Death Has a Shadow
Season 1, Episode 1
The First Episode of Family Guy
Air date January 31, 1999
Episode guide
Larry & Steve
I Never Met the Dead Man
Death Has a Shadow is the first episode of season one of Family Guy. It is the first episode, overall.


An obnoxious, dim-witted fat man named Peter Griffin gets fired from his only job at a children's toy factory.


A suburban family in the town of Quahog, Rhode Island joins together for dinner. Stewie Griffin, the youngest sibling, is finalizing a mind-control device, to aid him on his mission for acieving world domination. Lois Griffin, the mother of the family, takes it away from him, telling him that toys are not allowed at the table, unknowing of the device's true intent. Peter Griffin, the father of the family tells Lois that he'll be attending a stag party at his friend's house, but Lois doesn't allow this unless he promises not to drink. Peter makes this deal with her, but immediately breaks it, almost instantly upon arrival. He overdoses and wakes up on the his kitchen table the next day, to his angry wife, and his impressionable children, witnessing the whole scene. Peter goes to work at The Happy-Go-Lucky Toy Factory that day, falling asleep on the job, allowing dozens of dangerous children's toys to be released to the public. His boss, Mr. Weed promptly fires him.

Peter breaks the news to his children, but is too afraid to tell Lois. Brian Griffin, the dog in the family wisely insists that Peter tells her the truth, but Peter has better ideas. He applies for other jobs, planning on telling Lois that he's simply transferring, but no job accepts him. Knowing that Peter won't tell the truth anytime soon, Brian gives him a meager, but reasonable request, that he applies for government assistance at a welfare office. This works out great, but a bit too great, as Peter's welfare check accidentally added a few extra zeroes, giving him $150,000. Peter tells Lois that he got a raise at his job and foolishly blows through all his money on worthless items, such as a rental of The Statue of David, cosmetic lip injections for his daughter, Meg Griffin, breast implants for his son, Chris Griffin, and a mote around the house, complete with a drawbridge and a miniature cruise ship, for travelling the sparkling waters.

Plot (SC01real's version)

As Lois (Alex Borstein) prepares dinner, Stewie (Seth MacFarlane) puts the finishing touches on his mind-control device, only to be taken away from him by Lois, who won't allow 'toys' at the table.

Later, Peter (Seth MacFarlane) asks Lois for permission to attend an upcoming stag party. After he promises he won't drink, Lois lets him go. Unfortunately, Peter does not heed his wife's advice, forgets his promise and plays drinking games. He goes to work the next day with a hangover, and falls asleep on the job as a safety inspector in a toy factory. Peter misses dangerous objects such as a butcher knife, a surge protector, a gasoline can, razor blades, a porcupine, a toaster with forks inside and a plug in water. The company receives bad press after releasing unsafe toy products, and Peter is promptly fired by Mr. Weed (Carlos Alazraqui).

At dinner, Peter breaks the news to his children, but decides to keep it from Lois. He tries different jobs, such as cereal mascot and sneeze guard, but fails miserably. Brian (Seth MacFarlane) and Tyler (Eli Marienthal) pressure him to tell her the truth, but all he manages to do is to tell Lois how fat she is. Brian and Tyler insist that Peter must look out for his family's welfare.

With the word "welfare" in his mind, Peter soon applies for government assistance at a welfare office. But a processing error creates a weekly check for $150,000. Telling Lois he received a big raise, Peter spends his money on many foolish and extravagant things, such as renting the Statue of David, treating Meg (Lacey Chabert) to cosmetic surgery and even going so far as to surround his house with a moat to protect them from the Black Knight.

Unfortunately, Lois is given the welfare check by the mail lady and scolds at Peter. Peter decides to return the money to the taxpayers by dumping it from a blimp during Super Bowl XXXIII. Brian and Tyler accompany him. They are immediately shot down and sent to prison.

Eventually, Lois receives the bad news and goes to court, still angry at Peter for lying to her in the first place. After Peter apologizes for lying to Lois and accepting the money instead of reporting the welfare error, the judge sentences him to 24 months in prison for welfare fraud. Lois, Brian, Chris (Seth Green) and Meg exclaim, "Oh no!" while Tyler exclaims "Dang it!". Lois tries to explain he's not that bad and she loves him, and insists that, no matter what, she will always stand by her husband. The judge agrees, and sends her to jail with him. Stewie, being a baby, must have his parents by his side, regardless of his burning hate for them, especially Lois. He then whips out his mind control device and forces the judge into letting his father go free and get his job back.

