List of ALF characters

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A listing of the characters from the ALF television series that ran between 1986 and 1990.

ALF[edit]

Gordon Shumway
ALF character
GordonShumway.png
Gordon "ALF" Shumway in the series ALF
First appearance "ALF"
Last appearance "Project ALF"
Portrayed by Paul Fusco
Voiced by Paul Fusco
Information
Nickname(s) ALF
Aliases ALF
Species Melmacian
Gender Male
Family Bob Shumway (father)
Flo Shumway (mother)
Curtis Shumway (brother)
Augie Shumway (sister)
Significant other(s) Rhonda (girlfriend)
Nationality Melmac

ALF (a nickname for "Alien Life Form"), is an alien from the planet Melmac. ALF's real name is Gordon Shumway; he was given the nickname "ALF" by Willie Tanner in the pilot episode.

ALF was born on October 28, 1756 (though he mentions that his birthday is in August in Episode 7, "Help Me Rhonda") on the Lower East Side of the planet. Melmac was located six parsecs past the Hydra-Centaurus Supercluster and had a green sky, pink grass and a purple sun. The commonly used currency is Wernicks, and the substance we call foam is revealed by ALF in the first season episode, "Baby, you can drive my car", to be as precious on Melmac as gold is on Earth. Lint also has value on Melmac as hinted in the cold open of the same episode, though ALF did not reveal what it corresponded to on Earth in terms of value.

ALF's body is covered with rust-colored fur (he once described his color as burnt sienna). He has a rippled snout, facial moles, eight stomachs, his heart is apparently located in his head near his ear. He likes to eat cats and had a best friend on his home planet named Malhar Naik. He attended high school for 122 years and was captain of a Bouillabaisseball team (which is played on a normal baseball diamond using fish parts as a ball). He has at least two cousins "Pretty Boy Shumway" and "Blinky", and has had liposuction. During a bout of amnesia, he believed he was an insurance salesman named Wayne Schlegel.

ALF is troublesome, sarcastic and cynical, and sometimes he puts himself at the risk of being discovered while doing some of his often unintentional pranks. However, if things have gone too far, he does as much as possible to make up for his mistakes, generally with good results. In one episode, he tried to help Brian to gain confidence during a school show, because he was too afraid to perform. In another occasion, he helped Dorothy to deal with her husband's death and move on and accept another man's friendship. He also helped Raquel Ochmonek deal with a depression she suffered after she became the laughing stock in a TV show.

Before his life on Earth, ALF was an Orbit Guard for Melmac and was often called upon to fight the villain calling himself "Versus, the Evil Larson Petty". During one such battle, nuclear missiles are used to try to quell the threat of Versus once and for all. Unknown to everyone, the missiles would not only destroy Versus, but the entire planet along with the Melmacians trying to defend their planet. When Melmac exploded, it threw a few orbit guard ships into space, one of them being ALF's. The ship drifted through space for about a year before picking up Willie Tanner's radio transmission and crash landing on earth.

ALF is generally regarded as one of the only Melmacians to survive his home planet's cataclysm. However, a few other Melmacians were shown to have survived the cataclysm. Skip and Rhonda had escaped the explosion in an interstellar space craft. It is stated in the episode titled "Help Me Rhonda" that ALF's other friend Rick got married to a Melmacian named Stella, who opened a tanning parlor on Mercury. In the episode titled "Alone Again, Naturally" ALF sees his cousin "Blinky" in a car on the highway, but Willy says that they haven't seen a car for hours and ALF was just daydreaming, so it's really left up to the viewer if ALF saw Blinky or not. Any other surviving Melmacians are unknown at this point although it is possible that more exist as many other orbit guard ships could have suffered the same fate as ALF's, stranded on other unknown planets.

With ALF being a live-hand puppet, Paul Fusco is assisted in performing ALF by Bob Fappiano and Lisa Buckley. Michu Meszaros stood in for the ALF puppet when full-body shots were needed by wearing an ALF costume (although this idea was ditched in later seasons).

TV Guide ranked ALF # 8 on its "25 Greatest Sci-Fi Legends" list.[1]

ALF in animation[edit]

Animated Gordon.

