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How Long Does It Take To Write A Modern Family Guy Episode?

"Family Guy" famously makes use of "cutaway gags," to the extent that "South Park" parodied the show's reliance on them in a 2006 episode; the episode even suggests the series' writers are just floating manatees randomly bringing phrases together into a joke.

But "Family Guy" also distinguished itself from other sitcoms early on, with its extremely dark humor and frequent pop culture references. "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" had a similar tone, but also made room for warmth, whereas "Family Guy" ultimately got rid of any sentimental moments after the first few seasons.

The characters themselves are obsessed with TV, sometimes aware that they're on a television show. They place themselves and the audience into a metaverse while breaking the fourth wall fairly regularly. In 2014, Matt Barone of Complex wrote that ultimately "MacFarlane's show dares you to laugh at its singular oddness and reckless abandon."

The unique tone of "Family Guy," past and present, has made veteran fans wonder: How long does it take to pen a modern-day episode?

The Family Guy script process is intense

Rich Appel and Alec Sulkin have both worked on "Family Guy" for a long time, and are also the current showrunners as of 2022. In an interview with TV Fanatic, Sulkin jokes, "I consider myself a newbie, and I've been here for 18 years."

The writers and executive producers use a specific process to develop scripts. Sulkin explained to the site how first the room breaks down story ideas, outlines them using a three-act structure, and then everyone pitches jokes for the individual scenes. Each writer then has two weeks to turn in a draft, though Appel cracked, "Well, it takes Alec 15 minutes, and it takes me like a month."

Once the draft is done, Sulkin said, "We rewrite it, table-read it, it gets animated in a crude black-and-white style, and [we] rewrite it again." Then comes the coloring process, and then there's a final rewrite. As the producer noted, "It's quite a process." Hopefully, it's still worth it for the "Family Guy" writers when they see their work animated and on the air.