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Creator / Seth MacFarlane

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"Oh, hi there. You scared the crap out of me."

Seth Woodbury MacFarlane (born October 26, 1973 in Kent, Connecticut) is an American actor, animator, writer, producer, director, comedian, and singer. He is best known as the creator of the animated sitcoms Family Guy, American Dad!, and The Cleveland Show, and is the director of the films Ted, Ted 2, and A Million Ways to Die in the West, and the live-action television spin-off of Ted (he co-starred in the Ted films via voice acting and motion capture, and also starred in the lattermost film in live-action).

MacFarlane 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, Dexter's Laboratory and Cow and Chicken, he made a sequel to The Life of Larry. Titled Larry & 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 MacFarlane about creating a pilot about the characters, which would later become Family Guy. Originally, he 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 time slots 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).

MacFarlane 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 II: 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), and FlashForward (2009) — 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").

MacFarlane has won several Emmy Awards for voice-over work and musical composition, and also hosted the season 38 premiere episode of Saturday Night Live and the 85th Academy Awards. (No, really..) He's been hugely successful (to the point of becoming the highest-paid writer/producer in TV history), but he 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.

He is additionally the executive producer for Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tysonhowever that makes sense. This indirectly led to his next project — The Orville, a live-action Science Fiction series that affectionately parodies the Star Trek franchise, with MacFarlane himself playing the ship's captain.

In an odd twist of fate, MacFarlane was scheduled to fly on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, 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 (in an even odder twist, his Ted co-star Mark Wahlberg was also supposed to be on that very same flight). 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.)

His sister, Rachael MacFarlane, is also a voice actor and Seth's co-star on American Dad!. No relation to Todd McFarlane.


  • Music Is Better Than Words (September 27, 2011)
  • Holiday for Swing (September 30, 2014)
  • No One Ever Tells You (October 30, 2015)
  • In Full Swing (September 15, 2017)
  • Once in a While (April 19, 2019)
  • Great Songs from Stage & Screen (August 28, 2020)
  • Blue Skies (May 20, 2022)
  • We Wish You the Merriest (November 3, 2023)

Notable tropes associated with Seth MacFarlane include:

  • Acting for Two:
    • Played straight in Family Guy and American Dad!, where Seth voices the father of the family (Peter Griffin and Stan Smith), the bizarre live-in guest (Brian the talking dog and Roger the alien), the next door neighbor with a sexual side (Quagmire the sex addict and Greg Corbin, a male homosexual in a committed relationship), and a newscaster (Tom Tucker and, again, Greg Corbin).
    • Downplayed and subverted with The Cleveland Show: MacFarlane only played two characters on the show (Tim the Bear and Dr. Fist), who were later replaced with other actors (Jess Harnell played Tim the Bear during the show's final episodes and Dr. Fist was voiced by Tom Kenny in one episode and Bryan Cranston in the show's last episodes).
    • Parodied and deconstructed on his Saturday Night Live monologue where he states that the many vocal impressions he does are in his head all the time and a possible sign of mental illness.
  • Adored by the Network: Ever since King of the Hill ended after 12 years on the air and Sit Down, Shut Up flopped so badly that it was canceled after four episodes (along with other animated shows that got the shaft after a short run, like Allen Gregorynote  and an animated version of Napoleon Dynamite that came five years too late), the Sunday night "Animation Domination" lineup was mostly made up of Seth's cartoons (now down on just Family Guy following The Cleveland Show's cancellation and American Dad moving to TBS). Currently, the only cartoons that aren't created by him on the "Animation Domination" lineup are The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers, and whatever new cartoon that tries not be cancelled after one season.
  • Animated Shock Comedy: Family Guy and its sister shows are known for crude humor, vulgarity, and adult topics, and MacFarlane himself is generally agreed to have contributed to the trope's proliferation. Many other works follow his shows' lead, such as Brickleberry.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Kinda. He's a huge nerd if there ever was one (particularly when it comes to Star Trek), and now works with Patrick Stewart (and got to dine with the entire Cast of TNG). He's also (unsurprisingly) a huge Star Wars fan and got permission from The Man Himself to make three parodies (and even use the original soundtrack) because Lucas was a fan of "Family Guy".
  • 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. This has also showed up in his latest show, The Orville, which borrows heavily from Star Trek.
  • Author Tract:
    • As an atheist, atheism is a common theme in his work and it's usually portrayed as unorthodox in America's religious foundations. The level of hostility towards religion varies from the church having too much influence over people and scientific progression to the believers being portrayed as foolishly idealistic and fanatical.
      • Steve Smith from American Dad, Brian Griffin from Family Guy, and Cleveland Junior from The Cleveland Show are all atheists and have episodes questioning God's existence and pointing out the flaws in blindly following religion.
      • On The Orville, humanity (and indeed, spacefaring civilizations in general) are explicitly said to have moved on from religion once humanity got a better understanding of science and technology, and the one overtly religious alien species are the antagonists, whose beliefs are frequently mocked.
    • Due to his history with music, there are musical numbers in his shows. Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show have musical numbers in every season or have a moment of singing.
      • In their current timespans: Family Guy has over 400 musical numbers, American Dad has over 200 musical numbers, while The Cleveland Show had 118 musical numbers in its 4 season run.
      • The main characters are also shown to be talented singers and musicians, likely referencing MacFarlene's love of music. MacFarlane even sings the song "As Time Goes By" in the Family Guy episode "Play It Again, Brian".
      • Ted 2 features a 3-minute long Broadway-style musical number for the opening sequence.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • Catchphrase: 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.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A solid 75% of the humor in Family Guy and American Dad, and a non-insignificant percentage of the humor in The Cleveland Show.
  • Deconstruction: His works head to Dark Parody territory, but they often tend to deconstruct a lot of tropes as well.
    • Ted shows what would happen when a child's wish that their teddy bear would come to life came true and they grow up together. They'd be pathetic manchildren who struggle to grow up.
    • A Million Ways to Die in the West completely de-romanticizes the old American west.
    • The Orville deconstructs a lot of Star Trek tropes from the silly to the serious.
  • Executive Meddling: Seth has stated in recent years that he wants Family Guy to end but Fox won't let him stop making episodes.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: 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 used the real thing for Family Guy).
  • Marth Debuted in "Smash Bros.": His film Ted is the first time that anything created by him has been shown in Japan, since none of his famous shows are broadcast there.
  • 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." He then turned around and walked off the stage, and was proved absolutely correct when Meryl Streep walked up to the microphone.
  • Odd Friendship: With Butch Hartman. The two are actually close friends in real life and have worked together before despite the fact they have drastically different views in terms of religion, politics, and even their taste in animation.
    • Seth even named the character Dr. Elmer Hartman after Butch (whose birth name actually is Elmer Hartman).
  • Older Than They Look: He was courting 40 when he filmed A Million Ways to Die in the West. He barely looked like he was courting thirty in it.
  • Overly Long Gag: One of his favorite gags, with Family Guy being the worst offender of this trope.
  • 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.
  • Professional Voice Dissonance:
    • Seth voices Peter Griffin, Glenn Quagmire, Carter Pewterschmidt, and Stewie; none of them sound like MacFarlane's regular voice. This is Averted by Brian, who's the only character in the show that MacFarlane uses his natural speaking voice for.
    • This is also the case for most non-Family Guy characters that MacFarlane plays. Such as Mike the Mouse from Sing.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Being a big fan of Star Trek, Seth was positively ecstatic to do a couple of guest appearances on Star Trek: Enterprise. Not to mention regularly collaborate with Patrick Stewart and have other cast members make occasional guest spots in his shows.
  • Real-Life Relative: His sister, Rachael, also does voice-acting on his shows (the voice of Hayley on American Dad and regularly contributes additional voices to his other shows).
  • Reference Overdosed: If you have no knowledge of 1970s and 1980s pop culture, movies from the golden age of Hollywood, musicals, or the Rat Pack, most of the jokes on Seth's shows will go over your head.
    • This is actually referenced in the Family Guy episode "It's A Trap" at the end when Meg says (Talking about Seth): We get it. He watched a LOT of television in the 80s and 90s.
  • Renaissance Man: Scriptwriter, director, actor, stand-up comedian, television producer, animator, storyboard artist, voice-over artist, singer, songwriter, composer, all before the age of 40!
  • Screwed by the Network: Family Guy was subjected to this back in the late 1990s/early 2000s. American Dad! has been this way as well, especially ever since Family Guy was Un-Cancelled (Family Guy even has jokes about American Dad! being nigh-unknown, such as Peter referring to the show as "...whatever Fox is limping to the barn with," and in American Dad!, Brian Griffin stares at Stan and scoffs, "Do I know you?"). Amazingly, The Cleveland Show wasn't subjected to this treatment, despite the fact that most Seth MacFarlane fans don't care much for this show — however, on April 2013, Fox still cancelled the show due to low ratings and the popularity of Bob's Burgers. Though they did get four seasons out of it which is considered by most a full run for an animated show.
  • Serendipitous Survival: He was going to be on American Airlines Flight 11note  on the morning of September 11th, 2001, but a hangover combined with an incorrect departure time given by his travel agent caused him to miss his flight by 10 minutes.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Most of the characters he voices shows signs of these.
  • Trolling Creator: Has admitted several times that he's proud of the hate he receives nowadays. He's also indulged in Dear Negative Reader more than once and even slipped it into his works occasionally.
  • 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).
  • What Could Have Been: Originally, MacFarlane was hired to do cartoon shorts for the Fox sketch show, MADtv, and later to "Weird Al" Yankovic's short-lived Saturday morning show, but backed out in favor of doing his own series. Had either of these situations worked out, he would have to those shows what The Simpsons was to The Tracey Ullman Show.
    • Also, originally: The Simpsons was going to be canceled after 23 years and Seth's revival of The Flintstones was going to take its place. This fell through when MacFarlane decided to put his Flintstones revival on hold (mostly because of royalty issues, but it does seem suspect that The Flintstones reboot was canned around the same time The Simpsons' renewal issues were settled) and The Simpsons was renewed for two more seasons in exchange for extensive budget cuts for cast and crew members in order to keep the show afloat.
    • MacFarlane was attached to write for an animated adult comedy film called Party Animals directed by the Farrelly brothers, but the idea was scrapped.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Is very fond of these.
  • Writer on Board: Some of his works are, or contain, his biases and things taken from his life (which is most evident in Family Guy and The Orville). Literally with The Orville, where he also plays the main character who shares his views.
  • 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.
  • Write What You Know: One of the main reasons MacFarlane chose to make Family Guy a series was the fact that, up until the late 1990s, there were hardly any TV-shows that actually took place in New England—at least not in any part of New England outside of the Boston-area.