Western Animation: Muppet Babies
Clockwise from top: Fozzie Bear, Kermit, Gonzo, Rowlf, Animal, Skeeter, Scooter, Miss Piggy.Muppet Babies
(1984-1991) was one of the few well-received Spinoff Babies
conversions, partially because it was one of the first
. Spinning off from The Muppet Show
, the show's premise was a takeoff from a sequence in The Muppets Take Manhattan
involving baby-versions of the characters, itself later referred to in an amusing callback. It also naturally spawned a side franchise of children's books.
Aside from the original, and otherwise unseen
Nanny character, it featured most of the big Muppet celebrities (Scooter's hitherto unknown sister Skeeter
notwithstanding) discovering quite mundane things and approaching them in a precocious, childlike way — before completely blowing them out of proportion with their overactive imaginations
. The Once an Episode random song
and trademark gimmick of spliced Live Action Stock Footage
(one of the main factors that has prevented it from getting an official DVD release) gave it a rather surreal quality, too. And despite being a Saturday morning spinoff, it managed to contain all the wit and intelligence of its predecessor. Some fans even prefer it to the original Muppet Show.
Later seasons would feature guest appearances from other Muppet characters, including fan favorites Statler and Waldorf
. The Babies also had a memorable appearance in Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue
- Affirmative Action Girl: That was why Skeeter was made and put into the show. They didn't have too many female muppets besides Miss Piggy to work with.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Gonzo is hopelessly in love with Piggy. Saying the feelings aren't mutual is an understatement, as she thrashes him in return. See Mad Love below.
- Ascended Extra: Rowlf, Scooter and Animal. They were hardly nobodies on The Muppet Show or in the first three movies, but for many, it was this show that firmly put them into core character territory with Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie and Gonzo.
- The Artifact: The end credits theme from Season 2 onwards is actually that of "Muppets, Babies and Monsters", the very short-lived pairing of Muppet Babies and Little Muppet Monsters. The castanets and trumpet solo at the end also come from that.
- Art Shift: When we visit Animal's imagination, the artwork becomes very childish.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: "Don't wish for elephants unless you own a zoo/ 'cause wishes have a way of coming true!"
- Big Eater: Piggy, being well, a pig and all. One time, when the gang wanted some cupcakes but they were all gone, Piggy demanded to know what happened to the rest of the cupcake with Nanny answered promptly to her, "You ate the last three."...much to Piggy blushing. Animal even more so, and his case, he can (and does) eat almost ANYTHING.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: From the episode "Good Clean Fun":
Animal: Go bye bye! Piggy:
No, Animal, the show's not over yet! Animal:
- Burping Contest: Animal holds this with rocks and some others in "Journey To The Center Of The Nursery".
- Butt Monkey:
- Most of the go bye bye skits feature Animal playing some cruel prank on Gonzo and sending him flying Team Rocket-style.
- Whenever Fozzie tells a joke, he's lucky if the worst reception he gets is mere booing.
- Beaker, even as a baby, is still often the unfortunate guinea pig for Bunsen's inventions. The most prominent example being the anti-nightmare device in "I Want My Muppet TV"
- Canon Foreigner: Skeeter, though an adult version of her has made appearances in The Muppet Show Comic Book, so (depending on how much you're willing to take the comics or even that storyline as canon), she may be verging into Canon Immigrant territory.
- Catch Phrase:
- Anytime Fozzie tells a joke, he says "Give up?" before the punchline. The rest of the babies yell "Fozzie!" when his joke sucks. He also says "I knew that" after someone corrects him.
- Kermit says "Sheesh" when frustrated.
- Piggy says "Yippee skippee!" when she's excited.
- Rowlf when excited says "Far out!"
- Animal's favorite expression is a grotesque "Yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah!"
- The Cameo: Tom Selleck (in live action!) as a lovestruck fan of Piggy. It may have helped that both this and Magnum, P.I. were on CBS.
- Cat Fight: Piggy and Skeeter at least 3 times. For someone so young, Piggy sure can be vicious...
- Chekhov's Gun: In the beginning of the episode "Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dark?," the kids play with Scooter’s computer pen with a glowing tip. By the end of the episode, it is used by Beaker to ward off and defeat a slime monster (a representation of his fear of the dark).
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Piggy for Kermit. Like in The Muppet Show and the movies and...pretty much any Muppet franchise, don't you dare try to come between Piggy and her Kermie. There were times when Skeeter tried to do that, though it may have been just to mess with Piggy.
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Fozzie Bear suffers this greatly, not only from his friends but also from his imaginary audiences when they boo and throw tomatoes at him for every joke he tells to them, good or bad.
