One of the funniest shows on television today and quite possibly of all time, is Seth MacFarlane‘s Family Guy. The irreverent show pokes fun at absolutely everything and has earned millions of fans for absurd cutaway gags, ridiculous pop culture references and jaw-dropping offensive jokes and edgy subject matter.
Cancelled twice, the show was brought back due to its passionate fans and is still a weekly laugh-riot every Sunday. Peter Griffin and his family have taken over where The Simpsons left off when that show became unwatchable (around season twelve). Outside the nuclear family including Peter, Lois, Chris, Meg, Stewie and Brian the anthropomorphic dog, there is a full cast of great characters in Quahog, Rhode Island.
Among the best of those extra characters is Peter’s best friend and neighbor, Glenn Quagmire. Along with being a fan favorite however, Quagmire is one of the most polarizing characters in the history of television. His ongoing joke is that he is the ultimate pervert. There is nothing he won’t do and that includes illegal acts of all kinds. While much of what he does is completely despicable in real life, the tone of the show and ludicrous nature of his character make it funny. With that said however, as the series has progressed, Quagmire has evolved from a one-dimensional beacon of lust to a character with his own family along with trials and tribulations. I’ll play “devil’s advocate” for this article as we recall fifteen times Glenn Quagmire was actually a pretty great guy.
15. He Called Out Brian
In the season 8 episode “Jerome is the New Black”, Quagmire and Brian sit down for a steak dinner after Brian realizes that Quagmire dislikes him. Brian tries to make the meal enjoyable, but Quagmire has none of it, and goes on a tirade detailing everything wrong with Brian’s personality. While his rant is rude and hurtful to Brian, none of what was said is untrue. Given that Brian went from the voice of reason on the show in early seasons to a caricature of an uninformed, irrational liberal in recent years, this had to happen.
14. He Saved a Woman’s Life (Even if it was Unintentional)
Heading all the way back to season four, in the episode “Blind Ambition”, Glenn Quagmire unwittingly became a hero. After he was caught peeping in the women’s restroom, his friends put him through a pervert rehab program of their own design. His final challenge is to spend time at a local mall without becoming aroused. He sees many attractive women and panics, accidentally running into the mall’s security monitoring room. What watching one of the video screens he sees a woman having a heart attack, leaping into action and resuscitating her. He is congratulated for his brave and quick action but then asks “what the hell is CPR?” implying that his intention wasn’t necessarily to help the woman, but rather to feel up someone who was unconscious.
Maybe this one isn’t the best example, but a saved life is a saved life.
13. He Loves Cats
I was going to start out this list entry with a statement like, “nobody who loves animals can be evil” but Adolf Hitler had a well documented love of dogs and there’s pretty much widespread consensus on his status as “most evil person in recorded history”. Instead, I’ll say that Glenn Quagmire’s love of cats is halfway between cute and weird, and shows that he has a heart. From his obsession with his first cat James (who was killed by Peter), to his detailed instructions for Lois when she takes care of his purebred Persian, to his panic when he wants to be the “first person to have pictures of his cat on the internet, it has become one of the show’s funniest ongoing jokes.
12. Volunteers at a Soup Kitchen
During his tirade against Brian that we mentioned earlier, he mentions how Brian is a leech on Peter and constantly hits on Lois, compares the dog to Holden Caulfield of Catcher in the Rye, calls him out on failing college twice, and a few other things. He also points out how Brian has consistent liberal beliefs, but fails to act on any of them, claiming to care for others, but never really putting any effort in to make any real world change.
Quagmire points out that Brian believes “big business is crushing the underclass, how homelessness is the biggest tragedy in America. Well, what have you done to help? I work down at the soup kitchen, Brian. Never seen you down there! You wanna help? Grab a ladle!” Again, his rant may have been rude and cruel, but he makes a point, and anyone who puts time in at a soup kitchen at least has some kind of a heart.
