Peter Griffin

This article is about the Family Guy character. For other uses, see Peter Griffin (disambiguation).

Peter Griffin
Family Guy character
First appearance "Death Has a Shadow"
Created by Seth MacFarlane
Voiced by Seth MacFarlane
Full name Peter Griffin
  • Former Safety Inspector at the Happy-Go-Lucky Toy Factory
  • Former Fisherman
  • Former President of Peteoria
  • Brewery Shipping Clerk
Spouse(s) Lois Griffin (wife)
Nationality American

Peter Griffin is the main protagonist and title character of the American animated sitcom Family Guy. He is voiced by cartoonist Seth MacFarlane and first appeared on television, along with the rest of the family, in the 15-minute short on December 20, 1998. Peter was created and designed by MacFarlane himself. MacFarlane was asked to pitch a pilot to the Fox Broadcasting Company based on Larry & Steve, a short made by MacFarlane which featured a middle-aged character named Larry and an intellectual dog, Steve. After the pilot was given the green light, The Griffin family appeared on the episode "Death Has a Shadow".

Peter is married to Lois Griffin and is the father of Meg, Chris, and Stewie. He also has a dog named Brian, with whom he is best friends. He has worked at a toy factory, and at Quahog's Brewery. Despite the suburban blue-collar routine of his life, he has had a number of remarkable experiences.

Peter's voice was inspired by the security guards that MacFarlane heard at his school. His appearance was a redesign of the protagonist Larry from MacFarlane's previous animated short films The Life of Larry and Larry & Steve. He has appeared in several pieces of Family Guy merchandise, including toys, T-shirts and a video game, and has made crossover appearances in other shows, including The Simpsons, South Park, Drawn Together, American Dad!, and the Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show.

Role in Family Guy

Peter Griffin is a middle class Irish American, who is a bespectacled, overweight blue collar worker with a prominent Rhode Island and Eastern Massachusetts accent.[1] He is the husband of Lois and the father of Meg, Chris and Stewie. He is the illegitimate son of Thelma Griffin and Mickey McFinnigan and was raised by Thelma and her husband Francis as Francis's son. Peter and his family live in the fictional town of Quahog, Rhode Island, which is modeled after Providence, Rhode Island.[2][3][4] Peter primarily worked as a safety inspector at the Happy-Go-Lucky Toy Factory, until his boss Jonathan Weed choked to death on a dinner roll; he then became a fisherman on his own boat, known as the "S.S. More Powerful than Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and The Incredible Hulk Put Together," with the help of two Portuguese immigrants, Santos and Pasqual, until his boat was destroyed.[5][6] He now works in the shipping department of the Pawtucket Patriot brewery.[7][8] Peter is also shown in various jobs for single episodes and cutaway gags. In one episode Peter played for the New England Patriots until his behavior resulted in him being kicked off the team. In a running gag, storylines are randomly interrupted by extremely long, unexpected fights between Peter and Ernie the Giant Chicken, an anthropomorphic chicken who serves as a rival to Peter.[9] These battles parody the action film genre, with explosions, high-speed chases, and immense devastation to the town of Quahog.[10]



MacFarlane initially conceived Family Guy in 1995 while studying animation at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).[11] During college, he created his thesis film entitled The Life of Larry,[11] which was submitted by his professor at RISD to Hanna-Barbera. MacFarlane was hired by the company.[12] In 1996, MacFarlane created a sequel to The Life of Larry entitled Larry & Steve, which featured a middle-aged character named Larry and an intellectual dog, Steve; the short was broadcast in 1997 as one of Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons.[11] Executives at Fox saw the Larry shorts and contracted MacFarlane to create a series, entitled Family Guy, based on the characters.[13] Fox proposed MacFarlane complete a 15-minute short, and gave him a budget of $50,000.[14] Several aspects of Family Guy were inspired by the Larry shorts.[15] While working on the series, the characters of Larry and his dog Steve slowly evolved into Peter and Brian.[13][16] MacFarlane stated that the difference between The Life of Larry and Family Guy was that "Life of Larry was shown primarily in my dorm room and Family Guy was shown after the Super Bowl."[15]


MacFarlane based Peter's voice on the voices of security guards he had heard talking, while attending the Rhode Island School of Design.

