Legions of “Family Guy” fans took to Twitter on Monday, attacking creator Seth MacFarlane for killing off the beloved character Brian the dog. Reuters

Not since the Oscars has Seth MacFarlane been the target of such an outpouring of grief.

Angry “Family Guy” fans are flooding Twitter with fierce messages of disapproval after the longtime character Brian Griffin was unceremoniously killed off in Sunday’s episode. On Monday tweets aimed at the @SethMacFarlane Twitter account rolled in at about 30 per minute, with the vast majority of tweeters saying they vehemently condemn of the decision to kill off the Griffin family dog. Civility was in short supply as fans bombarded the 40-year-old MacFarlane with insults, slurs and other cheap shots. Many vowed to never watch the show again.

Brian, voiced by MacFarlane and presented as a cocktail-sipping, morally conflicted pseudo-intellectual, serves as the conscience of the long-running series, often offering the only voice of reason amid a cavalcade of raunchiness, sight gags and non-sequiturs. The character was killed off in a car accident in the episode “Life of Brian” and will be replaced by another dog character, this one voiced by former “Sopranos” star Tony Sirico.

In the wake of Brian’s death, fans used several hashtags, including #BringBackBrian, #WhyBrian and #RIPBrian to express their grief. Countless tweeters also offered alternative suggestions. The consensus? MacFarlane should have killed off Meg, the elder sibling and black sheep of the Griffin family.

It’s unclear if Brian’s death is a permanent change or a short-lived publicity stunt, but many fans aren’t waiting to find out. The move has inspired no less than six petitions on, according to a spokesman for the site. The largest, launched by Aaron Thompson of Tuscaloosa, Ala., attracted more than 2,600 signatures in just a few hours. Thompson is petitioning MacFarlane and Fox Broadcasting to bring the character back to the series.

“Brian Griffin was an important part of our viewing experience,” Thompson wrote. “He added a witty and sophisticated element to the show. Family Guy and Fox Broadcasting will lose viewers if Brian Griffin is not brought back to the show.”

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