The world of genre is filled with fantastic, impossible creatures. Fire-breathing dragons, flying horses, rodents of unusual size — beings that exist only in the imaginations of their creators and subsequently those of us, the readers and viewers.
But sometimes, there are just very good doggos.
After all, what's more magical than our very own four-legged best friends, the loyal and furry loves of our lives at our sides when we need them most? And our favorite characters need them, too. So, in honor of National Dog Day, we're celebrating some of the best, most good boys of genre. Cuddle up with your own good boy or girl and join us.
Mr. Peanutbutter, Bojack Horseman
Over the course of its three seasons, Bojack Horseman has become one of the most soul-wrenching, devastating shows on television, and no character is safe. Certainly not Bojack himself, not his mother, not poor Sarah Lynn and not even Mr. Peanutbutter (Peanutbutter is one word), Bojack's seemingly ceaseless beacon of joy and positivity. This unflappable mensch has everything: a loving relationship with Diane, a career that can't be killed, and a naively happy attitude. Things always just kind of work out for Mr. Peanutbutter, and unlike other men across entertainment who fail upward with no sign of stopping, we actually root for him. Because he's just so good and so pure. He's just such a good boy.
And that's why it hurts all the more when things start falling apart, when we realize Mr. Peanutbutter isn't as happy as he desperately tries to convince himself and everyone else he is. Bojack Horseman deals with depression, trauma and all the unhealthy ways we cope with the pain life throws at us or that we ultimately hurl in our own directions with no help from anyone else, and that's what makes it so powerful and important. Even so, we would love to give Mr. Peanutbutter a belly rub and tell him everything is going to be OK. Sounds like a great crossover episode. - Courtney Enlow
K-9, Doctor Who
There’s really no reason why it should have worked. The star of the show hated that they were using him. The tone of the show initially didn’t suggest any reason why he should be there. It was such an obvious ploy to appeal to Doctor Who’s fanbase of children. Plus it quite literally didn’t work — the actual mechanical dog prop that was created for the show frequently broke down and was even too big to fit through the outside door of the TARDIS. And yet there is an undeniable charm to K-9, a term given to multiple robot dogs that have aided the Doctor over the years, and in multiple attempts at spinoffs. His overly academic responses to questions, like “Affirmative,” his deadpan delivery when failing to understand instructions from Leela or Romana, and his constant ability to actually get one over on the Doctor make him an unforgettable element of one of the most popular eras of the classic series. Despite being against the use of the character, there’s a warmth in Tom Baker’s interactions with him, largely due to voice actor John Leeson’s commitment to rehearsing scenes with the cast of the show on-set, giving the little box of wires, lights, and buttons a sense of actually being one of the fellow cast members rather than just a voice coming from some random place.
K-9 was eventually written out of the show, likely a good thing as the show took a turn more towards harder sci-fi in the early ‘80s, but for an era known fondly for dipping into the more absurdist, often self-parodic moments, K-9’s inclusion was pretty darn delightful. - Riley Silverman
Ace the Bathound
Ace showed up in 1955, wearing a little black mask and a Batman symbol on his collar. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it was the cutest thing ever, and it gets even cuter because Ace also helped Batman and Robin fight crime. Ace’s first owner worked too much and wasn’t able to give him the attention he needed, so he gave Ace to Bruce Wayne without knowing he was Batman or that Ace had been leading a secret double life as a Bathound.
Like most DC characters, our friend the Bathound has been through many reboots. He’s also a character that some writers seem to forget about completely, so he vanishes for years at a time with no explanation. Also, he’s a time traveler, because a dog named Ace appears at a significantly older Bruce Wayne’s side in Batman Beyond. Possibly Batman just names every dog he has Ace. In Rebirth, they took a very dark turn with our little buddy in making him a former guard dog of the Joker, but at least one Mister Alfred Pennyworth had Ace’s back and helped him recuperate. Batman said that Ace couldn’t be rehabilitated but you knew he was just trying to prove himself wrong when one day he was laid up with an injury and only Ace was there. After that, they became friends, and Bruce got him a little hood to wear and dubbed him Bathound. That story is a lot more messed up than the Silver Age one, but Ace is the cutest and we love him. - Sara Century
In We3, a comic book miniseries, the government develops animal weapons to reduce casualties in war. Three animals are captured and experimented on: a dog, a cat, and a bunny. They become incredibly killing machines with a limited ability to communicate, but the government decides to end the operation and exterminate the subjects.
