There are few visionaries quite like Jim Henson. For every genius you can name that changed the world of pop culture, few can confidently say they did it with actual magic. What Henson and Co. are able to do with just felt, their hands and a rod can only be referred to as magic. There’s no other word for it. They make you believe those puppets, excuse me, Muppets, are living, breathing things. Ventriloquism is the closest art form to Henson’s signature brand of hand puppetry and not a single person has ever been tricked into thinking a ventriloquist’s dummy is alive. It’s a trick only Henson and those inspired by him can pull off. Even as far back as 1957 with his coffee advertisements starring Wilkins and Wotkins (who didn’t make the cut), he showed he could put anything on his hand and make you believe it was real. These fifty characters (not including The Dark Crystal or Labyrinth) are the greatest examples of his magic.
These are the 50 Greatest Muppets.
40. Bobo the Bear | Muppets Tonight (1996)
Bobo the Bear made his first appearance in Muppets Tonight (1996). Most of his roles in the movies center around him not even being a part of the Muppets gang but rather he is given job positions such as being a security guard or a henchman. He is well-meaning and well-mannered, albeit a bit dimwitted but one could argue that is what makes him so loveable.
39. Beauregard | The Muppet Show (1978)
Beauregard acts as the janitor in The Muppet Show. Why is there a Muppet janitor? Well, it only makes sense that Muppet Theater needs cleaning up after every show, so why not! Beau is a bit slow witted and doesn’t always pay attention to his surroundings. However, he’s not the first janitor on The Muppet Show, it was first held by a Muppets named George before Beau was created. Hopefully George is enjoying his retirement.
38. Walter | The Muppets (2011)
Walter debuted in The Muppets (2011) and he made quite the first impression! Such a good impression that he has barely been used ever since. Walter grew up not really knowing his place in the world. That is, until he discovered The Muppet Show and became Kermit the Frog’s biggest fan. After a depressing visit to Muppet Theater, he would be responsible for getting the gang back together after a 10+ year hiatus. His talent is whistling.
The Muppets (2011) is actually a very well thought out idea that uses real life events as the backstory for the plot of the movie. There was one point in time when The Muppets were everywhere and would’ve been difficult to imagine if they would ever fade away from the public eye. But during the 2000’s, that’s exactly what happened. After the colossal bomb that was Muppets in Space (1999), it felt like The Muppets decided to quietly step out of the spotlight and weren’t really seen or heard from in a major way for a while. This is what makes The Muppets (2011) feel very much Watchmen-esque. Without The Muppet Show to hold them all together, it felt like they had accepted that their fifteen minutes were finally up and chose to move on and go their separate ways. That is until Walter entered the picture, who reminded them of the good old days and inspired them to put on one last show to save Muppet Theater.
37. ’80s Robot | The Muppets (2011)
Looking like the love child of R.O.B. and Paulie’s robot from Rocky 4 (which he was definitely fucking, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that 80’s Robot is Paulie’s illegitimate son), 80’s Robot is Kermit’s chauffer/manservant in the film The Muppets (2011). Besides driving, his only other duty seems to be handing characters cans of Tab on a tray. Which is a great visual gag. What’s even funnier? The obnoxiously loud dial up sound every time he’s asked to look something up. That’s two whole jokes 80’s Robot is bringing to the table, which is more than you can say about most Muppets.
36. Uncle Deadly | The Muppet Show (1976)
I know Uncle Deadly is supposed to be based on John Carradine, but I always associated him with Vincent Price (perhaps because he first appeared on the same episode of the Muppet Show that Price was on). I loved the whole hammy actor vibe to his creepiness, and the episode where he was the “Phantom of the Muppet Show” is one of my favorites. (I kind want to see a Muppet version of Theater of Blood, with Uncle in the Vincent Price role.)
It was great to see him return (even as a bad guy) in The Muppets (2011). I remember reading somewhere that he was once set to host a horror(ish) anthology called Uncle Deadly’s House of Badness and I would so have been there for it. More recently he’s appeared as Miss Piggy’s stylist in both The Muppets and Muppets Now – I haven’t seen these, but loving Uncle Deadly like I do, I should probably check ’em out.
35. Zoot | The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975)
Zoot is a band member in the Electric Mayhem and plays the Saxophone. He is probably the most boring member of the group as he doesn’t say much not does he have any memorable moments in The Muppets history besides being a burnt-out musician.
34. Camilla the Chicken | The Muppet Show (1978)
Camilla the Chicken is mostly known for being a type of Las Vegas show-girl along with the other chickens. There’s not much personality to her because she can only “bawk, bawk, bawk”. She is known for being Gonzo’s love interest, which isn’t something that I thought twice about when I was a kid but now that I think about it, it raises a few questions.
33. Pepe the King Prawn | Muppets Tonight (1996)
Pepe first appeared on Muppets Tonight (1996). He hails from Spain, quitting his job as a chef after decided to move to Hollywood in the hopes of following his calling into show business. He also likes to remind people that he is in fact a prawn and not a shrimp. Pepe became a Muppets mainstay shortly after his creation. However he doesn’t appear to like The Muppet’s too much, nor does he seem to treat any of them with respect.
32. Sweetums | The Frog Prince (1971)
Sweetums is a very grotesque beast like character. Despite his appearance he is very, well, sweet. Other than his appearance, he doesn’t have too many notable moments but when he is one screen, he is quite hard to miss. During The Muppet Show, he is often seen singing and dancing with the various musical hosts.
31. Floyd Pepper | The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975)
Floyd Pepper is the bass player and lead singer of the Electric Mayhem. He doesn’t have too many memorable moments but is known to be very outspoken and also has strong friendships with both Animal and Janice. Floyd’s inception was very much influenced by the beat generation and his name and outfit are inspired by The Beatles album cover Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Who are some of your favorite Muppets? Maybe they’ll show up later in the list!