For some, however, it may have been a while since they were acquainted with Jim Henson’s colourful creations – so for those who unsure who is a muppet and who is, in fact, a Sesame Street resident, we have a handy little character guide.
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Everyone knows Kermit and Miss Piggy – and probably the Mahna Mahna song – but who are their felt friends? See below.
Kermit the Frog
Surely you know this one – squeaky-voiced frog Kermit was created all the way back in 1955, and usually serves as the protagonist in the movies as well as the host of the Muppet shows. A fan of the banjo, he’s had hits with ‘Rainbow Connection and ‘Bein Green’, and also has an on-off relationship with Miss Piggy – meaning he is often on the receiving end of her karate chops.
Performed by Jim Henson (1955–1990), Steve Whitmire (1990–2016), Matt Vogel (2017–present).
A diva caricature, Miss Piggy is a prima-donna pig with a tendency for french words who believes she is destined for stardom. As such she doesn’t take criticism well, and can be quick to fly into a rage – usually in the form of a karate chop. She is the romantic interest of Kermit the Frog, with the two marrying in The Muppets Take Manhattan only to officially break up in 2015.
Performed by Frank Oz (1976–2002), Eric Jacobson (2001–present)
The Muppet Show’s resident, er, ‘comedian’, Fozzie is known for telling terrible jokes which are usually ridiculed by Statler and Waldorf. Eternally optimistic, he still follows his jokes with his signature laugh and his catchphrase “wocka wocka wocka!”
Performed by Frank Oz (1976–2000), Eric Jacobson (2002–present)
Gonzo was The Muppet Show’s daredevil performance artiste – though much like Fozzie, his ambition exceeds his talent and he is often booed off the stage. Unlike most Muppets, it is unclear what species Gonzo is, which has become a running gag in the series as he ponders coming from increasingly unlikely origins. Originally a minor character, Gonzo gained much more prominence as the narrator of several of the movies and was even the main focus of Muppets From Space.
Performed by Dave Goelz
Rowlf the Dog
The Muppet Show’s resident piano player, part Corgi Rowlf was one of the first famous muppets after appearing as a regular on The Jimmy Dean Show in the 1960s. Characterised by his deadpan humour and love of classical music, Rowlf was supposedly the Muppet most like creator Jim Henson in real life.
Performed by Jim Henson (1962–1990), Bill Barretta (1996–present)
Humanoid stage manager Scooter has the unenviable job of ensuring the Muppet shows go smoothly, as well as appearing in some of the group numbers. He can be seen in Muppets Now attempting to ensure that the series is uploaded onto Disney Plus on time – despite the obstacles, distractions, and complications the gang throw at him.
Performed by Richard Hunt (1976–1991), Adam Hunt (voice only, 1999), Matt Vogel (2000), Brian Henson (2002–2003), Rickey Boyd (2005), David Rudman (2008–present)
Fast and frenzied muppet Animal is excited by everything in life – but he has a particular passion for drumming, particularly wit his band Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. He is capable of calmer moods and has occasionally proven he is capable of coherent conversation – though those moments are few and far between.
Performed by Frank Oz (1975–2000), Eric Jacobson (2002–present)
Pepe the King Prawn
A relatively young Muppet, Spanish king prawn Pepe was introduced in the ’90s on Muppets Tonight as a sassy chef and elevator operator. He is quick to anger – especially if you call him a shrimp – and has a very high opinion of his looks and performance abilities.
Performed by Bill Barretta
Rizzo the Rat
A sly city rat, Rizzo enjoys cracking jokes and mocking others yet does show a sensitive side to his friends. He was paired with Gonzo to narrate The Muppet Christmas Carol and the two have enjoyed a bigger role ever since as a comedic double act (as well as becoming best buddies).
Performed by Steve Whitmire
A baby by Muppet standards, Walter was first introduced in 2011’s The Muppets. A shy Muppet-obsessed fan, Walter proves instrumental in saving The Muppet Theatre from a shady oil tycoon and soon joins the ensemble full time.
Performed by Peter Linz
Statler and Waldorf
Yes, the two old guys in the balcony actually have names – and are easily two of the Muppets’ iconic characters. Statler and Waldorf are two elderly gentlemen who constantly heckle the Muppets from their balcony box, though occasionally have other roles such as the ghost of Jacob Marley in The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Statler: Performed by Richard Hunt (1976–1991), Jerry Nelson (1975, 1992–2003), Steve Whitmire (2002–2016), Peter Linz (2017–present)
Waldorf: Performed by Jim Henson (1975–1990), Dave Goelz (1992–present)
A creative, if not entirely successful scientist, Bunsen is the bald, bespectacled host of the Muppet Labs sketches. His experiments, whether they be edible paper clips or a gorilla detector, often go terribly wrong – much to the chagrin of his long-suffering assistant Beaker.
Performed by Dave Goelz
Can you hear his voice just from the picture? Beaker is Bunsen’s near-mute and accident-prone lab partner, who often bears the brunt from Bunsen’s failed experiments. Matching his fearful face, he only talks in high-pitched “mee mees”.
Performed by Richard Hunt (1977–1991), Steve Whitmire (1992–2016), David Rudman (2017–present)
The Swedish Chef
Another iconic supporting character, The Swedish Chef supposedly speaks Swedish though largely speaks incomprehensible nonsense. His cooking makes no more sense – he is often juggling knives and throwing food around in his sketches.
Performed by Jim Henson (1975–1990), David Rudman (1992), Bill Barretta (1996–present), Steve Whitmire (1999), Dave Goelz (1999), Victor Yerrid (2006)
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An overly-patriotic bald eagle, Sam feels it is his responsibility to protect wholesome American values and is often appalled by the activities of his fellow Muppets. Stiff and pompous, he is often ignored by the others – though has still managed to appear in every film.
Performed by Frank Oz (1975–2000), Kevin Clash (2002–2003), Eric Jacobson (2005–present)
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