TV

‘The Simpsons’ Vs. ‘Family Guy’: Who Did The Joke First?

[This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated]

Read the comments section of any Family Guy video on YouTube and inevitably, someone will say that Seth MacFarlane is a hack and that the show’s a rip-off of The Simpsons. I’m the biggest Simpsons fan around, but even I don’t believe that. Like Roger Myers, Jr. once said:

“Animation is built on plagiarism. If it weren’t for someone plagiarizing The Honeymooners, we wouldn’t have The Flintstones. If someone hadn’t ripped off Sgt. Bilko, there’d be no Top Cat. Huckleberry Hound, Chief Wiggum, Yogi Bear? Hah! Andy Griffith, Edward G. Robinson, Art Carney. Your honor, you take away our right to steal ideas, where are they gonna come from?”

With that mind, and with South Park‘s recent shot in mind, here are six instances of The Simpsons and Family Guy using the same joke (it should be noted that’s not an indictment; repeat gags are bound to happen). Note that I said “joke,” rather than “plot” because otherwise, yes, SIMPSONS DID IT!

The Simpsons
Episode: “Jaws Wired Shut”
Airdate: January 27, 2002

The Simpsons go to the movie theater to see Shenanigoats. But before the film starts, trivia questions are shown on the screen, including a jumble for “MOT HANKS.” Lisa says, “These are so easy. It’s obviously Tom Hanks.” The correct answer, of course: Otm Shank, who is India’s Brian Dennehy, according to Apu.

Family Guy
Episode: “Friends of Peter G”
Airdate: February 13, 2011

Peter and Brian go to the movie theater. But before the film starts, trivia questions (or “movie trivia slides,” as Peter calls them) are shown on the screen, including a name — T_M H_NKS — with the hint: “This actor won an Oscar for his portrayal of Forrest Gump.” Peter says, “Tim Honks, Forrest Gump, I win.” The correct answer: Tom Hanks, who is America’s Otm Shank.

Who did it first: The Simpsons

Family Guy
Episode: “Meet the Quagmires”
Airdate: May 20, 2007

In a parody of the Enchantment Under the Sea dance scene from Back to the Future, Brian sings “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Off-stage, a man picks up a telephone and says, “Hey Rick, it’s your cousin, Marvin. Marvin Astley. You know that mediocre, generic sound you’ve been looking for? Well, listen to this!”

The Simpsons
Episode: “That ‘90s Show”
Airdate: January 27, 2008

In a parody of the Enchantment Under the Sea dance scene from Back to the Future, Sadgasm lead singer Homer sings “Politically Incorrect.” Off-stage, a man picks up a telephone and says, “Kurt, Kurt, it’s Marvin. Your cousin, Marvin Cobain. You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well, listen to this!”

Who did it first: Family Guy

Family Guy
Episode: “Death Is a Bitch”
Airdate: March 21, 2000

The Grim Reaper comes to the Griffin’s house to get Peter. But after a brief chase, Death falls down and breaks his ankle. Because the Reaper is out of commission, someone has to take over his job: Peter.

The Simpsons
Episode: “Reaper Madness”
Airdate: November 2, 2003

The Grim Reaper comes to the Simpsons’ house to get Bart. But after a brief chase, Homer hits Death in the head with a bowling ball and “kills” him. Because the Reaper is out of commission, someone has to take over his job: Homer.

Who did it first: Family Guy

The Simpsons
Episode: “Reaper Madness”
Airdate: November 2, 2003

When the Grim Reaper arrives to get Bart, Marge tells her son to “run like the wind,” pronouncing the last word “whined.” Lisa corrects her, saying, “Mom, it’s wind,” rhyming with “grinned.” Marge responds, “I’ve only read it in books.”

Family Guy
Episode: “Welcome Back, Carter”
Airdate: October 10, 2010

When Barbara Pewterschmidt hears a noise downstairs, Carter tells his wife that it’s “probably just the wind,” pronouncing the last word “whined.” Barbara corrects him, saying, “The wind, dear,” rhyming with “grinned.” Carter responds, “Is that how you say that? I’ve only seen that word written.”

Who did it first: The Simpsons

The Simpsons
Episode: “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds”
Airdate: April 9, 1995

The Simpsons go to the dog racetrack, where Santa’s Little Helper sees another dog that he immediately falls for, She’s the Fastest. He jumps into the race and begins mounting the female dog in front of everyone.

Family Guy
Episode: “Screwed the Pooch”
Airdate: November 29, 2001

The Griffins go to the dog racetrack, where Brian sees another dog that he immediately falls for, Sea Breeze. He jumps into the race and begins mounting the female dog in front of everyone.

Who did it first: The Simpsons

The Simpsons
Episode: “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds”
Airdate: April 9, 1995

After welcoming 25 baby puppies into his home, Homer tries to eat some chips, only for the greyhounds to steal them from him.

Family Guy
Episode: “Brian Wallows and Peter’s Swallows”
Airdate: January 17, 2002

After welcoming three birds to live in his beard, Peter tries to eat some chips, only for the birds to steal them from him.

Who did it first: The Simpsons

×