Whether or not the pets are the star of any show, fans tend to develop an affinity for TV pets and the characters who love them. Even the most evil TV villains (we’re looking at you, Dr. Claw) are humanized when we see them nurturing and caring for an animal we know they adore. That’s why crazy cat ladies, junkyard dog enthusiasts, and even people who hold two-way conversations with non-verbal animals (Garfield and Jon, anyone?) don’t tend to get called out as the weirdoes they are.
There are any number of ways an animal might make this list of beloved TV pets. Some of these animal companions are fan favorites even if they don’t have a strong impact on the show as a whole. Others are vastly important to the plot, or provide just enough information or action to be a vital inclusion to their TV cast. And finally, some of these TV pets we just plain love.
So without further ado, please enjoy this list of the 15 Most Lovable Pets In TV History.
16 Honorable Mention: K-9 – Doctor Who
Doctor Who fans the world over love K-9, who was companion dog (two companion dogs, actually) to the best of the early Doctors—Number Four--played by the great Tom Baker and his scarf. K-9 even became a series regular in not one, but two Doctor Who spin-offs, which is rare for TV animals. In terms of canon, the first K-9 was built in the year 5000, which is why he’s so incredibly advanced. Fans argue that K-9 is more a companion to Sarah Jane than to any Doctor, since Sarah Jane Smith spent more time with him than any one incarnation of the Doctor.
Technically, K-9 is made of inorganic materials, which is why he’s merely an honorable mention on our list. Though he looks like a robot dog, he’s a computer that had all the knowledge that today’s internet would (though presumably with less flaming and doxxing), and a handy laser right in his nose. More importantly though, K-9 is adored by fans. Affirmative!
15 Azrael – The Smurfs
Gargamel is an evil sorcerer who wants to massacre the eponymous Smurfs in this Saturday morning cartoon. Why does he want to kill them? Depending on who you ask, he either wants to eat them, or use them in magical alchemy spells. At one point, Gargamel creates a female Smurf (the only one to exist at the time, because magic or something) in order to create discord among the other Smurfs—because their chaos would be his opportunity. But Papa Smurf turned Smurfette nice (and blonde) and saved the day. Gargamel is a terrible guy, for sure. His bloodthirsty cat, Azrael, is named after the Angel of Death. Not a good sign.
Azrael is a loyal companion to Gargamel, and faithfully helps him in his many failed Smurf-capturing adventures. It’s hinted on occasion that Azrael would also eat Smurfs if he had the opportunity. There are times, though, that captured Smurfs have tricked or convinced the cat to help them. In the end, Azrael lacks the sadism of his master, which may be why fans love him. Maybe they just think Azrael is a super cool name.
In the world of TV pets, this rough collie is considered by most to be the gold standard. Lassie can tell a whole story just by barking. Lassie is often remembered as a TV series, which is how it made our list in the first place. In fairness though, there were at least six major Lassie films made by MGM studios before the TV series began. Her adventures included getting lost and finding her way home, saving Timmy from his many childhood mistakes, and rescuing lost people. The world met this heroic dog in 1943’s Lassie Come Home. These days, the legendary hound can be found in little golden books, novels, comics, radio dramas, animated shows and movies, several TV series, and over a dozen films.
Originally, Lassie was played by a trained collie named Pal. Over the years, Lassie has been played by the offspring and descendents of this same pup. Even now, it’s unusual for Lassie to be portrayed (either on video or as a voice) by a dog that’s not related to the original Lassie.
13 Vincent – LOST
Few shows have divided viewers in the way that ABC’s 6-season drama LOST did. Was it purgatory? Was it heaven? Did anyone really survive? It doesn’t matter, not for this list anyway. There’s a lot to like about Vincent, the yellow Labrador retriever. We know him as Walt’s dog, but later discover that Vincent belonged to Walt’s horrible stepfather. Fans cheered when Michael told Walt he could bring Vincent with him as they began their new life together. What goes together better than a boy and his dog?
