Stewart Gilligan "Stewie"[1] Griffin is a fictional character from the animated television series Family Guy. He is voiced by series creator Seth MacFarlane and first appeared on television, along with the rest of the Griffin family, in a 15-minute short on December 20, 1998. Stewie was created and designed by MacFarlane himself, who was asked to pitch a pilot to the Fox Broadcasting Company, based on The Life of Larry and Larry & Steve, two shorts made by MacFarlane featuring a middle-aged man named Larry and an intellectual dog, Steve. After the pilot was given the greenlight, the Griffin family appeared in the episode "Death Has a Shadow".

An infant who acts in an adult way, Stewie was initially obsessed with violence and matricide. He is the youngest child of Peter and Lois Griffin, and the youngest brother of Meg and Chris. Over the duration of the series, the violent aspects of Stewie's personality have been toned down, and he has evolved into an eccentric, friendly and flamboyant scamp. He has also come to have a very close friendship with the family's anthropomorphic dog, Brian (whom he originally used to antagonize in the earliest episodes). Stewie is considered to be the show's breakout character.[2] Wizard magazine rated him the 95th greatest villain of all time.[3]

Development[edit | edit source]

Seth MacFarlane created and voices Stewie.

Stewie's voice is provided by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who also provides the voices of Brian Griffin, Peter Griffin, and Glenn Quagmire as well as numerous other characters.[4] MacFarlane based Stewie's accent on the voice of English actor Rex Harrison,[5][6] particularly on Harrison's performance in the 1964 musical drama film My Fair Lady.[7] MacFarlane has stated that his inspiration for the Stewie name was a car owned by Stan Lee.[8] MacFarlane has also linked Stewie with David Hyde Pierce on more than one occasion, saying he wants Pierce to play Stewie if a live action version of the show would ever be created.[9][10]

There has been persistent speculation in media commentary and among fans of 'Family Guy' that inspiration for the character of Stewie may have been drawn from the British playwright and actor Noel Coward;[11] and from the comedic actor Rik Mayall, particularly from his performance in the character 'Richard Richard' in the British 1990's BBC comedy series Bottom, which closely resembles the Stewie character's verbal elocution, physical appearance, and propensity for comedic extreme physical violence.[12]

Stewie's head has the shape of a rugby ball. In the episode "Stuck Together, Torn Apart", a cutaway shows Stewie's head to be normally shaped, until he hits it on the ceiling while bouncing on the bed, and it is elongated into the familiar shape.[13] Flashbacks in "Chitty Chitty Death Bang", however, show his head was already shaped like a football when he was born.

Ambiguous sexuality[edit | edit source]

Stewie's sexuality, even though he is a one-year-old, is ambiguous. When the writers began to flesh out Stewie's character beyond being a generic supervillain in season two, MacFarlane and the writers began to explore the infant's sexuality with a series of one-off gags, which hinted in "Chick Cancer" and "We Love You, Conrad" that Stewie could be gay. One example is in the episode, "Brian and Stewie," where Stewie's cellphone screensaver is of a muscular man. Another is where he has a picture of Chris Noth in his wallet and he expresses his wishes to have sexual relations with Brian's son, Dylan. When he plays with a baby girl, husband and wife living in a little house in the garden, he discovers she has a boyfriend. He then burns the house and kills them, then asks Brian why he couldn't do the same things with a friend that he must with women saying, "Why doesn't that exist?," Brian answers, "That does exist, it's called 'being gay.'" Stewie then says, "That's what gay is? Oh yeah, I can totally get into that." In "McStroke" Stewie asks Brian what it is like at Anal Point; Brian explains, "if you imagine it like a parking space, that you think, 'Gosh, there's no way I'm gonna be able to fit in there.' But then you fold in the side-view mirrors and, sure enough, well, look at that." to which Stewie responds, "Well, in that scenario, it sounds like I'd rather be the parking space than the car." It is also shown in "Road to the Multiverse", it shows a part of the multiverse where there are many homosexuals, and Stewie says "Love it." Then Brian says "Hate it," and they leave to another part of the multiverse. In "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side", Stewie (who plays the role of Darth Vader) threatens to "choke" the person in charge of the tractor beam. It turns out this person is a muscular man, whom Stewie does "choke", but not by neck. The muscular man states "I can breathe just fine...You're choking my-," and is interrupted by Stewie who replies, "I know." It is implied that Stewie is "choking" the man's penis as a means of grasping, suggesting homosexual action on his behalf.

