Family Guy celebrated its 20th anniversary back in January, a giant feat seeing as it was canceled by Fox after season two then canceled again following season three. But the animated series powered on thanks to its razor sharp writing and growing rabid following.
With the nearly 330 episodes that have aired since its inception in 1999, MacFarlane recently dished on the 20 episodes he believes to be the greatest, and the one that tops them all.
Here is the list, in no particular order.
“Brian Sings and Swings”
MacFarlane: This episode featured our dear friend, the wonderful Frank Sinatra Jr. It’s also when I realized that if you have songs in an episode, you have to write way less.
“Road to Rhode Island”
MacFarlane: This was the first Stewie/Brian road show we ever did, and it’s the first episode that firmly established their unique relationship. It was our fresh take on the classic old trope of a dog and a baby hitting the road together.
“The Griffin Family History”
MacFarlane: A fun premise and a great-looking episode. This was our first real foray into a non-traditional format.
“Road to the Multiverse”
MacFarlane: Back before Walt Disney’s Family Guy was a real thing, it was a fake thing.
MacFarlane: This episode was the culmination of our completely wholesome, non-sexual relationship with the FCC.
MacFarlane: This was a brilliant episode and just so Twitter knows, I was out with the flu the day they came up with the title.
“Road to Germany”
MacFarlane: This was our homage to Herman Wouk’s ‘The Winds of War.’ And sadly, if you’re an American male under age 35, studies show this episode is all you know about World War II.
“I Dream of Jesus”
MacFarlane: The bird is still the word.
“Brian Wallows and Peter’s Swallows”
MacFarlane: This episode won us an Emmy for its musical number. Before that, none of us had ever seen an Emmy before.
“Road to Rupert”
MacFarlane: Stewie dances with Gene Kelly. Enough said.
“Back to the Pilot”
MacFarlane: It was fun to revisit and era before I hired people who could draw better than me.
“The Big Bang Theory”
MacFarlane: This was based on a story I wrote in college. The A.V. Club gave this episode a B, which is their highest rating I think.
“Road to the North Pole”
MacFarlane: My dad’s in this one.
“Brian and Stewie”
MacFarlane: We wanted to see if our characters were interesting enough to sustain a full episode in one room, without gags or cutaways. In Hollywood, this is called a “bottle episode,” because it only utilizes one set, and also because the writers were drunk.
“Extra Large Medium”
MacFarlane: Psychics are frauds. You’re welcome.
“North by North Quahog”
MacFarlane: Our first episode back from cancellation. It was a comedic riff on a Hancock classic, complete with a Bernard Herrmann score. This is the type of whip-smart, nuanced writing I was capable of 10,000 drinks ago.
“Brian Griffin’s House of Payne”
MacFarlane: An amazing opening sequence with great visual effects scored by a 75-piece orchestra. Fun trivia: Family Guy employees more full-time tuba players than the rest of Hollywood combined.
MacFarlane: This episode is what finally put Star Wars on the map.
As for the episode MacFarlane is most proud of, it is the Clue parody in the season 9 premiere, titled “And Then There Were Fewer.”
MacFarlane: I think this is my favorite episode of the series. A classic format, great-looking direction, and, I hope, a genuinely surprising ending. It was also the first episode to air in HD. It was really cool to finally see Lois’ pores.