September 2017 is Syfy’s 25th anniversary, so we’re using it as an excuse to look back and celebrate the last 25 years of ALL science fiction, fantasy, and horror, a time that has seen the genres we love conquer the world of pop culture. For us, that means lists! ALL THE LISTS! We’ll be doing two “25 greatest” lists per day all throughout September, looking back at the moments, people, and characters that shaped the last quarter century. So keep checking back. Please note: Our lists are not ranked; all items have equal standing in our brains.
What items in our lists were your favorites? Did we miss something? We welcome respectful debate and discussion, so please let us know in the comments!
No one knows when people started domesticating pets, but historians have noted that humans have always closely associated with animals. Pets are proven to extend our lives and alleviate depression and anxiety. This primordial bond between humans and animals is universal, whether that animal is a cat, a dog, or a wholly imagined critter with supernatural powers. Science fiction and fantasy is full of delightful creatures, and we want them all.
Ampersand – Y the Last Man
There are lots of reasons to want a pet like Yorick’s Capuchin monkey, Ampersand. If you are male though, the most important gift he gives you is the bacteria in his feces, which will protect you from the plague. The apocalyptic events of Y the Last Man lead to Ampersand and his owner being the last two male mammals in the world. Prior to that, he was being trained to be a helper monkey for people with disabilities. His very name is a symbol that connects people, making him a terrific pet for the socially minded animal owner.
Avatar The Last Airbender: This is Appa, my flying bison! Right..!? This is Katara my flying sister!
Appa – Avatar the Last Airbender
Aang’s constant companion and mode of transportation is a cuddly sky bison named Appa. Thanks to some innate airbending talents, Appa can fly despite his huge size. Though he can’t speak, he is highly intelligent and open to following instructions. Appa is a unique pet that should never be sold to a Fire Nation circus under any circumstance.
Baby Raptor – Jurassic Park
Before they grow up to be a pack of viciously intelligent predators, velociraptors are almost unbearably lovable. These clever baby-girls may want to stare you down while their litter-mates circle behind you and go for the kill, but they just aren’t big enough for that. Enjoy them while you can, because eventually they’ll grow up to devour you shortly before escaping to Venezuela to lie low and assume odd jobs under the name Mr. Pilkington.
Bronx – Gargoyles
No clan should be without a gargoyle beast, and there is no gargoyle beast better than Bronx. He’s got the loyalty and behavior of a dog with the might and ferocity of a gargoyle. Like all gargates, he does turn to stone during the day, but that can be a boon for a pet owner with a day job, as he doesn’t need to be walked. Also, he’ll keep you safe from pigeons.
Dragon – Game of Thrones
Many IPs feature dragons that could easily have humans as pets. Dungeons & Dragons gives dragons a high intelligence score and makes them decidedly un-pet like. Game of Thrones knocks that INT score down and creates dragons that behave more like angry cats (if cats could breathe fire). We get to watch Dany’s dragons grow from tiny little monsters into dangerous medieval aerial assault units over the course of show’s run, and we are envious she gets to have not just one, but three perfect pets.
Dug the Talking Dog – Up
Dug has just met you, but he loves you unconditionally. You are the most important person in his world, until he sees a squirrel, of course. Dug can do a lot of tricks. He’s a great tracker. He can sit. He can put his paw in your hand. And, of course, he can speak. He’s a great tracker. Did I mention that? Dug is the platonic dog. He’s everything we’ve ever loved about dogs and one of Pixar’s most hilarious characters.
The Eagles – Lord of the Rings
If you are going to be going there and back again, you best have some Eagles around to bail you out when the lava starts flowing. Let’s be real – birds can be jerks. Anyone who enjoys the podcast We Have Concerns knows that the primary goal of most birds is to prank people. The eagles from the Lord of the Rings, though? They’re awesome. They don’t prank at all. They help wizards and save Hobbits from fiery doom. If We Rate Dogs rated these eagles, they’d get a 10 or higher.
