With Internet petitions making the rounds and fans pointing hysterically at future episodes in which his character was set to appear, Brian Griffin--seemingly killed on last night's episode of the Fox animated sitcom Family Guy--will almost certainly be back sooner or later.
Or at least we all assume.
But how will they do it? There are actually quite a few options, given the strange and absurd nature of the series. But we collected up our five most likely candidates for how and why Brian Griffin will rejoin the land of the living and the cast of Family Guy. Let us know in the comments if you have any of your own.
Or, you know, if you're upset that we spoiled an episode that came out more than 24 hours ago and that everyone else on the Internet has already spoiled. We love those comments, too.
Stewie Rebuilds the Time Machine
This one is the most obvious, even if it's pretty dull from a story point of view. I mean, if he built it once, he should be able to build it again, right? And what's there, really stopping him? The best they have is that some of the parts aren't available anymore? The dude who made A TIME MACHINE can't find a workaround...or, you know, get the parts on Amazon?
In the immediate wake of Brian's death, this was everyone's prediction on Twitter. By the end of the episode, though, other ideas started to take hold as it seemed clear the writers were resistant to just hitting reset.
Christmas Episode Fan Theory
A pretty convincing fan theory started circulating online shortly after last night's episode. To wit, there was a scene in which Stewie went to the near future to buy himself a not-yet-released toy for Christmas. You can see it below, and then we'll discuss.
The theory goes that once it's been a few episodes without Brian and they've explored whatever stories they want to explore there, Stewie will realize that even without his time machine, he can still save Brian by finding that Stewie and using his still-intact time machine to do it.
As with any time-travel storyline, try not to think too hard about what that would do to the timestream and whether it would make any sense, given that Stewie would never run into himself if the dog didn't die, meaning that...oy, I've got to stop.
Anyway, could we see Stewie giving himself a new (old) dog for Christmas? And possibly bringing Vinny back in time to live out his days with his deceased original owner in the past, so that everyone gets a happy ending? Doesn't seem unlikely.
Road From the Multiverse
This one might be a bit of a cheat, in terms of the emotional connection the Stewie and Brian have developed over the years--and it would mean that "our" Brian stays dead--but what if we get another Brian from one of the many alternate universes that were seen in the "Road to the Multiverse" episode?
It might be an odd solution to the problem, but some of those infinite worlds have to be pretty darn close to our own, right?
Stewie's virtual-reality visor
Remember back when Stewie successfully killed Lois, and it resulted in his world unraveling around him?
Yeah, how did that go?
...Not well, Brian. Not well.
And check out this chunk of dialogue from the episode, in which they reference--of all things--The Sopranos, the series from which Tony Sirico, also known as Vinny the Dog, came.
Brian Griffin: So, what you're saying is that what you experienced in the simulation didn't really happen, or even matter? Stewie Griffin: Yes, that's correct. Brian Griffin: So, it was sorta like a dream? Stewie Griffin: No, it was a simulation. Brian Griffin: Yes, but, theoretically, if someone watched the events of that simulation from start to finish, only to find out that none of it really happened, I mean... you don't think, that would, j-- be just like a giant middle finger to them? Stewie Griffin: Well, hopefully, they would have enjoyed the ride. Brian Griffin: I don't know, man. I think you'd piss a lot of people off that way. [leaves] Stewie Griffin: Well, at least it didn't end like The Sopranos, where it just cut to black in mid-sen...
Could the casting itself be a hint as to the nature of the trickery at play here? It seems needlessly-elaborate, but Family Guy has always liked to poke at pop culture tropes.
Brian just shows up.
Frankly, this would be a very Family Guy way of dealing with the problem.
J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen had always joked that if they had to bring back Ted Kord after he was killed in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, the way they would have handled it would be to show up, shrug and say, "Clones."
Something like that would fit well with a series whose signature humor has been bizarre asides and whose plot beats often don't have lasting ramifications.