While I utterly loathe the Internet’s adoption of “unpopular opinion” as a euphemism for “excuse to say abusive, inappropriate or otherwise odious tripe”, I have to admit to my own less-than-widespread assessment: I still enjoy watching Family Guy.  Yes, Seth MacFarlane’s comedy sensibilities lean a bit too hard on gross-out and referential humor, and there isn’t a single redeeming character anywhere in Quahog, but the recent trilogy dealing with the death of Brian Griffin managed to deliver some funny, a little heart-warming and a nice cameo turn by Paulie Walnuts as new dog Vinnie.  Most impressively, they took the elastic reality of the premise and made me care about a dead cartoon dog.  After all the petitions and the lunacy and the people complaining that they telegraphed the ending, MacFarlane stated on Twitter that they’d have to be nuts (he used somewhat less gentle language, but still) to off the Griffin family dog and change the entire status quo of the show permanently.  It’s tough to figure out which characters are indispensable to their particular narratives, as we found out in the 80s when “Valerie” well outlasted the tenure of the title character, which in turn begs a query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) would also like to note that we’re working on 24 issues of Spider-Man without Spider-Man, asking: Which single character is most irreplaceable in your favorite pop-culture?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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1 Comment

  1. January 9, 2014 at 12:15 pm — Reply

    This is a tough one. I have plenty of favorites that I’d hate to see leave a series or setting, but I’ve seen enough to know that removing those characters doesn’t always mean the series/setting is going to go downhill from there. Replacing Hal Jordan (and every other Green Lantern) with Kyle Rayner seemed like a bad move at the time, but I think some really great stories came out of the struggle of a single Green Lantern with no training trying to fill the big shoes left behind. Similarly, when they killed off Chewbacca in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, it seemed like sacrilege, yet dealing with the effects his death had on the other characters from that point on has created some great stories (plus, they gave him a fitting end of having to have a freakin’ planet explode to kill him).

    The only thing I can really think of is that they couldn’t pull off Doctor Who without The Doctor. Even though he changes with each regen, he’s still essentially the same character, the one who has experienced all we’ve seen (and a lot we haven’t) over the course of the series. I recall an old rumor that one of the proposals involved replacing the Doctor after his regen limits with his son, and I just don’t think it would be the same. Another character taking over wouldn’t have the same history that The Doctor has, and while they may still be interesting characters and stories (and could possibly work as a spinoff), I just don’t think it would work for the main series.

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