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Franchise / Lassie

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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 less subject to shedding issues due to hormones related to the female's heat cycle).

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 a 26 episode long adaption of the original novel.
    • The New Adventures of Lassie (2014).
  • 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:

  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Lassie is capable of a lot of heroic feats without ever needing to talk.
  • 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.
  • A Boy and His X: Boy and his dog. Different boy in each version, but always apparently the same dog.
  • Crosscast Role: Famously the female Lassie was always played by male dogs.
  • Heroic Dog: One of best known examples.
  • In Name Only: Of the sequel films created in the wake of Lassie Come Home's success, only Son of Lassie is a proper sequel to the original film, featuring older versions of the Carraclough family as well as other characters featured in the original novel. The other films centered around a dog often (but not always) named Lassie, surrounded by different characters. This made some sense, considering that Lassie was probably a common dog name in and around the Scottish Highlands. But by the time of The Sun Comes Up, the fifth entry in the series, the action had shifted from the UK to the southern US (and was based on a short story by the author of The Yearling). The Painted Hills finds Lassie out in California, and the television show was set on a US farm of unspecified locale. However, Lassie still always received top billing in the credits, despite the real-life dog's name actually being Pal.
  • 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