Peter states that he has learned his lesson and will never do it again. Instead he is going to try for such things as a minority scholarship, sexual harassment suit, and a disability claim.



  • Not only was this the premiere episode of Family Guy, but this was the first episode to air on a Sunday, both during the Superbowl and after it was picked up as a complete series starting April 11th, 1999. When Family Guy was revived in 2005, Fox put it at the 9:00 PM timeslot, and American Dad! following it at 9:30, helped revive the Sunday night Animation Domination block. Family Guy has remained there ever since.
  • The episode begins with the family watching an episode of The Brady Bunch in which Jan tattles on Greg for smoking cigarettes. A real episode titled "Where There's Smoke" featured a similar plot.
  • The cutaway gag of Peter taking Holy Communion in church originated in the Pilot Pitch and was repeated again in "Fifteen Minutes of Shame".
  • Brian reveals that he doesn't vote because of welfare checks.
  • A wimpy Adolf Hitler is seen being jealous of a beefy Jewish man surrounded by women in the "Das Gym". This is a reference to The Holocaust, a worldwide tragedy, wherein German dictator, Adolf Hitler caused the genocide of over six million Jews, blacks, and homosexuals, and even used the help of thousands of followers, which ultimately led to the biggest atrocity known to man.
  • The family is watching Tom Hanks in Philadelphia. Peter figures out that it's Hanks, recognizing him from Big.
  • Peter auditions to be Sonny, the bird mascot of Cocoa Puffs, but keeps messing up on the slogan in very family-unfriendly ways, so he is fired.
  • Stewie uses the mind control device, a "tuna fish" ray gun, a crossbow, and six grenades in this episode.
  • Cleveland is seen at the party along with Quagmire as well as in the court scene.
  • Quagmire's game which when won results in something that the player would've gotten or already got is played again in "Emission Impossible". For this game, Peter won another beer.
  • During the sequence where Peter goes to work hungover cuts out the part where one of the workers pitches a new idea for an action figure called "G.I. Jew" on FOX.
  • The cutaway of Peter losing a music contest to the Von Trapp family was cut before he could say, "That is bull." and getting drowned out by audience applause, the word "bullshit" was actually spoken, however it was drowned by the audience to get a lower parental rating, also to prevent the scene being cut by FOX.
  • The part after Peter says he's going to apply for a minority scholarship and the fake credits roll is cut to remove Peter's other two ideas of a sexual harassment suit and a disability claim on FOX.
  • The Super Bowl features football announcers John Madden and Pat Summerall.
  • Peter hires a jester with his welfare money. The jester is Jerry Seinfeld, accompanied by a parody of the theme song from his hit sitcom Seinfeld. He is best known for his observational humor, which is parodied in this episode.
  • Peter mentions to the 1970s TV sitcom Diff'rent Strokes as an excuse for his misdemeanors.
  • The Kool-Aid Man appears and says his catchphrase "Oh, Yeah!"
  • Peter abandons the lone man who stood in front of government tanks attempting to stop them at Tianmen Square in 1989.
  • The episode is "reshot" with the new actors, Tom Arnold, Fran Drescher, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Other Meg, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen on The Real Live Griffins in "Fifteen Minutes of Shame".
  • The family watches TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes at the end of the episode.
  • Some of the gags in this episode originated from Seth MacFarlane's animated short, "Life of Larry", including:
    • God being embarrassed by the priest telling the story of how He treated Job
    • Peter seeing Philadelphia drunk
    • Peter getting drunk off of communion wine.
    • Peter farting for the first time at age 30
  • Brian and Stewie travel back in time to this episode in "Back to the Pilot".
  • "Jemima's Witnesses" are a reference to Aunt Jemima's pancake syrup and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
  • The stag party porn, Assablanca is a reference to the classic film Casablanca, and recreates dialog from the airport scene.
  • G.I. Jew is reference to action figure G.I. Joe.
  • "Pound Poochies" a reference to 1980s dolls and cartoon series Pound Puppies.
  • The FOX security guard gets weapon from rack labeled "Just One Gun", a reference to the then-slogan of FOX, "Just One Fox" which is worn of the front of the guard's uniforms.
  • Stewie says "Life is like a box of chocolates" from the Tom Hanks film, Forrest Gump.
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