A show that only survived due to the Internet.
Family Guy, an American cartoon, is essentially The Simpsons of the late 2000's, sitting comfortably between South Park and The Simpsons in terms of art and comedic style. The humor of Family Guy is mostly just cut-away skits, bland cultural references, and catchphrases relying on randomness and overacting as excuses for actual jokes, like Robot Chicken but with a plot that usually takes itself too seriously (which Robot Chicken could get away with since it was simply a sketch comedy show and had no plot).
Family Guy has somehow spawned several spin-off shows like The Cleveland Show and American Dad, all of which are exactly the same but focus on slightly different character archetypes and are consequently less funny than Family Guy already was due to each series detracting the effort going into writing from each other all at once. The Family Guy fanbase mainly consists of 13-year old boys and strange, rabid adults.
The show was originally aired in April 1999, nestled gently between The Simpsons and The X-Files on Sundays for its first season. FOX moved it to Thursdays to compete with Fraiser and it performed horribly. FOX then aired the show sporadically everywhere hoping to find a spot that would perform well before figuring out that it would never survive and cancelling at the end of the season, but was mysteriously revived again for another try.
Family Guy was placed up against Friends where it suffered again due to its lack of quality, then was moved around with no notice before being cancelled again. It was then bought by Adult Swim on Cartoon Network, becoming its highest rated show (which isn't saying much for a late-night network that is mostly watched by 13-year-olds staying up past their bedtime and strange, rabid adults who can't get to sleep), as well as the highest bought DVD next to The Chappelle's Show. FOX saw Family Guy's newfound potential for making piles of money and so re-bought the show, airing it again in 2005.
Even before Family Guy's infamous cancellation spree, it had a devoted following on the Internet. The episode "Family Guy Viewer Mail #1" is based off of emails the Family Guy writing staff received from fans, sort of like the Strong Bad Emails from Homestar Runner. It was this colorful fanbase that got the word out about the show and supported the DVD sales.
Family Guy has since become viral through YouTube, Wikipedia, Hulu, Facebook, YTMND, and many other websites. Countless Family Guy videos on YouTube have millions of views, with the video "Bird is the Word!" having over 42,000,000 views (which also isn't surprising considering the relative IQ of an average YouTuber). It is the most viewed TV show on Hulu as well. On Facebook, Family Guy has 30 million fans. Every single Family Guy episode has a detailed Wikipedia page, explaining every reference and joke to an obsessive degree previously only reserved for Fan Wikis.
There are thousands of Family Guy-related YTMNDs as well to annoy everyone. The show has also featured memes like Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Ding Fries Are Done, even going so low as to Rickroll, and arguably has started some memes of its own like Glenn Quagmire.
Before Family Guy became what it is now, it was Larry and Steve, a show about a middle-aged man and his dog that was made in Hanna-Barbera style and was broadcasted in Cartoon Network's Premiere Toons show. Fox eventually approached MacFarlane about making a show, which became Family Guy and was slightly based off of Larry and Steve and began adding The Simpsons elements of typical family hi-jinks.
Nine seasons later, Family Guy still has a place in Internet Culture just as things like Ctrl Alt Del and You laugh, you lose have their own places in Internet Culture. On May 8th, 2011, Family Guy remade their famous parody of "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" from 2005. More recently, a Family Guy MMO has emerged. It is currently in a closed beta stage, with pre-registration available.
- Family Guy is written by manatees as part of a scientific experiment.
- Mila Kunis voices Meg Griffin. I bet you like her a bit better now.
- Alex Borstein voices Lois Griffin. I bet you like her a bit less now.