Sam & Max is a media franchise focusing on the eponymous fictional characters of Sam and Max, the Freelance Police. The characters, who occupy a universe that parodies American popular culture, were created by Steve Purcell in his youth, and later debuted in a 1987 comic book series. The characters have since been the subject of a graphic adventure video game developed by LucasArts, a television series produced for Fox, and a series of episodic adventure games developed by Telltale Games. In addition, a variety of machinima and a webcomic have been produced for the series.
The characters are a pair of anthropomorphic, vigilante private investigators based in a dilapidated office block in New York City. Sam is a calculative six-foot dog wearing a suit and a fedora, while Max is a short and aggressive "hyperkinetic rabbity thing". Both enjoy solving problems and cases as maniacally as possible, often with complete disregard for the law. Driving a seemingly indestructible black-and-white 1960 DeSoto Adventurer, the pair travel to many contemporary and historical locations to fight crime, including the Moon, Ancient Egypt, the White House and the Philippines, as well as several fictional locations.
The series has been very successful despite its relatively limited amount of media, and has gathered a significant fan following. However, the franchise did not gain more widespread recognition until after the 1993 release of LucasArts' Sam & Max Hit the Road, which cultivated interest in Purcell's original comics. Sam & Max Hit the Road is regarded as an exceptional adventure game and an iconic classic of computer gaming in the 1990s. Subsequent video games and the television series have also fared well with both critics and fans; critics consider the episodic video games to be the first successful application of the episodic distribution model.