They're good Muppets, Brent
April 6, 2021 8:20 AM   Subscribe

NPR Ranks the top 25 Muppets. Who will win, the answer may surprise you!

Are you team chaos Muppet or team order Muppet?
posted by GnomePrime (156 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Without even reading the article, ChaosMuppet4Life.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:24 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Who will win, the answer may surprise you!

Lew Zealand?!?

[reads article]

Oh.
posted by aubilenon at 8:25 AM on April 6 [18 favorites]


The answer did not surprise me, other than being non-contrarian and correct and perfect.

I was a bit surprised to see Rowlf at #5, but the author makes a good case by linking to this performance.
posted by mark k at 8:30 AM on April 6 [10 favorites]


Seriously aubilenon I came here to say pretty much the exact same thing. The man has a boomerang fish act, for god's sake!
posted by bondcliff at 8:31 AM on April 6 [6 favorites]


All Cookie Monster does is mouth the cookie until it flies into pieces. What Cookie Monster is about is the desire for the cookie. The passion for the cookie. The thrill of the cookie.

The anticipation of the cookie.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:34 AM on April 6 [6 favorites]


I'm not the guy who voted for the LaChoy dragon, but I will argue that the eponymous television commercial is one of the funniest and most surreal and most perfect advertisements ever and I crack up every time I see it.

BUY SOME TODAY!
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:36 AM on April 6 [18 favorites]


Oh, and to get out the obvious: Miss Piggy at only #8 is a scandal. I really think she is suffering for being a strong, assertive leading women both onscreen and off. If I ever need illustration of the fact that women who stick up for themselves and their career become "unlikeable," this shamefully low ranking is going to be exhibit A.
posted by mark k at 8:36 AM on April 6 [27 favorites]


When I sit down to watch any Muppets with my kids, I always say, "Hey, let's watch this, it has my friend Kermit in it" or "Oh hey, there's my friends Bert and Ernie!" My kids haven't caught on yet, but if I can get something good to cut through the firehose of crap that's on youtube, it's a win.
posted by Catblack at 8:46 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


We disqualified other puppets that are NOT Muppets, including Yoda (he's really, really not a Muppet, guys, look it up)

I did, and found that Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal puppets were not considered Muppets either.

Looks like the aside was unneeded, regardless, as the list contains only Sesame Street and The Muppet Show Muppets anyway.
posted by explosion at 8:54 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


I have to include a link from a recent thread to the original Muppet coffee commercials dating from back in 1957-1961.

Had no idea that these commercials existed until this week, and it has blown my mind to see the origin story of Kermit the Frog.
posted by darkstar at 9:00 AM on April 6 [13 favorites]


Good list, started reviewing and did not see the deep backbone of the MFU (muppet fluffy universe) became skeptical, all good choices and certainly room for order argument but solid -- but would that one key character, the basis of true inner muppetness be ignored or skipped over entirely?

Coming in at #2 (above that bovine pretender) ** Gonzo **

Embrace your inner muppetness, emulate the wild and crazy G-man in your daily lives, (if you survive) become one with the plush.
posted by sammyo at 9:03 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Felt a little annoyed about the absence of the Yip-Yips from the top 25.
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:09 AM on April 6 [42 favorites]


Happy to see everyone on this list, and am pretty much okay both with the rankings and with the commentary about the rankings.

But very disappointed that this piece is happy to divide into the categories of Chaos Muppets vs Order Muppets without crediting Dahlia Lithwick
posted by Mchelly at 9:13 AM on April 6 [10 favorites]


No mention of my personal fave, the forgotten monster, Telly. Lover of triangles. Anxiety-filled. Telly Monster.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 9:21 AM on April 6 [32 favorites]


I am also indignant about the Yip-Yips.
posted by oulipian at 9:26 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Janis in the the top 25

groovy
posted by Sauce Trough at 9:33 AM on April 6 [13 favorites]


Elmo ranking above Dr. Teeth is a travesty and I'm about to unleash the full Crazy Harry response
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:38 AM on April 6 [14 favorites]


I suspect Grover suffered some vote splitting from Gonzo.

And the Count barely made it! Shocking!
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:43 AM on April 6 [9 favorites]


What, no Guy Smiley?
posted by St. Oops at 9:45 AM on April 6 [23 favorites]


When I sit down to watch any Muppets with my kids, I always say, "Hey, let's watch this, it has my friend Kermit in it" or "Oh hey, there's my friends Bert and Ernie!"

YOU! YOU can tell us how to get to Sesame Street!
posted by otherchaz at 9:46 AM on April 6 [14 favorites]


Boober was robbed. It's ok though, he'll just go launder some socks and internalize the deep feeling of disappointment.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:47 AM on April 6 [8 favorites]


No Fraggles were harmed, disturbed, nor indeed invoked, in the making of this list.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:49 AM on April 6 [13 favorites]


The Muppets don't have a very deep bench to be struggling at a top 25 and some so-sos in the top 10. I like that. Few stars all team players.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:50 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


And the Count barely made it! Shocking!

