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Gordon Shumway, known on Earth as ALF (Alien Life Form), is a Melmacian Orbit Guard pilot from the planet Melmac who survived the explosion of his planet in AD 1985 and crash-landed on Earth - specifically in the Tanner family's garage.

For the next four years, ALF was forced to hide himself, fearing what the Alien Task Force would do if they captured him. Fortunately for him, he was allowed to stay with the Tanners and spent his days away watching television, spending large amounts of money on Willie Tanner's credit card and trying to eat the family cat. He even befriended a few Earthlings outside the Tanner family, such as Dr. Larry Dykstra, Jake Ochmonek and others. He also managed to contact former friends and fellow Melmacian survivors by radio.

When he was about to get a ride off-planet, he was unfortunately tracked down and captured by the Alien Task Force, and kept in captivity for a few years, during which time he actually befriended most of the base's personnel and spent a lot of time eating pizza and playing poker. In other words, his life didn't change all that much. One can certainly say he was quite lucky.

Although Colonel Gilbert Milfoil believed that ALF represented a threat and wanted to dissect him, ALF was rescued by Major Melissa Angel Hill and Captain Rick Mulligan, and was ultimately released from captivity and made an ambassador to Earth.