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30 Best Family Guy Episodes Ranked, According To IMDb

Once the province of high school boys and 20-somethings who should know better, Seth MacFarlane's sometimes sophomoric and ever-irreverent "Family Guy" has now become an institution of American animation. First introduced in 1999, it was canceled in 2002, but its syndicated reruns and DVD sales were successful enough that Fox resurrected the show in 2004, and it's been on ever since. It's spawned everything from video games to the spin-off series "The Cleveland Show," and — believe it or not — has collected quite a few awards, including Primetime Emmys and Annies (an accolade created by the International Animated Film Association). While it's still the kind of show you either love or hate, you have to admit that they occasionally do things really right.  

According to IMDb voters, these are the 30 episodes "Family Guy" did really, really right. There are some prime classics on here, some unlikely suspects, some complete surprises, and a ton of nostalgia. In the unlikely event you don't see your fave on the list, get voting! You just might see it here next time. Until then, enjoy our take on the best "Family Guy" episodes Seth MacFarlane et al have to offer. 

30. Fat Guy Strangler (Season 4, Episode 17)

Kicking off with a classic, "Fat Guy Strangler" sees the show at the first height of its comedic powers. They even managed to entice Robert Downey Jr. to voice the hilarious Patrick Pewterschmidt, secret brother to Lois. A serial killer with an unusual trigger, Peter's brother-in-law manages to hit that murderous Jackie Gleason sweet spot with alarming regularity. Cue tons of reasons to get rid of Peter, a beautiful dig at Billy Joel, and one of many, many hilarious George W. Bush cutaways. The star, though, is Downey Jr., who gives Patrick that innocent but obviously disturbed persona that can only from Carter Pewterschmidt's repressed-rich-guy genes. We always knew that Peter would eventually turn someone into a homicidal maniac; we just thought it would be Meg.

29. I Dream of Jesus (Season 7, Episode 2)

We could talk about the not-so-subtle critique of modern celebrity that runs through this episode, or the dig at the way some people use religion. But, as far as we're concerned, there's only one reason "I Dream of Jesus" appears on this list. No, it's not the spot-on Jay Leno impression. Or the delicious takedown of Dane Cook. (Who? Don't worry about it. Really. Don't even bother to Google him; you'll only depress yourself). It can only be the glorious shot-for-shot recreation of one of the best scenes in "Office Space." For those of us of, ahem, a certain age, that movie was the perfect collision of workplace satire and Stephen Root (If you've never seen it, when you're done with this list, go find it. You can thank us later). Its inclusion guarantees a place on any best episodes list anywhere, period. 

28. The Big Bang Theory (Season 9, Episode 16)

Stewie really is the center of the universe. Yes, according to "Family Guy" lore, without that evil little genius, nothing would exist. Also, he's responsible for some of the world's best art. But we think the real reason this episode made the list isn't just down to the hilarious time-travel gags. It's really about Brian discovering that he's the Art Garfunkel of the universe, which (almost) completely explains all of his character flaws. Also, any time Wallace Shawn (the voice of Stewie's nemesis, Bertram) appears in the show, you know you're in for a good time. It's almost sad when Bertram is finally dispatched — though we're still not quite sure how Stewie managed to invent cryogenesis during the Renaissance.  

27. Emission Impossible (Season 3, Episode 11)

In this episode, "Family Guy" does "Inner Space" via the Enterprise's computer. A hopelessly jealous Stewie tries to thwart his parents' attempt to have another baby by shrinking himself and infiltrating Peter's body in a spaceship to destroy his sperm. The only sperm he can't eradicate is the diabolically clever Bertram. Realizing how much he has in common with his potential future sibling, Stewie abandons his sabotage, only for Lois and Peter to change their minds. The episode also features aforementioned national treasure Wallace Shawn's debut. Is there a voice better suited to being more annoyingly shrill and evil than Shawn's? We think not. Who knew it was so hard being the youngest child? 

26. The Thin White Line (Season 3, Episode 1)

One of the underrated aspects of "Family Guy" is that in between all the fart jokes, they occasionally make a serious point. "The Thin White Line" is an episode where they do just that. Yes, it's about substance abuse — Brian's well-intentioned attempt to become a drug-detecting dog for the Quahog police department inadvertently turns him on to cocaine — but it's also about abuse of power and how easily good intentions can be subverted. There's also the stunning revelation that not only is Peter literate, but he even reads Hemingway. As a bonus, the episode also contains our favorite-ever review of cult camcorder extravaganza "The Blair Witch Project." To whit: " ... Nothing's happening, nothing's happening, something about a map, nothing's happening, it's over, a lot of people in the audience look p*ssed." 

