Family Guy is quite the polarizing show, as people either love it or loathe it. It’s a show that’s constantly testing the boundaries on what’s acceptable to joke about and what is not. There’s a fine line that they teeter over and sometimes they end up crossing it. Fans of the show will argue that the jokes need to be taken “with a grain of salt” and that the warped humor is cathartic, even when the show is making a joke about a situation that you may be going through in your own life. It’s definitely a valid argument, as laughter is very therapeutic. As helpguide.org states: “Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused and alert.”
The issue is, if you don’t have a twisted, morbid sense of humor, some of the jokes on Family Guy will likely have the reverse effect on you. At the same time, there’s nothing like a good laugh and Family Guy usually hits the spot. But even at that, there’s moments where you’re laughing but shaking your head at the same time, saying to yourself: “wow, that really is offensive.” Without further ado, here are the top 10 “maybe you went too far” Family Guy moments!
10. Peter Has A Stroke
A stroke is a medical emergency that can cause permanent neurological damage or even death in some cases. More than 140,000 Americans die each year due to strokes. It goes without saying that it’s not really a laughing matter, but Family Guy tried to make light of it. Peter experiences a stroke because he eats over 30 burgers. After 3 months of being partially paralyzed from the stroke, he gets fed up and attempts to drive. He ends up losing control, rolls down a hill and crashes into a tree while a group of rowers come by yelling: “STROKE, STROKE, STOKE.” Even more offensive was the way he was finally cured, as he walked into a clinic and strolled out a mere 5 minutes later as if it was “no big deal.”
9. Peter’s “I Need a Jew” Song
In this episode, Peter displays total incompetence when it comes to finances. He displays his lack of financial knowledge through a song. In just a short 2 minutes and 28 seconds, he manages to feature just about every anti-Semitic stereotype known to man (but it’s not offensive because he’s saying it in a song, right?!). Wrong, the entire episode was actually so offensive that Fox refused to play it for 2 years.
8. Peter’s No Legs, No Service Policy
The Griffins open a restaurant and it is a ghost town until Joe brings all his friends. Peter is happy at first because he thinks a bunch of cops are going to show up, but much to his dismay, Joe brings his fellow paraplegics. Peter bans them, citing a “no shoes, no shirt, no legs, no service” policy.
There were some hilarious moments in this episode, notably when the handicaps came together and created the “CrippleTron” to attack the restaurant. If you watched it to its completion, you’d see that the handicapped folks ultimately got the last laugh. There was also a lesson learned for Peter as the “CippleTron” landed on his legs, resulting in him needing a wheelchair for 2 weeks. Peter apologizes to Joe because he realized what a burden it was to be disabled. But it was a bumpy ride as there was some cringe worthy moments along the way. Imagine being a paraplegic watching at home and seeing yourself referred to as a “parallelogram.”
7. Herbert’s “Somewhere That’s Green” Song
Nobody even bats an eye at Herbert’s pedophilia at this point of the show. Family Guy fans are used to his creepy voice and constant advances towards Chris. He is usually presented in a quirky way that makes you roll your eyes and smile. Some would argue, however, that there was one instance where it went too far. Herbert envisions himself as Chris’ bride, followed by a video package of him picturing their lives together. It was a bit too visual for some people’s taste. In this case, it was really graphic and “in your face.”
6. Peter Tips Off the Nazis to Anne Frank’s Family Hideout
People didn’t know how to react to this one in particular. Even people that found it funny still had a sense of shock, asking themselves: “did they really just go there?” In this instance, Peter accidently alerts the Nazis to Anne Frank’s family hideout due to the fact that he was noisily eating chips. Not only was he eating chips, but he exaggerates the crunching sound and goes for second and thirds as he refuses to stop eating them.
5. Jesus Christ Makes an Appearance
“Oh my God, you are! You’re Jesus Christ!” That was Peter’s reaction when he spotted Jesus working at the local record store. He and Peter become good friends but Jesus ultimately goes on to be a rock star and phases Peter out. Most of the episode was tongue in cheek humor but there was a memorable discussion at the Griffin dinner table that may have crossed a few lines. Jesus casually recounts his experience of being nailed to the cross and ultimately resurrecting. Peter responds with: “okay, that sounds like a nutty weekend but I can top it!”
4. O.J. Simpson Stars in an Episode
The O.J. Simpson case was one of the most talked about murder cases of all time. After the verdict was reached, it was a sensitive time for Americans because they felt as though justice simply did not exist anymore.
Family Guy decided to have O.J. appear in an episode. This was not a parody of his voice like some of the other offensive appearances. as O.J. Simpson actually starred in this episode. Not only that, but O.J. was actually a stand up guy for 99% of the time. The Griffins took a shining to him and shelter him as an angry mob is out to get him. What message was Family Guy sending here, time to forgive and forget? After all, “none of us are perfect.”
Absolutely not, as O.J. ends up stabbing 3 people in the final seconds of the episode, capping off an extremely crude episode of Family Guy. Peter states “oh, I guess he did do it.”
3. Making Fun of Muhammad Ali
There’s a lot of factors that go into this one. First of all, Muhammad Ali is one of the greatest boxers of all time. Secondly, (and perhaps more importantly) he was a tremendous humanitarian as he is respected world wide for standing up for what he believed in.
All that considered, it was his disease that they decided to make fun of (Parkinson’s Disease). This is where the lines are blurred a bit because Parkinson’s is such a devastating, crippling disease. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, these jokes are supposed to be taken with “a grain of salt.” But it’s totally understandable how someone would get offended by this if they have a loved one battling the disease. It does however get far worse when it comes to Parkinson’s Disease jokes (stay tuned).
2. “You Have AIDS” Song
Peter loves to reminisce about his special talents (Peter has so many special talents, doesn’t he?). This particular talent pertains to his strong ability to give people bad news.
Peter and 4 others, dressed as a barbershop quartet, dance into a hospital room to cheerfully inform a patient that he has AIDS: “Be sure that you see, that this is not HIV, but full blown AIDS!” Yep…they even made sure to point out that it was not HIV. AIDS groups were scandalized by this delightful (but kind of awful) rendition. But hey, once again, how can it be offensive when it’s in a song? Tsk Tsk…
1. Making Fun of Michael J. Fox/Parkinson’s
This one was bad…really bad. It starts off with Peter explaining to his family how he only owns 2 shirts, because his third one got ruined at a wine tasting event at Michael J. Fox‘s house. They then do a different type of flashback, where Peter breaks into a monologue, and this is where the madness commences.
Peter starts off by saying: “now we were going to show you the actual scene, but it would just make us all sad.” He then calmly explains how Fox spilled wine on his shirt, how he was cool about it and offered to pay for the shirt. “Anyway, I sent him the bill and he sent me a check, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to cash this (as he holds up a check full of squiggly lines), you’d think Tracy Polland would be in charge of their check book, because what else is she doing right now?”
The viewers then get the rug pulled from beneath them: “Oh wait, now they’re telling me that they do want to show it.” It is graphic and brutal.
Are all these examples of jokes that are taken too far? Perhaps none of them are taken too far. It comes down to personal taste and what the person constitutes as funny or over the top. You be the judge.