Seth MacFarlane (born 1973) is best known as the creator of the animated sitcoms Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show; and the upcoming film Ted. Seth grew up in New England and went to school for animation at the Rhode Island School of Design. His professor sent a copy of his senior project (The Life of Larry) to Hanna-Barbera, who gave him his first job out of school.
After spending a few years at HB, writing/animating for shows like Johnny Bravo, Dexters Laboratory and Cow and Chicken, he made a sequel to The Life of Larry. Titled Larry and Steve, it featured a middle-aged guy, Larry, and his intellectual, anthropomorphic dog, Steve (sound familiar?). After Cartoon Network aired the short, Fox contacted Seth about creating a pilot about the characters, which would later become Family Guy. They gave him a budget of $50,000 and 6 months, and the rest is history. Two Uncancellations later, Family Guy is one of FOX's most valuable franchises.
Seth is also a talented voice actor, providing the voices of four main characters on Family Guy (Peter, Brian, Stewie and Quagmire), two on American Dad (Stan and Roger), one on The Cleveland Show (Tim) and many additional voices. He also voiced several characters in Robot Chicken, a sketch comedy show created by his Family Guy castmate Seth Green. He made a short foray into feature-length film when he voiced Johann Krauss in Hellboy 2:The Golden Army. He's also had some bit parts on live-action television, appearing in Star Trek: Enterprise, Gilmore Girls and most recently FlashForward. But he always returns to animation and comedy. He's also a musician, singer and composer, whose work often appears on his shows.
Seth has won a couple of Emmy Awards for Voice-over Work and Musical Composition. Hugely successful (recently became the highest paid writer/producer in TV history), but does have a sizeable number of detractors, including Moral Guardians who find his humor to be disgusting and offensive and dyed-in-the-wool Simpsons and South Park fans who think he's an untalented hack who wholesale ripped off jokes and stories from those two shows and padded them with meaningless jokes that don't go anywhere or have any plot relevance.
Announced in 2010 that he is developing a live-action/CG hybrid feature film which will be released summer 2012 named Ted where he will voice a talking teddy bear owned by a loser male lead trying to get through life.
In 2011, he announced that he would work on a long-delayed reboot of The Flintstones. He said that he is a giant fan of the series and will try to make it as faithful to the original as possible. A recent press release said that he is currently putting this on hold due to his "being too busy".
In an odd twist of fate, MacFarlane was scheduled to fly on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center, but missed his flight and didn't get to board.
Notable Tropes associated with Seth MacFarlane include
- The Ace: Whether you love him (and his comedy) or hate him (and his comedy), Seth brought himself up to be a tailor-made, ideal fit for show business. He can act in a slew of character voices in one show without a hitch, can sing in any of them because he was trained by legendary musicians growing up, releases his own albums, is a great show host, is highly sharp and intellectual, became the richest writer in Hollywood, and survived two cancellations resulting in two additional shows!
- The Alcoholic: Well, a bit. He does enjoy drinking, especially when speaking in public ("or privately speaking, or turning on a lamp," as pointed out by Bill Maher) mirrored in the character of Brian (Brian's drink of choice switched when Seth's did). He once overslept because he was hungover and missed his flight (though, he was also given an incorrect flight time), which turned out to be ridiculously lucky, as that flight later crashed into the World Trade Center.
- Author Appeal: A lot of things that Seth likes make it into his shows (music from the Rat Pack era, 70's-80's pop culture references, musicals/showtunes, Star Wars, Star Trek, sci-fi, etc).
- Author Avatar: Brian was this for Seth on Family Guy, in the first few series. Peter was also one initially, when he used to reflect everything Seth geeks over. Brian's voice is still the closest to Seth's.
- Biting the Hand Humor: Both against FOX and against the people who initially helped get Family Guy revived.
- Black Comedy: His stock in trade. Business is good.
- See for yourself.
- Born In The Wrong Decade: Seems he would have fit in quite well hanging out with Sinatra and crew back in the 50's. He's got an amazing singing voice that seems tailor-made for rat pack-style songs. True friggin' story.
- Since so many of his show references 1980s pop culture you get the feeling he would rather be stuck in The Eighties than any other time period.
- Born Lucky: It took some good-timing DVD sales to get Family Guy uncancelled twice. And if you overlooked what was mentioned earlier, he was supposed to be on the plane that crashed into the World Trade Center—he overslept and missed it.
- The Cast Showoff: Family Guy has many musical sequences where he displays his singing ability.
- The second Family Guy Christmas episode - he had no problem with the jokes he had to say, and even burped and farted on-cue.
- Expies: You have seen all of his characters before. See the trope page for an illustration.
- Irony: He uses his actual speaking voice for a character that's not even human (Brian the dog on Family Guy).
- Man of a Thousand Voices
- Not only does he do many voices on his shows, but he's an uncanny mimic—he can do a perfect Adam West, for one thing.
- Mr. Fanservice
- Reference Overdosed: Without any knowledge of 1980s pop culture quite a few references and parodies will go right over your head.
- Some of My Best Friends Are X: Pretty much the only reason why fewer people call Seth out on his unending portrayal of gay people as Camp Gay is that he has a relative that's gay.
- It also helps that he's a Gay Rights Activist and you know most of his shows have had Gay Aesops while misguided at times show the heart is in the right place.
- Also vocally uses this trope when discussing the episode "Once Upon A Weinstein" which makes fun of Jews, saying he has Jewish friends.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Most of the characters he voices shows signs of these.
- Strictly Formula: Stupid husband, closer to earth wife, loser son, whiny daughter, comically sized sadist, talking animal. Now which of his three shows is being described? You can even cut and paste to make new MacFarlane-style shows and no one will know the difference.
- Counts for individual jokes too. "Character A references something shocking that happened one time. Turns out it was actually quite innocuous. No wait, turns out it was shocking after all." This becomes a problem because shock humor isn't shocking when you see it coming.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: All of his shows have this.
- Whole-Plot Reference: Is very fond of these.
- Writers Strike: Very vocal and active in the 2007 WGA strike. Made a few headlines for his very candid response to Fox, when they announced they might finish creating in-production episodes of Family Guy, without his sign-off: "That would just be a colossal dick move if they did that." Episodes for one whole season were delayed a year because Seth was busy with the strike.