Disappearing Pets: 11 Pop-Culture Animals You Just Don’t See Anymore

Some dogs are for life, and some are just for Christmas Specials. The Outland Institute looks at eleven fictional “animal companions” that found themselves flushed down the toilet of life…

Kitty Fanastico (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, 2000)

If you’re a lesbian couple who live in a university and you have magic powers, you’ll be wanting a cat. And so it was that in Buffy’s fourth season Willow and Tara found themselves the proud owner of Miss Kitty Fantastico. She appears in three episodes, and even gets some fantastic slow-motion work dedicated to her, but by season five she’s vanished. No explanation is given until the penultimate episode of season seven, when Buffy‘s sister Dawn gets the slightly clumsy line, “I don’t leave crossbows around all willy-nilly. Not since that time with Miss Kitty Fantastico.” Kitty still lives on though – in collectable action figure form (see above).

Queequeg (The X Files, 1995)

What do you do with a Pomeranian who’s eaten her owner? If you’re Special Agent Dana Scully you take her home with you – she may be a man-eater but she’s still cute, and if anyone needs some cheering up it’s Dana. Her dad’s died, her sister’s died, she lives in Vancouver but thinks it’s Washington… Arriving in the fourth episode of season 3, Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, Queequeg promptly vanishes for most of the season, making one brief appearance before episode 22, when Scully inexplicably decides to bring her along on their latest case – chasing a giant alligator. Queequeg is never seen again.

Schrödinger (Sliders, 1995)

In the pilot episode of Sliders, Mallory Quinn (Jerry O’Connell) has a cat called – wait for it – Schrodinger. Oh, my aching sides. After Quinn and friends start journeying to parallel words, they meet duplicates of themselves and everyone they’ve ever known, but of Quinn‘s cat there is nary a whisker. Official word was that O’Connell was allergic to cats but in July this year he admitted to the New York Post “To be honest, I don’t really like cats.” Thank god that mystery was finally resolved. (In the same article O’Donnell reveals he now has a cat called Smitty, who likes to sleep on his throat). Oddly, part of Mallory Quinn‘s backstory is that he had a black Labrador named Bopper that ran away as a puppy, so there’s a guy who really shouldn’t have pets.

Streaky the Supercat, Comet the Superhorse (Supergirl comics, 1960 & 1962)

You’re probably familiar with Krypto the Wonderdog, but did you know there was also a supercat, a superhorse, and even a superchimp? They even formed their own team, the Legion of Super-Pets. It was a time we now call “the 1960s”.

Introduced in February 1960, Streaky was an ordinary cat until he was exposed to X-Kryptonite, a substance created by Supergirl during some highly dubious experimentation. X-Kryptonite gives Streaky temporary super-powers, as well as a penchant for capes. Since he doesn’t come from Krypton he is not affected by Kryptonite and red suns, but is vulnerable to magic (something you had to be wary of in 1960s comics). His last real appearance was in June 1970′s Adventure Comics, although he has made the odd cameo appearance since then. He also has a 30th century super-powered descendant named Whizzy, so that’s something to look forward to.

Comet the Superhorse is far freakier, on so many levels. Keep up, because it gets a bit tricky:

In “ancient times” a centaur named Biron is tricked by the Gods – he wants to become all man, and instead becomes all horse. As a consolation prize, Circe the sorcerer uses her magic to give him the super-powers of the gods, including immortality. Somehow he ends up in 1960s America, where he becomes Supergirl‘s pet (as you do).

While on a mission to the planet Zerox, Comet is enchanted – again – with a spell that turns him into a human, but only for a limited time when a comet passes. While human, he adopts the identity of “Bronco” Bill Starr, a rodeo trick-rider, whom Supergirl falls in love with. (Although each time this happens there is a brief transition period where he becomes a centaur again).

Comet is also telepathic… for some reason. And whether he’s in the shape of Comet, Biron the centaur, or Bill Starr, he always has a comet-shaped birthmark. Biron longs to be fully human and is highly protective of Supergirl.

