Brian Griffin is an 8-year old talking white Labrador who has lived with the Griffin family since Peter picked him up as a stray. He also possesses various anthropomorphic qualities, such as the ability to speak intelligently, drive a car, and walk bipedally. Earlier in the series, he used the catch phrase "Whose leg do you have to hump to get a dry martini around here?". He also has a particularly sharp wit. Peter is his best friend, despite Brian's vastly superior intelligence - on several occasions, Brian has had to explain Peter's inability to do various things, such as haggling over prices. In "Brian Goes Back to College", it is revealed that Brian went to Brown University in Rhode Island, but did not graduate.
Brian has a cultured background; he loves opera and jazz, and is a fan of John Coltrane. Brian speaks fluent French and Tagalog, and is competent in Spanish. He is also a member of MENSA. He loves to sing and can imitate a barbershop quartet without accompaniment. He is also an avid writer, having once been invited to write for The New Yorker, although he was fired once the magazine learned he did not graduate from college. He has also written a novel, although has made little progress other than the title Faster Than the Speed of Love, and a synopsis similar to the film "Iron Eagle III", for which Stewie and Lois mock him, and this subject has since been brought up several times throughout the series.
He is a smoker, an alcoholic and recovered cocaine addict. Brian discovered that his cocaine habit stemmed from his mother abandoning him for which he saw a therapist. He has also made references to either buying, being in possession of, or smoking marijuana in numerous episodes. In "420", he actually does a whole dance to the song A Bag of Weed. In "It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One", it is revealed he has a Ziggy tattoo. It is shown in "Brian & Stewie" that he keeps a gun just in case he wants to commit suicide.
Birthplace and parents
Brian was born on a farm in Austin, Texas, in a litter of five puppies. His mother was named Biscuit, his father was a guard dog named Coco, and the owner of all the dogs were farmers. He was apparently abandoned by his mother, which lead to most of his personal problems. In "Don't Make Me Over", he is embarrassed for hostility barking at a famous rapper and blamed his upbringing by his father Coco. At the end of the episode he becomes enraged because he is thinks that the camera man is shocked because he turned off a black tv program and explains that he only turns it off because he's tired and not because it's a black show. Due to a floating timeline, his year of birth is never given but he is said to be 8 years old in "The Man with Two Brians".
When reunited with his first owner in "Road to Rhode Island", he says "I was the one who could talk.". In the same episode, he discovers that his mother died and was made into a table. Brian and Stewie steal the body and give it a funeral, for which Stewie made a good-intentioned but insensitive requiem of how nice of a table she was.
Past adult life
He somehow made his way to Rhode Island and attended Brown University. He is currently one class short of graduating from Brown (The class is Physics 101 - in "Brian Goes Back to College", Brian re-enrolls in an attempt to earn his degree, but fails). Brian has also served in the Peace Corps. He has mentioned that he hung out with Andy Warhol in the 1970s, though this particular interlude is most likely one of the show's reality-bending cutaways.
In an earlier episode, Brian suffers from incontinence due the stress of repressing his romantic feelings toward Lois. He initially tries to hide this condition by blaming it on Stewie, but is discovered when he has a public accident in the grocery store.
Another example of Brian's "humanity" is his attraction to human women; Brian has dated several since the show began, and is deeply in love with Peter's wife, Lois. No character has ever commented on the bestiality aspects of a relationship between Brian and a human (though in a deleted scene from "Movin' Out (Brian's Song)", a woman is disgusted by the idea of dating him, on account of him being a dog, and in "The Perfect Castaway", Peter, while explaining what is wrong with Lois's temporary marriage to Brian, says "That and, uh, hi? He's a dog."). Brian has also been accidentally been called "Brain Griffin" in "Brian: Portrait of a Dog", by the dog show announcer.
His age is usually treated differently depending on the joke. In "Brian in Love", he states: "I'm seven years old and if I play my cards right, I got seven more years ahead of me." Brian spent some time as a homeless stray washing car windshields for change before he met Peter, who offered him a home with his family in Quahog, Rhode Island.
Prior to Brian, the Griffins had another talking dog named Todd, who was put down at the age of 15 due to illness.
In the Family Guy universe, dogs are either talking, anthropomorphic creatures like Brian, his cousin Jasper and the dog the Griffin family got in "The Man with Two Brians", New Brian, or more true-to-life, such as his mother, Biscuit, his father Coco, and his one time lover, Seabreeze. Both classes are subject to the same rules, such as not being allowed inside certain shops or to wander the streets without an owner. Brian's "humanity" is rarely remarked upon, however, exceptions include when Peter's boss, Mr. Weed, referred to him as a "funny talking dog" and in "Brian in Love" when Brian tries to explain his relationship troubles to Peter, who responds, "Oh my God, you can talk!"
