Fans Boo 'Family Guy' Dog Death, But Will It Bring Bryan Back?

Nov 26, 2013
Originally published on November 26, 2013 4:56 pm
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Some Sunday night TV watchers are outraged, and tens of thousands have signed an online petition to bring back a rather cheeky talking dog. Brian is a favorite character among fans of the animated comedy "Family Guy." The character died on the show, on Sunday. And the reaction on social media was swift, as we hear from NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: First, Brian is no Clifford the Big Red Dog. This white lab is sarcastic, drives a car, drinks martinis.

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BLAIR: Sunday night, Brian...

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BLAIR: ...was hit by a car, and died.

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BLAIR: Pretty soon, fans were all over social media, lamenting the shocking news. The petition on change.org warned Fox that it would lose viewers. TV producers do pay attention to what fans are saying online. Consider the action drama "Jericho," from 2006.

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BLAIR: The ratings were poor, and CBS canceled it after one season. Fans attacked with petitions and websites.

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BLAIR: CBS brought "Jericho" back. But the ratings did even worse, and the series was discontinued. "Family Guy" isn't at risk of being canceled, but its ratings are down. The show's executive producer told E! Online, they killed Brian partly because they thought it could be a fun way to shake things up.

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BLAIR: The Griffin family pet was a unique character. He used to berate squirrels.

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BLAIR: James Hibberd, of Entertainment Weekly, says the producers are probably thrilled with the reaction to Brian's death.

JAMES HIBBERD: I mean, if they killed off Brian and nobody cared, that would be a bummer.

BLAIR: Hibberd points out that "Family Guy" has been saved by its loyal following before. Back in 2001, Fox canceled "Family Guy" after just three seasons. But it was so popular in syndication on cable, the network brought it back.

HIBBERD: I mean, the entire show has died and come back. So I definitely think that the dog is going to be seen again.

BLAIR: Meantime, there's a new dog on the show.

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BLAIR: His name's Vinny, and he's voiced by the actor who played Paulie on "The Sopranos."

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.