Family Guy is an adult animated sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane that premiered in 1999. Since the very beginning, the series has dealt with comparisons to The Simpsons, which is not only a similar show with a similar set of characters, but also happened to air on the same network – Fox.
More than ten years later, however, Family Guy has earned its place on television and is appreciated around the world, being credited as the project that gave Seth MacFarlane’s career a jumpstart.
Audiences mostly remember Family Guy for its irreverent, sarcastic, and envelope-pushing humor. The show is known for flashbacks, celebrity cameos, and popular catchphrases, to the pleasure (and also distaste) of many in Hollywood. 24 Emmy nominations – and 7 wins – later, Family Guy is finally seeing a slow decline in ratings, but still manages to capture mainstream attention whenever it tackles a controversial topic.
It comes as no surprise that a TV show that throws so many punches would inevitably have its own secrets behind the scenes, and it just so happens that the production behind Family Guy is not immune to controversy, drama, legal battles, and questionable choices.
These are 17 Dark Secrets Behind Family Guy.
17 SETH MACFARLANE WISHES THE SHOW WAS OVER
16 seasons later, you might think that Seth MacFarlane would be happy that his first mainstream project is still going strong. However, that is not necessarily the case.
During an infamous interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2011, Seth MacFarlane admitted loud and clear to the fact that he wishes Family Guy was over. He justified it by saying, “I think seven seasons is about the right lifespan for a TV series.”
It is definitely difficult to pinpoint exactly where this sentiment from Seth MacFarlane comes from, especially with the realization that other successful adult animated series went on to air for decades. South Park is already at season 21 and The Simpsons was renewed for a 30th season. American Dad! – the other animated sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane – has aired for 15 seasons, also betraying the notion that a TV show should end after 7 years.
16 MACFARLANE DOESN’T EVEN WRITE THE SHOW ANYMORE
Seth MacFarlane not only wishes Family Guy was over, but he also puts his money where his mouth is. During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session he held in 2017, MacFarlane confirmed that he hasn’t written for the show since 2010. He only does the voice work for the several characters he brings to life (such as Peter, Stewie, and Brian), no longer crafting the show’s stories.
Family Guy is by all means still billed as a Seth MacFarlane project, but it is definitely curious to hear confirmation that, since 2010, he has been nothing but a voice actor on the show. MacFarlane has prioritized his movie projects – like Ted and A Million Ways To Die In The West – and live-action TV work such as The Orville.
15 THE SHOW PREDICTED THE KEVIN SPACEY REVELATIONS
Back in 2005, Family Guy had an episode in which Stewie ran through a department store yelling that he had just escaped Kevin Spacey’s basement.
In 2017, Anthony Rapp told Buzzfeed News in an interview that, in 1986, while he was underage, Kevin Spacey tried to seduce him and made unwanted advances toward him. Both Rapp and Spacey were working on Broadway at the time, and were therefore linked to one another through work.
In hindsight, it’s almost as if Family Guy knew something about Kevin Spacey, or was eerily predicting what had happened many years before (and made public many years later). Seth MacFarlane has clearly stated that the writers from the show knew nothing about Kevin Spacey’s predatory behavior, and that the “joke” on Family Guy was written completely at random.
14 MILA KUNIS ISN'T THE ORIGINAL MEG
Actress Mila Kunis has famously voiced the character of Meg Griffin since 1999, when Family Guy premiered its second season.
The truth is out there: Kunis is not actually Meg’s original voice.
When Family Guy first went on air, it was Lacey Chabert who voiced Meg. Yes, Lacey Chabert who played Gretchen in Mean Girls and Penny in Lost In Space. She had already been successful in voice acting for portraying Eliza Thornberry in the Nickelodeon animated series The Wild Thornberrys, but it seems like Family Guy wasn’t a great fit for her, because she left after just one season.
Another curious thing about Meg’s voice is that Mila Kunis doesn’t lend her voice to the character’s singing parts in the show. Tara Strong, a veteran voice actress, does all of Meg’s singing in Family Guy.
13 CHRIS’ VOICE WAS INSPIRED BY BUFFALO BILL
Chris is a nice enough kid despite coming from a family such as the Griffins, but there’s a reason why his voice sounds so eerie. According to Family Guy producers, the voice of Chris Griffin was inspired by the serial killer Buffalo Bill from 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs.
Family Guy alluded to this connection when, in the 13th episode of the show’s 7th season, Chris Griffin reenacted the infamous Silence of the Lambs scene in which Buffalo Bill dances disturbingly in his bedroom.
