In a January 2020 TCA interview with Deadline, Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn spoke about the network’s animation development and production ramp-up as part of “preparing for that day” when the network would say goodbye to The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers, but he noted that there was “no immediate plan” to end the legacy series and that “we can extend these shows and keep these shows for as long as we like.”
Over the past year, Fox indeed extended all three veteran animated series, produced by 20th Television, for two additional seasons. But their very high cost as well as their ownership, which transferred to Disney in the merger, still raises the question of whether these could be the shows’ final renewals at Fox. The network has been actively launching new animated series and has high hopes that The Great North, a co-production with 20th Television, could achieve the success of The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers. Meanwhile, Disney has been consolidating off-network runs of the three venerable animated comedies under the company umbrella — on Disney+/Hulu for streaming and FX/Freeform for cable.
Additionally, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has been vocal about his displeasure over the series airing on Fox because of the network’s corporate ties with Fox News. “Tucker Carlson’s latest opinion piece once again makes me wish Family Guy was on any other network,” MacFarlane tweeted last month. “Look, Fox, we both know this marriage isn’t working any more.”
In conjunction with Fox’s summer 2021 TCA presentation, Deadline spoke with Thorn this week and asked whether the current renewals for The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers could be their last in light of the series’ economics and MacFarlane’s comments.
“We have the shows for a few more years, and we expect to keep them as part of our lineup and part of the brand of our animation strategy for the time being,” he said. “The Simpsons is still playing at the top of its game and so is Family Guy and not to mention, of course, Bob’s.”
For more on Fox’s animation strategy and branching out of the family genre to workplace comedy, romantic comedy and mystery, read our story here.