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Series / Lassie

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Our heroine and her boy, Timmy.

"The way Lassie had to constantly save the family, you have to believe they were dumber than dirt. The only way their farm could have survived is from government grants, which you can figure Lassie filled out the paperwork."

Lassie is a long-running children's adventure series, originally airing on CBS from 195471 and in First-Run Syndication from 197173, that featured the exploits of heroic collie dog Lassie. One of the archetypal Heroic Pet Story series, it has inspired many later imitations and parodies.

The series initially depicted Lassie as the pet of farm boy Jeff Miller (Tommy Rettig), and in later seasons Timmy Martin (Jon Provost), of "What's that, Lassie? Timmy's fallen down a well?" fame — although a well was actually one of the few things Timmy didn't fall down in the course of the series.

It may be a little hard for modern tropers to really grok, but this series was a big deal back in the day. It was on the air at the very dawn of mass-consumption television, and it hit exactly the perfect note for young baby-boom families of the time. Alongside such shows as Leave It to Beaver, Lassie was one of the first family series to demonstrate just how potent television was as a medium — not just for storytelling, but for making obscene amounts of money.

As the show ran for 19 seasons, six different dogs portrayed Lassie over the course of its run; all were owned and trained by professional trainer Rudd Weatherwax, and each of the five successors were descended from the original, whose off-screen name was Pal. Pal was the original Lassie, who had starred in the 1943 film Lassie Come Home (based on a novel by Eric Knight) 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. Incidentally, all six dogs were actually male; male collies were thought to be more visually impressive and less subject to seasonal shedding issues.


  • An Aesop: Frequently prefaced with the words "You see, Timmy..."
  • And Starring: "Starring June Lockhart, Hugh Reilly, Jon Provost as Timmy, and, of course, Lassie."
  • 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. Unbelievably, Lassie even had puppies one season. Don't ask.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Lassie can apparently not only understand human speech, but can also bark in some sort of code that humans understand to mean Timmy in a Well.
  • A Boy and His X: Boy and his dog.
  • Caught in a Snare: A black-and-white episode has young Timmy caught in a snare intended for a loose wildcat, which sees him hanging like grapes on a bough. Lassie arrives to kick the wildcat's tuchus.
  • Character Title
  • Compilation Movie: Lassie's Great Adventure (1963), compiled from the five-episode Season 9 arc "The Journey".
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: In one early episode, Jeff has to do Holger-Nielsen method artificial respiration on a drowning victim.
  • Crosscast Role: Lassie, as described above.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Timmy.
  • Heroic Dog/Heroic Pet Story: One of best known examples.
  • Long Runner: The series ran for 19 seasons.
  • Pet Baby Wild Animal: In one episode, Lassie adopted a raccoon, which was later killed by a speeding car. Everyone learned an important lesson about careful driving.
  • Protectorate: Timmy is this to Lassie.
  • Product Placement: For Campbell's Soup, the show's major sponsor.
  • Put on a Bus: The Millers move to the city, leaving Lassie behind with the Martins; later the Martins move to Australia, leaving Lassie behind with a friend who is a forest ranger.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The 1956 episode "The Haircut" revolved around Sylvester "Porky" Brockway getting a haircut. The origin of the episode came when Porky's actor, Joey D. Vieiranote  showed up for work with a buzzcut, much to the producer's chagrin; resulting in Vieira wearing a wig approximating his previous haircut until going to the barbershop. The plot for that episode was written in two hours and afterwards Vieira was ordered never to change his appearance again.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: When the Martins move to Australia, they have to leave Lassie behind due to quarantine regulations. Australia's very strict animal quarantine regulations made global news eight years prior when the equestrian part of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics had to be held in Stockholm, as Australia refused to waive their quarantine restrictions even for the Olympics.
  • Quicksand Sucks: The swamp version of this is just one of the many dangers to befall Timmy.
  • Stage Names: Pal and his successors were all credited as "Lassie".
  • Syndication Title: The early seasons were syndicated as Jeff's Collie, and later seasons as Timmy and Lassie.
  • The Bus Came Back: Jon Provost reprised his role as a now-grown-up Timmy (who was adopted and by this time went by the name Steve) in The New Lassie TV show in the late 1980s.
  • Timmy in a Well: The Trope Namer, even though Timmy never did actually fall down a well.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Considering all the non-well based trouble Timmy got into it is a miracle he's alive at all.