It sounds like the purely Sesame Street Muppets were at a disadvantage. Which is too bad, because I liked the Count.

Kermit was probably inevitable at number 1, but...Beaker? Really?
posted by thomas j wise at 9:51 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Pepe the Prawn didn't crack the top 10 so this list is trash.
posted by jquinby at 9:51 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


And the Count barely made it! Shocking!

To be fair, he’d want to be at the front end of any list like this.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:52 AM on April 6 [15 favorites]


As a human garbage pile, I relate deeply to Marjory the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock and am disappointed she did not get a mention.
posted by pemberkins at 9:57 AM on April 6 [12 favorites]


I was a huge Fraggles fan as a child, but can't even remember them now, so it seems right that none of them made the list. But if #1 had been anyone other than Kermit, I would have serious questions about the integrity of their voting system. I personally wish the Swedish Chef was a bit higher up, mostly because his videos on YouTube still make me laugh like an idiot.
posted by backwards compatible at 9:59 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


I once got to hug Oscar the Grouch (with the consent and assistance of the late, beloved Caroll Spinney), and it was one of the greatest moments of my life. His fur is softer than you might expect.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:59 AM on April 6 [46 favorites]


As a human garbage pile, I relate deeply to Marjory the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock and am disappointed she did not get a mention.

^ insert topical US politics comment here
posted by elkevelvet at 10:00 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


When I was much much much younger, about 50 years ago, I went on a local TV show here in NY called Wonderama. The host at this time was Bob McAllister. There were two guests on that day. One was Edward Vallella, the ballet star, the other was a guy named Jim Henson. He brought what I thought was a puppet. Well, 50 years later, that "puppet" is now the #1 Muppet. Kermit.

But, my favorite muppet is, and always will be, Oscar. Lovable grouch.
posted by AugustWest at 10:00 AM on April 6 [18 favorites]


Pepe was robbed!

Chip has been a favourite of mine since I spotted him in the background of Muppets From Space. I only recently learned his name.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 10:01 AM on April 6


Wait — no Fizzgig?
posted by cenoxo at 10:03 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Chip has been a favourite of mine since I spotted him in the background of Muppets From Space. I only recently learned his name.

Chip is a caricature of Muppet writer Bill Prady.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:08 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but Beaker does not belong in the top 5.
posted by swift at 10:10 AM on April 6 [5 favorites]


Thank you Faint Of Butt. The photo of a younger Billy Prady on that link has made my day!
posted by gnuhavenpier at 10:13 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Cookie Monster #2.
Miss Piggy #3.
That little frog (Kermit's nephew?).
Elmo: -scratched-
posted by user92371 at 10:14 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


The little frog is Robin.
posted by jquinby at 10:18 AM on April 6 [5 favorites]


No mention of my personal fave, the forgotten monster, Telly. Lover of triangles. Anxiety-filled. Telly Monster.

Telly was one of the guest judges on Top Chef for one episode, and when they had a cookie challenge, not a single contestant thought to make hamantaschen as a play toward his love of triangles. Even though clearly Cookie Monster would like everything and Elmo would try to say something nice about everyone's recipe. Such a missed opportunity.
posted by Mchelly at 10:19 AM on April 6 [9 favorites]


I'm sorry, but Beaker does not belong in the top 5.

Of course not, there should be a special number invented just for him. A number greater than all the other numbers.
posted by bondcliff at 10:28 AM on April 6 [11 favorites]


I believe that number is Meep.
posted by Mchelly at 10:32 AM on April 6 [37 favorites]




I think some of these choices (like Beaker) are a result of mass voting for your "favorite". Beaker is cute and adorable but I don't think he makes it if you ask Muppet Scholars for their considered opinions and rankings.

I started out in a good mood because Dr. Teeth made it, so despite some issues I'm giving a rare thumbs-up to NPR coverage on this one.

When I was much much much younger, about 50 years ago, I went on a local TV show here in NY called Wonderama

OMG you were on Wonderama! I wanted to be on that show so badly. Did your family someone one the show? I kept bugging my parents to let me write in or whatever it was, and they were "No, it'd be a waste of time, you'd need to know somebody."

If you didn't know anyone, and still got on, and met KERMIT THE FROG, then I am so throwing this missed opportunity back in their face next time I talk to them.
posted by mark k at 10:38 AM on April 6 [9 favorites]


Someone on that list is complaining about Ernie's rank but the fella who really got robbed is Bert.

I mean come on: this is Bert we're talking about here.
posted by chavenet at 10:39 AM on April 6 [15 favorites]


Someone on that list is complaining about Ernie's rank but the fella who really got robbed is Bert.

I was ticked about that. The Bert/Ernie gap was just too big.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:42 AM on April 6 [8 favorites]


Where's Roosevelt Franklin?
posted by SoberHighland at 10:42 AM on April 6 [8 favorites]


Where's Roosevelt Franklin?

