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The Death of Brian Griffin was the temporary departure of the talking dog character from the American animated TV sitcom Family Guy after getting hit by a car in the episode “Life of Brian” which aired in late November 2013. Following the premiere of the episode, many fans of the series took their complaints online, urging the producers to bring Brian back to life. On December 15th, in the episode “Christmas Guy,” Brian was resurrected from the dead by Stewie
“Life of Brian,” the sixth episode in the 12th season of Family Guy aired on November 24th, 2013. In the episode, Stewie and Brian go back in time to Jamestown, Virginia using a time machine to resolve the issue of how Stewie gave the Native Americans guns, thus letting them take charge of America instead of the white men. After returning to present-day Quahog with the help of another Stewie from a parallel universe, they decide to destroy the time machine and dump it at the junk yard to prevent any further chaos. Upon arriving at the junk yard, they find an old street hockey net and bring it back home to play street hockey, during which Brian is run over by a reckless driver and suffers a deadly injury. He later died in the hospital. He was replaced for the rest of the episode with another dog named Vinny who helped comfort Stewie.
Immediately following the airing of the episode, many viewers took their shocked reactions to Twitter using the hashtag #RIPBrian, while others began pleading the producers of the series, including the executive producer Seth MacFarlane, to bring the character back to life with the hashtag #BringBackBrian. According to Topsy, the hashtag #BringBackBrian was mentioned at least 6,000 times within the first hour of the broadcast and became a trending topic of the day.
Aaron Thompson submitted a petition titled “Seth MacFarlane, and Fox Broadcasting Company: Bring Brian Griffin back to Family Guy” to Change.org, amassing more than 100,000 signatures within the first 72 hours. That same day, several Facebook pages were launched to mourn the death of Brian and plead the producers to bring him back alive, most notably R.I.P Brian from Family Guy, which has gained more than 758,000 likes as of November 27th.
Revival Countdown Hoax
On November 26th, a website featuring a countdown clock scheduled to go off in ten days was launched under the domain BriansAnnouncement.com, leading some fans to speculate that the dog may return to life in the near future. However, by the next morning, Fox had dismissed the validity of the countdown by stating “that the ‘special announcement from Brian’ website is a hoax and was not created by anyone connected to the show, studio or network.”
News Media Coverage
Shortly after this plot twist, many major news websites including CNN, TMZ, The Independent, CBS, The Huffington Post, The International Business Times, and countless others jumped onto the story. Steve Callaghan, executive producer of Family Guy, was quoted in an interview with E! News claiming that the move was “a fun way to shake things up” and that he and others on the crew “got very excited about the way this change will affect the family dynamics and the characters.”
The Return of Brian Griffin
Then on December 15th, three weeks after “Life of Brian” aired, the character was resurrected from the dead in the episode titled “Christmas Guy,” wherein Stewie, still grieving from the loss of his canine friend, runs into an alternate version of himself from a different timeline and borrows his time machine to travel back and prevent the fatal collision from happening (shown below).
Following the broadcast, Seth MacFarlane tweeted a message revealing that the writers had never intended to kill off Brian permanently:
And thus endeth our warm, fuzzy holiday lesson: Never take those you love for granted, for they can be gone in a flash.— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) December 16, 2013
Will It Ever Happen Again?
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane said his creative team behind Fox’s animated hit was shocked by fan reaction to (temporarily) killing off Brian earlier this season. “It surprised all of us,” the writer-producer-actor told a huddle of reporters after his Television Critics Association press tour panel Monday for his upcoming Fox astronomy documentary Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. “We were all very surprised, in a good way, that people still cared enough about that character to be that angry. We thought it would create a little bit of a stir, but the rage wasn’t something we counted on.”
MacFarlane also said he thinks the stunt helped the show’s ratings and revealed his reason behind the move: “It did what it was designed to do -- it reminded people this is still a show where anything that can happen despite the fact it’s been on for awhile.”
That said, fans can rest assured that Brian isn’t going to perish again. “Would I do it again? No. We already did it.”
International Business Times – Brian Griffin Death Backlash: ‘Family Guy’ Fanatics Lash Out At Seth MacFarlane On Twitter, Say It Should Have Been Meg
Wall Street Journal – Brian of ‘Family Guy’ Still Dead, Countdown Clock a Hoax
Washington Post – RIP Brian Griffin on ‘Family Guy’ -- the dog always dies