In his time on the LOST island, Vincent saves people from being lost, going thirsty, and even from being eaten by a polar bear. He’s one of the few characters who doesn’t ever get to leave the island (spoiler alert?). After Walt has to leave him behind, Vincent is given to Shannon. When she dies, Vincent spends time with Sun, presumably until she and Jin drown together. Rose and Bernard take Vincent in once they decide not to get involved with any survivor drama. As far as we know, Vincent did not make it to (not) Purgatory, but we think he had a good life all the same.
12 Klaus – American Dad
The comedy of Seth MacFarlane isn’t for everyone. Some people dislike his work, calling it profane, needlessly vulgar, or too referential. Seth also takes heat for being a gay rights activist and an outspoken liberal. Then again, plenty of people love MacFarlane because he’s vulgar, profane, liberal, and a big fan of reference humor. American Dad is easily the most politically vocal of MacFarlane’s shows. Klaus Heissler looks like a big orange fish—almost like Blinky on The Simpsons, only with the correct number of eyes. He’s got a thick German accent.
In truth, Klaus is not the goldfish he appears to be. He was an Olympic skier until the CIA implanted him into a fish body so he wouldn’t beat the USA in ski-jumping. Being incompetent, the CIA ended up trapping Klaus forever in the body of a tiny fish. Fans dig Klaus because he’s funny, loves vagina jokes, and has no qualms about hitting on Francine, Stan’s comely wife. Klaus’s main frenemy is Roger the Alien, with whom he enjoys a tense camaraderie.
11 Spot – The Munsters
Many TV fans dismiss The Munsters as a cheap rip-off of The Addams Family. That’s fair comment in our opinion. But that’s not all it is. The Munsters is also a fun spoofing of the Universal Monsters. It also has one of the best theme songs in the history of television. Seriously. Dance to it at a party some time. It’s awesome.
Eddie Munster is an especially iconic character, and that’s not because of Butch Patrick’s acting ability. The Munsters has a fun horror sensibility and some cool set pieces fans are still talking about. Best of all though, is Spot.
We didn’t see much of the dragon that lived under the Munster’s stairs. But when we did—it was great. The stairs would open up, revealing Spot’s giant head. Sometimes he would breathe fire which the family would use to light cigars, toast marshmallows, or cook hot dogs. Eddie and Grandpa both spoke of riding Spot, but we never saw it. Still, we had to laugh whenever Eddie said, “Spot, Sit!”
10 Salem – Sabrina, the Teenage Witch
A show that older viewers jokingly called “’90s Bewitched,” Sabrina, the Teenage Witch had a large and loyal fan following. The show is about a girl who, upon having a landmark birthday, suddenly finds out that she’s magical. We should note that this premise comes from a 1962 comic, and was emphatically not “stolen from Harry Potter” as some have claimed. Sabrina Spellman lived with her aunts who have a hilariously magical talking cat in Salem. In truth, Salem was a magical human boy before he was transformed into a cat as punishment for basically being Voldemort minus the Horcruxes.
Even if they were once human, talking cats are inherently cool. In fact, we’re willing to bet that every cat owner has wished their cat could talk at least once—if only to explain why a suede comforter is the best place to vomit. Salem makes our list because he’s funny, oddly sentimental, and is a sympathetic character. Tragically for Salem, his mom is allergic to cats. Wherever Salem Saberhagen is now, we hope he’s got plenty of Lizard Flakes.
9 Marcel – Friends
Friends is a show that people either love or hate. Regardless of which side you fall on, it can’t be denied that the idea of owning a capuchin monkey as a pet is pretty cool. The reality, though? Not so much. See, monkeys are social animals who prefer the company of other monkeys. Monkeys have also been known to rip people’s faces off when they least suspect it, to spread communicable diseases, and to form packs and rise up against humanity. As such, most of the world has rules about keeping random monkeys as pets.
