Nov. 25, 2013 at 8:37 AM ET
Instead of going for the usual laughs on Sunday, Fox's "Family Guy" delivered a tearful episode as the Griffin family said goodbye to beloved dog Brian.
While playing a game of street hockey with best friend Stewie, the alcoholic pooch (voiced by show creator Seth MacFarlane) was hit by a car during the season 12 episode, titled "Life of Brian." As he lay dying on the vet's operating table, a bruised and bloodied Brian bid a heart-wrenching goodbye to his family: "You've given me a wonderful life. I love you all."
And then he died.
Little Stewie tried to change the tragic course of events by rebuilding the time machine he destroyed earlier in the episode, but failed.
But the little boy may not be without a sidekick for too long. A month after Brian's death, mom Lois suggested the family get a new dog to help them move on. The Griffins brought Vinnie home, and after plotting to destroy the new dog, the toddler and Vinnie (voiced by "Sopranos" actor Tony Sirico) bonded.
The death had fans buzzing online, with some not believing that the popular character who's been at the center of so many episodes could be gone.
Executive producer Steve Callaghan told E! Online that the show decided that it should be Brian who would die because it was more realistic.
"It seemed more in the real of a reality that a dog would get hit by a car, than if one of the kids died," Callaghan said. "As much as we love Brian, as much as anyone loves their pets, we felt it would be more traumatic to lose one of the kids, rather than the family pet."
Callaghan also said he's not worried about any potential backlash at killing off the beloved character.
"Our fans are smart enough and have been loyal to our show for long enough, to know they can trust us," he told E! Online. "We always make choices that work to the greatest benefit of the series."
"Family Guy" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Fox.