Sunday night millions mourned the loss of their favorite fictional canine, Brian Griffin. A main character in the popular sitcom Family Guy, Brian Griffin was the pet dog with human characteristics which included walking, talking and possessing huge aspirations to become a successful writer. Ironically, Brian was the most rational out of the overly dysfunctional Griffin Family.
So what happened? In the November 24, 2013 episode, Brian and his best friend Stewie, the talking baby, are playing outside in the street. As Stewie momentarily steps away, he turns around to see a car headed directly towards Brian. Despite his dramatic verbal warning, Brian is struck and his mangled body lay in the street as the whole Griffin family rushes outside in shock and horror. Brian is rushed to the veterinary office, and the Griffin Family sits in the waiting room, questioning Brian’s fate. As the doctor steps out covered in blood, he delivers the heartbreaking news that Brian’s injuries are too severe and suggests that the family say their goodbyes, as his time is limited. The tearful family approaches the operating table in utter disbelief as Brian utters his last breath. “You’ve given me a wonderful life. I love you all,” he says with melancholy smile just before he flat lines and audiences everywhere are left with the eerie drawn out beep of a lifeless body.
In this episode, audiences get to experience one of the few times that Family Guy goes out of character in taking a more serious turn. This is not to say that they didn’t throw in a bit of comedy into the scene; however, most can agree it went overlooked considering what had been revealed.
As the scene ends, the episode goes back to its traditional roots as the family hurries to find a new pet. Brian was replaced by Vinnie, a new Italian dog who quickly finds his niche within the family.
While this is a shock to most, Fox had actually previously released its plans to kill off a cast member. In an interview with E! News, executive producer Steve Callahan explains, “This was an idea that got pitched in the writers’ room and it sort of caught fire, and we thought it could be a fun way to shake things up,” “As soon as this idea came up, we started talking about what the next couple episodes could be and we got very excited about the way this change will affect the family dynamics and the characters.” Callahan continues to explain the reasoning behind choosing Brian “It seemed more in the realm of reality that a dog would get hit by a car, than if one of the kids died,” Callahan says. “As much as we love Brian, and as much as everyone loves their pets, we felt it would be more traumatic to lose one of the kids, rather than the family pet.”
In speaking with an avid fan of the show, DeSales University student Jennifer Rhiel, she explains that she feels as though she will not enjoy the show as much without Brian. She says, “There was a previous episode where a fake Brian was introduced as a character and I didn’t even like that so I can’t imagine the show without the character all together.”
Audiences are now left questioning; will Family Guy be able to maintain its popularity without one of its leading roles or better yet will Brian ever be reincarnated? Only time will tell if the producers made the right decision in shaking things up or if they made a detrimental mistake.