The death of a family dog is always tragic, but the demise of Brian, the wise-cracking regular of cartoon comedy Family Guy, has upset more people than most.
Fans flocked to Twitter to howl in anguish after a recently aired episode saw Brian (voiced by creator Seth MacFarlane) killed off in a way all too familiar for pets around the world – by a passing car.
At first thought to be a hoax, the death was soon confirmed as real by the official Family Guy twitter account.
When The Simpsons started killing off long-serving characters (in their case, the somewhat less essential Maude Flaunders), it was seen as a sign of a decline in quality and an indication the writers were running out of ideas.
But in the case of Family Guy, there is cause for optimism.
Brian was immediately replaced by Vinnie, an Italian dog voice by Sopranos legend Tony Sirico.
And anyone doubting that particular actor's comedy chops should take a moment to revisit Sopranos season 3 classic 'Pine Barrens' – probably the funniest hour of TV drama ever made. There is life, as they say, in the old dog yet.