American Dad vs Family Guy: Which Seth MacFarlane Series Is More Popular?
Aaron Grech
Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy and American Dad! are drastically different animated sitcoms, with the former relying heavily on pop culture references and cutaways, while the latter has an absurdist tone that's more character-driven. Although Family Guy maintains a larger audience in terms of viewership, American Dad! has a dedicated fanbase, which is reflected in its positive audience scores. Despite being neck and neck in terms of popularity, there is a clear winner when looking at the raw numbers and pop culture impact.

Family Guy Maintains More Viewers

family guy
family guy
According to Cinemablend.comAmerican Dad! beat out Family Guy by only 0.1 points in viewership during its time at Fox, before it was ultimately canceled by the network in 2013 then picked up at TBS. American Dad!'s ratings have fallen far behind Family Guy's since its move to TBS, going well under a million watchers since its 2017 season. Family Guy, on the other hand, garnered 3.33 million watchers last season.
A major reason Family Guy is able to beat out American Dad! in television ratings is due to its accessibility. As one of Fox's flagship Animation Domination programs, it regularly airs on broadcast television to a primetime audience. On an individual basis, most cable programs pull in much smaller ratings than those on network television, and the decline of cable television during the last decade has likely affected American Dad!'s numbers. The popularity of these programs on Hulu is currently undetermined, as the platform has yet to release program-related streaming numbers to the public.

American Dad! Has Better Fan Reception

Roger meets Sydney Huffman
Roger meets Sydney Huffman
In terms of raw numbers Family Guy pulls more viewers, but American Dad! maintains a strong cult-following in key target demographics, which led to its two-season renewal at CBS last year. American Dad! also boasts a much higher audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, scoring 91 percent against Family Guy's measly 62 percent. Although Family Guy beats out American Dad! on a few sites like IMDB and Metacritic, its margins are a lot smaller than the gap between their respective Rotten Tomatoes audience scores.

Family Guy's Cultural Impact

Family Guy Peter Griffin Chicken fight
Family Guy Peter Griffin Chicken fight
While Family Guy falls behind in terms of audience reception, its cultural impact far outweighs American Dad's. The show's reference-heavy dialogue and endless cutaway gags make Family Guy ripe for internet content, inspiring a plethora of memes that have quickly made their way across social media. YouTube is particularly inundated with stolen Family Guy content, as its cutaway gags and iconic one-liners are easily edited and manipulated to get past content filters.
Family Guy also defied television history by surviving two separate cancellations by the Fox network. The show was briefly canceled following the broadcast of its second season in 2000 and later formally canceled after its third season aired. Thanks to strong DVD sales, Family Guy came back on Fox several years after leaving the air and has remained on the network ever since. While American Dad! was revived on TBS following its cancellation, its move to cable television wasn't particularly groundbreaking.

Overall, Family Guy Wins

Although the question of which Seth MacFarlane series is better remains entirely subjective, Family Guy is more popular than American Dad! based on raw numbers and its place in pop culture. Family Guy's style of humor allows it to reach a larger audience, while American Dad! succeeds in keeping its fans happy with its complex storytelling and characters.