So Comet is Supergirl’s pet, but also her defender and her love interest. And a horse. That she dates when he’s in human form. Draw your own conclusions.

Ace The Bathound (Batman comics, 1955)

Those superkids weren’t the only ones getting crime-fighting pets. Ace was a German Shepherd found by Batman and Robin after his master was kidnapped by a gang of counterfeiters. Concerned that someone might connect Bruce Wayne and Batman through Ace (who has a prominent star-shaped marking on his forehead) they improvise a hood-like mask for the dog. Ace is subsequently christened “The Bat-Hound” by a particularly unimaginative criminal.

Ace disappeared from the Batman comics after Julius Schwartz took over as editor in 1964, and made only very occasional comic book appearances in the years afterward. As with most of the silliest elements of the DC Comics Universe, Ace, Streaky and Comet were all erased in the Crisis on Infinite Earths comic series of the 1980s.

Barkley (Sesame Street, 1978)

Originally called Woof-Woof when he first appeared in Sesame Street‘s ninth season (where do they get these names?), in episode 1186 the cast voted to rename him Barkley. Rarely for Sesame Street, Barkley is a dog who acts… like a dog. He can’t talk, runs on all fours and generally behaves like a pet. Barkley originally belonged to Linda and understands the American Sign Language signs for “sit” and “stay.” When Linda left the show in 2003, Barkley stayed and now belongs to either Big Bird or is possibly a ward of the street as a whole.

He accompanied Big Bird on his trips to China in 1982 and Japan in 1988, and spent many years prominently featured in the closing credits. Barkley’s fortunes started to turn in 1992, however, when he was excised from the credits, and these days he rarely appears.

Maximillion (The Bionic Woman, 1977)

Maximillion was a German Shepherd who appeared in the third (and final) season of The Bionic Woman. Having produced two successful human/bionic hybrids, OSI takes the somewhat backward step of animal experimentation trials. Honestly, how did these people ever get this stuff past the ethics committee? Although it may simply be cost-cutting, as Maximillion comes in at a relatively thrifty one million dollars (and providing his name at the same time. Maximillion – get it? Get it?)

His bionic legs make him the fastest being on the planet, and he can also bite open a can of dog food and feed himself. Convicted of a crime he didn’t commit (and the realisation that creating a killer robot dog probably isn’t that bright an idea), Max is facing a death sentence when Jaime Sommers saves him and keeps him as her pet until the end of the series.

Beyond that, however, Max doesn’t appear in any of the three Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman reunion telefilms between 1987 and 1994, although he is mentioned in passing in Return Of The Six Million Dollar Man And The Bionic Woman.

The Chick and The Duck (Friends, 1997)

A pair of birds owned by Chandler and Joey in the seemingly-endless sitcom Friends. They were obtained through a humourous misunderstanding in the season 3 episode The One With A Chick And A Duck, and obviously hilarity ensued thereafter.

Chandler named the chick “Yasmine”, after Yasmine Bleeth, although the duck remained enigmatically unmonikered. Both animals vanish somewhere around season 6, although the duck does get mentioned in season 7. In the very final episode of season 10 it is said they died of old age some time ago, although Joey believes they have gone to a special farm where they are very happy, but can’t be visited. Because he’s stupid.

Muffit The Daggit (Battlestar Galactica, 1978)

Although it sounds like a filthy sexual euphemism, “Muffit The Daggit” is actually a pet from the original Battlestar Galactica. Owned by a young boy named Boxey, Muffit was a robot daggit built to replace Boxey‘s real daggit which perished in the Cylon holocaust (because if there’s one thing we need to teach our children, it’s that loved ones are replaceable). Not only was Muffit a Frankenstein-like terror that affronted God, but in real life he was actually played by a chimp in a suit. The chimp was named Evolution (which makes her sound like an act produced by Prince). It’s very hard to imagine anyone would be allowed to do that today, and that’s probably a good thing.