Chris Griffin is voiced by Seth Green, who himself created the adult-leaning animated series Robot Chicken, a series that is closely associated with Family Guy for its similar, brash humor and target audience.
12 FAMILY GUY WAS CANCELED... TWICE
Everyone knows Family Guy as a successful animated TV show on a major broadcast network, but the truth is that, throughout the years, Family Guy was actually canceled twice due to some dissatisfaction from the network.
The first time the show was canceled was right after its second season, which aired between 1999 and 2000. This caused Family Guy to go off the air for over a year, but the show eventually made its way back to Fox. The second time the show was canceled was even longer, between 2002 and 2005, a timeframe that happened within the third and fourth seasons of Family Guy.
During that three-year hiatus, Family Guy kept doing incredible numbers in DVD sales and Adult Swim ratings, to the point where Fox took notice and decided to revive the series. “North By North Quahog”, which premiered in 2005, was the first episode of the show being officially back on air.
11 DEATH WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE UNDERLYING THEME
A recurring character on Family Guy, Death itself has played a major role in several episodes of the series. Originally, Death was going to be even more important to the show, to the point where every episode would receive a spooky title and “death” was going to be the underlying theme across the entire series.
This original intent is particularly noticeable in the first four episodes of Family Guy’s first season, which are titled: “Death Has A Shadow”, “I Never Met The Dead Man”, “Chitty Chitty Death Bang”, and “Mind Over Murder.”
The reason behind this recurring theme was Seth MacFarlane being a huge fan of suspenseful radio shows from the 1930s and 1940s. However, as Family Guy progressed, it became evident that the show had to move on from this idea.
10 THE U.S. PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL REALLY HATES IT
The U.S. Parents Television Council was founded in 1995 in an attempt to label TV shows as either favorable or harmful from a “family values” perspective. The Council has historically opposed television series that they are deemed indecent and/or off-color, so it comes as no surprise that Family Guy has been a recurring target of the organization.
The Parents Television Council releases a weekly statement called “Worst TV Show of the Week,” which essentially proclaims which television show of that given week was just “the worst” according to their standards. Family Guy has been elected the Council’s “Worst TV Show of the Week” on at least 40 occasions, and has even made it to the “Worst TV Show of the Season” list, which takes into consideration an entire season of television.
9 THERE ARE TWO VERSIONS OF ALMOST EVERY EPISODE
We all know that Family Guy can be a little off-color, to say the least, despite airing on a major broadcast network. though the show’s core fan-base loves that brash humor, Fox can only air what is deemed appropriate by network executives and U.S. rating associations.
For this reason, nearly all Family Guy episodes have two versions: a clean, safe-for-TV version, and an uncensored, late-night version that is released on DVD and through Adult Swim reruns. This means that when a new episode of Family Guy first premieres, it is actually not being shown in its entirety by Fox, as the show needs to be appropriate for a Sunday night crowd.
While it is unfortunate that Family Guy has to go through this sort of censorship, the reasoning behind it is understandable. It also creates an appeal for fans to re-watch episodes later on DVDs and reruns.
8 AN EPISODE WAS BANNED FROM TV
Though nearly all episodes of Family Guy have two cuts – a safe-for-TV version and an unrated version – there was one particular episode that Fox deemed so controversial that it decided to not air it at all, no matter how producers edited it
This particular episode, titled “Partial Terms of Endearment”, was the 21st episode of the show’s 8th season.
What was so controversial about it? Lois agrees to be the surrogate mother to a friend, but after that friend and her husband are killed in a car accident, Lois finds herself carrying a child that no longer has parents. This brings Lois and Peter to consider terminating the pregnancy.
Spoiler alert: Lois goes for the termination. The episode never made it on air, and had to be released as a DVD special in order to see the light of day.
7 SETH MACFARLANE WAS ALMOST ON A 9/11 FLIGHT
Seth MacFarlane has a dynamic career that is full of twists and turns, giving audiences beloved TV shows, movies, and albums that only a creative mastermind could come up with. But on a personal note, fans almost lost Seth during the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, as he was scheduled to be on board of one of the airplanes that hit the Twin Towers in New York’s World Trade Center.
On 9/11/2001, Seth MacFarlane was booked to be on the American Airlines Flight 11 that was hijacked by terrorists. However, he thought the airplane was going to leave 10 minutes after it did, which prompted him to miss the flight. He stayed at the airport, took a 45-minute nap, and woke up to a commotion, finding out later that he was supposed to be on one of those planes.
