Franchise / Lassie
Lassie and Joe, from the 2005 movie.

Lassie is a media franchise revolving around Lassie, a Heroic Dog.

The franchise began with the 1943 film Lassie Come Home (based on a novel by Eric Knight), but really took off with the long-running TV series ("What's that, Lassie? Timmy's fallen down a well?").

The original screen "Lassie" was a collie owned and trained by professional trainer Rudd Weatherwax, whose off-screen name was Pal. Pal starred in the 1943 film and six sequels; when the film series ended, Weatherwax acquired the Lassie trademark (in lieu of unpaid wages, according to one account), and the television series resulted. Pal retired partway through the two-decade run of the series, and was succeeded by a string of his descendants. (Yes, his. All the dogs who played Lassie were actually male; male collies were thought to be more visually impressive, and less subject to seasonal shedding issues.)
There are various incarnations of Lassie in the media:
  • Short story
  • Novel
    • Lassie Come-Home (1940) by Eric Knight, expanding on his short story
  • Films:
    • Lassie Come Home (1943), adaptation of 1940 novel
    • Son of Lassie (1945)
    • Courage of Lassie (1946)
    • Hills of Home (1948)
    • The Sun Comes Up (1949)
    • Challenge to Lassie (1950)
    • The Painted Hills (1951)
    • Lassie's Great Adventure (1963). A combination of five television episodes, theatrically released.
    • The Magic of Lassie (1978)
    • Lassie (1994)
    • Lassie (2005)
  • Radio
    • The Lassie Radio Show (1947-1950)
  • Live action TV
    • Lassie (1954-1973). Lasted 19 seasons, 588 episodes. Some episodes were also combined as television films.
    • The New Lassie (1989 - 1991). Lasted 2 seasons, 48 episodes.
    • Lassie (1997 - 1999). Lasted 2 seasons, 49 episodes.
    • Lassie's Pet Vet (2007). A reality television show. Lasted 1 season, 13 episodes.
  • Animation
    • Lassie's Rescue Rangers (1972-1973). Lasted 1 season, 15 episodes.
    • Famous Dog Lassie (1996). Was that year's entry into the Japanese World Masterpiece Theater series and and a 26 episode long adaption of the original novel.
  • Manga.
    • Lassie (2001) by Yoshihiro Takahashi. A short-lived series, only 2 volumes.

Parts of the franchise with their own trope pages include:

Otherwise this franchise provides examples of:

  • Animals Lack Attributes: Lassie is a female dog (note the root of the name is Lass not Lad) played by males with their belly hair coiffed very carefully to cover up the naughty bits.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude
  • A Boy and His X: Boy and his dog. Different boy in each version, but always apparently the same dog.
  • Crosscast Role
  • Heroic Dog/Heroic Pet Story: One of best known examples.
  • Smart Animal, Average Human: Dave Barry repeatedly mentions that the smartest character on Lassie is the dog, as the family is forever getting themselves stuck in deadly situations that Lassie needs to fetch the rest of the family to get out of. And even then, Lassie needs to bark for ten minutes before they finally get the message despite this happening every week. He believes Lassie has to do their income taxes as well.
  • Stage Names: Pal and his successors were all credited as "Lassie".
  • Tropey, Come Home: Trope Namer

References in other works:

  • According to the director's commentary, Where the Dead Go to Die was originally conceptualised as a Lassie parody, and the first segment still, is, while the others have other stories. Suffice to say, this is a very dark Black Comedy example, since the Lassie analogue, the black, red eyed labrador named Labby, is a horrific Hellhound that convinces the child protagonists to murder his parents, rips his unborn sibling out of the mother's womb, and has sex with him and the mother's corpse.
  • Parodied with Laddie the Wonder Dog in the Discworld novel Moving Pictures.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy has Billy addicted to a heroic Labrador also named Laddie; Billy often wonders aloud, "How many times can that kid fall down that well?" PS, he keeps watching the same video over and over.
  • On The Jimmy Dean Show in the 1960s, Dean's co-star Rowlf the Dog several times mentioned how much he admired Lassie, and Lassie made two guest appearances on the show. In the episode with Lassie's second guest appearance, Rowlf did a skit in which he acted out a Lassie-like scenario narrated by Dean, heroically fighting through hostile terrain, swimming across a raging river, and racing up the other bank to stop the criminals about to dynamite the bridge! which point, Rowlf stopped the skit and complained that it would have been nice if somebody had mentioned the bridge before he swam across the raging river.
  • Spoofed in the "Mindy and Buttons" segments of Animaniacs. Its Title Sequence was a direct parody of the Lassie opening.
  • It's Garry Shandling's Show did a parody, involving a dog named Laffie.
  • In Living Color! did a parody, involving a pit bull.
  • Martha Speaks features the in-show TV program "Courageous Collie Carlos", of whom Martha is a major fan.
  • Two in Whose Line Is It Anyway?: one suggestion for the everpopular Scenes From A Hat game was 'what Lassie is really trying to say', and later on an actual Lassie became the only animal guest on the show.
  • "Sassy the Wonder Dog" is a series of radio ads from The Shelter Pet Project, where Timmy and Sassy often pause from helping one of Timmy's luckless friends out of the well in order to tell the listeners about adopting a dog from local animal shelters.