- James Woods has made a total of eight appearances on Family Guy, and his episodes are among the best in the show.
- Woods’ character has been used in different ways throughout his appearances, including as a narrator, delivering one-liners, and being cast in special parody episodes.
- While Woods has not returned to Family Guy since season 15, he is one of the best guest stars in the show’s history.
James Woods has a healthy number of appearances in Family Guy, and his episodes are some of the show’s most memorable. Woods used to appear fairly regularly in the Seth MacFarlane sitcom, but he’s not returned since Family Guy season 15. As it stands, there don’t appear to be any further planned appearances of the fictionalized version of the actor in Family Guy, so his total stands at eight installments.
James Woods has a tumultuous relationship with the Griffin family in the hit animated show, with many of his returns to the show occurring as a result of his brief friendship with Peter during his first appearance in season 4. However, his character is used in different ways. He’s also been used as a narrator, delivered one-liners, and even cast in Family Guy‘s parody specials. Whenever he shows up, James Woods is always sure to hit his mark and falls into the category of one of the best Family Guy guest stars.
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8 “Something, Something, Something, Dark Side”
A Family Guy special
Family Guy‘s second Star Wars parody special continues to reuse its characters and recast them as figures from Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. Although it’s well executed, James Woods only appears briefly in the episode. Cast in the part of General Veers, Woods is essentially still playing the overly vulgar version of himself during his short exchange with Stewie Griffin as Darth Vader. It would be unfair to rank this episode any higher as a James Woods story due to his limited time on screen.
“Something, Something, Something, Dark Side” may be listed as part of Family Guy season 8 on streaming services.
7 “The Simpsons Guy”
Season 13, Episode 1
The Simpsons and Family Guy have always been compared to one another, especially with the latter being inspired by the former. The Simpsons beat Family Guy to the punch with their James Woods casting, as the actor appeared in 1994 during season 4, episode 13, “Homer and Apu.” While Family Guy used Woods far more than The Simpsons ever did, it still allowed the two versions of the actor to appear in the crossover episode between both shows.
As with Family Guy‘s Star Wars parodies, James Woods’ appearance is only brief in “The Simpsons Guy,” but arguably has double the impact. During a court case in the events of the episode, various references are made to the similarities between characters of both shows. The crowning moment becomes when both iterations of Woods exchange a few words in the second half of the story.
“The Simpsons Guy” may be split into two episodes on streaming services, due to its extended runtime.
6 “And Then There Were Fewer”
Season 9, Episode 1
“And Then There Were Fewer” originally aired as the hour-long premiere of Family Guy season 9. The murder mystery story is surprisingly well-written and features Woods during an attempted redemption arc. In his previous Family Guy episodes, Woods has been a nuisance to the Griffins and other Quahog residents, so the story shows him inviting them to his manor house for an apology dinner.
Surprisingly, Woods meets his end in the episode, dying along with other long-standing members of the Family Guy cast. The drama of the moment, although also laced with humor, comes as a surprise. His death doesn’t happen immediately, but there is still a good portion of the episode that lacks his dry retorts. However, Woods does set the events of the episode in motion, so his character makes the story possible.
“And Then There Were Fewer” may be split into two parts on streaming services.
5 “Tom Tucker: The Man And His Dream”
Season 10, Episode 13
James Woods returns from the dead in “Tom Tucker: The Man And His Dream,” revealing he has access to elite medical care as a Hollywood actor. His attempts at reconciliation from his previous appearance have been completely sidelined as he returns to his usual abrasive self. Woods hilariously takes Peter for a ride in this episode, hiring him as his agent and then firing him again almost as quickly, with Tom Tucker caught in the crossfire.
Family Guy season 10, episode 13 is the last time the show uses James Woods in the usual manner, with any following appearances taking a different approach. This episode effectively ends Woods’ character arc within the sitcom, while not being his final cameo altogether. His destructive nature is never seen again in Family Guy, with his final two episodes steering clear of stories like this one.
4 “Back To The Woods”
Season 6, Episode 9
“Back To The Woods” marks the first return appearance of James Woods. After being disposed of in an Indiana Jones homage on his previous outing, Woods comes back looking for revenge. The vengeance of James Woods comes in the form of stealing Peter’s identity. The fact that Woods succeeds in supplanting Peter in every aspect of his life is so bizarre that it could only work in an animated sitcom. As a result, the idea is executed well and in Family Guy‘s signature comical fashion.
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The episode serves as a natural sequel to the actor’s first Family Guy appearance in season 4, episode 11, “Peter’s Got Woods.” The villain origin story that Family Guy set in motion for Woods simply continues into this installment. The character was obviously a hit, as the episode’s conclusion mimics that of its predecessor, once more trapping Woods in a box and storing him in a warehouse.
3 “Peter’s Got Woods”
Season 4, Episode 11
This episode marks the introduction of James Woods to Family Guy, and it’s one of his best installments. The fact that Woods and Peter Griffin were initially friends gives the actor the necessary motivation to dislike his former companion so deeply. Woods is also shown to be a little overly sensitive regarding Peter’s rekindled friendship with Brian, which leads to a concerted effort by both Peter and Brian to rid themselves of his unwanted presence.
The funniest scenes in “Peter’s Got Woods” involve Peter’s attempts to replace Brian in a like-for-like manner with James Woods, making Woods engage in activities such as catching a frisbee. This episode sets in motion every future encounter between James Woods and the Griffins, so it’s an essential addition to Family Guy, making sure the other meetings can take place.
2 “Inside Family Guy”
Season 15, Episode 4
James Woods goes “off-script” in his final Family Guy episode during this mockumentary spoof. “Inside Family Guy” serves as a fictionalized inside look at the process of “filming” the show. Woods’ character is used as a host for the episode, a role that he fits very well. Following and interviewing the cast of Family Guy, Woods throws in his signature dry sense of humor and deadpan delivery to tie the illusion of voyeurism together.
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Some of the biggest laugh-out-loud moments come from Woods in this episode, including his criticism of Peter’s nacho-making techniques during his time away from the rest of the Griffins. While a return to causing havoc in the Griffins’ lives would have been welcomed, “Inside Family Guy” served as a better farewell to James Wood’s character for his final outing.
1 “Brian Griffin’s House Of Payne”
Season 8, Episode 15
Family Guy perfects its James Woods formula on the third try. “Brian Griffin’s House of Payne” makes full use of Wood’s character development and shows him at the most nefarious point in his arc. Woods’ appearance comes as a welcome surprise, only making his entrance halfway through the episode. As soon as he appears, Woods causes absolute chaos, ruining Brian’s dream by triggering a long line of unwelcome changes to his TV pilot.
Every line from James Woods in “Brian Griffin’s House of Payne” is hilariously written and well-delivered, making his third Family Guy story the most consistent when weighed up against the other seven. The exaggerated version of James Wood’s persona that’s used in Family Guy is the main reason certain groups will be aware of the actor at all, and it’s episodes such as this that have helped to solidify Woods’ status as one of the most memorable guest stars in the show’s history.
- Release Date
- January 31, 1999
- Seth MacFarlane , Alex Borstein , Seth Green , Lacey Chabert , Mila Kunis , Mike Henry , Patrick Warburton
- Streaming Service(s)