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|Family Guy character|
Brian Griffin holding a drink in his hand.
|First appearance||"Death Has a Shadow"|
|Created by||Seth MacFarlane|
|Voiced by||Seth MacFarlane|
|Full name||Brian Griffin|
|Species||Dog (Labrador Retriever)|
|Family Guy character|
Brian Griffin holding a drink in his hand.
|First appearance||"Death Has a Shadow"|
|Created by||Seth MacFarlane|
|Voiced by||Seth MacFarlane|
|Full name||Brian Griffin|
|Species||Dog (Labrador Retriever)|
Brian Griffin is a fictional character from the animated television series Family Guy. An anthropomorphic dog, voiced by Seth MacFarlane, he is one of the show's main characters and a member of the Griffin family.
He first appeared on television, along with the rest of the family, in a 15-minute short on December 20, 1998. Brian was created and designed by MacFarlane himself. MacFarlane was asked to pitch a pilot to the Fox Broadcasting Company based on The Life of Larry and Larry & Steve, two shorts made by MacFarlane (the second one at Hanna-Barbera for Cartoon Network's "What-A-Cartoon" project) which featured a middle-aged character named Larry and an intellectual dog, Steve. After the pilot was given the green light, the Griffin family appeared on the episode "Death Has a Shadow".
Brian is a member of the Griffin family. He primarily worked in the series as a struggling writer attempting essays, books, novels, screenplays and newspaper articles. His appearance was a redesign of the protagonist Steve from MacFarlane's previous animated short films, The Life of Larry & Steve. He has been featured in much of the Family Guy merchandise, including toys, t-shirts, and video games, and has made crossover appearances in the other MacFarlane-produced shows, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show.
As a character, Brian has been well received by critics and fans. When Brian was killed off in the Season 12 episode, "Life of Brian," the events of the episode received substantial attention from the press and elicited strongly negative reactions from fans of the show. Brian subsequently returned two episodes later, in "Christmas Guy", after Stewie travels back in time to save him.
Brian is a white-furred anthropomorphic dog. He can talk, generally walks on his hind legs (using his front legs as arms), has opposable thumbs, drives a Toyota Prius, and often acts more rationally than many of the other characters in the series. He is the pet dog and close friend of the Griffin family.
Brian has a particularly close friendship with Stewie, and many of the show's sub-plots center around them. They are occasionally at the center of the plot (for instance in the Road to... episodes). Brian and Stewie have shown affection to each other several times, and in the episode Brian and Stewie, they admitted that they loved each other, not as lovers, but as close friends, though Stewie has shown signs of romantic and sexual interest in Brian in other episodes.
Brian is fond of dry martinis and was seen to have some issues in various episodes when he is told or forced to stop drinking. He smokes occasionally, although in the episode Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington, after seeing Peter promoting a corrupt cigarette company, he quit smoking, although he resumed his habit of smoking at the end of that episode. He also occasionally smokes marijuana. After a brief stint as a drug sniffing dog, he developed a severe cocaine addiction, but after spending time in rehab he managed to quit. He is the son of Coco and Biscuit, who are normal dogs, though Brian's human attributes have been present since he was a puppy. He is also an Iraq War veteran because Stewie signed him up for the Army in "Saving Private Brian".
Family Guy uses a floating timeline in which the characters do not age much, so the show is always assumed to be set in the current year. However, several of the characters, such as Meg Griffin, have aged two to three years since the show's pilot episode, while others, such as Stewie and Brian, have aged very little. At the start of the series, Brian was 7, but later turned 8 years old.
In several episodes, events have been linked to specific times, although this timeline has been contradicted in subsequent episodes. An example of this is when in "Brian: Portrait of a Dog", Peter is shown in a flashback finding a fully grown Brian as a stray. However, in "The Man with Two Brians", Brian tries to regain attention from the Griffin family by showing them home videos of him as a puppy. Although none of the videos of him as a puppy showed any member of the Griffin family, so it is possible that the videos were filmed by a previous owner. He also has a (human) son named Dylan, who, like Brian, is also a regular marijuana smoker. Brian manages to turn Dylan's life around, from a violent, uneducated teenager, to a well-mannered friendly young man.