25. Wasted Talent (Season 2, Episode 20)

Peter actually does have a talent, but it's not the casual racism, insulting people, ignoring his kids, or drinking you'd expect (although it is alcohol-adjacent, natch). The mostly useless father-of-three can expertly play obscure TV theme tunes on the piano when intoxicated. Or, as Lois puts it, "You're like the idiot from 'Shine'!" But with less class, obviously. For our money though, this episode also features on this list because Brian's drunken ear is hilarious and stays like that for an age. The Willy Wonka-esque Pawtucket Pat helps, too. 

24. Road to Germany (Season 7, Episode 3)

It came as absolutely no surprise to us here at Looper HQ that "Road to Germany" made this list. Despite the slightly risky central theme, it's full of non-stop gags and film references all the way back to World War 2-era Germany. From the superb "Little Shop of Horrors" set up to "The Blues Brothers," "Back to the Future," and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," there's an astonishing array of movie jokes on display here. The episode also features one of the show's many and varied takes on idiotic Nazi leadership. All this and they still have time to muse over how weird French cows sound, how gross Quagmire is, and the vagaries of bacon pants.

23. I Am Peter, Hear Me Roar (Season 2, Episode 8)

Consider yourselves warned: This is the episode that features a newly feminized Peter attempting to breastfeed Stewie, a gag that scarred many a viewer. Luckily, the rest of the episode actually features some fantastic comedy comeuppances, the best being Peter's bottom lip getting pulled to the back of his head as punishment for making sexist jokes at a women's retreat. The experience — purportedly about as painful as childbirth — chastens Peter and makes him less hateable. When he inevitably reverts back to toxic masculinity, for a few seconds it actually feels like a genuine loss, akin to that Simpson's episode where Homer, unable to tolerate the misery of intelligence, sticks the crayon that kept him stupid back up his nose. God knows we could all do without the faux breastfeeding, though, so it's probably for the best.

22. PeTerminator (Season 19, Episode 13)

This is one of the most recent episodes on the list. Right from the start, you know it means business. How? The title sequence change! The business doesn't end there — the "Rick and Morty" dig is priceless and in no way sour grapes, or, say, hypocrisy. Then there's the fact that Brian causes the whole sorry mess by being his usual douchebag self on Instagram. When will Stewie learn? The chicken fight might not be the first, but for our money it's by far the best of all the poultry-related battles in the show. As if you'd need any more reasons to love this episode, can we just quickly mention the bluesy version of "Surfin' Bird" from "I Dream of Jesus"? As far as callbacks go, they don't get much cooler than that. 

21. The D in Apartment 23 (Season 16, Episode 6)

The best thing about this episode isn't the incredibly loud critique of the destructive power of social media. No, for us, it's that Brian deserved it. "The D in Apartment 23" confirms what Quagmire has said for years and what we've all been thinking for almost as long: That Brian is not a nice dog-person. Like, at all. He may have started out as a kind of external conscience a la Jiminy Cricket for Quahog's special dad, but by this point, his amorality has been painfully exposed. Don't hate him because he's a douchebag; hate him because he's proud of it, and then hate Stewie for allowing this crap to keep happening. 

20. Three Kings (Season 7, Episode 15)

These "Family Guy" anthology-type episodes can sometimes be a bit hit-and-miss. This Stephen King-themed variation, though, contains what may be the best comedy casting known to humanity. You know we're talking about Adam West as the Kiefer Sutherland equivalent in the "Stand By Me" vignette, along with his oddball gang of random TV characters. All together now: Norm! Quagmire is less likable as the River Phoenix facsimile, but that was probably the point. As for "Misery," having Stewie be Annie but as an actual baby, big wheel and all? That's actually kind of inspired. Think about it: In the movie, Annie really is just throwing an enormous tantrum, throwing it directly at the man responsible for it. "Shawshank" was a little more obvious, but the "Friends" claps allowing Peter to escape on taco night is genius. Thanks, Stephen King.

