Follow TV Tropes


Hand Puppet

Go To
"Oh god, there is a hand inside me! Aaaaaaaaaugh!"
Sock Hannelore, Questionable Content

A puppet entirely operated by hand, usually with the puppeteer's hand inside. A common gag will involve the puppet acting implausibly independent of its puppeteer, often by being argumentative, abusive, etc. If it is independent, it's a Perverse Puppet or Demonic Dummy.

A prominent sub-type is the sock puppet, which is exactly what it sounds like: a Hand Puppet made out of a sock.

Another sub-type, which is (somewhat disturbingly) common enough to qualify as its own trope, is the Dead Guy Puppet.

See also Muppets, which are generally more complex, involving both hands (at least — some Muppets are operated by two people) for a more lifelike effect. Bare-Handed Puppetry is an even simpler version where uncovered body parts (not necessarily the hand) are treated as puppets. For examples where someone treats their own puppet as if it has opinions of its own worth considering, see Consulting Mister Puppet.

Not to be confused with Sock Puppet.


    open/close all folders 

  • The mascot, a hand puppet where you can clearly see the puppeteer's watch on his wrist. The mascot outlived and now shills for other businesses.
  • The WGN "Nitecap" mascot is a hand puppet sheep encouraging you to stay up and watch instead of going to bed and counting sheep.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Astra Lost in Space: Funicia, the Tagalong Kid of the B-5 planet camp group, often carries around Beego, a dog-like hand puppet modeled after the lead character of a popular In-Universe kids' TV show. It has the special ability of reading its wearer's thoughts, being able to vocalize them in its own gruff voice.
  • In Cromartie High School, Destrade High's Yamaguchi introduces a ventriloquist named Akira Nakao. He plans to have him as his right-hand man but quickly shifts the job over to Nakao's puppet, Mick.
  • In Date A Live, Yoshino carries a rabbit puppet called Yoshinon. While she's shy, Yoshinon is confident and speaks his mind. She thinks he's real; when Shido commented on her ventriloquist act, she had no idea what he was talking about.
  • Juri Kato of Digimon Tamers (pictured above) has a sock puppet that she often uses to express her opinions and feelings instead of stating them outright as if they were her own. After Leomon's death, the D-Reaper possesses it (maybe) and, as a sign of her deteriorating mental condition (maybe), it starts saying much darker things entirely on its own. In one nightmare sequence, she's shown as The Blank but with a creepy smile much wider than a human mouth is capable of, while the puppet, sewn onto her arm, gnashes its teeth as drool drips. It was possibly a nod to the fandom jokes surrounding the evil sock puppet of doom from day one.
  • In Future Diary, the fifth diary holder, Reisuke Houjo carries two hand puppets, which he treats as if they were actually real.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, the chief corrections officer at Green Dolphin Street Prison, Loccobarocco, opts to use puppetry to explain the rules to prisoners with his pink alligator hand puppet named Charlotte.
  • This is how Akira and Yukari tell the audience watching the KiraKira★Pretty Cure à la Mode movie how to use the Miracle Lights.
  • The main character in Maison Ikkoku at one point is recruited into a college club dedicated to putting on puppet plays.
  • Midori Days had Takkizawa, a figurine fanatic, who, much to the protagonist's dismay, becomes fascinated with hand puppets.
  • In Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo the female employee at Kashiwa Publishing uses one to speak with occasionally.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, Nekozawa has a hand-puppet cat named Belzeneff.
  • Mubyou from Our Home's Fox Deity always wears two hand puppets and sometimes uses them to talk to people, which doesn't change the fact that her punches can shatter concrete.
  • The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service: Yuji wears a hand puppet named Kereellis that may or may not be an alien.
  • Natsumi Aso from Sketchbook makes her own hand-puppets, which she uses to talk to herself about her favorite snacks.
  • In Robot Girls Z, Doublas-chan both communicates and shoots beams from her puppets.
  • In Tribe Nine, Kazuki and Ojiro's prior relationship is explained to both Haru and the audience when Fucho pulls out hand puppet replicas of the duo and acts it out.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion: In one of the films' many sharp departures from the original anime, Asuka has a hand puppet with "ASUKA" written on it that she's seen talking to in You Can (Not) Advance. This seems at first to be a sign of hidden mental instability, but Thrice Upon a Time reveals that it's a way for her to copy with Clone Angst.

