Underdog is the main character of his self-titled animated television series, which aired on NBC from 1964 to 1973, with 124 episodes. Normally a humble and lovable fellow named Shoeshine Boy, the character transforms into his heroic alter ego whenever his love interest, Sweet Polly Purebred, has been victimized; Underdog generally must foil the schemes of various villains, such as Simon Bar Sinister or Riff Raff, in order to save her. All of his dialogue on the show, with few exceptions, is in rhyming couplets.
Underdog made his first Macy's Parade appearance in 1965, and continued to fly for over 10 years after his series ended. He was retired in 1984.
- Underdog (1965-1984)
After the Underdog balloon was retired from the parade, it made a couple of appearances in outside pop culture. In 1994, the first Thanksgiving-themed episode of NBC's sitcom Friends centered around the accidental release of the Underdog balloon, which caused everyone to go to the roof to watch and get locked out of the apartment. Underdog also appeared in a 2008 CGI ad for Coca-Cola, where he chases a Coke bottle-shaped balloon through New York City, along with a balloon of Stewie Griffin from Family Guy, a show that was never actually represented in the parade.
A walkaround version of Underdog appeared on the "75th Parade Superstars" float, along with other characters who had balloons that had been retired, such as Popeye, Kermit the Frog, and Ice Skating Snoopy.
In the 1975 parade, Underdog's arms were ripped apart by a tree.