He grew up, changed his stage name, and became Clifford.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:45 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


NB: Janice is not “kind of aloof to everything”. No, Janice is high. All the time. Even as little 'un watching the Muppet Show when it came out, I recognized that Janice was more than naturally mellow.
posted by scruss at 11:03 AM on April 6 [51 favorites]


Yeah, if anyone from the Electric Mayhem was "naturally" aloof to (unaware of) everything, it was Zoot the sax player.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:07 AM on April 6 [16 favorites]


He should really be in the top ten, you guys. Even if only for "C Is For Cookie." Me Lost Me Cookie At the Disco
posted by thebots at 11:11 AM on April 6 [7 favorites]


The Ten Worst Muppets
The 12 Worst Muppets Ever


Clearly made by doody-heads as neither list includes Boris Johnson.
posted by bonehead at 11:27 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]


TEAM GROVER
posted by Glinn at 11:37 AM on April 6 [11 favorites]


Coming in at #2 (above that bovine pretender) ** Gonzo **

I'm sorry, are you putting forward the theory that Animal is a COW?

Obviously there are arguments to be had about a lot of these rankings, but I mostly just needed to know Sweetums made the list, so I am content.
posted by solotoro at 11:41 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Nope Nope to the Yip Yips.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 11:42 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


A-NI-MAL


heh heh heh
posted by gottabefunky at 11:49 AM on April 6 [7 favorites]


I played my kids some of the Sesame Street Fever album the other day. They were shocked that it... kinda slaps?

#ordermuppet
posted by sockshaveholes at 11:52 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]


We also disqualified human actors in Muppet movies, like Jason Segel, Tim Curry, Michael Caine, and Charles Grodin.

Are you absolutely sure that Jason Segel isn't just a very manly muppet?
posted by ckape at 12:01 PM on April 6 [10 favorites]


The fact that I alternate identifying with Ernie and with Bert in this sequence means that I am forever torn between ordermuppet and chaosmuppet:

Ernie's disguises
posted by praemunire at 12:05 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


I did not know I needed to see Rita Moreno chewing out Animal in Spanglish as much as I did.
posted by signal at 12:07 PM on April 6 [19 favorites]


They were shocked that it... kinda slaps?

Check out My Name is Roosevelt Franklin, including 'Mobity Mosely's Months.'
posted by box at 12:09 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


I wish there had been room here for Slimey.
posted by queensissy at 12:14 PM on April 6 [15 favorites]


Are you absolutely sure that Jason Segel isn't just a very manly muppet?

The most realistic Muppet ever made by the Henson workshop is Paul Williams.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:18 PM on April 6 [10 favorites]


I was a bit surprised to see Rowlf at #5, but the author makes a good case by linking to this performance.

He was the star of Veterinarian's Hospital, the best recurring segment. (I want to claim that's "Pigs in Space", but frankly, it lacked Rowlf and so wasn't quite as brilliant).
posted by jb at 12:24 PM on April 6 [5 favorites]


The Pepe Was Robbed Support Group forms over here on the left.
posted by Bill Watches Movies Podcast at 12:25 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Are you absolutely sure that Jason Segel isn't just a very manly muppet?

He's a muppet of a man.

(That song is so deserving of its Oscar).
posted by jb at 12:26 PM on April 6 [7 favorites]


I wish there had been room here for Slimey.

Or the Yip-Yip Martians, or the Tweedle-bugs (so tiny!).

There are simply too many, and I think how I might have voted would have just changed with my mood. I'm glad that Gonzo's complex characterization was recognized.
posted by jb at 12:28 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Lotta snark for Scooter, but I'm not surprised. Not everybody gets Scooter.
posted by Horkus at 12:31 PM on April 6 [6 favorites]


Am I the only Muppet fan who doesn’t like Miss Piggy? I just don’t enjoy her shouty narcissism, and I wish she weren’t the only lead female.

Sesame Street Muppets are the best Muppets.
posted by Comet Bug at 12:39 PM on April 6 [15 favorites]


1. Kermit

2. Miss Piggy

3. Fozzy

That's all I got.
posted by Beholder at 12:41 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


I think Bert’s low score is because some of us internet old timers remember that Bert is evil.
posted by njohnson23 at 12:44 PM on April 6 [8 favorites]


Oh, I forgot... Hooray for Gonzo!!!
posted by njohnson23 at 12:46 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


I don’t have a problem with these rankings, as long as I’m #26, and that stupid Don Music falls off the face of the Earth.
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:46 PM on April 6 [22 favorites]


Lotta snark for Scooter, but I'm not surprised. Not everybody gets Scooter.

I like Scooter. There was a time in my life when I was nicknamed Scooter. Scooter is not more important than Bert.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:48 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


18. Ernie

Quite simply, Ernie should be much higher than this.
..