Brian is an aspiring but struggling writer — this is said to be a reference to Snoopy from Peanuts. Brian is unemployed, but he is often seen writing various novels, screenplays or essays. In the episode "Play it Again, Brian", Brian won an award for an essay he wrote, though he later admits that he plagiarized the piece. His difficult writing career is used as a recurring joke throughout the series.
In the episode "420", Brian finally publishes his novel Faster Than the Speed of Love, and the novel is shipped, but it is critically panned and does not sell a single copy. In the episode "Dog Gone", he receives an invitation (from the Rhode Island Society for Special Literary Excellence) to an award ceremony celebrating his novel. Brian, convinced that he is a great writer, attempts to gain the family's interest in this piece of news but fails to do so. Once he arrives at the "award ceremony", however, he discovers that he has misunderstood the meaning of the word "special".
Later in the episode "Brian Griffin's House of Payne", he writes a television script entitled "What I Learned on Jefferson Street", and it was shown to a TV network who picked it up after reading it. Although the script was good, the finished product was not, as James Woods intervened and turned Brian's script into a farcical comedy piece. In the episode "Brian Writes a Bestseller", Brian writes a bestselling self-help book, Wish It, Want It, Do It, which he wrote in a few hours. The book is an immediate success, but Brian lets the fame go to his head. He eventually causes the downfall of his book's popularity, and things go back to normal. It is mentioned again to get a girl in Yug Ylimaf.
Brian's latest literary attempt came in the episode "Brian's Play", where Brian writes a play entitled A Passing Fancy. The play becomes very popular in Quahog; however, Brian is upset when he realizes that Stewie had since written a play which was better than his. Stewie's play was eventually shown on Broadway. Brian became depressed by this, as he only wanted to be a good writer for the few years which remain of his life, and not have to be overshadowed by Stewie, who has his whole life ahead of him.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane created a cartoon short entitled Life of Larry. The short centered around a middle-aged man named Larry and his anthropomorphic dog Steve. In 1999, when MacFarlane was working for Hanna-Barbera Studios, writing for shows such as Johnny Bravo, Dexter's Laboratory, and Cow and Chicken, he made a sequel to Life of Larry (the original was broadcast by Cartoon Network in 1995). The short caught the eye of 20th Century Fox representatives, who asked him to create a TV series revolving around the characters. MacFarlane received a US$50,000 budget to develop a pilot for the show, which was, as MacFarlane stated in a 2006 interview, "[...] about one twentieth of what most pilots cost". MacFarlane claims to have drawn inspiration from several sitcoms, namely The Simpsons and All in the Family. Several premises were also carried over from several 1980s Saturday morning cartoons he watched as a child, namely The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, and Rubik, the Amazing Cube.
In three months, MacFarlane created the Griffin family and developed a pilot for the show he called Family Guy. Brian's character was largely based on Steve, and Larry would be the main inspiration for the Peter character.
The voice of Brian is provided by series creator Seth MacFarlane, who also provides the voice for Peter Griffin, Stewie Griffin, and Glenn Quagmire. In addition, MacFarlane provides the voices for various other recurring and one-time only characters, most prominently those of news anchor Tom Tucker, Lois' father Carter Pewterschmidt, and Dr. Elmer Hartman. MacFarlane has been part of the main voice cast from the beginning of the series, and has always voiced Brian from the start. MacFarlane chose to voice Peter and the rest of his characters' voices himself, believing it would be easier to portray the voices he already envisioned than for someone else to attempt it.
While the voices of Peter and Stewie were inspired from a security guard and Rex Harrison, respectively, Brian's voice is MacFarlane's normal speaking voice. MacFarlane noted in an interview that a reason that he voices Peter and the rest of the characters he portrays is because they had a small budget and because he prefers to have the freedom of doing it himself.
There has been one occasion where MacFarlane did not voice Brian. This was in one short scene of the episode "Road to the Multiverse" (season 8, 2009), where Brian was voiced by Japanese actor Kotaro Watanabe instead of MacFarlane in a scene where everything in the world is Japanese. MacFarlane noted that actor William H. Macy auditioned for the role of Brian.
