Family Guy animated GIFs have become incredibly popular on the web. Aside from being a hit series, the cartoons are simple and clear enough to let even a second or two of animation convey a clear message.
Peter and Brian and More
Originally, the main characters in the "Peter and Brian" series were based on a previous TV show created by Seth McFarlane called "Larry & Steve." However, McFarlane decided to re-purpose and expand the show to include more than just a man and his dog, adding in a wife, Lois, and three kids, plus a host of side characters. The decision paid off in a big way, with the show lasting more than nine seasons and winning many awards. There have even been spin-off series created and in 2010 McFarlane and the cast began talking about creating a feature film.
GIFs: Animation for the Web
An animated GIF is a cartoon reduced to the simplest form possible - a series of images that change fast enough to fool the eye into believing there is motion. In fact, there is nothing moving - the image simply changes in sequence. The images are usually not very different from each other, which also makes the file sizes for each image a bit less because the computer doesn't have to re-draw each frame completely, only the parts that change. There is no sound, which also helps keep the file size low. Since animated GIFs were most popular in the days of telephone modems, keeping images very small was important. A 150k image file which downloads in a fraction of a second in todays high-bandwidth world could take five minutes back then.
Taking images from cartoons was a natural leap for people creating funny animated GIFs. For example, Family Guy features a lot of classic cartoon humor - that is, short vignettes with simple visual gags. The cartoon is simply drawn, which translates to a smaller file size and fewer frames necessary to convey the message. At the same time, most of the characters themselves, especially Peter and Stewie, are funny just in how they look. This means there's not necessarily any need to do much more than put up a few frames to bring a smile to a person's face.
Where to Get a Family Guy Animated GIF
There are many sources of animated GIFs on the web, mostly supported through advertising, which makes the pages a bit difficult to handle. For example, GIFmania has much more of the page devoted to blinking ads than the actual GIFs. Critical Layouts is the same way, although they do have ten pages with a variety of GIFs in different sizes. The easiest place to find it a Family Guy animated GIF is at Squidoo,which not only shows the GIFs but also has easy HTML code for you to cut and paste when using the image.
Be Aware of Your Audience
If you decide to use one of these animations, be aware that Family Guy is not necessarily a family show. Many of the jokes have a heavy emphasis on sexuality, violence, and other controversial topics. Make sure you consider the comfort level of your audience, and whether or not the particular animation is appropriate for the content of your website. Quite a few people take offense at the "potty humor" and sexual innuendo (or just blatant portrayal of sex) on the show, and that may turn people away from your site. On the other hand, if your target demographic is exactly the kind of people who watch Family Guy, you may be right on the money by adding them to your site.
Can You Use These GIFs Legally???
Technically, no - these animated GIFs are copyrighted and unless you are actually paying a licensing fee, you shouldn't be using them on your website. If McFarlane's lawyers ever decided to come after you for using them, you'd have to at the very least take them down, and you're risking fines as well. Depending on the purpose of your site, this may be something that you need to be very aware of. Commercial use of other people's intellectual property is not something you can get away with for long.