Family Guy has been around for thirteen seasons, with season fourteen beginning with all the other fall premieres. Seth MacFarlane is now 41 and, when the show began, he was 26 – his sprawling success puts most people to shame.
The show, a sleeper hit that progressively became a cultural juggernaut, has spawned two spinoffs, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. Although The Cleveland Show was a bit of a bust, it still got four full seasons, which is a lot considering the gladiatorial nature of network television. American Dad is hugely popular, with some people even preferring to it to its pater familias.
Obviously, a show cannot run for so long without changing a little. When it began, Peter was a misogynist toy-assembler, Stewie was a precocious mastermind with a great vocabulary, Lois was an overworked housewife, Meg was an insecure teenage girl, Chris was a basket case with a monkey in his closet, and Brian was the voice of reason. Now, Peter is a misogynist middle-manager, Stewie is an ambiguously evil fop, Lois is a lech, Meg is a baseball glove, Chris is largely unchanged, and Brian is a liberal douchebag.
However, with this composition, the show still works and people still tune in. If it hadn’t changed at all, people might have thought it was stale after so many episodes.
Whether you’ve been a fan of Family Guy since the beginning or have just jumped in on it recently, if you want to know some trivia, stick around for the twenty five fun facts about Family Guy.
25. Family Guy Was Cancelled Twice
Hard to believe about a show that is now entering its fourteenth season — Family Guy is approaching The Simpsons with regard to total animated domination of a generation – but Family Guy was cancelled twice in its first few seasons. The “Road to Quahog” was a little bit rocky. The second cancellation was the longest (2002-2005), after which astounding DVD and syndication numbers, plus an online petition with over 100,000 names, brought the show back to life.
24. The Reason Meg Griffin Is Abused…
Meg Griffin is a famous punching bag. One of the most famous instances of this is in the episode “Tales A Third Grade Nothing,” when Meg tells Peter that he’s a “smart fella,” and he replies: “And you’re a fart smeller, Meg!” then farts in her face. Actually, Peter farts on Meg all the time. Aside from being funny, there’s a real reason why Meg is the object of constant abuse. According to Seth MacFarlane, it’s the result of “a bunch of male writers not knowing how to write for a teenage girl.”
23. Carter Pewterschmidt and Doctor Hartman Have The Same Voice
The same few people do a lot of the voices on Family Guy: Seth MacFarlane, for instance, voices Stewie, Brian, Peter, and many of the auxiliary characters. But for those characters he actually changes his voice, so although it’s recognizably him, there are shades of difference. But Carter Pewterschmidt and Dr. Hartman, both voiced by MacFarlane, have exactly the same voice. It’s hard to notice because they’re hardly ever in a scene together. But in the episode “Believe Or Not, Joe’s Walking on Air,” they make an extended reference to this similarity.
22. The Reason There Are So Many Hanna-Barbera Cutaways
In Family Guy, especially in the first few seasons, there are numerous Hanna-Barbera cutaways, specifically to The Jetsons and The Flinstones. For instance, the famous joke where George Jetson falls while walking Astro on the treadmill and then sends Elroy to his room so he can scold Jane. The reason for this is because Seth MacFarlane was a writer for Hanna-Barbera before creating Family Guy. He thus had an intense familiarity and affection for their characters and design, and when he created his own show, he wanted to pay homage to it the only way Family Guy knows how, by lampooning them.
21. “Damn You, Vile Woman!” Stewie’s First Words
It’s hard to recall a time in Family Guy when Stewie’s entire characterization was a potent hatred for Lois. But when the show started, that was pretty much all the Griffin baby would talk about. It’s no surprise, then, that his first words would be: “Damn you, Vile Woman!” While on other tv shows, the traditional first words are “mama,” or sometimes “papa” (usually as a plot device to guilt the mother character into prioritizing her child), in Family Guy they’re a baby’s curse to the mother he feels imprisoned him in her womb.
20. Chris’s Full Name Is Christopher Cross Griffin
In the first few seasons, the producers leaned very heavily on the fact that Peter Griffin was raised catholic. In the episode “The Father, The Son, and the Holy Fonz,” Peter’s religious father comes to town and forces him to baptize Stewie behind Lois’s protestant back. So it’s no surprise that Chris’s middle name would be something religious. But, with a first name like “Chris,” that makes his name “Chris Cross Griffin.” It’s a good thing Lois’s maiden name wasn’t Applesauce, or else his name would be a complete grade school sing-song.
19. Death Was Originally Going To Be A Theme In Every Episode
The first four episodes of the show are focused on death and were named after 1940s Mystery Radio shows. Later, the consistent theme of death was dropped, but the fascination with morbidity remained. In Family Guy, not only is death personified, it’s a full-blown character with character development. There is a lot of violence, like in the chicken fights, and occasional major character deaths (Diane Simmons, Brian). Although Brian’s death was quickly rectified, Diane actually remained dead, something that animated shows don’t often do.
