This True Detective article contains spoilers for Night Country. True Detective: Night Country hasn’t been shy about drawing connections to season 1 of the hit crime series, down to the very clear supernatural bent of the new case, which sees Detectives Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) investigating mysterious disappearances in rural […]
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Teenager Meg Griffin isn’t only an afterthought to her family (cartoon dad Peter regularly forgets about her existence even when she’s standing right next to him), the character also didn’t appear in the 1995 student film from which Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane developed his hit animated comedy.
MacFarlane made animated short ‘The Life of Larry’ while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1990s. It featured “loveable but tactless lower middle class” dad Larry, his supportive wife Lois, their heavy-set blonde, baseball-cap-wearing son Milt, and “incisive, cynical” talking dog named Steve, plus all the cutaway gags and pop culture parodies for which Family Guy would become famous… but no super-intelligent baby, and no butt-of-every-joke teenage daughter Meg.
One-off 1997 sequel ‘Larry and Steve’ lost Larry’s wife and son to focus on the talking dog, but by the time of the seven-minute 1998 Family Guy pilot, they were all back, along with new characters Stewie and Meg.
The Pilot Episode Meg: Rachael MacFarlane (1998)
The very first Meg in the Family Guy pilot was voiced by actor and singer Rachael MacFarlane, sister of the show’s creator. Rachael MacFarlane later went on to voice the series regular role of Hayley Smith in her brother’s follow-up series American Dad!, and in 2012, released covers album Hayley Sings.
When Family Guy was picked up to series by Fox, the unaired pilot was reworked into episode one ‘Death Has a Shadow’, with the existing voice cast mostly intact. Seth MacFarlane continued to voice Brian and Stewie, Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) voiced Lois, Seth Green reworked the voice of Chris, and a new Meg was found.
But that wasn’t the last time Rachael MacFarlane would lend her voice to Meg Griffin. 25 years later in 2023, MacFarlane sings Meg’s songs in series 21’s controversial Russian-set two-parter ‘From Russia with Love’ and ‘Adult Education’.
The Rumoured Second Meg Griffin: Cree Summers
Though there’s no official record of it online from Fox, voice actor and singer Cree Summers (Drawn Together, Tiny Toons, Inspector Gadget) has said on more than one occasion (including in the chat above with fellow voice actor Rob Paulsen) that she was originally cast as Meg Griffin on Family Guy but replaced. Speaking to Paulsen, Summers explained:
“I was in the original Family Guy, the first Family Guy, I was Meg, which is kind of like a thankless character you know? And one day I was supposed to go to work and I got a call saying I didn’t have to go in to work. So, I got fired.
I have to say, in their defence, I wasn’t very good. I don’t think it was my job, you know how sometimes you get a job that’s not your job but you’re just hanging in there like, I hope no-one notices it’s not my job!”
In the end, it actually wasn’t Summers’ job, not that she appears to harbour any ill will towards the team or her replacement:
“We do get replaced and it doesn’t kill you, it doesn’t kill you. That’s the difference I think between [voice acting and] on-camera. I think if this was on-camera, I think you’d have an all-out f***ing war, it would be in the tabloids, it would be a big stink but we don’t operate that way because it happens. I’ve been replaced several times and you still go to work and it’s okay.”
The Meg Griffin Who Quit: Lacey Chabert (1999)
Singer and actor Lacey Chabert is now Hallmark Christmas Movie royalty, with a string of festive films to her name, both as lead and producer. After being discovered aged eight on this 1991 edition of talent competition Star Search, Chabert starred in several film and TV roles including that of 11-year-old Claudia Salinger in 1990s drama Party of Five, before making a memorable appearance as Gretchen Weiners in 2004’s Mean Girls.
In 1999, Chabert was cast in the role of Meg Griffin and voiced her for all of season one and some episodes broadcast in season two. And then…? She left. According to Seth MacFarlane, speaking to IGN in 2003:
“It was just purely a contractual thing. Lacey Chabert, I think there was a mistake in her contract, and I guess she had not intended to be involved for, like, the full run of the show. I don’t even remember. To be honest, I don’t really, to this day, know what it was. It was nothing – there was no tension or anything. She wanted to go, and she was very cool about it. We obviously don’t want to keep anyone there who doesn’t want to be there.”
Speaking to Game Spy in 2006, Chabert confirmed that she had no sour feelings against her replacement on Family Guy. “I actually left the show of my own accord. And only because I was in school and doing Party of Five at the time. But I think the show is hilarious, and don’t have a grudge against her at all. I think she’s a great actress.”
Chabert-as-Meg has since become an in-joke on the show. In the self-aware clip above, Stewie travels back in time to Chabert’s tenure as Meg and notes “Oh my god, we’re getting closer to the beginning – you’re Lacey Chabert!”.
Peter later uses the name “Lacey Chabert” as a tongue-in-cheek joke to get Lois to stay in line under threat of being fired in the clip below:
And in 2018 episode “The Griffin Winter Games”, Chabert voiced herself competing against Mila Kunis-as-Meg in a downhill skiing race:
The Singing Meg Griffin: Tara Strong (2005)
When season four, episode four “Don’t Make Me Over” required a newly glamorous Meg to sing songs, Kunis stepped aside so that voice acting legend and singer Tara Strong (The Powerpuff Girls, My Little Pony, Teen Titans Go!) could take over.
The Real Meg Griffin: Mila Kunis (1999 – 2023)
From season two onwards, and through Family Guy’s early cancellation and revival to the present day, Meg is voiced by Mila Kunis, who was cast aged 15 while she was starring in That ‘70s Show, as Chabert’s replacement. According to Seth MacFarlane, Kunis joining the show gave Meg’s character more authenticity as the actor was a teenager at the time of being cast.
Speaking on The Howard Stern Show (see clip above), Kunis explained that the previous actor (Chabert) quit the role. When Stern asked why anybody would ever do that considering how well-paid and low-commitment the part is, Kunis replied: “Because you just didn’t think it out. I’m so grateful that this woman was like ‘this is not for me’ because this is the greatest gig in the whole wide world.”
Shut up, Meg.
Family Guy streams on Hulu in the US and Disney+ in the UK.