Ahead of Sunday’s episode, the long-running cartoon’s staff had teased the death of one of its major characters. To the shock and surprise of many, the character that got killed off was Brian Griffin, the Griffin family’s dog and one of Family Guy’s most enduring and iconic characters, especially with Brian’s unique relationship with baby Stewie. Brian, who was voiced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, was run over by a speeding car in Sunday’s episode, fittingly titled Life of Brian. And while Stewie would have normally been able to save his dog by using his time machine, he was unable to do so, having just disassembled the machine. Brian was replaced in that same episode by a new dog named Vinnie, who is voiced by Sopranos star Tony Sirico.
According to Family Guy executive producer Steve Callaghan, the decision to kill off Brian Griffin was an idea that “sort of caught fire” during writers’ meetings, and a “fun way to shake things up” on the show. “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,” said Callaghan in an interview with E! Online. He added that killing off a human character would have been “too traumatic” a theme, which is why the writers decided to kill the family dog instead.