Top 10 Most Controversial Family Guy Episodes



Top 10 Most Controversial Family Guy Episodes

VOICE OVER: Callum Janes WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Controversial “Family Guy” Episodes. For this list, we'll be looking at the most controversial episodes of “Family Guy” that generated intense discussion and vitriol within the media. Ourcountdown includes "Quagmire's Dad," "The 2000-Year-Old Virgin," "When You Wish Upon A Weinstein," "Turban Cowboy," and more!

#10: “Road to the North Pole”

Leave it to “Family Guy” to turn a Christmas episode into a controversial hour of television containing themes of slavery and death. Like all “Road to” episodes, this one stars Brian and Stewie. They travel to the North Pole, where they encounter a sickly Santa Claus, feral reindeer, deformed elves, and a disgusting industrial factory. This disturbing depiction of the typically innocent North Pole drew some criticism, as did a scene where Stewie and Brian break into a house and traumatize the inhabitants. Even for die-hard “Family Guy” fans, “Road to the North Pole” can prove a little too much.

#9: “The 2000-Year-Old Virgin”

Really, anything depicting Jesus in a non-traditional manner is bound to be controversial. Another problematic Christmas episode, “The 2000-Year-Old Virgin” sees a depressed Jesus living a lonely life in Quahog. Feeling bad for him, Peter allows Jesus to sleep with Lois, but later learns that this is an annual ploy that Jesus pulls on gullible men. Not surprisingly, the episode garnered controversy for its depiction of Jesus as a deceitful womanizer. Some critics labeled it blasphemous and offensive, while others criticized the lazy nature of the joke. “Family Guy” loves to provoke its audience with religious jokes, and for some, this one went too far.

#8: “Brian & Stewie”

One of the most unique half-hours of “Family Guy,” “Brian & Stewie” is a bottle episode that takes its characters surprisingly seriously. The two get locked in a bank vault over a weekend and proceed to share intimate thoughts with each other. The episode’s serious script received widespread praise, but the proceedings were arguably tarnished by the use of gross-out humor. “Brian & Stewie” contains a rather revolting subplot about Stewie’s used diaper, and it results in some horrific and disgusting sights. Critics not only complained about the subplot and the resulting visuals, but they also believed it had no business being in an otherwise dramatic episode.

#7: “A Shot in the Dark”

“Family Guy” loves provoking its audience with intentionally controversial material. This episode was inspired by the killing of Trayvon Martin and sees Peter accidentally shooting Cleveland Jr. The very concept of the episode was controversial, as some believed that Martin’s death shouldn’t be fodder for a satirical episode of “Family Guy.” The episode’s content was also problematic for television broadcasters, and it was twice delayed from airing due to public displays of violence. This episode deals with a very sensitive topic, and like all sensitive topics, it generated a ton of conflicting opinions - some of which weren’t so friendly.

#6: “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein”

This is the legendary “lost episode” that left early “Family Guy” fans eagerly curious. The story sees Peter hiring a Jewish accountant and subsequently converting Chris to Judaism, believing that it makes one successful. The episode was originally scheduled for release in 2000, but Fox feared the public’s reaction and canceled its airing. They were concerned that the episode would be misconstrued as anti-Semitic. As a result, it didn’t see the light of day until the Volume 2 DVD in September 2003. Fox’s fears somewhat came to light, as they were sued by the Bourne Company over the use of “I Need a Jew,” who claimed that the lyrics were offensive and stolen from “When You Wish Upon a Star.” The suit was subsequently dismissed.

#5: “The Simpsons Guy”

It was the episode we were all waiting for - a crossover between “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons.” The results were… divisive to say the least. Not only did it receive mixed reviews, but it generated some controversy for its content. The Parents Television Council decried Stewie’s obscene prank call to Moe, calling its punchline offensive. But this was just one example of a wider problem. Some critics believe that the episode makes for a poor crossover, arguing “Family Guy’s” dark and provocative brand of humor doesn’t blend with the more family-friendly tone of “The Simpsons.” As a result, scenes involving nudity and violence were criticized.

#4: “Turban Cowboy”

By Season 11, “Family Guy” had veered fully into offensive territory. In this highly controversial episode, Peter befriends a Muslim man named Mahmoud. Peter plans to convert to Islam, but he changes his mind when he realizes that Mahmoud is hoping to blow up the Quahog Bridge. The episode contains a ton of violent and disturbing images, like Peter blowing up various landmarks with a cell phone and plowing his car through the Boston Marathon. That, combined with the generally offensive nature of the storyline, has made “Turban Cowboy” an infamous episode of “Family Guy.” Following the Boston Marathon bombings, Fox removed “Turban Cowboy” from streaming services.

#3: “Quagmire’s Dad”

This eighth season episode garnered widespread criticism for its depiction of transgender themes. The story centers around Quagmire, who grapples with his father’s sex reassignment surgery and her new identity as “Ida.” Other characters also treat Ida with offensive attitudes. Brian violently vomits after unknowingly sleeping with her, and the Griffins throw out food that Ida brought for dinner. While Seth MacFarlane believes that the episode treated its themes with tender care, mostly everyone else disagreed. While the portrayal of Ida herself was commended, many critics felt that the attitudes of the other characters were mean-spirited.

#2: “Partial Terms of Endearment”

This is the second episode that Fox refused to air, following season three’s “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein.” In this one, Lois becomes a surrogate mother through in vitro fertilization. However, the parents die in a car accident, leaving Lois with an important decision. The episode was generally praised for its themes and discussions, but its quality was overshadowed by its reputation. Fox canceled the airing over content concerns, and unlike “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein,” Adult Swim acquiesced to Fox and agreed to not air the episode. To this day, “Partial Terms of Endearment” has not aired on Fox, although it would receive a U.S. DVD release and air in the U.K.

#1: “Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q”

This is easily the most infamous episode of “Family Guy,” and it once again revolves around Quagmire. In “Screams of Silence,” he and the boys plot to kill Jeff, who has been physically and mentally tormenting Quagmire’s sister. Unlike most “Family Guy” episodes (bar maybe “Brian & Stewie”), “Screams of Silence” is largely played straight. Unfortunately, many critics felt that the show failed to treat its serious subject matter with the necessary care and depth, and for many, the episode simply came across as shockingly violent and morally abhorrent. Everyone agreed that Kaitlin Olson made for a great guest star, but she was the only redeeming thing about an otherwise irredeemable episode.
Family Guy and controversy practically go hand in hand.