ALF: The Animated Series depicts ALF's life on Melmac before it exploded. As the animated series takes place before ALF's life on Earth, he goes by his real name of "Gordon" here. Each episode depicts ALF and his family in some kind of wacky situation. His family members are his father Bob, his mother Flo, his younger brother Curtis, his little sister Augie, his dog Neep, and his bird Harry. Gordon has two friends named Skip and Rick, and a girl he adores named Rhonda. In ALF Tales, he starts the episode featuring the story, and usually appears as the main character of the story.

His animated form also appears in the film Cartoon All Stars to the Rescue.

The Tanner family[edit]

Willie Tanner[edit]

William Francis Tanner
ALF character
First appearance "ALF"
Last appearance "Consider Me Gone"
Portrayed by Max Wright
Information
Species Human
Gender Male
Family Unnamed parents
Neal Tanner (brother)
Spouse(s) Kate Tanner (wife)
Children Lynn Tanner (daughter)
Brian Tanner (son)
Eric Tanner (younger son)
Relatives Uncle Albert (uncle, deceased)
Doug (uncle, deceased)
Pat (aunt)
Dorothy Halligan Deaver (mother-in-law)
Sparky (father-in-law, deceased)
Unnamed sister-in-law
"Whizzer" Deaver (stepfather-in-law)

William Francis "Willie" Tanner (played by Max Wright) is the father figure, and a Social worker by trade. Willie is an amateur radio enthusiast, and it was a result of his shortwave radio signals that ALF followed them and crashed into his home. Willie also avidly collects scale model train sets. He attended Claremont High School, then later graduated from UCLA. When Willie uses his ham Radio to call somebody, he uses the callsign "K726XAA".

He was arrested by the Secret Service after ALF made telephone calls to the President in an attempt to convince the President to deactivate the nuclear weapons program and disassemble America's Nuclear Stockpile, which were misconstrued as the alien trying to threaten the president as he didn't explain properly what he was talking about, acting like it was a threat instead of a request. Like his wife, he was a flower child during the 1960s.

Shortly into the second season, Willie was seen without his regular glasses (but wearing reading glasses) then later in season 2, he was back to wearing his regular glasses.

Willie and ALF have a good, if often strained, relationship. They tend to bicker and snipe at one another, sometimes causing Willie to lose his temper, but each will also do their best to come to the others aid in times of strife, though Willie tends to be more strict than ALF would like. Next to Brian, Willie seems to have the strongest bond with ALF out of the cast and the two share as many scenes together, if not more, than do ALF and Brian, Willie's first son. Many of the arguments that the characters often engage in revolve around the cross cultural difference between Earth and Melmac, or sometimes simply come about because of some bizarre behavior ALF is engaging in.

Despite their strained relationship, Willie has referred to ALF as being "amazing" and often marvels at some of the things Alf has revealed about the universe beyond the Earth's solar system. ALF holds Willie in high regard for letting him stay with the Tanners and protecting him from the Alien Task Force and despite their arguments, Alf is usually the first to try to help Willie when things go wrong.

Kate Tanner[edit]

Katherine Daphne "Kate" Halligan Tanner (played by Anne Schedeen) is the mother figure. In addition to her mother who plays a role in the series, she has at least one sister. She majored in art history and sometimes works in real estate. Like her husband, she was a flower child during the 1960s. In the episode "Jump," it was mentioned that she once had a poem published in a magazine which was her goal, which shows her interest in poetry. Kate has an uneven relationship with ALF. Although she finds him a nuisance most of the time, Kate cares for ALF's well-being.

She gives birth to Eric William Tanner in the season three episode "Having my Baby" (Anne Schedeen was really pregnant during the series. However, she was pregnant with a girl in reality, which made the twin boys only her TV son).

Lynn Tanner[edit]

Lynn "Lynnie" Tanner (played by Andrea Elson) is the eldest child of the Tanner family and their only daughter. She was a shy girl whom ALF attempted to make more extroverted. One of ALF's ways to get Lynn to raise her confidence was entering her in a beauty contest. Kate actually confided to Willie once that she was concerned her daughter was spending too much time with ALF, sardonically suggesting that if they weren't careful they might end up with half-alien grandchildren. She often defends ALF's behaviour to her parents.