The subjects, including Bandit, the dog, set off on a desperate journey toward freedom, but the government doesn’t give up so easily. As they are hunted down, Bandit learns his name from his creator and something deep inside him unlocks.
Bandit becomes not only the protector of his friends but a clear symbol of the unequivocal goodness of dogs, particularly stray dogs.
There’s nothing not to love about Bandit and if you haven’t read We3, stop everything and pick up a copy. - S.E. Fleenor
Please don’t judge Lockjaw by the Inhumans TV series. I mean, he was clearly the best part of it, but any love you have for the bulldogish character will be forever marred by Medusa’s costume shop wig and the lame dialogue. It doesn’t seem fair to do that to him. In the Marvel comics, Lockjaw is an Inhuman puppers who can teleport and who serves the Royal Family. He’s sort of like a very cute Lyft driver for them. He takes the back and forth, sometimes to Earth. I mean, sure, he sort of revealed Attilan to the outsiders, but look at that squishy mushy face! He’s a very good boy and he knows it. He’s saved them from destruction so many times that he definitely deserves a chance to lick the plates in the dishwasher before they run it.
Lockjaw even gets to hang with the Fantastic Four. Ben Grimm is a favorite and Lockjaw lives with him for quite a bit. An Inhuman dog is only as good as his buddies, and he even teamed up with some pet Avengers back in 2009, including Lockheed, Redwing, Aunt May’s puppy Lion, Zabu, Hiels the Cat/Hairball and Throg the frog. It involved the Infinity Gauntlet. Seriously, Avengers, just call him! (I know all about the rights thing, but he could totally solve this whole Thanos mess.)
With his super strength, jaw-locking ability, teleportation, ability to eat pretty much anything, including robots, and super psionic sniffing skills, Lockjaw is definitely a human’s—or Inhuman’s—best friend. - Jenna Busch
Krypto the Superdog
Krypto is a room divider. As with so many characters of the Silver Age, some writers, editors, and fans love him, while some find him ridiculous and opt to ignore him. Guess what? You can do both. I think Krypto goes a long way in humanizing Superman for audiences that view him as tediously larger than life. He's appeared in many incarnations, and he's always a lot of fun.
During Grant Morrison’s run during New 52, in Action Comics #13, Krypto is reintroduced to the Superman Family after a long hiatus when one day Superman finds himself trapped in the Phantom Zone by his father’s enemies. He remembers Krypto had been sucked into the Zone and lost when he was a kid. He whistles and Krypto comes bounding forward out of nowhere! Together, they defeat the bad guys. In the end, we find out that Krypto, from all the way in the Phantom Zone, had been watching Kal as he slept and making sure he had good dreams. That is the sweetest thing I have ever heard and I am tearing up just thinking about it. I love you, Krypto! - Sara Century
It can be hard for an existing pet when another creature is brought home. Especially when this new pet is as cute and unusual as Gizmo. In Gremlins, Peltzer family dog Barney already has a lot to be concerned with before Gizmo enters their life as he has already been threatened with the pound by Mrs. Deagle after breaking her fancy Bavarian snowman decoration. Every town needs a villain and Mrs. Deagle earns that title when she suggests putting Barney in the spin dryer.
Later when Barney is strung up with Christmas lights, Billy accuses the rich woman of committing this heinous decorating act. Barney’s tormenter is not Mrs. Deagle, nor is it Gizmo, the new pet in Billy’s life. Not only does Barney have to compete with the super cute Gizmo, but when water is spilled on the new pet, more mogwai spawn. And these mogwai want to cause havoc, which includes leaving the family dog strung up in the snow. The opposite of good pet sibling behavior.
Barney puts aside any kind of petty jealousy toward Gizmo. They share a bed with Billy, and Gizmo affectionately refers to Barney as “Woof-Woof.” Originally, Barney was going to die at the hands of Stripe, but thankfully this was deemed too dark. When Gizmo says bye to the Peltzer family he makes sure to not leave out his pal saying, “Bye bye, Woof-Woof.” It is adorable and brings a tear to my eye.
