Seth MacFarlane said the sudden, albeit temporary death of Family Guy‘s martini-sipping dog Brian was an attempt to show audiences that nothing is truly sacred in the animated sitcom’s universe, Entertainment Weekly reports. Speaking with reporters after the panel for his upcoming Fox astronomy documentary Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey at the Television Critics Association press tour, MacFarlane said, “It reminded people this is still a show where anything can happen despite the fact it’s been on for awhile.”
While the Family Guy creator copped to the fact that the move was a boon to the show’s ratings, he said he was equally amazed by the outpouring of fan outrage after Brian’s death. “We were all very surprised, in a good way, that people still cared enough about that character to be that angry,” MacFarlane said. “We thought it would create a little bit of a stir, but the rage wasn’t something we counted on.”
Still, it didn’t seem like MacFarlane (or the rest of the Family Guy team) planned on keeping Brian dead for that long: Though the Griffin’s briefly replaced their beloved dog with Vinny (voiced by The Soprano‘s Tony Sirico), the new pooch ended up helping Stewie go back in time to save Brian’s life in the show’s Christmas episode.
“And thus endeth our warm, fuzzy holiday lesson: Never take those you love for granted, for they can be gone in a flash,” MacFarlane tweeted after the episode, adding: “I mean, you didn’t really think we’d kill off Brian, did you? Jesus, we’d have to be fucking high.”