19. Stewie Loves Lois (Season 5, Episode 1)

This episode most likely made the list because, frankly, who can blame Lois for attempting to ignore the cloying attentions of her weird-looking progeny? She's clearly happier with a little (or a lot) of distance. Of course, it wouldn't be "Family Guy" if Stewie didn't end up hating his mom again, but we totally get it. There's also Peter running home trouserless after a medical encounter with an extended digit. Despite, or perhaps because of, that utterly ridiculous set-up, the little buns-in-the-breeze run cracked us up. We do not, however, condone suing medical staff for carrying out legitimate medical procedures, no matter how much they sound like Dr. Hartman. Get yourself checked, people. 

18. To Love and Die in Dixie (Season 3, Episode 12)

This episode is a fave for more than the "Dukes of Hazzard" references or Stewie's newfound love of banjos and nappies. In an unusual move, this episode strays into "The Simpsons" territory by including a genuinely sweet moment. In "The Simpsons," heartfelt episodes are generally reserved for Lisa; in the "Family Guy"-verse, it's Chris who has the most potential for genuine emotion. "To Love and Die in Dixie" explores that potential with a surprisingly light touch. Clearly feeling a tad sentimental that week, the writers even let habitual loser Meg briefly experience something akin to popularity. There's also the best bike theft joke ever and the fact that even Peter can tell when a civil war reenactment isn't accurate. Genius.

17. E. Peterbus Unum (Season 2, Episode 18)

Peter will go to insane lengths to get his own swimming pool. An allegory for the Iraq War (but mostly an excuse to let Peter annex Joe's yard and rub shoulders with fellow dictators), "E. Peterbus Unum" revels in the overzealous U.S. response to the not-very-threatening Petoria. And we're not just talking about the military; even Tom Tucker can't be trusted to report the truth. Who knew? There's one thing that makes this episode really stand out, though: naked Bill Clinton. "Family Guy"'s Clinton has always been the best of many, many caricatures, standing the test of time. 

17. Emmy-Winning Episode (Season 16, Episode 1)

"Family Guy" once got an Emmy nod in the outstanding comedy series category. It has even won a couple of times over the years for outstanding voice acting, music, and sound mixing. Still, relative to how long it's been airing, it seems like the Emmy committee habitually overlooks the show. That might not seem surprising given the show's flippant, juvenile tone, which isn't exactly typical award-garnering fare. Still, snub apparently stings. This episode, which pokes fun at any and all shows with an Emmy to their name, has plenty going for it, but by far the strongest element is its spot-on tribute to Jon Stewart. It's incredible. We miss him. By contrast, the addition of that aging perma-smirk in a cheap suit commonly known as Bill Maher might have been a step too far. But to be fair, Emmys, isn't it about time "Family Guy" won for Oustanding Comedy or Animated Program?

15. Da Boom (Season 2, Episode 3)

In this episode, Y2K was an actual thing, leaving a complete moron in charge of rebuilding America, or, at the very least, Rhode Island. Yes, following the complete destruction of the U.S. thanks to the new millennium, Peter leads the survivors (ie, the Griffins) on a quest to a Twinkie Factory before founding New Quahog and declaring himself Mayor for Life. Thanks to the throwback "Dallas" ending, though, it was all a dream; no one sleep-walked into letting a moron lead the country (leastways not in "Family Guy" — wish we could say the same for reality). Stewie's surprise egg-laying is somehow the most hilariously disturbing turn of events in a world where Joe is fused to his yard and giant rats abound.  Also, Brian's post-apocalyptic stubble is both hilarious and completely unnecessary. Is it a nod to the futile attempts to survive in a world without Twinkies, TV, and martinis? Probably.

14. Blue Harvest (Season 6, Episode 1)

"Blue Harvest" is by far the most original and best of the MacFarlane "Star Wars" reimaginings, a witty, hilarious, and heartfelt love letter to the movie that changed a generation. The entire team is clearly having a blast, no pun intended. But even with "A New Hope" at its core, this is still an essential "Family Guy" episode, which means "Blues Brothers" getaways, Leslie Nielson, Darth Vader's actual theme as elevator muzak, and Meg as the garbage monster. It also features an extended couch gag that would make "The Simpsons"... gag. Sorry. All that plus an extended run time and a crawl written by and for Peter himself. Sublime and essential repeated viewing. It's weird that this episode isn't higher in the rankings, but when you see what's coming, you'll know why.