Word.
posted by y2karl at 12:51 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


that stupid Don Music
God I hated those bits!
posted by St. Oops at 1:00 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Am I the only Muppet fan who doesn’t like Miss Piggy? I just don’t enjoy her shouty narcissism, and I wish she weren’t the only lead female

I used to dislike her but I think over time my sympathies for Jenna Maroney have sort of back-transferred to her original incarnation.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:02 PM on April 6 [6 favorites]


As a human garbage pile, I relate deeply to Marjory the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock and am disappointed she did not get a mention.

I, too am disappointed by this omission.

Despite being a literal trash heap, she was no garbage fire! She was always the voice of reason that prevented the id-driven fraggles from making terrible, self-sabotaging decisions.

I was a huge Fraggles fan as a child, but can't even remember them now

Heh. I watched it so may times as a kid that, without searching out the opening theme, I can name-check Gobo, Boober, Mokey, Wembly (sp?), and Red. The song is burned into my memory

Oh! And! A Fraggle Rock reboot is currently in production.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:13 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Lew Zealand was my pick but I know they gotta go with Kermit cause he's Kermit. The lack of Crazy Harry is also an abomination. Nice to see the love for Sweetums though. But I don't like lists like this anyway. Every Muppet is the best Muppet in their own way. I see no need to hurt one Muppet's feelings by ignoring them or ranking them lower than another.

(And yes, I believe Muppets have feelings and you can't tell me otherwise)
posted by downtohisturtles at 1:20 PM on April 6 [11 favorites]


re: Oscar the Grouch

It's great to show the power of hugs, but it might be just as important to underscore that not everyone is a hugger, and you can make a guy part of your community even though he doesn't give you a lot to work with.

we re-watched the Muppet Christmas Special over the holiday (super holds up!) & one detail that jumped out at me was Oscar the Grouch at the window watching for Miss Piggy to arrive safely in the terrible snowstorm

like he's cranky & idiosyncratic & appreciates his alone time but he's still a pro-social part of the community

the Christmas special also really brings home that Muppets travel in groups where a couple of them (mostly Kermit & Piggy) are capable of code-switching into Respectability to interface with the normos, then they bring along four to thirty Absolute Raging Weirdos, & I love that

Muppets are good y'all
posted by taquito sunrise at 1:22 PM on April 6 [35 favorites]


What, no Guy Smiley?
posted by St. Oops at 9:45 AM on April 6


I’ll be okay.
posted by Guy Smiley at 1:29 PM on April 6 [20 favorites]


And the Count barely made it! Shocking!

To be fair, he’d want to be at the front end of any list like this.


Emceeing the list would be his favorite position!
posted by TedW at 1:32 PM on April 6 [12 favorites]


Ah-ah-ah!

*crack-boom!*
posted by darkstar at 1:38 PM on April 6 [7 favorites]


NB: Janice is not “kind of aloof to everything”. No, Janice is high. All the time. Even as little 'un watching the Muppet Show when it came out, I recognized that Janice was more than naturally mellow.

The special brownies are a sometimes food.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:53 PM on April 6 [7 favorites]


Rowlf definitely deserves his place, always my favourite Muppet. He has a sense of maturity and depth that at times makes him feel like the protagonist in a film noir.
posted by fallingbadgers at 2:04 PM on April 6 [9 favorites]


I'd just like to point out that in 1988, the summer I graduated high school, my friend group would get together every single weekday to watch Fraggle Rock, 100% unironically (irony wasn't really a thing in the '80s).
posted by signal at 2:08 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Ugh Kermit. The gaping hole of lawful good and boredom needed to set everyone else off. Animal, Cookie, Oscar, Bert. I have spoken.
posted by dame at 2:15 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


Grover has always been my personal favorite. I identify with him so much.

Other favorites include:

--The Count
--Gonzo
--Cookie Monster
--The Swedish Chef
--Kermit
--Guy Smiley
--Big Bird
--Mr. Snuffleupagus
...and yes...
--Bert (yes, I know, but I think he's misunderstood, if uptight, and I always felt for him when Ernie was playing his practical jokes)
posted by darkstar at 2:32 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Speaking of Grover, the Little Golden Book "The Monster at the End of This Book" is high art, and a parable for our time.

(The animated version is a tour de force of existential reckoning and self-realization.)
posted by darkstar at 2:35 PM on April 6 [10 favorites]




OK, I want to say a word for Don Music here.

I get why some people dislike him, and ultimately the writers agreed: he was cut from the show for being too negative. But he does express something fundamental about being a musician. We've all, at some point, gone "I'll never get it, never!" and faceplanted into the keyboard.

We've also all worked with someone who throws huge drama fits when the slightest thing goes wrong. Don Music lets me smile to myself wryly when that guy is doing that thing.

Maybe that was the problem-- that Don Music was more relatable for adult musicians than young kids. You can see that he's meant to be the character who fails and despairs but gets encouragement from others and keeps going and eventually succeeds. Mary Had A Little Lamb is an example of hitting a block and trying different things till you find something that works.

But he's also designed to look like an adult human rather than a monster, and he's even more queer-coded than Ernie, so there may be some homophobia in the way the emotional outbursts are scripted...

