Fans Boo 'Family Guy' Dog Death, But Will It Bring Bryan Back? Fans of the animated comedy Family Guy got a shock Monday. Some wailed about it on Twitter and Facebook. Spoiler alert: The episode was about the death of Brian, the family dog. One fan started a petition to insist that Fox bring back Brian. It reached 30,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. But the internet has made petitions so easy, they may have lost their power.
NPR logo

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

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/247392827/247397342" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Fans Boo 'Family Guy' Dog Death, But Will It Bring Bryan Back?

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

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

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/247392827/247397342" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Fans of the animated comedy Family Guy got a shock Monday. Some wailed about it on Twitter and Facebook. Spoiler alert: The episode was about the death of Brian, the family dog. One fan started a petition to insist that Fox bring back Brian. It reached 30,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. But the internet has made petitions so easy, they may have lost their power.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FAMILY GUY")

BLAIR: Sunday night, Brian...

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FAMILY GUY")

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

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FAMILY GUY")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "JERICHO")

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

(SOUNDBITE OF ADVERTISEMENT)

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FAMILY GUY")

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

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FAMILY GUY")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FAMILY GUY")

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

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.