13. Road to Rhode Island (Season 2, Episode 13)

In which Brian's origin story is partly explained by taxidermy. What isn't explained, however, is how he's getting away with drinking a Big Gulp-sized cup of wine for breakfast and then being trusted with an infant's safety. On the way back from Palm Springs via Texas for some reason, Brian finally meets what's left of his mom, and Stewie makes amazing use of the underappreciated word "slattern." Thus a classic "Family Guy" trope is born and Bob Hope's estate warms up its lawyers. Spawning some of the show's most flamboyant musical episodes, this intro is a surprisingly dark affair, to the point that Brian buries his own stuffed mom in a random park. Never let it be said that "Family Guy" lacks range. 

12. Petarded (Season 4, Episode 6)

There's really only one thing to say about this episode: It contains one of the best lines of dialogue written anywhere, at any time in human history. Fact. Ready? Describing confusion over his special dad status, quoth Peter, "Black is east, up is white." Yes, we're serious. Think about how frickin' smart that is for a second. Or don't and consider instead the fact that this episode also contains the most surreal cutaway of the show's entire run so far. That's right, folks: fire trucks hunting gazelle on the savannah. "Family Guy" gags do not get any weirder or funnier than that. Then there's the Spooner Street callback at the end, MacArthur grants, soup helmets, and Trivial Pursuit questions that separate the men from the boys. An undeniable classic.

11. Road to the North Pole (Season 9, Episode 7)

Despite looking for all the world like a traditional holiday special fronted by the jolly face of one Mr. MacFarlane Sr., "Road to: Festive Edition" turns out to be anything but trad. After Quagmire gives Brian the gift of searing honesty, he would, of course, rather drag a baby to the North Pole than face the consequences of his canine thoughtlessness. Cue a Tim Burton-esque treatise on the commercialism of the holidays, as well an uncanny prediction about Gary Busey's actual reality long before the rest of us caught on. Although we still haven't worked out exactly what Stewie has against Mrs. Claus. This episode is a darkly festive romp that leaves you wondering what the hell used to happen in the MacFarlane household at Christmas.  

10. Death is a Bitch (Season 2, Episode 6)

In this episode, Peter is allowed to self-declare his death to get out of paying a hospital bill — a disastrous decision, since apparently Death himself takes orders from hospital paperwork. We also learned that middle-aged men actually made up the bulk of the "Dawson's Creek" audience, a program aimed squarely at teenage girls. Plus, the premise that death is a self-serving douche is beautifully executed, perfectly utilizing the whiny tone that naturally comes from stand-up comedian Norm Macdonald. But perhaps the real reason this episode made the list has more to do with the giant squid the entire family is ignoring than anything else.

9. Yug Ylimaf (Season 11, Episode 4)

Yes, this is basically an excuse to revisit some classic Griffin moments, add some super-gross new ones, and confirm that children definitely don't save marriages. As Stewie is Benjamin Buttoning it all the way back to that dreaded ovarian fortress, Brian quietly steals the episode, from his discomfiting habit of dating at disaster zones and to the way the writers handed him the best lines. While blaming the time machine malfunction on Meg, Brian says he saw her "leaving a minute ago, going, 'Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha.'" It's so beautifully thrown away you may well have missed it, but it's genius. And no, we are not going to mention the diaper reversal, because it's 100% the nastiest thing they've ever — EVER — done. EVER. 

8. Lois Kills Stewie (Season 6, Episode 5)

Contrary to Brian's prediction that the "Dallas" ending would upset a lot of people, its position on the list proves that actually, we really did enjoy the ride. And the fact that the whole thing is a simulation allows the episode to send Consuela to the Fortress of Solitude, reveal a smoking Willem Dafoe under Stewie's bed, and turn Stewie into the devil's spawn. Just because he's a murderous infant dictator doesn't mean he's not her murderous infant dictator. Peter finally does something useful, though, and that, surely, is the biggest clue that none of it was real, plus the fact that everyone was suddenly able to understand Stewie, including Simon Cowell of all people. To top it all off, naked Bill Clinton's portrait hangs in Stewie's Oval Office. "Dallas" rules!

