The untold truth of Seth MacFarlane

As a creator, singer, and writer, Seth MacFarlane has been a dominating voice in the cultural landscape, his family of drinking, cursing, fighting Rhode Islanders taking up the spot that The Simpsons comfortably sat in for years. Love him or hate him, Seth MacFarlane has had a huge impact on entertainment as it exists today. So we thought we'd take a look at some of the most stunning, surprising, or just weirdest things you've never heard of about the man who makes all of America laugh (or cry).

Family Guy is based on an older series he made

Ever think Family Guy feels a bit too much like a frat dude trying real, real hard to be the funniest dude around? Well there's a reason for that. See, Family Guy wasn't exactly original (and not just because it's basically The Simpsons, which is basically The Honeymooners, which is basically Titus Andronicus) … in fact, Seth basically ripped himself off!

Long before he was the Family Guy guy, he was an animation school student — for his thesis project, he made a bunch of cartoon shorts about a man named Larry and his talking dog. Larry was kind of dumb, while his dog was smart, suave, and sophisticated. Sounds familiar, right? When it came time for MacFarlane to go big-time Hollywood dude, he decided to retool the Larry shots (but just barely), add a family, and that's how we ended up with Family Guy.

He almost died on 9/11

Yeah. That 9/11. See, on that terrible morning, Seth MacFarlane was due to catch a flight on American Airlines Flight 11 … the first plane that hit the World Trade Center. However — in what can maybe be the only time this is truthfully said — his drinking saved him!

See, after partying a bit on September 10th, he woke up hung over the next day and slept too late. He arrived just a bit too late to get on the plane — a mere ten minutes separated him from death. He passed out in the lounge, because, again, hangover, and woke to the news that his flight had just crashed into the WTC.

Despite the fact that he became literally ten minutes away from dying, he's not too bothered by the whole thing, chalking it up to one of the many, many coincidences and brushes with fate we could come across at any day, any time. That's kind of admirable, but also bizarre. It's 9/11! You'd think that would bother you a wee bit more than "a car might hit me next time I leave the house, you don't know." Of course, this is the same guy whose show portrayed 9/11 as being integral to the future safety of America. So, you know.

He worked on dozens of Cartoon Network & Hanna Barbera shows

You might've seen Family Guy and assumed that, if the creator had made cartoons beforehand, it was likely something mature. Something like Beavis and Butthead or Daria or The Simpsons — you know, something very for-adults.

Nope! Before Seth MacFarlane spread his wings and flew into weird-animated-sitcom Heaven, he was working on Cartoon Network shows like Johnny Bravo and Cow & Chicken. Honestly, we can easily see the through line that leads from Johnny Bravo's macho, sex-crazed ways to, well, Quagmire the rapist. It's not that hard of a jump to make. Unfortunately.

His stint in children's cartoons didn't end there either — he actually just appeared as a despicable singing rat in the children's film Sing. Of course, it does make sense that he's interested in children's cartoons, despite making his money on cartoons very much not for them. After all, he started making them when he was a kid … professionally:

His first cartoonist job was when he was nine

What were you doing when you were nine? Crying a lot? Maybe attempting to figure out why your body felt so strange? (It was aliens, kids.) Maybe you had a lemonade stand or sold Girl Scout cookies. You know what you probably weren't doing? The thing you would do for the rest of your life (unless you run The Lemonade Company, in which case we say bravo).

Seth MacFarlane was only nine when he got his first cartooning job, creating an original comic strip called Walter Crouton for his town's newspaper. OK, on one hand, awesome. On the other hand, that's so awesome. This also puts him up there with all the other child prodigies, like Beethoven and … we just compared the creator of Family Guy to Beethoven, didn't we? Oh well, what's done is done.

He was one of the youngest television producers ever

If Family Guy ever seemed like it was being made by a dude in his early-20s, there's a very good reason for that: It was! See, Seth MacFarlane got his start really early and was incredibly dedicated, easily moving from college to a career working on cartoons. Shortly after that, his Life with Larry — the name of one of his Larry shorts — got a bunch of good press, and eventually landed him with a gig to pitch. He then created Family Guy and all was golden — he became one of the youngest television producers running a blockbuster animated show … that almost everyone hated. Happens.

