After years of shocking fans with risque humor, Fox’s Family Guy seemingly violated one of the most cardinal rules of screenwriting Sunday night: Never kill a dog.
Fan-favorite talking pooch Brian was run over by a car and “died” last night, sparking fan outrage. One apparent viewer from Alabama has launched a Change.org petition demanding the writers revive the character: “Brian Griffin was an important part of our viewing experience. He added a witty and sophisticated element to the show. Family Guy and Fox Broadcasting will lose viewers if Brian Griffin is not brought back to the show.” The petition has received nearly 2,000 signatures so far.
It’s tough to take Family Guy’s move all that seriously. It feels silly to even point this out, but Family Guy is an animated show that indulges in some extreme anything-goes plotting. Stewie dismantled his time machine, but what’s to keep him from building another? (Yeah, I know, he’s missing some material, but c’mon.) Or Brian could be revived in several other ways. The character is voiced by creator Seth MacFarlane, so it’s not like an actor is departing the show. It’s very tough to imagine, given Brian’s popularity and Family Guy’s style, this dog staying dead.
The petitioner’s ratings threat brings up an interesting point, however: Will this stunt spark renewed interest in the show or turn fans off? Or neither? Family Guy ratings are down 19 percent this fall compared to last year and the show is on track to have its lowest-rated season since it returned to Fox during the 2004-05 season, so it could use a boost. Fox and the studio had no comment on the petition.