6 MEG HAS NEVER CRUSHED ON CLEVELAND
If you’ve seen all episodes of Family Guy, you will probably remember the time when Meg crushed on Quagmire, and the time she crushed on Joe, and even the episode when she crushed on Brian, who is a dog. What you will not find in Family Guy is a time when Meg crushed on Cleveland, who is the only close friend of Peter’s that Meg has never developed a crush on.
This has led many hardcore Family Guy fans to conclude that maybe, possibly, Meg is kind of racist.
Sure, Cleveland is married and one could find that excuse, but so is Joe, and that didn’t stop Meg. She even had a crush on Quagmire, despite all the terrible stories the character is known for.
5 THE MEANING BEHIND STEWIE'S BIRTH TIME
Family Guy loves to play with the fact that Stewie might be secretly evil, and this is further justified by the fact that, according to the show’s mythos, Stewie was born on 11:34, which on a calculator spells out the word “HELL.”
The most distinct character difference between The Simpsons and Family Guy is that the “baby character” in the latter is actually a speaking character who is arguably smarter than all of its family members. The show goes back and forth with the concept that the family understands what Stewie is saying, but usually pairs him up with Brian, who, as a dog, always understands Stewie.
Aside from the diabolical undertones, Stewie is also presented on Family Guy as having an ambiguous sexuality, which are two factors that instantly turned him into the show’s breakout character from the very start.
4 THE SHOW WAS BANNED IN VENEZUELA
The 12th episode of Family Guy’s 8th season was titled “420,” and it was centered around the fact that Brian was arrested for possession. After being bailed out, Brian set out to join the movement that advocates for the legalization of illegal substances.
This is still a taboo subject in many countries in Latin America, so it comes as no surprise that an episode like Family Guy’s “420” was probably going to rub certain people the wrong way. What producers of the show didn’t expect was a reaction such as the one that came from the Venezuelangovernment, which was so offended by that episode that it decided to ban the entire series altogether from airing in any network in Venezuela.
As a replacement for Family Guy, certain Venezuelan networks went on to air Baywatch, which is quite a curious substitute.
3 THE SHOW KEPT GOING DURING THE 2007-2008 WRITERS STRIKE
There was a major Writers' Strike in Hollywood between 2007 and 2008, and it affected pretty much every single TV show that was on air during that time. As a showrunner, Seth MacFarlane decided to team up with fellow writers and told Fox that Family Guy would be halting production until the matter was resolved. Fox, however, decided to keep producing episodes for the series without Seth’s involvement or consent.
The episodes “Padre de Familia” and “Peter’s Daughter” went on to air on Fox with very little participation from MacFarlane.
Worried that the show would be terrible without his leadership, Seth decided to get a little involved in the production to make sure that the episodes produced were at least bearable. Thankfully, an agreement between writers and networks came to fruition, and Family Guy went back to its normal operations.
2 FAMILY GUY WAS SUED BY CAROL BURNETT
Carol Burnett, the celebrated actress best known for The Carol Burnett Show, filed a lawsuit in March of 2007 against Fox because of Family Guy. She sued the network due to one of the show’s episodes that aired in 2006, titled “Peterotica"” in which an animated version of Carol Burnett was portrayed as being a part-time janitor in an adultshop. The episode made quite a few dirty jokes at the actress’ expense, which she found bad enough to sue the series.
She sought $2 million for copyright infringement, misappropriation of one’s name, and privacy violation.
Ultimately, the judge ruled in favor of Fox and Family Guy, saying that while the episode’s jokes had indeed been distasteful, the show’s creative expression was protected under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
1 FAMILY GUY WAS SUED BY A MUSIC LABEL
2007 was a rough year for Family Guy when it came to legal matters. Besides facing Carol Burnett’s lawsuit, the show was also sued by a music label called Bourne Company Music Publishers, which happens to own the rights to the song “When You Wish Upon A Star”, made famous by the Disney classic Pinocchio.
Family Guy did a parody of that song called “When You Wish Upon A Weinstein,” which poked fun at those of Jewish faith.
The Bourne Company sued Fox, Seth MacFarlane, and the show for copyright infringement, justifying it by claiming that the lyrics to the parody were also anti-Semitic and overall offensive in nature. Once again, however, a judge ruled in favor of Family Guy, saying that the song had been parodied – not infringed – and that the lyrics were altered for comical matters.
Do you have any other Family Guy trivia to share? Let us know in the comments!