The Griffins at the center of Seth MacFarlane’s "Family Guy" give off the appearance of your typical blue-collar American family. But across two decades and more than 300 episodes, each member of the Griffin family has engaged in some pretty deplorable behavior. Many of their awful deeds are done for laughs, and admittedly, several of them have resulted in some of the series’ most iconic lines and moments. But even the most die-hard fans can admit that there are some instances where the show can push the limit on what really counts as "dark comedy."
While the Griffins are far from the worst people on the show, each one of them can be viewed in a very negative light when you look at some of the things they have done. Here is a rundown of some of the worst acts that the Griffin family have committed on "Family Guy" and how each of them can easily be seen as going too far.
Lois makes out with Meg’s boyfriend
When compared to the rest of the family, mother Lois (Alex Borstein) is often the voice of reason and is usually the one trying to steer things in the right direction. But on occasion, Lois can stoop to some pretty low levels. Many of her worst deeds involve her own daughter Meg (Mila Kunis). One of her worst acts against Meg happens in the Season 8 episode "Go, Stewie, Go!"
In the episode, Meg begins dating a boy named Anthony around the same time Peter (MacFarlane) begins constantly making fun of Lois due to her age, making her feel insecure about her looks. When Lois sees Meg and Anthony making out, she becomes attracted to him. She then tricks Meg into leaving the room so that she can jump Anthony and start making out with him. Meg eventually comes back and finds the two together, effectively ruining one of the best relationships she’s ever had.
Lois eventually apologizes to Meg and reconciles her relationship with Peter after he finds out, but her making out with a significantly younger man who is already in a relationship with her daughter is not a good look for her.
Lois casually suggests Meg kill herself
Meg being bullied and forgotten by her own family has been a constant running gag throughout the show, and each member of the Griffins has done it at some point. Even Lois has shown very little regard for Meg’s well-being on several occasions. Season 7’s "Stew-Roids" shows that even when Meg is at her lowest point, Lois would rather look the other way.
The subplot of the episode revolves around Meg’s brother Chris (Seth Green) becoming popular at school after dating Meg’s enemy Connie D’Amico. When Chris throws a party at his own house without inviting Meg, she becomes distraught and cries in her bedroom. Lois tries to console her, but nothing works. Eventually, Lois decides to give up, gives Meg a Sylvia Plath book and a bottle of Ambien, and walks away.
For those that don’t know, Sylvia Plath was a 20th-century poet famous for writing works that reflected her own struggles with depression. Many of Sylvia’s poems centered around the themes of death and darkness, and her work became more popular after she committed suicide at age 30. For Lois to casually throw Plath’s work at Meg with a bottle of pills is a pretty dark thing for a mother to do.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Meg gets Joe’s wife Bonnie arrested
Just because Meg is usually the victim of other people’s cruelty doesn’t mean she hasn’t gotten a little dirty herself. In fact, the eldest Griffin child is capable of being just as harsh as the others when it comes to getting what she wants. One such instance happens in Season 9’s "The Hand That Rocks The Wheelchair," when Meg is tasked with looking after Joe Swanson (Patrick Warbutron) while his wife Bonnie (Jennifer Tilly) is out of town.
Joe’s kindness towards Meg causes her to fall in love with him, and also become extremely resentful of Bonnie. In an effort to get Bonnie out of the picture, Meg travels to Maine to plant a gun in Bonnie’s bag so that she’ll get arrested when trying to get back home. Meg’s obsession with Joe gets even worse when she throws herself in front of his car in order to handicap herself to be more like Joe.
Meg eventually apologizes to both Joe and Bonnie, but her attempts at ruining someone else’s marriage shouldn’t be overlooked.
Meg tries to drug Chris in an effort to get him to sleep with her crush
Meg’s unlucky love life is a common plot point in "Family Guy." In addition to the aforementioned obsession with Joe, Meg has gone to great lengths to get other men to like her. One such man is Kent in Season 11’s "Friends Without Benefits," a boy Meg instantly has a crush on when they first meet.
But the problem is that Kent is gay and doesn’t reciprocate her feelings. He then reveals that he has a crush on her brother Chris and would like to get to know him more. Although initially upset, Meg eventually asks Chris to sleep with Kent so he can tell her what it was like. When he refuses, Meg hatches a plan to drug Chris with roofies and tell Kent that Chris is ready and waiting for him.
Though Meg does back out of the plan, the fact that she even considers drugging her brother into having sex with someone he doesn’t want to is a very big red flag.
Chris and Meg injure Stewie and then try to cover it up
"Family Guy" has never shied away from gross-out gags or using serious injuries for laughs. The subplot of Season 8’s "Brian Griffin’s House of Payne" focuses on one particularly gross incident when baby Stewie (MacFarlane) is bumped by Chris and Meg and falls down the stairs. He’s knocked unconscious and sustains a severe head wound.
