As the WGA strike enters its 11th week, we look back on the last time Family Guy was affected by a writers walkout, and how Fox handled the absence of the show’s creator, Seth MacFarlane.
There appears to be no sign of a resolution to the ongoing industrial dispute between the WGA and AMPTP, leaving many wondering how their favorite TV shows and movies may be affected. The large-scale strike is not dissimilar to the walkout in 2007/8 when shows like Family Guy were forced to deal with the absence of key cast members for a long period of time.
How did Family Guy navigate the last WGA strike?
Between November 2007 and February 2008 the Writers Guilds of the East and West of the US staged a walkout in relation to funding disputes, and among the 12,000-strong group was animator Seth MacFarlane.
The 2007/8 strike happened to fall in the midst of season 6 of Family Guy, leaving the show’s network with a decision to make – halt the release of new episodes until the dispute was settled, or ignore the ongoing action and continue to air Family without its creator and lifeblood, Seth MacFarlane.
Controversially, though perhaps unsurprisingly, the network opted for the latter – and proceeded to air three new episodes of Family Guy (Padre De Familia, Peter’s Daughter, and McStroke), without MacFarlane having his final say on the finished product.
Though all the episodes had been written and animated prior to the strike, they were each missing the post-production input and final nod of approval from MacFarlane, who would typically be the one to give the final green light in seasons gone by.
Seth MacFarlane hit out at Fox over strike move
It’s no secret that MacFarlane isn’t the type to bite his tongue, especially when it comes to his turbulent relationship with Fox.
And when the American Dad creator learned of Fox’s decision to ignore the strike, it’s fair to say he wasn’t best pleased with the network.
Though he conceded in an interview with Variety at the time that Fox was “legally within their rights” to air season 6 without his approval, he decried the decision as a “colossal di*k move”.
MacFarlane’s comments came ahead of the airing of the first mid-strike Family Guy episode, and he warned that “It’s really going to be unfortunate and damaging to our relationship if they do it.”
Despite MacFarlane’s protests, Family Guy rolled on through the writers strike without him, though the schedule did experience some delays while the show worked around his absence, before returning to the planned episode rollout upon the strike’s conclusion.
Is MacFarlane involved in the 2023 WGA strike?
16 years later and several projects on, it would appear that MacFarlane has not strayed too far from his trade unionist values.
On May 17 it was reported that MacFralane had ‘quit’ both Family Guy and American Dad amid the current WGA strikes, potentially leaving season 22 of the former hanging in the balance.
With the new season due for release on October 1, it is unclear whether the strikes will affect the release of Family Guy. Given that the strike has shown very little signs of progress, however, one can’t help but speculate as to whether Fox may have to pull a 2007-esque stunt in order to get the show on the air in time.
At the time of writing, neither Fox nor MacFarlane has commented on the WGA strike and how it may affect Family Guy or American Dad.