A Completely Overthought Ranking of the 8 ‘Family Guy’ ‘Road To...’ Episodes
After 21 seasons, Family Guy has cemented its place in television history. With its nothing-is-sacred brand of irreverent humor and constant barrage of pop culture references, the show has always strived to subvert everyone’s expectations.
But out of the 400 total episodes (and counting), there are eight in particular that we’re covering today: the “Road To…” episodes. These installments are parodies/homages to the classic Road To… Bob Hope/Bing Crosby musical comedies of the 1940s, with each featuring the megalomaniacal infant Stewie Griffin and the family’s talking dog Brian going off on wacky adventures spanning across the country, around the world, through time and into the multiverse.
So, we’re gonna rank these classic Family Guy “Road To…” episodes from worst to best. And since our main editorial rule is that if it’s worth analyzing, it’s worth overanalyzing, we’re gonna rate them on story, quality of the jokes, casual watchability, the big song-and-dance numbers and their iMDb rating — because what the hell do we know?
“Road to Rupert,” Season 5, Episode 9
In this episode, Brian accidentally sells Stewie’s teddy bear Rupert at the Griffin’s yard sale. Brian and Stewie discover that the neighbor who bought Rupert moved away to Aspen, Colorado, setting the pair off on their cross-country adventure to get Rupert back. Meanwhile, Peter gets his license suspended after trying to jump his car over a row of cars on the street. Lois arranges for Meg to drive Peter around until he gets his license back.
Story Score: 4/10
We really don’t see Brian and Stewie go on an adventure here. They hitchhiked most of the way there (off camera, no less). The duo really only makes one stop along the way to Gettysburg National Cemetery (because… reasons). That bit could’ve been a cutaway gag in any other episode. The B-plot with Peter and Meg does a lot of heavy lifting here, and while abusing Meg has always been a staple of the show, they go so far that it gets hard to watch at times.
Jokes Score: 1.5/10
Yes, I’m saying the following about Family Guy: It feels like there were numerous opportunities for pop-culture references that were never seized. For example, they’re traveling from Rhode Island to Aspen… Wait, isn’t that the same basic plot as Dumb & Dumber? That could’ve been a gag, but I don’t know if that would’ve been better or worse. Plus, they end the episode with a downhill ski race, and they don’t make a single reference to Better Off Dead? On Her Majesty’s Secret Service? Hell, even Hot Dog… The Movie? C’mon, man.
Watchability Score: 1/10
I’d say either skip this one entirely, or if you feel like watching it just to complete the set, sandwich it between two of the better episodes.
Song Score: 2/10
Gotta tank the score here because there isn’t an original song this go ‘round. They just shoehorned in a sequence splicing Stewie into a Gene Kelly dance number from the 1945 film Anchors Aweigh.
It sure seems like this sequence must’ve cost them a fortune, but looking at a side-by-side with the original footage, they just erased Jerry Mouse and dropped in Stewie. They even kept Jerry’s reflections on the floor.
IMDb Rating: 7.9/10 (Wow, really?)
Our Final Score: 3.3/10
“Road to Europe,” Season 3, Episode 20
Peter and Lois leave town to attend a KISS concert, leaving Brian in charge. As soon as they depart, Stewie decides to run away from home to live among the characters of his favorite British children’s show, Jolly Farm Revue. Stewie boards a plane he believes is bound for London, and Brian gets trapped on board with him as the plane takes off. Their adventure begins when they land in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Lois embarrasses Peter at the KISS concert, and it causes a rift in their marriage.
Story Score: 5.2/10
This is the one episode on this list where the main plot and the B-plot are pretty much equal in quality, but that’s not exactly a compliment. What makes this “Road To…” episode stand out is that Brian and Stewie really go on a journey. They fly, they ride a camel through the desert, they steal a hot air balloon, they take a train, they get high in Amsterdam, there’s a lot going on.
Jokes Score: 2.5/10
Most of the jokes just feel lazy. In particular, the Middle East jokes haven’t aged well at all. The KISS concert B-plot does have some gems, though. Making Ace Frehley out to be the idiot of the band was a nice touch. I’ve been quoting that dejected “My Grand Slam was supposed to come with sausage” line for years.
Watchability Score: 2/10
Meh, maybe skip this one as well. Any gags worth a damn could easily be found in TikTok form, so find them there instead and save yourself some time.
Song Score: 4/10
The song “You and I Are So Awfully Different” is… alright. The music is peppy enough, but the lyrics are cringy as hell. This was back during the “if all else fails, call Stewie gay” era of the show.
IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
Our Final Score: 4.3/10
“Road to India,” Season 14, Episode 20
In the most recent episode to date in the “Road To…” series, Brian falls in love with an Indian woman named Padma, who he meets while calling a tech-support hotline. Brian and Stewie travel to India to track down Padma so Brian can confess his love for her, only to find she’s arranged to be married to someone else. Brian tries desperately to pay back her father’s dowry so they can be together. Meanwhile, next-door neighbor Joe takes Peter to the local bingo parlor, and Peter quickly steals Joe’s thunder as the big shot of the local bingo scene.