18. Family Guy Was The First Animated Program To Be Nominated For Outstanding Comedy Since The Flinstones
Each year, the Emmy’s nominate the best funny tv shows for “outstanding comedy.” The overwhelming majority of the time, they’re the live-action shows on the big networks. But, in 2009, Family Guy was nominated for Outstanding Comedy for the first time since The Flinstones, which was nominated for the same award almost 50 years earlier, in 1961. Some raised an eyebrow at the show being acknowledged even though The Flinstones is arguably the first animated sitcom (even though some people think that only The Simpsons achieved that.) But Family Guy getting a nod made sense, because it could hold its own against human-acted shows.
17. Bonnie Swanson Was Pregnant For Nearly 7 Years
In the episode “Blind Ambition”, Peter even says: “Bonnie, you’ve been pregnant for like six years, alright? Either have the baby or don’t.” In the episode “Ocean’s Three And A Half,” she finally gives birth to a daughter, Susie, voiced by Patrick Stewart (captain Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek, Scrooge from A Christmas Carol.) It’s interesting to see the way they deal with time-passing in the show. The characters never age, but somehow acknowledge that a pregnancy must eventually end.
16. Speaking of The Swanson Children
Joe Swanson originally had a son named Kevin. He can be seen in early episodes of the show, for instance in the episode “Fore, Father,” from season 2, where Joe’s strict disciplining of Kevin serves to highlight how easy Peter takes it on Chris. He was written out of the show eventually, inexplicably. The disappearance is explained in “Stew Roids,” much later. Kevin died as a soldier in Iraq. But then, in “Thanksgiving,” he returns and explains that he faked his death to escape from having to go to war.
15. Seth MacFarlane Was Almost Caught in 9/11
The creator of Family Guy had a ticket for Flight 93, the plane that was heroically reclaimed from hijackers and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Seth MacFarlane was supposed to be on board that plane. His agent has mistakenly told him the wrong boarding time and he got to the airport too late. Waiting for the next plane, he saw the news that the flight had been hijacked and crashed and turned to the guy next to him and said: “Oh my god, that was the flight I was supposed to be on.”
14. Glen Quagmire’s Features Were Modeled after Bob Hope
Bob Hope was a British-born American comedian and actor and one of the most famous entertainers of all time. His career spanned nearly eighty years. He, for example, hosted the Academy Awards fourteen times, more than anyone else. So it’s normal that an enterprise in comedy, especially the multi-media comedy (music, slapstick, situation, etc.) Bob Hope excelled at, would want to pay homage to the American icon. That is why they modeled Glen Quagmire to look like him, which Stewie points out in the episode “Baby Not on Board.”
13. Lois Was Originally Blonde
In the final draft of the show, Lois was given red hair. Or, as Stewie suggests in the episode “Stewie Loves Lois,” — “We should make up a name for your hair color. We could call it like strawberry sunset or ginger maiden, or one of those hair color names that’s a random noun like ‘temptress.’” But at first, Lois was given blonde hair, which might explain why Chris is a blond.
12. There’s A Family Resemblance Drawn Into The Characters
Meg has the name nose and mouth as Lois, even though she’s considered really ugly but Lois is considering smoking hot. She also has dark hair and glasses like Peter. Chris has the eyes, nose, and chin of his father, but, like the original Lois, has blond hair. Stewie is probably still too underdeveloped to bear any resemblance to either of his folks, but his pointed nose (rather than rounded) suggests that he is going to inherit the Pewterschnoz.
11. The Opening Credits Are Based on All In The Family
All In The Family was an extremely popular CBS sitcom from the 1970s. It featured head-of-family Archie Bunker, a curmudgeonly World War II veteran turned working-class bigot, and his wife Edith, a featherbrained but loving homemaker. Since the dynamics of Family Guy mirror those of All in the Family, Seth MacFarlane figured he would wink at it in the theme song. The first few seconds, where Lois plays the piano and Peter sings, are a carbon copy. This is compounded by numerous references to the show throughout the series.
10. The “Big Fat Phony” Guy Was Credited As Holden Caulfield
In the episode “The Kiss Seen Around the World,” Peter queues up one of those pre-recorded baselines on a keyboard in a store and then pretends to play it as a joke to his son (“Look at me, Chris! I’m Yanni sans the attitude!”) Another shopper sees him and comments: “My God, that’s amazing! You are so talented!” When he realizes that Peter was just pretending, he accuses him of being a a big fat phony. He returns throughout the episodes, his accusations of hypocrisy becoming evermore grandiose. He is credited as “Holden Caulfield,” a reference to literature’s most famous hater of inauthenticity.