    Comic Books 
One of the illustrations in The Crawling King is of a king hand puppet.

    Fan Works 
  • How do you explain Imperial-Tau political intrigue to a crew of idiot guardsmen? With sock puppets!
    • This gets repeated when the squad doesn't understand the complex and varied philosophies of the Inquisition.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Girl, Interrupted: Lisa regularly carries a hand puppet around the institution to mock her peers with. This also helps her lend credence to her own self image as a Psychopathic Manchild.
  • Lili: Paul's job at the circus, a hand puppeteer. Lili is so effortlessly charming when interacting with the puppets that she gets hired to be part of Paul's act.
  • MirrorMask starts with a pair of sock puppets arguing — and for "sock puppets" read not only "made out of socks" but also "actually being worn on the puppeteer's feet". (Although actually actually, when the scene was filmed one of the puppets was worn on a hand, as usual, to allow a greater range of facial expression.)
  • In The Last of Sheila someone brings two hand puppets on a cruise. Later someone puts these on before attempting to strangle someone, and explains, "I didn't bring gloves".
  • Smoking Causes Coughing: Chief Didier is a hand puppet. This film also features animatronics and People in Rubber Suits.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buzz (2000): One of the sketches was about Captain Harassment, which had Daryl Jones use a hand puppet (the titular captain) to fondle the butts of random women on the streets of Toronto. The puppet was a rubber glove with a Canadian Flag cape.
  • Sooty and his friends Soo and Sweep, who have been on and off British television since 1955. They are never acknowledged as puppets in-universe. Other characters can be sock puppets as well, but they generally never stuck around as long as the three core characters have.
  • Several Doctor Who stories have used hand puppets to represent the alien monster of the week.
    • An alien ambassador in Timelash. (Astonishingly, it wasn't the most ludicrously cheap special effect in the story.)
    • The supposed Loch Ness monster in Terror of the Zygons.
  • 31 Minutos, a Chilean children's News Parody program, uses hand-puppets and sock-puppets prominently, and takes this trope to its logical extreme: using socks without even putting a minimal effort to convert them into sock puppets.
    • Not only socks, but also gloves got used as puppets at some point or another; a boxing glove with goggly eyes is one of the news program's sports analysts.
  • Jane's "truth snake" from Coupling is a hand puppet in the form of a pink snake that expresses her hidden negative thoughts when she's under the influence of mystery pills in one second season episode.
  • Good Eats, a cooking program starring eccentric chef Alton Brown, features quite a few puppets. The most prevalent would be those he uses for yeast, which are sock puppets (that burp).
  • Franklin, GOB's puppet from Arrested Development.
  • Gitmo on The Daily Show (a terrorist Expy of Elmo.)
    • Also Muppet Michael Steele, based on Jon Stewart's observation that RNC Chairman Michael Steele vaguely resembled a Muppet character from Sesame Street (Simon, a restaurant patron in a series of sketches involving Grover as a hapless waiter).
  • Sifl and Olly of The Sifl and Olly Show.
  • Mr. Flibble in the Red Dwarf episode "Quarantine".
  • Craig Ferguson uses animal puppets on The Late Late Show. They most often appear in the show's Cold Open and are voiced and operated by Ferguson himself. Regulars include Wavey the Cajun-Scottish Crocodile, and Sid the Cussing Rabbit.
  • Many characters on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood were hand puppets, most of them operated and voiced by Fred Rogers himself. Unlike most hand puppets in which the puppeteer's hand operates the mouth, Rogers favored the kind with solid faces whose speech would be simulated by bobbing the head with the middle fingers, while the pinky and thumb operated the arms.
  • Ticket from Ressha Sentai ToQger is one of these. The Conductor swears it's a separate entity, and they often disagree and argue. Right is always trying to snag the puppet so he can prove that the Conductor is just messing with everyone's heads. If it means anything, we've seen the Conductor remove the puppet once, and it shows no signs of life. No one else was around.
  • Gareth has one in the pilot of Crossing Jordan he uses for some sort of therapy.
  • The Adventures of Superpup: "Jimmy Olsen" is a mouse hand puppet who acts as Narrator and comments on the action of the story.
  • The Jukebox Band from Shining Time Station consists entirely of hand puppets.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • Tom and Crow spend the opening segment of the Star Force: Fugitive Alien II episode discussing the nature of puppets and their symbiotic relationship to man (particularly at what point a puppet stops being a puppet and becomes a costume), and come to the conclusion that Señor Wences (a ventriloquist who built his career out of talking to his hand) was "a cry for help".
    • In the episode featuring The Magic Voyage of Sinbad, Joel completely freaks out Crow and Tom Servo with his channel cat puppet, based on a scene from the film. After Joel puts down the puppet to read a viewer letter, Gypsy spends the rest of the segment prodding the puppet, trying to get it to move again.
    • The appearance of a cute kinkajou in King Dinosaur inspires Joel to get a lemur hand puppet and put on a skit about "Joey the Lemur" with Crow and Servo. Joel gets a bit carried away with his puppeteering, and the bots quickly get fed up with Joey the Lemur. For various reasons, the real MST crew considered this whole sketch one of the worst they ever did, so they mocked it in a later episode, Last of the Wild Horses: Dr. Forrester and Frank also get a hold of a Joey the Lemur puppet and decide to put on the same skit, prompting screams of horror from Servo and Gypsy.
    • Played straight in the revival episode Lords of the Deep, when the monster conservationist Dr. Donna St. Phibes shows up with one of the Lords of the Deep perched on her arm. The actress uses a fake arm prop, while her actual hand manipulates the Lord of the Deep puppet.
  • In the classic Chicago children's TV series Garfield Goose And Friends Garfield is a puppet goose who thinks he's King of the United States. Other puppets include Rhomburg Rabbit, Beauregard Burnside III (a dog), Mackintosh Mouse, and Garfield's brother Chris (short for Christmas) Goose.
  • Zondag Met Lubach: When the new Foreign Minister Stef Blok gave an interview, Lubach had the perfect explanation for the man's amusing verbal tics: he was practicing a sock puppet act.
  • Hold The Sunset features Methuselah, a crocodile hand puppet given to Roger when he fails a job interview for a toy shop. He quickly grows a bond with it and starts using it in a street act.