11. He (Eventually) Accepts His Transgender Father
While the show’s earlier seasons were primarily absurd, with the goal of making people laugh, recent seasons have produced some genuinely brilliant episodes with undeniably sharp political and social commentary. In season eight, Glenn Quagmire’s father Dan, makes his first appearance on the show, announcing that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body, and that he plans to undergo sexual reassignment surgery in Quahog. As is the tone of the show, the jokes were numerous, and at first Quagmire is horrified by his father’s choice.
At the end of the episode however, the two reconcile and Glenn recognizes that he shouldn’t have any problem with his father’s choice. In later episodes, while there is still some discomfort between the two, Quagmire still admires and cherishes his father in his life. Finally, Quagmire’s eventual acceptance of Dan becoming Ida plays well against Brian initially being enchanted by her when they meet and spend the night together, and his disgust upon finding out that she used to be a man.
10. Helps Brian With His Teeth
We have mentioned twice already how much Quagmire hates Brian the dog. From his phony intellectualism to his political ignorance and his laziness and other failures, there is very little reason for Glenn to do anything nice for his neighbor’s dog. But when Brian’s face is brutally disfigured in season 13’s “Brian the Closer” he and Quagmire end up together at the local bar, The Drunken Clam. Brian confesses how miserable he is with his broken snout and destroyed teeth and Quagmire directs him to his dentist who performs cosmetic surgery on Brian, renewing his confidence and outlook on life.
In spite of all is hatred, Quagmire did Brian a great deed and ended up getting swindled by him later in the same episode.
9. He’s a Former Military Man
Whether or not this makes him a good guy depends on your view of the military. If you see them as brainwashed pawns used to kill people for resources in other countries, please skip to point number eight. Of course, if you’re of the opinion that they are the protectors of freedom, then of course, Quagmire is a hero for his service.
While his length of service is unknown, Glenn Quagmire served in the U.S. Navy for some time and attained the rank of Ensign (perhaps higher) and met Peter when his vessel rescued him, after being dropped into the ocean by thugs hired by Carter Pewterschmidt (Lois’ father).
8. Meaningful Chat with Meg
In the season five episode “Barely Legal”, Meg Griffin develops an obsessive infatuation with Brian after he kisses her while drunk at a school dance. She kidnaps him and after the other characters find the two of them, Quagmire insists that Lois send Meg over to his house later, and it is implied that he will try to make a move. Rather, he and Meg have an uplifting heart to heart talk in which he explains that she is still young, and should not be in a hurry to fall in love. Rather she should live her life and enjoy growing up at her own pace. Of course, after she leaves, he undresses, walks into the next room, where two women are waiting for him with various “toys”.
Of course, in a later episode, Quagmire actually does make a move on Meg, shortly after her 18th birthday, so this example may not be worth anything…
7. Cares Deeply for His Niece
Every now and again, Seth Macfarlane and his writing staff come up with a scene that is funny and heartbreaking at the same time. Back in season nine during “Road to the North Pole”, Stewie and Brian try to see Santa Claus at the local mall. The line is massive, and when they see Quagmire and a small child in line, Brian strikes up a conversation and tries to cut the line.
Brian tries to be friendly, but mistakes Quagmire’s niece, Abby, for a boy, as she has no hair due to chemotherapy, because she has brain cancer. Quagmire becomes furious when Brian upsets and scares the child and dismisses him aggressively while consoling her, saying “we’re gonna see Santa and he’s going to give you a new brain”. The scene was painful, but showed Quagmire as a loving uncle rather than a crazed pervert.
6. Shows Genuine Romantic Love for Some Women
Quagmire’s backstory is actually kind of sad. He explains in the season nine episode “Tiegs for Two”, that much of his womanizing is a result of his undying love for actress and model Cheryl Tiegs, who broke his heart after ending their relationship in the 1980s.
In an earlier episode, Quagmire falls in love with and marries Peter and Lois’ temporary maid, Joan, but then tries to get himself out of the relationship after realizing that she is wildly mentally unstable. While these two isolated episodes are in the vast minority when it comes to Quagmire’s female conquests, it is clear that he isn’t always some kind of unfeeling monster, and can foster genuine feelings of love for women.