Brian was born on a farm in Austin, Texas, on an unspecified date. This was revealed in the episode "Road to Rhode Island", where Brian and Stewie inadvertently travel to Austin and find Brian's birthplace. On the same trip, Brian learns that his mother, Biscuit, died about a year before his arrival at the farm, and had been stuffed by her owners and turned into a table. Out of sympathy, Brian (with the help of Stewie) buries his mother's body in a nearby park, before traveling back to Quahog. Biscuit appears very briefly in a later episode, "Chris Cross", when Brian is having a flashback, recalling nostalgic memories of his early life.
Also in "Road to Rhode Island", a flashback reveals that Brian was taken away from his mother at a very young age. From that point until the chronological beginning of Family Guy it is unknown what happened to Brian, other than he somehow made it to Rhode Island and was rescued by Peter. However, in the episode "Brian Goes Back to College" it is revealed that Brian attended Brown University for a short time during that period, but did not graduate. During that episode, Brian goes back to his former college and attempts to finish the course he began. At the end of the episode, despite failing his final exam, he is proud that he didn't cheat his way to graduation.
In a later episode, "Farmer Guy", Brian does attend an agricultural college to help the family on their new farm. His time there was successful, but by the time he returned, the family had turned the farm into a meth lab.
Brian frequently gets drunk with Peter and his neighbors Joe Swanson and Glenn Quagmire at "The Drunken Clam," Quahog's local tavern. Brian dates a lot of women throughout the seasons of the show. He normally looks for women who are similar to him or share the same interests, though he has often been shown being drawn to women for purely physical reasons. In the episode "Brian the Bachelor" (season 4, 2005), Brian participates in ABC's The Bachelorette and falls in love with the bachelorette, Brooke, because they shared the same interests. He dated Jillian Russell, who, introduced in the episode "Whistle While Your Wife Works" (season 5, 2006), became a recurring character in future episodes of the series. Jillian's final character personality was designed to be a stereotypical "dumb blonde", a "bulimic cheerleader," and "not the brightest bauble on the tree."
Brian has a cultured background; he loves opera and jazz; and is vocally talented. In the episodes "Brian Sings and Swings" and "Tales of a Third Grade Nothing", Brian meets Frank Sinatra, Jr. and they both sing together on-stage. As well as his vocal ability, he can also play the guitar, (as shown in "Meet the Quagmires") as well as the piano (shown in "Friends of Peter G)."
He tends to hold liberal political positions, even though Lois points out in the episode "Excellence in Broadcasting" that he is merely a contrarian. However many of his actions and aims throughout the series reiterate his position as a liberal. For instance, his staunch efforts to get gay marriage legalized in Quahog, for his cousin Jasper (in "You May Now Kiss the... Uh... Guy Who Receives"); his campaign to legalize marijuana (in "420"); and his desire for stricter gun regulations (mentioned in "Brian & Stewie"). As well as his environmentalist behaviour, for example, the fact that he drives a Toyota Prius, and his opposition to household air-conditioning, shown in Hell Comes to Quahog.
It is also suggested on a number of occasions that Brian may hold repressed racist views, for instance barking uncontrollably at a black record producer in the episode Don't Make Me Over, and then apologizing profusely, saying "Oh my God, I am so sorry I keep doing that ..... I get that from my father." However, in the episode "Peter's Got Woods", Brian dates a black woman whom he meets at a PTA meeting. He also has a reasonably good friendship with Cleveland. Although on one occasion, when Brian was a taxi driver in Deep Throats, he didn't pick Cleveland up when he passed him in his cab.
Despite his overwhelming human qualities, Brian still exhibits some traits associated with real dogs, such as being unable to resist playing fetch, being afraid of vacuum cleaners, taking pleasure in rolling around in trash, getting excited by going for a ride in the car, and occasional coprophagia (as shown in the episode Brian & Stewie and mentioned in Brian's Got a Brand New Bag). He also tells Stewie that he "uses his tongue for toilet paper" (in the episode Running Mates). As well as this, he occasionally displays behaviors that are hallmarks of dog communication, such as growling, barking, licking himself and wagging his tail. He also fears the sound of the toilet flushing, so instead of using it, he defecates on the lawn like normal dogs (as shown in Bill and Peter's Bogus Journey). In the episode Farmer Guy, when the family tells him that they are taking him to "the big farm upstate", Brian panics and briefly takes Stewie hostage at gunpoint, believing the family are planning to have him put down.
