Herbert (Family Guy)
|Family Guy character|
|First appearance||"To Love and Die in Dixie"|
|Created by||Seth MacFarlane|
|Voiced by||Mike Henry|
|Full name||John Herbert|
|Occupation||U.S Army Air force pilot in World War II|
John Herbert is a fictional character in the animated television series Family Guy. He is voiced by Mike Henry, who also designed the character. Herbert is a World War II veteran who is an elderly neighbor of the Griffin family. He first appeared in the season 3 episode "To Love and Die in Dixie". He is attracted to young boys, and harbors unrequited love for underage teenager Chris Griffin, though most other citizens of Quahog are oblivious to his sexuality. Henry defines Herbert as a homosexual pedophile, although speaking in clinical terms this is not the case.
Herbert has received mixed reviews from critics, who have expressed varying opinions on the pedophilia-related humor involving the character. Herbert has appeared in various Family Guy merchandise and has made several crossover appearances in The Cleveland Show, a Family Guy spin-off.
Role in Family Guy
Herbert lives in the fictional town of Quahog, Rhode Island, which is modeled after Cranston, Rhode Island. He is an elderly man who dresses in a baby blue robe and requires a walking frame; his dog Jesse is similarly decrepit.
In his first appearance, "To Love and Die in Dixie" (season 3, 2001), Herbert tries to get Chris inside the house by offering him a popsicle. 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. When Chris gets a new job in "Movin' Out (Brian's Song)" (season 6, 2007), his baby brother Stewie takes over his paper route; Herbert tries to seduce him but is rebuffed by Stewie, who shouts, "Piss off, you perverted old freak". In the episode "Play It Again, Brian" (season 6, 2008), Herbert is hired by Peter and Lois to babysit their children Chris, Stewie and Meg. He says that he has no interest in Meg because of her age and gender, and is disappointed when she is the one of the three who volunteers to bathe him. Herbert has a grand-niece, Sandy, whom he helps attract Chris in the style of Cyrano de Bergerac in the episode "Valentine's Day in Quahog" (season 11, 2013).
In the episode "Padre de Familia" (season 6, 2007), Herbert is revealed to be a war veteran and sings "God Bless the USA" in the Veterans Day parade. This is furthered in the season 9 (2011) 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. He then finds that his tormentor, Franz, is living in Quahog, and becomes jealous of his new friendship with Chris.
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 was a classmate of MacFarlane's at 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.
IGN, an American entertainment website, has generally commented positively on 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 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 decide to make parodies of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Harry Potter, respectively.
A February 2015 article written by Hanh Nguyen for TV Guide listed pedophilia among the 12 biggest taboos shown on Family Guy, naming Herbert as the "creepiest of all" references to the disorder. Rowan Kaiser of The A.V. Club criticized the character as an example of how the series occasionally fails in its deliberately offensive humor. He called him "a black hole of shittiness whose every appearance brings out the worst tendencies of Family Guy", adding that his "appearance brings every episode he's in to a screeching halt".
Herbert, along with his dog Jesse, ranked spot number 16 in IGN's "Top 25 Family Guy Characters". 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.
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