Family Guy revived beloved canine character Brian Griffin in a holiday season-themed episode on Sunday.
Series creator Seth MacFarlane shocked fans three weeks ago by killing off one of the show's most beloved characters: the urbane, charismatic and erudite family dog (one of several characters he voices himself).
The surprise move sparked a fervour online, including a petition campaign to resurrect the well-loved mutt. Still, others tapped the move as a likely prank or at the very least a temporary move drummed up by MacFarlane.
"And thus endeth our warm, fuzzy holiday lesson: Never take those you love for granted, for they can be gone in a flash. I mean, you didn’t really think we'd kill off Brian, did you?" he posted on Twitter on Sunday.
"Oh and hey … thanks for caring so much about the canine Griffin. He is overcome with gratitude."
Brian, an unconventional family dog that talks, drinks alcohol, dates women and is an aspiring novelist, has been a major character since the pilot of "Family Guy" in 1999, appearing in more than 200 episodes.
The show, which is set around bumbling buffoon dad Peter Griffin, his feisty wife, Lois, teenage children Chris and Meg, and Machiavellian baby Stewie, is known for its raunchy humor and often draws criticism from watchdog groups such as the Parents Television Council.
Episodes often feature characters in compromising or inappropriate situations. The Emmy-nominated series is in its 12th season and averages 6 million viewers an episode.