Try telling that to Ross, the guy who is supposedly careful and smart enough to have a pet that he loses more than once, and commits multiple crimes to keep. Really. Despite some truly lackluster care, and eventual abandonment at a local zoo, Marcel the monkey manages to have a pretty good life. Apparently his later years are filled with “monkey lovin’,” commercial appearances, and a movie career. Which means that these days, he’s doing better than most of the Friends cast.
8 Kitty Kat – The Addams Family
The TV show The Addams Family had to come up with a lot of extra content when it went from being a one-panel cartoon to a full-fledged sitcom. For starters, everyone needed a name. The son was originally named Pubert, which the network wouldn’t even consider. What does “Pugsley” even mean? At least the daughter’s name was elegant and made some kind of sense. Wednesday Friday Addams? Brilliant! There were many elements added to the show that creator Charles Addams never conceived of. One of these was Kitty, the male lion that lived in the Addams home.
While the Addamses also had a jaguar, a man-eating plant, piranhas, a tarantula, a vulture, and an octopus—everybody knows the lion is the gnarliest actual animal it’s possible to have (at least until someone figures out how to keep Great White Sharks in captivity). Kitty Kat is friendly and nice, hates the taste of people, and is never seen in a shot with any other character. We presume that’s because of animal-related laws in the ‘60s.
7 Santa’s Little Helper – The Simpsons
When people speak of saving a rescue animal, they aren’t usually talking about a former racing dog. Dog racing just seems like an outdated sport, one we shouldn’t even bother with anymore. Santa’s Little Helper is rescued by Homer and Bart one Christmas—in the pilot episode of The Simpsons. At the time, fans were thinking how amazing it would be if there was really a ½ hour long episode of The Simpsons every week. Yeah…
Santa’s Little Helper is a greyhound. He has been Bart’s loyal companion for over 25 years—which means he’s lived roughly twice as long as most real-life dogs. Unlike most cartoon dogs, SLH doesn’t talk, rarely walks on his hind legs, and doesn’t end up in a ton of wacky adventures. He doesn’t wear pants, seldom eats human food, and never got particularly friendly with the Simpsons' cat, Snowball II. He has saved the lives of Homer and Bart, been a police dog and a beer mascot, and spent some time living with Mr. Burns and later, a visually impaired marijuana enthusiast.
6 Brian Griffin – Family Guy
The writers at ScreenRant had a lot of discussion on the inclusion of Brian Griffin in this list. Sure, he’s good for comedy. Brian loves to drink and smoke weed, he’s a talking dog, he’s Peter’s best friend, and his romantic misadventures often make us smile. He's also voiced by Seth MacFarlane himself. But dammit, Brian sucks. After Quagmire explains exactly why, it’s difficult to see Brian as anything but a ridiculous womanizing poseur who mooches off the Griffin family despite being perfectly capable of getting a job. Brian also hits on Lois and had a drunken one-nighter with Meg before treating her horribly, and that’s not even mentioning his treatment of Quagmire’s father, Ida. Brian is also a terrible writer and an even worse parent. In the end, Brian’s lack of talent is a relief, since even the slightest bit of artistic recognition morphs Brian into a head-swelled narcissist.
Fans appreciate Brian because he’s flawed. He’s unlucky with women, has no friends to speak of outside the Griffin home, and is essentially a selfish asshat. We aren’t entirely sure how much that has to do with Brian being a dog versus him just being a jerk.
5 Ghost – Game of Thrones
Showies (people who haven’t read the A Song of Ice and Fire books) had no idea the significance of the Stark children each having their own dire wolf on Game of Thrones. It became clear before long, though, that they were meant to have them as protectors. Most of the Starks' dire wolves are dead now. As of the end of season six, only two remain. One is Arya’s wolf, Nymeria, whose whereabouts are unknown. The other is Ghost, the protector of the White Wolf—the new King in the North. Wolf is the runt of the little, but like most runts, a little love and care can help them grow as healthy as their littermates.
Ghost has saved the life of his human, Jon Snow, many times. He’s also saved Samwell Tarly from being killed by his own Night’s Watch brothers, and saved Gilly from being raped by them. Ghost aided in the fight at Craster’s keep, and kept the evil Rast at bay more than once. Ghost is with Jon through many of his more badass deeds. He’s also an albino, which gives him eyes that are impressively red.