  • They Might Be Giants, starting in 2009 Here Comes Science tour, have had a segment with sock-puppet alter-egos of the Johns dubbed The Avatars of They. They make use of the venue's projector, and exchange banter, usually lamenting their hard lives of living in a suitcase, following by belittling John and John, referring to them as their "opening act". Quoth John Linnell, "They present us with an opportunity to let our real feelings out. We've also been using them backstage to work through some issues from our own childhoods. I think we're beginning to see a real breakthrough there. Only the first sentence is true."
    • Additionally, "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head" is one of the more popular songs from their debut album, though in this case it's a metaphor for a menial, degrading job.
  • Buckethead isn't one to exchange words himself, so he instead lets his severed head friend Herbie do the talking for him, as seen in a guitar lesson and an interview with MTV. Herbie also assisted Buckethead alongside Bootsy Collins during a radio interview, where Bootsy continuously told the host not to address questions directly to Buckethead, since he cannot speak. The host did so anyway. Hilarity Ensues.

    Other Sites 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In the World Wrestling Federation, Mankind once used a sock puppet named "Mr. Socko" to cheer up a hospitalized Vince McMahon in vain. The segment was a wild hit and Mick kept the sock around. Fortunately, his Finishing Move was placing a "nerve pinch" that put his hand into another wrestler's mouth so it fit perfectly that he'd stick the sock on his hand for the move, and thus a cultural phenomenon was born.
  • Later on, Santino Marella's Cobra strike was complemented by a neon-green snake sleeve he'd put on before using it. And yes, it once got into a fight with Mr. Socko, at 2012's Royal Rumble.

