‘Family Guy’ Creator Seth McFarlane Escaped Death Because of Oversleeping

Stories of notable people having close brushes with death and destiny are more numerous than one might guess. Some of those stories never come out until years after the fact, even if others are near legendary.

No one would readily assume someone like Seth MacFarlane would become one of those who skirted death by happenstance. While many other cases like this lead to survivor’s guilt, MacFarlane never seemed to have such a mindset.

Then again, no one knows what he may feel about his incident deep down. His story relates to 9/11, one of the most profound events in American history. Had things gone differently, he would have been a victim of it.

Seth MacFarlane was almost on the first 9/11 plane

Being New York City, it was inevitable that some notable people were going to book a flight on the planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers. MacFarlane happened to be one of them, more specifically booking himself on the first plane (Flight 11) going out that morning.

Because MacFarlane had been partying late the night before (following a speech at his alma mater), he fell asleep in the passenger lounge. Yes, it was sleep ultimately saving MacFarlane’s life, something almost ironic in the bigger picture.

When he woke up, he saw the TV reports of the plane he was supposed to be on hitting the North Tower. Then he watched the second plane go into the other tower within the same hour.

Imagine the horror of being in JFK Airport and waking up to the realization of being mere minutes off from being on Flight 11.

Seth MacFarlane missed the flight by only 15 minutes

MacFarlane has mentioned this incident a few times in interviews over the years. When appearing in an interview with Rove McManus, MacFarlane noted: “I was booked on the first flight that hit the tower, and I was drinking the night before, overslept a little bit in conjunction with the fact that my travel agent screwed up the itinerary by about 15 minutes, so I arrived 10 minutes late to get on the plane.”

When he went up to the counter, MacFarlane was told the gates had just been closed, so he booked another flight for later in the morning. While dealing with his hangover, he helplessly watched the planes go into the towers.

Seth MacFarlane onstage during the FOX portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour
Seth MacFarlane | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Said MacFarlane in an interview with Piers Morgan once: “Went into the lounge, fell asleep, woke up about 45 minutes later to a commotion, and the first plane had hit. And sat there and watched the second plane hit. And they announced what flight it was. And I turned to the guy next to me and said, ‘my God, that was the flight I was supposed to be on. I was late. I missed it.'”

One would think this would change McFarlane’s perspective on life at a profound level, not including at least some feeling of survivor’s guilt as so many in similar situations go through. Even if he pledged never to joke about 9/11, he has made references to it on Family Guy.

Were the 9/11 jokes on ‘Family Guy’ a sense of therapy?

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Ironically, Family Guy was hanging by a thread in 2001 when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Had something unforeseen happened, it likely would have spelled the end of the series.

No one would have guessed it would still be going now 21 years later. Despite MacFarlane never making light of 9/11 from the perspective of what happened, he did go after George W. Bush for 9/11 more than once. Numerous ribbings at a political level about 9/11 are now counted in various episodes of Family Guy.

It appears MacFarlane will never reference in his series the eerie coincidence of him surviving the terrorist attacks. The fact he was able to address 9/11 through a rare comedic filter could be looked at as the real reason he was given an opportunity to carry on.