Disney Demotes ‘Family Guy,’ Cancellation Looms for Beloved Series

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Cartoon image of Stewie Griffin with a bald head, wearing a yellow shirt and red overalls, standing between two swings in a playground, looking slightly sad or thoughtful.

Credit: FOX

The Walt Disney Company has demoted Family Guy from its status as one of the premiere animated shows on Fox, signaling that cancellation may be in store for the beloved, irreverent Seth MacFarlane series.

Family Guy promotional image featuring all the characters
Credit: FOX

Ever since a fledgling Fox Network scored an unexpected hit with the Matt Groening series The Simpsons, it has dominated other broadcast channels in animated content. Since 2005 (give and take a few breaks), Fox has promoted its “Animation Domination” block of Sunday programs, which currently includes Family Guy, The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, The Great North, Krapopolis, and Grimsburg.

Although The Simpsons has always had a higher critical reputation than Family Guy, it is inarguable that at some point, the Seth MacFarlane series took over as the zeitgeist-defining animation series. The series centers on Peter Griffin (voiced by MacFarlane himself) and his family, including wife Lois (Alex Borstein), daughter Meg (Mila Kunis), sons Chris (Seth Green) and Stewie (MacFarlane), and talking family dog Brian (MacFarlane, again).

The "Family Guy" family, including Brian the dog, Peter, Stewie, Lois, and Meg in their usual attire, sitting on a purple sofa.
Credit: Fox

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Over the course of 22 seasons and over 400 episodes, Family Guy has established itself as one of the canonical adult-oriented animated series of the era and turned Seth MacFarlane into a media mogul with multiple series and movies under his belt, including American Dad, the Ted franchise, and The Orville.

Despite all of that, Fox has announced that it has removed Family Guy from its Sunday schedule, moving it to Wednesdays. Not only that, but it has bumped the series from the upcoming fall schedule (per Deadline) in favor of newer series like the upcoming Universal Basic Guys, which has been greenlit for a second season before it even debuts. That is likely a show of confidence from Fox, which is surely looking for a new show to eventually replace Family Guy, currently in its 23rd season.

Despite moving Family Guy out of fall and into mid-season for the first time in 20 years, Fox Television Network President Michael Thorn claims that the series has “crucial importance” for the network and will not have a reduced episode order for the next season.

‘Family Guy,’ ‘American Dad’ Shows Canceled Indefinitely, Seth McFarlane Confirms
Credit: Fox

Thorn also implied that it would return to Sundays at some point, saying, “We’ll give it a great relaunch for that part of our lineup, and we know that when it comes back on Sundays, it will resonate with our audience the way it always has.” He did not explain why it is actually being moved from Sundays.

Fox CEO Rob Wade implied that the change for Family Guy was due to new media matters like streaming, saying, “We talk a lot about looking at the schedule in a more modern way and rather than looking simply at the traditional time slots of shows, we look at our entire portfolio. We also think about SVOD partner [sic] in Hulu and how it would work best for them. Scheduling has changed significantly over the years and we approach it in a different way now.”

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Once again, that does not exactly explain why Family Guy has been moved from a favored schedule spot, which is historically often a sign that a series may be on the chopping block. Wade continued:

“I think we have enough schedule, enough time to fit them all in. The schedule has obviously been disrupted slightly in the last year because of the strikes, so that made things a little bit patchier but we love those shows, we have a great relationship with the creatives from those shows and we have a great relationship with Hulu and Disney. We’re seeing more and more how important the broadcast network is and how important that windowing is and you need a broadcast window for shows to cut through… I think these shows really benefit from being on Fox and I think Disney recognizes that.”

Things might not be looking too bright for Family Guy in the future, but who knows? It’s been canceled before.

Do you think Fox is preparing to cancel Family Guy? Tell us in the comments below!

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