Almost immediately after Brian's death in a car accident at the age of 11, fans began speculating that the show would bring him back. A talking dog with literary ambitions and a love of martinis, Brian seemed to be too good a character to disappear for good, and more than 128,000 Family Guy fans signed a petition advocating his return.
Now it appears they'll get their wish: According to an official cast of characters, Brian (voiced by the show's creator Seth MacFarlane), will appear in Family Guy's Dec. 15 episode, "Christmas Guy."
It's unclear whether the character will return from the dead, or be seen in some sort of ghost or flashback form, but the episode's summary does offer a tantalizing hint of a plot line in which "Stewie devises a master plan to get the one and only thing he wants for Christmas" – surely a nod to the dearly-departed dog.
Was Brian's death for real, or was the whole thing just a publicity stunt? Fans will find out soon enough.
RELATED: Watch PEOPLE's interview with Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane