breaking out

Breaking Out Is Hard to Do

"Breaking Out Is Hard to Do" is the ninth episode of the fourth season of Family Guy. The episode’s title is a reference to the Neil Sedaka song “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”.

Plot summary

During a grocery shopping trip, Lois is caught short on cash. She pretends to return a ham to the meat department but instead hides it in her purse. She enjoys the rush from stealing so much that she indulges in a massive shoplifting spree culminating in the theft of a Matisse painting. Brian shows Lois the evil of her ways and she repents, but Joe Swanson hears on the news that a painting he saw in the Griffin's house was stolen from the museum. He arrests Lois (after a dramatic but brief escape attempt) before she is able to return the merchandise. Lois is sentenced to three years in prison, which she is resigned to serve. The Griffin household quickly plunges into filth and chaos in her absence, and during a visit Peter decides to smuggle her out of jail by stuffing her into his mouth. They hop into a laundry van and end up in “Asiantown” (with an asian evil monkey) where they rent a shabby apartment and start new lives, such as Chris working as a rickshaw driver and Peter an unsuccessful Sumo wrestler. Joe tracks them down, after seeing Peter on television as a sumo wrestler, and pursues them in a rickshaw chase until the Griffins flee into the sewers; then he commandeers a police helicopter and follows them further. Lois decides to surrender and face justice, then saves Joe’s life when he slips and is nearly swept off a nearby ledge. In gratitude, he somehow manages to get Lois’ sentence remanded, and life returns to normal for the Griffins. The last scene is Peter showing Chris how to sumo and uses Brian as an example, only to have Brian sent flying through glass and have him leave incredibly pissed.


According to the commentary, there was originally a sequence in which Brian is standing next to a rack where the tabloid magazines are and comments on how fat Kirstie Alley is. Lois then tells Brian that tabloid magazines always exaggerate celebrities’ personal lives, until Brian points out a Godzilla-like Kirstie Alley running down the aisles. Also, Stewie’s line after he fails to get the plastic bag over his head to asphyxiate himself was originally, “Either I was a C-section or you’re Stretch Vagstrong,” which was rejected by censors in favor of “Either I was a C-section or you’re Wonder Woman.”


FOX cut a brief gag in which the “CBS Asiantown” logo is shown as a slanted eye version of the CBS logo (this was after they showed the clip of “Three’s Company: Asiantown”). Adult Swim, Canada’s TVtropolis channel, BBC3, TBS, and the DVD version all have this gag uncut.

Cultural references

  • Stewie tries to asphyxiate himself like “that boy from INXS”. The band’s lead singer Michael Hutchence was found dead in 1997. The death was ruled a suicide but rumors that Hutchence died while performing autoerotic asphyxiation continue.
  • After Stewie fails to do the aforementioned act (due to his exceptionally large head), he comments, "Good Lord, woman, either I was a c-section or you're Wonder Woman." Seth MacFarlane has stated during the DVD commentary that that was the original joke, and it didn't prove to be funny with the staff. Another joke was written, where Wonder Woman was replaced with Stretch Vag-strong. It proved to be funny amongst the staff, but Standards and Practices prevented this joke from airing. Unlike certain other Family Guy jokes which are altered or added for DVD release, this one remained as it aired.
  • At the supermarket, Chris is beckoned into a shelf by a sketchily-drawn hand—into the animated world of the music video for a-ha’s 1985 hit “Take on Me,” and is led through the things that happen throughout the music video, until he escapes by falling out of the freezer. When Lois asks where he has been, he screams "I don't know!"
  • When Brian suggested that he hadn’t remembered another ham, Lois made an excuse that Brian was too busy eyeballing that Redbook with Glenn Close on the cover.
  • Brian tells Lois her behavior is “worse than that Winona Ryder thing.” Lois thinks he is referring to the actress’s 2001 shoplifting incident, but he actually meant her performance in the 1993 film The Age of Innocence.
  • Stewie plays a game with Rupert that mimics common plots from Hanna-Barbera cartoons like Scooby Doo: finding a ghost in an abandoned house.
  • A cutaway shows Peter riding the luckdragon Falkor, from fantasy novel The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, and the movie of the same name. Falkor says Peter is too heavy and crashes into the ground. Throughout his flight Peter shouts “Yeah!” happily. When Falkor crashes he digs deep into the ground and a distinct “Yeah.” can be heard.
  • A flashback shows Chris watching the 1958 science fiction film The Blob. He yells at the TV, telling it that he will save the character on the screen, only to run into and break the television and knock himself unconscious.
  • Lois’ book club reads The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, a popular book club choice in the early 2000s.
  • While in Asiantown, Peter mistakes three passer-bys for Chinese martial arts star Jackie Chan. Incidentally, Chan is in town and mistakes Peter then Chris for Caucasian actor Ethan Hawke and Meg for the child star Frankie Muniz of the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle.
  • In Asiantown, Stewie mentions that he has not seen any female babies. This is a reference to news reports of male-preference sex-selective abortion in China.
  • Peter tells the owner of the sumo wrestling association that he’s “a born athlete, just like Greg Louganis.” The show then cuts away to a meta-reference in which Peter mentions that they could make a joke about the diver’s diagnosis with AIDS, the 1988 incident in which he hit his head on a diving board or the fact that his name rhymes with anus. They decide on a “no body hair joke.”
  • Adam West plays with a Lite-Brite toy.
  • A commercial for “Asian Trix” parodies that of the American breakfast cereal.
  • The Asian operator of the helicopter Joe charters, which is very similar to the helicopter used in the movie and TV series Blue Thunder, says that, when he fires rockets, he pretends he is shooting at Jamie Farr and Alan Alda, stars of the Korean War-set TV series M*A*S*H.
  • When the Griffins are in the sewers, they encounter the characters from the 1985 film The Goonies. Peter asks Chunk to wave around his belly in a “truffle shuffle” as he does in the film.
  • The Griffins run into 1980s teen star Corey Haim, who (when questioned by Stewie) actually lives in the sewer. Stewie asks Corey if he is with "The Goonies" as well, according to Tim Antkowiak, Corey Haim auditioned to appear in "The Goonies" but was not chosen.
  • After entering the sewer, Joe and his guide shoot down two TIE fighters, in a parody of the trench sequence from the original Star Wars movie.
  • The chase scene between the Griffins and Joe in Asiantown is reminiscent of the final chase in Revenge of the Pink Panther in which Inspector Clouseau and company are chased through Chinatown to the same music as featured in this scene.
  • One cutaway shows the time when Peter invited Karl Malden to do cocaine only for him to snort it all due to his large nose.


The "Who Else But Quagmire" sketch was recycled in "Airport '07", but replaced the dinner party scene with a funeral, where Quagmire jumps out of a coffin in his underwear.


  • One restaurant in Asiantown has an English sign saying “Chinese Take-Out,” duplicated in the Japanese katakana sign “チャイニステイクアウト” (“Chainisu teikuauto” with the irony that it is a Japanese sign for Chinese food, in an American town). A banner seen in the establishing shot reads “一二三四五六七八” (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8), while a sign above a store reads “月曜日!” (Monday !).
  • When Joe is in Asiantown looking for the Griffins, one of the locals he asks is dressed in a similar attire to Quagmire.
  • When the Griffin family is pursued by Joe in a helicopter, the sign behind the Griffin family reads "꼬치수술," the first two characters of which mean penis in Korean slang and the last two meaning surgery, thereby indicating "penis surgery".
  • The closing sequence features an "Asian" version of the theme song.


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