Family Guy's Brian is back from the dead in time for Christmas

The Griffin family's pet pooch is brought back to life by Stewie after a wave of backlash and petitions from fans following his sudden death

Family Guy's Brian is back from the dead in time for Christmas
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Put away your tissues, Family Guy fans. You can breathe a deep sigh of relief as show creators have reversed their decision to kill off Stewie's pet pooch Brian. 

The Christmas special - which aired in America last night - saw the Griffin family's youngster travel back in time to rescue his deceased pet who was killed after being hit by a car during an episode airing on 25 November. At the time, show creators swiftly replaced the canine with a new tough-talking family dog named Vinny, voiced by Sopranos actor Tony Sirico.

The move prompted outrage amongst fans with 150,000 signing an online petition to resurrect their beloved wise-cracking character. And during last night's Christmas special their efforts paid off as a heartsick Stewie jumped back in time to the moment just before Brian's sudden demise as the pair prepared for a game of street hockey.

As past Stewie goes inside to retrieve his knee pads, future Stewie arrives through a portal to tackle his pet out of harm's way before a car comes hurtling down the street. After checking Brian is unharmed, Stewie exclaims, "You're alive, my friend". A bewildered Brian replies, "What the hell do you mean? Of course I'm alive." 

Stewie then explains, "Brian, that car killed you and when it did a little part of me died as well. I couldn't live without you. So I came back from the future to save your life."

Perhaps in reference to show writers' attempts to introduce a new character, Brian then says, "You know, a lot of other families would have just gotten a new dog and moved on."

"Oh, we could never do something like that, Brian," Stewie replies. 

Family Guy's creator, Seth MacFarlane - who also voices Brian - took to Twitter after the episode had aired to thank fans for their efforts to revive the Griffin's pet, teasing that they had never intended to kill him off altogether...