The voice of Peter is provided by MacFarlane, who also provides the voice for Brian, Stewie and Quagmire, MacFarlane also provides the voices for various other recurring and one-time only characters, most prominently those of news anchor Tom Tucker, Carter Pewterschmidt (Lois' father), and Dr. Hartman.[17] MacFarlane has been part of the main voice cast from the beginning of the series including the pilot, as well he has been voicing Peter from the start.[18] MacFarlane chose to voice Peter and the rest of characters' voices himself, believing it would be easier to portray the voices he already envisioned than for someone else to attempt it.[19] MacFarlane's speaking voice is not very close to Peter's; he uses his normal voice as the voice of Brian.[19] MacFarlane drew inspiration for the voice of Peter from the security guards he overheard talking while he was attending the Rhode Island School of Design;[20] according to him, "I knew a thousand Peter Griffins growing up in New England. Guys who would not think before they spoke, like [switching to Peter's voice] there was no self-editing mechanism. [Pointing to himself] Everything in here, [pointing to his front] it's coming out here".[21] MacFarlane also voices many of Peter's ancestors who share the same type of voice.[18] He noted in an interview that he voices Peter and the rest of the characters partly because they initially had a small budget, but also that he prefers to have the freedom to do it himself.[22] In another interview, he mentioned that Peter's voice is one of the most difficult to do.[23]

There have been several occasions where MacFarlane does not voice Peter. In the episode "No Meals on Wheels", (season 5, 2007) actor Patrick Stewart voiced Peter in a cutscene, but MacFarlane voices Peter for the rest of the episode.[24] In the episode "Family Gay", (season 7, 2009) Seth Rogen provided a guest-voice as Peter under the effects of the "Seth Rogen gene".[25] In "Road to the Multiverse", (season 8, 2009) he was voiced by Japanese actor Jameson Yang, who was required for a scene where everything in the world was Japanese.[26]


Peter, a stereotypical blue-collar worker,[27] frequently gets drunk with his neighbors Cleveland, Joe and Quagmire at "The Drunken Clam," Quahog's local tavern.[28] After taking an I.Q. test, Peter discovered his low intellect falls slightly below the level for mental retardation.[29] Peter is known for his brash impulsiveness, which has led to several awkward situations,[30] such as attempting to molest Meg in order to adopt a redneck lifestyle.[31] He is incredibly jealous of other attractions Lois has in her life, an attitude which has led to extreme situations, such as when he assaulted a whale that kissed Lois at SeaWorld.[32] In the third season episode "Stuck Together, Torn Apart", Peter and Lois split up because of Peter's jealousy, only to discover that Lois has the same character flaw and the two decide to live with their mutually jealous nature.[32] Peter has a very short attention span which frequently leads him to bizarre situations, as Chris points out in "Long John Peter", after Peter's parrot dies "He will get over it pretty quickly and then move on to another wacky thing", to which Peter finds a pipe organ and forgets about his parrot (Peter then destroys the pipe organ within seconds and then finds a deed to a cattle ranch).[33] Peter is also naïve with one example in Airport 07 where he thinks his truck will fly by filling it with airplane fuel.