On other occasions, such as when Stewie falls in love with a girl, Janet, in "Dammit Janet!", he has been shown to be straight. In the commentary for Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, the writers describe how they were going to make Stewie discover he was gay, but decided to scrap this idea in order to retain Stewie's sexual ambiguity for writing purposes. MacFarlane planned for the series' third season to end with Stewie coming out of the closet after a near-death experience. The show's abrupt cancellation caused MacFarlane to abort these plans, and the episode "Queer Is Stewie?" was actually produced, but never shown. Since that point, MacFarlane has opted to have Stewie portrayed as sexually ambiguous, as, in his eyes, the flexibility of Stewie's sexuality allows for much more freedom in terms of writing for the character.

MacFarlane later elaborated:

"He originally began as a diabolical villain, but then we delved into the idea of his confused sexuality. We all feel that Stewie is almost certainly gay, and he's in the process of figuring it out for himself. We haven't ever really locked into it because we get a lot of good jokes from both sides, but we treat him oftentimes as if we were writing a gay character."

- Seth MacFarlane, "Big Gay Following", The Advocate interview[9]

When asked why he made the decision "to take Stewie from homicidal maniac to gay little song boy?," MacFarlane answered: "It wasn't a conscious decision. Characters evolve in certain ways and we found that doing the take-over-the-world thing every week was getting played out and was starting to feel a little dated. It was weirdly feeling a little '90s and believe me, if we were still doing that, the show would be on its last legs. I only half-jokingly go by the guideline that, if it's something that might possibly ruin the show, it's a story we should probably do."[14][15]

MacFarlane told Playboy "We had an episode that went all the way to the script phase in which Stewie does come out. It had to do with the harassment he took from other kids at school. He ends up going back in time to prevent a passage in Leviticus from being written: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is an abomination.' But we decided it's better to keep it vague, which makes more sense because he's a one-year-old. Ultimately, Stewie will be gay or a very unhappy repressed heterosexual. It also explains why he's so hellbent on killing his mother, Lois and taking over the world: he has a lot of aggression, which comes from confusion and uncertainty about his orientation."[16]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Chitty Chitty Death Bang". Family Guy. Season 1. Episode 3. April 18, 1999. 
  2. Nathan Rabin (2005-01-26). „Seth MacFarlane”. The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on February 3, 2006. 
  3. The Wizard Staff (July 2006). "The 100 Greatest Villains of All Time". Wizard Magazine (177): 86. 
  4. Graham, Jefferson (January 29, 1999). "Cartoonist MacFarlane funny guy of Fox's 'Family' Subversive voice of series is his". USA Today. p. E7. 
  5. Dean, John (November 1, 2008). "Seth MacFarlane's $2 Billion Family Guy Empire". Fox Business. Retrieved August 24, 2009.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. "Episode 9". The Graham Norton Show. Season 15. 2014-05-30. BBC. 
  7. Franklin, Nancy (January 16, 2006). "American Idiots". The New Yorker. 
  8. Lamar, Cyriaque. "In 1992, Stan Lee gave Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld 20 minutes to invent a superhero". io9. Retrieved 2017-10-16. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Voss, Brandon (2008-02-26). "BGF: Seth MacFarlane". The Advocate. PlanetOut. Archived from the original on 2008-02-03. Retrieved 2008-02-15.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  10. Battaglio, Stephen (February 9, 2006). "Successful Guy Seth MacFarlane takes advantage of his hit status with a new comedy". TV Guide. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2009.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  11. 'The Banned Family Guy' episode, 'The Daily Beast', 13 August 2009.
  12. 'Stewie from Family Guy is just like Rik Mayall',, 27 November 2006.
  13. "Stuck Together, Torn Apart". Family Guy. Season 3. Episode 19. January 31, 2003. Fox. 
  14. Interview: Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane”. Archived from the original on 2009-01-14. 
  15. {{#vardefine:YEAR | {{{1}} {{#vardefine:MONTH | }}}} {{#vardefine:DAY | }}} {{#vardefine:HOURS | }} {{#vardefine:MINUTES | }} {{#vardefine:SECONDS | }} {{{3}}} (archived {{#var:YEAR}}/{{#var:MONTH}}/{{#var:DAY}} {{#var:HOURS}}:{{#var:MINUTES}}:{{#var:SECONDS}})
  16. 'Family Guy' creator Seth MacFarlane outs Stewie: Yes, he's gay. 
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