....annnnd I'm way overthinking this. Ultimately one can see why the character didn't work. But he is memorable.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:51 PM on April 6 [14 favorites]


MAHNA MAHNA DEMANDS RECOGNITION.

Or, actually, he doesn't. He's just gonna wander offscreen and get back in tune with the universe, dig?
posted by delfin at 3:01 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


I found my inner voice reading the entries for Dr. Teeth and Rowlf in their own voices. The only Muppets for which this happened.

I'll state categorically that Elmo does not deserve to be on this list. The red menace with the ridiculous baby talk and awful grammar had no place on Sesame Street, in my mind. Elmo always seemed to me like the antithesis of the goals of Sesame Street. Sesame Street was an educational show that a parent could watch with a kid - the parent would be entertained and the kid would learn without realizing s/he was learning. Elmo single-handedly destroyed that. Find me an adult who can tolerate Elmo's voice and mannerisms for more than 30 seconds, and I'll find you a very good liar.

One must also not forget that the showrunners fell into an Elmo Uber Alles attitude that resulted in the sidelining of greats like Grover and Herry Monster and Telly. This is not a forgivable offense. Did Elmo resonate with kids? I guess. Does that make Elmo one of the greatest Muppets? Hell no. The fact that I had to WORK to ensure that my own kid knew Grover even existed is a tragedy. Elmo is to blame. (My kid watched Sesame Street, but only because we bought the Sesame Street "Old School" set on DVD - lots of original episodes, no Elmo.)

RE: Elmo's baby talk: It's the teddy bear fallacy. Adults think that kids like and identify with the baby talk in the same way that adults think teddy bears with big heads are "cute". Adults see the infantilized look and respond favorably because we're programmed to have good feelings towards things that resemble infants. But actual infants, when given the choice, prefer the teddy bear that is proportioned more like an adult. Baby talking, poor grammar Elmo is a bad role model for a developing child. I suspect that there's a fairly obvious reason why Elmo didn't become a central figure until after Jim Henson's death. I don't think he would have approved of turning Sesame Street into "The Elmo Show". I don't think Henson pandered to kids in the way that Elmo does. He didn't treat kids like idiots, he understood that being smaller and less experienced than adults did not mean they were also dumber.

Bert should rank higher. Ernie is awesome but Ernie's infectious enthusiasm and ridiculous pranks would have been far less effective without Bert as his eternal foil. The contrast between them is what makes the duo work. (I once created a Windows cursor set that used Bert's head as a pointer. I used those cursors for longer than I really should have, because the animation of his head spinning around when waiting for stuff to load was just funny as heck to me. I always liked Bert and Ernie, but in terms of head shape, Bert made a better pointer.)
posted by caution live frogs at 3:07 PM on April 6 [27 favorites]


I am going to nominate The Mighty Favog from the "Land of Gorch" Muppets. Admittedly, my nomination is mainly because their obscurity allows me to score the coolness point; yes, I was watching Saturday Night Live before anybody had heard of it.
Alas, no good clips appear in my web searches. I'm sure the rights are quite tangled.
posted by bitslayer at 3:09 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]


SNL Season 1 (which is the only place the Land of Gorch existed) is on Hulu, for the inquisitive.

Also, Marvin Suggs and his Muppaphone had to have been on the bubble.
posted by delfin at 3:12 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


Ah wait, Russian Facebook to the rescue.
posted by bitslayer at 3:15 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


I seem to recall having read somewhere that Don Music was shuffled off of Sesame Street's regular rotation not because the character was widely disliked, but because too many kids thought it was funny to imitate the head-smashing-on-the-keyboard maneuver, and CTW didn't want to encourage that sort of thing.
posted by Ipsifendus at 3:24 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


caution live frogs says a lot of what I wanted to say about the Grover/Elmo divide. Growing up with Sesame Street, pre Elmo, Grover was very much the character that centered the show for me. He was all about curiosity and learning, and he invited us along for the journey. I can’t hear the words near and far without hearing them in his voice. He was a learner, eager to share with others what he learned.

Elmo is a gaping maw of needing to be acknowledged and loved at all times. His curiosity about the world seems strictly limited to finding out how a new thing will impact Elmo personally, which feels off to me when I see it in an adult, let alone when it’s the defining characteristic of a character that is used to teach children how to encounter the world. Granted, Elmo’s rise to prominence was well after I could be considered the target market, but I never liked that his dominance of the spotlight came at Grover’s expense.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:57 PM on April 6 [9 favorites]


I'll state categorically that Elmo does not deserve to be on this list. The red menace with the ridiculous baby talk and awful grammar had no place on Sesame Street, in my mind

I still don't like Elmo, mind you, but my opinion shifted a bit when I read why he existed. I thought he was a dumbed down version of Grover, with less charm and subtlety.

