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Series / The Muppet Show

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"Ladies and gentlemen, it's the Muppet Show! YAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!"
"It's time to play the music
It's time to light the lights
It's time to meet the Muppets
On the Muppet Show tonight"

In the early '70s, the immense popularity of the Muppets they created for Sesame Street gave Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, and the rest of the Muppet Performers plenty of valuable exposure. However, it also threatened to pigeonhole the Henson crew as mere children's entertainers. Thus the impetus for creating a new series featuring the Muppets alone, still family-friendly but with a distinctly adult edge.note 

ABC aired a pair of pilot specials, The Muppets Valentine Show (1974) and The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975), but when all the US networks rejected their (frankly awesome) pitch for a weekly series, Henson and co. instead finagled a distribution deal with Britain's ITC Entertainment, under the auspices of Lord Lew Grade. As it happened Grade very well knew what puppets could do on TV, considering he'd financed Gerry Anderson's classic Supermarionation series like Thunderbirds. Eventually American network CBS, or rather their owned-and-operated station group, joined up once it was clear that the Muppets were also a sure bet.

The Muppet Show was produced for worldwide weekly syndication from 1976 to 1981. The series was videotaped at the Elstree studios of ITC's sister company ATV (where sequences for Star Wars and Indiana Jones were also filmed; the studios are currently home to EastEnders). The choreography for the human guests was created by Gillian Lynne, who later went on to design all the ballet sequences in Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage production of The Phantom of the Opera.

"It's time to put on makeup
It's time to dress up right
It's time to raise the curtain
On the Muppet Show tonight"

Cheerful, cool-headed Kermit the Frog was the emcee-slash-production manager-slash-eye of the storm for this truly "far-out" all-puppet Variety Show. The setting was a tiny rundown downtown theatre and the tone was deliberately reminiscent of old-style vaudeville, where anything could happen and usually did. Other major members of the troupe included diva Miss Piggy, comedian Fozzie Bear, piano-playing Rowlf the Dog, daredevil performance artist Gonzo the Great, and Scooter the eager "go-fer".

"To introduce our guest star
That's what I'm here to do
So it really makes me happy
To introduce to you"

A different human entertainer was featured as each episode's Special Guest, and the show's cachet quickly became such that they were frequently A-list talent — often uniquely so (ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev, anyone?). Each week, technical flubs, talent crises, rampaging egos and financial issues (when the pigs weren't rebelling, or angry clones weren't on the loose, or the Star Wars cast wasn't rampaging through in search of Chewbacca) would bring the show teetering to the brink of disaster; each week, the show somehow managed to go on.

Recurring sketches included Veterinarian's Hospital, starring Rowlf ("the continuing stoooooooory of a quack who's gone to the dogs"); Pigs in Space (yep, pretty much); Muppet Labs, with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his perpetually terrified assistant Beaker ("Now your family can be protected from the heartbreak of gorilla invasion!"); cooking segments with the game-but-goofy Swedish Chef; and the disaster-prone Muppet News Flash. Keyboard-playing Doctor Teeth and his Electric Mayhem — laid-back bassist and singer Floyd Pepper, groovy guitarist Janice, silent saxophonist Zoot, and drummer Animal — were the house band. And sitting high above it all in the balcony, in prime position to volley insults, were codger hecklers Statler and Waldorf:

"Why do we always come here?
I guess we'll never know
It's like a kind of torture
To have to watch this show"

Ostensibly a family show, The Muppet Show in practice played freely with the dark side of Henson's vision, more familiar from his later work. Notable guest stars included Alice Cooper, Vincent Price, Jonathan Winters, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Steve Martin. Songs from adult shows like Chicago and Cabaret were worked into the mix (to say nothing of Elton John singing "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", or Cooper's "Welcome to My Nightmare"...) Casual violence abounded and seemingly gentle skits often took a weirdly surreal turn.

The show became so popular that in at least one U.S. market, two stations broadcast different episodes in back-to-back time slots. The show was never actually cancelled; instead, Henson and company decided to end it so that they could work on films, The Muppet Movie in particular.

"Our show tonight will feature
Some stuff that goes like this"

The concept was brought back and updated in 1989, with the "Muppet Television" segments of The Jim Henson Hour, which moved the show from a theatre to a TV station. A second short-lived revival aired in 1996, Muppets Tonight, with the Muppet team using an entire television network's headquarters for their Show Within a Show instead of a single studio.

The show was revived in the form of a Comic-Book Adaptation, The Muppet Show Comic Book, and a Youtube channel.

See The Muppets for various other Muppet productions, and Muppet Cameo when they show up in other shows.

"But now, let's get things started
(Why don't you get things started?)
It's time to get things started
On the most sensational
This is what we call the Muppet Show"

[Gonzo plays something on his trumpet. Hilarity Ensues, usually.]

This series provides examples of:

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    Tropes A-M 
  • Abominable Auditorium: The Muppet Theater is often portrayed as as a Non-Functional venue, especially given the wacky hijinks of Gonzo, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, and others. At one point, J.P. Grosse refuses to have the place demolished, as he believes that it'll probably fall apart on its own sooner or later — only for the floor to collapse under him.
  • Accentuate the Negative: In-Universe, Statler and Waldorf take great pleasure in mocking anything and everyone except the Special Guest, and even those are by no means immune (just ask Milton Berle). The only other thing the old gentlemen seem to enjoy unabashedly is when the show performs old vaudeville-era song-and-dance numbers.
    Kermit: Tonight's episode of The Muppet Show has been cancelled.
    Statler: Have we died and gone to heaven?!
  • Actor Allusion: Two in the "At the Dance" sketch in the Sex and Violence pilot:
    • Rowlf casually mentions his stint on Jimmy Dean's show, but no one remembers him anymore.
    • Kermit says to his partner, "I might be able to get you a job on an educational show for kids", referencing his appearances on Sesame Street.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Let's see, an orange stagehand, a lime-green Mad Scientist, a dark green keyboard player, a teal sax player, a pink Floyd...
  • Anachronic Order: Since there is nearly no continuity to keep track of from episode to episode, you'd think it would be impossible to get them out of order. Nevertheless, the DVDs have a few episodes with Scooter in it before the one in which he is hired. This is because the episodes were aired in a very different order from the one in which they were filmed; the DVD puts the episodes in order of production instead of when they were filmed (the production order is actually different from the taping order) or broadcast. There are two big examples of this:
  • Anvil on Head: The Newsman suffers from a nasty streak of bad luck as he tries to deliver the news of the day in the Muppet Newsflash sketches, usually culminating in some person or object, somehow related to the day's story, falling on his head.
  • The Artifact: The pilot episodes (with guests Juliet Prowse and Connie Stevens, which were later re-worked) had a longer theme song. The song had a spot for the guest star to sing a line: "It's very nice to be here / I'm pleased to say hello", which would be the rhyme for "The Muppet Show". These lines were removed from the song for the actual series, making the "Muppet Show" lyric seem a touch out of place.
  • Artist and the Band: A recurring act is a band made up of elderly people called Geri and the Atrics (a pun on "geriatric").
  • Ash Face: A recurring gag whenever explosions are involved. Which is often. Very often.
  • The Backstage Sketch: The show frequently features sketches backstage where the "talent" proposes new acts, the guest stars bicker with Kermit over the things they're being asked to do, and zany things go on in the name of pushing the show forward. These are often intertwined to create a plotline.
  • Black Comedy: Heads exploding randomly, physical violence, Muppets eating one another...
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: Marvin Suggs and his Muppaphone, little sentient balls of fluff that Marvin "plays" like a xylophone. At least one guest star finds it appalling, and more often than not Marvin gets his comeuppance, like when he plays "Witch Doctor" and a real witch doctor turns him into one of his Muppaphone creatures.
  • Carnivore Confusion: A frequent problem encountered by the Swedish Chef, whose main courses tend to walk into his kitchen on their own four feet. Memorably lampshaded when he tries to cook Big Bird, and later when he tries to make frog's legs with Kermit's nephew Robin. In fact, sometimes it even gets into Herbivore Confusion.
  • Cast of Snowflakes
  • The Cat Came Back: The trope-naming song was featured as a sketch in the Linda Ronstadt episode.
  • Catchphrase: Several:
    • Kermit: "Heigh-ho, everyone!", "YAAAAAAAY!", "Will you get outta here?", "Sheesh!", "Uh, yeah."
    • Fozzie: "Wocka wocka!", "Hiya hiya hiya!", "AAAHHH! Fun-nee!"
    • Scooter: "Fifteen seconds to curtain!"
    • Swedish Chef: "Bork Bork Bork!"
    • Miss Piggy's HI-YAAH!, "Kissy, Kissy" and "Watch it, frog!"
    • Beaker's meeping.
    • Sam the Eagle: "You are all weirdos!"
    • And Statler and Waldorf's heckle-laugh: "DOOOHOHOHOHOHO!"
  • Celebrity Paradox: Played for laughs in the 'stars of Star Wars' episode, as per Celebrity Star below. Luke Skywalker and his actor each made several appearances in the episode, but never appeared on screen together. The end of the episode, however, reveals that Mark Hamill and Luke Skywalker are in fact separate people.
  • Celebrity Star: Straight and subverted — one episode featured a member of the production staff, writer Chris Langham, as the "guest". Langham, however, had to fill in for Richard Pryor.
    • Another spoof of sorts came when Peter Sellers guest starred. Kermit says that backstage, Sellers is free to be himself and not a character, but Sellers says he cannot do so: "There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed." Sellers helped the writers create this skit because he simply wasn't willing to be himself, and it became one of his most famous quotes. In the "15 seconds to curtain" opening bit, he appears in character as Inspector Clouseau. In Real Life, of course, this was Sellers' particular neurosis - making it Harsher in Hindsight.
    • The episode featuring "the stars of Star Wars" introduced Mark Hamill and his 'cousin' Luke Skywalker separately. The former had to admit that the latter upstaged him.
      • Initially a subversion, as the original "guest star" of the Hamill episode was a Muppet named Angus MacGonagle, the Argyle Gargoyle, whose talent was gargling Gershwin ("Gorgeously!"). Then the Star Wars cast bursts into his dressing room and Scooter decides they would be much better guest stars, so MacGonagle is tossed out. He later storms onto the stage, arguing his case with Kermit, who remains unimpressed. Later, though, MacGonagle sneaks back on stage to do his act — with Mark Hamill joining in. Kermit finally has to resort to siccing Animal on the gargoyle.
    • There was also the time Señor Wences guest starred. He was a puppeteer himself, so Kermit decides to do something "new": a puppet show.
    • Several of the guest stars tried shamelessly to out-Muppet The Muppets — like Spike Milligan, John Cleese and Peter Sellers — with results that were indeed highly awesome.
    • "When the show first started, the producers would call upon friends in the entertainment business. However, about half-way through the second season when Rudolf Nureyev appeared, his appearance gave the show so much positive publicity, that other celebrities came to the producers instead of the other way around." (from Wikipedia). Nureyev had seen the show whilst staying in London and liked it so much he actually called them up and asked if he could appear.
  • Chandler's Law: Henson once commented on his pre-Muppet puppet sketches that when he couldn't think of how to close a sketch, he'd either have an explosion or have one character eat the other. It's pretty clear that this carried over to The Muppet Show.
  • Characterisation Click Moment:
    • At the show's inception, Fozzie Bear's personality was ill-defined, coming off as a bit of a pathetic Jerkass whose constant failures came off as more as sad than funny. However, it was with the "Good grief, the comedian's a bear!" routine from Episode 110 (Harvey Korman) that Fozzie's role was established as a hapless and sympathetic comedian who took his art very seriously and often looked to his friends for their assistance or approval.
    • Like many Muppets, Gonzo started life in several one-off appearances before the show, and even in its first season was characterised somewhat differently, being a more pathetic frustrated failing actor. The bizarreness of Gonzo's performances had been established from the first episode however, and his performer Dave Goelz eventually came to the conclusion he worked better more zany and upbeat, redesigning his puppet to be more expressive and less somber looking in time for Season Two. Goelz credited Episode 204 (the Rich Little episode) as being a particularly key moment he solidified his Cloud Cuckoo Lander personality due to ad libbing his now iconic attraction to chickens in one sketch.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Hilda the seamstress and George the janitor are almost completely absent after the first season despite having prominent supporting roles during that era. While George would make cameos in the opening sequences and had sporadic cameos in later productions, Hilda was almost completely dropped due to her performer leaving the show.
  • Circling Vultures: Before performing the famous "Telephone Pole Bit", Fozzie tells Scooter that "we are gonna die" (meaning the skit is going to bomb), and as Scooter asks what makes him think that, the camera focuses on two vultures looking down on them.
  • Clamshells as Mouths: In the Madeline Kahn episode, Gonzo's crazy act of the week is Eric the Yodeling Clam, whose shell opens and shuts as he yodels.
  • Clip Show: Not in the original run, but in The '80s the Jim Henson's Muppet Home Video series of ten VHS tapes were clip shows linked by newly-shot material with the regular characters. Notably many of the U.K. spots were included (thus making their U.S. debuts), as well as at least two Season One musical numbers ("All of Me" and "You've Got a Friend", the latter being the finale from the Vincent Price episode) that would not appear on the Season One DVD set due to music rights issues. Similar compilations appeared in The '90s.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Most of the cast, really, but Gonzo manages to stand out.
    • Among the guest stars, Glenda Jackson is convinced she's a pirate, and her madness proves strong enough to apparently warp reality, turning the theatre into an actual pirate ship.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A good portion of the humor. For example, The Running Gag of the Kenny Rogers episode is Kermit repeatedly getting injured in hilarious ways.
  • The Comically Serious: Sam the Eagle.
  • Comically Wordy Contract: Played with this in the episode featuring Alice Cooper. Cooper is trying to get various people to sign a Deal with the Devil. It doesn't work out well. Gonzo eventually materializes in a puff of smoke, holding a very long scroll. Kermit asks him if it's the contract with the Devil.
    Gonzo: Worse! It's the bill from special effects!
  • Complaining About Things You Haven't Paid For: In the Steve Martin episode, Statler and Waldorf debate whether they should leave after the show is canceled to hold auditions. Waldorf insists that they stay as they've paid for the tickets. When Statler points out that the tickets were free, Waldorf replies, "And overpriced, at that!"
  • Compliment Backfire:
    • Newcomer Annie Sue Pig tells Miss Piggy of her lifelong admiration of her. "I've been a fan of yours ever since I was a little girl!"
