Seth Woodbury MacFarlane (born October 26, 1973) is best known as the creator of the animated sitcoms Family Guy
, American Dad!
, and The Cleveland Show
; and is the director and star of the 2012 film Ted
. Seth grew up in New England and went to school for animation at the Rhode Island School of Design. His professor sent a copy of his senior project (The Life of Larry
) to Hanna-Barbera
, who gave him his first job out of school.
After spending a few years at HB, writing/animating for shows like Johnny Bravo
, Dexters Laboratory
and Cow and Chicken
, he made a sequel to The Life of Larry
. Titled Larry and Steve
, it featured a middle-aged guy, Larry, and his intellectual, anthropomorphic dog, Steve. Think Family Guy
if the show just focused on Peter and Brian and was, for all intents and purposes, a children's cartoon with the occasional Parental Bonus
jokes and mild sexual innuendo (read: a typical cartoon from the 1990s, or an in-house program from Cartoon Network
After Cartoon Network aired the short, FOX
contacted Seth about creating a pilot about the characters, which would later become Family Guy
. Originally, Seth was hired to do cartoon shorts for their Saturday Night Live
-esque sketch show, MADtv
, but plans fell through for that, so instead, they gave him a budget of $50,000 and 6 months, and the rest is history.Family Guy
had a bumpy start — not just with content issues, but with timeslots and ratings. The show was cancelled twice (once in 2000 and again in 2002) before becoming a cult hit thanks to cable and DVD releases. The show, as of 2005, has been revived and, for better or worse, is now one of FOX's most valuable current franchises
(next to The Simpsons
and American Idol
Seth is also a talented voice actor, providing the voices of four main characters on Family Guy
(Peter, Brian, Stewie and Quagmire), three on American Dad
(Stan, Roger, and Greg Corbin, the gay newscaster), two on The Cleveland Show
(Tim the Bear [until season four, when Jess Harnell
took over] and Dr. Fist [until season three, when Tom Kenny
took over for one episode, and Bryan Cranston during the fourth season]) and many additional voices. He also voiced several characters in Robot Chicken
, a sketch comedy show created by his Family Guy
castmate Seth Green
. He made a short foray into feature-length film when he voiced Johann Krauss in Hellboy 2:The Golden Army
. He's also had some bit parts on live-action television, appearing in Star Trek: Enterprise
, Gilmore Girls
, The War at Home
(on the episode "I Wash My Hands of You," where Hillary — the Bratty Teenage Daughter
— dates a 33-year-old), FlashForward
. But he always returns to animation and comedy. He's also a musician, singer and composer, whose work often appears on his shows (particularly Family Guy
, which has a lot of memorable musical moments, like Shipoopi
from "Patriot Games," A Bag of Weed
from "Episode 420," The Fellas at the Freakin' FCC
from "PTV," and You've Got a Lot to See
from "Brian Wallows and Peter Swallows").
Seth has won a couple of Emmy Awards for Voice-over Work and Musical Composition. Hugely successful (To the point of becoming the highest paid writer/producer in TV history), but does have a sizable number of detractors, including Moral Guardians
who find his humor to be disgusting and offensive, and dyed-in-the-wool Simpsons
and South Park
fans who think he's a cynical, marginally-talented hack who ripped off jokes and stories wholesale from those two shows and padded them with meaningless jokes that don't go anywhere or have any plot relevance
Announced in 2010 that he is developing a live-action/CG hybrid feature film which was released summer 2012 named Ted
where he voiced a talking teddy bear owned by a loser male lead trying to get through life. Ted
got generally favorable reviews and was a huge box office hit. His second film, a comedy western
called A Million Ways to Die in the West
was released on May 30, 2014.
Hosted the season 38 premiere episode of Saturday Night Live
(with musical guest, Frank Ocean, the first and so far only, rapper to openly admit that he's a homosexual) and the 85th Academy Awards
. No, really.
MacFarlane also voiced a henpecked husband named Ben on The Simpsons
season 24 finale "Dangers on a Train" and will appear as Peter Griffin on the crossover episode "The Simpsons Guy."
He also once dated Emilia Clarke
. Yes, that's right! MacFarlane dated Daenerys Targaryen
He is the executive producer for Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson
. However that makes sense.
