartman is in the hospital and must tell a patient that he has AIDS. Only, he can’t do it, so he lets a barbershop fronted by Peter tell him, instead. The song that they sing, the aptly titled “You Have AIDS,” happens to be one of the catchiest musical numbers in a show that is filled with them.
One month before the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon, “Turban Cowboy” aired, and it featured a ton of parallels to the tragic event. The episode follows Peter as he joins a group of Islamic Terrorists that plot to destroy the Quohog Bridge.
Not only are there parallels to the bombing, but it also comes off as ignorantly racist. It’s one of the darkest episodes of Family Guy, and the episode was pulled from being broadcast not long after the event.
Herbert The Pervert
Being one of the funniest yet most bizarre characters in the Family Guy pantheon, Herbert has a paedophilic infatuation with Chris. Even the quiet murmur of the character’s voice is enough to send shivers down viewers’ spines.
The character is clearly very controversial, but it arguably went too far in “German Guy,” when he literally fights for Chris’ love against a Nazi, who was once Herbert’s captor when he was in the Air Force.
Anne Frank’s Family Hideout
Family Guy’s dark tone is one of the ways it has changed since season one, but, in “If I’m Dyin’, I’m Lyin,” it went so far that Fox has done everything they can to keep the clip from ever surfacing online, though it hasn’t stopped people from trying.
In the cutaway, Peter inadvertently gets Anne Frank and her family caught by the Gestapo, as he’s in the attic with them eating potato chips loudly.
Michael J. Fox
Family Guy may have had a lot of great guest stars, but one of them is not Michael J. Fox. In “Tiegs For Two.” Fox is a sufferer of Parkinson’s Disease, and its main symptom is uncontrollable shaking. Not only that, but the Back to the Future star is a massive advocate and is constantly raising funds for the disease, which makes Peter’s joke all the more tongue in cheek. Peter’s white shirt gets stained by red wine that Fox spilled on him due to his uncontrollable shaking.
Partial Terms Of Endearment
Possibly the most debated subject in recent history was the source of many jokes in “Partial Terms of Endearment,” which was another episode that was tipped “too hot for TV,” and was instead given a DVD-release.
The banned episode follows Lois, who has become a surrogate mother and has to decide whether she wants to keep the baby or have an abortion after the to-be-parents are killed in a car crash. The episode doesn’t pull any punches, but it is actually logical and isn’t as offensive as it definitely could have been.
“I Need A Jew”
In “When You Wish Upon A Weinstein,” Peter frustrates himself as he struggles with his knowledge of accounting and general financial know-how. It’s at this moment when Peter wishes up the most anti-Semitic thought possible. The ignorantly offensive character breaks in to song with another offensive number, “I Need A Jew.” Because of this song, the episode was pulled by Fox for two whole years.
Handicap Only Establishment
Joe is one of the best recurring characters, and he has a prominent role in “No Meals On Wheels,” in which Peter opens his own restaurant. The restaurant ends up becoming massively successful, but Peter still isn’t happy. The spot becomes the local for Joe and all of his wheelchair-bound buddies, which is when Peter declares that he doesn’t want the restaurant to be a “handicapped-only establishment.”