Despite his anthropomorphic intelligence, Brian shares certain traits and shortcomings with real dogs. For example, he cleans himself with his tongue and scratches at fleas with his hind leg. On the commentary of "Road to Rhode Island" he confirmed that he sees in black and white. He has a fear of the toilet flushing and of the vacuum (which is ironic, considering that he was actually vacuuming in "Fore Father"). He also couldn't control his animal urges for the prized Pewterschmidt dog, Seabreeze. Furthermore, although his maturity and broad range of experiences seem to imply that he is as old as a middle aged human, as a dog he is only eight years old. Peter has been known to tease him about his shorter lifespan. In "Brian: Portrait of a Dog", he seems to have a 'midlife crisis'. He is also shown to have a liking for dog food at times. In "Chitty Chitty Death Bang", he chases the chuck wagon from the commercials for Purina Chuck Wagon and in "Barely Legal", he comes running with joy when Peter's daughter Meg shakes a bag of Dog Chow. In "The Thin White Line", Peter points out that Brian will die some 50 years before him. In "Blue Harvest", Brian, in character as Chewbacca, uncontrollably chases a pig's ear in a fit of barking. In "Breaking Out is Hard to Do", Brian is shown to have difficulty keeping his balance while riding in the back of a van; when questioned by Peter, Brian responds by pointing out he can't stand up straight due to his nature.
In "Bill and Peter's Bogus Journey", it is revealed that Brian is not potty trained but rather defecates outside like other dogs. Tired of stepping in his feces, Lois forces him to wear diapers, which he finds extremely humiliating. Amused, Stewie says that he looks "silly" in his diapers but tells him that it won't be so bad once he gets used to them. Brian eventually gets out of diapers by simply defecating in Mayor West's garden instead, leading Lois to think he is potty-trained.
Brian seems somewhat ashamed of his dog instincts and insecure about his canine status in general. In "Brian: Portrait of a Dog", he refused to perform degrading pet tricks for Peter during a dog show, despite it being necessary to win the money needed to buy the family a new air conditioner. He also chastised Lady and the Tramp for acting in typical dog-like behavior, saying that "that's just what they want you to do." He suffers mistreatment as a dog, and is humiliated when the Griffins catch him with canine pornography.
In "Brian & Stewie", he admits to Stewie that he can't find a purpose in his life, and keeps a gun in his safety deposit box in case he ever decides to commit suicide. "Dog Gone" however, cements how important Brian is to the Griffin family, and makes him realize that his existence has meaning to them.
Brian occasionally displays racist tendencies, which he claims he gets from his father. In "Chick Cancer", Stewie asks Brian a rhetorical question along the lines of "What kind of man would I be if I ran off now?" to which Brian replies "You'd be a black man," which shocked Stewie. However, in "Peter's Two Dads", Brian is taken aback after Peter says that he acquired crack cocaine "from Black's," referring to a "white guy selling crack behind Black's Hardware Store." Brian seems normally comfortable around Cleveland and the Brown family. However, when working as a cab driver, Brian gets in trouble anyway for not picking up Cleveland, stating his hurry to run an errand for Lois as an obvious excuse. Brian tells Lois he'll pick up the milk at the end of his shift because he's "gotta go... first fare of the night." When he pulls over and looks at Cleveland, he changes his mind and remarks "I should really pick up that milk now before I forget." Cleveland calls Brian a "son of a bitch," throws a rock at the cab, and smashes it later in the episode. In "Peter's Got Woods", Brian dates a black woman named Shauna Parks, to whom he often nervously rambles about how much he likes African-Americans. He even requests to change "James Woods High School" to "Martin Luther King High School" in order to impress her. Also, in Something, Something, Something, Dark Side, when it was noted that Lando Calrissian, portrayed by [[Mort] Goldman] was a black person, Brian, portraying Chewbacca said, "Let's hope the only one, right?"
Brian is notably intelligent, enjoying renowned works of art such as the opera Carmen and the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He has also heavily invested in the stock market, and collects first editions of literary classics. In "Meet the Quagmires" he is shown to be able to play the guitar and keytar, although this may have just been another play on the scene in Back to the Future. Also, he is shown playing drums in "McStroke". His intellectual bent makes it very difficult for him to form romantic relationships with people, which may be one reason for his substance abuse as a coping mechanism.
