Fictional Characters Wiki
Brian Griffin

Brian Griffin

Brian Griffin is a fictional character and one of the main characters of the animated comedy series Family Guy and the pet of the Griffin family. He is voiced by cartoonist Seth MacFarlane and first appeared on television, along with the rest of the family, in the 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 Larry and Steve, a short made by MacFarlane 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 works 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 and Larry & Steve. The Brian Griffin character has received generally positive reviews from critics. He has appeared in several pieces of Family Guy merchandise, including toys, t-shirts and a video game, and has made crossover appearances in other MacFarlane-produced shows, American Dad! and the Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show.

Role in Family Guy[]

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 and often acts more rationally than many of the other characters in the series. He is the pet dog and friend of the Griffin family. Brian is an alcoholic and is seen to have serious problems in various episodes when he is told or forced to stop drinking. He also smokes marijuana regularly. 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. Brian is an aspiring but mediocre writer – this is said to be a reference to Snoopy from "Peanuts," who inspired much of Brian. He also has a (human) son named Dylan, who is also a regular marijuana smoker. Brian manages to turn Dylan's life around, from a rough, uneducated teenager, to a well-mannered considerate young man. 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.[1] 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.[2] 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. Finally 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.[3][4]

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 remained the same age.[5] In several episodes, events have been linked to specific times, although this timeline has been contradicted in subsequent episodes.



When he was still in college, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane created a cartoon short entitled Life of Larry.[6] The short centered around a middle-aged man named Larry and his anthropomorphic dog Steve.[7] In 1999, when MacFarlane was working for Hanna-Barbera Studios, writing for shows such as Johnny Bravo, Dexter's Laboratory, and Cow and Chicken,[8] he made a sequel to Life of Larry, which Cartoon Network broadcast in 1995.[9] The short caught the eye of 20th Century Fox representatives, who asked him to create a TV series revolving around the characters.[7] MacFarlane received a US$50,000 budget to develop a pilot for the show, which was, as MacFarlane stated in a 2006 interview, "Template:Interp about one twentieth of what most pilots cost".[8] MacFarlane claims to have drawn inspiration from several sitcoms, namely The Simpsons and All in the Family.[10] 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.[11]

In three months, MacFarlane created the Griffin family and developed a pilot for the show he called Family Guy.[12] Brian's character was largely based on Steve, and Larry would be the main inspiration for the Peter character.[13]


The voice of Brian is provided by the show's creator MacFarlane who provides the voice for Peter, Stewie, and Quagmire. MacFarlane also 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. Hartman.[14] MacFarlane has been part of the main voice cast from the beginning of the series including the pilot, as well he has been voicing Brian from the start.[15] MacFarlane chose to voice Peter and the rest of characters voices himself, believing it would be easier to portray the voices he already envisioned than for someone else to attempt it.[11]

"Part of it was the fact that there was no money, initially. Part of it is that it's just the way I like to work. I like the freedom of being able to just get in there and do it myself. To look at a storyboard and be involved with what the visual acting looks like, as well as the voice acting, is nice. It frees me up to do jokes that are maybe unconventional that need to be done an exact, specific way, that can only be done by involvement with both parts of the process."

Seth MacFarlane, on voicing the characters, Interview with The Onion.[16]

The voice of Brian is different to Peter and Stewie's voice as they were inspired from a security guard and Rex Harrison respectively, because 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 voices is because they had a small budget and because he prefers to have the freedom of doing it himself.[16]

There have been occasions where MacFarlane does not voice Brian, such as in 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 was Japanese.[17] MacFarlane noted that actor William H. Macy auditioned for the role of Brian.[16]


Brian frequently gets drunk with Peter and his neighbors Cleveland, Joe and Quagmire at "The Drunken Clam," Quahog's local tavern.[18] 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. 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.[19] Though he dated Jillian Fisher, who, introduced in the episode "Whistle While Your Wife Works" (season 5, 2006), became a recurring character in future episodes of the series.[20] Jillian's final character personality was designed to be a stereotypical blonde, "a bulimic cheerleader," and "not the brightest bauble on the tree."[21] Brian has a cultured background; he loves opera and jazz, and is vocally talented. It is also infered that he attended Rhode Island's Ivy League school, Brown University. In the episode "Brian Sings and Swings" Brian meets Frank Sinatra Jr., they both sing together in the episode and also in the episode "Tales of a Third Grade Nothing".[22] He tends to hold liberal political positions even though Lois points out in the episode "Excellence in Broadcasting" that he is a contrariate. It is also suggested on a number of occasions that Brian may hold repressed racist views, for instance barking uncontrollably at a black character 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 does date a black woman whom he meets at a PTA meeting.

