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Recap / Family Guy S 9 E 7 Road To The North Pole

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Airdate: December 12, 2010

An hour-long Christmas Episode (the second in the series after "A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas") in Family Guy, which also contains two songs, and is narrated by Seth MacFarlane's father, Ron MacFarlane, in live-action bookends.

It's days until Christmas and everyone in Quahog is writing down what they want for Christmas in a musical number, except for Brian, who wonders if they're being too greedy. Stewie gets a rude brush-off from a Mall Santa, and vows to head to the North Pole to kill him for his disrespect. Not believing in Santa, Brian tricks Stewie by taking him to a Santa village, but Stewie sees through the ruse and threatens to kill him too if he doesn't take him to the real North Pole. After Stewie causes a traffic car pile-up that damages Brian's car, they continue on foot and eventually ride the rest of the way on a Canadian's snowmobile.


To Brian's surprise, Santa and the workshop does exist, but conditions there are far worse than they feared, due to the world's growing population and growing demands for the gifts. Santa is sick, weak, and worn out, the workshop pollutes the air, the elves are overworked, mutated, and inbred, and the reindeer have evolved into man-eating, and cannibalistic, monsters. Brian and Stewie agree to deliver the presents in his place, but crash the sleigh, break into a house, severely injure the family inside it to cover it up, let the reindeer eat each other, realize they only visited one house for an hour and a half out of the millions of other houses in the world they need to visit before dawn, and finally panic, give up, and barely escape with their lives.

The next day, on Channel 5 News, Tom Tucker announces that no presents were delivered in Quahog, when Brian and Stewie wheel a barely-living Santa onto the set in front of the nation. They reveal that the world's greed is killing him, and ask that everyone only ask for one gift per person each year. Chastened, everyone agrees, and the next year, Santa and his workshop are healthy and rejuvenated.


"Road To The North Pole" contains examples of:

  • Advertising by Association: Parodied in an unaired cutaway gag.
    Stewie: (to Brian) You tried to trick me! Like those commercials for upcoming movies.
    (cut to Stewie watching TV in the living room)
    Announcer: This summer, from the guys who brought you Superbad comes a hilarious new comedy.
    Stewie: Uh, I hate when they do that. Which guy? You know it could be the writers or the guys in the wardrobe department, they don't specify.
    (Stewie changes the channel)
    Announcer: From the studio that brought you Wedding Crashers.
    Stewie: Uh, who cares? It's sure a broad association.
    (Stewie changes the channel)
    Announcer: From the species that brought you Talladega Nights.
    Stewie: Oh what, humans? Who else is making movies?
    Announcer: From the same molecular elements that brought you Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
    Stewie: What?
    Announcer: ...and air!
    Stewie: Fuck off!
  • Advertisement:
  • An Aesop: "We can get out of any mess if we learn to live with less..."
  • Anti-Christmas Song: "Christmastime is Killing Us".
  • Batter Up!: Stewie uses a baseball bat meant as a present to attack the owners of the first house he and Brian hit. It turns out they didn't even bring the bat to the right house.
  • Berserk Button: Christmas proves to be a pretty big one for Stewie. He angrily threatens Brian with a gun for trying to deceive him with a fake North Pole, and then tries to outright set about that threat on Santa for brushing him off at the mall.
  • Big Applesauce: The house Brian and Stewie crash the sleigh on the roof of is either in or near New York City, as they pass the Statue of Liberty before the sleigh starts going out of control.
  • Bittersweet Ending: With Santa out of action due to his deteriorating health, and Brian and Stewie unable to help in any way, Christmas is all but canceled. They decide to convince the nation to lighten Santa's burden by asking for just one present a year. They managed to accomplish this, allowing Santa to recover in time for next Christmas.
  • Bowdlerization: The "All I Really Want For Christmas" song has two lines that can only be heard uncensored on the episode's DVD release. On Fox, Adult Swim, and the song's 2019 digital release on iTunes and Amazon Music, Peter responds to Brian's question "Doesn't this seem like too much stuff?" with "Poo on you, it's not enough", but on the DVD, his reply is "Suck my dick, it's not enough". Similarly, Stewie follows this line up with "Buddy boy, I got your Christmas right here!" and proceeds to grab his crotch on television and the digital release of the song, but on the DVD release of the episode, Stewie sings "Why don't you go out and chase cars, you queer?", which causes Brian to say "Look's who talking" (in the television version of the episode and on its digital release, the song cuts straight to the main chorus after Stewie's line, removing Brian's comment entirely).
  • The Cameo: Cleveland appears watching Brian and Stewie on the news.
  • Characterization Marches On: Stewie's Knight Templar treatment of Christmas is a stark contrast to the previous Christmas special, where he didn't even know who Santa was.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Santa says the reindeer eat elf flesh, when the elves wander out into the snow to die of exhaustion. When Brian and Stewie need to get the sleigh moving, Brian brings this up and Stewie cuts off the arm of a brain-dead elf in the snow to get them started.
  • Christmas Miracle: Santa, the workshop, his elves, the sleigh, and reindeer, all somehow become normal again by the next year. This can be justified as Brian and Stewie convince everyone to ask for only one gift a year instead of a large list, which drained Santa in the first place.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: This version of Santa takes a sledgehammer to his usual M.O. by showing what he would really look like with a work schedule this strict and stressful; he's heavily underweight, sleep deprived, and vomiting from stress and overworking. Santa has also become an atheist (or at least converted to Islam) after witnessing the suffering his elves go through, and he wants to die when Stewie says he's there to kill him. After singing an Anti-Christmas Song, he ends up on life support after vomiting blood. After trying (and failing) at delivering presents, Brian and Stewie realize how horrible it really is to be Santa. Santa is only saved by Stewie and Brian when they convinced the world to ask for only one gift per person otherwise Santa will work himself to death.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: The whole Santa mythos takes quite a beating in this episode. With no magic aiding Brian, Stewie, or Santa; Santa is sick and dying, and conditions at the North Pole are completely atrocious due to the world's growing population and growing demand for gifts. Santa's workshop has become a toxin-spewing factory, the elves are overworked, mutated, and inbred, and the reindeer have devolved into bloodthirsty monsters that devour the elves after they wander out to die.
    • After Santa's health takes a turn for the worse, Brian and Stewie agree to deliver presents for him, and this episode takes the typical "Santa slides down the chimney to leave presents for families" trope and runs it into the ground, turning it into what it really is: a home invasion mixed with a an assault (and possibly even a murder or two) just to keep the witnesses from ratting them out to the police.
      1. When they land the sleigh at their first house, they accidentally fly through a tree in the process and the reindeer get stuck in it.
      2. They then go down the chimney but forget to bring the presents with them. Fortunately, the sleigh slides off the roof and lands in the yard.
      3. When they go outside to retrieve the presents, they forget to unlock the front door, locking themselves out and forcing Brian to break a window to get back inside.
      4. They're soon found by the man living there, who heard them break the window and nearly calls the police before Stewie knocks him out with a baseball bat, getting blood everywhere in the process. They then hide him in a closet and Brian ties him up while Stewie makes it look like a burglary.
      5. The man's daughter then wakes up and comes downstairs for some water. They try to get her to go back to bed, but then the man's wife comes down looking for him, and he falls out of the closet. This forces Stewie to knock her out too when she tries to run.
      6. They then tie the daughter up with her unconscious parents and start cleaning up all the blood, which, added to the time they've already blown so far, takes them an hour and a half.
      7. When Brian goes to check on the boy who's getting the baseball bat and discovers the family only has one bedroom, Stewie asks the daughter if she has a brother. When she responds no, it suddenly dawns on Stewie that they're in the wrong house. Stewie then hears the cops coming since they tripped a silent alarm at some point, likely when Brian broke the window.
      8. Brian and Stewie are forced to leave, and to add insult to injury, the reindeer are all eating each other at this point. If it hadn't been for Stewie modifying Santa's sleigh to fly on its own, they would have been arrested.
      • End result: Two people are in the hospital (hopefully, if the dad didn't die from his injuries), a little girl will require years of therapy and probably hate Christmas for the rest of her life, nobody gets any presents, and Christmas is ruined. Stewie even points out just how impossible delivering presents to the entire world in one night actually is.
        Brian: We're just leaving like this? What about not wanting to ruin Christmas?
        Stewie: It's already ruined! This was ONE! HOUSE! We've been here for an hour and a half! An hour and a— First of all, we're not even Santa anymore. This has been a home invasion. But an HOUR AND A HALF, Brian! It's gonna be light in six hours, and we have to deliver to the whole rest of the world! There's TWO apartment buildings on this block alone!
        Brian: No wonder Santa lost his mind! This is ridiculous! We can't do this!
        Stewie: NOBODY CAN! IT'S INHUMAN!
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Brian's well-meaning comments to Quagmire's niece all backfire in his face to ridiculous degree. Later on, apparently the encounter has left her in critical condition.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Stewie becomes set on killing Santa for a Mall Santa ignoring his requests for presents.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Beating up a little girl's parents up in front of her, tying them all up together, and quite possibly traumatizing her for life. All to keep your cover about Subbing for Santa. Merry Christmas!
  • Epic Fail: Stewie and Brian's first attempt at delivering toys. They cause property damage, bludgeon a couple possibly to death, tie their daughter up, etc. It basically turns into a home invasion. And the real kicker? They've spent an hour and a half at the wrong house. Stewie even says as they fly away: "That was a disaster."
  • Extra-Long Episode: This is the second of the three season 9 episodes to be broadcast as an hour-long episode.
  • Fisher King: Santa regaining his health somehow also turns the elves back to normal and gets rid of the pollution.
  • From Bad to Worse: As said in the above synopsis, this special shows what happens when reality hits the Santa mythos too much.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Every aspect of Stewie and Brian's first stop fails miserably. They damage property, the presents fall off the roof, they wake up the residents and need to restrain them, they waste an hour and a half there, and it turns out they weren't even at the right house.
    Brian: No wonder Santa lost his mind! This is ridiculous! We can't do this!
  • Harmful to Minors: The little girl witnessing her parents being beaten and possibly killed by Brian and Stewie subbing for Santa and then being bound and gagged with tape and left for the police to discover.
  • Heroic RRoD: The central part of the second half of the episode deals with the real Santa Claus suffering from this. His frequent catching up to everyone's requests of Christmas gifts has left him sickly and bitter. The rest of the North Pole's state, and all working there is just as bad, if not worse.
  • Hollywood New England: Upon seeing Santa's workshop in a morbid, foggy state with factory chimneys spouting pollution, Stewie compares it to Bridgeport, Connecticut.
    Brian: Ooooh boy. Get ready for the letters.
    (cutaway to a Bridgeporter writing a letter) Dea' Family Guy basta'ds. How the Hell do you think you ah'?? I'll have you know that Bridgeport is among the world leada's in abandoned buildins', shattered glass, boa'ded up windows, bah'king dogs, and gas stations with no pumps! So eat my ***note , Jew writers.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Santa's flesh-eating reindeer become so famished during the trip to deliver the presents, they end up devouring one another once they get stuck up in a tree.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After Brian tells Stewie that Santa isn't real, Stewie attempts to laugh this off by "sarcastically" questioning the reality of several other clearly fictional characters.
    Stewie: Oh, interesting. Interesting theory, Brian. Who else are you gonna tell me isn't real? Hmm? Are you gonna tell me that Elmo isn't real? Hmm? SpongeBob? Is he not... Is SpongeBob not really out there at the bottom of the ocean giving Squidward the business? Hmm? And how about Curious George? Is he... Is Curious George not really out there making boats out of little tiny newspapers he should be delivering? Hmm? Hmm? Educate yourself, you fool.
  • Let's See YOU Do Better!: Stewie spends most of the episode so Holier Than Thou about the virtues of Christmas that he is willing to murder Santa Claus for not abiding to his standards. It is only when he is made to fill in for Santa for one night (and fails disastrously with just one house) that he realizes how difficult the season really is.
  • Mall Santa: An apathetic one kicks off Brian and Stewie's journey by brushing the latter off.
  • Musical Episode: The special contains two elaborate songs.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Brian's reaction when Stewie bludgeons a father (possibly to death), puts him in the closet, knocks out the mother and leaves the child tied up and traumatized as a means of keeping Santa's identity a secret.
  • Nightmarish Factory: Santa's workshop has turned into one.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Stewie just before Quagmire gives Brian another chewing out for upsetting his chemo-patient niece.