  • Punch and Judy
  • The Umbilical Brothers: ACTION FINGERS!
  • Little Shop of Horrors: The plant puppets gradually get more complex until the second act where it's more of a giant set piece with a few moving parts rather than a puppet, but for the first two scenes, it's represented by a hand puppet operated by a puppeteer under a table through a hole in the countertop (for Scene I) and the lead wearing a false arm (for Scene II)

    Video Games 
  • Kusano Shinpei from Bungo to Alchemist likes frogs, thus he always wears a frog hand puppet.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: The Experiment speaks through the little girl hand puppet that's embedded on its right hand.
  • Special character Maki from Dave the Diver is a shy girl with some abandonment issues, so she speaks through a puppet designed to look like her faviroite animal, the clione. It's a very foul mouthed little thing, but Maki starts relying on it less and less as she opens up and makes peace with her Disappeared Dad.
  • Used for therapeutic interviews in Die Anstalt. It's implied that she may be a living being in her own right (like all the other Living Toys in the game.)
  • Both the Chompy Mage and the Sheep Mage have hand puppets in the Skylanders series.
  • Socks from FaceBreaker. As the name implies, he wears sock puppets on each hand that serve as both boxing gloves and his means of communication. This fact alone sums up the reason why he's found in an asylum.
  • Funtime Freddy in Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location has a Bonnie hand puppet, which can jumpscare you.
  • Moshi Monsters has Threadie, a walking sockpuppet who has a body inside supporting the rest of their sock self.

