While gamers around the world were tickled pink to do battle with a Thriller-era Michael Jackson in Plants vs Zombies, the family of the late great King of Pop is less than “thrilled” with the parody. Due to an objection from the estate of the deceased, the dancing zombie we’ve come to know and love has been removed from the iPhone version of the game, with other versions to follow.

“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,” a PopCap representative told MTV Multiplayer. “After receiving this objection, PopCap made a business decision to retire the original ‘dancing zombie’ and replace it with a different ‘dancing zombie’ character for future builds of Plants vs Zombies on all platforms. The phase-out and replacement process is underway.”

The replacement dancing zombie has a disco vibe that, while entertaining, just can’t capture that same tongue-in-cheek parody that a Thriller spoof can. Defending the reputation of a deceased loved one is a commendable effort, but when that loved one had a career-defining moment dressed as a zombie, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

Considering that Michael was well-known to be a video game aficionado – his massive arcade collection was auctioned off last spring, he more than likely composed the soundtrack for Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and he made appearances in everything from his own Moonwalker game to Space Channel 5 – I can’t help but think that he’d be flattered by the inclusion. Either way, let’s hope new players can dig the disco groove before the Estate of Disco Stu catches wind.