So Brian Griffin was killed on Family Guy. Then he came back. Fans were furious. And many are probably still furious, because it was a pretty manipulative thing to do to your audience. There’s an art to killing off a character in a story, and you have to play fair with your fans.
Seth MacFarlane told the Hollywood Reporter he was “surprised” that audiences reacted the way they did, and to him it proved that Family Guy was “still a show where anything can happen. It didn’t occur to us. We thought it would maybe create a little bit of a stir, but the rage was not something we counted on.”
MacFarlane still defended the decision, saying, “It’s season 12, the show has been on long enough where you can sit back and be on auto pilot or you can try to surprise people. Would I do it again? No, we already did it! But who knows in season 25.”
As we saw with Spock getting killed in Wrath of Khan, if you play fair with the audience, they’ll be okay with a character dying. One of the reasons James Cameron hated Alien 3 is that David Fincher killed off Newt and Bishop, two characters the audiences loved in Aliens. So if you’re going to kill off a character, play fair with the audience, and have a good reason to kill them. Nicolas Meyer, the director of Khan, said it best when people told him he couldn’t kill off a beloved character like Spock. Of course you can, he replied, but you have to kill him well.