Over the course of the series, she dates several men including a boy nicknamed "Lizard", a performer named Robert, a boy (unseen) named "Lloyd" (but he pronounced both L's), and an athlete named Danny Duckworth.

Brian Tanner[edit]

Brian "Bri" Tanner (played by Benji Gregory) is the elder son and middle child of the Tanner family. He seems to bond with ALF the most. It is fairly common to see the two paired in scenes together during the series, and Brian is often involved in some of Alf's pranks and schemes. Nicknamed 'B' by the rest of the cast, Brian formed a friendship with the Ochmonech's nephew Jake, who also discovered the existence of Alf, and the three characters were often seen together during the third season of the show. Brian usually acts as the straight man to Alf's jokes and gags out of the duo, but Brian has gotten in a few jokes at Alf's expense during the series as well. They often appear to have a relationship resembling that of siblings despite the gap in their relative ages and cultural differences (Brian was in elementary school during the series' run, while Alf was well over two hundred by the time he arrived on earth.). Brian is also the one who is quickest to worry for Alf's safety if it seems something has happened to him, and Alf seems to have the most regard for Brian's feelings throughout the series than any other member of the cast. Alf will go to great lengths for Brian both to cheer him up if he's upset, or to help out when he needs it though his plans tend to go awry, though Brian usually forgives him for any problems he's caused because he knows the alien is simply trying to help.

Eric Tanner[edit]

Eric William Tanner is the younger son of the Tanner family. He was born during the last episode of the third season.

Lucky the Cat[edit]

Lucky is the Tanner family's cat. Since cats are a common dinner on Melmac, ALF occasionally tries to eat him, though he refrains from doing so because the Tanners trust him. The character passed away in the fourth season, replaced by a kitten adopted by ALF himself.

Lucky II[edit]

Lucky II is the Tanner family's new cat. ALF originally wanted to eat him, but after seeing a kitten for the first time ALF fell in love with Lucky II. ALF adopted Lucky II after Lucky died in Season 4.

Uncle Neal Tanner[edit]

Neal Tanner (played by Jim J. Bullock) is Willie's younger brother and the uncle of Brian, Lynn, and Eric. Neal lived with the Tanner family briefly after his wife Margaret left him before moving into his own apartment and gaining employment in the same apartment building as a handyman. Neal met Margaret in the Future Farmers group at Claremont High School. ALF originally did not like Neal as he was forced to hide, but eventually got to form some friendship after Willie revealed ALF's existence to Neal.

Other characters who know about ALF[edit]

Dorothy Halligan Deaver[edit]

Dorothy Halligan Deaver (played by Anne Meara) is the widowed mother of Kate, the mother-in-law of Willie, and the grandmother of Lynn, Brian, and Eric. She has a love-hate relationship with ALF, often threatening to hand him over to the military if he does not behave; in turn Alf calls her the Wicked Witch of the West. She is afraid to remarry, until ALF in his own way convinces her it would be a good idea not to die lonely (initially by staging a fake séance to "speak" with her late husband - a stunt which inevitably backfires). She eventually marries a jazz musician nicknamed "Whizzer".

"Whizzer" Deaver[edit]

"Whizzer" Deaver (played by Paul Dooley) is Dorothy's second husband, Kate's stepfather, Willie's stepfather-in-law, and Lynn, Brian, and Eric's step-grandfather. Whizzer is a talented jazz musician. He accidentally meets ALF in Season 4. He ran into the kitchen where ALF usually hides when there is company. Before the Tanners were able to hide him, Whizzer fainted when he first saw him. Whizzer and ALF both eventually came to hate each other.

Jody[edit]

Jody (played by Andrea Covell) is a blind woman who ALF befriends in the first season of the series. Jody is unaware that ALF is an alien and rather thinks he is just a weird person. She appeared again in Season 2 when ALF celebrated a reunion, featuring everyone who's ever met him at a party where the other people attending tried to hide the info about what ALF really is. After she moves out of her apartment, ALF invites her to stay with the Tanners until she finds a new one. When she does find a new apartment, ALF moves in with her uninvited until Kate and Willie manage to make him move out again.