    • Pretty much everything Danny Kaye says to Piggy in his episode, including another go-round of "I've admired you for years and years". Eventually, this verges close to Passive-Aggressive Kombat territory.
    • Sandy Duncan tells one ugly Muppet not to despair, because she's sure he's beautiful on the inside. The Muppet responds by pieing her.
  • Content Warning: The Disney+ release of the show has a disclaimer warning about racial stereotypes or other taboo content (such as a Confederate flag).
  • Consummate Professional: Nigel the Conductor's only real character trait, aside from being considered out of touch. When the orchestra quits, he's still going to stand there conducting, even though it's just Rowlf playing piano.
  • Couch Gag: Many, the most famous being Gonzo's gong (Season 1) or trumpet note (Seasons 2-5) at the end of the theme song. Others are: Statler and Waldorf's opening (Season 2) and closing (entire run) comments, Fozzie telling a joke during the title sequence (Season 1), the "15 seconds to curtain" reveal of the guest star (Seasons 2-4), Pops the doorman greeting the host (Season 5).
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning:
    • Noel Harrison's "The Windmills of Your Mind" gets perfomed a Muppet called Screaming Thing; The original was about lost love, while the cover is a Sanity Slippage Song and the Muppet Show didn't even need to change a single lyric to make it that way.
    • Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" goes from being about the riots over Los Angeles' curfews to an anti-hunting message performed by woodland animals.
  • Cowboy Episode: In the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans episode, the entire show takes on a Wild West motif, including a huge herd of cows backstage.
  • Crossover:
    • Sesame Street's Ernie and Bert make a guest appearance in the Connie Stevens episode. Big Bird guest-stars in the Leslie Uggams episode. And at the climax of the Arabian Nights-themed Marty Feldman episode, most of the Sesame Street cast turns up for the finale as a pun on "Open Sesame!"
    • In 1979, Kermit guest-hosted an episode of The Tonight Show, and several other Muppet Show characters appeared to lend assistance and promote The Muppet Movie. See it here.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: In the Marisa Berensen episode, Lew Zealand comes on telling Kermit he wants to do his boomerang fish act. Kermit says it'll be a very cold day in a very warm place before he allows that on the show. Later on, Piggy tries to force Kermit to marry her. Instead of saying "I do", Kermit brings in Lew and his fish as a distraction while Piggy angrily tries to chase Kermit.
  • Cutlass Between the Teeth: Fozzie at one point in his battle with the samurai in the Spike Milligan episode.
  • Cutlery Escape Aid: When the pigs take over the theatre, Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo are locked in the basement. Gonzo, however, gloats that he has managed to smuggle in... a spoon! Which he then proceeds to use in an attempt to tunnel his way out.
  • Cut Short:
    • Averted for the show itself. It only lasted 5 seasons, but Henson himself pulled the plug due to a combination of wanting to do movies, and feeling that they had taken the show as far as was reasonable, preferring to go out on a high note.
    • Played straight with the DVD releases. The first three seasons were released one-by-one on DVD, but then abruptly stopped. There is still no word of the fourth or fifth season being released, over ten years later. However, in 2021 this was finally Averted with Disney bringing all 5 seasons to Disney+.
  • Dame with a Case: The episode with Liza Minelli is a Noir Episode with Kermit as a detective and Minelli as the dame asking him to investigate a series of murders in the theater where she works.
  • The Danza: invoked Either that or Link Hogthrob was evidently playing himself on Pigs in Space.
  • Dartboard of Hate: In the Leslie Uggams episode, there's a scene set in Camilla's dressing room, the decor of which includes a dartboard with Colonel Sanders' face on it.
  • Dashingly Dapper Derby:
  • Dead Artists Are Better: In the Kris Kristofferson/Rita Coolidge episode, Gonzo learns a rumour has started that he was killed when his latest stunt went horribly wrong, and decides to go along with it in the hope of becoming, while still alive to enjoy it, one of those artists who become massively successful after they die.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Believe it or not, this was Kermit's original schtick. He's still got shades of it that pop up from time to time.
      Fozzie: I don't know how to thank you guys!
      Kermit: I don't know why to thank you guys.
    • Rizzo the Rat, after breaking out of his Voiceless role, quickly revealed himself to be one.
    • The show's rendition of "The Bird on Nellie's Hat" ramps up the bird's snark, replacing the final "Well, he don't know Nellie like I do" with a simple "Oh brother."
  • Deal with the Devil: In the Alice Cooper episode, there's a subplot about Cooper offering various members of the cast a contract that will give them whatever they want in return for their soul. Kermit rejects the whole thing out of hand; Piggy is tempted for great beauty, until she finds out what Cooper considers beautiful; and Gonzo is unreservedly enthusiastic about the whole idea, but has to pass because he can't find a pen.
    Gonzo: I'd sell my soul for a pen! No, I have other plans for that.
  • Demoted to Extra: Rowlf. As head-writer Jerry Juhl pointed out, Rowlf was mostly consigned to being used in musical numbers and skits, almost completely absent from backstage Character Development. It's not that they didn't like the character, it's that Jim was busy performing Kermit, yet didn't want Rowlf recast. As a result, ideas Juhl had for developing relationships between Rowlf and Fozzie, Rowlf and Piggy, etc., never came to fruition.
    • In the Sex and Violence pilot, the show was hosted by Nigel. When The Muppet Show became a series, Nigel's role was that of the orchestra conductor, and while he was seen fairly often in all five seasons, on the show he only had dialogue in three episodes total, all from the first season.
    • In the show's first season, George the Janitor was a prominent supporting character and appeared in nearly every episode. After the first season however, he was reduced to non-speaking background appearances and cameos in the opening sequences, with his role as the theater custodian being replaced by the much longer-lasting Beauregard.
    • Hilda, the sweet, grandmotherly wardrobe mistress was resigned as to the background after the first season, as her performer left the show.
  • Diet Episode: Piggy tries to go on a diet in the Teresa Brewer episode. She fails to lose weight.
  • Digital Destruction: The Disney+ scans are upscaled to HD, despite the show being shot on tape. Thanks to de-interlacing, the frame rate is dropped from the original 50 fps to 25 fps and then further slowed down to 24 fps, resulting in a more film-like presentation.
  • Dodgy Toupee:
    • As noted above, Lewis Kazagger is a Howard Cosell parody, and so of course in one episode it's revealed he's wearing one of these.
    • Zero Mostel does a brief gag with his during his recitation about fears: "Fear of baldness underneath!"
  • The Dog Bites Back: In several later episodes, the Muppets became more savvy to Piggy's violent temper, leading her karate chops to backfire onto her on several occasions. Not to mention Kermit, her most frequent victim, finally hitting Rage Breaking Point and firing her in the Loretta Swit episode.
  • Dog Walks You: The subject of a song by Wayne:
    When I take my dog for a walk, he takes me for a run
    Dragging me along the street is his idea of fun.
    From lamp post to lamp post, we jog along the street
    From tree to tree to fire hydrant. Look out lady watch your feet!
  • Dope Slap: John Cleese delivers one to a mouthy parrot.
  • Doppelgänger Dating: One episode features Waldorf's wife Astoria, who looks like Statler in women's clothes.
  • Double Standard: Piggy gets furious when a female guest star is close to Kermit, thinking there could be romance. However, she has no problem whatsoever hitting on handsome male guest stars.
  • Double Take: Leo Sayer's reaction when Dr. Teeth explains the purpose of the line running across the floor of his dressing room.
  • Drop the Cow: Brian Henson cited that this was a common strategy with Jim: a sketch going nowhere could end with blowing something up, eating something or throwing penguins into the air.
  • Dying Clue: Played for laughs in the Liza Minnelli episode:
    Lew Zealand: Ack! Poison! [collapses to the floor]
    Fozzie: This man was murdered to shut him up!
    Bunsen: No he wasn't, he choked on a fishbone!
    Fozzie: But he yelled, "Poison!"
    Bunsen: Which, I believe, is the French word for fish!
  • Early-Bird Cameo: For a completely different franchise, no less. The Star Wars episode with Mark Hamill marked the first time Luke Skywalker was seen in the Bespin uniform he would wear in The Empire Strikes Back, which premiered three months after the episode aired.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness
    • The show's first season had a different (and far less epic) opening, fewer celebrity interactions with the Muppets, the first two guests were given their own Muppets in their likeness (eliminated in part because of the cost), Gonzo's eyes weren't as expressive, some other characters looked and/or sounded different, etc.
    • The show was also more gag-centric in the first season, due in large part to Jack Burns being the show's head writer in that season. In the second season, when Jerry Juhl replaced Burns as the show's head writer, the series started to become more character-based.
    • One character that needed a lot of development then was Fozzie; the producers used as a bad comedian who is rather obnoxious and is treated rather cruelly in the early stories. However, the seeds of what would make him a great character in later seasons showed in episode 10 with the "Good Grief, the Comedian's a Bear" sketch when you see him struggle to set up a joke with Kermit and is both hilarious and charming with his innocent goofs and his determination to make it work.
      • Fozzie's voice was considerably lower and more gravely the pilots, and his puppet was a slightly different model. When the pilots were reworked and one of Fozzie's sketches still had his old voice in it, they added a Hand Wave to one of the backstage scenes - since the sketch was a Western parody, the lower voice was Fozzie's poor attempt at a John Wayne impression.
    • The Muppet Valentine Show and Sex and Violence were hosted by now-obscure Muppets (Wally and Nigel respectively) instead of Kermit. And at the end of the latter, the camera pulls back to show the Muppeteers running around.
    • Also Miss Piggy in the early episodes was almost unrecognizable.
      • On a related note, in the first season, Miss Piggy was alternately played by both Frank Oz and Richard Hunt, the latter would usually portray her when the former had to play a more prominent character like Fozzie or George the Janitor. This is made even more peculiar in the first episode, in which the final sketch had Oz doing Piggy's speaking voice, and Hunt singing for her.
