What the hell is a Salmonax?

Sam & Max are the vigilante quip-cracking duo who keep the neighborhood in one piece in their own charmingly unethical ways (not too unlike a reverse-amalgamation of Max Smart). They are the backbone of Straight and Narrow St's mayhem quota, Hell's soul vault philanthropics, fiction's "most enduring couple," and especially New York City's Freelance Police, ran by two of the bestest of partners!

Sam is the first half of the duo, being a (horizontally challenged) tall, well-dressed, brown, anthropomorphic, dog who often takes charge of the phone calls, takes charge of the cases he's employed, and takes care of his little lagomorphic bunny buddy named Max, who also tags along the investigation.

Max is the last half whose lighthearted slapstick violence the team's image is based on. He's a 3'0 tall brown-soled white lagomorph with snaggy teeth and always carries a hearty violent tendency on his person and arsenal. Where he stores them is none of your damn business though. Without him, the Freelance Police wouldn't have their signature hilarity, pummeling, and maybe both combined.

These two have been through many mediums & age ratings together, but have so little content having starred in a TV series for Fox's kiddie network, their more popularly known adventure games by Telltale/Skunkape & Lucasarts, and the comic series they first debut.

The Comics

A strong beginning for the tales of our comically brutal neighborhood watch. About 0.5% plot, 23% revolver slinging, 65% power of friendship, 9.5% orange marshmellow circus peanuts, and 2% miscellaneous corndog meat. The cool thing about reading these comics is that you can even see the progression of Steve Purcell's style over time. It's pretty hard to get your hands on these, but I hope someday I have enough pocket change for a scanner and any of the physical books. And I call myself a fan!

Here are things you can do after reading the Freelance Police adventures, instructions scattered about:

The Point and Click Adventure Games: LucasArts

LucasArts teamed up with Purcell to develop a computer game (1993) available for DOS and Mac to tell the tale about the Freelance Police and their nationwide search for a missing Bigfoot. The team has to track down the perp through the help of tourist traps, a bundle of soggy Sasquatch locks, and the offensively rank scent of justice. They may even need to save an entire race of Bigfoots in the process! That was not mentioned in the contract.

Not going to lie, I had a tough time navigating the game. Not because of its own merits though, but because I'm sort of incompetent at these kinds of games anyway and Hit The Road is my "baby's first" point-and-click. I digress. It's a really funny game and I didn't mind sticking around a dead-end for too long if it meant I got to hear every silly item description and non sequitur Sam had to say. I also love how the plotline is just completely stupid and unpredictable.

The Short-lived TV series and Other Animated Pieces

The TV series on Fox Children's Network was and is somewhat criticized for censorship, but you have to hand it to them for being able to get away with as many jokes as they did on TV, let alone children's TV. Because the show was marketed for children but committed to the original teen's demographic of raunchy and metatextual humor, the show was, well, short-lived for 24 episodes total.

Also part of the DVD outfit was a flash animation in which our protagonists perform an autopsy on an alien body for FBI documentation.

The Point and Click Adventure Games: Telltale

The previous studio was shut down by the mouse in red shorts due to low output, and so Telltale was birthed by former LucasArts developers to continue the release of several properties. Sam and Max would be graced with 3 new graphic adventure additions as of 2010:

Voice Actors & Memorable Quotes

My favorite Sam voice would be Nowlin for the level-headed and totally-on-spot delivery of Sam's dry humor, but I can't get enough of Harvey Atkin for how Dad-ish he sounds. I also really like Nick Jameson and the idea of Max having an east coast accent. For newcomers who want a taste of the series, feel free to read some highlighted quotes below for an idea of what you're getting into:

Sam's Voices HTR: Bill Farmer
Animated Series: Harvey Atkin
Telltale Series: David Nowlin
Max's Voices HTR: Nick Jameson
Animated Series: Robert Tinkler
Telltale Series: William Kasten
Other: David Boat
Monkeys Violating the Heavenly Temple (Surfin' The Highway)
Bartender: It's for you, McGruff!
Sam: Did you hear what he called me? I hate that!
Sam: Let's sneak up to his room later and drain all the liquid out of his body.
Max: If he calls me "Hello Kitty," I'll plug him.
Bad Day On The Moon (Surfin' The Highway)
Sam: So let me get this straight. We can breathe here [The Moon] then?
Max: I guess those candy-butt astronauts didn't have the stones to try it.
Sam: I could never say that about an astronaut.
Dysfunction of the Gods (TV series)
Max: Is that so? Audience, say hello to Aphrodite!
[Audience becomes a pack of wolf-whistlers]
Max: Classic bone structure.
Sam: I bet she knows all the state capitals too.
Max's Big Day (TV series)
Max: How could I've let this happen?! Aw, Sam speak to me!
Sam: I'm fine, knucklehead! Much like the weasel utilizes its collapsable skull to fit through near impossible spaces, I have called upon a likeability to collapse all my bones and bulky organs in order to dupe these uncultured puppies into thinking they have rolled and pressed me into this unsettling garment, yok yok yok! Neat huh?
The Big Sleep
Sam: Dear lord, Max! We're in Britain in the 21st century! We;ve been pickled in some sort of twisted cryogenic stasis!
Max: You just like saying cryogenic stasis, don't you?
Sam: Yeah, so?
---
Sam: Anyone who doesn't want me to borrow this car please raise your hand! ... Okay then, thanks! [He says as he breaks a car window open with his elbow]
Max: Didn't you teach me that stealing is wrong?
Sam: Gee, I must have left my moral compass back in that shallow grave.
Ice Station Santa (Beyond Space and Time)
Sam: Look on the bright side!
Jimmy: No wife? No family? No job? What bright side?
Sam: Well, with all the brain damage you got from boxing, you'd make a great vacant-eyed janitor!
Jimmy: Aww nuts. My boxing career didn't even last long enough to give me a decent case of brain damage.
Night of the Raving Dead (Beyond Space and Time)
Sam: What gives, Sybil? Did you start your dating service again?
Sybil: Not quite. All my clients are applying for dates with me.
Sam: Um, as kind of officers of the law, we have to point out that that's kind of illegal.
Max: Does that mean we can shoot her to regain health points or something?
Sybil: What? No, get your heads out of the gutter, it's not like that.