In an odd twist of fate, MacFarlane was scheduled to fly on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center, but missed his flight due to a hangover and his agent screwing up his flight plan. He decided to wait for another flight, until he saw the news footage of the World Trade Center being destroyed and realized that that could have been him
. He vowed never to make 9/11 jokes on his shows because of this, but, after a while, the vow was broken and some slipped through (American Dad!
was originally created as a reflection of the post-9/11 world, which was rife with overzealous patriotism, the desperate need to be safe [even if it means encroaching on others' rights], and claims that the media and the government is paralyzing people into fearing for their lives).
Notable Tropes associated with Seth MacFarlane include:
- All Adult Animation Is South Park: A lot of critics who hate Family Guy have accused it of being like The Simpsons (though this claim is inverted as people are now accusing The Simpsons of copying Family Guy's Comedic Sociopathy).
- Author Appeal: A lot of things that Seth likes make it into his shows (music from the Rat Pack era, 70's-80's pop culture, musicals/showtunes, Star Wars, Star Trek, sci-fi, etc). This carried over to his 2013 stint hosting the Oscars, as his opening monologue/musical number included a cameo by William Shatner as Captain Kirk.
- Author Avatar: Brian was this for Seth on Family Guy, in the first few seasons (and is, in some way, since both Brian and Seth are single, atheists who drink, are very liberal when it comes to politics, smoke weednote , and are often seen as smug bastards who deserve nothing but contempt). Peter was also one initially, when he used to reflect everything Seth geeks over (like 1970s and 1980s pop culture and Star Wars).
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: Both against FOX and against the people who initially helped get Family Guy revived. He also nipped the hand of the Academy Awards a little.
- Black Comedy: His stock in trade. Business is good.
- See for yourself.
- The Cast Showoff: Family Guy and American Dad! have often been used as platforms to show off Seth's amazing singing ability with musical numbers (some memorable musical moments from both shows include: Shipoopi from "Patriot Games", A Bag of Weed from "Episode 420", The Fellas at the Freakin' FCC from "PTV", the Schoolhouse Rock bit on Oliver North and the Iran-Contra Scandal on the American Dad! episode "Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie's Gold", The N.A.A.F.P Anthem from a Deleted Scene in "The Fat Guy Strangler", You've Got a Lot to See from "Brian Wallows and Peter Swallows", and any song from the Brian and Stewie "Road To..." episodes)
- Catch Phrase: Whenever he hosts an opening to his show on a specific network he often opens with the ever Stoic "Oh hi there, you scared the crap out of me." This has gone on since Life of Larry.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Man of a Thousand Voices: All of which have spoken to each other at one point or another.
- Not only does he do many voices on his shows, but he's an uncanny mimic—he can do a perfect Adam West, for one thing (though he uses the real thing for Family Guy).
- Ms. Fanservice: You'll usually find one of these in his shows.
- Not Hyperbole: A lot of his off-hand jokes are literally illustrated. It even spilled over into his Oscars hosting gig: In introducing one presenter, he merely said, "Our next presenter needs no introduction." Away he walked; out walked Meryl Streep.
- Overly Long Gag: One of his favorite gags.
- Pink Girl, Blue Boy: He seems to love this trope as a pair wearing the corresponding colors are present in all his shows, specifically Meg and Chris, Francine and Stan and lastly, Kendra and Lester.
- Reference Overdosed: If you have no knowledge of 1970s and 1980s pop culture, movies from Golden Age of Hollywood, musicals, or the Rat Pack, most of the jokes on Seth's shows will go over your head.
- Renaissance Man: Writer, director, actor, producer, animator, story artist, voice-over artist, singer, musician, composer, all before the age of 40!
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Most of the characters he voices shows signs of these.
- Granted he voices the main characters in Family Guy and American Dad! anyways, the spotlight stealing squad of Stewie and Brian on Family Guy, and Roger on American Dad were incidental. And the only character he voices on The Cleveland Show is far removed from this trope
- Two Girls to a Team: Lois and Meg, Donna and Roberta, and Francine and Hayley.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: All of his shows have this. Very rarely will they have vomit discretion shots, but they're there (particularly in the early episodes of either Family Guy or American Dad!. Not so much The Cleveland Show).
- Whole Plot Reference: Is very fond of these.
- Workaholic: His regular duties on Family Guy and American Dad notwithstanding, he also wrote a few episodes, helps to animate where he can, and even helps with the music when he can.
- He wrote a novelization for the film "A Million Ways to Die in the West" in between breaks shooting the film. He was both the director and the star of the film.