    • Gonzo originally was a rather pathetic nebbish and had a crush on Ms. Piggy. He soon gained a whole lot of confidence and a girlfriend in Camilla the chicken.
    • Muppet Labs was originally solely hosted by Bunsen. His inventions would usually backfire on himself, and he had a much more frustrated personality. Once the segments became more frequent in Season 2, Bunsen gained both a cheerier, more absent-minded personality, and a loyal, yet long-suffering assistant, Beaker, who quickly became the segment's new guinea pig for testing inventions.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Piggy, during her duet with Rudolf Nureyev, who is clad in nothing but a towel.
  • The Eeyore: Gonzo in the first season and minor character Droop.
  • Emergency Cargo Dump:
    • In one Muppet News segment, The Newsman reports that an airplane was forced to throw out some sports equipment, which falls on The Newsman. In another, an airplane was forced to throw out some musical instruments, leading to a piano falling on The Newsman.
    • In a Pigs in Space segment, the Swinetrek is losing power and Dr. Strangepork tells Link that they need to dump something the weight of one pig. Link considers dumping Miss Piggy.
  • Endangered Soufflé:
    • In a brief bit in the Spike Milligan episode, a tap-dancer's conversation with Kermit comes to an abrupt end when the Swedish Chef rushes up and attacks him because his tapping has collapsed the Chef's soufflé. Leading Spain and Sweden to declare war on each other.
    • In the Marisa Berenson episode, the Swedish Chef makes a wedding cake for Miss Piggy's Real Fake Wedding which is 'light as a feather'. It collapses when the Chef puts the Miss Piggy cake topper on it.
  • End-of-Series Awareness: In the Gene Kelly episode, Scooter reads a prophecy that the world is about to come to a end. The "Pigs in Space" sketch even references the end of the universe. They decide it's not really the end because it was translated wrong, but it was still the end of their run.
  • Epic Fail: The Great Gonzo versus a brick in a wrestling match. Not a Muppet brick, either, just an actual brick. Gonzo gets taken out in the first round.
  • Everybody Cries: Does so in the closing number with Sylvester Stallone and a group of Muppets singing A Bird in a Gilded Cage.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Used frequently, especially if the guest was the butt of the joke of the sketch. Said guest would laugh with everyone else at the punchline to show that the sketch was an act and that there were no hard feelings.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Swedish Chef, the Newsman.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Fozzie is a comedian who constantly struggles for laughs. During the first season, he sometimes thought Scooter had poor taste in jokes, such as in their first meeting when Fozzie complained that Scooter kept giving him bad jokes (to which Kermit asks "how would you know?"), and in a later episode, Scooter talks Fozzie into being "the telephone pole bit", a classic, but after Fozzie finds out what the bit is, he only reluctantly does it.note 
  • Evil Hand: Zero Mostel's hand when he recites the poem "Fears of Zero" virtually becomes a character on its own.
  • Evil Is Petty: Why does Hugga Wugga blast Iggy Wiggy and go after the Sunshine creature? Because they're singing songs other than his.
  • Evolving Credits: The opening titles change with each season.
    • Season 1 uses an entirely different style of opening from the others, lacking the arches. Instead, two lines of Muppets dance across the stage, Kermit comes on-stage mid-credits to introduce the guest, Fozzie tries to make a joke, and the credits end with Gonzo trying to ring the "o" in "show" like a gong.
    • Season 2 has the arches, and that stays broadly the same for the remainder of the show. However, season 3 adds the audience impatiently demanding they just start the show, and a Couch Gag of either Statler and Waldorf doing something, or on rarer occasions one of the cast doing something silly.
    • Season 4 cuts out the second verse ("it's time to put on make-up"), so instead the two lines of Muppets come on singing "it's time to play the music" as one, but season 5 restores the previous version, as well as adding in Statler and Waldorf now singing their own complaint about the show, along with a moment of Lips playing to himself.
  • Exact Words: In one sketch, Sam claims that eventually he will receive his "just deserts" for acting as the moral centre of the show. He's immediately hit by a pie. What was it according to the monster who threw it? "Just dessert."
  • Executive Meddling: Scooter's Uncle J. P. Grosse is an in-universe example.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Literally:
    • Gonzo, after his continual prompting during Fozzie's introduction of Nancy Walker's closing number drives the bear to leave the stage prematurely.
    • The Swedish Chef, ending his attempt to cook in the great outdoors.
  • Expository Theme Tune
  • Expospeak Gag: In a "Pigs in Space" sketch, First Mate Piggy is highly gratified to be told that she alone can "operate the independent heating/unifying element across the horizontal equalizing plane and save the entire crew" — until she works out that this means "iron the laundry".
  • Expy: Beauregard the Janitor is virtually the exact same character as Wendell the Porcupine from Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas , just a different creature.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Most of the larger Muppet monsters have had moments where they ate things that were not, strictly speaking, food, but there's one in particular for whom this is his main characteristic. He has no name, so he's generally referred to, in memory of one of the things he ate on his debut appearance in the Nancy Walker episode, as the Luncheon Counter Monster.
  • Eye Recall: Used in the "Windmills of Your Mind" sketch in the Don Knotts episode.
  • Failure Hero: It is difficult to recall the titular "Pigs in Space" successfully countering a single threat.
  • Faint in Shock: Kermit faints in the John Cleese episode, after nearly being hit by two heavy weights falling from the rafters.
  • Fanservice:
    • For the ladies, Rudolf Nureyev appears wearing only a towel for his part in the "Baby, It's Cold Outside" duet. Miss Piggy appreciates it.
    • For the gents, Raquel Welch appears wearing a very form-showing and revealing costume while singing the show's opening number. The Electric Mayhem encourage it in the cold open.
  • Fake Crossover: A fourth-season episode guest-starred some of the characters from Star Wars, as Luke Skywalker, R2-D2 and C-3PO showed up looking for a kidnapped Chewbacca. The search culminated in a double-length "Pigs in Space" skit where Luke and the droids took over the Swinetrek in order to search for Chewie, eventually landing on the Planet Koozebane where they faced against Dearth Nadir (Gonzo in a Darth Vader costume). Needless to say, this is not in continuity for the Star Wars franchise.
  • Failed a Spot Check: One of Sam's skits has him complaining about theft, utterly oblivious to the thieves coming in and stealing the entire set around him, before they go on to steal him as well.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Wayne and Wanda singing, the Swedish Chef preparing food, Gonzo doing anything.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: A recurring setting is a ballroom with a large elaborate chandelier; sure enough, there is a sketch in which it falls on one of the dancers.
  • Fantastic Comedy: It was not unusual for curses that force everyone to speak Swedish, diseases that cause people to spontaneously turn into chickens, the guest star trying to sell cast members' respective souls to the Devil, and other such fantastical things to be major plot points. (Not even touching the fact that within the context of the show, the Muppets were normally portrayed as real people, not "puppets".)
  • Fantastic Racism: Bruno the security guard is convinced Kermit the Frog is out to get his gold bars for no other reason than Kermit's a frog. He's so obsessed with this he fails to notice everyone else trying to get them.
  • "Far Side" Island: In the episode featuring Cloris Leachman, there's a sketch in which she is washed up on one after a shipwreck.
  • Fashion Hurts: Miss Piggy's shoes in the Carol Channing episode are too small for her, but she wears them anyway because Kermit thinks they look good on her.
  • Fauxreigner: It was lampshaded on at least two occasions that the Swedish Chef is not actually speaking Swedish (presumably in case any really slow viewers were offended on Scandinavia's behalf). His real language is mock Japanese.
  • Flat "What": A flat, disbelieving "What." is a common reaction from Sam the Eagle when the show's wackiness manages to sneak up on him - for instance, when he hears Kermit introduce Chopin's Polonaise in A-flat major... played by Dr. Teeth.
  • Forced Transformation: Linda Lavin makes the mistake of asking Scooter to make her a sandwich before curtain call. Well, he does so.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • The Steve Martin episode focuses on the audition process instead of the resulting show.
    • In the Loretta Lynn episode, the show takes place at a railroad station because the theatre's being fumigated.
    • The Lynn Redgrave episode takes the form of a production of Robin Hood, with only backstage skits breaking from the theme.
    • In the Glenda Jackson episode, pirates hijack the theatre and sail it out to sea (...somehow).
    • During Cloris Leachman's episode, the show is taken over by the pigs — including pig copies of a few of the regulars.
    • The Liza Minnelli episode was a Whodunnit murder mystery.
    • Brooke Shields' episode was a production of Alice in Wonderland. Bonus points to the production team for designing a Jabberwock muppet that was surprisingly faithful to Jon Tenniel's illustrations.
      Brooke: [at the end] I always wanted to star in Alice in Wonderland.
      Kermit: Well, I hope you get the chance someday.
    • The Carol Burnett episode is themed as a dance marathon for the whole show.
    • Marty Feldman's episode riffed on Arabian Nights with Feldman as Scheherazade ("It's a fantasy. You have to use your imagination"). Also toward the end when Fozzie shouts "Open Sesame", assorted Sesame Street Muppets join the main cast.
  • Fortune Teller: James Coco appears as one in a sketch, complete with Crystal Ball.
  • Fountain of Youth: The "Time in a Bottle" skit in the Edgar Bergen episode shows an elderly scientist (a specially-constructed muppet) mixing and drinking a series of youthening potions, knocking several decades off his apparent age with each one. At the end of the skit, the scientist, now looking about 20 years old, takes one more potion, which goes wrong and returns him to his original age.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: A vast majority of characters fit this trope. The few exceptions include Gonzo (three fingers), Kermit (five), and any Muppet (such as the Swedish Chef and Rowlf) with live hands (five, for obvious reasons).
