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December 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The death of Brian, the family dog in Fox’s Family Guy, was just a ratings ploy, as many fans of the show had suspected all along. That ploy seemed to have worked, boosting the show’s audience in the U.S. by more than one million viewers to 6.72 million on Sunday night. It also generated thousands of tweets from outraged fans all over the world and 150,000 signatures on an online petition. But there he was in Sunday night’s Christmas special — returned from the dead thanks to a time-traveling Stewie, three weeks after becoming the victim of a hit-and-run driver and replaced by a new family dog, Vinny, voiced by Sopranos actor Tony Sirico. (Not revealed on Sunday was what will now happen to Vinny.) Not that the tweets and petition had anything to do with Brian’s return; it takes more than three weeks to crank out an animated TV episode. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop the London Daily Mail from reporting in its lede, “After fans grew outraged over the death of Brian Griffin last month, Family Guy has brought the beloved canine back to life.” But Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald wasn’t fooled, writing, “This was in no way a response to negative receptions of Brian’s death. It was clearly a plan all along.”