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The Family Guy Creators Discuss How The Show Has Changed After 400 Episodes

"Family Guy" has withstood cancellations and maintained its status as one the titans of animated sitcoms as it wraps up Season 21 and enters Season 22 in 2023. The Fox show began its initial run in 1999 and has aired, as of this writing, 400 episodes. However, the creators gave a pretty surprising response when asked how the show continues to evolve over time.

Created by Seth MacFarlane and Executive produced by Rich Appel and Alec Sulkin, "Family Guy" began as an idea MacFarlane had as a 24-year-old animator at Hanna-Barbera. What blossomed from that idea has become a pop culture juggernaut, with Stewie, Brian, Lois, Peter, Chris, and Meg becoming household names when discussing sitcom families. One of Disney's top bosses, who currently owns the show, has his opinion on why the show has stayed so popular during its long run, but the creators think its sustainability comes from somewhere else.

The creators think Family Guy hasn't changed much at all in 400 episodes

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, "Family Guy" creators Seth MacFarlane, Rich Appel, and Alec Sulkin discussed reaching 400 episodes throughout 20+ seasons. When asked if the show has changed since 1999, MacFarlane said simply, "I don't know that it has evolved much over the years."

In discussing consistency, Appel attributed their focus on the story always coming first as part of the long-term success. He said, "Yes, the DNA of the show that Seth built features the cutaways, the TV gags, and certain tonal things that make it a 'Family Guy' episode. But I don't think if we didn't have good stories the show would be where it is after 20 seasons." He added that production for the show takes a year to 14 months to complete, so handling daily current events is out of the question. He continued, "We have to think about something that entered a zeitgeist [and hope that] in a year, not only will it still be relevant, but we'll have [what feels like] a fresh take on it."

MacFarlane cited how the influential sitcom "All in the Family" used generalized topics that helped it stand the test of time better than if it tried to cover specific topical occurrences. This is a way "Family Guy" sets itself apart from other adult animated shows like "South Park, " which has a grueling six days to air production schedule for each episode during a given season, making each episode extremely topical and current.