Zach Galligan, who played Billy, recently spoke about Mushroom — the dog who played Barney — referring to his canine co-star as “one of the top 10 animal performances in movies. He was convinced the puppets were real.” You can see this when Gizmo speeds past in a pink toy convertible car, and the dog definitely jumps. Now that is movie magic. - Emma Fraser
Midnight, The Tick
In The Tick, the world has recovered from the dark reign of a supervillain who defeated the Flag Five, the team of heroes who were supposed to be humanity’s last defense. After their defeat, one member of the team writes a memoir, making good on his fallen compatriots’ memory to get himself some publicity. Of course, I’m talking about Midnight, an egotistical, crime fighting, talking dog and atheist.
Midnight is an incredibly serious person who hates the only other living member of the Flag Five, Overkill. When Overkill comes to Midnight’s reading, they get into an argument. Midnight accuses Overkill of being a sidekick and Overkill calls Midnight a mascot. An over-the-top fight takes place between Overkill and Midnight that only the Tick can stop. It’s totally outrageous fun.
Midnight is hysterical, in part because he’s intended to be a satirical homage to super-powered animal sidekicks like Krypto. What’s even cooler about Midnight is that he is voiced by Townsend Coleman, who voiced the Tick in the '90s animated show.
We haven’t seen much of him in The Tick, but here’s hoping he’ll make more appearances in Season 2. - S.E. Fleenor
Fizzgig, The Dark Crystal
This scruffy ball of fur and fangs is not technically a dog, but more a "friendly monster." However, within the wondrous and twisted world of Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal, fluffy Fizzgig definitely fulfills the role of doggo. He's the adorable sidekick of a questing Kira. Ferociously loyal and unfailingly loving, he keeps the brave Gelfling girl out of danger as best he can.
Every inch of this mangy monster is hand-stitched to be her perfect watchdog and girl's best friend. His tail wags for her, just as his little heart beats for her. His raspy bark warns of and wards off trouble. And for intimidating emphasis, Fizzgig might open his maw to display reveal the rows of sharp, pointy teeth within. Do not mess with this pugnacious pupper or his master, or those teeth will find a fast sheath in your flesh. (Looking at you, shard-snatching Skeksis.)
But the moment that made Fizzgig iconic in the world of genre dogs is less dramatic, and heart-achingly common. It's just this big-hearted pup's caterwauling over being left behind. He kicks his little feet and cries out over this injustice, whining woefully until Kira caves and allows him on her adventure. And what would the magical planet of Thra have come to without this wailing, wild-haired little mutt? That's too dark to think about. - Kristy Puchko
Seymour Butts, Futurama
I’m just gonna put this out there: I’m not a dog person. I’m allergic, plus one attacked me when I was a little kid so I’ve always been slightly scared of them. I don’t hate them, I don’t even really want to dislike them, but I live this cursed life where all of my friends can find sweet sweet joy in the simple act of being near a dog and yet it’s a delight of life that I am tragically unable to partake in. I tell you all of that so you will understand how sincere I am when I say that despite that, the “Jurassic Bark” episode of Futurama remains to this day one of the single most brutal punches in the gut that I’ve ever experienced. If there’s anything I know and love about dogs it is that their entire worth can be boiled down to the answer to one simple question: “Is he a good boy?” And Seymour is such a good boy! First off, his name is a pun. Right there that’s quality good boy work. He responds positively to the song “Walking On Sunshine." And of course, the most important detail, he is extremely, extremely loyal. Even though Fry doesn’t know it (and seriously, Futurama episode writer Eric Kaplan, you are not a good boy), Seymour waits patiently for him to return, day in and day out. He never gives up, he never says “Oh I really love Fry but I’m not sure I’m ready for this commitment right now.” He never gets bored and decides to go looking for other strange pizza delivery boys on the side. He just waits. Forever. He waits forever because that’s what he does, and it’s what makes us love him so much, and also why it hurts so much as we watch that long montage of Seymour slowly growing older, waiting for Fry to return, before finally laying down and closing his droopy good boy eyes.
Sleep, you perfect little prince, you’ll be walking on sunshine before you know it. - Riley Silverman