The best movie and TV shows with animals stars
Warner Bros.

The best movie and TV shows with animals stars

They say not to work with children and animals. We aren’t making a judgment on the former currently, but the latter works out on occasion to be sure. Many movies and TV shows have starred or co-starred animals. These are some of our favorites. To make this list, an animal had to be at least something approaching a true co-star, so “Friends” doesn’t cut it just because of Marcel. Also, real animals only. No animation allowed. That being said, real animals being manipulated to seem like they are talking we will accept.

 
1 of 20

“Turner & Hooch” (1989)

“Turner & Hooch” (1989)
Touchstone

Tom Hanks has had many great costars. Usually, they are human. Early in his career, though, Hanks was paired with a big ol’ slobbering dog for “Turner & Hooch.” Hanks plays a police officer who is paired up with a dog to try and solve a murder. At first, he doesn’t like the dog, but naturally, he has a change of heart. It is Tom Hanks, after all.

 
2 of 20

“Green Acres”

“Green Acres”
CBS

The premise of “Green Acres” begins with a posh city couple moving to a rural town full of eccentrics. Eddie Albert plays Oliver Wendall Douglas, who finds himself surrounded by exasperating eccentrics. That includes the Ziffels and their “son” Arnold. We say that in scare quotes because Arnold is a pig. Everybody in the town treats him like he’s basically human, though. Well, except Oliver.

 
3 of 20

“Mr. Ed”

“Mr. Ed”
CBS

Poor Wilbur Post. He has a horse, the titular Mr. Ed, who can talk. However, for some reason, nobody else can know this. It’s one of those old-school high-concept sitcoms they just don’t make anymore. A successful show with an animal character in the title is an easy choice for this list, though.

 
4 of 20

“The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

“The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
Warner Bros., MGM

Hey, we feel like Toto is a true leading character in this movie. Who does Dorothy tell that she doesn’t feel like she’s in Kansas anymore? That would be Toto. Who does the Wicked Witch threaten alongside Dorothy? Her little dog! Thus, this iconic, classic film is a strong choice for this list.

 
5 of 20

“Lassie”

“Lassie”
CBS

There have been Lassie movies. There have been Lassie TV shows. Lassie is one of the quintessential animal characters. She’s right up there with Rin Tin Tin, who probably should have made this list but these days can you name a single film Rin Tin Tin was actually in? “Lassie” the TV show ran for 19 seasons and 591 episodes. We get the feeling they may have used multiple collies.

 
6 of 20

“Flipper”

“Flipper”
NBC

Let’s dive into the water. Hey, most of the globe is covered with it. Flipper is basically the Lassie of the sea. That dolphin did a lot of good stuff and saved the day time and time again. Plus, “Flipper” had quite the catchy theme song.

 
7 of 20

“Free Willy” (1993)

“Free Willy” (1993)
Warner Bros.

Orcas are vicious animals. Also, they should not be kept in captivity. That being said, we’re putting ourselves back in the mindset of being a kid in 1993 and watching “Free Willy.” We’re remembering Willy jumping over the kid. This is an indelible ‘90s children’s movie. It had to make the cut.

 
8 of 20

“I Am Legend” (2007)

“I Am Legend” (2007)
Warner Bros.

In “I Am Legend,” Will Smith believes himself to be the last human on Earth. Fortunately, he has one companion. That would be Samantha, aka Sam, his German Shepherd. Then a bunch of vampires show up. They aren’t as fun to hang with as Sam, though.

 
9 of 20

“Wishbone”

“Wishbone”
PBS

Wishbone has a wild imagination. Fortunately, we are privy to it. The little, beloved Jack Russell Terrier dreams of being in many worlds of classic (*cough*public domain*cough*) literature. Kids watching PBS got to learn about the works of Shakespeare and Dickens thanks to their dog friend.

 
10 of 20

“War Horse” (2011)

“War Horse” (2011)
Dreamworks

We would have loved to put “Jaws” on this list. Steven Spielberg’s iconic blockbuster has an animal at its center. However, in “Jaws” the great white shark is primarily fake. You can definitely tell when you see it in action. Spielberg’s “War Horse,” though,  features an actual horse. It’s not as good as “Jaws,” but it makes our cut.

 
11 of 20

“Marley & Me” (2008)

“Marley & Me” (2008)
Warner Bros.

You’re already crying, aren’t you? If “Marley & Me” is on your wavelength, it is a tearjerker without peers. Animal lovers go through the whole gamut of emotions watching this Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston film.

 
12 of 20

“Babe” (1995)

“Babe” (1995)
Universal

A lot of people prefer the sequel, “Babe: Pig in the City.” We get it. However, “Babe” has a ton of fans. It got seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.

 
13 of 20

“Homeward Bound” (1993)

“Homeward Bound” (1993)
Disney

“Homeward Bound” is a remake of “The Incredible Journey,” a 1963 Disney film with the same premise. Why go with the remake? Because it looks a little better? How about the fact the three main animals are voiced by Don Ameche, Sally Field, and Michael J. Fox? Sure, most kids of the era weren’t Ameche Heads, but they loved Fox.

 
14 of 20

“Every Which Way But Loose” (1978)

“Every Which Way But Loose” (1978)
Warner Bros.

Clint Eastwood and an orangutan. That really sells it, doesn’t it? They are in a truck and they get into adventures. It’s in that “Smokey & the Bandit” mold but with a big ol’ ape. It even got a sequel in “Any Which Way You Can.”

 
15 of 20

“Beethoven” (1992)

“Beethoven” (1992)
Universal

R.I.P. to the legend Charles Grodin. Do you know why “Beethoven” works? Not because of the family members who love the lumbering Saint Bernard. No, “Beethoven” works because of Grodin. He uses the dog as his perfect comedic foil. The sequels are maybe a bit much, but the original is fun.

 
16 of 20

“Cujo” (1983)

“Cujo” (1983)
Warner Bros.

Beethoven is a friendly Saint Bernard. Cujo, on the other hand, is a different story. The poor dog at the center of the story originated by Stephen King is bitten and becomes rabid. This turns him vicious, which is far from ideal for the poor woman and her kid trapped in their car by the vicious beast. Even Grodin couldn’t have handled Cujo.

 
17 of 20

“That Darn Cat!” (1965)

“That Darn Cat!” (1965)
Disney

This is a case where we are going with the original over the ‘90s remake. We can’t only cater to Millennials here. This ‘60s Disney film is a rollicking adventure, a perfectly solid family movie. The combo of Hayley Mills and Dean Jones works well.

 
18 of 20

“Harry and Tonto” (1974)

“Harry and Tonto” (1974)
20th Century Fox

“Harry and Tonto” is the story of an old man played by Art Carney and his cat Tonto on a journey. The movie is famous, or perhaps infamous, for a specific reason. Carney won Best Actor for “Harry and Tonto.” The other nominees that year? Albert Finney, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, and Al Pacino.

 
19 of 20

“Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013)

“Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013)
CBS Films

This one feels like the biggest stretch on the list in terms of if the animal is a costar. One, this Coen Brothers movie is really good. Two, much of the action of the film is driven by Llewyn Davis trying to recover a cat he accidentally let out. At one point while he’s carrying the cat he sees a poster for “The Incredible Journey.” It all comes full circle.

 
20 of 20

“Arachnophobia” (1990)

“Arachnophobia” (1990)
Buena Vista

Bugs are animals too. “Arachnophobia” has some fake spiders in it, but it also has a ton of real spiders. If you have the titular phobia, this movie may not be for you. Otherwise, it’s a fun horror-comedy starring Jeff Daniels and John Goodman. Oh, and a ton of spiders.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

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