Family Guy death: Is this really the end? (SPOILER)

MATT BUNGARD
Last updated 09:12 27/11/2013

Family Guy star killed off

Tony Sirico
REPLACEMENT: Vinny the dog (inset) on Family Guy is being voiced by Tony Sirico.
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So by now you've probably seen, or at least heard that of the death of one beloved Family Guy character.

OPINION: And you were probably outraged because Brian Griffin is the best character, confused that they would do something like this, or shocked that it wasn't Meg.

Brian is almost immediately replaced by the Griffins with a new dog named Vinny, who is voiced by actor Tony Sirico (The Sopranos).

But is this really the end? The precedent is certainly there for Brian to return, as South Park pulled a similar stunt midway through the show's fifth season, when Kenny was killed off ... only to return at the end of the following season.

That was a little different, as any fan of South Park knows that prior to his death, Kenny was killed in practically every episode of the show. And his absence did provide a rise to promince of Butters, who has become one of the most popular characters on the show.

Can Vinny, the new dog in Family Guy, strike a similar chord with viewers? As much as I love The Sopranos, I'm a little bit skeptical.

It was hinted in Vinny's debut episode that he's possibly linked to the world of organised crime (And of course it was assumed as such given we all associate Tony Sirico with Paulie Walnuts), but I can't help but feel the whole dog-with-attitude angle smacks of Poochie the Dog from The Simpson's Itchy and Scratchy Show, and we all saw how well that turned out.

And of course the popularity of Brian as one of the company's top merchandise sellers (along with Stewie) definitely raises eyebrows as to why they would kill off such a profitable character.

But perhaps two of the biggest hints that this might not be the last time we see the Griffin's beloved alcoholic pooch, is that two of the upcoming episode titles have been registered with the US copyright catalogue, titled Brian's a Bad Father and Brian's Got Back. That second one is particularly ominous.

The voice of Brian is show creator Seth MacFarlane, which means no matter what happens the window is still open for a return. Had it been Meg (Mila Kunis) or Chris (Seth Green) that had bitten the bullet, it may have been logistically tougher for the show to orchestrate a future return of Brian without people catching wind.

So is this just a ploy to boost ratings a draw attention to a show which, despite its huge popularity online, has shed one million TV viewers over the past four seasons? If the strategy is to draw people back in with this news and then bring Brian back after people start watching to see what happens, then it might pay dividends.

After all, the fan backlash has been swift to say the least. A farewell video published by FOX after the episode aired has already clocked more than one million hits, has more dislikes than likes and carries a swathe of angry comments from loyal viewers.

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Personally, Brian was my favourite character and one of the three stars (together with Peter and Stewie) that the show simply could not live without. And if he isn't resurrected, Family Guy might end up like That 70's Show when Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace left before the final season - and that's not a path we want to go down again.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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