9. The Main Cast Makes Between $175,000 and $250,000 Per Episode
In 2013, the four members of the main cast (excluding MacFarlane, whose contributions are greater and more complicated that the voice actors’) negotiated a raise. These were Alex Borstein (Lois), Seth Green (Chris), Mila Kunis (Meg), and Mike Henry (Cleveland Brown.) They negotiated the raise as the show passed into its 12th season. It was fair because the show made $250,000 per 30-second spot of advertising, and also because it attracted the coveted younger-skewing male audience to the network, meaning it had money to spare.
8. The Show Has Been Named Worst TV Show Of The Week 44 Times By The Parents TV Council
Family Guy is known for being inflammatory. For instance in the season three finale, Peter Griffin sings: “Lois makes me take the rap/ ‘Cause our checkbook looks like crap/ Since I can’t give her a slap/ I need a jew.” That’s right: his wife nags him because he can’t provide, and since he can’t backhand her, he needs to find a Jewish accountant. Although the song is hilarious, it’s understandable that parents wouldn’t want their kids to be entertained by bigotry. Even though the episodes are very clearly for grown-ups, it’s usually TV-14 and it plays, amongst other places, on [adult swim], parents still feel the need to remind us it’s inappropriate.
7. Quagmire Is 61 Years Old
In the episode “Fox-y Lady,” the gang finds out, by looking at his license, that Quagmire is born in 1948, making him 61 years old. When they ask him what his secret is, he says, “Uh, carrots… sometimes I grind ‘em up into juice or just eat them raw. Or insert them anally. As long as I get them into my body somehow.” Now everyone knows that carrots are supposed to make a person see better in the night, but few have thought of playing hide the carrot to prevent themselves from going gray.
6. Meg Was Originally Voiced By Lacey Chabert
Aka Gretchen Weiners from Mean Girls. Or should we say Gretchen Weiners was played by the original Meg? That’s right: Chabert only did the voice of Meg for one season, starting in 1999. Since Mean Girls came out in 2004, Chabert was long-past speaking for the Griffin daughter when she got her most famous role. Now, and since, the voice of Meg is done by Mila Kunis. She has become a big star and the role has shrunken accordingly. Perhaps Chabert should have stayed on, where she would have at least had consistent work.
5. Someone Says “What The Hell?” In Every Episode
As part of a running joke, the writers of the show have inserted the phrase “What the hell?” into every episode. That means that almost 250 times (249 episodes at the end of the 13th season), someone in the Family Guy universe yells “what the hell?” at someone else. This, we feel like, mostly applies to Lois yelling it at Peter, but it could just as easily be Brian yelling it at Peter, or anyone else pretty much yelling it at Peter…
4. The Writers Pick And Choose When The Family Hears Stewie
Sometimes, Stewie will talk and talk and people won’t understand him. Sometimes, he’ll say something and someone will react. Seth MacFarlane explained at the 2011 Comic-Con that they just do “whatever’s funny at the time.” In other words, if they need to let the characters understand Stewie for a joke to land, they will. Remember, this is a fictional universe where a heartfelt plea to a judge’s pity will get people out of prison sentences. That the family’s understanding of the baby is touch-and-go is possibly the least unrealistic thing about it.
3. Neil Goldman Is Named After One Of The Show’s Writers
Neil Goldman, the son of Jewish pharmacist Mort Goldman and president of James Woods High A.V. Club, is definitely the biggest dork in Quahog. In the episode “The Story on Page One,” Meg says to Neil: “You know, I never realized how smooth the skin between your acne is.” He’s really not a very sexy character. That’s why it’s surprising that he’s named after one of the show’s writers. That all said, Neil Goldman the writer never contributed to an episode featuring Neil Goldman, the character, so it removes some of the burn.
2. Carrie Fisher Does The Voice of Peter’s Boss
Carrie Fisher, aka Princess Leia from Star Wars, does the voice of Peter’s creepy boss, Angela. In fact, there are a lot of connections to Star Wars in the show. For instance the episode “Something, Something, Something Dark Side,” a parody of the franchise. The reason? George Lucas gave the producers official clearance to do Star Wars gags because he’s a big fan of the show. Star Wars was definitely funny at times and it’s good to know that Lucas’s sense of humor extends beyond his scripts.
1. The Family Guy Franchise Is Worth $2B
The most merchandized television show of all time is The Simpsons. It practically invented merchandise, for crying out loud. But Family Guy comes close. It is a literal multi-billion dollar industry, with not only the actual show bringing in a lot of money for the network and creators, but also DVD sales, which are part of the reason the show was revived, as well as posters, clothes, mugs, and even, at one point, a video game.