The Four Fathers of Comedy is a promotional gimmick that FOX does for their sitcoms. They are commercials, advertising four of their sitcoms, which all air back-to-back on Sundays. A father from each of those sitcoms is selected to be the face of their series. Peter Griffin of Family Guy has been one of the most highly utilized fathers of comedy ever since the show's premiere.
The Four Father of Comedy commercials were originally implemented in 1998, when FOX needed a catchy way to advertise the three new sitcoms that were airing that year, these being Holding the Baby, That 70's Show, and Costello. All of the shows had a typical "family dynamic", which included a father figure and mirrored the format of The Simpsons, which was one of their most highly-rated and successful programs at the time. With that being said, The Simpsons was used as leverage to support the three other shows, which would be airing right after it.
The initial four fathers of comedy were Homer Simpson, Gordon Stiles, Red Forman, and Spud Murphy, from The Simpsons, Holding the Baby, That 70's Show, and Costello, respectively. In the commercials, the fathers would exhibit their personalities in wacky ways, via clips of their upcoming shows (or in The Simpsons' case, their upcoming season). This same shtick would be the framework of all future fathers of comedy.
By 1999, Holding the Baby and Costello had been cancelled after one season. However, FOX was still willing to do this promotion for their next lineup of sitcoms, as they all followed the same dynamic and had father figures in them. Alongside The Simpsons and That 70's Show, came the new shows Ally and Family Guy, and their fathers, George McBeal and Peter Griffin, respectively. Due to The Simpsons being the long-running classic, it was placed first in the lineup, with That 70's Show being second, on account of being a "veteran" of comedy, (meaning that it was around the year before and therefore had a small dose of history to it's name). The two new shows were also ranked according to their history. With Ally being a spin-off of Ally McBeal, it was more brand recognition to it's name and was therefore placed in third, with the completely unheard of new show, Family Guy being the "dud" at the end of the lineup. Ironically, this "dud" of a TV show would go on to long outlive the one-season-long Ally show and become a widely known staple of American television for years to come.
In 2000, Ally was cancelled and Family Guy, while still running, was predicted by the network to be cancelled soon. Because of this, both of the shows fell out of favor and were replaced by the two new shows, Malcolm in the Middle and Titus, bringing us Hal Wilkerson and Ken Titus, respectively.
With the skyrocketing popularity of the newly formed Malcolm in the Middle, the dedicated following of the firmly established That 70's Show, and of course, the undying knowledge of the immediately iconic The Simpsons, these three shows lived to see another year, while Titus got cancelled due to low ratings. In it's place came The Bernie Mac Show, featuring Bernie McCullough as the father of comedy. This decent lineup would be perfectly maintained for two years (2001 and 2002). The Bernie Mac Show would go on to be a full series.
In 2003, Family Guy returned to the lineup after making being revived from it's first cancellation, proving to the network that it was more than just the dud they haw it as before. The Bernie Mac Show had moved to a different day of the week, starting with it's third season, which led to Jerry Beene from Oliver Beene taking Bernie's place for the next two years, before the show was cancelled in 2004.
Starting with 2006, Malcolm in the Middle had aired it's series finale, Family Guy was revived for the second and final time, and Life on a Stick was permanently cancelled with permanently forgotten about. After a laudable 6-year run in the lineup, our hero, Hal Wilkerson left and was replaced by returning veteran, Peter Griffin. Meanwhile, after a pathetic 13-episode unwatched season, Life on a Stick was cancelled, and replaced by the much better show, The War at Home, bringing us the new father, Dave Gold. This would be the lineup until 2007, when The War at Home was cancelled ... Hey, I said it was a better show, not a good show.
In 2008, The Cleveland Show made it's debut, bringing Cleveland Brown into the ranks of the four fathers of comedy. This was the first time The Four Fathers of Comedy consisted entirely of animation. The Cleveland Show gave the commercials a perfectly well-rounded lineup and this would stay this way for a total of four years. This is the longest time the four fathers of comedy kept the same lineup, before one of the shows got cancelled or another show was added in.
In 2013, American Dad! was moved to TBS, and the show Dads premiered, putting Eli Sachs onto the list.
In 2014, Dads was cancelled and Golan the Insatiable took it's place in the lineup. Golan would become the new father in the lineup until 2015. This is the first time when one of the fathers of comedy was not actually a "father" in the show.