Ein – Cowboy Bebop
Fiction might be full of amazing pets, but it is hard to argue that any of them can top the real-world corgi. Enter Ein, a fictional Pembroke Welsh corgi with scientifically enhanced intelligence. Despite his IQ (Ein is likely short for Einstein), Ein lacks the vocal chords necessary for speech. But he can bark once for yes and twice for no, and communicate with Spike utilizing body language. Also, he’s a dog who has a human named Spike.
K9 – Doctor Who
When a character is created primarily to appeal to younger audiences, it often runs the risk of being cloying and annoying to adults. Thankfully K9 is a delight to all ages in any of its four incarnations, and the type of pet everyone dreams of having. More than just a Time Lord’s best friend, K9 has an encyclopedic knowledge about the universe, a laser nose, and far less drool than the average puppy.
Krypto – Superman
Man’s best friend is dog. Superman’s best friend, ergo, is Krypto. Possessing a similar array of powers to his owner makes Krypto a truly good boy. He has the distinction of belonging to not just one organization of super-animals but two: The Legion of Super-pets and the SPCA (no, not the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals but the far more glamorous Space Canine Patrol Agents). In Alan Moore’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, Krypto sacrifices himself to save Superman. Thankfully that death isn’t canonical, but it does speak volumes about Krypto’s loyalty.
Lockjaw – Inhumans
Lockjaw takes all the fun, slobbery charm of normal bulldogs and adds in a few teleportation powers, superhuman strength, some light psionic abilities, and a giant size to create the perfect pet. His sense of smell outdoes any other dog, as he can trace scents across dimensional spaces. He’s also basically indestructible, so he’s a pet you’d never have to worry about having to bury.
The Log – Twin Peaks
When the tender bough of innocence burns and all goodness is in jeopardy, the pet you want is Margaret Lanterman’s Log. Like many things in Twin Peaks, the log’s powers and true nature are never fully explained. Attaining such a log was costly for Margaret. After her husband died by falling into a ravine during a fire, she cut out part of a nearby Douglas fir. From then on, she was the Log Lady. The log is more perceptive and understanding than even the most intuitive investigators, and it appears to have a tremendous desire to act on its cryptic knowledge and prevent evil. As pets go, it is also incredibly low maintenance, requiring no food, no walks, and no cleaning up of refuse.
Lying Cat – Saga
If someone was to tell you that the Will’s pet, Lying Cat, was a terrible pet that nobody would want to have, then Lying cat would respond “Lying.” The ideal pet for journalists, therapists, investigators, or anyone who could benefit professionally from having a living, breathing lie detector test, Saga’s Lying Cat is perhaps its greatest invention. Given the nature of the times we live in, never has a pet seemed as necessary as Lying Cat.
Nibbler – Futurama
The universe might center on Phillip J. Fry, but Nibbler is the true guardian of Futurama’s galaxy. Sci-fi has many ancient precursor alien races that serve as Virgil to humanity’s Dante – Gallifreyans and Vorlons spring to mind immediately. But none hold a candle to the Nibblonians in terms of sheer adorableness. The inherent contradictions in the high-stakes gravity of Nibbler’s task with his tiny size and funny whimpers is rife with comedic possibility. His kitten class attack ships may be no match for our mighty chairs, but our hearts are no match for the Nibbler’s cuteness.
Oy – The Dark Tower
The billy-bumbler Oy becomes a crucial member of Roland’s ka-tet after he is discovered by Jake. Looking like a cross between a dachshund, a woodchuck, and a raccoon, Oy has a gift for mimicry. It is that talent that results in his name, after Jake calls out to him “Come on, boy!” Long before George RR Martin’s direwolves were forming supernatural bonds with the Stark children, Oy was allowing Jake to warg into him.
Pantalaimon – The Golden Compass
People often resemble their pets because a choice in pet reflects its owner. The Golden Compass goes a step further with daemons, creating a pet that is the manifestation of a person’s soul. Lyra has Pantalaimon to travel with her across the multiverse of Pullman’s richly imagined His Dark Materials. Pan’s settled form is the pine marten, so he checks the cute box. He and Lyra also have a unique ability to separate far distances from each other, which isn’t much of a superpower for a regular pet, but impressive for a pet that is also basically a soul. Pan rounds out Lyra’s brashness with his own timid restraint.
