Family Guy writer threw their fans a curveball on Sunday, 24 November, night by killing off one of the show's main characters, ending their eleven season run in the hit FOX animation for good. As fans react angrily online, the show's executive producers have since come forward in order to explain the character's axing and ask fans to see this as the start of something new, rather than the end of an era.

Family Guy
No more wacky adventures for these two

[Spoilers] Titled 'Life of Brian,' the latest episode of the current season began with Stewie destroying his time machine after too many near-misses tht could alter the space-time continuum, immediately ending any chance he might have of saving the beloved family dog Brian. Within the first few minutes of the episode, Brian was dead, run over by a car, and by the end of the episode the Griffin family had already adopted a new pet, so there was little chance to grieve. So maybe this is why fans are so aggravated.

"Well, this was an idea that got pitched in the writers room and it sort of caught fire, and we thought it could be a fun way to shake things up," executive producer Steve Callaghan told E! Online in regards to the death. "Well, this was an idea that got pitched in the writers room and it sort of caught fire, and we thought it could be a fun way to shake things up. As soon as this idea came up, we started talking about what the next couple episodes could be and we got very excited about the way this change wil affect the family dynamics and the characters."

Family Guy and The Simpson cross-over episode is on its way!

But why Brian you might ask? Well Callaghan explained that the death of a family dog, killed by a reckless driver, is closer to the "realm of a reality" than having a human die, as the grief process would ultimately be more traumatic and more difficult to adjust to for the rest of the characters than the death of one of the children or a close friend. But don't worry dog lovers, there's a new dog in town, and his name is Vinny.

Family Guy 2
No, this isn't Brian's replacement, sadly

Voiced by The Soprano's actor Tony Sirico, Vinny has been described as a fast-talking, tough-guy, not too disimilar to Paulie Gualtieri, Sirico's Sopranos character. Like Brian, Vinny's dynamic with Stewie will be integral to the show, however his relationship with the super-genius baby will differ somewhat. Callaghan said, "Where Brian was sort of a match for Stewie intellectually, Vinny is a good match for Stewie because he doesn't let Stewie get away with any crap. He'll call Stewie out on his b.s. freely."

"...Our fans are smart enough and have been loyal to our show for long enough to know that they can trust us," Callaghan added. "We always make choices that always work to the greatest benefit of the series."

Still, a number of disgruntled Family Guys fans still aren't particularly happy with the axing and already an online petition has set up on demanding that Brian be brought back to life and makes a return to the show. The petition has already reached 20,000 signatures and ties in with the FaceBook page 'R.I.P Brian Griffin from Family Guy,' which has so far earned over 250,000 likes.

Tony Sirico
How will fans react to Sirico's Vinny?