"You Know What Really Grinds My Gears" is a memorable quote from the 2005 animated comedy film Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story. On the web, the expression is used to preface an airing of grievances in an advice animal image macro series featuring Family Guy protagonist Peter Griffin.
While the phrase has been used as an English idiom to introduce one's pet peeve since as early as 1987 in the comedy film Planes, Trains & Automobiles, its online popularity can be largely attributed to a gag featured in the 2005 direct-to-DVD animated film Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story.
In the film, Peter Griffin hosts a local access news program titled “You Know What Really Grinds My Gears,” in which he complains about things and people that irk him, including Lindsay Lohan, people who lived in the 19th century, and the lack of new jokes about priests and rabbis. The gag is a parody of the 1976 satirical film Network that follows the story of a newscaster whose on-air rant causes ratings to skyrocket and ultimately save his job.
As early as December 16th, 2005, complaint threads titled "What really grinds your gears?" began appearing on message boards including HeroClix Realms and Xbox 360 Achievements. In October 2007, a blogger named Gracie created You Know What Really Grinds My Gears? (shown below, left), a personal blog journaling her pet peeves and other problems. In March 2008, another blog named This Is What Really Grinds My Gears(shown below, right) was launched, showcasing frustrations and personal problems submitted by the readers.
On June 25th, 2011, a Meme Generator page was created for “Grinds My Gears Peter Griffin,” using a still image of Griffin seated at a desk from the local access show scene in the movie. One of the first instances to be submitted to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit was posted on August 23rd, 2012, suggesting that the poster was irked that the image macro series was not already established (shown below, left).
Although a number of additional instances continued to appear throughout the rest of 2012, the advice animal character did not make the front page until May 15th, 2013, paired with a complaint about people using images of mechanical gears that do not fit together with the expression (shown above, right).
As of June 2013, there are more than 3,100 submissions of Grinds My Gears Peter Griffin on Meme Generator, with an additional 70 instances on Quickmeme. Additional instances can be found on Reddit and Tumblr.