In its twelfth season, it seems like there are two camps concerning Family Guy: the first is made up of those who still watch the show, and the second contains people who don't care about it at all. If, for some reason, you occupy the middle ground—don't watch the show anymore but desperately want to know what the Griffin clan is up to—here's who died on Family Guy tonight.
It was Brian, the talking dog.
Following some time machine hijinks, Brian and Stewie—a talking baby who sometimes says adult things that babies shouldn't say—decided to destroy the time machine. Later, while playing street hockey, Brian got hit by a car. He died. Because Stewie had destroyed his time machine, Brian is seemingly dead forever. The Griffins then adopted another talking dog, but this one has a New York accent.
Executive producer Steve Callaghan told E! that "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." They also thought that Brian would be a good candidate to get hit by a car because he is a dog and "It seemed more in the realm of a reality that a dog would get hit by a car." (Just as a reminder: this episode also involved time travel, so, yes, realism.)
Logistically, it would also make sense to kill off one of the Seth MacFarlane-voiced characters, since he's moved on to other projects such as an immigration cartoon and the cultural low bar that is Dads. The new dog, Vinnie, is voiced by Tony Sirico, better known as Paulie Walnuts from The Sopranos.
Brian has also become an inconsistent character on the show, which is partly due to the fact that Family Guy has been on the air for over a decade and the show has never been particularly concerned with character development. The writers even addressed its whiplash use of Brian head-on a few seasons ago:
Over at The AV Club, Eric Thurm gave the episode a thumbs up:
The show’s handling of Brian’s death is commendable. Brian’s death scene and subsequent funeral are actually pretty poignant, coming as close as Family Guy can to genuinely moving. Considering the plasticity of Family Guy’s situations (Meg died at the end of an episode just a couple of weeks ago), it should be difficult to get us really invested in Brian’s death and the Griffin’s pain, since he’ll probably just back next week, right?
Fans online were also shocked to hear about the death of a cartoon dog.
Thanks for completely breaking my heart tonight, Family Guy. #RIPBrianGriffin— Sarah Mirosevic (@mirosebabe) November 25, 2013
Brian died on family guy tonight and they got a new dog WTF I wanna cry #RIPBrianGriffin— Carson Fernandez (@FernandezCarson) November 25, 2013
Family Guy is gonna be TRASH now. #RIPBrianGriffin. VERY stupid decision, Seth. Very stupid.— celsz . (@PureBlueMeth) November 25, 2013
The "major death" trope is now becoming a pattern in FOX's sunday night animation lineup. The Simpsons also plans to kill off a major character this year. It's probably Homer.