- Continuity Snarl: Only if you consider the Fridge Logic: when is this show taking place anyway? Let's not even get started on the later season that introduced Baby Bean Bunny; Bean's a young kid in the normal Muppets! Or that fact that this was all just Piggy's dream sequence in the third film, but actual backstory in A Muppet Family Christmas, but that would contradict The Muppet Movie ....yup, this is a galaxy-sized snarl.
- Cool Old Guys: Statler and Waldorf had had much more softer personalities in this series.
- Cosmetically Advanced Prequel:
- While The Muppet Show was set in the 1970s (the time it was airing) this show has baby Scooter with a personal computer.
- Interestingly, a proposed prequel animated series (which was ultimately scrapped) would have shown the Muppets as teenagers in The Fifties, even though (as The Muppets Take Manhattan makes clear) they graduated from college in the early '80s.
- Couch Gag / Every Episode Ending: Animal's "Go bye-bye!" stinger occurs in different settings and styles, based on the theme of the episode.
- Cute Bruiser: Piggy. She's an adorable little piglet, but she has a bad temper and could possibly kick anyone's butt."HI-YAH!"
- Derailed Fairy Tale: "Snow White and the Seven Muppets" becomes one when Piggy, who was playing the Evil Queen against her will, realizes that Kermit (Prince Charming) will be kissing Skeeter-as-Snow-White awake, so she starts (via narration) bringing in antagonists from other fairy tales to interrupt the final scene.
- Do Not Pass Go: In the Valentine's Day episode, Scooter has his computer generate a Valentine's Day poem, but it's not what he was expecting:
Roses are red
Pickles are blue
Have a nice banana
You live at the zoo.
Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 (over an image of a banana behind jail bars)
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Piggy on Gonzo. When Gonzo accidentally annoys her or ticks her off or when he shows romantic feelings to her, she thrash him or throw him across the room.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In "Dental Hyjinks", Fozzie, Gonzo and Rowlf have deeper voices and sound closer to their adult selves. The episode title music is also different.
- Extreme Omnivore: Animal. If its edible he'll eat it, if its NOT edible he'll eat it, if its something in NEITHER one of those categories he'll eat that too.
- The Faceless: Nanny. You never see anything about her waist, but she has very distinctive socks at least.
- And all non-Muppet adults in the babies' fantasy sequences, although an adult's face is seen briefly from time to time.
- Father, I Want to Marry My Brother:
- Fiery Redhead: Skeeter is full of energy and spirit, and loves to have adventures. She's tomboyish, loves sports and ends up clashing with Piggy.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Several times throughout the series. For example, in "Slipping Beauty" instead pricking her finger to fall into a deep sleep is in 'Sleeping Beauty', Piggy as the sleeping princess, slips ontoa banana peel, falls and then goes into a deep sleep. Slipping Beauty.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Piggy: "Oh Kermie! Take me! I'm yours!"
- Not to mention Gonzo's nose fetish and his line when Piggy takes him into the closet, "Be gentle with me."
- Hair Trigger Sound Effect: Gonzo played The Weirdo, and everytime his name was mentioned, Rowlf played a Musical Sting on the piano. Eventually, Gonzo got tired of it and asked Rowlf to knock it off.
- Hidden Depths: Piggy always cast herself as the Distressed Damsel Princess Classic in their make-believe adventures, only to usually end up saying something like, "Gimme that stupid sword!"
- Hypocritical Humor:
- "I Am" Song in the full version of the Opening Theme:
- I Just Want to Be Special:
- One episode dealt with Scooter feeling like his computer abilities were nothing compared to the other kids' areas of expertise. Oh, if only he'd been born later...
- In one episode, the babies try to figure out how to relate with Gonzo better by finding ways where they are really weird too. It worked too well, and Gonzo wound up coming to the conclusion that he wasn't really weird and if he wasn't a 'weirdo', then he wasn't anything at all. Of course, for the Muppet Babies version of Gonzo, being labeled "weird" was always a point of pride.
- "I Want" Song: "The Biggest Little Pig In Hollywood" in the episode "This Little Piggy Went To Hollywood".
- Irony: In "The Muppet Museum of Art", Skeeter slips on Gonzo's roller skate and twists her ankle, forcing Nanny to cancel a trip to an art museum to take care of her, and Gonzo has a guilt trip over ruining the trip they were all waiting for. The (dramatic) irony is we see Skeeter slipping on one of Piggy's roller skates, and she swapped it with one of Gonzo's to pass the blame to him. The rest of the episode has the other babies making their own art museum for Skeeter, while Gonzo makes various works of art featuring Piggy, subconsciously sneaking a roller skate in; Piggy reacts negatively to each one as it reminds her that Skeeter's accident was her fault. Additionally, Skeeter gets to stay in the living room with Nanny, watching TV and drinking soda-pop while Nanny pampers her. Not a bad deal at all.
