It can be kind of hard to remember this, now that the show is getting ready to air its 20th season on American TV, but Family Guy was not just unpopular, once—it was canceled. In an alternate universe, Seth MacFarlane’s empire-launching animated sitcom never came back from getting kicked off the airwaves by Fox after its third season in 2002, instead languishing only in the memories of people who hang out on message boards, swearing you’ve got to go back and see this one, the baby, he’s so hilarious, he tries to kill the wife.
That alternate universe, presumably, is one where Adult Swim didn’t exist. In conjunction with the early days of the TV-on-DVD phenomenon, the Cartoon Network-adjacent cable network began airing Family Guy reruns in early 2003—where they quickly became the most-watched show on the network, by a pretty comfortable margin. Airing later, and in an environment more in-tune with the show’s not-quite-primetime-in-2003 sensibilities, the show flourished, developing, alongside those mammoth DVD sales, the loyal fanbase that convinced Fox to give the series another shot, bringing it back in 2005. And ever since, Family Guy reruns have been a consistent part of Adult Swim’s line-up—until today, when the last rerun of Family Guy on Adult Swim is now set to air.
That’s because FXX (which, like Family Guy itself, is now owned by Disney, unlike the WarnerMedia-controlled Adult Swim) has just announced a major deal to secure the entirety of the show’s back catalogue, as part of an effort to cement itself as the exclusive cable spot for all the animated sitcoms you used to love on Fox, notably Bob’s Burgers, King Of The Hill, and The Simpsons. (The Cleveland Show will also be there.) (Oh, and Futurama will join them in November; American Dad is presumably tied up in deals with TBS, where it currently airs, and appears to be continuing to appear on [as].) All of which means that tonight’s reruns of Family Guy on Adult Swim—a run of 3 2015 episodes culminating in a reprise of season 13's “Stewie Is Enciente”—will be the final Family Guys to air on Adult Swim, possibly ever. Truly, the ending of an era.