Family Guy fans protest death of Brian the dog

This image released by Fox shows characters from the Fox animated series, "Family Guy."  Fox is pulling from websites an episode of "Family Guy" that depicts mass deaths at the Boston Marathon and has no immediate plans to air it again. Fox spokeswoman Gaude Paez says the episode has been removed from and (AP Photo/Fox) *** Local Caption ***  Boston Marathon-Family Guy.JPEG-00947.jpg
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Fans of hit US television show Family Guy launched a protest petition on Monday after Brian the dog, a main character since the series' 1999 launch, was killed off.

The unexpected plot twist in Sunday night's episode, Life of Brian, triggered a flood of comments on social media, including 120,000 likes for a Facebook page, "RIP Brian Griffin from Family Guy."

"Brian Griffin was an important part of our viewing experience. He added a witty and sophisticated element to the show," said a petition on the website, after the animated canine was run over by a car. "Family Guy and Fox Broadcasting will lose viewers if Brian Griffin is not brought back to the show."

The petition, addressed to TV company Fox and “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, was signed by over 2,000 people within hours of being launched.

In the latest episode of the animated show, Brian was run over by a car and died at the local vet’s office, surrounded by his family. He thanked them for giving him a wonderful life, before expiring.

Fellow cult animated show The Simpsons has said that one of its characters will die during the current 25th season, which premiered in September, triggering a surge of laments and speculation about who will go in Springfield.