Peter has complex relationships with all three of his children. He normally makes fun of Meg and treats her badly, such as in the episode "FOX-y Lady", where he, Meg and Chris try to create a cartoon and they exclude Meg and her ideas.[34] Though in some episodes Peter has had a good relationship with Meg, in "Hell Comes to Quahog", (season 5, 2006) Peter almost tells Meg he loves her and in "Road to Rupert", (season 5, 2007) he told Meg that he would treat her badly in front of the family, but that he would be her friend in secret.[35][36] It was presumed though that in "Peter's Sister", (season 14, 2015) that Peter would stop bullying Meg.[37] Peter communicates and has a much better relationship with Stewie. Peter and Stewie had their adventures when he took him to Walt Disney World Resort in the episode "The Courtship of Stewie's Father", (season 4, 2005).[38] With Chris, Peter communicates well, but at times when in need of advice or in an adventure Peter tells Chris to do the opposite of what he should do, like in "Long John Peter", (season 6, 2008) where Chris is asking for advice on dating and Peter tells him to treat women horribly.[39]

Peter is best friends with his anthropomorphic dog, Brian. In earlier seasons, Brian often served as a voice of reason for Peter, helping him out with issues. Brian is extremely grateful to Peter for picking him up as a stray, shown during a flashback in the episode, "Brian: Portrait of a Dog". His gratitude was affirmed in, "New Kidney in Town", where Brian is prepared to give up both his kidneys (and his life), so that Peter could undergo a kidney transplant (although he did not have to do it thanks to another donor being found). At Brian's funeral in "Life of Brian", Peter said that Brian was his "best friend in the whole world" and "like a brother to him".


"Head of the Griffin family is Irish-American Catholic Peter, an obese and bespectacled man who is just a big child – and has other roots beside his Irish ones, including African-American, Spanish, Scottish and German."

James Bartlett, The Great Reporter.[40]

Before Peter was born, his mother Thelma went to Mexico City to have an abortion.[41] However, she gave birth during the procedure, and smuggled him home to Providence, Rhode Island, where he spent his childhood.[41][42] Peter was raised by Francis and Thelma Griffin in the Roman Catholic faith.[43] However, in "Peter's Two Dads", he discovers that his biological father is an Irishman named Mickey McFinnigan.[44] Peter visits Mickey, who initially rejects him. Mickey later accepts him as his son after beating him in the "game of drink" (the game of drink referring to matching shots until one passes out).[44] Mickey is based on the friends of MacFarlane's father. MacFarlane said: "When I was growing up, my father had lots of friends: big, vocal, opinionated New England, Irish Catholics. They were all bursting at the seams with personality, and Family Guy came out of a lot of those archetypes that I spent years observing."[40]

Peter has also referred to a large number of ancestors throughout the series, stating, "the Griffin family history is a rich tapestry".[45] Famous ancestors of Peter include Moses Griffin, who led the Jews out of Egypt; Willie "Black-Eye" Griffin, Peter's great-grandfather, a 1920s silent film star, Osias Griffin, an owner of one of the first dozen telephones; and Peter Hitler, the flamboyant brother of Adolf Hitler. Peter's ancestor Nate Griffin, an African American slave from Virginia, was owned by Lois' ancestors. He fell in love with their daughter, and secretly raised a family with her. Nate's family was eventually discovered and they escaped.



"Many of the show's funniest moments come courtesy of Peter's shenanigans. Peter practically invented the "manatee joke," those signature cutaway gags that usually have nothing to do with the episode's plot but offer plenty of laughs anyway. These jokes have revealed, among other things, that Peter wasn't born a man, that he only recently graduated the fourth grade, and that even he doesn't find the comedic stylings of Paul Reiser funny".

Ahsan Haque, IGN[46]

Editors of Variety put Family Guy in their contenders for the 2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series; they stated that, depending on your sense of humor, Peter is either " a comedy genius" or "an obnoxious idiot".[47] MacFarlane has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Voice-Over Performance category in 2009 for voicing Peter.[48] He was also nominated in 2008 for an Annie Award in the Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production or Short Form for voicing Peter.[49] Peter has ranked in several of IGN's top 10s (generally these list are related to the show).[50][51] Among these lists Peter ranked the third spot on IGN's "Top 25 Family Guy Characters", in the list it was stated that many of the shows best gags come from Peter and his shenanigans and that "Peter practically invented the "manatee joke".[46] Entertainment Weekly placed Peter in their "18 Bad TV Dads" list (the list also included characters like Homer Simpson and Al Bundy).[52]