Story Score: 4.5/10
All in all, this isn’t a bad episode of Family Guy, but relative to other “Road To…” episodes, this one is probably the most benign. With a couple minor tweaks, it could’ve been indistinguishable from a normal episode. Plus, the stakes really weren’t that high. In the other episodes, Brian and Stewie are running for their lives or overcoming great obstacles. Here, it’s just whether Brian and Padma will end up together. If they do, Padma will just be a regular background character on the show going forward until the writers run out of ideas. If they don’t, it’s no biggie. Either way, everyone goes right back to what they were doing before.
Jokes Score: 5/10
The jokes in this episode are a mixed bag, especially once Brian and Stewie make it to India. There are a few sharp gags, but there’s also some of the lowest-hanging fruit possible, if not rotted fruit that fell on the ground. It’s like they’re trying to lampoon Indian culture, but you also get the feeling that they’re pulling their punches.
Watchability Score: 3.25/10
This is one to watch if it happens to be on but only for the radical change in scenery. After that, your attention might start to wane.
Song Score: 6/10
They end the episode with a song-and-dance number that, in true Bollywood fashion, recaps the plot. It’s a nice homage to that film genre, but it’s also a pretty stark style break from the way the other “Road To…” songs were used.
IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
Final Score: 5.2/10
“Roads to Vegas,” Season 11, Episode 21
Brian wins two tickets to see Celine Dion in Las Vegas and decides to take Stewie along. In lieu of flying to Vegas, Stewie sees this as an opportunity to use the new teleporter he’s been working on. They step into the machine. It appears to not work, so they head to the airport. But the machine merely malfunctioned. A duplicate set of Brian and Stewie arrives in Vegas first. While the cloned pair have the time of their lives, the original Brian and Stewie are plagued with the worst luck imaginable.
Story Score: 7/10
Storywise, this one is pretty damn clever. Two sets of Brian and Stewie ram around Vegas having wildly different adventures and always just narrowly avoid each other. In fact, they have no idea of the others’ existence until the very end. But it’s when the unlucky pair has to borrow money from a loan shark and the lucky pair gets targeted that things go hilariously off the rails. There are some brilliantly f’ed up moments in this episode.
Jokes Score: 8/10
Pretty much all of the gags hold up very well, except for one. Do you remember that show Franklin & Bash? No? C’mon, it ran for four seasons on TNT! Look, We don’t remember anything about it either, but there’s an almost minute-long gag about it in this episode, and it feels way longer.
Watchability Score: 4.75/10
This is the first one on this list I'd recommend watching from beginning to end. It’s good.
Song Score: 0/10
A big doughnut here because they missed out on a brilliant opportunity. This was not just the only “Road To…” episode without a song, but it should have been mandatory. Seth MacFarlane, who voices both Brian and Stewie, is a huge fan of Frank Sinatra and 1950s-style big band swing music. The episode takes place in Vegas. That’s the perfect backdrop for a Rat Pack-style song and dance number complete with two sets of Brian and Stewie. It could’ve been a double duet switching back and forth from major to minor keys, excited to depressing, happy to sad. It could’ve been an amazing musical number, but nope! Nothing!
IMDb Rating: 7.8/10
Final Score: 5.51/10
“Road to Rhode Island,” Season 2, Episode 13
The very first “Road To…” episode. The O.G.! Brian volunteers to pick up Stewie from a visit to his grandparents’ summer home in Palm Springs. After their plane tickets get stolen, they set off on a cross-country adventure to get back home. Meanwhile, Lois buys a couples’ self-help video for her and Peter to watch together in order to improve communication in their relationship, which ends up taking a sudden (and sexy) turn.
Story Score: 5.5/10
Compared to what Family Guy has become over the years, everything in this episode feels like a rough draft. This was the second season after all. But out of all the “Road To…” episodes, this one not only has the most straightforward “this happens, therefore this happens” style plot, but also is perhaps closest in tone to the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby movies parody source material. Brian and Stewie were still considered secondary characters at this point, so it was a bit of a gamble to focus an entire episode on them this early in the show’s run. The B-plot with Peter and Lois kinda feels like it was shoehorned in just to remind the budding audience who the real stars of the show were.
Jokes Score: 6.5/10
For the most part, the jokes still hold up. The bit about Osama bin Laden trying to get through airport security is kinda cringy in hindsight, but it’s somehow even weirder when you consider this episode first aired 16 months before 9/11. One line in the song and dance number, “Until we’re syndicated Fox will never let us die,” takes on a strange double meaning since A) the week the episode aired, Fox announced that the show was canceled; and B) Fox soon reversed that decision, canceled it again two years later, brought it back three years after that, and now they’re on Season 21, with no end in sight.
Watchability Score: 3.5/10
If you’re a diehard fan of the show, this episode is a classic worth watching again. Casual viewers? It could go either way. For the uninitiated, not a great one to watch first.
Song Score: 5/10
The song “Road to Rhode Island” kicks in with only four minutes left in the episode, and if they really wanted to pay homage to those classic musicals, there could have been an additional song earlier in the episode. But the song fits pretty well in the overall arc. It has a nice beat, and you can dance to it.