- Jerkass Ball: Skeeter, just watch "Pigerella." When she stole the cupcakes, Piggy tried to put them back but got framed by Nanny for it. It was to the point that Skeeter acted unfairly mean towards Piggy and even played the Wicked Stepsister from 'Cinderella'.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: As mentioned above, due to extensive use of live-action clips inserted into the animation, the licensing costs of bringing the entire series to home video would be so prohibitive that it's likely never to happen (though individual and paired episodes were released on VHS in the early '90s).
- Mad Love Triangle: Piggy's crush on Kermit, Gonzo's crush on Piggy. Things can get crazy. What with Piggy not wanting anyone or anything to get between her and Kermit, and with Gonzo always pouring his heart out to Piggy only to get thrashed by her.
- May the Farce Be with You: The final stretch of "Gonzo's Video Show" is a Star Wars parody, and smaller-scale sendups appear in other episodes.
- Narrative Shapeshifting: Baby Beaker, while explaining his fear of the monster under his bed to the other babies (since, like Adult Beaker, all he can say is "Meep!").
- Not Quite Starring: A weird example: none of the original puppeteers reprised their roles as their respective characters. (Didn't happen with the Fraggle Rock Animated Adaptation either.)
- Off Model: It is a Marvel animation production (see also My Little Pony)... But then AKOM took over...
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In the first two seasons Howie Mandel, a Canadian actor, was the voice of Skeeter, Bunsen, and Animal. Occasionally one of them would say sorry as sorr-ee. Though in Animal's case, that's a close approximation of how Frank Oz' Animal says it.
- Pirate Girl: In one episode, the kids pretended to be treasure hunters and encountered a trio of female pirates.
- Polar Opposite Twins: Scooter and Skeeter. Scooter is a shy computer geek and Skeeter is an outgoing tomboy.
- Pounds are Animal Prisons: Discussed and subverted in the episode What's New at the Zoo? Rowlf applies this trope to zoos because they remind him of dog pounds. Nanny shows Rowlf the importance of zoos to preserving animal life.
- Produce Pelting:
Fozzie: "Something tells me I oughta give up comedy and go into the tomato sauce business."
- Rejection Affection: Gonzo continually woos Piggy, despite her greeting his advances with contempt and karate chops. This is borrowed from The Muppet Show, where it occurred less frequently.
- Remember the New Guy: Skeeter. As of the first episode, she was just plain always there.
- The Renaissance Age of Animation: Well, this show has been made with full hand drawn animation and with goog animation. Although this show was made in he 80s, it still lasted till the early 90s.
- Running Gag: What will they find in the closet this time?
- Shorttank: Skeeter wears shorts and is tomboyish. Although, there are times when she doesn't mind wearing a dress in the imaginations.
- Shout-Out: How many movie references did they have?
- A Star Wars one (just like the original Muppet Show) where Kermit was Luke, Miss Piggy was Leia, and Animal was Vader. (Now, that is impossible, Luke.) They also did Indiana Jones.
- Muppet Babies runneth over with Star Wars references, in fact. Thanks to how close Henson Productions and Lucasfilm were at the time, Lucas basically gave the Henson crew free rein to make as many references as they liked without fear of lawyers, a privilege they used as much as they could. The target audience being relatively familiar with the works due to their fame helped matters a lot, too.
- Another episode had Scooter and Piggy re-enacting Nanny's favorite movie, The African Queen.
- "Nice to Have Gnome You" is based around shout-outs to (and extensive footage from) Labyrinth and the film adaptation of The Witches, two of Jim Henson's non-Muppet productions.
- There's a part when Animal comes out of a toy chest dressed in medieval garb while clicking a pair of coconuts together.
- "It's Only Pretendo" is based around gentle spoofs/pastiches of various Nintendo Entertainment System games, plus Frogger.
- Spin-Off Babies: The Trope Codifier. This and The Flintstone Kids are probably the only two examples of a Spinoff Babies series done right in Western animation.
- Stan Lee: Gets web sprayed on his face by Skeeter.
- When the Clock Strikes Twelve: "Pigerella" had Piggy imagining herself as Cinderella. Gonzo, the Fairy Godmother, changed it to seven for a similar reason it was done to Casper in his film. Gonzo told her that, because they're kids, they can't stay awake up to midnight.
- Writer's Block: Shows up once where Piggy and Gonzo literally ran into a writers (toy)block and Gonzo explained this trope. It was solved in the most zany fashion possible - writer's termites.