Seth MacFarlane seemingly has it all. A gifted artist and impressionist, actor and singer and handsome to boot. He also is well known for a very controversial and dark sense of humor, it was that very humor that has made MacFarlane famous. Yet long before he hosted The Oscars and masqueraded as an uncouth talking teddy bear with some Hollywood stars, Seth MacFarlane brought a host of insane characters to life through animation and delivering a raft of weird and wonderful voices. He has become as famous for those personas as he now is in his own right.
MacFarlane’s career began at Hanna-Barbera where he worked as an animator for many of the seminal Cartoon Network series of the 90s, such as Dexter’s Lab, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel. Obviously working in the midst of these crazy cartoons that nurtured his already wicked sense of humor and in 1999, MacFarlane launched Family Guy, about a lower middle-class Rhode Island family and their insane adventures, including an intellectual dog and a super genius, megalomaniacal baby.
17 years later and several animated shows, three movies and several albums under his belt, Seth MacFarlane is now a household name world wide and his animated characters are just as famous. Despite being cancelled before, Seth has kept bouncing back and remains a steady talent in Hollywood, even fending off claims about ripping off shows like The Simpsons. Here are 15 of Seth MacFarlane’s wackiest creations.
15. Mayor West
In a crazy town like Quahog, one would at least expect that the mayor needs to be an individual that can keep a tight rein on people like the Griffins, his friends and other oddball characters within the town. But no, Mayor Adam West is the just as weird as talking dogs and aggressively violent giant chickens. Voiced by the actual Adam West, made famous for his role the 60s Batman TV series. Meg Griffin’s uncle-in-law and former sexual partner’s exploits include shooting pizza men with cats and a crossbow, killing The Noid and having a survival kit in his throat, as well as putting fruit in charge in his absence. Mayor West is a fruit cake that goes perfect with Quahog.
14. Mort Goldman
Modern comedy is often built on stereotypical Jewish tropes, from Mel Brooks and Woody Allen to The Simpsons, Family Guy is no different. Mort Goldman owns the pharmacy in Quahog and plays up to every trite anti-Semitic gag and prejudice there is. A beta male, always ill, constantly money grabbing and unattractive, he is arguably more of a jibe at anti-Semitism. His wife and son look identical to him and his son relentlessly pursues Meg to no avail. From getting horses thrown into his pharmacy, being robbed and having sex for $2, Mort is hilarious.
13. Greased Up Deaf Guy
Not a regular in Family Guy by any means, he appears sporadically throughout the show. His first outing was on an earlier episode where employees from Peter’s work had to give chase to him at a company picnic. He appears later after the show returns after being cancelled. He is a testament to the madness and weird random sequence of MacFarlane’s mind, which are often demonstrated throughout Family Guy in his random cutaway gags. So Greased Up Deaf Guy is an oiled up, random personification of the man’s art form and comedic gifts. It is also a testament to the boundaries that MacFarlane will push in order to gain a laugh and it is more telling at how dark viewers will allow their humor to get. Lube up with a bit of gallows humor and along comes Greased Up Deaf Guy!
12. Meg Griffin
The unfairly cast black sheep of the Griffin Family: “shut up, Meg,” is now a popular phrase and has entered the lexicon as a way to get annoying people to shut up. Mila Kunis, who voices Meg, even constantly gets the phrase said to her in her every day life. However, Meg is a deeper and more complex individual than just the family and high school bully’s whipping post. It is clear that a psychotic undercurrent runs in Griffin DNA – a smidgen in Lois, full throttle in Stewie – and often demonstrable in Meg’s behavior. Her penchant for obsessive crushes, as demonstrated when she captured Brian, tried to kill neighbor Joe’s wife Bonnie often rears its head. When she went to prison for harboring her prisoner boyfriend, Meg came out as a violent thug. She has beaten up other drivers in road rage and came to the conclusion that letting the family take things out on her keeps them together. She is a far more layered character than just being the butt of all the jokes and cruelty.
11. Deputy Director Bullock
Voiced by British acting legend Sir Patrick Stewart, known for his high brow Shakespearean roles and for portraying the stoic Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, his turn in American Dad! is far more strange. First off, no one seems to question why a man with a heavy, well-spoken British accent is such a highly ranked official in the American CIA. Additionally, no one seems to question that a strangely violent, drug taking, anti-social and frankly sexually deviant individual got to be so high up in the organization, or appears to be concerned about the acts of this individual either. From sleeping with Hayley Smith to chasing fat women to possessing a machine that turns water into cocaine, Deputy Director of the CIA, Avery Bullock, is really not someone to trust with America’s most classified intel!
As one of Steve Smith’s best friends and in his inner circle of nerds – plus being a student at an American junior high – one would expect Toshi to have a good command of English, especially as his mother and sister speak perfect English. Yet the youngest child speaks of this family only speaks Japanese. Is it a tactic to get away with his acerbic remarks and observations (being seemingly the only person outside the Smith Family that – at least openly – admits to knowing that Roger is an alien) or is he just unwilling to learn the language? This is certainly a good cover for his rather psychotic persona that often emerges now and again, perfect for a neurotic teenager haunted by the ghost of a 12th century Samurai.
9. Lois Griffin
Originally Quahog’s answer to Marge Simpson and although the character MacFarlane “borrowed” from also has some weird peccadillos – and unsung talents – however Lois (or Loose Lois, as she was known in her youth), has far darker undertones. An ex-adult film star, the daughter of a rich business magnate is usually rebellious, but she seems quite familiar with drugs – taking cocaine led her to make an adult movie and she’s hinted at using meth. Having a violent streak as well, she has hit Peter on several occasions, as well as becoming aggressive with her martial arts training… it’s obvious where Stewie gets it from!