Criticism and controversy

Peter has been criticized for being similar to Homer Simpson. Peter has appeared in some episodes of The Simpsons, in these episodes which he has been featured he has been depicted as Homer Simpson's clone or is accused of plagiarism. Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly stated that Peter is Homer Simpson "as conceived by a singularly sophomoric mind that lacks any reference point beyond other TV shows".[53] Robin Pierson from The TV Critic criticized the Griffin family for being too similar to the Simpson family; and he said that Peter "has Homer Simpson written all over him".[54] This is eventually made fun of in the episode "Ratings Guy" when, after Peter ruins television and goes to the networks to reverse the changes, Homer Simpson shows up with the same plight, with Peter going "A-ha! Looks like this is one WE beat YOU to!"[55]

Peter has created controversy in various episodes of Family Guy. The episode "The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire", (season 4, 2005) featured a sequence titled "You Have AIDS", in which Peter Griffin dances and sings in a barbershop quartet fashion around the bed of a man with end-stage AIDS about his diagnosis, this drew protests from several AIDS service organizations.[56] In the episode "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein", (season 3, 2003) Peter sings a parody song of "When You Wish upon a Star", entitled "I Need a Jew"; on October 3, 2007, Bourne Co. Music Publishers filed a lawsuit accusing the show of infringing its copyright on the original song; Bourne Co., the sole United States copyright owner of the song, alleged the parody pairs a "thinly veiled" copy of their music with antisemitic lyrics.[57] The complaint was not upheld.[58]

Cultural influence

Appearances in the media

Peter has had several television appearances outside Family Guy, often in the form of direct parody. Peter has appeared in two episodes of The Simpsons, referencing how the two shows are frequently compared to each other. In the fourteenth season episode "Treehouse of Horror XIII", Peter is depicted as one of Homer Simpson's clones,[59] and in the seventeenth season episode, "The Italian Bob", a photo of Peter is in a book of criminals, which says he is wanted for "plagiarismo".[60] Peter also appeared in various episodes of the show's spin-off The Cleveland Show.[61] In addition, Peter has appeared at the end of the American Dad! episode "Hurricane!" with guns on both Stan Smith and former neighbor Cleveland Brown. During the stand-off, Francine is accidentally shot by Stan, which Peter declares as "classic American Dad!".


Peter is also featured on the Family Guy: Live in Vegas CD,[62] and plays a significant part in Family Guy Video Game!, the first Family Guy video game, which was released by 2K Games in 2006.[63] Peter will be used in the game Family Guy Online as a character class for the game's character creator.[64] MacFarlane recorded exclusive material of Peter's voice and other Family Guy characters for a 2007 pinball machine of the show by Stern Pinball.[65] In 2004, the first series of Family Guy toy figurines was released by Mezco Toyz, each member of the Griffin family had their own toy, with the exception of Stewie, of whom two different figures were made.[66] Over the course of two years, four more series of toy figures have been released, with various forms of Peter.[67] Alongside the action figures, Peter has been included in various other Family Guy-related merchandise.[68]

As of 2009, six books have been released about the Family Guy universe, all published by HarperCollins since 2005.[69] This include Family Guy: It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One (ISBN 978-0-7528-7593-4), which covers the entire events of the episode "It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One",[70] and Family Guy and Philosophy: A Cure for the Petarded (ISBN 978-1-4051-6316-3), a collection of seventeen essays exploring the connections between the series and historical philosophers.[71] which include Peter as a character. Peter appears in comic-book based on the Family Guy universe; by Titan Comics.[72] The first comic book is going to be released in July 27, 2011.[72]

In 2008, the character appeared in advertisements for Subway, promoting the restaurant's massive feast sandwich.[73][74] Chief marketing officer Tony Pace commented "Peter's a good representation of the people who are interested in the Feast, and Family Guy is a show "that appeals to that target audience."[75] The Boston Globe critic Brian Steinberg praised the restaurant's use of the character for the commercials.[73]


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