As the lights dim for the "Family Guy" panel in San Diego Comic-Con's large Ballroom 20, a video plays in which show creator Seth MacFarlane apologizes to fans for not being there "shaking a thousand strange hands and being coughed on."
MacFarlane's presence was sorely missed, as was Mila Kunis', but there was still plenty of talent on hand. Executive producers and showrunners Steve Callaghan and Rich Appel took the stage along with executive producer Danny Smith and actors Mike Henry (Cleveland Brown), Patrick Warburton (Joe Swanson), Alex Borstein (Lois Griffin), and Seth Green (Chris Griffin).
Callaghan starts the panel with a bang by revealing that one of the Griffins will be killed and replaced with a new character in Season 12. "It could be anyone, any one of our six main cast," he adds. It did not seem like he was joking, and the crowd didn't quite know what to think.
"Is it Brian?" Green asks. He also promises that they'll reveal the formula for New Coke this season. "Were going to remove all the color form Pepsi and see if you want to drink it," he jokes.
Borstein jokes similarly, though Warburton said his mother would be relieved if his character was killed. "She doesn't get it," he says, adding that she's sent formal complaints to the FCC. It's unclear whether he's joking.
They played a clip full of jokes from the upcoming Season 12 in which Peter Griffin (MacFarlane) speaks with a monkey rabbi and Darth Vader, pushes Meg (Kunis) into her own grave at her own funeral, and drunkenly switches cars with an also drunk Joe, pulling him over in his own cop car and forcing his paralyzed neighbor to attempt to walk a straight line. Stewie (MacFarlane) makes fun of Adam Levine's voice and Chris dresses up as a condom for Halloween. "What are you supposed to be?" Quagmire asks him. Asked about her "abortion stance," Meg spreads her legs and squats. Peter and Quagmire form a band and sing songs about spreading butter on Pop-Tarts.
Guest stars in Season 12 include actors like Liam Neeson and Ashton Kutcher, they revealed. Also promised for the new season is Cleveland and his family's return to Spooner Street. Cleveland moved away when "The Cleveland Show" began, but with that show off the air the Browns will return to Quahog. When asked whether "The Cleveland Show" will ever return, the producers said they're not ruling it out.
Gallaghan teased another upcoming episode in which they reappropriate Grimm fairy tales. Stewie is Little Red Riding Hood and Brian is the wolf, Lois is Cinderella, and Peter is Jack while Chris is the giant up the beanstalk. In another new episode Peter marries Chris to get access to his father-in-law's fortune after old man Pewterschmidt takes a liking to Green's character and puts him in his will.
They also discussed the just-announced "Family Guy"/"The Simpsons" crossover. Appel says when long-time "The Simpsons" voice actor Dan Castellaneta uttered his first line for the episode as Homer Simpson the writer's room erupted in applause. "It was the most sincere moment in that room," Gallagher also reveals that there "may or may not be a five-minute chicken fight between Peter and Homer."
During the fan Q&A one audience member told the cast he had flown 18 hours from Qatar just to attend before requesting more episodes set in the Middle East. "I feel like I should take my shirt off and give you some bang for your buck," Borstein says. Another asked about a "Family Guy" movie. "There has been absolutely no talk or discussion about a movie since the last time you guys asked us about it," Green tells the crowd.
The "Family Guy" panel concluded with a new trailer from MacFarlane's new show, "Dads," starring Seth Green.
"Family Guy" Season 12 begins airing Sundays on Fox on September 29.
Photo/Video credit: Fox