ALF, an acronym for Alien Life Form, was the name of an NBC sitcom, which ran from 1986 until 1990, and of its title character. ALF was a wise-cracking, cat-eating puppet alien, stranded on Earth. In 1987, he received a spin-off, an animated series based on the character's life on his home planet of Melmac, under his given name of Gordon Shumway. A second animated series, ALF Tales, followed in 1989, adapting fairy tales and classic literature featuring the alien characters, and a comic book series was published by Marvel Comics from December 1987 to January 1992. The puppet version would later be revived, in the 1996 TV movie Project ALF and the 2004 TV Land series ALF's Hit Talk Show.
In his biography Where Did I Go Right?, executive producer Bernie Brillstein reveals that David Lazer once told him that Jim Henson was not happy that Brillstein was executive producer and part owner of the show. Brillstein felt that the situation of him representing two very different puppets was reminiscent of an earlier situation between two shows Brillstein was heavily involved with, Saturday Night Live and Fridays. Henson did have a sense of humor about the situation however, as evidenced by his cracking a joke about booking Miss Piggy and Kermit on ALF, during a roast of Brillstein.
Dish Network, in promoting the series for on-demand online viewing, refers to ALF as a show about "cat-eating alien muppets," despite the fact that ALF is not a Muppet.
- The 1987 NBC Saturday morning preview special ALF Loves a Mystery had ALF writing a detective story, in which various sleuths and suspects from NBC prime-time series (including his ALF co-star Benji Gregory) search a mansion for clues to a treasure (in the form of clips from the fall Saturday lineup). In the basement, they find a sign for Fraggle Rock, one mile down, pointing to a Fraggle hole. They watch the opening for the animated Fraggle Rock and hear Gobo give them the next clue (leading to fortune teller Betty White). ALF also appeared with the Fraggles and others in print ads for the season.
- The animated ALF appeared with Baby Kermit, Baby Piggy, and Baby Gonzo in the 1990 animated television special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue. Amongst other contributions, ALF threatened to eat Garfield and startled Baby Gonzo by demolishing the Berlin Wall.
- At the American Comedy Awards in 1989, Kermit listed ALF as a fellow non-human worthy of being nominated.
- In the first episode of the live-action series, which aired on September 22, 1986, ALF and young Brian Tanner are watching Sesame Street; a variation of "One of These Things" can be heard. ALF is rather critical of the series.
- Brian: Do you get Sesame Street where you live?
- ALF: No, and frankly I don't get it here either.
- TV Voice: If you said it was the cow riding on the subway, you're absolutely right!
- ALF: Brilliant. This and the letter I in one day.
- The 22nd episode of the first season is titled "It Isn't Easy... Bein' Green."
- In issue #11 of the comic, when Willie spells the word "cage" in front of ALF's mynah bird, ALF yells out, "Oh no! Don't spell! We've been watching Sesame Street together!"
- In issue #20 of the comic, Kate calls ALF Oscar the Grouch after finding him hiding in a garbage can.
Several crew members and performers associated with the Muppets and Henson worked on the series and its spin-offs.
- Bernie Brillstein was executive producer
- Lisa Buckley puppeteered on the series, credited as "personal assistant to ALF"
- Dan Castellaneta played Steve Michaels in the episode "Stayin' Alive" (1990)
- Sandy Duncan played herself in the episode "We Are Family" (1988)
- Paul Dooley played Whizzer in three episodes
- Lloyd Garver co-wrote the 1986 episode "Help Me, Rhonda" (with Tom Patchett) and was a creative consultant on the series
- Paulina Gillis voiced Augie Shumway and Rhonda on the animated ALF and ALF Tales
- John Lovelady was technical supervisor
- Anne Meara played Dorothy Halligan in seven episodes
- Thad Mumford served as creative consultant
- Joe Namath played himself in "Jump" (1986)
- Stephen Ouimette provided additional voices on the animated ALF and ALF Tales
- Tom Patchett was co-creator, producer, writer, and director
- Joshua Rudoy played Spencer Kadish in the episode "It Isn't Easy... Bein' Green" (1987)
- John Stocker provided additional voices on the animated ALF and ALF Tales
- Thick Wilson voiced dad Bob Shumway and Larson Petty on the animated ALF and ALF Tales
- Michael Laskin played Unermeyer in Project ALF
- Brillstein, Bernie. Where Did I Go Right? You're No One in Hollywood Unless Someone Wants You Dead. Beverly Hills: Phoenix Books, 1999. pp. 252, 322.
- E-mail communication with Joe Hennes