Family Guy Kills Off Major Character — and Why We’re Glad (If It’s Real)

28 Nov

I don’t really know if we need to put a spoiler alert on this, but if you don’t know who died on Family Guy and don’t want to know yet, stop reading.

Otherwise, here are our thoughts on this development.

As most people know, on last Sunday’s episode of Family Guy entitled “Life of Brian”, family dog Brian Griffin got hit by a car and died. He was replaced with new family dog Vinny, voiced by Tony Sirico from The Sopranos.

Shortly after this happened, people on Twitter freaked out, and now there is a petition to bring him back, with thousands of signatures.

The producers had been intending to have a character die (namely Brian) since the beginning of this season, as is evident in this interview with Family Guy producer Steve Callaghan. Some people even think that the move was a deliberate act of sabotage.

Many fans were upset with this development, but I and several other people I know are relieved by this. Over time, we have witnessed Brian’s progression as a character, and how he has become increasingly pretentious, self-righteous and generally awful throughout the show’s seasons.

After all, the death of a character isn’t new for Family Guy, they’ve killed off news anchors and bosses. The Simpsons plans to kill another character as well (in addition to Maude Flanders, and the inevitable demise of Edna Krabappel’s character), as referenced here. Apparently even the cast don’t know which character it will be. I think the death of a character can create good changes in a TV show. After all, things in real life are always changing.

Family Guy vomiting

I’ve watched the show since its’ humble beginnings, and have always loved it. I’ve seen every episode. I think that’s why I’ve been noticing Brian’s flaws surfacing, and it has annoyed me greatly. He has easily become my least favorite character on the show.

I think Brian’s flaws really began to surface in the season 6 episode “Movin’ Out (Brian’s Song)”, as his shallowness towards women began to show. Then, season 6’s episode “Play It Again, Brian” really shows Brian’s intense desire for Lois, and how he thinks his best friend Peter isn’t good enough for her. Also in season 6, in the episode “The Former Life of Brian”, we meet Brian’s son — but this is the first and last time we see him. Deadbeat father, anyone?

Further evidence of Brian’s shallowness towards women is seen in the season 8 episode “Brian’s Got a Brand New Bag”, where he dates an older woman, but becomes obsessed with her age and cheats with a younger woman. Three episodes later in season 8, in the episode “Jerome is the New Black”, Brian and Quagmire have dinner, and Quagmire proceeds to go on a long rant about everything he hates about Brian. The rant’s attack is intense, but after hearing everything Quagmire has to say, I seriously agreed that pretty much everything he says is true.

To read bits of Quagmire’s rant, check out this article.

After season 8’s developments, I think the season that really hit it home (for me) about how awful of a character Brian is was season 9. In “Excellence in Broadcasting”, one of my least favorite episodes of Family Guy ever, you see Brian’s preconceived notions of politics backfire on him, and he eventually completely changes his political position completely. But then, by the end of the episode, he reverts totally back to his original stance! In season 9’s “Brian Writes a Bestseller”, Brian fully shows his terrible true colors. Stewie and Brian have always had such a great connection on the show. In this episode, Stewie tries to help Brian with his phony self-help book by becoming his publicist. But despite that, Brian becomes a total jerk, constantly berating and eventually firing Stewie! This was another episode I pretty much hated. Finally, season 9’s “Tiegs for Two” continues to portray Brian as a shallow, ridiculous character, and he has his second major on-screen feud with Quagmire.

Remember this?

Remember this?

Perhaps ironically, in season 10, Brian tells Peter how the Tea Party is a “tool of big business”. And then in Family Guy‘s 11th season, “Brian’s Play” again features success going to Brian’s head despite his lack of writing talent.

All of these arguments, despite the fantastic episodes with Stewie and Brian as a comedic team, are the reasons why I am glad Family Guy‘s writers decided to kill off Brian. I think Vinny will be an interesting development in the show.

At first, I thought the whole thing was a gag only to have Brian reappear, or that Vinny would have secretly bad intentions (as ‘New Brian’ did, and was quickly killed in season 7’s “The Man with Two Brians”). However, by the end of the episode, you see a bond with new chemistry form between Stewie and Vinny.

This death of a character and addition of a new character may actually end up helping the freshness of the series. After all, Seth MacFarlane himself has said he thought the show should have already ended.

We also need to consider the possibility that they are intending to bring Brian back. People are even making hoax sites such as this one, of which the Family Guy producers deny any involvement.

If Brian truly is dead, here is TMZ’s “Remembering Brian Griffin” feature in his memory. I do have respect for his longevity (if he really is gone). Many people say they will no longer watch the show without Brian, but I know I will, and I will be happy about doing so.

3 Responses to “Family Guy Kills Off Major Character — and Why We’re Glad (If It’s Real)”

  1. reduolf November 28, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    In between the scatterings of episodes that you show Brian up as a negative character, there are many more where he’s a genuinely nice guy.

    Season 7: He backs up his liberal intentions with legalising marijuana, and stops Meg blindly devoting her entire life to religion.

    Season 8: Talks Meg down when she becomes a thug, and that bank vault episode was pure and utter class.

    Season 9: Went all the way to the North Pole with Stewie to ensure his safety, offered his kidneys to Peter.

    Season 11: saved Stewie’s life (TWICE)

    His Republicanism was out of character in that one episode. Pointless! All of his other intentions during the series show his liberalism (got gay marriage leaglized for his cousin, drives a Prius, legalized marijuana).

    In Brian’s Play, he just wanted to have some praise for himself (for the few years that remained of his life), before Stewie used the rest of his life (70 years) to be a great writer. Anyway, his play was a huge success in Quahog, but the pretentious Broadway lot were too highbrow for it.

    BOTTOM LINE: Brian was mainly a very nice, charming, friendly guy during his time on Family Guy. Yes he was a douche, but that’s the beauty of Brian! His character is varied, he isn’t one-joke (like Peter and Quagmire).
    Vinny isn’t a great replacement, he is just built on stereotypes and forced laughs. His relationship with Stewie isn’t nearly as good as the love-hate brilliance that went on between Brian and Stewie. No one can replace Brian, certainly not a stereotypical Italian dog!

    Vinny is apparently hiding a criminal past, so when that part of his character is revealed (next episode?) Stewie probably won’t be so welcoming.

    Brian and Stewie MADE that show great. Without their duo, the show will get old very quickly!

  2. reduolf November 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Also, as you said, this death is likely to be temporary. Brian is far too important and popular to be gone forever. Him and Stewie are the top merchandising products for the show, he’s the only one who appeared in every single episode (up to now), and it’s BRIAN!

    Have you seen the reaction online? Anger! All top Facebook comments are about “Bring Back Brian” (13,000 like for ONE comment).
    500,000 people ‘liked’ his RIP photo.
    Nearly a million people have ‘liked’ his RIP page.
    Twitter has been going mad, and “#BringBackBrian” was trending.
    110,000 have signed online petition to return him!

    Yep, he’ll be back!

    • The CWPPI Group November 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

      You make really good points. I really do like Brian in some episodes. I do hate it when they take him out of character. But he has apologized for much of his douchery, to be fair.

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