It has also been shown in several episodes that Brian is color blind like most dogs. He mentions this in the commentary for "Road to Rhode Island" as he mentions that he is one of a handful of dogs that can drive and that on his driver's license, under visual impairments, it says "sees in black & white." Another example of this is in Brian Writes a Bestseller when he says "I said no grey M&Ms, these are all grey".
Brian's relationship with the Griffin family is different with each member. Peter and Brian are best friends. In the episode "The Man with Two Brians" (season 7, 2008), Peter states that Brian is the one who helps him get out of the trouble of his shenanigans. In the episode Dog Gone, when the family thinks that Brian is dead, Peter says that Brian is his "best friend in the whole world". Peter and Brian can sometimes struggle with their friendship, such as in "Peter's Got Woods" (season 4, 2005), where Peter replaces Brian with James Woods. However, at the end of that episode, Brian and Peter become best friends once again, and Brian is seen sleeping at the end of Peter's bed.
Brian has an unrequited crush on Peter's wife Lois, which is used as a recurring joke in the series. His affections for her are first revealed in the Season 2 episode "Brian in Love", where they both talk about it and agree to remain friends. In the season 6 episode "Play It Again, Brian", Brian tries to kiss her.  Lois does see Brian as a great help to her though, mainly due to Peter's frequent incompetence to do basic tasks. In the episode "Perfect Castaway", Brian marries Lois after Peter is presumed dead (after being lost at sea). Peter returns, but Lois says that she cannot just divorce Brian after all the support he had given to the family in Peter's absence (getting a job at a Hummer dealer). After a short time, Brian tells Lois to go back to Peter, so the family returns to normal.
Brian has acted as a third parent for the Griffin children on several occasions. This is most obvious with Stewie due to their close friendship (see below). Brian's relationship with Meg and Chris is more estranged, but he has helped them out on a number of occasions, such as when Brian accompanied Meg to her prom in the episode "Barely Legal". Also, in the episode "Dial Meg for Murder", Brian calms Meg down by showing he does care about her (using an article he wrote as proof), after she had become an armed thug. Brian also gives Chris advice for growing up from time to time.
In the episode "Jerome Is the New Black", Brian learns that, despite their apparent friendship seen in episodes up to that point, Quagmire actually hates him. Brian tries to befriend Quagmire and asks why he hates him so much. Quagmire responds with a lengthy (somewhat hypocritical) rant, fastidiously pointing out every singly one of Brian's flaws, calling him, amongst other things, "a sad, alcoholic bore." The animosity between them is also shown in, "Quagmire's Dad", Quagmire beats Brian up, after Brian had (unknowingly) had sex with Quagmire's transgendered father Ida (née Dan). The feud reaches a high point in "Tiegs for Two", when Brian tries to spite Quagmire by dating his ex-girlfriend Cheryl Tiegs. Quagmire gets revenge in turn by dating Jillian and, after an argument and trade of insults, both women leave in disgust. Quagmire and Brian apologize to each other and reconcile — until Quagmire purposely hits Brian with his car. Since that point, though, the two characters have simply ignored each other during those occasions when they've been in the same place, but are showing signs in some episodes that they are getting to respect each other. In the episode "Forget-Me-Not", Stewie puts both Brian and Quagmire into a simulated dream world where they assume Brian is Quagmire's pet, and it quickly becomes clear that their personalities are incompatible. In "Life of Brian", Quagmire is busy texting on his cellphone at Brian's funeral while the rest of the attendants are openly grieving.
Brian is also friends with Joe Swanson, the Griffin family's next-door neighbor. This was most obvious in the episode "The Thin White Line", where Brian joined the Quahog police force as a police dog.
Brian struggles with his romantic relationships, and his inability to find a long-term girlfriend is often used as a recurring joke in the series. His longest relationship to date was with Jillian Russell, which lasted the length of season 5, but ended when Brian admitted that he did not want a serious relationship with her. Jillian has appeared in episodes since, usually with other men. None of Brian's other relationships have lasted longer than an episode. Some have ended due to the fault of others, for instance Carolyn (from "Love, Blactually") when she cheated on him with Cleveland. The others have ended because the women found Brian to be too pretentious.