Turns out, that is sort of right. But specifically the viewership of Sesame Street has gotten younger, so they needed a character that appealed to younger kids. I can't really argue with this logic on an educational show. If the answer to "What are you, like 3 years old?" is "Yes" it's a pretty compelling rebuttal.

On a list of greatest Muppets though? No. Part of the genius of the Muppets is that they appeal to six year olds, 12 year olds, and adults all at once.
posted by mark k at 3:59 PM on April 6 [10 favorites]




Documentary: Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street. Based on a nonfiction book of the same name, the Marilyn Agrelo–directed film had its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street will premiere in theaters on April 23, and on demand on May 7. - Street Gang Trailer: Jim Henson and His Beard Spread Joy (Vulture, April 6, 2021)
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:31 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


that stupid Don Music

I know, I know, but i'm like Pallas Athena...I grew up into a composer and there's nothing I relate to more than the resounding piano-head-thwack and self-disgust.
posted by daisystomper at 4:38 PM on April 6 [6 favorites]


Okay, okay, I know that the nameless muppet in a raincoat who surreptitiously sold Ernie an "O" for "...A NICKEL??!!??" "SHHhhh-hh, a nickel" had no chance of cracking even a roster of the Top 100, but...

...I solemnly swear: in my real life, back in pre-Sesame 1967, the sax-playing New Yorker who clandestinely sold me a Fake Book while glancing several times back and forth at a (very deserted) New Hampshire main street, making absolutely sure there were no witnesses about ... that guyʻs raincoat wardrobe, half-whispered Cagneyish accent and nervous-gonif demeanor was the spitting image of Ernieʻs "Oʻ" seller.
posted by Droll Lord at 5:03 PM on April 6 [11 favorites]


I’ll always have a soft spot for the commentary on the generational divide in the jazz scene from Bip Bipadotta.
posted by mubba at 5:41 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]


And let us not forget the Bossmen (dancing with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, 1974).
posted by cenoxo at 6:03 PM on April 6


Yip-yips should be on the list for sure. Yip yip yip yip yipyipyipyip uh-huh, uh-huh.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:09 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


nameless muppet in a raincoat who surreptitiously sold Ernie an "O"

I... think his name might be Lefty? That's what his partner in crime calls him in the aftermath of their greatest heist: The Golden An.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:21 PM on April 6 [6 favorites]


I've long thought that Dog from The Storyteller was one of Henson Workshop's most magical creations. Body-doubled by an actual dog for walking scenes, and then very doggedly (heh) performed by Brian Henson for the dialogue and reaction scenes.

Also, since Count and Cookie Monster are getting love here, please enjoy If I Knew You Were Coming I'd've Baked A Cake.
posted by hippybear at 6:24 PM on April 6 [4 favorites]




The Skeksis was robbed. Not even a mention. Though I confess to being a Hup fanboy more than anything.
posted by bonehead at 6:46 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


ELMO SEZ THAT TICKLES
posted by lalochezia at 7:22 PM on April 6


Maybe a bit of interaction with Ricky Gervais will help soften people's reactions to Elmo. Or maybe not, who knows, but it made me laugh.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:02 PM on April 6


I kinda feel like the "Anything" muppets deserved some mention, since they're so versatile and all.

I completely understand the complaints about Scooter's place on the list, but please understand; they had to put him there -- his uncle owns the theater.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:08 PM on April 6 [9 favorites]


caution live frogs, I completely agree with you about elmo, but I remember reading somewhere that the reason sesame street "regressed" so to speak was because the age at which kids start reading got younger between the 60s when the show started and the 90s. So that instead of this being a show where big bird (age 5) and ernie and grover were supposed to be the audience stand-in, now we had 3yos watching the show, and needed someone even younger. And thus elmo.
posted by nushustu at 9:16 PM on April 6


I... think his name might be Lefty

Thanks Pallas Athena. Lefty, of course! -- and upon further investigation, turns out AFAIK Ernie never actually bought anything from him.
posted by Droll Lord at 9:55 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Brad over Elmo.
posted by wats at 10:07 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]


Dang, there's a lot of great Muppets.
posted by straight at 10:14 PM on April 6 [3 favorites]


Beaker is cute and adorable but I don't think he makes it if you ask Muppet Scholars for their considered opinions and rankings.

I'm no Muppet scholar, but I'm gonna stand up for Beaker's spot on the list.

The Muppets have clearly found a spot in the hearts of many who grew up watching them or just came upon them later in life. A big part of that warm feeling comes, I think, from how willfully optimistic they all are, they continually strive to achieve something big, but often fall short due to events unexpected to them, but largely predictable for anyone observing from the outside. The path of their plans all too frequently leads to mishaps of varying sorts, but they're dreamers who won't let those disappointments keep them down for long and often turn those defeats into a different sort of emotional success.