In 2016, Golan the Insatiable was cancelled and Golan was replaced by Zorn from Son of Zorn, which would only last for one season and would be the first of many TV shows that would only last one season before getting cancelled. The first three shows of the lineup would consistently remain as The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Bob's Burgers, with the fourth space being occupied by a slew of flash-in-a-pad shows, that would only last one year.
In 2017, Son of Zorn was cancelled and Zorn was replaced by Ernesto Gonlazez from Bordertown. This was also the second time a good TV show was cancelled to make room for an unqualified piece of garbage since 2012.
In 2018, Bordertown was cancelled and Ernesto Gonzalez was replaced by Max Jennifer from Ghosted. This was also the second time a non-father was touted as a "father" of comedy, since 2014.
In 2019, Ghosted was cancelled and Max Jennifer was replaced by Rel Howery from Rel.
In 2020, Rel was cancelled and Rel Howery was replaced by Wayne Edwards from Bless the Harts.
In 2021, Bless the Harts was cancelled and Wayne Edwards was replaced by Beef Tobin from The Great North.
In 2022, The Great North was cancelled and Beef Tobin was replaced by Jack Harris.
Fathers of Comedy
- Homer Simpson - The Simpsons (since 1998)
- Peter Griffin - Family Guy (since 1999)
- Bob Belcher - Bob's Burgers (since 2012)
- Wayne Edwards - Bless the Harts (since 2020)
- Hal Wilkerson - Malcolm in the Middle (2000-2005)
- Stan Smith - American Dad! (2005-2012)
- Red Forman - That 70's Show (1998-2002)
- Cleveland Brown - The Cleveland Show (2008-2011)
- Bernie McCullough - The Bernie Mac Show (2001-2002)
- Jerry Beene - Oliver Beene (2003-2004)
- Dave Gold - The War at Home (2006-2007)
- Golan - Golan the Insatiable (2014-2015)
- Gordon Stiles - Holding the Baby (1998)
- Spud Murphy - Costello (1998)
- George McBeal - Ally (1999)
- Ken Titus - Titus (2000)
- Rick Lackerson - Life on a Stick (2005)
- Eli Sachs - Dads (2013)
- Zorn - Son of Zorn (2016)
- Ernesto Gonzalez - Bordertown (2017)
- Max Jennifer - Ghosted (2018)
- Rel Howery - Rel (2019)
Possible Upcoming Fathers
- Beef Tobin - The Great North (2021)
- Jack Harris - Duncanville (2022)
Quartets by Year
- 1998: Homer Simpson, Gordon Stiles, Red Forman, and Spud Murphy.
- 1999: Homer Simpson, Red Forman, George McBeal, and Peter Griffin.
- 2000: Homer Simpson, Red Forman, Hal Wilkerson, and Ken Titus.
- 2001-2002: Homer Simpson, Red Forman, Hal Wilkerson, and Bernie McCullough.
- 2003-2004: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Hal Wilkerson, and Jerry Beene.
- 2005: Homer Simpson, Hal Wilkerson, Stan Smith, and Rick Lackerson.
- 2006-2007: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Stan Smith, and Dave Gold.
- 2008-2011: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Stan Smith, and Cleveland Brown.
- 2012: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Stan Smith, and Bob Belcher.
- 2013: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Bob Belcher, and Eli Sachs.
- 2014-2015: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Bob Belcher, and Golan.
- 2016: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Bob Belcher, and Zorn.
- 2017: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Bob Belcher, and Ernesto Gonzalez.
- 2018: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Bob Belcher, and Max Jennifer.
- 2019: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Bob Belcher, and Rel Howery.
- 2020: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Bob Belcher, and Wayne Edwards.
- 2021: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Bob Belcher, and Beef Tobin.
- 2022: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, Bob Belcher, and Jack Harris.
- Homer Simpson is practically the God of the four fathers of comedy, as he has not only been the first father listed in all the lineups, but is also the only father to be consistently present every year, throughout the entire lifespan of the commercials, making him the most prominently featured father of comedy of them all.
- Peter Griffin is the only father of comedy to return to the lineup after previously leaving.
- Golan from Golan the Insatiable and Max Jennifer from Ghosted were promoted as fathers of comedy, despite neither of them being fathers in any way.