Seth MacFarlane Says ‘Ted’ Was First Pitched as a Family-Focused Animated TV Show

After leading two R-rated movies, the foul-mouthed teddy bear makes his streaming debut in a Peacock live-action series

"Ted" will return in a live-action prequel for Peacock on January 11 (Photo by: PEACOCK)

Seth MacFarlane pitched “Ted” as a family-focused animated series long before the character headlined two high-grossing, R-rated films. Now, the character finally landed his own TV project, a live-action comedy for Peacock that finds the bear as foul-mouthed as ever.

The “Family Guy” creator, who developed and voices the titular teddy bear, first came up with the concept in the 1990s, during a contentious time in his tenure as an animator at Hanna-Barbera Productions, which became Cartoon Network Studios.

“There was a period during the Time Warner-Turner merger during which the company really had no idea what to do with its creative staff. We were all just sitting around, the whole place was in chaos. They didn’t want to fire us all because then they wouldn’t have any artists or writers when they did get underway again,” MacFarlane told TheWrap. “So all we really had to do was pitch an animated show once a week to our bosses. Ted was originally one of these ideas.”

Similar to its current iteration, the show focused on a teddy bear that came to life after a young boy wished on a star. In the original pitch, that boy would go on to be married and become a father, with the bear essentially hanging on as a “leech on the family,” according to MacFarlane.

“I never did anything with it. And then when it came time for me to do my first movie, it seemed like an idea that had some legs,” he said. “And since it was a movie instead of a TV show and an ongoing group of characters, it seemed like telling a love story from start to finish and using that framework was maybe a better way to go. So the dad became a single guy trying to get his relationship back together.”

The first “Ted” film was released in 2012, starring MacFarlane, Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis. It would go on to gross $549.4 million at the box office worldwide off of a $50 million budget. In 2015, MacFarlane and Wahlberg returned for “Ted 2,” which raked in $216.7 million worldwide on a budget of $68 million.

Nine years later, the bear will finally hit the small screen with the Peacock series, a prequel to the films set in 1993 that follows Ted’s adventures in Framingham, Mass., alongside a 16-year-old version of his best friend John Bennett (Max Burkholder taking over the role from Wahlberg), John’s parents Matty and Susan (Scott Grimes and Alanna Ubach) and cousin Blaire (Giorgia Whigham).

“1993 is maybe a little bit later than when I was in high school and when my coshowrunners [Paul Corrigan and Brad Walsh] were in high school, but not by much,” MacFarlane said. “To go back and dig into a lot of those memories we all had as a bunch of beta males and look at those firsts, and plug Ted in there and see them through his eyes was kind of funny and an enjoyable process.

“And dear God, to be able to write something where there’s no f—king cell phones is great,” he added.

MacFarlane, Corrigan and Walsh wrote and executive produced the series and serve as coshowrunners, while MacFarlane also directs. Other executive producers include Fuzzy Door Productions’ Erica Huggins, Alana Kleiman, Jason Clark and Aimee Carlson. Fuzzy Door, MRC and UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, serve as producers.

“Ted” premieres Thursday, Jan. 11, on Peacock.


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