The 10 Greatest TV Animals, from Lassie to Lost

TV Lists TV Animals
The 10 Greatest TV Animals, from Lassie to Lost

Television has given us so many amazing animal companions over the years—mostly of the canine and feline variety, but there have also been horses, fish, primates and even an alligator. These scene-stealers are sometimes the best reason to watch a show (we’re looking at you, Animal Practice), but whether the show had a long run or was off the air in two shakes of a dog’s tail, everyone loves a faithful pet.

To celebrate the premiere of ABC’s new comedy Downward Dog (May 17), told from the dog’s point of view, Paste has narrowed the extensive list of TV animals down to 10. See if your favorite TV animal made the cut.

10. Sprinkles and Bandit, The Office
Original run: 2005-2013

Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey) was a bit of a “cat lady” on The Office, but her cherished Sprinkles was definitely top dog. The poor girl needed a lot of medicine for her countless health problems before being mercy killed by Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and stuck in the freezer.

Sprinkles’ replacement was a cat Dwight found and decided to call “Garbage” because he ate garbage (of course). Angela initially rejected Dwight’s attempt at a gift, but accepted the newly-named Bandit when he came from Andy (Ed Helms). Bandit memorably went flying into the ceiling during the cold open of The Office’s 2009 post-Super Bowl episode.

9. Rowdy, Scrubs
Original run: 2001-2010

J.D. (Zach Braff) and Turk (Donald Faison) bought their stuffed Labrador retriever at a garage sale when they were med students. He was one of Scrubs’ best running gags, used by the guys to play pranks and scare people. Eventually they even found a second “Rowdy,” named Steven, and then each doctor got to have his own stuffed dog when the friends were no longer roommates.

Who doesn’t want a loyal dog that never needs to go for a walk, never barks and can be used as a bottle opener? He’s the perfect pet.

8. Salem, Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Original run: 1996-2003

Does it count if this pet is actually a 500-year-old witch trapped in the body of a cat for 100 years as punishment for trying to take over the world? We say it still counts.

Salem Saberhagen (voiced by Nick Bakay) was Sabrina’s (Melissa Joan Hart) magical buddy for the entire run of the show—the only character besides Sabrina to appear in every episode and both TV movies. He had an unquenchable thirst for world domination, but was fiercely loyal to his owner, never hesitating to help her out of a jam.

7. Marcel, Friends
Original run: 1994-2004

This mischievous Capuchin monkey was definitely Ross’ best friend in Season One, always up to something—our favorite escapade was when he managed to change the TV audio to Spanish. He also had an endearing love for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” Unfortunately, when Marcel started trying to have sexual relations with everything in sight, Ross admitted he finally needed to put Marcel in a zoo where he belonged.

But in Season Two, we did get to see Marcel one last time, after he became a famous animal star and Ross caught up with him while he was filming Outbreak 2: The Virus Takes Manhattan in New York.

6. Eddie, Frasier
Original run: 1993-2004

Eddie was a Parson Russell terrier that really only behaved for his owner, Martin Crane (John Mahoney). He particularly enjoyed not listening to Frasier (Kelsey Grammer), which is probably part of why Eddie would listen to Frasier’s ex-wife, Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth)—that, and being afraid of her.

When the original Eddie, a terrier named Moose, became too old to play the role any longer, his real-life son Enzo took over for the last few seasons of the show.

5. Elvis, Miami Vice
Original run: 1984-1990

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The only entry that might pose a threat of serious bodily injury is none other than James “Sonny” Crockett’s (Don Johnson) pet alligator, Elvis. Crockett took the reptile in after he was retired as the University of Florida’s mascot.

Elvis’ hobbies included scaring the crap out of Crockett’s neighbors and would-be thieves. He also would eat anything he could get his paws on, though the show wisely never had Elvis chowing down on anyone else’s beloved pet.

4. Ferguson, New Girl
Original run: 2011-present

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Ferguson ranks so high on the list largely due to Winston’s (LaMorne Morris) penchant for treating Ferguson like a human member of the loft family, complete with selfies and deep, meaningful conversations—and because of that squishy, squashy face you just want to squeeze and snuggle and smooch.

Winston can’t get enough of Fergie either, taking him on dates, singing him songs and building him elaborate structures and toys to keep him entertained. With New Girl’s run seemingly over on FOX, we’re sure going to miss that grumpy-looking feline.

3. Kitty, The Closer
Original run: 2005-2012

Not to bring things down, but Kitty’s storyline on The Closer led to one of the saddest and most realistic TV pet deaths of all time.

Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) found “Kitty” in just the third episode of the series, the pet of a murder victim whose case she solved. Johnson was initially hesitant about Kitty, but grew to love her and was devastated at having to put her to sleep in Season Five due to old age and health problems. Sedgwick was reportedly extra emotional about it, having had to put her own cat to sleep just weeks prior to filming the episode.

And sadly, the reason the show wrote Kitty’s death into the series was because in real life, the cat who played Kitty was also suffering from health problems and was euthanized shortly after her run on the show ended.

2. Vincent, Lost
Original run: 2004-2010

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Speaking of tearjerkers, Vincent’s love and loyalty for Walt (Malcolm David Kelley) was one of the best relationships on Lost. This beautiful yellow lab was the only non-human survivor of the infamous Oceanic Flight 815, providing comfort not only to Walt, but later Shannon (Maggie Grace), Rose (L. Scott Caldwell), Bernard (Sam Anderson) and ultimately Jack (Matthew Fox) as he lay dying on the island in the series finale.

In addition to being an all-around great dog, Vincent was the perfect catalyst for many of the island’s inciting incidents, like wandering off into the jungle or finding a body. Very clever, Lost writers.

1. Lassie, Lassie
Original run: 1954-1974

If you’ll permit us a dive into the way-back file, how can a list of top TV animals exclude the greatest hero dog of all time?

Look, it’s not Lassie’s fault that owner Timmy (Jon Provost) was such a ridiculous little boy, constantly getting into scrapes, like falling into abandoned mine shafts or quicksand (yes, quicksand). But Lassie was always there to rescue the little boy who loved him so much, until the show reinvented itself in the mid-1960s and sent Lassie off to work for the U.S. Forest Service and later the Holden Ranch.

Fun fact: The cliché of Timmy falling down a well never actually happened on the show, but it became such an iconic rescue idea that Provost titled his autobiography Timmy’s in the Well: The Jon Provost Story.

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O’Hara and Buffy Summers, and her writing can be seen at The A.V. Club, Mashable, Refinery29, Rotten Tomatoes and Variety. TV words to live by: “I’m a slayer, ask me how.” Follow her on Twitter at @andrea_reiher.

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