4 Gleek – Superfriends
Nerds of a certain age recall many Saturday mornings watching Superfriends on TV. Today, this might be more aptly called Justice League. The Superfriends included Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Apache Chief, Batman and Robin, and in later seasons, The Wonder Twins: Zan, Jana, and their pet monkey, Gleek. Zan and Jayna are a brother-sister team of superheroes from the planet Exxor. When the Wonder Twins activate their powers, Zan can become any object made of a form of water. Jayna can become any animal. We’ll pause so everyone can make some Rule 34 jokes.
Gleek doesn’t speak but he understands English, and can also use pantomime to communicate with humans. His tail can pick up one or more people at a time. He’s blue in color, and appears to be the only animal of his kind on Earth. When more Exxorian monkeys show up here on Earth, we learn that others of his species can speak, and are mostly evil. Gleek likes bananas, and riding around in a bucket that eagle-Jayna carries with her beak.
3 Mr. Kitty – South Park
The internet loves cats, that’s for sure. But cats aren’t known for showing emotion or doing cool tricks. Eric Cartman’s cat seems an unlikely choice for a beloved TV pet, considering that Eric is a racist, foul-mouthed fat kid with an even fatter sense of self-delusion. Despite his many shortcomings as a person, Eric really does love Mr. Kitty. It should be noted that despite the name, Mr Kitty is usually female (South Park is known for changing fussy details when it suits their purpose for a new episode). She’s been known to steal Cartman’s pot pie and to hold giant cat orgies at home when there are no adults around. Mr. Kitty is almost ridden out of town in the episode where cat urine is touted as an amazing hallucinogenic drug.
Mr. Kitty has gotten chunkier and less obnoxious over the years, but she’s still alive and kicking despite being as old as the show itself. She’s also an accomplished meme performer, and doesn’t seem to take issue with being called “a dildo” by her human companion.
2 Drogon, Rheagal, Viserion – Game of Thrones
Dragons. Seriously, dragons! After the fighting, sexy times, fighting, great jokes, Tyrion, and boobs—the dragons are what you’re watching Game of Thrones for, right? It certainly isn’t the Sand Snakes!
Drogon (Black one with red markings), Rheagal (Green with gold markings), and Viserion (Cream colored with red and gold wings) are the only three living dragons in the Seven Kingdoms and then some. They can breathe fire, are wicked strong, and are feverishly loyal to their mother, Daeneris Stormborn of House Targaryan (insert bevy of other nicknames here).
Why are they so beloved? Dragons were believed extinct for hundreds of years. Upon their birth via Fire and Blood, they brought a bright red comet—and all magic came back into the world. Dragons brought peace and unity to the world their first go around, and it looks as if Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion (named for Dany’s husband and brothers) are poised to do the same. Sweet!
1 Gary -- Spongebob Squarepants
There are so many cool things to know about Gary, the snail who lives with Spongebob Squarepants. He loves poetry books and going for walks on a leash. He has worked as a fry cook, a bouncer, and a waiter as well as working hard to eat fungus off the sides of things. This, of course, is something snails excel at in real-life.
Gary is also the cousin of Patrick, which you wouldn’t expect, what with being with them different species and all. It’s also hinted that the Star family may have psychic or other metaphysical powers. Gary meows like a cat, except on opposite day—when he barks like a dog. Gary Wilson Jr. is his full name, and he’s a better driver than Spongebob. This is kind of a drag, since driving is something Spongebob has long struggled with.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Gary is that he appears to be super smart—which might be why he has so many books. We never see this during waking hours. But when Gary dreams, he sounds as old and wise as Yoda or Obi-Wan. Gary and Spongebob have been together since Spongebob was a wee sponge. This makes sense, since snails can live a long, long time. That’s lucky. Fans would not be pleased if anything ever happened to Gary.
Did your fave TV pet make our list?