Larry Dykstra[edit]

Lawrence "Larry" Dykstra (played by Bill Daily) is a shrink who appears in several episodes first appears in Season 1 when ALF and Willie Tanner have problems living together. In Season 2, Larry helps the Tanners when ALF is addicted to a ventriloquist dummy who starts controlling ALF. Larry helps the Tanners again for ALF's reunion of his friends. Larry appeared one last time in Season 3 when ALF seemed too bored to do anything.

Luis[edit]

Luis (played by Phillip Gordon) is a Mexican boy who was taken in for one night by Willie. Luis meets ALF when he mistakes him to for the neighbors' dog. They have "tilled together" and "mulched together", according to ALF. Luis is the only one not invited back to ALF's reunion featuring the friends who have met him. After the episode featuring Luis, he is never heard from again.

Tiffany[edit]

In the hour-long episode "ALF's Special Christmas," ALF meets a terminally ill child named Tiffany (Keri Houlihan). They become friends, when they realize that they are both in similar ways alone on this planet.

Pete "Flaky" Finnegan[edit]

Pete Finnegan (David Ogden Stiers) was a hobo who hung around the Tanner house and spotted ALF during Thanksgiving, while the family was over at the Ochmoneks having Thanksgiving Dinner. Pete first calls the Alien Task Force on ALF. But as the two bond, Pete realizes that like him, ALF is on his own. After realizing this, he turns himself into the Alien Task Force and they consider it a prank by a homeless man.

Aaron King[edit]

Aaron King (Pete Willcox) was a reclusive neighbor and truck driver from Tupelo, Mississippi, who ALF is convinced is Elvis Presley in hiding in the Season 3 episode "Suspicious Minds". He reaches this conclusion after reading a book on conspiracy theories of Elvis being alive. ALF goes as far as calling Mr. King with a fruit basket and makes grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches for him. After seeing him eat them, He has a dream where he enters Mr. King's home and sees it is filled with Elvis memorabilia, further convincing him he met Elvis, despite Mr. King's objections.

Senior Citizens[edit]

Jack (Phil Leeds), Bernie (Eric Christmas), Rebecca (Amzie Strickland), and Louise Beaumont were four senior citizens in a retirement home that ALF sneaks into to meet Louise as seen in "When I'm 64." They meet ALF by accident, but become friends with him almost instantly.

The Ochmoneks[edit]

Trevor Ochmonek[edit]

Trevor Ochmonek (played by John LaMotta) is a Master of Arts graduate, who played football for 7 years through high school. He is a veteran of the Korean War, where he served as a pilot. He is a heavy cigar smoker and often unintentionally rude.

Raquel Ochmonek[edit]

Raquel Ochmonek (played by Liz Sheridan) always wanted children, but never had any. She is very nosy, often spying on the neighbors with a looking glass and spreading rumors. One time, she spots ALF and reports him to the Alien Task Force. When Jake came to live with her, she considers him a replacement for the children she never had. She was also a cheerleader in high school and, according to her husband, still has the same figure.

Jake Ochmonek[edit]

Jacob "Jake" Ochmonek (played by Josh Blake) is the nephew of Trevor and Raquel who was sent to live with Raquel and Trevor after his father was in jail. His mother struggles with kleptomania and is unable to care for Jake. A mechanical genius, he has an unrequited crush on Lynn, although he also falls for a schoolmate named Laura (Carla Gugino). His girlfriend appeared in one episode in Season 3. He was one of ALF's best friends; they met while Jake was trying to steal the Tanner's telescope and ALF caught him. When Jake breaks it, he promises to fix it and forms a bonding friendship with ALF. Jake would also befriend Brian Tanner, and the three often shared scenes during the third season. Jake was shown to be skilled with cars in the episode "Fight Back", and when ALF posited the idea that Willie was being scammed, he readily jumped at the opportunity to help ALF in his plan to expose the crooked mechanic behind it. He was also willing to aid ALF in his attempt at helping Brian overcoming his fear of being out at night in the outdoors in the episode "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark", also from the third season. ALF and Jake banter in some episodes much like ALF and Willie do, but it is less a case of occasionally antagonizing one another and more a friendly banter where the two are generally just having fun since the two have similar personalities, as compared to the much stricter Willie and ALF, whose personalities are often at cross-purposes due to ALF's alien nature and mannerisms.

