(CNN) — It’s a shame what “Family Guy” has done to its dog.
On Sunday’s episode of the animated Fox series, the Griffin family pooch, Brian, was killed. (Seriously.)
The intelligent and verbose pet was headed into the street to play with his ace companion, mischievous baby Stewie, when he was struck by an oncoming car. His injuries were so severe, he ended up having to say farewell to the family he’s bonded with since 1999.
Naturally, fans don’t know what to make of this shocking news, with some having suggestions for another character who could’ve said goodbye.
“OUT OF ALL CHARACTERS THEYRE KILLING OFF BRIAN. WHY COULDN’T THEY KILL OFF MEG?” said one Twitter user. “YOURE A COMEDY, NOT A DRAMA. DONT GO KILLING OFF CHARACTERS. GO HOME FAMILY GUY, YOURE DRUNK,” railed another.
To make matters worse, the series has replaced Brian with another pup named Vinny, voiced by “The Sopranos’ ” Tony Sirico.
“So Brian gets hit by a car and dies, the Griffins get a new dog, and if Stewie doesnt rebuild the time machine, I’m boycotting,” threatened Todd Bailey.
According to “Family Guy” executive producer Steve Callaghan, creator Seth MacFarlane is 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,” he told E! News.
Apparently, the idea to kill off Brian was thrown out into the writers room, and “it sort of caught fire” as “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,” Callaghan said.
MacFarlane’s hit is now in its 12th season, and the creator has said that he’d be OK with “Family Guy” ending its run. In an October 2011 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the multitasking actor/writer/producer said he’d have been fine with wrapping the series a few years ago.
“Part of me thinks ‘Family Guy’ should have already ended,” he told the magazine. “I think seven seasons is about the right lifespan for a TV series. I talk to fans, and in a way I’m kind of secretly hoping for them to say ‘we’re done with it.’ “
Viewers might wonder whether this move is a way to dissuade them from tuning in, but Callaghan doesn’t foresee any backlash.
“Our fans are smart enough and have been loyal to our show for long enough, to know that they can trust us,” he told E!. “We always make choices that always work to the greatest benefit of the series.”