Twenty-five years ago this week, viewers were left wondering if ALF, the wisecracking, cat-eating alien from the planet Melmac, would make it home.
For young viewers, ALF‘s series finale was a hard lesson in the business of television: Sometimes shows go away, no matter how much you love them and no matter how unresolved their story lines may be. In the final episode, ALF attempts to reunite with his fellow Melmacians, but before they can beam him up, he is suddenly surrounded by Alien Task Force agents. The ship leaves without ALF, and the screen flashes “TO BE CONTINUED ”
Here’s a recap of that final scene along with one from the pilot in which ALF’s adoptive mom (Anne Schedeen) learns what the feds would do to ALF were they to catch him.
NBC canceled the show after the finale aired, and in September a lot of little ALF fans were confused as to why they weren’t getting part two of that cliff-hanger. (And yes, this writer was one of those children.)
As a character, however, ALF has lived on.
In fact, the very next year, he guest-starred on Blossom.
There was also an animated prequel that showed life on Melmac, which is great if you ever wondered what a female version of ALF would have looked like. (Similarly hairy, it turns out!)
Finally, six years after that unresolved cliff-hanger ending, ABC aired the TV movie Project ALF, which showed that the hairy little guy was, in fact, not dissected but imprisoned in a military lab. (The Tanner family does not appear. We’re told the government relocated them to Iceland.)
(The entire movie is viewable here.)
And if you want to talk about especially weird ALF connections, there’s Permanent Midnight, the 1998 Ben Stiller drama about the life of Jerry Stahl, a sitcom writer who wrote for ALF while balancing a heroin addiction. In the film, ALF becomes a similar character named Mr. Chompers.
(Warning: The scene contains NSFW language and some flagrantly ’90s fashion.)
ALF, who hosted an episode of Hollywood Squares back in 1987, even got his own TV Land talk show in 2004 – with co-host Ed McMahon, no less. It lasted seven episodes.
And, of course, because this is how we live now, ALF exists online in abundant GIF form.
In 2012, The Hollywood Reporter noted that series creators Paul Fusco and Tom Patchett had made a deal with Sony to bring ALF to the big screen in a CGI-animated film.
Until that happens, let The Simpsons remind us that no matter what, ALF will continue to adapt to whatever medium the new era presents to him.
“Remember ALF? He’s back! In pog form.”