Seth MacFarlane isn’t exactly known for subtlety, so when he decided to kill off one of the characters on his popular Fox animated series “Family Guy,” he certainly wasn’t about to do so with a whimper.
The show’s fans have been vocal in their criticism, as well.
In Sunday’s episode, Brian the talking dog graphically met his fate when he was run down by a speeding car while setting up a hockey net in the street to play with his baby friend, Stewie.
Stewie yelled a warning, but it was too late as the car trampled Brian, leaving him a crumpled, bloody mess in the middle of the road.
What followed was a somewhat touching scene as the family waited in the veterinarian’s office, eventually receiving word that Brian couldn’t be saved.
Brian lay on a gurney, hooked up to monitors, as the family entered the emergency room to say their final good-byes. And when Brian finally died, the family shed tears and huddled arm-in-arm over their fallen friend.
The backlash among fans has been strong.
As of Tuesday morning, nearly 30,000 fans have signed an online petition seeking Brian’s return, and a Facebook page paying tribute to Brian had more than 325,000 likes. Tributes also poured in on Twitter.
Nearly a half-million fans commented on the Family Guy page on Facebook, with one fan comparing Brian’s death to Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men.”
Fans in the United Kingdom even weighed in during a university lecture, as a class was interrupted by funeral procession music and two students — dressed in military garb — carrying another student dressed as a bloody Brian to the front of the class, prompting two minutes of silence.
As with any television show, nothing is ever set in stone (remember the “Dallas” and “Newhart” dream scenes?) So whether Brian is really dead or may somehow be resurrected remains to be seen.
In the meantime, the Griffins have replaced Brian with Vinny, voiced by Tony Sirico, who played Paulie Walnuts on the HBO hit series “The Sopranos.”
But for now, many fans aren’t necessarily ready to let him rest in peace.