Family Guy has actually always had low TV ratings for first airings. It's targeted at a younger audience, which doesn't watch shows when they air. They watch them on the internet, on DVD, in OnDemand packages, and so on. That's why it got canceled when it first premiered... the executives thought like Mike does, looked solely at first air ratings, and canceled it... and then it got brought back because DVD sales were insanely high. I don't have any figures handy on how well those sales have held up through the present day, but ten seconds on google shows this figure from a few years ago:http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2009/06...rst-week/21636/Family Guy - Volume 7 debuts on the top of the TV Show DVD sales chart with nearly 274,000 units sold in its first week, translating into sales of over $7.5 million.
I'm not aware of any other show that managed to get canceled, then get put back on the air - on the same network - because it was so blindingly obvious that the network fucked up. I am, however, reminded of Family Guy's cold open from their first uncancelled episode:http://youtu.be/0oMTmtN7lHI