By Spencer Blohm
There is little that people love more than their animal companions, and that is as true in film as it is in real life. Even in films where animals play only supporting roles, they typically end up stealing the spotlight. From classic stars like Lassie to newer leading animals like Vincent from Lost, everyone has their own favorite they wished was their own. Here are some of the most memorable — did your favorite make the list?
Rin Tin Tin (The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin)
Possibly the biggest movie star of the bunch, the original German Shepherd Rin Tin Tin starred in over 27 movies. His character was eventually adapted to a TV show, where a new dog brought Rin Tin Tin back to life. The loyal companion to the orphaned Rusty, Rin Tin Tin spent the five years of this wild west series protecting and comforting the child against both everyday dangers and Indian raids. The Rin Tin Tin legacy continues to this day with a number of direct descendent dogs and awards in the famed pup’s name.
Eddie was shown to be an intelligent but willful dog who particularly liked to disconcert Frasier with his staring. Frasier’s father Martin (John Mahoney) is Eddie’s caregiver and the only character on the show he really listens to, even though he is capable of understanding human tongue. The Jack Russell Terrier was a key character throughout the hit show and when the original canine actor retired the role was taken over by his son.
Lassie is the classic animal star, and quite the heroic one at that. When she wasn’t functioning as a companion and fellow adventurer, the dedicated collie was fetching help for her slightly hapless and perpetually in-peril human family. The hallmark of her character was selfless loyalty, and she represented all that was good and true in any dog, which is probably why she is still so beloved today. So beloved in fact, that many of her shows and movies are still regularly played on cable. Lassie is one of only three animals to be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Though originally belonging to Walter, by the end of the series Vincent has stayed with or comforted most of the inhabitants of the island at one time or another. Having survived on the island for all five seasons of the show, finding the Yellow Lab was typically used as motivation for the island residents to venture deeper into the island. Vincent was a key part of the cast from the beginning to the end of the series, and took part in some of the most iconic moments of the series all the way up until the very last scene.
Comet (Full House)
What would a family show be without a family pet? Comet was a staple of the Tanner household from season 3 onward. Known for his intelligence and silly antics, Comet seemed to truly understand when family members spoke to him. The Golden Retriever was especially close to Michelle, who picked him from the litter to begin with, and when he accidentally got away from little Michelle while on a walk he immediately returned to the house when he saw her televised call to come home.
Salem (Sabrina the Teenage Witch)
Any good witch needs a good familiar, and what is better than a talking black cat? Salem had a dry wit and a truly catlike personality, despite originally being a 500 year old human witch sentenced to live 100 years as a cat as punishment for trying to take over the world (as if that would be such a punishment). Whatever his origins, he is loyal to Sabrina throughout the series and helps her get out of trouble almost as often as he helps her into it.
Wishbone, “the little dog with a big imagination,” is another in the line of talking pets. He has a bigger imagination then even Sabrina’s talking cat and is generally seen on the show mainly through his own daydreams, where he is everything from a scholar to a general to a ruler. Though outside of his daydreams no one can understand him, he is still a beloved part of the household and a favorite of 90s children everywhere.
Though a monkey would be frowned on as a pet today, during Marcel’s time on Friends he was the perfect companion for Ross. More focused on making mischief than many of the other pets on this list, he functioned in large part as comic relief. As a monkey with a fondness for the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” Marcel periodically got away from his person and on one occasion disappears on Rachel’s watch and narrowly escapes being caught by animal control. Ironically, Marcel eventually went on to become a film star in the series itself, showing that fiction can mirror reality.
Happy (7th Heaven)
Happy was played by a rescue dog, known herself as Happy. She was a part of the show for the entire series, over two-thirds of her life, and first made an appearance in the pilot episode, mysteriously showing up in the Camden family’s backyard. During the first season finale, the mixed Terrier’s previous guardians appear and after taking her home with them, the pup escapes back to her the home that made her “happy.” Happy was an integral part of the Camden household and a loyal companion, and often confidant, to the children.
Scooby-Doo (Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!)
More of a scaredy-cat then most dogs, Scooby-Doo was the laid back partner in crime-solving to Shaggy and the rest of the Mystery Inc. gang. Despite his apparent cowardice, his sense of smell and intelligence helped the gang solve many crimes. Mostly well-known for his animated cartoon series, the brown Great Dane has been featured in a number of crime-solving follow-up and spin-off series. Scooby is a true lovable dog in that when his people were threatened in any way his protective instincts kicked in. Scooby would never let anything happen bad to his human pals.
Whether four-legged or two-legged, canine or feline (or primate), male or female, these humble pets stole audience’s hearts for years. Some were quietly by their person’s side as loyal companions, while others had plenty to say themselves. What ties them together and keeps them in the forefront of past audience’s minds is the loyalty they showed to their humans and the love they received in return.
Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment, lifestyle, and pop culture blogger for directstartv. When he’s not writing or catching up on Game of Thrones, he can often be found being dragged around the neighborhood by his husky, Taco, on one of their “walks.”