To date, Brian has only had one relationship which has been with another dog: this was his one-time lover, Seabreeze (Carter Pewterschmidt's prized greyhound), from "Screwed the Pooch". Brian was having difficulty controlling his canine instincts and he went as far as "violating" Seabreeze during a greyhound race.
All of Brian's ex-girlfriends (including Jillian, Carolyn, Ida and Seabreeze) appeared in the episode "Valentine's Day in Quahog". Stewie gathered them to try and discover why Brian is so unsuccessful in love. Brian and his exes trade insults, before they are all shown in bed together in the final scene of the episode, having had an orgy.
In the Family Guy feature-length parodies of the Star Wars original trilogy — "Blue Harvest", "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side" and "It's a Trap!"  — Brian appears as Chewbacca. Brian, and most of the central characters on Family Guy, also appeared in the pilot episode of the show's spin-off The Cleveland Show.
Brian and Stewie's relationship is an important aspect of the Family Guy series, as it is the basis for numerous sub-plots and several main plots during the series. Their relationship is very love-hate; they often fight, but are also very close friends.
In the past, they have gone on various adventures (usually under difficult circumstances). Namely in the "Road to..." series, which is a parody of the Road to... film series, Brian and Stewie have gone on various trips to different locations, including Europe, World War II-era England, the Middle East, Aspen, Brian's hometown of Austin, a number of different realities across the Multiverse and (most recently) Las Vegas. These episodes are generally considered to be the best episodes of the series, most notably the first Road to episode, "Road to Rhode Island", which remains as one of the highest rated episodes of the series to date.
In the episode "Brian & Stewie", Brian tells Stewie that he has considered suicide because he feels that his life has no purpose. Stewie talks to Brian about this feeling and eventually makes Brian see how valued and purposeful his life actually is. Stewie reveals to Brian that he would be lost without him and that Brian is the only person he cares about. He also says that Brian gives his life purpose, and vice versa. He then tells Brian that he loves him as an irreplaceable friend. Brian says that he also loves Stewie in the same way.
Their close friendship has been shown in other episodes also, one being "Jerome Is the New Black"; after Quagmire's rant leaves Brian in tears, Stewie comforts Brian and says that he likes him, so he doesn't need Quagmire to like him. Also, in "Dog Gone", after Brian sinks into a deep depression after he learns that he is considered inferior because of his species, Stewie takes Brian's collar and plants it on a stray dog, before killing it by torching a liquor store with it inside. The Griffin family then believe that Brian is dead and they are all deeply saddened, as they see how important Brian is to the family. Seeing this reaction, Brian is cheered up and he thanks Stewie.
Thanks to their critically acclaimed episodes and their complex relationship, they are considered by many critics and fans to be the best characters in the series, due both to the way in which their individual characters have developed during the series and how their relationship with one another has developed.
Brian dies in the season 12 episode "Life of Brian". After Stewie destroys his time machine, Brian and Stewie arrive home with a street hockey net. As he is setting it up, Brian is struck by a reckless driver in a hit and run, and later succumbs to his injuries at the veterinary clinic. After a month of mourning the loss of their beloved pet, the family replaces Brian with a new dog, named Vinny, voiced by Tony Sirico.
Vinny appears in place of Brian in the opening credits for "Into Harmony's Way" and "Christmas Guy". In the latter episode, Stewie still misses Brian and spots a past incarnation of himself who has traveled forward in time to Christmas. Stealing the time machine's return pad from his past self, Stewie goes back in time and saves Brian's life, joyously exclaiming "you're alive my friend", when he sees Brian alive. Brian is extremely grateful for being saved, but Stewie of this timeline finds Brian's affections unnerving, not knowing the reason behind them. The episode ends with the family sitting around their Christmas tree, with everything back to normal.