Beaker, however, is cursed by his awareness of how often things will go sideways and how mayhem will likely follow. He's the one Muppet who sees the dangers in their attempts and tries to communicate that knowledge, but can't because the other Muppets can't or just refuse to heed him. Even with his meaped warnings ignored, Beaker still valiantly refuses to abandon Dr. Honeydew and the rest of his Muppet pals, taking the brunt of the failure on himself so that they may continue in their pursuits for something better. Beaker suffers so the rest of the Muppets can continue to thrive and follow their dreams.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:46 PM on April 6 [22 favorites]


I still am plotting how to mount a write-in campaign to give Cookie Monster a Mark Twain prize (because I know the first thing he'd do is try to eat it!)
posted by newdaddy at 12:52 AM on April 7 [5 favorites]


there should be a special number invented just for him. A number greater than all the other numbers.

And then Dr. Bunsen Honeydew should test it on him.
posted by flabdablet at 3:36 AM on April 7 [4 favorites]


How about the Fuzz Brothers? Possibly the weirdest and most off-putting creations ever to appear on The Muppet Show. You either love them or hate them.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:59 AM on April 7 [4 favorites]


OMFGWOOOFUGERGH, clicked on the Fuzz Brothers link, it is now in my head. Somehow missed that segment. Going to have such weird nightmares.

More Yip needed.
posted by sammyo at 5:38 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


Hey Ernie - Wanna buy an eight?

Y'all realized the "eight dealer" is just Kermit in a cheap disguise, right?

Now I want it to be canon that late at night, Kermit sheds the goody-goody thing and heads out to the "bad" side of Sesame Street to hook kids and Muppets on... numbers.
posted by martin q blank at 6:39 AM on April 7 [4 favorites]


I have a soft spot for some of the less appreciated players like Baskerville the Hound.
Then there's the muppets out there show after show giving it their all - like Link Hogthrob or the chronically groovy Floyd Pepper- who never appear on any lists.

One of my favorite lines from the Muppet Show is from Zoot: Forgive me Charlie Parker wherever you are.
posted by vacapinta at 7:10 AM on April 7 [5 favorites]


Look, if we're talking Muppet deep cuts, Betty Bowl of Plastic Fruit is hard to beat. That sashay!
posted by oulipian at 8:05 AM on April 7 [5 favorites]


Floyd's eye design creeps me out too much. I know that they are supposed to look like sunglasses, not gaping voids, but it looks like someone took an ice cream scoop to his muppet eyeballs.
posted by tavella at 8:15 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]


there should be a special number invented just for him. A number greater than all the other numbers.

So was this a numbers joke, like he is rated way too high? Like the special number should be bigger than a google? I couldn't tell from the context of the article.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:24 AM on April 7


Gonzo? Kermit? Beaker? Animal? Get out of town!

These people are not like me. They do not like the things that I like.

If we allow for Fraggle Rock and Labyrinth, the question becomes much harder. But, Oscar still wins. Without question.

(To be clear, I have nothing but good feelings toward people who love Kermit. You're incomprehensibly wrong, but that's okay. I'm wrong about very many things.)
posted by eotvos at 9:22 AM on April 7


Beaker, however, is cursed by his awareness of how often things will go sideways and how mayhem will likely follow. He's the one Muppet who sees the dangers in their attempts and tries to communicate that knowledge, but can't because the other Muppets can't or just refuse to heed him. Even with his meaped warnings ignored, Beaker still valiantly refuses to abandon Dr. Honeydew and the rest of his Muppet pals, taking the brunt of the failure on himself so that they may continue in their pursuits for something better.

Now you have me convinced Beaker should have been #1. What Muppet could possibly be more appropriate for the 2016-2021 era?
posted by Spathe Cadet at 9:24 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


I just want to share Holly Mintzer's short story Tomorrow is Waiting (highlighted in the 2013 thread Tomorrow is Waiting) for everyone who loves muppets but missed this story.

It's one of the best things I've read ever.
posted by kristi at 11:14 AM on April 7 [5 favorites]


Taking the opportunity to remind everyone of the Cookie Monster/Tom Waits videos for Hell Broke Luce and God's Away On Business, and to mention that, while I don't say that Tom Waits is the Cookie Monster, I think it's very interesting that they've never been spotted in the same room together.
posted by JHarris at 11:29 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


Thanks Pallas Athena. Lefty, of course! -- and upon further investigation, turns out AFAIK Ernie never actually bought anything from him.

He once bought an invisible ice cream cone, for an invisible nickel.
posted by JHarris at 11:45 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]


Also, I feel I should mention, regarding the list writer who mentioned being afraid of The Count, that he was a menacing figure in Sesame Street's earliest seasons, and would hypnotize people into doing things. I think he stopped doing that when, in a memorable incident, he hypnotized Grover, working as a waiter, and was then inundated with food, because Grover is a force more powerful than the Count.

The Count reformed soon after (as a person, not just from a flock of variously-numbered bats), and is now an upstanding citizen of Sesame Street.
posted by JHarris at 11:50 AM on April 7 [10 favorites]


Here's a working link for Tomorrow is Waiting.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:55 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


...because Grover is a force more powerful than the Count.

The Count reformed soon after (as a person, not just from a flock of variously-numbered bats)...