5. Acts as Mentor to Chris
Back in episode 21 of season two, “Fore Father”, Peter starts to spend time with Cleveland Junior, who he realizes is a golf prodigy. They spend many hours at the driving range and it wears on Chris’ relationship with his father. When Chris tells Quagmire how he is feeling, the neighbor takes Chris under his wing and takes him out to do the things he likes. They hit on women walking down the street, and go to “clubs”. These are obviously terrible lessons to teach a thirteen year old, but it’s the thought that counts.
4. Explains Why He’ll Never Marry
In season nine episode three, “Welcome Back, Carter”, Peter catches his father-in-law Carter, in bed with a maid on his yacht. He is racked with guilt over not telling anyone and eventually confides in his friends over a beer at the bar. In an uncharacteristic move, Quagmire explains his revulsion at the affair.
His exact quote is: “Peter, once entered into, marriage is a sacred bond. An alliance blessed by God, and hallowed by the community. I’ll never opt for the matrimonial condition. It wouldn’t be fair to the framework of the institution. But for those who do and then turn their back on its convictions? Shame. This is unwelcome news, Peter. Very unwelcome”.
3. Calls Out Peter on his Megan’s Law Reference
In season 14’s episode “Underage Peter”, the four friends Peter, Joe, Quagmire and Cleveland, get blind drunk and end up destroying part of the local library. In response, eccentric mayor Adam West, raises the drinking age in Quahog to 50 years old, and called the new regulation “Peter’s Law”. Later on, while sober and upset about the law, Peter says that now he knows how Megan from Megan’s Law felt. Quagmire gives him a disgusted look and says, “I don’t think you know how she felt”.
This is an uncomfortably dark joke, as Megan’s Law refers to a law in the United States that requires law enforcement officials to make information about s*x offenders available to the public, with the goal of helping parents keep their children safe. The law is named for Megan Kanka, a young girl who was abused and lured into her pedophile neighbor’s house and killed back in 1994. In typical Family Guy fashion they referenced a horrible event with a stupid joke, but in this instance, Quagmire called out his friend for his ignorance.
2. Gives Up His Only Daughter for Adoption
In the sixth episode of season eight, Quagmire gets a baby left on his front step by a woman he knocked up. He names her Anna Lee, and tries to be a good father to her, but realizes that she is getting in the way of his s*x life. Despite having grown attached to her by the end of the episode, he realizes that he is not father material, and gives her up for adoption. He is noticeably choked up while doing so and asks if his baby will be sent to a good home. Despite this seeming like a self-serving act, it shows Quagmire cares for his baby and recognizes that there are people out there who will give her the life he wants her to have.
1. Kills His Sister’s Abusive Boyfriend
While the vast majority of Family Guy episodes show Quagmire as a pervert or a creep, and some show him as a dirtbag with a heart of gold, “Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q” is an episode in which he plays the hero. The episode was almost universally panned by critics, but should not have been. It presented the awful topic of spousal abuse in a way only Family Guy could. It was a half hour of profoundly upsetting television that did not fit the show’s usual tone, but got a message across.
The episode tells the story of Brenda Quagmire and her long time boyfriend Jeff Fecalman. Jeff is a monster who relentlessly abuses Brenda. Throughout the episode, he torments her, hurts her and all the while she defends him to those who tell her to leave. She is portrayed as a kind, soft-spoken woman who has some confidence problems, and genuinely doesn’t recognize what a toxic relationship she is in. After a few nights of witnessing his sister’s treatment, Quagmire decides to take action, recruiting his friends, including a hesitant cop, Joe Swanson (who explains the law can’t step in until it’s too late), that they need to kill Jeff.
They lure him into the woods, and after an intense fight in which Jeff is able to knock out Peter and Joe, Quagmire crushes him between a car and a tree. While we’d normally not condone even a cartoon murder, men who torment and abuse the women in their lives are a special kind of scum. This episode was not what many fans were looking for, but it did portray the ever-polarizing Quagmire as a gentle soul who risked his safety to save his sister.
In spite of all the women he manipulated, drugged and emotionally toyed with, Glenn Quagmire has grown into a complex character who, though repulsive at times, has done some great things.
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