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Brian Griffin is a fictional character and is one of the protagonists 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. Critics of earlier seasons saw Brian as an author surrogate for creator Seth MacFarlane, with whom he shares among other things his liberal political convictions. Later seasons of the show have taken to presenting Brian more critically, highlighting among other negative qualities his pretentiousness. 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.

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.