Seth MacFarlane Isn't Ruling Out An Animated Episode Of The Orville

For a long time, people thought Seth MacFarlane could only make one kind of show. He got famous creating "Family Guy," and followed them up with "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show," all three of which had extremely similar formats as animated comedies about families (it's important to note that they were "comedies about families" and not "family comedies"). He did one thing, he was good at it, and he found commercial success. The formula worked. Who cares if it got stale and produced diminishing returns? What more could he want?

This was until 2017, when "The Orville" debuted on Fox. This was a project with MacFarlane in a major creative and on-screen starring role, both of which are very familiar to him. However, the show was extremely different from his previous projects, being a live-action homage to "Star Trek." Despite initially mixed reviews, "The Orville" found its stride in its second season, and now with the third season wrapped, MacFarlane has talked about potentially bringing his newest project back to his animation roots.

Open to ideas

Creating "The Orville" was a big change for MacFarlane. The show's direction was a little unclear at first, despite his insistence that it was the show he "came out to Hollywood" to make. The show's sci-fi elements initially took a backseat to the humor, and the show starting seeming like yet another "Family Guy" clone by MacFarlane, albeit a better disguised one. But as the show entered its second season, it began to find a better balance between the two genres it sat between, and started to embrace the complex and vast world-building the show's conceit allows for.

Now comfortable in his new show, MacFarlane is open to any and all ideas, including a short return to animation. When discussing the possibility of an animated episode of the show in a recent interview with Gizmodo, MacFarlane didn't seem entirely sold, but was open to the idea: 

"I think at one point during the pandemic, we had, out of desperation, said, 'Look, what if what if we do a couple of episodes animated in the interim to hold people over?' and there just wasn't an appetite for it. But again, it all depends on how the show is received. If it suddenly pops and people gravitate toward it, then anything is possible."

New horizons

With "The Orville" now residing on Hulu and Disney+ following its third season, MacFarlane told Gizmodo about his plans for the future of the show. "It's really like 'Family Guy' in a lot of ways. It's a universe that has infinite boundaries and so it can really go as long as there's a demand for it," said MacFarlane, reflecting on the madcap and often arbitrary nature of his original hit animated show.

But MacFarlane has managed to do what he almost never did early in his career, which is adapt. As MacFarlane said in an interview with Decider

"A writer said to me at one point in my career, 'You don't find your show. Your show finds you.' And that's kind of what happened with 'The Orville'. It set out to do one thing, and it quickly became clear that the show really wanted to be something else."

A few short years ago, nobody would have seen Seth MacFarlane as a creator who regularly expanded his horizons or left his comfort zone, but it seems like with "The Orville" he's finally found the right vessel in which to take these new journeys. And MacFarlane seems ready, like his character Captain Ed Mercer, to journey to new horizons.