Why Samuel The Dog Is My Hero

Total shot in the dark but my verdict confidently says that Sam is autistic. If his nonconformist approach to policework isn't enough, I've made a list of telltales to uphold my canon:

  1. Sam seems to repeat phrases that he likes to hear coming from anyone and especially himself and takes any chance say it. Here's a description of his habits from the Sam and Max Freelance Police Series Bible!

    "He loves dressing the part and talking tough.'You're taking the fall!' is the kind of thing Sam feels home saying to a rat carrying a pilfered ice cream bar or an old lady in the supermarket who tries to smuggle one extra item through the express lane."

    According to the next page, he also takes any opportunity to info-dump.

    "Sam carries around a lot of obscure information and never hesitates to share it ... The likely inaccuracy of the information is completely unimportant. Sam wants to fill you in on what he knows even if it's being made up right as it comes out his mouth ... Sam likes the sound of it rolling off his tongue."
  2. A stretch, but Sam has a stim pattern. He likes to use alot of gestures involving finger guns in the Telltale series. He does it while talking to people and he even incorporates finger guns into his dance moves. These animations are particularly in 203: Night of the Raving Dead in The Zombie Factory and throughout Devil's Playhouse and the remasters. The man likes the feel of his revolver!

  3. Not only does the guy not tolerate smoking (unspecified whether it be mutual health concerns or his sensory issues), he has really solid and specific cravings for sweets and sodas over the vices of alcohol and cigarettes and orders rootbeer at the bar. Let's not forget Sam's Glazed Mcguffins.
  4. Seeing how he becomes almost dysfunctional without Max in a meter's radius (refer to 303 and the "I can't pick that up" lines from Hit The Road), Sam clearly works on having a familiar and comfortable routine and loses his shit when one thing is taken away. Otherwise he gets irritable and makes sure everyone else is involved. There are also lines in Ice Station Santa that implies he wears the same outfit for so long that Max jokingly says he never takes it off, and he refuses to wear shoes as he finds them about as accessory as hats yet wears a fedora.
    Sam: I've never seen Santa take off his coat before.
    Max: Now that you mention it, I don't think I've ever seen you take your coat off either.
    Sam: I haven't.
  5. In 204, Max impugns past Sam for taking too long to think. This implies Sam has somewhat impaired processing, while being a crack towards the game's dialogue wheel.

    Past Sam: Hey, pal. I'll ask the questions here!
    Sam: But... Oh, all right. Go ahead.
    Past Sam: ...
    Max: What is he waiting for!?
    Sam: Be patient, Max. It takes a while to think up the right thing to say.
  6. Possible dyspraxia since it's said he has bad aim and that he's bad at dancing (I personally think he's not that bad of a dancer.)
  7. Even though they're the designated voices of reason, Sam and Max miss social cues all the time which almost is the source of their comedy and hijinks ensue (Max: Don't use the word ensue, Pat!) Here's a quote I like about Sam's ability to convey subtlety referenced in The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball:

    Sam: I hear you have a... mole problem?
    Lovey Bear: Hey, it's a genetic condition! You shoulda seen my father's back!
    Sam: Holy cow! I'm actually being too subtle!
    Max: First time that's ever happened!

Reading and watching Sam live his happiest and best years with Max makes me feel at home with my autism seeing as most of these list items are based off of things I relate to. I can't help but see myself in Sam and feel like I could live life out like he does — minus the public maiming and stuff.

Thank you for reading, or at least sharing the same admiration for this national treasure of a series as me. I didn't cover the entire franchise, just the stuff that I've gotten my hands on. If you'd like to seek out more excellent Sam and Max content, skim the links below! Thank you!

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All character appearances and artistic/musical content © belong to their respective creators.
Sam and Max are created by Steve Purcell, and licensed currently under Telltale Games.
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