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Here's How Family Guy Stays Fresh After Two Decades

For a show like "Family Guy" to be churning out episodes for as long as it has, fans may wonder how it's possible for the writers to come up with fresh, brand-new ideas every week. For each of the chosen plotlines of all the produced episodes, countless other pitched ideas get shot down in the writer's room, never making it to animation. Obviously, for this to be done, there needs to be a way to stay fresh and generate new concepts. Otherwise, the show would come to a screeching halt.

As many fans know, the show actually ended back in 2002, being canceled after just three seasons (via New York Times). There were enough episodes to continuously be viewed on DVD and Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim," increasing the show's popularity to the point of a Fox resurrection in 2005. Suddenly, the writers found themselves back in the room, storyboarding brand-new ideas for the Griffin family and friends.

Years later, after a slew of successful seasons, in 2014, writer and producer Steve Callaghan, one of the original writing staff members, explained to Business Insider what the creative process was like in the writer's room. He explained how the entire sequence, from idea to aired episode, can take up to a year. "At the very beginning of every season ... everyone will come in with some thoughts on stories or possible episode ideas and we'll spend a day or so just pitching out all those individual ideas," he said. After many edits and meetings, he then described how a final script heads to the voiceover process. So, with the show essentially being a factory of ideas, how do the writers keep "Family Guy" fresh?

Ideas come from our ever-changing culture

The 400th episode of "Family Guy" recently aired, with the series initially starting out all the way back in 1999. With other well-known animated series also seeming everlasting, not only is it challenging for the writers to come up with new ideas, but they also have to make sure they don't step on anyone else's toes. "A big part is we've had many writers on staff here for a long time," producer Alec Sulkin told TV Fanatic. "When we come up with stories, we have people that can say, 'we've done that already, or 'The Simpsons' have done that already," he continued.

Sulkin went on to explain how different changes in real, everyday life help generate plenty of fresh ideas. "...As the world and culture change, those changes give us stories. Our 400th episode this year is a social media story we couldn't have told even a few years ago," he said. With mainstream culture continuously changing at a rapid rate, it's no wonder "Family Guy" writers have plenty to pull from. "Those things give us stories," Sulkin added, "and we pull something from our lives and society."

During the same interview, writer and producer Richard Appel also credited the writers' own personal lives when it came to generating unique ideas. "We are very fortunate that many people working on the show have worked here for so long," he said. "On our show, we've been through kids, marriages, divorces, and losses of a family member, so there's so little inhibition which is a huge gift in a writer's room." Of course, not only is it a huge gift for the writers but surely for the fans, as well.