The Estate of the late Michael Jackson have objected to the "dancing zombie" that resembles Thriller-style Jacko, and PopCap opted to respect their wishes.
PopCap explains the objection:
“The Estate of Michael Jackson objected to our use of the ‘dancing zombie’ in Plants vs. Zombies based on its view that the zombie too closely resembled Michael Jackson. After receiving this objection, PopCap made a business decision to retire the original ‘dancing zombie’ character for future builds of Plants vs. Zombies on all platforms. The phase-out and replacement process is underway.”
The recent update to the game replaced zombie MJ with a disco-themed dancing zombie (pictured below). The zombie's movement, backup dancers and attacks are all the same - the only change are the visuals of the zombie characters.
There are some reports that the new update causes the game to crash, though it may be corrected now as another update came through this evening citing "bug fixes." Hey, it was either a bug or maybe the King of Pop was just upset that he was removed and was sending a message from beyond the grave (insert generic spooky pantomime here).
I didn't think it was offensive in the game at all. The Thriller-esque zombie was in the game before Michael Jackson passed away and, if anything, it paid tribute to one of the most popular music videos in history. In my opinion, it played a marketing role that could potentially lead to the discovery of MJ's music, thus generating profit for MJ's estate.
Do you think it was unnecessary to remove the Thriller-zombie from Plants vs. Zombies or was it respectful to the memory of Michael Jackson?