Brian held several jobs while living in Los Angeles including being a waiter, car wash attendant, screenwriter and pornographic film director. He does not hold steady employment in Quahog, although did once become a substitute teacher at Buddy Cianci Junior High School as well as short stints as a taxi driver in "Deep Throats and police officer for the Quahog police department as a drug sniffing dog in "The Thin White Line". He left the police force after becoming addicted to cocaine. Nevertheless, he is able to afford a car, pay bills to which some are payed to supposedly another family, and maintain a credit card.
Brian is one of the few characters on the show who can remember events that transpired in previous episodes. In "The Fat Guy Strangler", Brian remembers Peter encouraging him to jump into the closed window of the General Lee in "To Love and Die in Dixie" and throws a rock at him. In "Airport '07", Brian recalls Stewie beating him up mercilessly in "Patriot Games" and lets him swallow Peter's tobacco spittle in retaliation.
As the most sensible member of the Griffin family, Brian often serves as the voice of reason or as a mediator during family arguments. He is also usually the first one to realize that there is impending danger.
Because of his intelligence and dry, deadpan manner, Brian sometimes acts as the "straight man" of the show.
Brian is a rationalist and is often critical of organized religion; when Francis Griffin physically threatens him in "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz", Brian sarcastically replies, "That's very Christian; believe what I say or I'll hurt you." It is revealed in "Love, Blactually" that he is an atheist like one Seth MacFarlane himself, who claims that this character represents him most.
This was revealed where he is seen at the library and he is looking for The God Delusion by avowed humanist Richard Dawkins. His atheism comes under attack in "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven" when he comes out to the Griffins about his belief or lack of, and Meg, in a drastic effort to convert Brian to Christianity, makes his atheism public knowledge, making him a social outcast until near the end of the episode.
Strangely, in earlier episodes, Brian showed some belief in God: In "If I'm Dyin', I'm Lyin'", when Peter was in denial about God's plagues and insisted that there was a logical explanation for them, Brian slapped him repeatedly and stated, "You want an explanation? God is pissed!"; in "Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington", he is shown reading a Bible; in "The Thin White Line", he thanks God for giving him his sense of smell; in "Boys Do Cry," he attends church with the other Griffins; in "Lethal Weapons", he calls Stewie an anitchrist. Additionally, in "April in Quahog", he is seen praying, but is quick to deny it when questioned by Stewie. After the doomsday threat is revealed to be an April Fools joke, he leaves to go to perform charity at a local soup kitchen as he had apparently promised God.
A running joke on the show is Brian's inability to maintain a human girlfriend. Most of time this is usually due to bad advice given to him from Stewie, whose constantly insists to nose around in his relationships though other times it due to his own insecurity. The longest girlfriend he has had so far was Jillian, but the relationship ended after an attempt to move in together ended badly partially due to Stewie. When Jillan was announced to be married, Brian took one last shot to try and get her back but in the end she let him down gently and the marriage goes on as planned much to Brian's dismay.
Brian for most part is very well liked by a majority of the characters. It appears the only exception is Quagmire who it is revealed in "Jerome Is the New Black" dislikes him completely. When Brian asks why, Glenn proceeds to points out every single mistake, hypocrisy and selfish actions Brian has ever presented, from being a hypocritical hyper-liberal, to mocking anyone for believing in religion, to neglecting his teenaged son Dylan. A few of Quagmire's statements towards Brian are considered ironic, as Quagmire himself has done actions he berated Brian for. For example, Glenn points out Brian's romantic fixation for his best friend Peter's wife Lois as a reason, despite the fact that Glenn himself has been stalking Lois for many years now with more selfish intentions, though he also mentioned that it was a bad way of repaying Peter for taking in him in the house. Also, Brian showed genuine love and care for his neglected son Dylan when they reconciled in "The Former Life of Brian", while Quagmire pretty much ignored all of his children born from the women he has had sex with, such as Anna Lee Quagmire in Quagmire's Baby.
Brian exhibits typical dog behaviors like rolling around in trash, eating it, licking himself, defecating on the lawn, leaving dead birds on the porch, intensely fearing the vacuum cleaner, sleeping at the foot of Peter's bed, barking uncontrollably at black people for which he blames his father, and having a tough time standing up in the car.
- This is the only character for which Seth MacFarlane uses his natural speaking voice, as opposed to the voice changes for other characters such as Peter Griffin, Glenn Quagmire, and Stewie Griffin.
