Family Guy is not a show that’s known for its emotional depth. In fact, Seth McFarlane’s usual brand of humor is far too crude to allow for sentiment, but this past Sunday we saw a different side of the cartoon comedy when they killed off the beloved Griffin family dog, Brian.
While I haven’t watched regularly in a few seasons, the relationship between Stewie and Brian has often been the centerpiece of my favorite story lines. These two, the dog and the baby, are intentionally the most highbrow characters on the show; with Brian gone who will verbally spar with Stewie? None of the other characters are smart enough to help Stewie with his schemes. Of course it was one of those schemes - Stewie’s time machine - that got them into this mess in the first place.
The time machine is likely to be what gets them out of it as well. With a change.org petition to bring Brian back at 73,300 signatures and counting, it’s unlikely that the show’s writers will let Sunday night be his final resting place (plus, McFarlane voices Brian, so it wouldn't exactly be difficult to bring him back). However, one has to wonder if this reaction is just what the writers were looking for? Fans of the show have reacted this way before. Was killing Brian simply a stunt to raise ratings?
The writers seems committed enough to the idea of a new dog. After the funeral the family goes to the Quahog Pet Store and brings home a dog named Vinny, voiced by Tony Sirico of Sopranos fame. Some in the entertainment news world seems to think that Sirico’s six episode stint is a sign that Brian won’t return, but I’m not so sure (you heard it here first). For fifteen years the martini drinking, script writing, talking dog has held a special place in our hearts and we’re not as quick to replace him as Griffins seem to be.
Brian’s final words were, “you’ve given me a wonderful life. I love you all,” before closing his eyes and passing away. We love you too, Brian, and something tells me you’ll be back in Quahog real soon.