In a story arc that some fans had predicted, outrageous animated TV series 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 Griffin is just the latest fictional fan favourite to be resurrected: check out others in the attached gallery.