For the Muppet franchise, see The Muppets.
Homer Simpson: Well, it's not quite a mop, and it's not quite a puppet, but maaaan! (laughs) So to answer your question, I don't know.
A character in a live-action series rendered by puppetry or animatronics. Usually used to create an alien or other non-human character.
Technically, "Muppet" is The Walt Disney Company's note trademark name (a coined name, not a portmanteau of "marionette" and "puppet" as is commonly believed) for the unique brand of puppets created by Jim Henson. This usage generally occurs in such things as television shows and movies. Other production shops have adapted Henson's techniques, which have revolutionized puppetry. For many people now, Muppet and puppet are practically synonymous.
Henson created a merging of puppetry (using the hands for the mouth movements) and marionettes (in their use of wires and how animated their movements are). Before television, puppetry was a fairly static art. Henson made the Muppets almost hyper-kinetic, putting a lot of energy into the performance. Furthermore, the way the puppets were operated, for example making them look directly at something (typically with a puppeteer's hand directly manipulating the head), gives them a remarkably lifelike appearance. In addition, while puppeteers in previous productions hid behind a structure on screen in keeping with tradition, Henson realized he could just stage his show using the TV screen frame itself in order to hide the operators and focus all attention on the puppets.
As such, the typical puppet like Kermit the Frog would have one functioning left hand while the right hand operates the head, although characters like Rowlf or Ernie have a second puppeteer who operates the right hand. The Swedish Chef is an exception: two puppeteers work together with one handling the head and voice while another use their own hands for the character.
Animatronics was also improved by the Jim Henson shop. Animatronics employs a complex series of mechanics to create a creature with much more subtle movements and expressions than a standard puppet, such as blinking eyes or opening gills. A puppeteer may often wear a full body suit with an animatronic head controlled by another person. Henson didn't consider them to be "Muppets", though most people ignore that distinction. The mouth, head and neck of animatronic puppets are usually controlled with a device called a "waldo", a kind of large electronic mitten that's wired up and can control the creature remotely.
Now common in children's shows, Muppets became widespread due to their popularity in Sesame Street, a Henson co-production.
In British slang, the word can be an insult, indicating someone who is, although enthusiastic, clueless and incompetent.
- Australian comedian Randy Feltface is a purple, humanoid muppet.
- The Muppets' feature films:
- Featured in the very adult film Meet the Feebles.
- In the movie The Dark Crystal, the entire world consisted of such aliens.
- Nearly all characters in Labyrinth, such as Hoggle, Sir Didymus, Ludo, and those really strange creatures who dismember themselves at will (and think Sarah can, too). Inside the labyrinth, the only characters that aren't Muppets or actors in some sort of Muppet-enhanced suit are are Sarah, Jareth and Toby.
- Yoda, of Star Wars fame, portrayed and voiced by veteran Muppeteer Frank Oz in the original trilogy and The Phantom Menace. In the rest of the Prequel Trilogy, Yoda is instead portrayed as a CGI character, though Oz still provides his voice. Yoda would eventually reappear as a Muppet in The Last Jedi, performed again by Oz.
- Another member of Yoda's species, "The Child" (Grogu), from The Mandalorian, is also portrayed by a puppet. The producers were initially unsure whether it would be best to portray The Child through puppetry or CGI, until Werner Herzog shamed them into using the puppet.
- The Rancor of Return of the Jedi was scary as hell and very realistic, but a muppet nonetheless. Also other aliens from the Star Wars universe, including the Wampa, Max Rebo and Salacious Crumb. Jabba the Hutt is also one, albeit an absolutely massive one who required a team of six puppeteers to operate, four of whom had to actually be inside the costume during filming. Hope none of the puppeteers were claustrophobic. R2-D2 may qualify if you really stretch the definition of "Muppet".
- Similar to Jabba the Hutt, Lady Proxima from Solo was also an enormous muppet, controlled by nearly thirty puppeteers in wetsuits, submerged within her bathing pool.
- Most of the creatures in Hellboy II: The Golden Army (bar the Elemental, the Stone Giant and titular Golden Army).
- The first three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films and the television show Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation.note While Henson himself did the effects for the first film, he declined to participate in the sequels over his dislike of the violence in the first movie.
- Audrey II in the 1986 version of Little Shop of Horrors. Please note it was directed by the aforementioned Frank Oz. Also that it's an extreme example that required sixty operators, and the lips had to be filmed at 16fps (necessitating slower movements for actors in the shot).
- The Vogons in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005). All puppets in the film were designed and constructed by the Jim Henson Creature Shop.
- Most of Jim Henson's live works as well as those of his successors in his company, including The Muppets.
- The Muppet Show
- Muppets Tonight
- The Muppets
- A Muppet Family Christmas
- Fraggle Rock
- Sesame Street
- Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas
- Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
- Bear in the Big Blue House
- Some of the dinosaurs from Dinosaurs, at least the ones that aren't played by actors in costumes, that is.
- Mopatop's Shop was a co-production between Jim Henson Productions and Carlton Television, and of course featured Muppets as a result.
- The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance brings the techniques used in the 1982 film back to life, with modern enhancements.
