Seth MacFarlane, the show's creator, was booked to fly from Boston to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 11 on Sept. 11, 2001. But his travel agent had mistakenly told him that the flight left at 8:15 a.m., not 7:45 a.m. "And I had a hangover from the night before" he said. He missed the flight, notorious for its role in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
The show has been canceled twice, once following the second season, which caused the show to not air a new episode for a year, and the second (and longest) being between the third and fourth seasons, from 2002 to 2005.
Numerous cutaway gags involve characters from the Jetsons and the Flintstones, who are arguably Hanna-Barbera's most famous characters. This is because Seth MacFarlane was a writer for Hanna-Barbera before creating Family Guy.
Bonnie Swanson would seemingly be pregnant throughout most of the series. Peter even mentions in Family Guy: Blind Ambition (2005), "Bonnie, you've been pregnant for like six years, alright? Either have the baby or don't." She finally gave birth to a girl, Susie, in Family Guy: Ocean's Three and a Half (2009).
Peter's phrase of choice when climaxing during sex is "Shazam!" Cleveland's phrase of choice in the same situation is "...and boom goes the dynamite." (albeit spoken in an unexcited monotone voice as Cleveland usually speaks.)
Seth MacFarlane is a fan of the Star Trek franchise, explaining the frequent references to Star Trek in the show. In fact, MacFarlane even appeared in two episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise (2001) during Enterprise's final two years of production.
The first part of the opening credits, where Lois plays the piano and sings with Peter, is a spoof of Edith playing the piano and singing with Archie during the opening credits of All in the Family (1971)
Joe Swanson originally had a son named Kevin, who was eventually written out of the series. His disappearance was later explained in Family Guy: Stew-Roids (2009) as that he had died in Iraq, though he was later brought back into the series in Family Guy: Thanksgiving (2011) where it's revealed that he faked his own death in order to escape from the war.
Brian is a struggling novelist. Throughout the series, everyone in the family has made jokes about his "unfinished novel". In the episode "Movin' Out (Brian's Song)", it is revealed that the title of Brian's novel is 'Faster Than The Speed of Love'. When he describes the story to Lois, it turns out to be a rip-off of the film Iron Eagle (1986).
Like real-life children, Chris and Meg share the facial/body features of their parents, Peter and Lois. Meg has the same hairstyle, nose, and mouth as Lois (although Lois is considered very attractive and Meg very ugly in the show's universe) and has brown hair and wears glasses like Peter. As for Chris, he has eyes like Lois and a nose, mouth and dimpled chin like Peter. Chris has one attribute he shares with neither parent: His blonde hair. However in the early pre-production stages of the series, Lois was supposed to have blonde hair but the creative team decided to make her a red head (See IMDb trivia elsewhere on page). Despite the change, they chose to leave Chris' hair blonde.
Believing the series to be cancelled after season 2, many of the writers took on other jobs for different shows. The show was renewed for a third season at the last minute; many new writers were used for the new series.
All of the high-end hotels seen on the show have Barrington in their name. Series creator Seth MacFarlane has stated they are named after the city of Barrington, Rhode Island, a very upscale community.
Meg goes to James Woods Reqional (with a "Q") High School, and Chris goes to Buddy Cianci Junior High in fictional Quahog, RI. James Woods is from Warwick, RI, and Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, Jr. is the former mayor of Providence, RI.
Seth MacFarlane graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, R.I. The shell of the quahog clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) is the official Rhode Island State shell. A quahog is a pretty standard looking clam, except that it's big - about the size of a grown man's hand. Rhode Islanders like to eat them in clam chowder (not white chowder, but clear, made without milk). They also stuff the clams with a bread and clam stuffing and serve them for dinner. The area's Indians, the Narragansetts, called them "quahog" which means simply "clam". They used the purple part of the shells to make wampum, which was traded by Indian tribes throughout North America.
The original idea for titles of episodes were supposed to be based on 1940s Mystery Radio shows. This is why the first few episodes have some sort of reference to death in them. Eventually the writers of the show had to start describing the episodes to one another (rather than simply using the titles), so that idea was dropped.
Brought back an unprecedented second time after its amazing DVD sales (record for best selling TV show on DVD), and its popularity on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, which a few times had a higher Nielsen rating than broadcast television at that time slot.
In early episodes of the series, the rest of the family can seemingly hear what Stewie says. In more recent episodes this becomes ambiguous: at times it's unclear altogether, other times (when it's convenient for plot development) they seem to somewhat understand.
In 2014. Shortly after a repeat of Viewer Mail (#10.22) was broadcast on BBC3. There was a news report announcing the death of comedian Robin Williams whom had committed suicide. In Viewer Mail (#10.22), everyone and everything that Peter touches turns into Robin Williams, which also depicted Robin Williams making a failed suicide attempt. (#10.22) foreshadowed the real life death of the comedian.
Throughout the series, references have been made to the fact that some characters voices sound similar due to them being voiced by the same person. In "Believe it or not Joe's Walking on Air" (2007), Peter tells Dr. Hartman that his voice sounds similar to Carter Pewterschmidt (both voiced by Seth MacFarlane). In "Guy, Robot" (2015), Carl does an impression of Archer from the TV Series "Archer" (2009) and Bob from the TV Series "Bob's Burgers" (2011) who are all voiced by the same person, H. Jon Benjamin.
In season seven, episode fourteen, "We Love You, Conrad", Stewie tells Brian that Bruce Jenner is a woman. The show was prescient because Bruce's gender change to Caitlin Jenner happened years later around season 12.
Two Kraft Foods (now Kraft Heinz Company) products are the subjects of running gags on the show. The Kool-Aid Man, mascot for the beverage Kool-Aid, often breaks through a wall after multiple utterances of the phrase "oh no!", whereas he says "oh yeah!". Also, Cool Whip whipped cream is continually pronounced as "Cool Hwip" by Stewie. Additionally, before the original Kraft split into two companies, the Nabisco subdivision's Wheat Thins had an advertisement series featuring Brian and Stewie. Nabisco is now part of Mondelez International.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Before Season 8 began, the character of Cleveland Brown left Quahog with his son Cleveland, Jr. to star in his own spin-off, The Cleveland Show (2009). He later reappeared in season 12 when the show ended.