Herbert (Family Guy)
|Family Guy character|
Herbert with his walker
|First appearance||"To Love and Die in Dixie"|
|Voiced by||Mike Henry|
|Full name||John Herbert|
|Occupation||Former Air force pilot|
John Herbert is a fictional character in the animated television series Family Guy. His first name, John, was finally revealed in the episode entitled "Valentine's Day in Quahog". He is voiced by Mike Henry, who created and designed the character. Herbert is an elderly neighbor of the Griffin family who first appeared in the season 3 episode "To Love and Die in Dixie". Henry defines Herbert as a pedophile. He harbors unrequited love for Chris Griffin, though the Griffins and the other citizens of Quahog are either oblivious to this or indifferent because of his frailty.
Herbert's voice and appearance are inspired by an elderly man whom Henry met while working at a grocery store in high school. MacFarlane has also stated that his design was made so his creepy humor would seem funny. Herbert has received mixed reviews from critics. He has also appeared in various Family Guy merchandise and has made several crossover appearances in the Family Guy spin-off, The Cleveland Show.
Role in Family Guy
Herbert lives in the fictional town of Quahog, Rhode Island which is modeled after Cranston, Rhode Island. Herbert also does simple jobs in various episodes. In the episode "Play It Again, Brian", (season 6, 2008) Herbert is hired by Peter and Lois to babysit their children Stewie, Meg, and Chris. While in "Believe It or Not, Joe's Walking on Air", (season 7, 2009) Herbert appears opening the "Quahog Men's Club".
In the episode "Padre de Familia", Herbert is revealed to be a war veteran as he is singing "God Bless the USA" in the Veterans Day parade. This is furthered in the season 9 episode "German Guy", in which Herbert reveals he was a member of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II and was captured by Wehrmacht forces when he was shot down over Germany while escorting a bombing raid. Although the Nazis could have placed Herbert into a prisoner-of-war camp, they instead threw him into a concentration camp because they found several pictures of young boys in his wallet and thought he was gay.
Herbert has appeared on various occasions in Family Guy spinoffs, as in a cutaway in "A Cleveland Brown Christmas", an episode of The Cleveland Show. In Laugh It Up, Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy, Herbert appears as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Herbert was created by writer and voice actor Mike Henry. Henry met Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane when his brother, Patrick, and MacFarlane attended the Rhode Island School of Design. Henry was invited to write and create characters for Family Guy after the show was picked up. The first character he created was Cleveland Brown, and he later created Herbert.
Herbert was not originally a pedophile; Henry pitched the idea to the writers of the show, leading to the decision to make him one. As with most of the other characters he created, Henry voices Herbert. Henry based Herbert's voice and appearance on an elderly man he met when he worked in a grocery store when he was in high school. In an interview Henry described that man as a sweet person.
Herbert is a retired elderly man. He frequently waits to receive the newspaper from the paperboy, who on many occasions is Chris. In the episode "To Love and Die in Dixie" (season 3, 2001) Herbert tries to get Chris inside the house by offering him a popsicle. While Herbert's relationship with his fellow Quahogians differs with each neighbor, Chris is the neighbor with whom Herbert communicates most. In the episode "The Courtship of Stewie's Father", (season 4, 2005) Chris breaks Herbert's window and, to pay off the debt, Chris helps him with chores around the house. Herbert later invites him to dinner. The relationship of Herbert with the other members of the Griffin family is minimal, though it seems that he cares little for Meg, and unlike other characters in the show, he will talk to Stewie, even hitting on him. Stewie has harshly rebuffed Herbert's advances. Undeterred, Herbert finds Stewie "feisty." Peter and Lois have no knowledge of Herbert's pedophilia, as they have asked him to babysit and have no qualms with Chris (in very rare instances Stewie) visiting Herbert at his house. Chris also seems almost always oblivious to Herbert's feelings for him and considers him a friend (though in one episode he did ask him if he was a pedophile and Herbert changed the subject).
Herbert has received mixed reviews from critics. IGN, an American entertainment website, has generally commented positively to him. They pointed out that Herbert is one of the most popular recurring characters in the series, referring to him (with his dog Jesse) as one of the characters that stuck out from the rest. They also noted that one of the reasons Herbert is funny is because of his "soft, high-pitched whistling voice". Although IGN has praised Herbert in general they have criticized some aspects of him. In their review of "Blue Harvest", a retelling and parody of the 1977 blockbuster film, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, recasting the show's characters into Star Wars roles, IGN criticized the choice of putting Herbert in the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, stating that it never creates any actual humor. They also criticized the constant use of Herbert, commenting that it was entertaining for the first two times, but that it quickly became overused. In their list of "What Else Should Family Guy Make Fun Of?", IGN commented that Herbert would be perfect to play Major Toht and Hogwarts' new Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor should Family Guy ever decides to make parodies of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Harry Potter, respectively. Rowan Kaiser of The A.V. Club criticized the character, writing that his "every appearance brings out the worst tendencies of Family Guy".
Herbert, along with his dog Jesse, ranked spot number 16 in IGN's "Top 25 Family Guy Characters". Herbert ranked higher than Mort Goldman, and Greased Up Deaf Guy. Herbert also ranked number five on IGN's "The Cleveland Show Casting Couch", which showed characters that IGN would find interesting to put in The Cleveland Show.
In 2004, the first series of Family Guy toy figurines was released by Mezco Toyz. Each member of the Griffin family and other characters (including Herbert) had their own toy, with the exception of Stewie, of whom two different figures were made. Over the course of two years, four more series of toy figures have been released. Herbert is also featured on the Family Guy: Live in Vegas CD.
As of 2009, six books have been released about the Family Guy universe, all published by HarperCollins since 2005. These include Family Guy: It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One (ISBN 978-0-7528-7593-4), which covers the entire events of the episode "It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One", and Family Guy: The Official Episode Guide, Seasons 1–3, (ISBN 978-0-06-083305-3), which covers the plots and references of all the episodes from season 1-3. Both these books include the character.
- Valentine's Day in Quahog
- Valentine's Day in Quahog
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