Pepe is the quintessential example of the internet discovering something funny, creating a joke from it, and giving it a life of its own. After web surfers discovered the huge-eyed frog, he was originally used for relatively innocuous purposes on sites such as 4chan (you’ll still see him in generic “feels good man” and “feels bad man” memes). However, alt-right communities like 4chan’s /pol/ and Reddit’s /r/the_donald eventually latched on to him as a mascot for both racist views and support for Donald Trump.
Combine that close connection with mainstream exposure (Trump even tweeted an image of himself as Pepe) and it would be very, very hard to disassociate the character from the far right ideology he has come to represent. We checked in on both /pol/ and /r/the_donald, and both are celebrating Pepe’s “death” as proof that they effectively own his identity.
You’re not likely to see too many other examples of this happening. However, this also illustrates the sense of helplessness that creators sometimes face online. How do you take legal action to protect your work when anyone with a social account and a search engine can abuse it? Furie’s decision to kill Pepe may be his best bet. He might not get to reclaim Pepe or get compensation, but he can at least prove that he’s not involved in spreading hate.