The Alien Task Force and other Government[edit]

Various actors appeared in the ALF TV series as the Alien Task Force in many episodes, such as the ALF pilot (both versions), and the Thanksgiving special.

Also, many police officers appeared at their house whenever there was chaos in the neighborhood, including when a notable actor appeared as a thief in an episode of Season 1.

Also, Air Force One appears in an episode in Season 1, where it shows two men monitoring phone calls made by ALF, until we finally hear Ronald Reagan's voice, but the President does not appear in the show. Two FBI agents showed up at their house when they found out ALF was making phone calls to the President, which were misconstrued as threatening, when in fact Alf was trying to convince the president to disassemble the nuclear weapons program due to nuclear war being the cause of the destruction of Melmac, something he feared would happen to Earth as well if countries continued to stockpile nuclear weapons.

Melmacians[edit]

Most Melmacians appear in ALF: The Animated Series. However, Rhonda, Skip, Rick, and Stella have appeared in the live-action series.

  • Bob Shumway (voiced by Thick Wilson) - Gordon's father
  • Flo Shumway (voiced by Peggy Mahon) - Gordon's mother.
  • Curtis Shumway (voiced by Michael Fantini) - Gordon's little brother.
  • Harry - The Shumway family's pet bird.
  • Neep - The Shumway family's pet vespa (a species like a dog).
  • Rhonda (performed by Lisa Buckley in the live-action series, voiced by Paulina Gillis[2] in the animated series) - Gordon's girlfriend. She appeared in the episode of the live-action series titled "Help Me, Rhonda." Before the destruction of Melmac, Skip saves Rhonda by taking her away in his spaceship. When performing Rhonda, Lisa Buckley is assisted in performing her by Scott Hopper, Steve Lamar, John Lovelady, Richard J. Schellbach, and Randy Simper.
  • Skipper "Skip" III (performed by Bob Fappiano in the live-action series, voiced by Rob Cowan in the animated series) - One of Gordon's friends. He appeared in the episode of the live-action series titled "Help Me, Rhonda." Before the destruction of Melmac, Skip saves Rhonda by taking her away in his spaceship. When performing Skip, Bob Fappiano is assisted in performing her by Scott Hopper, Steve Lamar, John Lovelady, Richard J. Schellbach, and Randy Simper.
  • Rick Fusterman (performed and voiced by Paul Fusco in both TV series) - One of Gordon's friends. He appeared in the episode of the live-action series titled "Help Me, Rhonda." Following the destruction of Melmac, Rick got married to Stella and they opened up a tanning parlor on Mercury. When performing Rick, Paul Fusco is assisted in performing her by Scott Hopper, Steve Lamar, John Lovelady, Richard J. Schellbach, and Randy Simper.
  • Stella (voiced by Ellen-Ray Hennessy) - A coffee shop waitress on Melmac. Following the destruction of Melmac, Stella got married to Rick Fusterman and they opened a tanning parlor on Mercury.
  • Larson Petty (voiced by Thick Wilson) - The primary villain of the animated series. He has tried to invade Melmac many times only to be thwarted by ALF.

References[edit]

  1. ^ TV Guide Book of Lists. Running Press. 2007. p. 168. ISBN 0-7624-3007-9. 
  2. ^ a b Damian Inwood. "Pi Theatre, Independent Vancouver Theatre >> The Baroness and the Pig". Retrieved October 30, 2011. "That’s what Vancouver actresses Diane Brown and Tabitha St. Germain do with the delightful black comedy, The Baroness and the Pig. (...) St. Germain – better known to Vancouver audiences as Paulina Gillis – plays the Baroness as a naïve gentlewoman, full of prissy mannerisms and twittering, bird-like movements." 

See also[edit]