Brian's relationship with the Griffin family is different with each member. Peter and Brian are friends. In the episode "The Man With Two Brians" (season 8, 2008), Peter states that Brian is the one who helps him get out of the trouble of his shenanigans.[23] 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.[24] Brian has a crush on Peter's wife Lois, which is used as a recurring joke in the series. In "Brian in Love" (season 2, 2000), it is revealed that Brian is in love with Lois and they both talk about it. Then in "Play It Again, Brian" (season 6, 2008), Brian tries to kiss her.[25] [26] Brian's relationship with Meg and Chris is not as significant as with the rest of the family but they do have their good moments and adventures such as when Brian accompanied Meg to her prom in the episode "Barely Legal.[27] Brian and Stewie's relationship is complicated as they often fight but also go on various adventures. 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, Poland, and Nazi Germany, as well as a number of different realities across the Multiverse.[28][29] Brian is shocked to learn that Quagmire hates him, and after trying to befriend Quagmire, Brian is told that he's a cheap, holier-than-thou, stupid, hypocritical, detached, sad, alcoholic bore. Quagmire has since given Brian a severe beating after Brian (unwittingly) had sex with Quagmire's transgendered father Ida (née Dan), told Brian that no one cares about his opinion, and once again seen Brian's innocent comments drive a relative of Quagmire's to despair, when Brian doesn't know that Quagmire's niece is suffering from advanced-stage cancer and makes comments that send her condition into a critical phase. The feud finally came to an end in "Tiegs for Two" when after a fight cost them both their girlfriends, Quagmire admitted to Brian he deserved to be lonely and that what he had done to him was low and even confessing it may have taken the whole ordeal for them to finally become friends (albeit afterwards he got one last jab at Brian by backing into him with his car, his way of burying the hatchet).

In Family GuyTemplate:'s feature-length parodies of the Star Wars original trilogy titled "Blue Harvest", "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side" and "It's A Trap",[30][31] Brian appears as Chewbacca.[32] 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.[33]


"Man's best friend is a poor understatement when it comes to dealing with Peter's constant mission to paint the world with all sorts of stupid. You'd think witnessing so much anti-thought would cut the poor guy a break, but no. And that's part of the character's charm: Always being on hand for the solid quip or sarcastic commentary. Having lived with the Griffins for many years, and being accepted (and audibly heard more than Stewie for some reason) as a peer, Brian has become a character as important to fans as the show's titular star".

Ahsan Haque, IGN[34]

Ahsan Haque of IGN has given Brian a positive review, calling him the best talking man-dog.[34] He also praised Brian's adventures with Stewie calling them, "center of many of the show's best bits".[34] 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 007 parody.[35] 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".[36] In a review of the eighth season, Haque stated that Brian "left his lofty position as the voice of reason and switched to pretentious loser".[37]

Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club praised the Brian character, and stated that "Brian has always been the show's best character and its most developed one".[38]


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.[39] In IGN's top 10 musical moments in Family Guy Brian ranked number 6 spot, number 5 spot and number 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.[40] Brian was ranked number 2 in IGN's Top 25 Family Guy Characters.[34]

In other media[]

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 South ParkTemplate:'s distinct animation style.


Brian is also featured on the Family Guy: Live in Vegas CD,[41] and plays a significant part in Family Guy Video Game!, the first Family Guy video game, which was released by 2K Games in 2006.[42] MacFarlane recorded exclusive material of Brian's voice and other Family Guy characters for a 2007 pinball machine of the show by Stern Pinball.[43] 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.[44] Over the course of two years, four more series of toy figures have been released.[45]

As of 2009, six books have been released about the Family Guy universe, all published by HarperCollins since 2005.[46] 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",[47] 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.[48] which include Brian as a character.


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  32. Hughes, Jason (2010-05-24). Sundays With Seth: Cleveland Strikes Back on, published by TV Squad (retrieved on May 25, 2010)
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  40. Haque, Ahsan. Family Guy: Top 10 Musical Moments on, published by IGN (retrieved on November 14, 2009)
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