They say not to work with children and animals. We aren’t making a judgment on the former currently, but the latter works out on occasion to be sure. Many movies and TV shows have starred or co-starred animals. These are some of our favorites. To make this list, an animal had to be at least something approaching a true co-star, so “Friends” doesn’t cut it just because of Marcel. Also, real animals only. No animation allowed. That being said, real animals being manipulated to seem like they are talking we will accept.
“Turner & Hooch” (1989)
Tom Hanks has had many great costars. Usually, they are human. Early in his career, though, Hanks was paired with a big ol’ slobbering dog for “Turner & Hooch.” Hanks plays a police officer who is paired up with a dog to try and solve a murder. At first, he doesn’t like the dog, but naturally, he has a change of heart. It is Tom Hanks, after all.
The premise of “Green Acres” begins with a posh city couple moving to a rural town full of eccentrics. Eddie Albert plays Oliver Wendall Douglas, who finds himself surrounded by exasperating eccentrics. That includes the Ziffels and their “son” Arnold. We say that in scare quotes because Arnold is a pig. Everybody in the town treats him like he’s basically human, though. Well, except Oliver.
Poor Wilbur Post. He has a horse, the titular Mr. Ed, who can talk. However, for some reason, nobody else can know this. It’s one of those old-school high-concept sitcoms they just don’t make anymore. A successful show with an animal character in the title is an easy choice for this list, though.
“The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
Warner Bros., MGM
Hey, we feel like Toto is a true leading character in this movie. Who does Dorothy tell that she doesn’t feel like she’s in Kansas anymore? That would be Toto. Who does the Wicked Witch threaten alongside Dorothy? Her little dog! Thus, this iconic, classic film is a strong choice for this list.
There have been Lassie movies. There have been Lassie TV shows. Lassie is one of the quintessential animal characters. She’s right up there with Rin Tin Tin, who probably should have made this list but these days can you name a single film Rin Tin Tin was actually in? “Lassie” the TV show ran for 19 seasons and 591 episodes. We get the feeling they may have used multiple collies.
“Free Willy” (1993)
Orcas are vicious animals. Also, they should not be kept in captivity. That being said, we’re putting ourselves back in the mindset of being a kid in 1993 and watching “Free Willy.” We’re remembering Willy jumping over the kid. This is an indelible ‘90s children’s movie. It had to make the cut.
“I Am Legend” (2007)
In “I Am Legend,” Will Smith believes himself to be the last human on Earth. Fortunately, he has one companion. That would be Samantha, aka Sam, his German Shepherd. Then a bunch of vampires shows up. They aren’t as fun to hang with as Sam, though.