The furry little creature, nicknamed ALF (for ‘Alien Life Form’), landed on the Tanners' garage when his spacecraft went out of control. Unfortunately the ship could not be fixed and, anyway, his home planet of Melmac had just blown up.
So ALF took up residence in the pleasant suburban Tanner home, disrupting their formerly boring life and commenting sarcastically (in a gravelly voice provided by the show's co-creator Paul Fusco) on the foibles of earthlings. The dense neighbours never figured out what was going on.
Baby Eric was born to the Tanner household in 1989, giving ALF new human customs to wisecrack about, and Willie's eager-to-please younger brother Neal showed up a few times in the last season to add variety. In a final episode cliffhanger in March 1990, ALF was contacted by Melmacians Skip and Rhonda, who invited him to leave with them and colonise a new planet – just as the US government's Alien Task Force closed in to capture the furry little wiseacre.
ALF was a novelty hit in the 1986-1987 season, leading to ALF dolls and other kid's paraphernalia. NBC even issued an official biography of its Monday night star. He was said to be 229 years old ("I've got dandruff older than your country") and had attended Melmac high school for 122 years, where he majored in software and was co-captain of the Bouillabaisseball team.
Adult occupations included Assistant Boxleitner, part-time role model, and operator of his own phlegm dealership. Hobbies included gerrymandering and snacking on cats, a Melmackian delicacy (the Tanners' cat Lucky, was often seen scurrying from the room). Height: "Fluctuates with weight." Weight: "Till the Sun Shines Nellie."
The creators of this fanciful comedy were Fusco and actor/producer Tom Patchett; a frequent director was TV comic Peter Bonerz.