    • Brian and Stewie when Dan, the owner of the house they try delivering presents to, discovers them in his kitchen.
    • Brian and Stewie stop dead when they hear a little girl upstairs say she wants a glass of water. Stewie lets loose a Precision F-Strike.
    • The mother in the house when she sees Dan topple out of the closet, tied up and blooded. Brian actually says "Oh, Crap!" seconds later when she tries to make a run for it.
    • Stewie again in mid-sentence when he realizes he and Brian are in the wrong house. Then again immediately afterwards when he hears sirens in the distance.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Brian does this a few times with regard to Quagmire's cancer-stricken niece.
    Brian: Hey, who's this little guy? Is this your nephew? Hey, buddy! You excited to see Santa? Hope you've been a good boy this year.
    Quagmire: That "little guy" is my niece Abby, you douche. Her hair's short because of the chemotherapy.
    Stewie: Uh-oh.
    Quagmire: Do you know how much talking it took to get her outta the house because of her no-hair?
    Brian: Gosh, I didn't know. I'm so sorry.
    Quagmire: Oh, you're sorry? For what? That waiting in line is such a catastrophe, you'd rather destroy the confidence of a 5-year-old cancer patient?
    Brian: Aw, c'mon. I didn't know she was dying.
    Abby: Uncle Glenn, am I dying?
    Quagmire: [holds her close] No, sweetheart, you're not dying, 'cause we're gonna see Santa, and he's gonna give you a new brain. [turns to Brian, unhappily gritting his teeth] Get outta here, Brian. Just get outta here.
  • Precision F-Strike: Coupled with an Oh, Crap!. Stewie says "Shit.", when he and Brian hear a young girl upstairs say she wants a glass of water.
    • Cleveland's response to the one present idea: "Okay, just one. But if it's a gym membership, somebody's gettin' punched in the fuckin' face."
  • Royal Inbreeding: Santa explains to Brian and Stewie that he started with one family of elves. To keep up with the growing demands of the human population asking for more gifts, he grew desperate and needed more elf workers, thus led to the family of elves inbreeding for generations. Due to their inbreeding, as least 60% of them are blind.
  • Running Gagged: The last episode to feature Brian's rant-inducing slight relationship with Quagmire. By the next episode Quagmire's hatred of Brian remerges, Brian angrily snaps back and starts antagonising Quagmire on purpose, chaining off their later Sitcom Arch-Nemesis dynamic.
  • Santa's Sweatshop: Rampant demand for presents has reduced the North Pole to a Polluted Wasteland, the elves have devolved into barely sentient mutants, and Santa himself is suffering from a Heroic RRoD.
  • Saving Christmas: Double subverted. Stewie and Brian fail miserably at Santa's job and Christmas is ruined, but they get the idea to show the world what a toll the holiday has taken on Santa and convince everyone to switch to one present per person. The next Christmas is thus a success.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Brian and Stewie do this when they realise how utterly impossible delivering presents around the world in one night really is, after spending an hour and a half in just one house.
  • Subbing for Santa: Deconstructed. Brian and Stewie attempt to deliver the Christmas presents in Santa's place. They screwed it up royally.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Santa Claus explains to Brian and Stewie one of many problems with the elves, one of them is the inbreeding which began with a small family of elves and every year Santa needed more and more elf workers to help him with the gifts making. This unfortunately led to the single family of elves turning to inbreeding with their relative to mass produce more workers to help Santa. Which left them with severe mental, physical and health defects (at least 60% of them are born blind).
  • Wham Line: We get two back-to-back after Stewie and Brian tie the family up and clean up all the blood.
    Stewie: Go check on the other kid.
    Brian: What other kid?
    Stewie: Johnny, the one who's getting the bat.
    Brian: (runs upstairs) Stewie, there's only one bedroom up here!
    Stewie: What? (turns to the daughter) Do you have a brother?
    Daughter: (shakes her head for "no")
    Stewie: Well, then who the hell is Joh- Oh my god, we're in the wrong house.
  • Who's on First?: Occurs when a passing Canadian man stops while Stewie and Brian are stranded on the side of the road.
    Canadian: Oh, hey there. You're having some car troubles, eh?
    Stewie: Yeah, we're trying to get to the North Pole. I don't suppose you're from Triple A, are you?
    Canadian: Who?
    Stewie: Triple A, you know? A-A-A.
    Canadian: Oh, AA, eh? Oh, I just came from AA.
    Stewie: No, not AA! AAA!
    Canadian: Yeah, that's what I said. AA, eh?
    Stewie: Oh, so you are with Triple A.
    Canadian: Oh, no, that's AAA. I just came from AA, eh?
    Stewie: Huh?
    Brian: Stewie, I think he's just a drunk.
    Stewie: Well, drunk or not, can you help us?
    Canadian: I can if you wanna join AA, eh?
    Stewie: Oh, I'm already a member of AAA! I need help with the car!
    Canadian: Oh, I see. Yeah, looks like you got some water leakage. You might need a hose, eh?
    Stewie: José, Roberto, whatever. If you got some Latinos up here that can fix cars, that'd be great.
    Canadian: No, I mean, it looks like you need a part, eh?
    Stewie: Well, yeah, when it's fixed, we can celebrate, but let's deal with first thing's first.
    Canadian: Well, I can probably take you to a gas station, eh? You have cash, eh?
    Stewie: Well, I dunno, my name carries a little weight, but I don't see how that matters here.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Brian and Stewie are not above tying up a little girl with her half-dead parents, though she is the only one who Stewie doesn't bludgeon with a bat.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Brian when he tries to get back into the house he and Stewie are delivering presents to, only to find the front door somehow locked behind them.
  • Younger Than They Look: Santa Claus, who is only 28 despite looking like he's in 80's.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Family Guy 9 E 7 Road To The North Pole


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In an unaired cutaway gag, Stewie tells Brian he tried to trick him like commercials for upcoming movies.

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