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(USA TODAY) -- On Sunday night's Family Guy Christmas special, Seth MacFarlane gave fans a real holiday gift.

Brianthe dog came back! Stewie tearfully told a mall Santa he missed hisbeloved best friend and wanted him back. Using a time machine he wasable to travel back and prevent the death in the nick of time.

"I mean, you didn't really think we'd kill off Brian, did you?" MacFarlane tweeted. "Jesus, we'd have to be (effing) high."

He added, "Oh and hey... thanks for caring so much about the canine Griffin. He is overcome with gratitude."

Aregular on the series since the 1999 pilot, Brian the family dog washit and killed by a car during the Season 12 episode on Nov. 24. Theshow's executive producer, Steve Callaghan, told E!, "We thought it could be a fun way to shake things up."

And it did shake things up. Fans were outraged and #BringBrianBack began trending immediately.

MacFarlane'smessage: "And thus endeth our warm, fuzzy holiday lesson: Never takethose you love for granted, for they can be gone in a flash," hetweeted.