The Simpsons and Family Guy: the best of enemies

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Fox network announced last week that The Simpsons and Family Guy will come together in a special crossover episode to air next autumn.

Two of TV's most famous families will meet when the Griffins take a road trip that ends up in Springfield in an episode called The Simpsons Guy and, according to the network, will "get along famously."

Fox said "The Griffins will be greeted by a friendly stranger named Homer Simpson who welcomes his new 'albino' friends with open arms".

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Other confirmed plot lines are that Stewie becomes obsessed with Bart, Lisa takes Meg under her wing and the adults pair off too, with Marge and Lois bonding and Homer and Peter, predictably, fighting over beer.

Surreal to think of, and a bit of a surprise: the two comedy giants have behaved like bickering children in the past, trading punches like Drederick Tatum in a tantrum.

In the chinless yellow corner there has always been the feeling that Seth MacFarlane's motley crew are nothing more than pale imitations (see main image).

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This shot is from the 2005 Simpsons episode The Italian Bob where the police are given an album of wanted criminals. In the book are Peter Griffin with the caption 'Plagiarismo', followed by a shot of Stan Smith from American Dad - MacFarlane's other cartoon comedy - with the caption 'Plagiarismo di Plagiarismo'.

In the same year, The Simpsons ran a gag in which a Homer Simpson clone was identified as Peter Griffin, something Macfarlane admitted was "definitely a slam."

After the stinging accusations from Matt Groening that the show had ripped off his characters and storylines, Family Guy responded in the only way it possibly could, by getting Quagmire to have sex with Marge and then murder the entire family – even Maggie:

This didn’t go down as well as you might have thought and Fox actually refused to let the joke go out. During an audio commentary, Macfarlane suggested that one of The Simpsons staff, James L. Brooks, lent on Fox to remove the clip from the episode, evidence that The Simpsons could say what they wanted about their rivals while Family Guy were silenced.

But the past is the past, and in recent years, the two shows have softened in their attitude towards each other. MacFarlane even voiced a prominent character in The Simpson's 24th series finale.

So, does this crossover episode represent a full truce? It sounds like it, but we hope not. No one really wants to see the Simpsons and the Griffins being nice to each other. The trouble with being nice is that it’s not particularly funny. When it comes to cartoon comedy we want to see back stabbing, not backslapping.