Remember When ’80s Sitcom ‘Alien ALF’ Got Caught Dropping a Racial Slur?

ALF personifies ’80s culture. The sitcom is bizarre, hilarious, heartwarming, and full of family fun, making it one of the most popular TV shows for the four years it originally aired. Over the years, it has remained popular with fans, even those who weren’t alive when the series first ran.

However, ALF came under fire in 2010 for a distinctly controversial reason. And one showrunner’s response to the controversy really got fans talking. 

When did ‘ALF’ air on TV?

Cosplayer Christian Ruiz as ALF at 2019 Comic-Con International on July 20, 2019, in San Diego, California
ALF | Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

ALF premiered in 1986 on NBC. The sitcom follows ALF, an “alien life form” that crash-lands in an American family’s suburban backyard. The Tanner family decides to hide ALF from the Alien Task Force until the creature can repair his spacecraft and go on his way.

However, it doesn’t take long before ALF forms a close bond with the family. And over the years, he becomes a full-blown member of the Tanner clan.

On the surface, ALF is a comedy. ALF is a puppet, and the human actors reacting accordingly to the creature’s antics. The show ran on TV for four years, a total of 99 episodes. Fans reacted positively to the series from the beginning, with many drawn to the broad comedy.

ALF finally went off the air in 1990 but remained popular in syndication, with many new viewers discovering the crazy alien creature. It’s still available through various streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video.

Will there be an ‘ALF’ reboot?

Over the years, viewers of all ages began discovering ALF, and it enjoyed a resurgence in the late ’90s and early 2000s. In recent years, there was even talk of a reboot, TV Guide reported in 2018. Warner Bros. was supposedly spearheading it. But the project quickly became mired in development hell. And to this day, the long-awaited revival has yet to materialize. 

Despite the show’s popularity, ALF was involved in some serious controversy when an old blooper reel began making the rounds. Although parts of it were hilarious, the outtake included a moment when the puppet (voiced by creator Paul Fusco) made some seriously inappropriate comments. 

What was the controversy surrounding ALF?


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In late 2010, a blooper reel from ALF went viral. It revealed the puppet character jokingly using the N-word and making sexually suggestive comments. The reel made headlines worldwide, with media outlets and critics slamming puppeteer Paul Fusco for making the racial slur, E! Entertainment reported.

Despite the backlash, one showrunner wasn’t that concerned about the scandal. Steve Lamar, an executive producer on ALF, told TMZ: “You’re talking about 20 years ago when the world was not so ridiculously PC. Anyone that’s offended needs to lighten up already.”

The media outlet also spoke with John LaMotta, who acted on the series. Though LaMotta didn’t comment directly about the racial slur, he didn’t have flattering words for the show in general. He slammed it as “a piece of sh*t … worst work I ever did.”

Eventually, the controversy died down. But the story lives on an unfortunate side note to a series that made many TV viewers happy in the ’80s.