  • Framing Device: The antics backstage. Later seasons made them more story driven, something that was carried over to the comic book adaptation.
  • Franchise Codifier: Although The Muppets had existed for two decades prior, it was The Muppet Show that would truly solidify and redefine it going forward. The show both introduced many new characters and redefined previously existing ones, incorporated a bevy of prominent guest stars, and introduced a distinct blend of zany humor and serious/heartfelt moments. All of this would become the template that later Muppets material would follow up to the present day.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: One "Pigs in Space" sketch has Dr. Strangepork developing an experimental Teleport Gun that he first uses to steal a beverage from First Mate Piggy. The second time he uses it, Link and Piggy are the test subjects, which causes their voices and personalities to change bodies. As a side effect, Dr. Strangepork and Janice's bodies switch with each other, not long before Kermit walks onto the set with the Swedish Chef's voice; the chef, with Kermit's voice, appears immediately afterward to cancel the sketch.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Several of the guests have musical numbers where they're in a forest and have a backing group of animals. Depending on the guest and the song, this may be played straight, or twisted in some way (as in the case of Leo Sayer, whose animal companions spend half the time singing backup and the other half trying to eat him).
  • Fruit of the Loon
  • Funny Afro: In the Victor Borge episode, the Muppets sing "Macho Man" as a competition between Link Heartthrob and Gonzo's sides. Gonzo has chickens for backup, several of which are wearing afros.
  • Funny Background Event: There are a few here and there. One occurs in the Gilda Radner episode. When Gilda is being used as the guinea pig for Honeydew's latest invention, Beaker is trying to contain his laughter. He's probably tickled at the fact that he doesn't have to be the guinea pig for once.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Dudley Moore episode is about a synthesizer named MAMMA. It stands for Music And Mood Management Apparatus.
  • Genre Throwback: To vaudeville, which had been dead for some 50 years. Notice how many non-celebrity musical numbers involve songs from the 20s or earlier.
  • Gentle Giant: In the Julie Andrews episode, she sings one of her songs in a graveyard while trying to dodge several enormous ugly monsters with sharp fangs that keep pursuing her all over the set. It turns out that they're all big fans of hers, and just want her autograph.
  • George Jetson Job Security: In the Loretta Swit episode, Kermit went into an outrage with Piggy about the cover story from Tongue Magazine of the two of them being secretly married. Kermit was so upset so he fired Miss Piggy and asks Loretta if she could replace her.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: When Statler and Waldorf host the show for one night, backstage, Link is freaking out over getting cancelled. Miss Piggy then slaps him, and tells him to grow up pointing out it's only for one show.
  • The Ghost: Fozzie Bear's writer, Gags Beasley, is mentioned in several episodes but never appears on screen in this or any other Muppet production.
  • Gladiator Games: Sylvester Stallone appeared as a gladiator fighting a lion. When the lion realised who he was, it tried to escape, and failing that turned the fight into a rendition of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off".
  • Glasses of Aging: In one U.K. short, there's an aged scientist working in a lab mixing chemicals, singing "If I Could Save Time In A Bottle" as he works. He keeps drinking the potions he's putting together, and aging backwards as he does so; one of the changes that happens as he de-ages is that he takes his glasses off.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Opera singer Beverly Sills hits a high note that breaks Scooter's eyeglasses in the opening of her episode.
  • Grand Finale: While not technically an episode of the series, 1981's The Muppets Go to the Movies was meant to serve as this to The Muppet Show — aside from a few clips from the second Muppet movie, the special is an extended theme episode focused on movie spoofs and tributes, with two guest stars (Lily Tomlin and Dudley Moore).
  • Groin Attack: An over-enthusiastic Scooter and some coffee he got for Kermit results in one. And worse, for Kermit, it's got too much sugar.
  • Groupie Brigade: The Sylvester Stallone episode is the Trope Namer, as Sly's fan club manages to get backstage and wreaks havoc. Kermit refers to them as as Sly's "groupie brigade".
  • Gun Twirling: The villainous Bullets Barker in the Western-themed Roy Rogers episode.
  • Half-Hour Comedy
  • Hamster-Wheel Power: Dr. Honeydew resorts to Beaker Wheel Power to light the studio when the electricity fails in the Buddy Rich episode.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Parodied In-Universe. In the Harry Belafonte episode, Fozzie Bear decides to script everything so as not to leave anything to chance. When Kermit checks his script for one scene, it simply says, "Rolf and Lew do something funny".
  • High-Dive Hijinks: In the Danny Kaye episode, the Flying Zucchini Brothers attempt a daredevil high dive into a bucket of water. While they're on their way down, the theatre's janitor notices somebody's left a bucket of water on stage and helpfully tidies it away.
  • Hollywood Density: Zigzagged as the joke demands in Shirley Bassey's episode, with the gold bars. Link and a gang of pigs have no problem lifting $50 million worth in gold bars while Shirley's back is turned, but Beaker has exactly the difficulty you really would just trying to carry one.
  • Horny Vikings: In the Roger Moore episode, a bunch of Vikings ransack a village while singing "In the Navy" by the Village People. Kermit introduces the Vikings as "cruel, heartless Scandinavian marauders", and an offended Swedish Chef clonks him with a skillet until Kermit backpedals and describes them as "gentle, quaint, fun-loving old charmers."
  • Hostile Show Takeover: When Glenda Jackson guests, she becomes a pirate and hijacks the theater as if it were a ship.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The "Veterinarian's Hospital" and "At the Dance" sketches, and to a lesser extent the entire show.
  • Hypocritical Humor: One sketch has Sam giving a commentary in which he denounces the efforts "namby-pamby conservationists" to shackle American industry "for the sake of a few insignificant animals". He then pulls out a list of endangered species, which he begins to read from mockingly. When he notices that the American bald eagle is one of the animals on the list, he beats a hasty retreat muttering, "This list is now inoperative."
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: In the Jonathan Winters episode, with a gypsy curse having rendered the entire cast only able to speak (the Muppetverse version of) Swedish sans the Newsman, the gypsy who placed the curse on the show introduces the final act (three trolls dancing to "English Country Garden"):
    Gypsy: And now, the closing number! [waves her arms Kermit style] Yayyy! [addressing camera as she leaves the stage] I always wanted to do that.
  • I Am Not Spock: As far as the show is concerned, Christopher Reeve is Superman. He doesn't seem to mind, though. (It comes in handy when an angered Miss Piggy tries her famous pig-fu on him.)invoked
  • I Have This Friend: In the Teresa Brewer episode, Piggy goes on a diet, she asks Brewer for advice: "I have this friend who is absolutely devastating, except she has an itty-bitty weight problem..."
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • Zero Mostel almost gets eaten.
    • John Cleese's agent does get eaten.
    • In the Candace Bergen episode, it is implied that the previous guest was eaten.
    • And the Muppets are constantly eating each other: one of the creepier instances of this was a Muppet eating another, then singing "I've Got You Under My Skin" — while the smaller Muppet, still alive, struggles to escape. (And occasionally takes over the song for a line or two: "I've tried so hard not to give in...")
  • Impact Silhouette: Rudolf Nureyev's close encounter with Piggy ends with him fleeing and leaving a man-shaped hole in the wall.
  • Improvised Weapon: In one episode there's a sketch featuring a performance of the William Tell Overture that ends with the cellist firing the bow from his cello to shoot an apple off Beauregard's head.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Crazy Harry's appearances are usually presaged by another character making the mistake of uttering one of these.
    Kermit: Good work, guys, that sketch was really dynamite!
    Crazy Harry: Did somebody say "dynamite"? [BOOM!]
  • Incessant Music Madness: The "Salute to All Nations" episode ends with a rendition of "It's a Small World" that keeps going and going and going. It can be heard in the background as Kermit does the goodbyes at the end, and then swells again, drowning out the closing theme music.
  • Incoming Ham: Mark Hamill's episode begins with him smashing into the dressing room through the wall. He does not get more restrained from there.
  • Indecisive Parody: The show always walked the line between being a full-blown parody of variety shows and a unique example of one. Due to the whole "theater" format being something they were given as a mandate, they ultimately decided to play it like an Affectionate Parody of Old Vaudeville style entertainment, giving the series a timeless feel that's helped it to feel far less dated than the majority of other mid 70s-early 80s variety series.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: In the episode where the theatre is being fumigated and they're performing in a train station, Piggy tries to extract a wine bottle from a handy box at the beginning of a Veterinarian's Hospital sketch.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: In a puppetry variant, played straight with The Country Trio, who were based on Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Jerry Nelson themselves, right down to their clothing.
  • Insult Backfire:
    • Sam: You, sir, are a demented, sick, degenerate, barbaric, naughty freako!
      Alice Cooper: Why, thank you.
    • Maid Marian (Lynn Redgrave): You black-hearted, villainous swine!
      The Sheriff of Nottingham (Gonzo): Oh, you silver-tongued flatterer.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: When Fozzie has to share the comedy stage with Wally Whoopee, who keeps interrupting his acts and acts like a jerkass to Fozzie, he then appears to Throw the Dog a Bone and offer to let Fozzie spend the weekend at his ranch, which Fozzie thinks sounds nice, until Wally says that he wants him there to be his rug ("my usual rug is at the cleaner!").
  • Karma Houdini: Gonzo somehow manages to avoid Carol Burnett's wrath, despite being the emcee of that episode's hilariously brutal dance marathon.
  • Kayfabe: The Muppets have a long-standing tradition in appearances outside the show and in public events. Their performers are never seen and the humans interact with the puppets like regular people. This means that performers need to have really good improv skills in order to say unscripted lines that would be appropriate for their characters.
