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Science fiction junkies get the best of all worlds. They get to know characters from all corners of the galaxy, from the heroes and villains to the pets of science fiction. Some of these pets might be found on Earth—some are a bit more foreign. Regardless, these pets in science fiction have captured our hearts and made us want more.
K-9 – Doctor Who (and Spin-Offs)
First appearing on Doctor Who, this ultra-intelligent robot went through four regenerations and four television series, including his own shows K-9 and K-9 and Company. He also acquired new skills along the way, from nose lasers to flying to an ability to sense danger. K-9 first appeared in 1977 and became a traveling companion of the Fourth Doctor, eventually staying behind on Gallifrey with former companion Leela. With all those technical gadgets, K-9 toes the line between loyal pet and awesome robot—but his willingness to sacrifice himself for his friends shows he’s more heart than machine. He at last settles in with former companion Sarah Jane Smith and her son Luke, helping them continue the work of scouting out aliens who threaten Earth’s safety.
Einstein – Back to the Future
In October 2015, we reached the date that Marty time-traveled to in Back to the Future II. But it wasn’t Marty who claimed the title of world’s first time traveler: it was Doc Brown’s shaggy pup Einstein, who hopped forward a full minute in time back in 1985. And Doc certainly seems to love him: even though Einstein plays a part in his many experiments, Doc always makes sure he’s safe, even putting him in radiation protection gear while they’re working with the plutonium they need for time travel. As long as Doc keeps the treats coming, Einstein seems perfectly content to help out with experiments, making him a great companion for any mad scientist and one of the most loyal pets in science fiction.
Spot – Star Trek
If you’ve ever wondered what a cat in space would be like, Data’s cat Spot is the perfect example. Long story short: still a cat. Spot is finicky, stubborn about training, and gives the other crew members grief while maintaining a deep affection for Data. The android does seem a bit confused by Spot’s gender, however—the orange feline is referred to as “he” during first appearances but later gives birth aboard the ship (and turns into an iguana in the process, but that’s another story). Data first adopted Spot in an attempt to live more like a human, but developed a deep love for the cat, even painting her and composing an “Ode to Spot.” The complex relationship between cat and android puts her solidly on the list of best pets in science fiction.
R2-D2 and BB-8 – Star Wars
Star Wars fans already loved the levitating, Wilhem-screaming droid R2-D2 that carried Leia’s message to Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope. When The Force Awakens hit theaters in 2015, they got a whole new personality in BB-8, the rotund orange droid with an attitude. Now I know some of you are cringing at the thought of me calling these two "pets," but for the purpose of the article, bear with me. At first, BB-8 is all too distrustful of ex-storm trooper Finn, but finally gives him the thumbs-up (or lighter-up) of approval. Though neither droid actually speaks, their beeps, whistles, and screeches usually let us know exactly what they’re thinking. R2-D2, for example, has plenty of skeptical asides that tell us he’s not nearly as optimistic as young Jedi Luke Skywalker, but his loyalty outweighs his pessimism. The same goes for BB-8, who seems all too aware of (and ready to use) his own cuteness for his team’s benefit, while remaining fiercely loyal to Rey, Poe Damron, and yes, eventually Finn.
Nibbler – Futurama
Nibbler is technically part of the dignified, age-old race of Nibblonians, and he himself isn’t a spring chicken, either, verging on 15 billion years old. Even so, he enjoys being a pet to Leela. Usually dressed in a cape and diaper, Nibbler is a time-hopping, elegantly-voiced noble with a large appetite and a penchant for being babied. In spite of all this, he’s got a fierce fighting spirit and a mysterious past, including a secret name that would set off destruction if only a letter of it were ever uttered—or at least, so Nibbler claims. The alien combines a cute baby animal persona with one that verges on imperious royalty, making for a character that’s more than a little unique and definitely hilarious.
Dug – Up
Dug is easily the most quotable character from Pixar’s 2009 film Up, a golden retriever with a mix of innocent lovability and adorable air headedness, all combined with a fascination with squirrels. He’s first introduced to the main characters, Carl and Russell, while on the hunt for a fabulous bird named Kevin; however, Dug’s quick affection soon makes him decide that Carl is his new master. Between misguided bird hunts, fervent swearing of his newfound love, and a foray into the hated cone of shame, Dug worms his way into Carl’s heart—and the audience is already there. There’s not a person who has seen the movie who hasn’t given the occasional shout of “SQUIRREL!” Up might not belong to the sci-fi genre in the strictest sense, but Dug’s high-tech, dog-translating collar scores him a place on the list of best pets in science fiction.
D0g the Robot – Half-Life 2
Built to protect owner Alyx, giant robot D0g is a car-throwing companion that combines the best of both worlds: canine and high-functioning, awesome robot. Originally much smaller, D0g got some improvements over the years, both in height and technology—so he’s a big, good boy. All that size can make for some comical situations, though, as his zeal overcomes his spatial awareness and there’s inevitable destruction. He alternates between a formidable foe and a dancing, excitable canine character whose love for Alyx is more important than anything else. He’s strong, huge, and full of gadgets, making him both the ultimate fighter and the best alternative dog around. Who can resist a loyal and loving pup, especially if he’s an awesome robot fighter?
Gaspode – Discworld
Filthy, disease-ridden, opportunistic, and street smart, Gaspode the Wonder Dog believes in looking out for himself rather than trusting others. He has no problem taking advantage of both people and other dogs, and spends much of his time among the homeless members of Canting Crew. He enjoys antagonizing others, particularly werewolf Angua, and considers himself safe from his multitude of unusual diseases since the germs are preoccupied fighting one another rather than him—or so he says. In spite of all his flaws, Gaspode is hard to resist because he’s just so clever. Antiheroes even come in dog form, it seems, and they’re just as fascinating as their human counterparts—which is why Gaspode claims a place on the list of best pets in science fiction.
Gizmo – Gremlins
Gizmo of Gremlins is definitely a misfit, being the only one of 10,000 mogwai who is good. In fact, the affectionate alien is downright cuddly. But anyone who gets distracted by his cuteness had better watch out, because the mogwai is just as intelligent as his evil family members, able to create and use technical gadgets and weapons. Gizmo seems sweet and fluffy, though, and he definitely loves the people who care for him. The cute alien also loves watching—and learning from—television, a seemingly harmless pastime that makes him even more deadly. Obviously, looks can be deceiving, since the adorable mogwai seems like he needs nothing more than a cuddle and a snack—as long as it’s not after midnight. Cute and deadly makes for a great alien character, which is why Gizmo makes the list of best pets in science fiction.
Hal the Roach – WALL-E
Can you be a pet to a robot? Pixar decided that you could when they introduced Hal, the friendly cockroach who befriends WALL-E. While life on Earth has ended, the cockroaches have lived on, as evidenced by Hal’s extreme survival ability: he comes through being crushed and even shot unfazed. It’s Hal who unites WALL-E with EVE, whose mistrust fades when she observes Hal’s friendship with the robot. Though he can’t speak, and most of what we get about his character involves Kremies (a play on Twinkies and their supposed ability to survive apocalyptic situations), Hal is ultimately there as a friend for the one lonely robot left on Earth. Not too difficult for a little companion bug—even a cockroach—to capture our hearts with that.