7. Meet the Quagmires (Season 5, Episode 18)

This episode, hands down, contains the most disturbing of all the "Family Guy" alternate realities. And it's not just the creepy hellspawn that Quagmire's genes produce. It's that Lois is happier as Mrs. Quagmire than she ever was as Mrs. Griffin. Throw in the idea that they now inhabit an almost perfect world, Chevy Chase notwithstanding, and you have grounds for someone putting an end to Peter right there and then. We're looking at you, Brian. This episode represents the height of Peter's pathological need to get his own way, and apparently, everyone is just fine with that — even when giving Peter his own way means going back to a world where literally everyone is unhappy. Hence the Griffin pathology. Having said that, the Axel F-inspired theme callback over the closing credits totally rules.

6. Stewie Kills Lois (Season 6, Episode 4)

While Stewie almost immediately regrets getting rid of his dear mama, everyone else seems just fine. Peter's dating and even Meg is incredibly comfortable playing mom to her youngest sibling. The Griffins appear to move on very quickly. For our money, though, this episode made the list purely because when Joe dressed up as Lois to get Chris to go shopping, his commitment to the character did not extend to changing his voice, yet Chris somehow fails to notice that "she" sounds exactly like Joe or that she's now in a wheelchair. It's either that or the old-timey "Say Anything" reference. John Cusack, you know?

5. The Simpsons Guy (Season 13, Episode 1)

This episode occupies some rarefied state indeed. Most crossovers are disappointing affairs, but "The Simpsons Guy" is anything but. It succeeds partly because it doesn't exist solely to advertise another MacFarlane product, though it absolutely does that, thanks to the appearance of Stan Smith et al. But it also manages to perfectly blend the two bigger shows, a feat beautifully encapsulated by Homer's post-fight exclamation of "Roadhouse." Genuinely sweet in places, truly gross in others, and even managing a random dig at "Bob's Burgers," "The Simpsons Guy" lands squarely in once-in-a-generation crossover territory, and we are super-grateful for it. If for no other reason than Meg finally finds a temporary friend ... and some equally temporary talent. Bless. A great idea, beautifully and thoughtfully executed. You couldn't possibly ask for more from your friendly Fox-based animators.

4. PTV (Season 4, Episode 14)

This is a strong showing for one of the best "Family Guy" episodes of all time. The Federal Communications Commission and the strange standards they force TV shows to adhere to may seem like easy targets, and they are, but this episode puts a fresh spin on time-tested critiques by making a jaunty tune that throws so many unbroadcastable gags at the FCC that they simply couldn't catch them all. It's a genius way to prove how unworkable the system really is. Let's not forget, that tune went out live at the actual Emmys. That's why we love this frickin' show. Might help explain that lack of Emmy wins, though. Also, they called "Jackass" absolutely right. 

3. And Then There Were Fewer (Season 9, Episode 1)

"Family Guy" arguably crossed from comedy into art here. "Fewer" is not only a pastiche of "Clue" and other mysteries, but it's also a successful whodunit in its own right, with a plot that would make Agatha Christie herself proud. Beautiful, funny, and full of twists and turns, the episode confirms that no one is better prepared or more psychotic than Stewie Griffin. A lovingly crafted homage to a bygone era, "Fewer" proves that just because they're good at fart gags doesn't mean they can't do sumptuous murder mysteries or gorgeous Art Deco-inspired vistas. 

2. Back to the Pilot (Season 10, Episode 5)

What better way to celebrate making it to season 10 than with a visit to the episode that started it all? Well, the revelation that the entire show may be based on Stewie's early memories, for a start. Or proving that no matter what's going on, Brian can always be relied upon to make it entirely about him, and, in the process, start Civil War 2. Yes, only in the "Family Guy"-verse can looking for a pee-covered ball kick off the apocalypse and reveal that revolving barber shop signs are life. In the end, it's an ode to humble beginnings and a road well travelled. Thank God for DVD sales, right? Because without them, we'd never have got this far.  

1. Road to the Multiverse (Season 8, Episode 1)

This is possibly the finest of the "Road to" series, and, according to IMDb, the finest of all "Family Guy" episodes. It's packed with gags, what-ifs, and a sickening vision of a future that features flying cars, lightspeed rail travel, and a human race 1,000 years more advanced than ours. Remote bathroom breaks, anyone? Never mind a dig at Disney, the genuinely inspired two-headed universe, eating Mayor McCheese's hamburger brains, and the true role-reversal in the canine universe. Also, Peter works way better as a dog. Gross and hilarious, these 20-odd minutes of TV encapsulate the essence of "Family Guy" in every sense.