WARNING: This article contains major spoilers from tonight's all-new episode of Family Guy! If you do not wish to know more about tonight's jaw-dropping twist, leave now before we unleash the evil monkey that lives in our office on you.
After more than 11 seasons of laughing along with the Griffin family, we thought we had seen it all on Family Guy—but we were dead wrong.
In Sunday night's mind-blowing episode of Seth MacFarlane's animated hit series, audiences were shocked to discover that Brian, the canine companion who has been in each and every episode since the pilot, was hit by a car and died. We're serious, you guys.
It gets worse. Earlier in the episode, Stewie dismantled his infamous time machine. Now the pint-size genius cannot get the necessary vital parts to repair it, thus losing the possibility to save his best friend's life. Confession: We have no shame in admitting that a cartoon made us cry tonight.
To help make sense of the stunning series changes that took place over a mere 22 minutes, we chatted with executive producer Steve Callaghan to figure out what on earth is going on in Quahog. From the decision that led to Brian's death, to reactions from the cast, and the new Sopranos-inspired pup who will be taking Brian's place in the opening credits, read on for all the exclusive details that you won't find anywhere else!
We can't believe that Brian is gone! What led you to make this crucial decision for the series?
Steve Callaghan: Well, this was an idea that got pitched in the writers room and it sort of caught fire, and we thought it could be a fun way to shake things up. As soon as this idea came up, we started talking about what the next couple episodes could be and we got very excited about the way this change will affect the family dynamics and the characters.
Why did you decide that Brian had to be the one to go and not one of the other characters?
It seemed more in the realm of reality that a dog would get hit by a car, than if one of the kids died. As much as we love Brian, and as much as everyone loves their pets, we felt it would be more traumatic to lose one of the kids, rather than the family pet.
How did long-time Family Guy actors, Mila Kunis and Seth Green, react once they learned that Brian would die in tonight's episode?
I think they were glad it wasn't them. [Laughs.] I think they were surprised, as anyone would be, and I think they were pretty stunned especially this far into the show. They were as shocked as anyone.
Why did you feel like you needed to bring another dog into the Griffin family right away?
It felt like the way that this show was conceived by Seth all those years ago, it was this entire family unit including the parents, kids and a dog. So by losing Brian, it felt like a void needed to be filled both comically, and also for the interpersonal relationships between all the characters. We felt that we needed to fill that role.
Of all the actors in the world, why did you have The Sopranos' Tony Sirico come in to voice the role of Vinny, the Griffin's new dog?
I think it was Seth's idea actually to get Tony to come in. He's a big fan of The Sopranos and always loved Tony Sirico in particular and he thought it would be fun to write a character based around his voice and his personality and just who he is as an actor.
We saw a little bit of Vinny's personality in tonight's episode. How does Vinny's demeanor compare to Brian's?
Oh they're very different. Brian was very smart and studios and intellectual, and Vinny is just a lot more of a rough around the edges.
Brian and Stewie were extremely close and developed a very strong bond over these past 11 seasons. Will Vinny and Stewie continue to grow closer?
Vinny is a really good match for Stewie. Where Brian was sort of a match for Stewie intellectually, Vinny is a good match for Stewie because he doesn't let Stewie get away with any crap. He'll call Stewie out on his B.S. freely.
What's coming up in the next all-new Family Guy episode airing Dec. 8?
It's just a regular, run-of-the-mill episode. Well, actually it's a super funny episode. Peter and Quagmire form a Simon and Garfunkel folk-type singing duo and there's a lot of funny and original songs that they write, which as you might expect, are really absurd and silly and stupid.
Killing off Brian is a really big shocker. Are you worried about the backlash from longtime Family Guy fans?
I'm not, only because our fans are smart enough and have been loyal to our show for long enough, to know that they can trust us. We always make choices that always work to the greatest benefit of the series.