OMG I especially love these phrases, JHarris!
posted by darkstar at 11:58 AM on April 7


And one more thing and I will leave it at that--

Ugh Kermit. The gaping hole of lawful good and boredom needed to set everyone else off. Animal, Cookie, Oscar, Bert. I have spoken.

If you think Kermit is the boring one, I'll just remind you of what he once told a guest star who said he seemed so normal among the rest of the Muppets on the Show: "Me? I hired all the others!"
posted by JHarris at 11:59 AM on April 7 [15 favorites]


Kermit keeps Sam Eagle around to show what boring and stiff really looks like.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:05 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]


Incidentally, "a flock of variously-numbered bats" is my new sockpuppet name.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:07 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]


sockpuppet sockmuppet
posted by oulipian at 12:30 PM on April 7 [9 favorites]


STATLER: This sure is a long list of comments about a bunch of nobodies!
WALDORF: This is a long list of comments by a bunch of nobodies!

BOTH: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
posted by jquinby at 2:32 PM on April 7 [27 favorites]


For my money, Wayne and Wanda are the only two wholesome, morally upstanding Muppets on the show, so I vote for them.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:17 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]


...while I don't say that Tom Waits is ᵗʰᵉ Cookie Monster, I think it's very interesting that they've never been spotted in the same room together.

Nor, in either case, has Lee Marvin.
posted by y2karl at 3:39 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]


I did not realize how few female muppets there were until I named all my humanure composting bins after Sesame Street characters.
posted by aniola at 6:59 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


I just rewatched the Star Wars episode. It's still one of the best in the series. Scooter's cover of Harry Chapin's "Six String Orchestra" brings a smile to my face every time.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:11 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]


BOTH: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

I believe the proper nomenclature is: "DOH-HOHOHOHOH!"
posted by JHarris at 9:24 PM on April 7 [8 favorites]


I am just *astonished* to discover, for the first time in my 50 years, that Big Bird is a male.

I mean, I’m a person that has actively and consciously worked on my own assumptions about gender assignation. And all along there was 5 year old me, observing BB’s warm nurturing personality, higher pitched voice, pear-shaped body, big hugging arms (wings I guess). Something about her said “mother” to me.

Plus, as everyone knows, 98% of birds are female, it’s just a female animal. Probably because they all lay eggs.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:20 AM on April 8 [3 favorites]


If we include Labyrinth I feel like Ludo & Hoggle need to be somewhere in the 20th-25th. Is Jabba a Muppet? Because he'd easily be top five. Beaker shouldn't make top 5, because while I admire his commitment to a 24/7 sub lifestyle he really needs a safeword. If the dog from The Storyteller qualifies as a Muppet he should definitely make the list.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:56 AM on April 8


I'm not going to defend Beaker's high spot on this list, but I will say that Beaker has one of my favorite underrated moments in Muppets filmdom.

Near the climax of the original Muppet Movie, where the Muppet gang have encountered Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker in a ghost town, and Dr. Honeydew is describing his Insta-Grow pills (which Animal later eats), he says, "But the effect is sadly temporary." And Beaker meep-echoes, "sadly temporary."

Makes me laugh every time.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 11:34 AM on April 8 [9 favorites]


Oh yeah, if we can include Labyrinth, then definitely Sir Didymus and Ambrosius would be on the list.
posted by darkstar at 11:35 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]


Dog from The Storyteller is not a Muppet, but he is in The Organization of Muppet Dogs, so it's a bit murky.
posted by hippybear at 6:20 PM on April 8


Pepe was robbed!

Wait till his big brother Gritty finds out about this.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:51 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


"Pepe was robbed" member, here. (I actually own a copy of his memoir.)

The author said that "he was the best thing about that ill-advised primetime sitcom The Muppets," which obviously, but I feel like this entire article memory-holed Muppets Tonight. That is where Pepe came from and the show itself is not even mentioned in this thread. (It's also where Bobo got his start, who is a close second to Pepe and was underused in Muppets from Space.)

I pine for that show to appear somewhere, anywhere.
posted by bbrown at 10:24 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


Of course, Pepe's Muppets Tonight partner-in-crime Seymour the elephant seems to have vanished altogether.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:35 PM on April 9


Ambrosius is mostly filmed with an actual dog, and I think the closeup Ambrosius may technically be a puppet. Not sure what a marionette + puppet = muppet actually means, and especially since Hensen also had animatronics involved in some creatures which technically makes them not muppets.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:00 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


Wow, Muppets Tonight isn't even available for purchase anywhere. I wonder what's up with that. Music rights, maybe?
posted by hippybear at 6:25 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


That's plausible. Music from 1996 is probably much more expensive comparatively.
posted by bbrown at 1:41 PM on April 10


It's surprising to me which music items were the holdup for _The Muppet Show_. I would have thought it would have been various Beatles covers, but apparently "Over The Rainbow" was the one that was impossible to license.
posted by tavella at 10:23 PM on April 10


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