6:34pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Family Guy': Did Brian Return From the Dead?
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday's "Christmas Guy" episode of Fox's Family Guy.]
Three weeks after Fox's Family Guy shockingly killed off fan-favorite Brian, the Seth MacFarlane animated comedy used the Christmas spirit to bring the beloved pooch back to life.
During the holiday episode -- which opens with Vinnie still in the new opening credits -- the Griffins learn that the big Christmas Carnival at the local mall has been canceled, much to Stewie's chagrin. After Stewie has been acting out all week, new family dog Vinnie learns that the mall's owner -- Lois' father, Carter -- was responsible for the nixed carnival. It turns out that Carter has always hated Christmas, and Peter vows to teach him the Christmas spirit.
When Carter learns that everyone thinks he's Jewish, the carnival is back in business. But Stewie is still unhappy, upset that something is still missing. When he finally meets "Mall Santa," Stewie asks for the one thing he's missing: "I want my friend back. My best friend, my dog, Brian; he's dead. It's our first Christmas without him, and no one has even mentioned his name. I don't care about this stupid carnival or Christmas. I don't care about anything but Brian," a crying Stewie demands before adding a bike to his wish list.
Vinnie dresses up as Brian in a bid to cheer Stewie up, but it doesn't work. Instead, Vinnie takes Stewie shopping at the mall for anything he wants. There, he spots Stewie from the past and remembers that the time machine is in the other Stewie's backpack. Vinnie distracts the alt-Stewie, and present-day Stewie steals the time machine. He sets his time machine back to before Brian was struck and killed by a car and says goodbye to Vinnie. "Good dog, Vinnie, good dog," Stewie tells him.
He jumps back to the moment right before Brian was killed and saves his best friend. "You're alive my friend!" he exclaims. "I couldn't live without you, so I came back from the future to save your life."
"Thank you for saving my life," Brian says. "A lot of other families would have just gotten another dog and moved on." Future Stewie disappears and the Griffin family is happily reunited for Christmas, where Brian gives Stewie a framed picture of them together.
Following the conclusion of the episode on the East Coast, executive producer MacFarlane took to Twitter to break his silence on the storyline that saw diehard fans campaign for the character's return.
"And thus endeth our warm, fuzzy holiday lesson: Never take those you love for granted, for they can be gone in a flash," he wrote before adding: "I mean, you didn't really think we'd kill off Brian, did you? Jesus, we'd have to be fucking high." MacFarlane, who voices Brian, then followed it up with, "Oh and hey... thanks for caring so much about the canine Griffin. He is overcome with gratitude."
Are you happy that Brian's back? Watch Stewie save him in the clip below and hit the comments with your thoughts. Family Guy airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Fox.