8. Stan Smith
The hero of American Dad! Stan is a personification of American conservatism. He is a George W. Bush super fan and has indulged in every known prejudice going. Objectifying his wife, clashing constantly with eldest daughter Hayley, forever disappointed in his nerdy son Steve and eternally at war with Roger, a classic love/hate relationship. Yet Stan seems to thrive on this chaos and can’t seem to live without Roger and he is nowhere near as tough as he seems (having not killed anyone for one thing). And although he isn’t in favor of same-sex couple Greg and Terry having a baby, he adapts very well and has even exhibited the odd sign of bisexuality every now and again (although very mild undertones). Stan is far more complex than his red state, Reagan worshipping exterior would have people believe.
7. Jeff Fischer
Stan’s son-in-law is the antithesis of the hero of American Dad! He is a layabout, stoner hippie and is unbelievably stupid, he is the personification of everything Stan hates about liberalism and the attitude that his rebellious daughter Hayley so often displays and disappoints him with. Although Jeff still managed to trick Stan and fleece him out of $50,000 and eloped with Hayley. He also has a step-daughter old enough to be his mother and has a hyper sex-drive that only being as high as a kite can fix. His quite cozy life as being a leech on Stan comes to an end when Jeff discovers that Roger is an alien and Stan knows Jeff is a blabber mouth and will reveal their secret to the CIA. Roger offers to go back to his planet and pushes Jeff onto the ship when it arrives, to Stan’s delight. Jeff is now in deep space with the ghost of comedian Sinbad as he locates his earth out of the few hundred that exist with the same name.
This is another of Steve Smith’s close circle of friends. All four of them outcasts thrown together by virtue of their status of being social pariahs. Barry is the most outcast of them all, being fat, ginger and rather dumb, he is a trifecta of disdain among peers. Stan of course hates Barry for being fat and slovenly, yet eventually he befriends Barry and takes away Barry’s vitamins, underlying a reason why Steve’s friend is so slow. Barry is in fact on anti-psychotic medication and when Stan bins these tablets, the real Barry comes out. With the silky voice of a kitsch Bond villain and an unhinged maniacal mindset to boot, Steve ends up in a showdown with Barry in a fiendish game of wits and spikes both his and Barry’s drink with the medication… rendering Barry as a bulbous boob once again!
5. Brian Griffin
The Griffin Family dog is the smartest of them all – except for Stewie. He has the brains that Peter sorely lacks and is the voice of reason for the family. He is also known for having a love/hate relationship with Stewie, the two of them going on a raft of adventures through time and space. Despite constantly antagonizing one another, there is a deep bond between the two of them, when Brian dies, Stewie seems the most stricken. Although Brian masquerades as a sensitive and intelligent guy, he shows some very shallow traits, especially when it comes to women and then there is the enmity borne by Quagmire towards him… which resulted in Brian sleeping with Quagmire’s dad.
The Griffin’s neighbor Glenn Quagmire, a former sailor and current airplane pilot, has genuinely had a girl in every port… and probably a few gender bent men too. With his trademark “Giggity” he has an almost inexhaustible sexual appetite. Quagmire also has an unrequited lust for Lois, which he has tried to sate on Meg and an unrequited love for Cheryl Tiegs, and has even competed against Brian for her affections. Although he is a shallow sex pest, it is his honesty about being so that pits him against Brian.
3. Herbert the Pervert
There’s more than one sexual deviant residing on Spooner Street. One in particular is summed up perfectly by Stewie: “well, a pedophile lives down the street. But no one does anything because he’s so funny.” Always hankering after Chris, Herbert perfectly encapsulates cartoons like Family Guy’s ethic, it’s very funny, even though it feels wrong to laugh at it. Herbert also has a dog that seems as old as he does and mimics his hums of approval… and who could forget the epic old man fight between him and the German guy over Chris!
2. Stewie Griffin
He is the baby of the Griffin Family and although he sometimes exhibits the traits found in an infant, Stewie is far capable than the rest of his peers… we even have him to thank for creating the universe. Stewie is an evil genius with a time machine and a younger brother who is just as diabolical as well as a girlfriend equally bloodthirsty. Yet Stewie has a soft side and his years of attempting to kill Lois has been unsuccessful or fleeting and he even ran a simulation to see how good murdering his mother would turn out. Stewie’s ambiguous sexuality is always a mystery too, with the accent of a foppish dandy, there are often strong undertones that he is gay, his friendship with Brian sometimes crosses that line. He goes from wanting world domination one minute, to imagining Rupert as buff the next, an enigma indeed!
The Smiths have been living with a secret for years and that secret takes the shape of a 1,600-year-old pansexual, alcoholic, drug taking, sociopathic alien with multiple personalities. Duped by his people that he was “The Decider” for humanity’s survival, he was really a crash test dummy for a brand of spacecraft testing the safety of the craft and he was dumped on earth in the process. It is one form of the annoyance Roger cites as something that his people need to get out. It certainly has manifested itself in overdrive where Roger is concerned. He is a master manipulator, double-crossing and highly calculating yet dumb individual. Although he drives Stan mad, it is quite obvious that Stan can’t live without Roger and almost thrives on the chaos that Roger creates. Roger also is a man of a thousand personas and has a huge wardrobe that somehow fits into the Smith’s attic (as well as a bar that customers access, by means undisclosed). His personas range from the benign Doctor Penguin to the malign Ricky Spanish and a range of weird and wonderful characters in between – including the odd one or two that allows him to pass unrecognized before the eyes of the Smith family. Having tried to kill the Smiths, got Steve pregnant, been a dictator of a small island nation to knowing everything about Stan, Roger is the ultimate manifestation of Seth MacFarlane’s bizarre and irreverent humor.