  • Knife-Throwing Act:
    • Leslie Uggams inadvertantly becomes part of one as Lew Zealand, Boomerang Fish Thrower gets carried away and starts throwing swordfish. The scene ends with Leslie surrounded by swordfish in a Knife Outline.
    • Gonzo and Peter Sellers staged one in his dressing room, with Sellers naturally dressed as Inspector Clouseau. (Clouseau: "Fifteen seconds [to curtain]? I should live so long!")
    • The Gladys Knight episode had a knife throwing act with Fozzie as the unwitting target. Unfortunately, the theatre roof was away at the repair shop, letting a thick fog and the knife thrower, who aimed with his hearing, was randomly throwing knives at the slightest sounds while everyone was ducking quietly for their lives.
  • "Knock Knock" Joke: In the Sex and Violence pilot, Theodore Roosevelt tells one to his fellow presidents on Mount Rushmore:
    Roosevelt: I've got one. Knock knock.
    Lincoln: Who's there?
    Roosevelt: Roosevelt.
    Lincoln: Roosevelt who?
    Roosevelt: Rose felt nice, but Gladys felt nicer.
    Jefferson: Very droll. Did you get that one, George?
    Washington: No.
    Washington: Knock knock.
    Lincoln: Who's there?
    Washington: George.
    Lincoln: George who?
    Washington: George Washington.
    Roosevelt: Hmmm.
    Jefferson: I see.
    Lincoln: Very good, George.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Sam the Eagle, on the subject of Culture. When Rudolf Nureyev visited, Sam gushes that Nureyev is one of his favourite opera singersnote . In the episode guest-starring Lynn Redgrave, Sam pronounces himself a great fan of William Shakespeare — why, he's seen The Sound of Music at least a dozen timesnote  — and is greatly saddened to hear that Shakespeare is deadnote .
  • The Lady's Favour: In the Pearl Bailey episode, the finale is a jousting scene with Floyd and Gonzo as the knights. Floyd gets a favour from Janice; Gonzo gets a favour from Camilla.
  • Lamarck Was Right: Statler babysits his toddler grandson in the Elke Sommer episode, and we learn that he's inherited the same tendency to riff.
    Waldorf: You know, I don't think this show is suitable for children.
    Grandson: I don't think this show is suitable for anybody.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: All over the place, especially, but not exclusively, when Fozzie is involved.
    Roy Clark: Y'know what they call that kind of joke in Virginia?
    Kermit: Bad?
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the Rich Little episode, Kermit tells Gonzo he's never heard of anything as ridiculous as a dancing chicken. Gonzo counters with, "How about a talking frog?"
  • Lampshade Wearing: Beaker attempts the disguise version in the Elke Sommer episode in an attempt to get out of a particularly hazardous Muppet Labs sketch. It works right up until Beauregard tries to plug him in.
  • Large Ham: The cast in general qualify; but Miss Piggy qualifies in more ways than one.
    • Gonzo also cranks it up a notch or two.
    • If the celebrity guest stars aren't keeping up with the Muppets in the scenery chewing department, then they're just flat-out doing it wrong. Exhibit A: Mark Hamill impersonating Kermit and Fozzie, followed by a bout of tapdancing. Exhibit B: Roger Moore judo-chopping a laser-toting fluffy bunny while singing "Talk to the Animals".
    • Arguably the only guest star to out-ham the Muppets was Zero Mostel, whose right pointer finger on its own out-hams several of the Muppets.
  • Larynx Dissonance: Miss Piggy.note 
  • Late to the Punchline: The George Burns episode begins with The Teaser, featuring a silly "burns" pun, followed by the title sequence and then Kermit's opening monologue — and then Waldorf gets the pun.
  • Laugh Track: Used (much to the annoyance of Henson & co.) in nearly every episode, not only for on-stage segments, where it can be understood as the laughter of the audience (who are all Muppets themselves) watching the show in the Muppet Theater, but in the backstage scenes. An exception is the Steve Martin episode, which features auditions for the show-within-the-show instead of a performance, and the only laughter heard is that of the Muppet performers. (Or at least that was the original intention. In the end, it turned out that Richard Hunt's laughter was so loud, they had to put in a bit of a laugh track anyway.)
  • Laughing at Your Own Jokes:
    • Fozzie does this while doing his stand-up act. He is often the only one laughing.
    • Half the humor of "Veterinarian's Hospital" is Rowlf cracking eye-searingly bad jokes. The rest is him mugging outrageously after each one.
    • Christopher Reeve joins in when he replaces Rowlf for his show. Complete with mugging.
  • Left the Background Music On: During the cowboy sketch in the Bob Hope episode.
  • Let's Meet the Meat: Indirectly. In one episode, Kermit has an interview with the Koozebanian Phoob, a creature with the misfortune of being the most delicious creature on Koozebane. Their ability to evolve into different forms in order to blend in is the only thing keeping them from being eaten into extinction.
  • Let's See YOU Do Better!: The Hal Linden episode had Statler and Waldorf run the show themselves while Kermit and Fozzie watch from the balcony.
    Kermit: Y'know, I don't miss me at all.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: John Cleese and his parrot in the "Pigs in Space" sketch, including a "You don't love me anymore!"/"Of course I love you!" exchange.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: One could argue the Muppets fall under this as most Muppets are some species of animal, but there's also the Swedish Chef, Statler, and Waldorf who all seem to be human and on equal footing as the animal Muppets.
  • Literal-Minded: The butt of many, many of the show's jokes. Beauregard is perhaps the most recurring example.
    • C-3PO, as per the usual, in the Star Wars episode.
      Luke Skywalker: Threepio, you cover that exit!
      C-3PO: [to Kermit] What shall I cover it in?
  • Logo Joke: UK viewers and any others who've only seen episodes which end with the ATV Colour Production/ITC in-credit logos might have wondered why Zoot blows a note on his saxophone at the end of each episode and then looks inside it in surprise; on the initial US prints, he blows a bubble which turns out to be the HIT (Henson International Television) logo. A recap of the various end variants is here.
  • Loser Protagonist: Although Kermit's company is regularly able to get world famous A-list stars to appear in their theatre, the company is continually insulted, belittled and harassed by outsiders as nothing performers.
    • Occasionally subverted, with guests such as Jean Stapleton who are very happy to be spending time with the Muppets.
  • Mad Bomber: Crazy Harry.
  • Made of Explodium: Henson's usual modus operandi when it came to ending a scene.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Bunsen Honeydew is a mild example of this.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Dr. Honeydew's lab is generally too clean and functional to qualify, but there's an example, with lots and lots of elaborate glassware full of colorful bubbling liquids, in the "Time in a Bottle" sketch.
  • Magnificent Moustaches of Mexico: At one point during his episode, John Cleese is dressed in a Mexican mariachi costume, complete with a magnificent false moustache — worn over his real moustache.
  • Mandatory Line: Occasionally Nurse Janice will chime in during a Veterinarian's Hospital sketch to say she only has the one line... and usually goes on to say more.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: Happens to Gonzo in the Victor Borge episode. His reflection complains that Gonzo does ludicrous things.
  • May the Farce Be with You
  • The Meaning of Life: A "Pigs in Space" skit features the Swinetrek approaching the edge of the Universe, beyond which lies The Meaning of Life. Unfortunately, it's interrupted by a Muppet News Flash to announce that they're close to discovering The Meaning of Life. When we return to the sketch, it's over, and the crew missed it as well (it was lunchtime, and apparently swill stroganoff is more important than the Meaning of Life). The narrator then reveals that he saw it, but when pressed further, he chants "I know something you don't know!"
  • Meat-O-Vision: Played with in the Pearl Bailey episode's "Pigs in Space" skit — the explorers, hopelessly lost in space, start seeing each other as food... because of a Negative Space Wedgie that's actually turning their heads into food.
  • Metallicar Syndrome: Referenced when Sam complains that guest star Elton John "dresses like a stolen car."
  • Minsky Pickup: In the theme song intro.
  • Mocky Mouse: Mickey Moose from the episode guest-starring Petula Clark is a blatant parody of Mickey Mouse. Aside from the name only being one letter off, he's also friends with a duck named Ronald and has a theme song similar to the Mickey Mouse Club March.
  • Money, Dear Boy: An in-universe example:
    Nigel: Okay, Zoot, it's time for your solo. Have you looked over the music?
    Zoot: Do you expect me to play this, man?
    Nigel: What else would you do with it?
    Zoot: If I had a match, I could put it out of its misery.
    Nigel: Trust me, Zoot, this is a great little number.
    Zoot: What if I refuse to play it?
    Nigel: What if I get a new sax player?
    Zoot: ...What if you and I just get right down to it and do this little beauty, huh?
    Nigel: Good thought.
    Zoot: Forgive me, Charlie Parker, wherever you are.
  • Moral Guardians: Sam the Eagle is a parody of moral guardian types and expressed Strawman Conservative sentiments on occasion, such as decrying nudity while wearing no clothing and endangered species protection while being a bald eagle. He's also the one who gets to introduce Wayne and Wanda (promoting them as "Normal"), but it seems that Wayne and Wanda almost never get to perform their songs in their entirety as bad luck plagues them throughout.
  • Morphic Resonance: In the Roger Miller episode, the cast is swept by an outbreak of cluckitis, a disease which turns the afflicted into chickens. The Swedish Chef retains his mustache and eye-covering eyebrows. Lew Zealand, Rowlf, Piggy, Floyd and Janice keep their respective eyes; Kermit does, as well, and even has his pointy collar. Only the main cast retains Morphic Resonance, however, and some don't even get that: extras and even some of the main cast turn into indistinguishable chickens. Maybe they'll have a hat or necklace, which they keep.
  • The Movie: Creatively called The Muppet Movie, it was so popular that five more theatrical features followed over the next 20 years:
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Wayne and Wanda's running gag. They would be introduced to sing a sentimental old song, only for some disaster such as falling scenery to bring the number to a halt in short order.
  • Mythology Gag: Some of the sketches and songs performed on The Muppet Show were initially performed on programs like Sesame Street, The Ed Sullivan Show, Sam and Friends, and others. Notable sketches of this caliber include "Mahna Mahna", "Coffee Break Machine", "The Glow-Worm" and "Hugga Wugga".

