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For Family Guy aficionados, hope for Brian’s return still springs eternal. (AP)
For Family Guy aficionados, hope for Brian’s return still springs eternal. (AP)

Did Family Guy really kill off beloved character or was it a ratings ruse? Add to ...

Is Brian the Family Guy dog dead, alive or soon to be resurrected? The animated canine character’s status seems to be changing hourly.

On Tuesday morning, Gawker reported that Brian Griffin’s unexpected demise on last weekend’s episode of Family Guy may have been a ruse and suggested the resurrection of the talking pooch could happen as early as next week.

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The Gawker report spun off the abrupt appearance of a website called BriansAnnouncement.com, which consisted of only a countdown clock and a static view of the fictional town of Quahog, Rhode Island (where Family Guy takes place).

The obvious insinuation behind the website was that Brian’s return was only 10 days away.

Which would have been quite a feat, considering that Sunday night’s episode showed Brian’s mangled body after he was run over by a car, and even added in the fact that the show’s resident evil baby genius Stewie had dismantled his time machine, thereby ensuring he couldn’t go back in time to save him.

Somehow making Brian’s death even more permanent was the immediate arrival of another talking dog on Family Guy. The new, tough-talking pooch, named Vinny, is voiced by Tony Sirico, formerly of The Sopranos.

As might have been expected, the lovable dog’s death didn’t sit well with devoted Family Guy fans, some of whom launched a petition on Change.org demanding that show creator Seth MacFarlane (who also provided the voice of Brian) and the Fox Network bring back the character.

As of Tuesday morning, the petition had gathered upwards of 40,000 signatures.

Any hopes raised by the countdown website were dashed by midday Tuesday when Fox told the revered trade magazine Variety that neither Family Guy or the network had anything to do with the site, which they referred to as a “hoax.”

At which point it would have appeared that Brian was really dead and gone, right? But then the plot thickened all over again.

An hour or so later, the website TV Line reported the possibility that Brian might be resurrected in a Christmas miracle episode. The TV Line story pointed out that the Family Guy episode scheduled for broadcast on Dec. 15 is titled “Christmas Guy,” and says that Stewie hatches a plan to get “the one and only thing he wants for Christmas.”

And what else could Stewie want other than the return of his beloved talking dog?

It’s also worth noting that Sirico has been contracted to supply the voice of Vinny for a six-episode run.

For Family Guy aficionados, hope for Brian’s return still springs eternal. And whether you’re a fan or not, the ongoing story adds up to a remarkable amount of media attention for an animated sitcom midway through its 11th season and no doubt more people will watch in the weeks ahead in search of new clues or hints in regard to Brian’s possible resurrection.

And if Brian really does come back, it will be a Christmas ratings miracle for the Fox Network.

Follow me on Twitter: @AndrewRyanTV

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