Death is tough to deal with, whether it happened in real life or on the television screen. Brian Griffin (Seth McFarlane) of “Family Guy”, was killed off in last week’s episode, “Life of Brian”. The Griffin’s family dog couldn’t be saved after he was hit by a car just before playing road hockey with Stewie (MacFarlane). After a month of mourning, the family picks out a new dog, Vinny (Tony Siricio). How did viewers react to the episode? Not well.
I didn’t watch “Family Guy” religiously or follow a season, but the news is still sad. Brian was one of the show’s main characters and the family pet. His death is shocking, but that’s what executive producer Steve Callaghan hoped for. He also told E! Online’s Leanne Aguilera Brian’s death “seemed more in the realm of reality” than killing off one of the Griffin children. It gave “Family Guy” publicity, alright, but will it last? The stakes are too high for the show to have longevity. It’s not the first TV death, won’t be the last, and the response is negative so far.
Something Seems Strangely Familiar…
Remember Poochie (Dan Castellaneta) on “The Simpsons”? If you don’t, he was a dog added to “IThe Itchy and Scratchy Show” to boost popularity. The episode was appropriately titled “The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show”. “Itchy and Scratchy” fans were disappointed with his character, so he was killed off in his second appearance. This isn’t the first death on “The Simpsons”, let alone the only death of an animal on the show. Snowball II was also killed in the episode “I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot”. Lisa (Yeardley Smith) tries two replacements, but they also perish. The episode ends with her bonding with “Snowball V”, quickly renamed to Snowball II. It was announced earlier this fall that one of “The Simpsons” characters would be killed off, with executive producer Al Jean hinting the future casualty is voiced by an Emmy winner.
This isn’t the first time “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” were compared. They’re both Fox animated sitcoms, so naturally there are going to be similarities. Sentencing their characters to death is one of them. Either way, I’ve seen plenty of deaths through books, movies, and television of all genres. It’s obvious that characters will die to add tension and realism. People are going to be bored with both shows if they use the same formula to draw fans.
A Short Aftermath
The show’s critical reception is still fairly strong, with an 8.4 star ranking on IMDB.com. With this in mind, the episode itself ranks 4.2 on the same website. Jim Slotek of the Niagara Falls Review also notes “to the extent I found the show funny at all, it was usually in the college-level give and take between Brian and Stewie”. There are petitions on Change.com to bring him back, including one with 118,309 signatures. Fans also reacted strongly on Twitter, and created a hashtag in his memory. Articles from Hollywood Life and Headlines & Global News, among many, also displayed the reception. Yes, the episode drew attention to “Family Guy”, but there are always fans who will leave the nest once a beloved character is gone.
There’s currently speculation that Brian might return for a Christmas episode, but the rumours were shot down by 20th Century Fox. Upcoming episodes such as “Brian’s a Bad Father” and “Brian the Closer” indicate he could come back, and there’s rumours of a possible spin off, according to Hollywood Life. Only time will tell if Brian returns, even if it’s just a flashback in a future “Family Guy” episode. Either way, the petition and Twitter reactions indicate the fans are not pleased about the decision.