Initially scared of how their parents will react, Chris and Meg try to cover the injury up as much as possible. Peter eventually gets involved and helps them continue the charade as the wound becomes infected. When Meg suggests taking Stewie to the hospital, Peter hatches a plan to frame Lois for the injury by throwing Stewie at her car. Believing she injured her baby, Lois suggests framing someone else for the injury before the family finally decides to take Stewie to the hospital.
The entire family is at fault here for letting Stewie’s injury go unchecked, but Chris and Meg deserve the most flak for not only causing the injury but also not being honest about it in the first place.
Stewie lets his therapist die
Stewie Griffin may be a baby, but his genius intellect and homicidal tendencies make him a lethal force capable of carrying out some cold acts. Though not the coldest thing Stewie ever did, his actions at the end of Season 16’s "Send In Stewie, Please" are pretty low.
The episode centers around Stewie seeing a child psychologist (Ian McKellen), with no other characters or cutaway gags interrupting the story. The episode offers some unique insight into both Stewie’s and his doctor’s personalities. Near the end of the episode, the doctor has a heart attack and asks Stewie to help him. But Stewie refuses, explaining that the doctor has seen him for who he really is, and he’s intent on keeping his persona intact.
A small scene at the very end implies that Stewie does feel bad for letting the man die, but that doesn’t change how needlessly cruel it is for Stewie to let an innocent doctor plead for help without doing anything.
Stewie gets himself pregnant to be closer to Brian
Stewie’s friendship with talking dog Brian (MacFarlane) is one of the best parts of "Family Guy." The dynamic duo have many adventures over the course of the series, but Season 13’s "Stewie Is Enceinte" takes their relationship to a creepy new level. When Stewie feels that Brian doesn’t want to be his friend anymore, he decides to steal some of Brian’s DNA and impregnate himself with Brian’s babies.
Everything about this episode’s plot feels wrong. The image of Stewie with a baby bump is disturbing enough, but the sequence where Stewie gives birth to a litter in Brian’s car is what really takes the cake. The birth isn’t shown, but the graphic sound effects are one of the grossest things the series has ever done. The babies are also hard to look at, as they turn out to be a group of human/animal hybrids that are born with several defects. To make matters worse, Stewie and Brian decide to give them up at the end of the episode, making every awful thing that happened before appear pointless.
Brian lets a woman and her child drown
"Family Guy" frequently uses cutaway gags to make pop culture references or explain why a character does what they do. Many of these cutaways don’t affect the plot and shouldn’t be taken seriously, but not all of them are created equal. Season 15’s "American Gigg-olo" features one cutaway gag that makes Brian look like a pretty awful person.
In the episode, Brian discovers that he is no longer covered by Peter’s health insurance and explains that he needs it because of a hernia he got while performing an act of "heroism." The show then cuts away to Brian witnessing a woman crash her car, with the car about to sink into the ocean. Brian goes to help the woman by slowing down the car’s descent, but when the woman reveals that she has a child in back seat, Brian lets go. The car sinks.
There can be something darkly humorous about this cutaway gag, but the thought of Brian willingly letting an innocent baby die can leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth.
Brian gives Stewie herpes
Brian and Stewie’s relationship can be hot or cold at times, but their relationship is at its lowest in Season 12’s "Herpe The Love Sore."
After watching a blood brothers ritual, Stewie asks Brian to become his blood brother. Unfortunately for Stewie, he wakes up with a herpes infection the next day. Brian later reveals that he was aware of his herpes but didn’t tell Stewie before the ritual. Stewie is then ostracized by others for his infection but finds an unlikely companion in Chris when the latter reveals that he also contracted a herpes infection from Brian, and the two plan to take revenge. Brian eventually apologizes to Stewie for giving him herpes and promises to never lie to him again.
Although Stewie forgives him in the end, Brian shouldn’t have gone through with the blood ritual knowing he would infect his best friend for the rest of his life.
Peter gets Quagmire fired, and his friends hijack a plane to get Quagmire his job back
Peter Griffin is arguably the worst member of the Griffin family, as nearly every episode features him doing something stupid or terrible. His antics are usually random, but they also tend to have a negative effect on his friends or family.
In Season 5’s "Airport ’07," Peter decides to become a redneck and steals fuel from a plane that his friend Quagmire (MacFarlane) is supposed to fly, believing that it will make his pickup truck fly. This causes Quagmire to make a crash landing and lose his job. In an effort to get his friend’s job back, Peter and his friends, disguised as cabin crew members, board a plane that Quagmire is riding and drug the pilots so that Quagmire will step in and land the plane safely. The plan almost fails when Quagmire forgets to board the plane, but the day is eventually saved.
In the span of a single episode, Peter costs a close friend his job while also endangering the lives of numerous others across two different flights thanks to his stupidity.