- Seth MacFarlane has revealed that Brian is his favorite character. He say he feels comfortable while playing the part of Brian, he also has a picture of Brian to the side of his name on his office door.
- Brian is infatuated with Lois and on more than one occasion has tried to have sex with her.
- In "Brian: Portrait of a Dog", it's revealed that Brian became a Griffin during his adulthood, when Peter offered him a home with his family in Quahog, but in "The Man with Two Brians", Brian shows the family videos of him as a puppy, already living in the Griffin's house.
- He drives a 2004 Toyota Prius., as it is seen in "The Juice Is Loose" pulling up on the Griffins' driveway while Stewie was stuck on the roof. The license plate reads "BRI-D0G" and it has a 'Kucinich 04' bumper sticker.
- Brian is the only character to appear in all episodes. Peter and Lois appear in all episodes but in "Brian & Stewie" they only appear in the archive footage of the musical numbers segment removed after the initial broadcast.
- Brian is the first Family Guy character to appear in an episode American Dad!. He appears in "The People vs. Martin Sugar", where Stan names his top ten fictional dogs, and Brian is named number one. He is seen drinking a martini on the courthouse steps, and claims Stan does not exist. Stan berates him for the claim.
- He is seen masturbating to a dog porn magazine called Kinky Coeds in Screwed the Pooch.
- The DVD commentary for "Brian Griffin's House of Payne" explains that the "H" in "H. Brian Griffin" does not stand for anything and was a way to express Brian as a pretentious douche.
- Brian reveals in "Brian & Stewie" that he voted for John McCain.
- Brian's catchphrase is "Whose leg do I have to hump to get a martini around here?" which originated in "I Never Met the Dead Man". O'Brian the sheep uses a variation of this in regards to a pint of Guinness in "Peter's Two Dads".
- Peter Griffin (owner/best friend)
- Lois Griffin (good friend/ex-wife)
- Chris Griffin
- Meg Griffin
- Stewie Griffin (2nd best friend)
- Biscuit (mother, deceased)
- Jasper (cousin)
- Ricardo (cousin-in-law)
- Coco (father)
- Dylan (son)
- Jerry (brother, deceased)
- Bitch-Brian (mentally challenged clone, deceased)
- Kate in The Blind Side
- Cheryl Tiegs in Tiegs for Two
- Jillian Russell-Wilcox started in Whistle While Your Wife Works and ended in Movin' Out (Brian's Song)
- Shauna Parks in Peter's Got Woods
- Carolyn in Love, Blactually
- Rita in Brian's Got a Brand New Bag
- Lauren Conrad in We Love You, Conrad
- Ida Quagmire in Quagmire's Dad
- Seabreeze Pewterschmidt in Screwed the Pooch
In "Peter's Progress", Cleveland's cousin, Madame Claude, came to visit Quahog. Cleveland revealed that she was a palm reader. After learning this, she reads all the guys palms. Even though she didn't read Brian's palm, in Peter's reading, he is the court jester for King Stewart III or Stewie after the last jester was killed because he wasn't very funny.
In "Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story", which is set 30 years in the future, it is revealed that Brian died (or rather, will die) after "getting into the garbage and eating some chocolate". We see him in Heaven, he tries to get into intellectual conversations with Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, and Kurt Cobain, but is discouraged to learn that their deaths were far more artistically noble than his. It should be noted, however, that the future as depicted in Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story may not actually happen, as Stewie takes action to prevent his own future as it is shown in Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story from occurring.
When Stewie traveled to the future he learned that Brian died from eating chocolate. However, because Stewie returned to the present and avoided the near-death experience, this event might never occur. Nevertheless, causality was never established between these events so it is possible that Brian could still die from eating chocolates. Also, in the commentary on the DVD, Seth MacFarlane says that it is logical for Brian to die because he'd be 266 in dog years. So even if Stewie did change the timeline, Brian will still die, even if he does not eat the chocolates.
When Stewie did see Brian dead he called him a "douchebag", though future Stewie said that the meaning of that word was changed after the election of a man with the name Douchebag. Brian is seen in heaven at a table drinking martinis with Vincent van Gogh, Kurt Cobain, and Ernest Hemingway in "Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story" / "Stu & Stewie's Excellent Adventure". He says "Wow, who would have thought it? Me having drinks with Ernest Hemingway, Vincent Van Gogh and Kurt Cobain. Still, feels like we all got here a little early..." They then all say that they killed themselves out of passion for various reasons. He then admits that he ate some chocolate out of the trash can in the back.