Pikachu - Pokémon
It might be heartless to capture animals and make them fight each other for sport, but the Pokémon franchise sidesteps that moral quandary (the battles are non-lethal, after all) and gives us the ultimate digital pet in its mascot, Pikachu. Everyone’s favorite lightning Pokémon is so devoted to its owner that it will refrain from evolving, despite the allure of stat bonuses. Pikachu can talk, but like all Pokémon its vocabulary is limited to just its name. Which begs the question, is Hodor a Pokémon?
Porthos – Star Trek: Enterprise
Captain John Archer’s beagle immediately earns points for having a literary reference name. But he gets even more points for boldly going where no dog has gone before. Whether he’s begging for cheese or being the first to disembark a shuttle and explore an alien world, there’s no denying that Porthos is the greatest fictional beagle since Snoopy.
Rathtar – Star Wars
The perfect pet for the type of person that wants to own something edgy and dangerous, Rathtars have an almost Lovecraftian appearance. Their rows of gnashing teeth recall the Sarlaac, but they’re far less sandy, which translates into less time vacuuming carpets. Since they reproduce via fission, it doesn’t take them long to spawn Rathtar pups, and what pet owner can say no to an endless repository of puppies?
Spot – Star Trek: The Next Generation
People who aren’t cat people might not understand Spot’s appeal. But consider this: Spot inspired an android to write poetry. She’s that high-caliber a cat. Riker finds the poem boring, but Data’s “Ode to Spot” is one of the best moments on the show. “O Spot, the complex levels of behaviors you display / Connotate a fairly well-developed cognitive array / And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend / I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.”
Tooth Fairies – Hellboy
Never has such a horrifying creature been so gosh darn adorable. Their goofy smiles, dopey eyes, and the lovable scampering sound they make as they move masks their horrific taste for… calcium. Hellboy’s inspired take on tooth fairies is a creature we probably shouldn’t want as a pet (on account that it will eat our bones). but there is no denying the charm of these mythological little nightmares.
When it comes to pet sizes, every animal lover has a preference. Some of us like tiny little rabbits, and some of us like massive great danes. Totoro, thankfully, comes in multiple sizes. He’s the one size fits all of pets and, as a bonus, he is imbued with the magic of a Miyazaki. This means he has access to buses shaped like cats and the power to make massive trees sprout instantly from a small handful of seeds.
Stitch – Lilo and Stitch
If you are going to genetically engineer a creature of mischief, it will take you at least 626 attempts before you get something like Stitch. With big eyes, bigger ears, and a floppy, puppy-like body, Stitch’s endearing demeanor hides the fact that he’s bulletproof, hyperintelligent, and capable of lifting objects 3000 times his own weight. Even though his initial relationship to Lilo is built on her mistaking him for a dog, her generous spirit opens his heart changes him, making audiences everywhere yearn for a genetic alien experiment to call their own.
Woola – John Carter
THAT FACE. LOOK AT THAT FACE. AHHH. Have you looked at that face? There is no other case that needs to be made as to why Woola would make a great pet, but just in case seeing that face didn’t sell you on Woola, he’s also insanely fast, able to outrun just about anything. AND HIS TONGUE. LOOK AT HIS TONGUE!
Yoshi – Nintendo
Yoshi, like a dog named Dog, is a Yoshi. Debuting in 1990’s Super Mario World, Yoshi quickly became an iconic character in the storied Mario franchise. An anthropomorphic dinosaur with a long, prehensile tongue, Yoshi can snatch objects out of hard to reach places and has no qualms about utilizing his own eggs to assault Koopas. Yoshi might be an expensive pet to feed, given his legendary appetite, but that cost is more than worth it considering the other perks that come bundled into having a Yoshi of your own.
These were OUR choices from the last 25 years. Surely, you've seen some creatures you'd want to have as a pet. What are yours? Let us know in the comments!