- Oobi is a puppet show, created for Noggin while Sesame Workshop and Nickelodeon co-produced all of its programming. The characters are literal hand puppets, described as "furless" Muppets in promotional statements, with acrylic eyes and accessories. Whether or not they actually count as puppets or Muppets is debatable, but it's worth noting that this is one of the most recent TV shows to refer to its characters as Muppets without actually featuring the Muppets.
- Not to mention such programs as The Jimmy Dean Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.
- And earliest of all, Sam and Friends, a locally-produced late '50s show on a Washington D.C. station, which featured Henson performing several Muppet characters, including an embryonic Kermit the Frog.
- A third of the cast of Farscape, being a Henson production.
- That's just the main cast. A good number of alien extras and guest characters are Muppets as well.
- Almost every actual alien species (not counting displaced human cultures) on Stargate SG-1, most notably the Goa'uld/Tok'Ra symbiotes and the Asgard. (The Re'tu and the Replicators are Serkis Folk.)
- N'Grath, the mantis-like crime lord from the first season of Babylon 5.
- The puppet for Babylon 5's N'Grath was recycled as the She-Mantis in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Teacher's Pet".
- Joel Hodgson's Puppet Bots from Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- During the Angel episode "Smile Time", the stars of the quality edutainment show Smile Time. And Angel himself.
- Which adds double meaning to Spike's "You're a bloody puppet!" line.
- Most of the cast of LazyTown. Why, we may never know, because they're all Muppets of supposedly human characters (although it is a good way to make exceptionally silly characters without asking people to give up their dignity).
- Marcus of Mega64. This is frequently lampshaded.
- The British satirical series Spitting Image employs grotesque-looking rubber puppet caricatures of politicians and other celebrities. They were originally based on the Plastecine sculptures created by Peter Fluck and Roger Law to illustrate articles in the British newspaper The Sunday Times. The Spitting Image crew also created the music video for Genesis' song "Land of Confusion", which was commissioned after lead singer Phil Collins saw himself caricatured on the show.
- Pinch, Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld's New York Times Correspondent. A copy of the NYT with cardboard eyes and a string attached. A regular "panelist" along with Bill Schulz, who are the token liberal butt monkeys.
- Mongrels, which tries to do "to puppetry what The Simpsons did to animation."
- 31 Minutos
- In the Community episode "Intro To Felt Surrogacy", the study group had all experienced some "embarrassing moment" of some kind, and were going through an awkward silence that had apparently been lasting for days, at which point the Dean shows up and gives out sock puppets to each member to help them relive what happened, as a way of "therapy." The story was told via flashback, where each study group member was represented as a muppet (not their sock puppets), complete with musical sequences a la "The Muppets." Everybody else who appeared in their flashback during the episode was shown as their regular human self, excluding Chang, who had a sock puppet of his own.
- Apparently, Chang already had his sock puppet at that point in time, which you can actually see on his muppet in the brief moment it appears in the episode.
- Fur TV it's a European parody of the Muppets with a lot of sex and Dark Humor.
- The puppets in The Noddy Shop are considered these, with some of the puppeteers on the show being veterans from Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock.
- The French kids show Les Minikeums.
- The urban-themed City Kids has these original muppets acting as the Greek Chorus.
- Everyone in Mr. Meaty.
- In Home Movie: The Princess Bride, a generic "Whatnot" Muppet substitutes as Westley's (kinda) dead body during the scene with the healer.
- The video for Haken's "Cockroach King" has Muppet versions of the band doing a Bohemian Parody.
- After Pato Fu recorded an album using toys and toy instruments, they drafted for the tour two puppeteers from their hometown as Muppet monsters providing Soprano and Gravel backing vocals. In the sequel album, they even sing lead once.
- Transylvania Television, "The Retro Monster Comedy Show that's not for kids," contains examples of Muppet-style puppetry.
- The Dan Deacon music video for Paddling Ghost features a whole array of differently articulated muppets, evidently telling The Hero's Journey of a bedsheet ghost with an eyepatch.
- Most of the characters from Don't Hug Me I'm Scared.
- Arlo is one that reviews Nintendo games.
- The Robinsons from The Amazing World of Gumball all resemble muppet characters and have Marionette Motion, though they're actually CGI. They even have tags describing their fabric makeup, threads, and stuffing inside of their bodies, implying they're literally muppets come to life.
- The characters from MAD's "Flammable" and "SpongeWow" sketches.
- Used in Robot Chicken's "Born Again Virgin Christmas Special" in a sketch parodying Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas .
- A couple of Jim Henson Company-produced kids series of the recent past, Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train are fully CGI. However, not only do the character designs resemble traditional Muppets, but they're performed like them as well. For some of the more complicated puppets on Fraggle Rock and other 80s Henson projects, Jim Henson and crew created radio control puppetry systems where a puppeteer operates a remote control that is translated into movement of the puppet by small motors. In the late '80s, Jim Henson, who was an early fan of CGI, had the idea that the controller output could instead be sent to a computer which then translates it into a rough first pass version of an animated character that is then cleaned up in post. The first such character, Waldo C. Graphic, appears in The Jim Henson Hour and the Muppet*Vision 3D attraction at Walt Disney World. The system was later refined by a team lead by Jim's son Brian, and has been used for projects like the aforementioned series.
- You'd be forgiven for thinking that Muppet Babies (2018) used puppets. It's very good looking CGI that, according to Matt Danner, is accomplished using jiggle tech.