Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Characters in Family Guy

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Seth MacFarlane was a writer & animator on some of the later Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. I’ve always remembered his name in the credits of Johnny Bravo episodes. But I know he’s contributed to many other cartoons as well. His work on these shows may have been a partial inspiration to create Family Guy.

If you’ve ever paid attention to the show you may notice there are callbacks to older Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Seth and the other writers tend to place these H-B cartoon characters into random segments in episodes that you’ll generally forget about over time. So I decided to organize this post including references to the many Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters you’ll find in random episodes of Family Guy.

Tom and Jerry – “Valentine’s Day in Quahog”

tom and jerry final episode screenshot

The cat and mouse combination of Tom & Jerry is an inspiration to so many cartoons. I’d like to think Itchy and Scratchy from The Simpsons were based off these guys. And it should be no surprise to see them in Family Guy.

During the Valentine’s episode in season 11 we see Lois and Peter in bed watching the final episode of Tom & Jerry. The truck in the background reads “Mike’s Exterminators” with Tom filling out a clipboard. He states “this is so much easier, I don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago”. It’s some clever banter on the writer’s part and it is really cool to find H-B characters still appearing in later seasons of the show.

Yogi Bear – “Hell Comes to Quahog”

peter kills yogi bear family guy screenshot

We should all be familiar with Yogi and Boo-Boo. It’s surprising they don’t appear in more episodes.

Sometime during the middle of “Hell Comes to Quahog” we see Peter sneaking up on Yogi after he’s successfully heisted a picnic basket. He stabs him in the back and slowly forces Yogi to bleed out until he’s dead. Boo-Boo, traumatized, stands there in shock at the whole event. Before running off Peter warns “tell the other bears what you just saw”.

The Herculoids – “8 Simple Rules for Buying My Teenage Daughter”

tundro and gloop family guy lois joke

The Herculoids is a strange cartoon show following animals or alien-type beings with regular human understanding. This scene features two characters named Gloop and Tundro.

We find Lois interviewing Gloop for a new babysitting position watching over Stewie. After it becomes evident that this protoplasmic thing can’t speak English, she hurries to close the interview and get him out of the house. Gloop instead calls over Tundro, a large rhinoceros-type animal that shoots energy rocks at Lois’ face. You would really need to be a fan of The Herculoids to understand this scene. It’s still pretty comical but also implies that the viewers are familiar with these ancient beast creatures.

Doggie Daddy – “Brothers & Sisters”

doggie daddy family guy screenshot s11 husband

Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy originally aired alongside The Quick Draw McGraw show in the late 1950s. It was a shorter segment followig the adventures of Augie Doggie, and his father Doggie Daddy.

Family guy wrote this into a season 9 premise when Lois’ sister was constantly switching between marriages. Lois invites all of her sister’s ex-husbands to show up for dinner – just so happens that Doggie Daddy is one of them. He reminisces about Augie being all grown up and having the house to himself. Not a super-memorable moment although I love the diversity in these character appearances.

Jonny Quest – Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story

jonny quest hadji stewie griffin airport security

Jonny Quest is another older Hanna-Barbera cartoon following the original series back to 1964. It’s a basic sci-fi exploration cartoon that has been popularized and re-done in newer formats.

Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story is a direct-to-DVD home movie which has been infrequently aired on television. Well beyond the 1hr mark Stewie does a flashback to a scene with him working security at an airport. He lets both of the Quest men get through and stops Hadji for additional screening. It’s a modern reflection of this country’s fear of anything remotely Muslim since 9/11. Possibly offensive to some, but maybe that’s why the writers saved it for a DVD movie release.

Apache Chief – “PTV”

apache chief ptv roof satellite superfriends indian

The Apache Chief character was originally from Challenge of the Superfriends, a superhero animated series which premiered in 1978. Peter asks for help getting a new satellite onto his roof in order to broadcast his own TV channel.

You hear Apache Chief echo the words “Apache Chief-Inyuk-chuk” which translates to “Big Man”. This takes all of 2 seconds before the Apache Chief realizes he has nothing left to do in his day – then solemnly leaves to go gambling. According to the wiki article Quagmire also recites that same statement in front of Cleveland’s wife Loretta. You can see this in S07E01 “Love, Blactually”.

