Some of our most beloved fictional characters are animals. Many a great film or book has an animal taking center stage, just ready to steal the hearts of the audience. Think back to your favorite childhood movies and you will probably think of Bambi and Old Yeller, Puss in Boots or Donkey, Dumbo or Tom and Jerry.
Whether it is crime fighting, child rescuing, or mystery solving, these fictional animals are making friends and defeating the bad guys wherever they go, and, in the process, touching our hearts so much that sometimes we care more about their outcome than that of their human companions.
In honor of all animal characters, Spunky, the beloved protagonist of the Spunky Murder Mystery Series, and I celebrate ten of the best, with a special focus on those ones that kick some serious bad-guy butt!
- Scooby Doo – Where would the Mystery Machine be without Scooby Doo? Despite his frequent bouts of cowardice and his borderline obsession with food, Scooby and his sidekick Shaggy always managed to get the bad guy (even if it was usually an accident!).
- Lassie – No list of fictional animals is complete without the beloved Lassie. This border collie has saved more children than any other fictional animal. She’s worked for the U.S. Forestry, at an orphanage and for her young masters (who conveniently always seem to need rescuing). A very impressive resume.
- Inspector Rex – The ultimate crime fighting German Shepard. Police dog Rex, and his partners at the Vienna Kriminalpolizei Homicide Unit, work together to solve crimes and catch the bad guys. Rex’s skills know no bounds and he acts as a cadaver dog, a sniffer dog and as another pair of eyes and ears for his team.
- Donkey – This loud-mouthed, obnoxious, but entirely loveable character accompanied Shrek on his journey to rescue Princess Fiona, and on every adventure since. A loyal friend to Shrek, he is pure entertainment, even if he is scared of the bad guys.
- Bambi – Loved since 1942, the loss of Bambi’s mother was perhaps our first experience with the death of a loved animal character. Bambi goes on to make a life for himself and become beloved by audiences everywhere.
- Hedwig – The owl owned by Harry Potter, Hedwig was loyal and patient and worked tirelessly for Harry. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when she sacrificed her life to save him.
- Danger Mouse – The James Bond of the vermin world, this secret agent mouse saved the world every week from 1981 to 1992. That’s a tough gig.
- Charlotte – Although merely a tiny barn spider, Charlotte saved Wilbur the pig from certain death by writing clever sayings in her web. When Charlotte dies, her children and her children’s children stay with Wilbur through many generations. This classic children’s story also gave us Templeton the rat, who deserves an honorable mention for his (albeit reluctant) assistance.
- Benji – The small, mixed-breed dog always in the right place at the right time. Benji was always on hand to help solve a problem or a mystery for his human companions. In a loving twist to this story, the first Benji was played by a former shelter dog called Higgins, who was rescued by his trainer and went on to star in films for over a decade. When he retired from acting, Higgins’ offspring took up the mantle of Benji and continued the legacy.
- Underdog – Originally appearing in 1964, Underdog protects and saves humans in distress and uses his superpowers to fight crime (which is usually a mad scientist trying to take over the city).
There are many more… So, which favorite animal characters do you want to add?
Who is Holly Lewitas?
Holly Lewitas is the author of the Spunky Murder Mystery Series — cozy mysteries for dog and cat lovers. Books include: The Nose Knows, The Nose Sees All and An Army of Noses. You are invited to connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
Image: Lassie by Dell Mulmey, Quinault, Washington (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)
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