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.
History with the Macy's Parade
Underdog made his first Macy's Parade appearance in 1965, and was accompanied by an Underdog float for his debut. Like many balloons from this time period, he became an instant classic and flew for many more years. He retired in 1984, and made 20 parade appearances overall. Over time, the balloon deteriorated beyond repair, but his signature "U" still exists and is framed in Macy's Parade Studio.
While no new Underdog balloon has been made for the parade, due to several conflicts with Classic Media, 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 walk-around 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.
- High winds affected the 1975 Parade. Because of this, wind gusts coming off of the roofs of skyscrapers caused handlers to lose control of the Underdog balloon, sending him crashing into trees, deflating his forehead and right ear in the progress. Because of this, he was removed from the Parade, alongside Astronaut Snoopy and the Weeble balloons.
- In the 1976 parade, Underdog's right hand was deflated, presumably by a tree.