Family Guy and The Simpsons

Family Guy (1999 2003, 2005     )
The Simpsons (1989-    )
Type: Crossover
Group 14

    This might just be one of the most epic crossovers of all time. I mean, crossovers are almost always a big deal. The whole point of them is to create buzz, get more eyes watching the shows. But a lot of the time they are also limited a bit by the fact that it's television and the shows are working with television budgets. They can only go so big. But with a cartoon the sky's the limit.

   The Simpsons is the longest running prime time cartoon in history. The Simpsons are a modern dysfunctional and yellow family living in the town of Springfield, state unknown. Marge is the loving but hapless mom. Homer is the chubby, not so bright, often angry dad. Bart is the troublemaking son. Lisa is the braniac misunderstood middle child. Maggie is the pacifier sucking baby. Seriously, is there anyone out there who needs The Simpsons explained to them? The Simpsons started off as a segment on the Tracey Ullman Show and very quickly were spun off into their own series that became an immediate hit for the Fox network and has been on the air ever since.

   Ten years after The Simpsons hit the air Fox launched Family Guy. It was also about a family led by a chubby dopey dad. The Griffin family lives in Quahog, Rhode Island. Peter's the dad. Lois is the mom. Unlike the more... let's say reserved Marge, Lois is a bit more... let's say aggressive. Chris is their oldest less-than-genius son. Meg is their much dumped on daughter. Seriously, her role on the show is to be the butt of loser jokes. Stewie is the baby of the family who is also an evil genius who may or may not be gay. Finally Brian is the family's talking, martini-drinking dog. Family Guy was not a runaway hit right out of the gate. Many people saw it as a pale rip off of The Simpsons. The style of humor was similar. Many people did not care for it. I was one of them. The first season in particular, for me, was weak. I didn't find it funny at all. I stopped watching the show and so did a lot of other viewers. What I and other's didn't realize was the show had not found its voice in that first season. By the third season Family Guy had hit its stride and WAS funny. Unfortunately by then too many people had bailed on it and it was cancelled. But in a true miracle that almost never happens, people started discovering the show and its repeats on The Cartoon Network started pulling in massive ratings resulting in Fox uncancelling the show after being off the air for two years. At that point Family Guy turned into a massive hit.

   Over the years The Simpsons and Family Guy have done a number of small unofficial crossovers and reference joke between each other. (One that comes to mind right off the bat was the episode of Family Guy where a popup promo for The Simpsons came up at the bottom of the screen featuring The Simpsons smiling and waving. Family Guy's resident letch, Quaqmire, could see the popup, ran off and then reappeared in the popup where he began to make out with Marge Simpsons.) But there was never a big "event" crossover until 2014 when the writers of Family Guy came up with the idea of doing one and then actually had the courage to approach the producers of The Simpsons about doing it. The folks on The Simpsons generously agreed and it was off to the races. (Seriously, it's pretty amazing that for something everyone knew would be a big deal, for the folks at The Simpsons to let this event happen on Family Guy and to not demand it happen on The Simpsons.)

   The hour long episode starts with Peter getting in trouble when he draws a comic for the local paper which is offensive to women. It's so offensive the Griffin home is surrounded by protestors forcing the family to leave town until everything blows over. They end up lost. They pull over for gas only to have their car stolen. While wondering where the hell they are, the Griffins look up to see a sign reading, "Welcome to Springfield." Soon they're in town with Homer and family trying to help them find their car.

   Rather than just being a crossover where the families meet up and just have an adventure together, this crossover goes out of it's way to comment and joke about both shows, their styles, their differences and similiarities... everything you can imagine. The Simpsons characters are all yellow leading to Peter wondering if they all have hepatitis. The Griffins are normal white-flesh toned leading Homer to assume they're albinos. When comments are made about an adventure like this happening again, the comment will be made that this is likely a one time thing. There is one massive run where one joke runs into the next into the next. Family Guy is known for non sequitur cutaway jokes, where someone compares something happening in the episode to some other weird thing. Then they cut to that other thing and a joke plays out. Homer makes a comment about he and Peter being a great team. Peter attempts to lead him into a comparison, "A greater team than..." so they can do the non sequitur cutaway. Homer has no idea that's how things work and so is left confused until Peter finally sets up the cutaway joke for him saying, "Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin are a greater team than the Air Force!" Cut to Peter and Homer as pilots in a WWI fighter biplane in the middle of a dogfight. They shoot down another plane and cheer. Suddenly we see that with them in the plane is Bob from the Fox's not as successful Bob's Burgers. When Homer asks why Bob is there Peter answers, "We gotta carry him because he can't fly on his own. We let that other guy try and look what happened." Cut to Cleveland Brown from the Family Guy spin off The Cleveland Show crashing a plane. So from a joke about how Family Guy does their jokes into a double joke about the varying success of Fox cartoons and, at the same time, adding two more shows to the crossover.

   And Bob's Burgers and The Cleveland Show weren't the only extra shows added to the mix. Another meta-joke had Homer and Peter going to court over whether the beer Peter drinks is just a rip off of The Simpson's Duff beer, with the whole thing being used to comment on whether Family Guy is a cheap rip off of The Simpsons. The judge of the case? Fred Flintstone! Awesome. Now, I'm not sure how much to count any of these extra "crossovers" as connecting the shows. Bob and Cleveland both appear as part of an out of continuity fantasy sequence. And Fred Flintstone living in current times is weird to account for as being a legit connection. But there is a final show added to the mix that can fully count. Family Guy has a running gag where Peter gets into insanely long and elaborate fights with a giant chicken. Part of the joke is that the fights will go on for up to ten minutes. For the crossover they had Peter get into a "chicken fight" with Homer. The fight rages on and on all over Springfield. At one point they both crash into the town's nuclear power plant, become irradiated and turn into green glowing super powered versions of themselves. They fly fighting right up into space eventually crashing into the spaceship of The Simpson's resident aliens Kang and Kodos. On the ship with Kang and Kodos is Roger, the alien from American Dad!, another cartoon from Family Guy creator Seth McFarland. Roger comments that he's visiting Kang and Kodos as they were all childhood friends who went to camp together.

   I don't want to say too much more and spoil anything. I have already said too much. This is a crossover you really need to see rather than hear me ramble about.

Other Simpsons Crossover Links
The Simpsons and Cheers
The Simpsons and The Critic
The Simpsons and The Flintstones
The Simpsons and Futurama
The Simpsons and King Of The Hill
The Simpsons and The Tracey Ullman Show
The Simpsons and 24
The Simpsons and The X-Files

Links To Simpson Web Sites
New Springfield: It's a helluva town!
The Simpsons Emporium

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