Revisiting the O.J. Simpson Near-Redemption Episode from ‘Family Guy’

The 2009 episode ‘The Juice is Loose’ offered a more empathetic portrayal of Simpson than today’s eulogies
Revisiting the O.J. Simpson Near-Redemption Episode from ‘Family Guy’

This morning, the family of Pro Football Hall-of-Famer and accused killer O.J. Simpson announced that the 76-year-old died yesterday at the age of 76 following a struggle with prostate cancer. Anyone with winning raffle tickets from 1989 better find a new golf partner.

Usually, when a celebrity of Simpson’s profile passes away, you see a deluge of tearful eulogies dominate the news cycle and social media as we all collectively decide to ignore whatever character issues may have plagued their reputation in life. Simpson, however, has not received such a rosy retrospective on his life, career and (acquitted) crimes. No, today, the internet collectively decided that the justice Simpson eluded in his white Bronco will be visited upon him post-mortem in the form of mocking memes and murder jokes.

Even during his life post-murder trial, it didn’t take long for America and the media to collectively decide that, despite the favorable verdict Simpson received for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, Simpson was still a killer and his acceptance back into polite society would have to be put on pause. However, in 2009, Family Guy posed a playful and macabre hypothetical when, in the episode “The Juice is Loose,” Peter Griffin befriends Simpson and helps him convince the town of Quahog of his innocence – before Simpson snaps and murders three people with a knife. I guess he did do it.

In the episode, Peter finds an old raffle ticket entitling him to play sixteen holes of golf with a celebrity of his choosing, and, having somehow missed the massively publicized 1995 murder trial that ended in Simpson's acquittal on two counts of first-degree murder, he chooses the Buffalo Bills running back and Naked Gun star to be his golf buddy. Despite the best attempts by Peter's friends to convince him of Simpson's culpability, Peter takes pity on the disgraced star after hearing his side of the story and decides to let Simpson stay at the house. Simpson spends the entire episode on his best behavior despite being constantly accosted by the angered citizens of Quahog, concluding in his dramatic speech to the entire town that wins their affection – right before he pulls out a knife and stabs three of them in their recently changed hearts.

“The Juice is Loose” begins with a title card claiming it to be a “lost episode” from 2007 that was made shortly before Simpson's arrest and subsequent conviction for armed robbery. Series regular Mike Henry, who is best known for playing Cleveland Brown among many other characters, voiced Simpson and delivered the touching speeches with enough pathos to convince viewers to almost entertain Simpson's side of the story. The episode also featured a widely derided three minute Conway Twitty segment, as well as one of the better barbs traded in the Simpsons v. Family Guy feud – at the end of the episode, mayor Adam West shouts, “We don't want you in our town, Simpson! We don't love you like we did in 1993!” before the shot cuts to Homer Simpson letting loose a signature, “D'oh!”

And, much like The Simpsons, O.J. survived a lot longer than most of us hoped he would.


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