On the morning of the September 11, 2001 attacks, MacFarlane was scheduled to return to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 11 after being a keynote speaker at his alma mater in Rhode Island. In 2005, on episodes of "Loveline" and "Too Late with Adam Carolla", MacFarlane stated that he tried to make the flight, but arrived about ten minutes after final boarding ended. At 8:14 a.m., fifteen minutes after the departure of American Airlines Flight 11, the plane was hijacked, later being flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. He was told he would need to wait for the next flight and then sat down next to someone as they were watching the attacks and he said to the man beside him, 'I was supposed to be on that flight.'
Examples in "Family Guy"
...the first gag to blatantly reference 9/11 was in the episode 'Airport '07'; Quagmire crash lands a plane and then Mayor West is informed while reading "My Pet Goat" to school children, an obvious reference to when U.S. President George W. Bush was informed of the 9/11 attacks. Two episodes later, in 'No Meals on Wheels', 9/11 was mentioned again when Peter's restaurant couldn't air its 'Sixth Sense'-themed commercial because the director was involved with 9/11. Then in the season 5 episode 'It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One', Lois responds to all the questions she receives on her mayoral campaign by saying, '9/11'.
In the "Family Guy" episode 'Boys Do Cry', Brian and Stewie (both played by MacFarlane) leave a rural gas station while chuckling and mimicking a Middle-Eastern clerk; Stewie then remarks 'If it weren't for 9/11, those guys would be adorable.'
In an even more recent episode, "Meet The Quagmires", Brian travels back in time to the 1980s. A man challenges Brian to a fight, and 9/11 is mentioned once more when Brian tells the man to meet him for a fight in the World Trade Center at the exact time the attacks occurred (this scene is only shown on the Cartoon Network/Adult Swim airings, not on FOX).
As well as in season five, episode "No Chris Left Behind", 9/11 is brought up when Chris Griffin is kidnapped by his grandfather to join the "Skull and Bones Society" in order to make Chris more popular in his new school. After offering Chris to become a member, his grandfather remarks, 'You'll get your own stock portfolio, a percentage of the 9/11 victims fund and the best medical care on the planet..?
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