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What Is Family Guy's Best Running Gag? Here's What Fans Say - Exclusive Survey

If you have a fondness for Conway Twitty songs, feel a little sick when you see clam chowder, or pronounce Cool Whip "Cool WH-iP," you might be a fan of "Family Guy."  A meta-loaded show filled with cutaways, asides, references, and fourth-wall-breaking humor, it also produces running gags at a breakneck pace. Those references are sometimes lamp-shaded and mocked, and other times they're reverently brought out again and again to the audience's delight. Some have died on the vine, but others have gone on to span multiple seasons and episodes, causing viewers to compare and contrast their favorite versions of the joke. The series sometimes throws so many jokes at the wall that it's hard to keep up with their dizzying forward march.

But which of these repeat offenders rings our audience's bells? Do they have a fondness for singing barbershop quartets? Find themselves singing "Surfin' Bird" in the shower? We dared to wonder which reference excites our readers the most. Thus, Looper surveyed 605 people around the country and asked them which "Family Guy" running gag gave them the most joy.

Our readers love the chicken fights

At the very top of our reader's list is the chicken fight. Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane) has had a violent, nearly show-spanning feud with Ernie, an oversized chicken who refuses to let their rivalry die. The first battle occurs in a cutaway during Season 2's "Da Boom" and is provoked by an expired coupon. Over the years, they have resumed their brawl for no and every reason under the sun. There have been 22 fistfights between Peter and Ernie over the past 21 seasons, not including two roundelays which take place during two of the show's tributes to the original "Star Wars" trilogy, in which Ernie plays Boba Fett, and Peter plays Han Solo. There's even an entire episode ("Fecal Matters") about their love-hate relationship. 26.28% of our readers named the chicken fight their favorite running "Family Guy" gag.

A single phrase occupies the second slot — "Shut up, Meg." Peter first levies this insult against his daughter during Season 1's "Mind Over Murder." It's since become emblematic of the show's treatment of Meg Griffin (Mila Kunis), which has reached some deep lows and auspicious highs in the years since engendering some controversy among the show's fanbase. Peter's utterance earned 23.31% of the audience's votes.

Tubs, Surfin' and writing keep our fans giggling

Our third-place winner burst onto the scene — literally — during Season 1 as well. The Kool-Aid Man became an occasional visitor to Quahog, starting with the show's very first episode, "Death has a Shadow." He has since inopportunely burst onto the scene 14 more times, usually in a way that forces him to awkwardly slip backward through a hole he made during his enthusiastic entrance. The borrowed mascot snagged 15.54% of our fan's affection.

Cleveland Brown (Mike Henry and Arif Zahir) has been through many changes since he moved to Spooner Street. He's also suffered more property loss than your average Quahog citizen, as a running gag on the show often features Peter Griffin demolishing the front face of Cleveland's home. This usually exposes Cleveland's bathroom and the poor guy sitting in his tub taking a bath. As he exclaims his horror and dismay with a string of 'nos,' the tub slides out of his decimated bathroom and to the ground below with him inside. The gag has been repeated thirteen times on the show since the first time it was used in Season 5's "Hell Comes to Quahog." Cleveland's bathtub pratfall got 15.37% of the vote.

Family Guy viewers love that Brian is a terrible author

Have you heard that Brian (Seth MacFarlane) is writing a novel? Brian's literary ambitions and his pretensions thereof have perfumed "Family Guy" for seasons now, as have Stewie Griffin's (also MacFarlane) nonstop jibs about how bad of an author Brian is. The show first references the book during "Brian the Bachelor" in Season 4. Eventually, Brian does write a bestseller — a self-help book he mindlessly cranks out — which is hugely successful but only because of Stewie's nonstop efforts as his agent. The show's running gag about Brian's publishing ambitions won 14.71% of our reader's applause.

The last entry on our poll has us wondering if you know about the bird. In this case, we mean The Trashmen's song "Surfin' Bird," which gained new cultural significance when Peter became obsessed with the tune during Season 7's "I Dream of Jesus" to his family's frustration. The song has since been referred to in ten different episodes of the show. "Surfin' Bird" has made 4.79% of our responders dance.