PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.
The Family Guy Effect is a postulated phenomenon asserting that when Internet memes are showcased on the animated television show Family Guy, the meme will see a brief burst in popularity, followed by an immediate sharp decline. Prior to being associated with Internet meme overexposure, the Family Guy effect was used to describe how a joke becomes less funny when repeated over time.
Urban Dictionary user rapelax submitted a definition for “The Family Guy effect” on August 22nd, 2008, defining the term as the effect of joke over-saturation.
Do something funny. Continue to do so until said activity is no longer funny. Continue to do so until said activity is funny again. Repeat.
On July 27th, 2009, the arts and culture blog Bygone Bureau posted an interview with writer Nathan Rabin, who mentioned the Family Guy effect in relation to pop culture references:
“Pop culture references can be such a dead end, too. I think there’s such as thing as the Family Guy effect, where if the reference is random and doesn’t have an emotional center to it, then it becomes very empty.”
The earliest known reference to the Family Guy Effect in the context of Internet memes was posted by former Know Your Meme community manager Chris Menning in the meme research forums on July 30th, 2009. In the thread, researcher TheGhostOfRichieRich questioned how to handle the documentation of memes that have been exposed to mainstream attention, citing the Family Guy episode featuring Chuck Norris as an example. Menning replied to the original post by calling this phenomenon “The Family Guy effect."
On August 27th, 2010, a TV Tropes page mentioning the Family Guy effect titled “Discredited Meme” was created, which catalogued memes that have fallen out of favor in popular culture. On July 19th, 2011, a thread about the phenomenon was posted on the Bungie video game forums. On September 26th, a clip from an episode of Family Guy in which Trololol Guy makes an appearance was submitted to FunnyJunk. User pyrothermal commented to the post saying “Well, that’s another meme dead due to the Family Guy effect.”
The first Internet meme to appear on Family Guy was in the episode “Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story,” in which Wilford Brimley says his catchphrase “diabeetus” (shown below). The episode was originally aired on September 27th, 2005.
On November 20th, 2005, the episode “The Courtship of Stewie’s Father” aired in which the character Brian dresses up in a banana costume and performs the song Peanut Butter Jelly Time (shown below, left). On April 29th, 2007, the episode “Boys Don’t Cry” aired in which Chuck Norris makes a cameo appearance during a Chuck Norris facts joke (shown below, right).
Other Internet memes that have been referenced on Family Guy include Christian Bale rants (shown below, top, left), Rickroll, Trololol (shown below, top, right), Boom Goes the Dynamite (shown below, bottom, left) and Flea Market Montgomery was seen in the Family Guy spinoff The Cleveland Show (below, bottom, right).