After a while, Family Guy was cancelled. And then Adult Swim — the adult-friendly off-shoot of Cartoon Network (which, again, is where MacFarlane got his start) — started showing it again. After not too long, the show was brought back, its success allowing MacFarlane to spread his young-producer tentacles. He created a bunch of other shows, perhaps in an attempt to make it so his shows couldn't all be cancelled at once, even though they all kinda look the same so you could cancel them all once and few would notice. They'd just assume that one show of his got the boot yet again.

He made a live-action show once

At one point, Seth MacFarlane attempted to produce a live-action sitcom called The Winner, about a man in his thirties living with his parents, because once you make your money off characters who are total losers, it's hard to break that habit. He didn't write it (only produced it), which might partially explain why it didn't last. Indeed, it only managed six episodes before flopping like a balloon full of farts.

Despite the fact that the show sucked worse than the black hole that will probably swallow the galaxy in a few billion years, Seth MacFarlane actually thinks The Winner is going to come back eventually. And honestly? We wouldn't put that, or anything else, past MacFarlane. He managed to turn a cancelled Simpsons rip-off into a multi-show franchise, after all. The man's clearly got the most juvenile Midas Touch ever.

He was sued for "stealing" Ted

For those of you who don't know, Ted is MacFarlane's movie where he voices a teddy bear that comes to life and smokes weed and … that's basically the entire joke. At one point he tries to have sex with a blonde, and then he does! Har!

It's a complex movie with lots of layers and symbols, plus it also seemed to bear some similarities to a Funny or Die character named Charlie, an abusive teddy bear (why exactly do so many people make comedies about abusive teddy bears? What did Paddington ever do to you?) The company who owned Charlie sued MacFarlane for infringement, but later decided he hadn't actually stolen from them (it's not like Charlie was the first jerk of a talking teddy bear), and the whole lawsuit thing was over just like that! So now you're legally free to create your own abusive-teddy-bear story too! Just … maybe don't. MacFarlane has a lot more money for hawkish lawyers than you do.

He was trained by Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand's vocal coaches

Lee and Sally Sweetland might not be people who mean much to you, but they should, as they're the vocal coaches who taught Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, and yes, Seth MacFarlane. One of these three is not like the others.

Yep, MacFarlane's a trainer singer, which he's not afraid to show off, like, at all. He sings in almost everything. He sings in all his shows, in Ted, and in Sing, which makes sense, given the title. But that's not enough for him! He's put out his own music albums with no comedy whatsoever. It's seriously just, "hey, you know the guy who wrote a fat guy farting in his wife's mouth? Here's him singing jazz!" Which, as far as punchlines go, is actually pretty damn funny.

In fact, he's so good at singing, we'd argue it's the the one thing he's most talented at. In fact, he's so good, he should focus more on that. Like way more. Like, only that. Burn your fart-joke empire down.

Jon Stewart yelled at him for an hour during the writer's strike

Remember the Hollywood writer's strike of the aughts? All the people in the WGA — the group you have to belong to in order to write for Hollywood movies or shows — collectively went on strike, and just about everything went to Hell. Shows were cancelled, plots were dropped, everything was complete anarchy. In there, though, were a handful of shows that could, conceivably, make do without a staff of writers, like The Daily Show, which did go back on since Stewart is a comedian and writer, not just a host.

MacFarlane thought that sucked, and that Stewart was undermining the strike, so he made fun of Stewart for it via jokes on Family Guy. Stewart reacted the only way he knew how — no, not jokes, he called MacFarlane and screamed at him for an hour over it. "Who the hell made you the moral arbiter of Hollywood!?" Stewart reportedly demanded, because he had skipped his daily Moment of Zen and was clearly agitated.

That, more than any series of jokes, is hilarious on so many levels. Whether you agree with the strike or not, an hour-long browbeating by a major celebrity is absolutely what you'd expect the whole thing to boil down to.