Lucky there's a fanboy guy

Dear Johnny Fanboy,

While watching the fourth season of Family Guy, I spotted a couple of strange inconsistencies.

1. Firstly, in the episode Stuck Together, Torn Apart Lois asks Brian to watch Stewie. She asks him to be careful, saying: "You remember what happened last time." Then there's a flashback to a younger Stewie bouncing on a bed. His head is large but normal-shaped. As he's jumping, he hits his head on the ceiling and it transforms into the rugby-ball shape we all know and love. It is implied that it is Brian's fault that Stewie's head is shaped the way it is now, but that is not so - in earlier seasons we have seen Stewie's birth and his head has always been rugby-ball shaped.

2. In the episode Family Guy - Viewer Mail #1 there is a mini-story in which we see a young Peter at school. Why are Brian and Joe there too? Joe arrives on the street years later, as seen in one of the show's early episodes, and Brian wouldn't even have been born yet. Lois is at the school too, but I seem to remember watching an episode about how she and Peter met, and she wasn't at that school. As her parents are very rich, it is very unlikely she would have gone to a school full of commoners.

Alex Roeder

Johnny Fanboy replies:

I have a general explanation for both questions... It's a comedy show! And it's a cartoon! It's supposed to be silly and it's not meant to be taken seriously. It's got a talking dog and a homicidal baby in it, for crying out loud! This is especially true of the Viewer Mail episode, which, like the Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simpsons, is extra-silly and doesn't necessarily have any bearing on the ongoing events of "regular" episodes.

However, I do find it hard not to concoct explanations, even for a surreal show such as this one, so here goes...

1. It is well known that newborn babies have very soft heads. This may explain why Stewie's bonce is oddly shaped at birth - it could have developed a normal shape over subsequent weeks. Then he could have had his bed-bouncing accident, resulting in the familiar rugby-ball shape.

2. Maybe it was Brian's dad, not Brian, at Peter's school. Maybe there was an exchange programme going on with other schools at the time, including canine training centres, which explains the presence of Brian's dad, Joe and Lois. Peter could have subsequently forgotten about meeting these people, because he's stupid.

Alternatively, perhaps both questions can be explained by a similar phenomenon to that which affects the DC Comics Universe every few years. In order to prevent popular characters from growing noticeably older, DC Comics keeps resetting its timeline through a succession of spatial and/or temporal catastrophes, such as the Zero Hour and Infinite Crisis sagas. The results often seem to bring characters' pasts closer to the present day, sometimes rewriting their origin stories in the process. Maybe such events affect the Family Guy universe far more frequently, resetting characters' back stories every year or so. This could also explain why the kids never seem to get any older.

Such an explanation could also be applied to The Simpsons, in which Bart and co have lived through several changes of presidential administration while apparently remaining the same age. I wonder what Comic Book Guy would say about that.

Return to: