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The One-Liner That You'll Hear In Every Episode Of Family Guy

Many long-running comedy shows feature jokes that repeatedly occur, making the series feel cohesive while also rewarding loyal viewers. Examples of this include Kenny dying on "South Park," Jim pulling pranks on Dwight on "The Office," and how there is always money in the banana stand on "Arrested Development." Most long-running comedy series, especially sitcoms, do not rely solely on one-off jokes for the bulk of their humor. Rather, because they feature the same characters in similar situations from episode to episode, they tend to develop certain types of recurring jokes or humorous scenarios. Running jokes from TV shows are also important outside the worlds of the shows themselves: they can turn into memes, be used to sell merchandise, or even create ways for fans to recognize each other and become friends.

There are several "Family Guy" running gags that never fail to make viewers laugh and make the series feel satisfying. These include the family insulting Meg, Peter hurting his knee, Brian writing his novel, and Lois appearing unable to understand what Stewie says. Not all of these jokes occur in every episode, but there is a certain one-liner that does. However, it is subtle enough that even avid "Family Guy" viewers may not have noticed it. Additionally, it is a common enough one-liner so as not to stick out obviously to every fan. Instead, this one-liner makes its way seamlessly into each episode and is incredibly easy to miss. 

What the hell's the recurring phrase?

It's so simple that it's easy to miss, but u/ballerific on Reddit pointed out that, in every episode of "Family Guy," at least one character says some version of the sentence "What the hell?" Additionally, fans from the blog Family Guy Addicts noticed the same thing. However, don't feel bad if you have been watching "Family Guy" for years and never noticed this. It's easy to miss because it is a common phrase, it is not always the same character saying it, and sometimes there are alterations to the phrase. This includes "What the hell is going on here," "Where the hell are we going," "Who the hell is this," and even "To hell with parliamentary procedure." 

So, in reality, instead of the phrase "What the hell" appearing in every episode, it is only the word "hell" itself that truly appears in every episode. Here is a video montage of "Family Guy" characters saying "What the hell?" and similar phrases in each episode, which really demonstrates the writers' commitment to a bit.

Although this one-liner is simple, once viewers know about it, it allows them to notice a pattern and feel like part of an inside joke. Knowing that the one-liner is coming at some point, fans who listen for it will certainly hear it and experience the variety of ways the joke is used. "What the hell?" is such a versatile phrase and part of nearly everyone's vocabulary, so the possibilities are almost endless.