An adult Boxey was the lead character in the spin-off Galactica 1980, but Muffit was thankfully absent. He has never appeared since (although it’s always possible the new series is planning to reveal him as the Final Cylon).

And remember kids – it is not cool to muffitt the daggitt. It is not cool at all.

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9 Responses to Disappearing Pets: 11 Pop-Culture Animals You Just Don’t See Anymore

  1. Narrelle says:

    No wonder Supergirl had such a confused relationship with her horse. Have you looked at the rest of her life? Living in an orphanage with a bad wig? And a pompous ass for a cousin? Oh, and her entire planet blown up? I mean, she was a very traumatised person. I believe she was meant to appeal to young girls. I always preferred Batman and Robin, Ace the BatHound nothwithstanding.

  2. Tim says:

    Muffit The Daggit? I won’t have that sort of language in my house! You clean your mouth out with soap, young man!

    By the way, Chameleon Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century used to have a pet called Proty, who was a cute shape-changing lump of protoplasm. He heroically gave his life to revive the dead-ish Lightning Lad by impersonating Saturn Girl so he could be struck instead by lightning while holding a life-reviving “super-conducting rod” (how many times have we heard that story?).

    But not to worry; there was a Proty II (from the same planet). This one became a colleague of Streaky in the Legion of Super-Pets (attaboy!).

    Proty more or less vanished when he became too embarrassing but has popped up occasionally. There are lots more twists and turns to his story, and an interesting revelation of what really happened to Proty I after his lightning sacrifice; but hell, that’s what Wikipedia is for:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proty

    And did you know Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) once had a cute little alien vegetoid pal called (wait for it) Itty? Yes indeed he did. But I really must get some work done now…

  3. Anne-Marie says:

    That was closer than Bush/Gore!

    I want a super cat with a cape. I don’t want a horse/bloke/mythical critter. I’d get too confused.

    However, I have been waiting for a daggit to appear in BSG. I mean if they can turn Boomer from a large african amercian male to a (multiple) little asian female cylon – surely they can improve on a fake daggit?

    But no disappearing pets are as mysterious as the oldest Cunningham brother who disappeared from Happy Days. Remember Chuck?

  4. outlandinstitute says:

    Incidentally, does anyone remember what happened to Dog from Mad Max 2? I’m fairly certain he’s not in Beyond Thunderdome but I couldn’t remember if he survived to the end of 2 or not (I think I have it on DVD somewhere, I should just try and fish it out…)

    I too want a supercat with a cape. Mind you, my current Vampire Kitty is destructive enough, maybe I don’t really want her being able to fly.

  5. Janet says:

    Having seen Mad Max 2 just recently I should know this. I have a vague memory of a crossbow bolt and one of those significant yelps. YES, when he gets run off the road by Humungeous after he gets the truck one of the baddies shoots the dog. Sorry, guys and by the way there is no Father Christmas, either.

  6. Anne-Marie says:

    you mean I’ve been wasting my time being good?

  7. Tim says:

    BTW, has anyone else noticed how crap the likenesses of Willow and Tara are in those dolls pictured at top? I’d want my money back.

    Tim
    http://blog.aerohaveno.com/

  8. outlandinstitute says:

    I think those are actually the John Cameron Mitchell and Janis Ian dolls – boy, did they get Janis’s hair wrong!

  9. outlandinstitute says:

    Oh, and thanks for the info Janet – I thought it wasn’t that likely a dog would get out of Mad Max 2 alive (there’s a funny post on IMDB where an American gentleman is furious people are calling that film Mad Max 2 when he claims it’s actually called The Road Warrior):
    “It’s just plain idiotic of IMDb to list this as “Mad Max 2. I was sure they were going to call it by its proper title.The Dark Knight will also soon be called Batman Begins 2.”
    Sigh.

    (And it’s ICING in this country, advertising people, not FROSTING).

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