The multi-hyphenate Seth MacFarlane not only created Family Guy, he also voices many of the show’s major characters.
ANIMATION requires refined precision to get right.
As well as actors and writers, animated projects also employ storyboarders and animators to help bring the characters to life.
On Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane proved to be a man of many talents.
The show debuted in 1999 and has been cancelled twice during its existence. It was revived due to popularity through DVD sales.
At the moment, Family Guy is on a roll and recently finished its 21st season.
Using his animation background, MacFarlane designed the characters and storyboarded the pilot. He wrote the script and became the lead actor when the show went into production.
In a 2022 interview with GQ, MacFarlane said:
“[I] did a pitch for a primetime animated series called Family Guy. Developed it while I was at Hanna-Barbera/Cartoon Network.
“It came to the attention of FOX.
I pitched the show, they gave me like a £40,000 budget to do the pilot, which meant I pretty much had to do it by hand.”Seth MacFarlane, GQ (2022)
MacFarlane voices some of the longest-running characters, many of whom interact with each other regularly.
Although MacFarlane stepped back from writing Family Guy to focus on other projects, he still voices several roles.
His other work includes fellow animated series American Dad, film franchise Ted and sci-fi drama The Orville.
Fun fact: Almost all of The Orville regulars have been on Family Guy. That’s another story…
Let’s take a look at who MacFarlane lends his voice to.
MacFarlane has voiced Peter, the loudmouth Griffin patriarch since the show began in 1999.
While some compare Peter to Homer Simpson, he has developed into his own character.
A notable episode is I Dream of Jesus where Peter becomes obsessed with the song Surfin’ Bird by The Trashmen. This has become a running gag in several episodes.
The voice was reportedly inspired by a security guard MacFarlane encountered while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Peter originated as “Larry” in MacFarlane’s student film The Life of Larry, which spawned Family Guy.
In the aforementioned GQ interview, MacFarlane touched on the character’s conception.
He said: “Peter and Brian were very much vaudevillian opposites of each other.”
Early episodes focus on Peter’s idiotic antics with Brian as a straight man/voice of reason.
MacFarlane also counts Stewie, Quahog’s diabolical baby genius, among his voice roles.
Although Stewie has evolved from villain to implied homosexual, MacFarlane has always done the voice.
Some of the show’s more “high concept” episodes involve Stewie’s adventures through time, usually alongside Brian.
For example, “Back to the Pilot” which saw the duo time travel to the first episode.
According to MacFarlane, actor Rex Harrison inspired Stewie’s voice.
In particular, Harrison’s performance as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (1964).
Family dog Brian rounds out MacFarlane’s core Griffin characters.
Brian was one of the show’s earliest characters, appearing as “Steve” in the aforementioned Life of Larry.
Unlike other roles, MacFarlane uses his natural speaking voice when playing Brian.
If voicing the lead character, his baby son, and his dog wasn’t enough, MacFarlane also plays one of Peter’s best friends.
Sex-crazed neighbour/airline pilot Glenn Quagmire has been on Family Guy since the start.
In the past, MacFarlane said Quagmire’s voice came from fast-talking 1950s radio jockeys.
MacFarlane plays Peter’s father-in-law, wealthy businessman Carter Pewterschmidt.
Of course, Carter is Lois’ father and grandfather to Meg, Chris and Stewie.
As a fun aside, Alex Borstein (who plays Lois), also voices Lois’ mother Babs Pewterschmidt.
MacFarlane and Borstein play opposite each other as two married couples on Family Guy.
This just in, folks: MacFarlane voices Quahog 5 News anchorman, Tom Tucker.
Tom is often used as exposition to help establish something happening in Quahog and therefore, the episode.
In some episodes, he plays an active role in the story. For instance, “And Then There Were Fewer”, in which Tom becomes a murder suspect.
As a fun side note, Seth MacFarlane also voices Jake Tucker, Tom’s son.
MacFarlane lends his voice to Dr Elmer Hartman, Quahog’s grossly incompetent doctor.
Fun fact: Hartman’s first name ‘Elmer’ is a reference to animator Butch Hartman, known for The FairlyOdd Parents and Danny Phantom.
Butch Hartman is a friend of MacFarlane’s and voiced characters in the first few episodes of Family Guy.
Last but not least, MacFarlane voices Seamus, a hardened fisherman with wood for arms and legs.
Initially, Seamus’s purpose was to warn Peter against doing something foolish at sea in certain episodes.
He since became a recurring character and after Adam West’s death, became included in the opening titles.