    Tropes N-Z 
  • Name-Tron: In the Harry Belafonte episode, the "Pigs in Space" sketch revolves around Dr Strangepork's new invention, the Dissolvatron.
  • Narrator All Along: In the Gene Kelly episode, we finally see the narrator for Veterinarian's Hospital and Pigs in Space: a light blue Whatnot Muppet wearing a suit and glasses.
  • Ninja Prop: The ping pong ball in The Coconut Effect
  • No Fourth Wall: The fact that the series takes place on a stage show seems like justification for the lack of such... until you realise that the Muppets constantly break it backstage. And the audience keeps laughing at everything said and occurring off stage, even though there's absolutely no way they'd be seeing or hearing them.
    • Even Statler and Waldorf are no exception to this, as they once ask why they continue to watch the show, then immediately asks the viewers, "Why do you watch this?"
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: Mostly result in Ash Face.
  • Noodle Implements: Gonzo once attempts to perform an act using a torch, a tire swing and a cow. Exactly what he was planning to do with these is never shown, as he was booed off stage before he could start, but he had originally planned to use a typewriter instead of the cow (they didn't have a spare typewriter he could use).
  • Noodle Incident: On the episode with Loretta Lynn, Scooter tells Fozzie to use the joke about the electricians and the polar bear, saying, "I laughed for days." Sadly, the middle of the joke is lost due to a passing train...
    • The Sandy Duncan episode: "You never heard of the banana sketch?!"
  • No Peripheral Vision: In one "At the Dance" segment, one dancer is surprised when her partner, Blue Frackle, tells her that he has three feet, and at the end of the segment, she asks him if he really has three feet, which he proves by lifting them all up off the ground (and falling). She would have been able to see those three feet if she'd just looked down, and should have been able to see that he had three feet before they started dancing (unless they were really close to each other when they picked each other to dance).
  • Not So Above It All: As it turns out, putting Bert from Sesame Street into a tuxedo with top hat and cane and putting him on stage will lead to him singing (In this case, "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific). Then he realises what he did, and deflatedly asks Ernie to take him home.
  • No Sense of Humor: Sam the Eagle.
  • Obligatory Joke: Helen Reddy makes the joke about being "ready or not", figuring she'd beat the Muppets to the punch.
  • Obvious Beta: In-universe, any of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's inventions.
  • Offscreen Crash: Many, varied and usually hilarious.
  • Oh, Crap!: Plenty. Beaker's face was even MADE to always be in shock.
    • In Alice Cooper's episode, Kermit gets partway through the usual introduction done for every episode before stopping in terror at the guest being Alice Cooper.
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: The setting of a Wayne and Wanda sketch, wherein the two sing "Row, Row, Row". It's one of few of their sketches that make it to the chorus... and then the boat springs a leak.
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: In the Marisa Berenson episode, Piggy plots marriage to Kermit and tells Berenson that her wedding will feature "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something green".
  • Older Than They Look: In the Phyllis Diller episode, Hilda claims that she's actually 35.
    Scooter: Is it true that Hilda's really 35?
    Fozzie: Only around the waist!
  • Once per Episode:
  • One Cast Member per Cover: The DVD releases did this, with Season 1 being a picture of Kermit's torso, 2 being Miss Piggy, and 3 being Fozzie Bear. Season 4 would have followed the trend and been Gonzo, but it went unreleased.
  • Only One Name: Gonzo, Scooter, Sweetums...
  • Only Sane Employee: Arguably the modern inspiration of the trope.
  • Orphaned Punchline: The Sex and Violence pilot has Statler telling Waldorf one of these. "...And so the waiter says, 'Excuse me, but you're dancing with my umbrella!'"
  • Pants-Free: In a "Muppet Newsflash" sketch, the newsreader reads a report about a newsreader who forgot to put on his pants before going on air — then realises that the newsreader in question is himself.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In the Mac Davis episode, Bunsen wears disguises to hide himself from the many Beaker clones (It Makes Sense in Context). His first disguise is a trench coat, hat, and special glasses with a fake nose and mustache attached, which fools Kermit, who didn't think he looked like Bunsen, and at the end, Bunsen is dressed as Beaker, whom both Kermit and the various Beakers don't recognize as Bunsen, while Mac does notice he's wearing a disguise. His costume is just a red-haired wig and fake eyes and nose, otherwise it looks like Bunsen.
  • Parental Bonus: Tons, which was part of the show's point. Henson and Juhl saw it as a show aimed at everyone watching, not just children or adults.
  • Police Are Useless: The entirety of the "Bear on Patrol" sketches. Well, when you've only got two cops, one of whom is the dim-witted Fozzie and the other is the even more dim-witted Link Hogthrob, failure is pretty much the only option available.
  • Precision F-Strike: Or rather one for The Muppets: In the Mac Davis episode, Davis sings the song "Hard to Be Humble", which features several uses of the phrase, "hell of a guy".
  • Product Placement: Containers of Kentucky Fried Chicken can be seen in the "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" musical number.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • The introduction to every "Pigs in Space" sketch has the narrator dramatically announce that the show's name is "PIIIIIGS. IIIIIN. SPAAAAAAAACE!"
    • Also, the end of the theme song. "This. Is. What. We. Call. The. Muppet. SHOOOOOOOOW!!!!"
  • Punny Name: Journalist Fleet Scribbler's name is a play on Fleet Street, the street most British national newspapers operated from at the release date of the episode he appears in.
  • Re-Cut: The middle inserts (known as "The U.K. Spot") were never shown in North America until syndication on Nickelodeon.
  • Running Gag: Lots of them.
    • Muppets and guest stars alike will often throw an Aside Glance and comment "Cute. Cute joke." whenever they're somewhat amused with whatever just happened. Mostly contained to the first season.
    • The ballroom sketches often have Animal dancing with someone, and on the word "dip" smashing them against the ground.
  • Saw a Woman in Half: Fozzie attempts this trick in the Sylvester Stallone episode, but is unable to find a volunteer and has to settle for a robot in a blonde wig. He ends up cutting into its main power cable, giving himself an electric shock and making the robot explode (for the second time in the episode).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The Swedish Chef has a live ducknote  and announces he plans on making pressed duck by using a clothes iron on it. The duck runs away, then runs the other direction, picks up the iron in its beak, drops it on the Swedish Chef's head, and then flies away laughing.
  • Security Cling: The Pigs in Space sketch where Link and Miss Piggy explore the alien planet Koozebane has the exaggerated leap-into-his-arms version — but it's dashing hero Link who leaps into Piggy's arms, much to her disgust.
  • Self-Deprecation: Statler and Waldorf exist for this, in-show. Just about every on-stage number is punctuated by them making some sort of punny criticism of it.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Fleet Scribbler, an aggressive gossip reporter introduced in season 2. While the British press loved the character, the writers quickly tired of him and he was dropped after just a handful of appearances.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Occasional mentions of Sesame Street, aka "that cute little children's show with the puppets".
    • Floyd Pepper is patterned after Sergeant Pepper. He also has pink hair, making him a Pink Floyd.
    • Dr. Teeth is a dead-on impersonation of Dr. John.
    • Animal was allegedly inspired by Keith Moon.
    • Miss Piggy originally had the last name "Lee".
    • Marvin Suggs and his Muppaphones is a big shout-out to Monty Python's "Mouse Organ", and in some ways is even more twisted, as unlike the mice, the Muppaphones were clearly sentient and expressed how much they hated being in a painful act.
  • The Show Must Go On: Every episode is Kermit and co. trudging through one mishap after another to put on their variety show, regardless of whatever misfortune befalls them.
  • The Show Must Go Wrong: A lot of the humor revolves around the some (if not all) of the sketches failing spectacularly.
    • When Fozzie had to take over hosting duties when Kermit was out sick. Part of the theater got destroyed in one sketch, the audience almost left when nothing was on stage, two sketches ran during the same time, and Fozzie couldn't remember the guest star's name (it was Nancy Walker).
    • During the first season, Gonzo couldn't get through a sketch without getting booed off the stage.
  • Show Within a Show: The stage show itself, and within that the recurring sketches.
  • Sick Episode: Kermit calls in sick in the Nancy Walker episode, leaving Fozzie in charge. Kermit shows up at the end of the show though.
  • Signature Laugh: Several, including Statler and Waldorf's "DOOOHOHOHOHOHO!".
  • Silly Love Songs: The "Robin Hood" episode includes a love scene between Robin Hood (Kermit) and Maid Marian (guest star Lynn Redgrave) in which Marian brings up the fact that he's a frog and she isn't, and he sings a song to reassure her that he loves her anyway.
    Your eyes are not bulgy, you don't live in a swamp,
    You don't hop, or turn somersaults,
    Your feet are not webbed, and you never eat flies.
    (I'm sorry to dwell on your faults.)
    And yet I still love you, I always will love you
    You shine in my mind like a dream
    And yet I still love you, I always will love you
    Although you are not even green.
  • Sketch Comedy
  • Slave Galley: In the Elke Sommer episode, the closing number is Sommer singing "Row, Row, Row" in a galley, with the galley slaves as the backing chorus. Animal plays the role of the guy beating time on a big drum, which causes problems when he gets bored halfway through the song and starts upping the tempo.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The Muppets franchise in general is clearly on the optimistic end of the scale.
  • Smoking Barrel Blowout: The villainous Bullets Barker in the Western-themed Roy Rogers episode.
  • Snapback: In one first season episode, the Electric Mayhem threatens to, and eventually quits, leaving Rowlf to have do the closing theme by himself. By the next episode, they're already back.
  • Sneeze Interruption: When Kermit gets sick, Fozzie fills in for him but bumbles things up. Kermit tries to say the sign-off line but all he can say is, "We'll see you next time on the—*achoo*!".
  • Sneeze of Doom: In the Leo Sayer episode, Piggy attempts to recite "The Daffodils", with incidental music by Rowlf, but the flowers decorating the set cause a massive sneezing fit that results in parts of the set, and even Rowlf and his piano, being blown away. Then the audience sneezes as one, blowing Miss Piggy away.
  • Soap Within a Show: The "Veterinarians' Hospital" sketches were a Soap Opera parody (specifically of General Hospital), complete with Soap Opera Organ Score.
  • Sore Loser: The lead-in for a drum battle between Animal and Buddy Rich has this.
    Buddy: He looks like a sore loser.
    Floyd: [holding Animal's leash] If this chain breaks, you'll be a sore winner.
    • Sure enough, at the end when Buddy does some epic drumming, Animal rage quits by smashing a drum over Buddy's head.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Piggy and Cheryl Ladd practicing karate and trashing Ladd's dressing room to the tune of "I Enjoy Being a Girl", a song that extols the virtues of traditional femininity and being a Proper Lady.
  • Sour Supporter: Statler and Waldorf. There every single show.
    • Also Sam, who, despite how particular he is about the acts still, has no intention of leaving (and Kermit has no intention of firing him).
  • Space Pirates: One attacks the Swinetrek during the "Pigs in Space" sketch in the John Cleese episode. Technically just a normal pirate (complete with Hook Hand and Pirate Parrot) who's very, very lost.
  • El Spanish "-o": In one episode, the Porcelino brothers call their muppet pyramid "el pyramido". (The real word is "pirámide".)
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: In the Marisa Berenson episode, Piggy nearly manages to trap Kermit into marrying her. During the ceremony, the priest does the "speak now or forever hold your peace" bit and there is a long, long pause while Kermit looks around hopefully, but nobody says anything.
  • Special Edition Title:
    • The Loretta Lynn episode takes place at a railroad station instead of the theater, so the opening and closing were changed to go along with it. Though it was less "Special Edition" and more "Stylistic Suck", with off-key opening and closing themes with mangled lyrics—"this week's sort of railroad-stational"—and a (badly) hand-drawn Muppet Show sign.
    • Several episodes have normal titles but specially recorded closing credits to reflect the events of the show. These include the Harry Belafonte and Spike Milligan episodes, where the final song continues over the credits; an episode where the band quits, leaving Rowlf to play the closing music on his own; the Roger Miller episode, where the band (along with nearly everybody else) gets turned into chickens; and the Mac Davis episode had Beaker cloned, so the episode ends with Beakers replacing all the band members for the end song, as well as replacing Statler and Waldorf's typical end comments.
  • Spinoff Sendoff: In one of the pilots, Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street show up to perform a skit, where Bert worries that their little kids' show comedy wouldn't cut it on the new show meant for older audiences.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: Played for laughs (naturally).
    The Newsman: Reports are coming in from all over the world that television news reporters are blowing up! These unlikely rumors have—
  • Stealth Pun: Floyd, the house band's bassist, is pink. And then there's his full name, Sergeant Floyd Pepper.
  • Sticky Situation: In the Gilda Radner episode, Dr. Honeydew's superglue spills all over the stage and characters keep getting glued to everything. By the end of the show, everyone is stuck in one big ball.
  • The Stinger: Provided each week by Statler and Waldorf, followed by Zoot playing the final note on his sax, which would occasionally do something strange.
    • The Kay Ballad episode which has with the Electric Mayhem (and the rest of the orchestra, minus Rowlf) quitting and ends with Nigel the Conductor conducting Rowlf playing the theme solo on piano also gives them the Stinger.
    Rowlf: Well, you must admit Nigel, this does sound a little square.
    Nigel: (Not Amused) Play, hound... play!
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: When Statler and Waldorf get a chance to host the show, Kermit and Fozzie both like the opening number, with Fozzie commenting that it's the kind of act Kermit would have booked and Kermit wonders if they made a mistake. In the next backstage scene, Statler dislikes how the act turns out and says that's the kind of act Kermit would have booked.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Gonzo is straight, and usually into chickens, but when Big Bird guest stars, Gonzo can't stop being attracted to him.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Invoked by Fozzie in a sketch in the Roy Rogers episode, where he plays a deputy trying to deal with a gunslinger who's come to kill the sheriff. When the gunslinger realises that the sheriff must be hiding in the somewhere nearby, Fozzie nervously denies that he's in the overnight cell, then locks the gunslinger in when he goes to check.
  • Swapped Roles:
    • In the Hal Linden episode, Statler and Waldorf takes over as the host, while Kermit and Fozzie sit on their balcony.
    • In the Steve Martin episode, Statler and Waldorf audition for the show with an old fashioned song-and-dance number. Fozzie sits in the balcony and heckled them.
  • Take Our Word for It: Kermit does a virtuoso display of tap-dancing to the tune of "Happy Feet" — filmed, like nearly everything he does, entirely from the waist up.
  • Take That!: Statler and Waldorf raised this to an art form. If they aren't being snide about the actors on stage, they're aiming at the (theater) audience. And get popcorn thrown at them a couple of times. There's a reason that them doing their schtick on a couch at home didn't work so well.
  • Taken for Granite: Tony Randall turns Miss Piggy to stone and the rest of the gang can't resist the opportunity to crack all the rock jokes they know in her face, including the trope name.
  • Talking Animal: Putting aside the main cast including a frog, a bear, pigs, dogs, and the like, the non-anthropomorphic critters that show up from time to time are often also fully capable of speech, sometimes even getting full musical numbers to themselves. In fact, the only animals that never seem to get any actual dialogue are the chickens.
  • The Teaser: Every episode after the first season has a brief one featuring the guest star preparing backstage. By season five, the most common cold opening is the guest star greeting Pops, the elderly stage doorman.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Swedish Chef ends up "cutting" a (sentient, Japanese) cake in half with a "cakenschmooscher" (baseball bat). Of course, the cake is more crushed than sliced, but by that point the Chef doesn't really care too much...
  • This Banana is Armed: One sketch features "Kid" Fozzie, an Old West-style criminal whose entire arsenal consists of fruits and vegetables.
    Bartender: I-I'm sorry, Kid, I didn't know the pickles were loaded!
  • This Is Gonna Suck: When the theater's damaged roof has been taken for repairs:
Gladys Knight: Yeah, but I just heard the weather forecast.
Kermit: Rain?
Knight: No. Snow.
Kermit: [whimpers]
Fozzie: [facepaw]
  • 2-for-1 Show: The show is evenly split between the variety acts of the eponymous shows and the backstage story, with the two affecting each other.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In the Tony Randall episode, Miss Piggy gets turned into a stone statue. In Pigs in Space, when Link and Dr. Strangepork manage to turn her back to normal, she threatens them over what they had said about her, which results in them turning her back. In the closing act, Scooter tells Tony Randall that he found the spell to turn her back, which is saying "pigskin". Piggy gets offended by his use of the word, even though it was said to bring her back to normal, and karate chops him. And even though Tony is the one who turned her that way in the first place. Not a good night for those who had helped Piggy.
  • The Unintelligible: Beaker and the Swedish Chef. The Chef slips just enough English into his monologues to give the viewer an idea where he's going ("Now ve takin ana boomin de shootin!"), while Beaker just squeaks. Note that Dr. Honeydew has no trouble understanding Beaker, regardless.
    • Beaker, The Chef and Animal's rendition of "Danny Boy" is hauntingly beautiful though...
  • Variety Show: Duh.
  • Vaudeville Hook: Deployed in several episodes, including multiple times during the episode that showed the audition process for the show.
  • Verbal Tic Name: Mahna Mahna, who can only utter his name, grunt and scat-sing.
  • [Verb] This!: Miss Piggy usually does this before attacking somebody.
  • Vetinari Job Security: Whenever Kermit isn't around to run the show, things quickly get out of hand — moreso, anyway.
  • Visual Pun: The show practically ran on these. No Muppet could use an expression without triggering one. Often, especially in the "backstage" parts, the Visual Puns would involve Muppets who walked onscreen just to make the Visual Pun, then promptly disappeared, never to be seen again.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Statler and Waldorf. You can tell that they can't live without each other, although they constantly heckle, make fun of, insult and sometimes even hit each other. Fozzie and Kermit also count.
  • The Voiceless: Rizzo the Rat, in his early appearances. According to the book Of Muppets and Men, this was because his actor, Steve Whitmire, while a fantastic puppeteer, was in the beginning reluctant to do voices. Whitmire got more confident in towards the end, and Rizzo began getting speaking roles, evolving into the Brooklyn-accented Deadpan Snarker we know him as today.
  • Walk This Way: In the "Pigs in Space" sketch where Fozzie stands in as one of the crew.
  • Wallet Moths: In the Zero Mostel episode, when Kermit checks the theatre's cashbox, he comments "Three moths and a washer... More than we usually have."
  • "Wanted!" Poster: In the "Bear on Patrol" sketches, the walls of the police station are decorated with Wanted posters for the members of the band.
  • Wealth's in a Name: Scooter's rich uncle who owns the theater is named J.P. Grosse (as in "gross earnings" or similar).
  • Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: One sketch had guest star Avery Schreiber engaged in an insult duel with Sweetums.
  • Wheel o' Feet: In the Don Knotts episode, there's a creature running around the Theatre — and when he stops running, it turns out it's not just a movement illusion, he really does have a wheel of feet. In the same episode, the creature performs (appropriately) "Windmills of Your Mind" ("Like a circle in a spiral/Like a wheel within a wheel—").
  • Who's on First?:
    • When Teresa Brewer, who had a number one hit beginning "Put another nickel in / In the nickelodeon", guest-stars on the show, there's a bit that begins with Animal finding a jukebox and inserting a nickel:
      Floyd: Hey, now we'll really hear some music!
      Animal: Yeah... what music?
      Floyd: "Put Another Nickel In".
      [Animal inserts another nickel]
      Animal: I put nickel in. What music?
      [and so on]
    • A version of this happens in "Veterinarian's Hospital" in the Andy Williams episode, when a question starts about Doctor Who and Witch Doctor. Piggy even lampshades how it's like Abbott and Costello.
    • Fozzie and Kermit have agreed that upon Fozzie's saying "hear" at a certain point in his act, Kermit is to rush on-stage and yell, "Good grief, the comedian's a bear!!" Except that Fozzie naturally keeps saying "here" throughout his routine, causing Kermit to keep rushing out before his cue. The confusion escalates until Fozzie comes up with a different prompt.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: Muppet Sports host Lewis Kazagger has a moment of this when covering the National Wig Racing Championships; he turns to someone off-camera and asks incredulously "Wig racing?"
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Tony Randall tries one of these disguises in the cold open to his episode, putting on a trenchcoat, hat and sunglasses, and affecting a fake English accent and claiming to be a messenger. He tells Pops that Tony Randall can't appear on the show, as he's come down with a rare disease. Pops sees through the disguise, to Randall's disappointment.
  • Wild Take: Kermit is provoked into one of these on occasion by his crazy employees, with lots of highly-amusing arm-flailing. "Will you get outta here!"
  • William Telling:
    • In the Alice Cooper episode, a William Tell routine was playing onstage, but all that is seen are the stray arrows falling backstage. At the end, the boy walks offstage with an arrow through his head. "You know me. In one ear and out the other."
    • In the Sylvester Stallone episode, an orchestra performs the William Tell Overture and finishes with the cellist firing the bow from his cello to shoot an apple off Beauregard's head.
  • Wraparound Background:
    • When a Wheel o' Feet critter sings "The Windmills of Your Mind" in the Don Knotts episode.
    • During the cowboy sketch in the Bob Hope episode, as Cowboy Bob rides his horse across the lone prairie.
    • In the Loretta Lynn episode, as Kermit and Gonzo travel by handcar.
    • The "Jogging" item in the Danny Kaye episode and the the "Dog Walk" item in the immediately subsequent Spike Milligan episode use the same wraparound background (and the singer from each appears as a background event in the other).
    • Another cowboy-riding-aross-the-lone-prairie example is the "Four-Legged Friend" bit in the Roy Rogers episode, although this time there's two of them — and they're riding cows.
    • Also used in the Anne Murray episode as Piggy and some male pigs go motorcycle riding while singing the Beach Boys' "I Get Around", but not actually going anywhere.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: From the Mark Hamill/Luke Skywalker episode:
    Luke: Listen pal, we're on a mission. There's no way we're gonna be involved in some third-rate variety show!
    Kermit: [deeply wounded] Second-rate variety show!
  • You Can Say That Again: At the end of the Leo Sayer episode:
    Statler: That was an amazing mess of mediocre mediocrity.
    Waldorf: You can say that again.
    Statler: Wanna bet?
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Scooter's role as 'Gofer'. Also Piggy in "Pigs in Space", on occasion.
    Piggy: I'm First Mate, I'm supposed to give orders.
    Link Hogthrob: Then give us twenty-five orders of swill.
  • Your Head Asplode: A common running gag in the dance sketches is people's heads exploding. Sometimes for a reason.

Statler: We raised "Take That!" "to an art form?"
Waldorf: It looks to me like they "took that" and ran with it.
Statler: If only we'd done the same, eh?
Both: Dohhhhh-ho-ho-ho-ho!''


Statler and Waldorf

The professionals.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

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