Peter kills a whale
"Family Guy" has a tendency to let jokes linger for way too long or repeat the same gags constantly until they become stale. Anyone who’s watched the show can attest to this with how many times it cuts away to random Conway Twitty performances. In Season 12’s "Peter Problems," the show’s worst tendency leads to one of its most uncomfortable moments.
Peter is promoted to forklift operator at his job, leading to him becoming obsessed with it and using the machine outside of the workplace. In one segment, he attempts to save a beached whale by using the forklift to carry it back into the water. Unfortunately, Peter ends up impaling the whale and killing it. What follows was a frustratingly long sequence of Peter failing to get the whale off the forklift as the animal’s body falls apart.
What starts off as a fairly funny joke turns into a gross-out gag that goes on far longer than it should.
Peter runs over marathoners with his car
The violence on "Family Guy" can be gory and over-the-top, but it’s almost always in the service of either the story or a good laugh. The show’s cutaway gags can get pretty violent from time to time, but one gag was so violent that it attracted real-world controversy.
In Season 11’s "Turban Cowboy," Peter befriends a Muslim man and even tries to convert to the religion. Their relationship takes a dark turn when the man reveals himself to be a terrorist, with Peter eventually getting involved in a plot to blow up a bridge. The episode was highly criticized for its portrayal of Muslims, but one of its cutaway gags got the most attention: Peter details how he won the Boston Marathon, which leads to a cutaway of Peter running over marathoners with his car.
The image of Peter committing mass murder was already bad, but it was made even worse by the fact that the Boston Marathon bombing happened one month after the episode aired. This caused Fox to pull the show from streaming services.
All the death and destruction Peter causes with his Chicken fights
When it comes to Peter’s penchant for nonsensical violence and destruction, nowhere is it more apparent than in his various battles with Ernie the Giant Chicken. A recurring villain throughout the series, the man in the chicken suit has crossed paths with Peter on several occasions. And almost every time they do, a massive fistfight breaks out.
Each of their battles takes them to various places, from airplanes to cruise ships to even outer space. Their battles always cause massive property damage and civilian casualties, with the two not even realizing the destruction they are causing. But no matter how violent and aggressive their fights become, Peter’s attempts to kill the Chicken never work, and he always comes back for more.
Each of Peter’s fights with the Chicken are funny in some way, but there is no denying that all of the devastation these two cause can be very excessive. The Chicken fights easily make Peter the most violent man on the show.
There are a handful of adult-oriented animated programs out there, but "Family Guy" stands head and shoulders above the majority. Created by Seth MacFarlane back in 1999, the show chronicles the unorthodox lives of the Griffin family, made up of parents Peter (MacFarlane) and Lois (Alex Borstein), their children, Chris (Seth Green), Stewie (MacFarlane), and Meg (Mila Kunis), and the talking dog, Brian (MacFarlane). Though they appear as average, everyday people, the situations they have found themselves in over the years are anything but — oftentimes dragging other Quahog, Rhode Island natives into their misadventures.
Some of the most prolific presences in the Griffin family’s lives are Peter’s best friends, Cleveland Brown (Arif Zahir), Glenn Quagmire (MacFarlane), and Joe Swanson portrayed by the legendary Patrick Warburton. Officer Swanson was introduced in the fifth episode "Family Guy," titled "A Hero Sits Next Door," and has gone on to become one of its most recognizable characters thanks largely Warburton’s unforgettable vocal cadence. In essence, it has reached a point that the two are synonymous with one another, making them virtually inseparable.
Be that as it may, what is the "Family Guy" crew to do if Warburton chooses to opt-out of a scene for personal reasons? It has only happened once, so here’s why and how it was handled.
Family Guy once found Patrick Warburton’s comedic limit
It turns out that after two decades of bringing Joe Swanson to the small screen, a single joke was enough to make Patrick Warburton back away from a "Family Guy" episode. Surprisingly, the line wasn’t even uttered by Swanson, but Warburton felt strongly enough about its inclusion in the script that he chose to not participate. As a result, his 2D alter-ego was excluded from that particular story altogether. "It had to do with Christ on the cross, but there was no humor in it, and it was just so, so horribly offensive," he revealed to DigitalSpy in early 2019.
He continued, noting that he knows full well what he signed up for and has always been aware of the shocking and sometimes offensive nature of "Family Guy." It just so happens that this occasion pushed him beyond his limits and caused him to question the creative aim of the program. "They go, ‘This line will never make it past standards of practice’ and I go, ‘Well, why does it have to be there in the first place?’" Warburton recalled, outlining the nature of satire and whether or not being offensive for the sake of it and not actively trying to make people laugh is truly worth it.
Despite this one hiccup, Warburton clarified that he and the folks behind "Family Guy" have "great communication all the time. They are all great and listen to you. They know I’m a team player. They know how offensive that was." To this day, he continues to lend his vocal talents to the series and has shown no sign of leaving the Joe Swanson part behind, even if he’s presented with material that doesn’t necessarily align with his moral compass.