Ahsan Haque of IGN has given Brian a positive review, calling him the best talking man-dog. He also praised Brian's adventures with Stewie calling them, "center of many of the show's best bits". Haque later made a list titled "Family Guy: Stewie and Brian's Greatest Adventures", where he stated that "Brian and Stewie paired together has always been a winning formula for Family Guy". They also praised the selection of Brian to play Chewbacca as they stated in the "Blue Harvest" review. In their list of "What Else Should Family Guy Make Fun Of?", IGN commented that Brian would be perfect to play Q, if Family Guy ever decides to make a James Bond parody. However, in a review of the seventh season, Haque wrote that Brian "unfortunately was terribly misused this season. He's degenerated into nothing more than a soapbox for the political views of the writers". In a review of the eighth season, Ramsey Isler stated that Brian "left his lofty position as the voice of reason and switched to pretentious loser".
In a 2004 interview, Seth MacFarlane noted his similarities to Brian. He also revealed that Brian is his favorite character from Family Guy, because he feels most comfortable when playing that role.
In IGN's "Family Guy: Top 10 Fights" Brian's fight with Stewie in the episode "Patriot Games (season 4, 2006) is ranked number 5. In IGN's top 10 musical moments in Family Guy Brian ranked number 6, number 5, and number 3 with the songs, "The Freakin' FCC" from "PTV" (season 4, 2005), "Never Gonna Give You Up" from "Meet the Quagmires" (season 5, 2007) and "This House Is Freakin' Sweet" from "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater" (season 2, 1999) respectively.
In a list of the Top 25 Family Guy characters compiled by IGN, Brian was placed second on the list (behind Stewie). They stated that "man's best friend is a poor understatement" with regards to Brian.
The death of Brian in the episode "Life of Brian" (2013) was met with massive opposition and anger from Family Guy fans around the world, many of whom threatened to boycott the show, due to Brian's absence. Family Guy's official Facebook and Twitter pages were bombarded with messages and comments from fans, demanding that they bring Brian back. Hostile messages were also directed towards Family Guy's producing staff, including the show's creator, Seth MacFarlane. The family's new pet, Vinny, subsequently appeared in the opening credits for the next two episodes ("Into Harmony's Way" and "Christmas Guy"). Brian's death was averted through time travel in the latter episode, with him returning to the show as a permanent character. MacFarlane later thanked fans "for caring so much about the canine Griffin, he is overcome with gratitude."
Fan petitions sprang up within hours of "Life of Brian"'s first airing, also receiving media attention, including most prominently a Change.org petition directed towards Seth MacFarlane, making the petition one of the fastest-growing entertainment-related petitions on the site, attracting over 120,000 signatures. A hoax website claiming to have a 'Message from Brian' at the end of a countdown was also widely reported on in the entertainment press.
Brian is featured in a Family Guy parody in the South Park episode "Cartoon Wars Part I". The scene depicted a conversation between Peter and Brian leading to one of the show's trademark cut-away gags; like Peter, Brian was rendered in the distinct animation style of South Park.
Brian was also featured, along with Stewie, in an advertisement for Wheat Thins. He and Stewie also introduced the 2007 Emmy Awards with a song which recapped the events in television, over the past year. The song was adapted from the one sung by Brian, Stewie and Peter in the Family Guy episode, PTV.
Brian is featured on the Family Guy: Live in Vegas CD, and also plays a significant part in Family Guy Video Game!, the first Family Guy video game, which was released by Sierra Entertainment in 2006. He (along with Stewie) features at the center of Family Guy's second video game, Back to the Multiverse.
MacFarlane recorded exclusive material of Brian's voice and other Family Guy characters for a 2007 pinball machine of the show by Stern Pinball. In 2004, the first series of Family Guy toy figurines was released by Mezco Toyz, each member of the Griffin family had their own toy, with the exception of Stewie, of whom two different figures were made. Over the course of two years, four more series of toy figures have been released.
As of 2009, six books have been released about the Family Guy universe, all published by HarperCollins since 2005. This include Family Guy: It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One (ISBN 978-0-7528-7593-4), which covers the entire events of the episode "It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One", and Family Guy and Philosophy: A Cure for the Petarded (ISBN 978-1-4051-6316-3), a collection of seventeen essays exploring the connections between the series and historical philosophers. which include Brian as a character. A book written from Brian's point of view (actually written by Andrew Goldberg) was published in 2006. It was called Brian Griffin's Guide to Booze, Broads and the Lost Art of Being a Man.