Family Guy writers killed off Brian the dog in the latest episode of the beloved adult animated sitcom.
Brian, a self-described liberal writer dog who was also an alcoholic, was run over by a car during Sunday's episode and later died of his injuries. Before shutting his eyes for good, he thanked the Griffins for giving him a wonderful life.
Executive producer Steve Callaghan told E! News they decided to kill off Brian because his death would be easier to digest than that of a human family member.
"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," he explained.
The late family dog was immediately replaced by a new dog, Vinny, voiced by Tony Sirico from The Sopranos. Callaghan said the decision to bring in a new dog so quickly stemmed from McFarlane's initial vision for the show.
"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," he said. "By losing Brian, it felt like a void needed to be filled both comically, and also for the interpersonal relationships between all the characters."
Callaghan added that he was not worried about the backlash that might ensue after Brian's death.
"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," he said.
Brian, who was voiced by McFarlane himself, was 11.
[NY Daily News]