The Snorks – “Brian the Bachelor”

the snorks dinner family guy daffney allstar

The Snorks is an offbeat H-B cartoon very much like The Smurfs, except they live underwater. It ran for 4 seasons during the mid-80s right around the same time Smurf fever was going strong.

In this episode titled “Brian the Bachelor”, we see two Snorks enjoying a dinner date. The pink girl is named Daffney Gilfin while the yellow boy is AllStar Seaworthy. Daffney spills her glass of red wine and bends over to clean it up. This causes AllStar’s snorkel found on his head to grow hard and erect.

Yeah, pretty baseless joke with little connection to the plot. But hey that’s Family Guy.

The Smurfs – “Emission Impossible”

the smurfs in family guy television screenshot

I read somewhere that Seth wasn’t allowed to color the Smurfs blue in this episode. So the animators went with purple instead. It’s still a pretty funny bit coming out of this earlier season 3 episode.

We catch Stewie watching an episode of the Smurfs on TV. The characters are discussing some type of party or event, while replacing dirty words with “smurf” or “smurfing”. Definitely a noticeable gag that you could see coming right when it displayed on the Griffin’s TV set. I still get a kick out of this scene even all these years later.

Peter Potamus – “No Country Club for Old Men”

family guy purple peter potamus luggage s11 finale

Although the character isn’t directly called Peter Potamus, it should be obvious to anyone who remembers that cartoon. The Griffin family are at the airport and Peter mentions that he tied a “vaguely Hanna-Barbera lookin’ character” to their luggage(so it’s easier to find).

When he pops out of the luggage terminal the hippo exclaims “this trip was impossirous”. I never grew up on this cartoon because it aired way back in the 1960s. But it’s great to see the Family Guy writers still working with the older H-B classics… you know, for the nostalgia.

The Flintstones – “Peter’s Daughter”

the flintstones in family guy fred wima divorce attorney

Considering The Flintstones is one of Hanna-Barbera’s most successful cartoon series, you’ll find references scattered throughout many episodes. Check out the Flintstones page on Family Guy’s wiki to get a full rundown.

Some clips only show a related character like The Great Gazoo. While other episodes have fully-featured callbacks using many characters from the show. In the screenshot above we see Fred and Wilma visiting a divorce lawyer to handle their marital problems. Fred goes into detail about getting locked out of his house, banging on the door with no response. This is one cartoon that I wouldn’t mind seeing pop up again in future episodes of Family Guy.

The Jetsons – “Brian in Love”

george jane jetson elroy fighting family guy

You can find tons of references to the Jetsons much like you’ll find with The Flintstones. Considering these are 2 of the most popular Hanna-Barbera cartoons, the writers decided to throw them in frequently. In the S05 episode “Meet the Quagmires” we get to see a re-hashed version of the intro scene. Jane tries taking all of George’s money, but this time it doesn’t go as smoothly.

The screencap above is from an earlier S02 episode. After the intro we cut to the family television showing a spoof of the ending sequence, with George trapped on the running treadmill. He’s pretty beaten up and it’s quite an amusing scene when you think about it.

Scooby-Doo – “Deep Throats”

scooby shaggy velma daphne freddy gang in family guy

The appearance of Scooby-Doo characters is prominently found in 3 different episodes. This shot is from “Deep Throats” which only appears in the full DVD episode. You may also remember “I Never Met the Dead Man” from the first season. It has Peter watching the Scooby-Doo Murder Files and the gang looks pretty dang groovy.

The other time you find them is within the Viewer Mail #1 episode, during the last segment entitled Lil’ Griffins. You can spot Scooby and the gang running between doors in a haunted house hallway. The Family Guy writers try to keep each character relevant in relation to their own show.

I know there are so many other Hanna-Barbera cartoons worth a parody. Family Guy has been going strong into season 12, and my hopes are high that we’ll see even more references coming out of the writer’s room.

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Tyler is a true culture fanatic with love for comic books, music, movies, video games, and all forms of pop culture.

1 Comment

  1. Carson

    December 11, 2013 at 4:03 am

    I wonder Family Guy’ll add Thomas the Tank Engine and his Friends with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.