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Brian the dog to return to 'Family Guy': Did fans bring him back?

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Brian the dog's death upset a lot of "Family Guy" fans, so they'll be glad to learn that he's returning to the show just in time for Christmas (cue cutaway joke about Jesus being resurrected). So was the plan to bring Brian back all along, or are fans responsible for Brian's return?

According to a Dec. 6 report by ABC News, Brian the dog will return in a "Family Guy" episode titled "Christmas Guy." The description of the plot reads, "Stewie devises a master plan to get the one and only thing he wants for Christmas." Isn't it obvious what that one and only thing will be?

In "Life of Brian," the "Family Guy" creators dropped a small hint that Brian might be coming back. Before the beloved pooch died, Stewie revealed that he used his time machine to go to the future to get his Christmas presents early. The baby genius later destroyed his time machine, making it impossible for him to go back in time to save Brian from being hit by a car. However, now all he has to do to get his time machine back is wait for his future self to show up around the Christmas holidays.

There were other hints that Brian the dog wasn't going to be dead forever. Upset "Family Guy" fans quickly discovered an old news report about an upcoming episode of the show set to air next fall. In the episode, Brian takes up running to impress a woman voiced by Maya Rudolph. So he'll be back to annoying fans with his behavior in no time.

A change.org petition begging the "Family Guy" creators to bring Brian back garnered over 128,000 signatures, but it seems like fans played no part in the decision to undo his death—it's obviously been the plan all along. Now it will be interesting to see if the show keeps new dog Vinnie around or if he ends up getting whacked.

Fans will get at least one Brian-free episode before "Christmas Guy" airs on Dec. 15. This Sunday's episode is titled "Into Harmony's Way" and is about Peter and Quagmire attempting to become the next Simon and Garfunkel. Quagmire should be in good spirits since he wasn't the biggest fan of Peter's old furry friend.

So why did the creators kill Brian the dog off in the first place? Maybe it was a stunt to get the attention of old viewers who quit watching the show, or maybe they wanted to gauge just how much fans still care about "Family Guy." Seth MacFarlane once said that he thought the show should have ended a long time ago, so perhaps he was hoping no one would care about the death so that he can finally feel okay about putting the series down. Perhaps he thought now would be a good time for the show to go since FOX is slowly changing its animation domination block. "Bob's Burgers" features a new beloved (dog-less) family; "The Cleveland Show" has been canceled; and "American Dad" is moving to TBS. MacFarlane is working on a new FOX cartoon titled "Bordertown," so maybe he was hoping to prove that interest in "Family Guy" has waned so that he can focus on working on his new baby (he definitely needs something to distract himself from the disaster that is "Dads").

So do you think that the major fan reaction to the death of Brian the dog will result in "Family Guy" sticking around for a few more seasons? And do you think that Vinnie will survive the return of Stewie's best friend? Judging from what happened to New Brian in "The Man with two Brians," Vinnie should be just a little worried.

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