IMDb Rating: 8.2/10
Final Score: 5.7/10
“Road to Germany,” Season 7, Episode 3
The Griffin’s Jewish neighbor, Mort, mistakes Stewie’s time machine for a Porta Potty and gets sent back in time, without a way to bring him back to the present. Brian and Stewie use the time machine to find and rescue Mort. But they wind up in Warsaw on September 1, 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland, igniting World War II. The trio first try to flee to England to escape the Nazis, but then realize they need uranium to fuel the return pad. Naturally, the nearest source is in Berlin.
Story Score: 7.8/10
Family Guy didn’t overplay its hand here. They delivered exactly what they promised: Family Guy takes on the Nazis. You’d think that with that prompt, this would’ve been an hourlong special or maybe a two-parter. Nope, they jettisoned the B-plot, had a ton of exciting action set pieces and did well to keep it contained to a single regular length episode.
Jokes Score: 9/10
The jokes are exactly what we expect from a Family Guy episode. Time-travel subplot plus chase scene equals Back to the Future skateboard scene parody — things of that nature. Not to say these types of gags don’t work. They work great in the context of the episode, it just feels like they were kinda playing it safe here because of the subject matter.
Watchability Score: 7.75/10
This one is definitely worth it. It’s just a good, fun episode.
Song Score: 4/10
There’s technically not a song in this episode, but I'm giving them a score anyway solely on the way they teed it up to have a big song-and-dance number, only to get three seconds in and have an exasperated Mort yell, “Dammit, will you two just get in the f–king time machine!?!” Well played fake-out, Family Guy.
IMDb Rating: 8.1/10
Final Score: 7.3/10
“Road to the North Pole,” Season 9, Episode 7
After getting snubbed by a mall Santa, Stewie vows to travel to the North Pole to kill Santa and forces Brian to take him there. Once they’ve arrived, they discover that not only is Santa real, but the stress of keeping up with the world’s collective greed at Christmastime is killing him. Brian and Stewie attempt to save Christmas by delivering all the presents themselves, and the plan goes to shit almost immediately.
Story Score: 9.4/10
Man, the writers took this premise and ran like hell with it. Brian and Stewie getting to the North Pole is a bit slow-paced, but once they get to Santa’s workshop? Ho-ly shit. It’s one thing to see Stewie point a gun at Santa, it’s quite another to then see Santa put the barrel in his mouth and beg him to pull the trigger.
Jokes Score: 9/10
Having the entire episode hosted by Seth MacFarlane’s dad in front of a fireplace was a nice touch. The first half of the episode and all the jokes leading up to Brian and Stewie reaching the North Pole are pretty standard, albeit above-average Family Guy fare. But after that, when we get to the inbred elves and feral reindeer with a lust for elf flesh, the gags take a sharp turn down a dark alley and keep going. The entire sequence of Brian and Stewie delivering presents to the first house on their list and it quickly devolving into a bloodbath is just madness.
Watchability Score: 7.5/10
Definitely a must-watch, but with the holiday theme, you’ll probably only be in the mood to watch it once a year.
Song Scores: 5/10 and 9/10
There are two songs. The first, “All I Really Want for Christmas” is at the very beginning of the episode and is a parody of those classic Christmas movie musical numbers. Even so, it establishes the happy opening tone of the episode pretty well. The second, “Christmastime Is Killing Us” is a perfect counterpoint. It’s dark, dreary and toe-tappingly cynical — a Christmas carol for anyone who’s ever had to work retail during the holidays.
IMDb Rating: 8.2/10
Our Final Score: 8.2/10
“Road to the Multiverse,” Season 8, Episode 1
Stewie invents a device that allows him to travel between parallel universes. Soon, he and Brian find that the device isn’t sending them back to their universe, so they keep hopping from one reality to the next hoping they’ll make it home.
Story Score: 7.8/10
The writers do so much with a simple story structure. It’s essentially a sandbox episode, playing around with all the different possibilities a Family Guy multiverse has to offer. It’s only toward the end, where Brian breaks the device in order to stay in the universe where dogs are the dominant species and humans are their pets, that the stakes get raised. It’s a great trip through different settings and animation styles and could’ve been a three-part episode arc, but they kept it succinct.
Jokes Score: 8.7/10
The great thing about traveling between these universes is it allows a quick in-and-out for jokes. There were a couple of universes, though, that they lingered on for a bit too long and the jokes wore out their welcome pretty quickly.
Watchability Score: 9.75/10
Absolutely worth it. It feels like they put in enough effort to make the episode as much fun to watch as they must’ve had coming up with it.
Song Score: 5/10
“It’s a Wonderful Day for Pie” is the song they sing when they enter the universe where everything is drawn by Disney. For a send-up of those banal Disney musical numbers where everyone sings for no reason other than it’s been 10 minutes since they sang the last time, they do a decent job but definitely could’ve hit a little bit harder.
IMDb Rating: 9.1/10
Final Score: 8.3/10