  • The main characters of the grim and strange Rocko & Socko sub-comic of The Parking Lot Is Full.
  • Elan from The Order of the Stick has Banjo, God of Puppets. Later, Elan introduced a brother for Banjo in Giggles, God of Slapstick, which an island of orcs decided to take on as their patron deity.
  • 8-Bit Theater, Fighter has a hand puppet of Black Mage.
  • God from Sinfest primarily expresses Himself with hand puppets.
  • El Goonish Shive once had a full-size filler comic with hand puppets dedicated to explaining a rewrite of the script that had resulted in a delay. There was also a Question and Answer strip that used them to answer a question about the dialogue between a couple of the characters during an off-panel moment.
  • In The Mansion of E, the Weirdo Who Lives In The Attic has Fantod the hand puppet.
  • In the earlier days of Sluggy Freelance, Torg crafted "Mister Sock Lop" after Bun-Bun disappeared for a few weeks. Bun-Bun was not amused, but did put Mr. Sock Lop to good use several times (such as distracting the Black-Ops Elves from his holiday killing spree, and dodging a hug from Kiki).
  • Ozy and Millie: Millie has a sock puppetnote  of George W. Bush that she often brings out for the purpose of mockeries.
  • Skin Horse: An occasional recurrent joke is mildly flaky psychologist Tip Wilkin’s use of hand puppets as a psychoanalytical tool. Everyone but him seems to see this as silly, but he’s clearly a great believer in the technique.
  • Something*Positive has PeeJee start dating a puppeteer despite hating puppets of all sorts so much that she broke Aubrey's hand when the latter tried scaring the former with a sock-puppet.
  • The Penny Arcade team was commissioned by Bethesda to do a comic to promote Fallout 3, which tells the story of the sole occupant of Vault 77, a man who had nothing for companionship but a crate of hand puppets. Needless to say, he slowly goes crazy, culminating with him developing a psychotic Split Personality manifested through a Vault Boy puppet. The comic is referenced in Fallout 3 itself, where the player can find a Vault 77 jumpsuit with a note from a terrified slaver who's worried that its owner will come looking for it.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • In Amphibia episode "Grubhog Day", Anne creates one as a replacement for the Grubhog when she and Sprigg help it escape.
  • Mr. Garrison's puppet, Mr. Hat, from South Park. It's originally implied that Mr. Garrison is schizophrenic in some way, and uses Mr. Hat to act out his various repressed sides. The puppet is eventually phased out as Garrison becomes more disturbingly self-confident. It's kept somewhat ambiguous how sentient Mr. Hat actually is.
  • In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Sheen ends up with his own public access show about hand-puppets.
  • In the "Mother Nature" episode of The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy's Mom became a weather woman and so Timmy's Dad decided to be both the mom and the dad by using a hand puppet that looks exactly like Timmy's Mom. Timmy's Dad can't get along with the puppet.
  • In an episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes, Heloise has one that looks like Jimmy, whom she has compliment on her ponytail.
  • In The Tick, The Human Ton has his good pal, the hand puppet Handy.
  • In the Droopy cartoon "The Three Little Pups", the wolf-as-dogcatcher uses a cat puppet to lure the pups out of their houses. The sight of a wind-up mouse causes the puppet to act like a real cat.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, Peter gets a children's TV show and makes a puppet, "Saggy Naggy", that's based on Lois.
  • Gravity Falls did an entire episode on this called Sock Opera. Mabel develops a crush on a guy named Gabe, who is really devoted to hand puppetry, to the point that she stages an elaborate musical using nothing but sock puppets in order to impress him. She has to destroy the set in order to save Dipper (who is being possessed by Bill Cipher), and Gabe sees this as the worst possible thing to ever happen. He considers Mabel to be "making a mockery of his craft" and starts making out with the hand puppets he never takes off. Mabel realizes she dodged a bullet.
  • The premise of Atomic Puppet is a superhero whose been transformed into a talking sock puppet that when protagonist Joey Felt puts on his hand, transforms the two into the superhero Atomic Puppet.
  • In season 4's episode "Mime Your Own Business" of Totally Spies!, Sam and Alex get turned into mimes and lose their ability to speak. Alex can't stand the voice synthesizer, so she decides to communicate with a hand puppet, in the process displaying her incredible puppetry which enables the puppet monkey to have infeasible dexterity and even emotional expressions.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "ChefBob", SpongeBob creates one to help him overcome his Performance Anxiety when Mr. Krabs makes him work in an open kitchen.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Make New Friends But Keep Discord", when Discord opens a portal to another dimension, the members of that dimension are portrayed by real sock puppets.
  • Animaniacs:
    • In "De-Zanited", Dr. Scratchansniff has one called Mr. Puppethead, which he suggests the Warners talk to. He demonstrates by having a conversation with the puppet.
      Yakko: Um, are you sure you don't want to see a p-sychiatrist?
      Scratchansniff: I am a p-sychiatrist... I mean psychiatrist! I am, I am, I am, I am! [In a fit of frustration, he tears out some of his hair with Mr. Puppethead's mouth.]
      Yakko: Mr. Puppethead's hungry.
    • In "Lookit The Fuzzy Heads", the Warners use hand puppets of themselves during their therapy session.
  • FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman: An episode shows Bridget and Rosario hosting a puppet show at a hospital to ease Ruff's fears of them. Hilarity Ensues due to Rosario's overly loud, scratchy, and melodramatic impression of Ruff.
    Rosario (as a Ruff Puppet): [loud, scratchy, melodramatic voice] I BROKE MY LEG!
    Ruff: [voice-over] Is that Ruff Ruffman or Marge Simpson?
  • DuckTales (2017): The episode "Happy Birthday, Doofus Drake!" has various people around town attending Doofus Drake's birthday party, since they get a bag of gold if they stay for the entire party. There's just one catch: the adult has to bring a child, and if Doofus finds out that the guest is only here for the gold, he kicks them out. Flintheart Glomgold's "child" is a hand puppet replica of himself. He makes it surprisingly far into to party, but Louie gives it away by talking to the puppet while Glomgold is submerged in a pool.
  • Bluey gives us Unicorse, a unicorn sock puppet that Bandit uses to agitate his wife Chilli and entertain his two daughters.
  • In The Owl House episode "The First Day", Luz pulls out sock puppet forms of her and Eda that she made to perform a "heartfelt sonnet", though Eda leaves before we can hear the performance. In a bit of subtle foreshadowing, the Eda puppet's left eye uses a black button instead of a gold one, hinting at it changing color after she splits the curse with Lilith in the season one finale, and the Luz puppet's stitching hints at the scar she'll receive in the season two finale.


Video Example(s):


Captain Barnacles

Barnacles attempts to entertain hyenas with a sock puppet. It does not work out.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / HandPuppet

Media sources: