Adaptation Displacement: Twice over for "Mahna Mahna". Who here knew the song was written for an Italian soft-core "documentary" in the 1960s before Jim Henson decided it would be the perfect material for an early Sesame Street skit? Even so, the song is more strongly associated with The Muppet Show than with Sesame Street.
Adorkable: Scooter. He wears glasses, looks cute, is smart, and a total geek.
Animation Age Ghetto: Averted. The Muppet Show is the puppet show most famous for catering to adults just as much as children, if not more. This was in fact Henson's entire motivation for creating the show, as he didn't want to be stereotyped as a children's performer thanks to Sesame Street. Despite this, the Muppets tend to dip in and out of this trope in other media.
Kermit's nephew Robin isn't universally hated by any means, but some Muppet fans can be a little bit testy when he shows up. That being said, he's still more well-liked overall than Bean Bunny or Pepe from later productions.
Miss Piggy can be this way to some fans. Some of her more self-absorbed and violent tendencies tend to rub some people the wrong way, especially in later productions where she tends to be Flanderized to the point of these being her only traits.
As mentioned above, "Mahna Mahna", first written and recorded by Piero Umiliani for the Mondo documentary Svezia, inferno e paradiso (Sweden: Heaven and Hell) in 1968. While the original wasn't as obscure as it's sometimes made out to have been (Umiliani's version got a lot of radio airplay in 1969 and reached #55 on the Billboard Hot 100, getting into the Top 40 on the competing Record World chart), the Muppet version is much more famous now. In fact, the Muppet Show version covers up earlier versions that Henson did on Sesame Street and The Ed Sullivan Show. And The Muppet Show led to Revival by Commercialization for Umiliani's version, which made the UK Top 10 in 1977.
Crazy Awesome: Crazy Harry, of course. Gonzo also runs off 55-gallon drums of crazy, and the end results are never dull.
Crosses the Line Twice: Fozzie making a joke about the Titanic? Terrible. Waldorf mentioning that Statler still has the dress he wore so he could sneak into a lifeboat? Hilarious.
For a Muppet that only appears once in a blue moon, Crazy Harry is real popular with the fans.
UncleDeadly. He didn't appear much (only in a few episodes, musical numbers and the "Muppet Melodrama" sketches), but he became somewhat popular, especially after his major role in the 2011 movie.
Fridge Brilliance: Danny Kaye and Miss Piggy get into a huge argument right before they're supposed to perform the song "Cheek to Cheek", with the result that for most of the performance they're singing this romantic song to each other with forced smiles and clenched teeth. What makes it brilliant is that "Cheek to Cheek" was originally a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers song, and the sketch not only plays off that pairing visually (with Kaye as the suave older man and Piggy as the younger blonde), it ALSO evokes the popular belief that Astaire and Rogers supposedly hated each other off camera, despite their great screen chemistry.
The episode hosted by Zero Mostel contains a skit where he recites a poem about his fears, ending with his greatest fear: something for which he himself is only a fear that can be erased by that realization, upon which he vanishes into thin air. Mostel died suddenly before the episode aired, which must have made the scene pretty eerie.
And then there's the scene in Peter Sellers' episode where Kermit finds him dressed in a bizarre mix of costume pieces in his dressing room. ("I was trying to do Queen Victoria, but I've forgotten what she looked like.") When Kermit responds that it's okay for him to be himself on the Muppet show, Sellers replies, "That would be impossible. There is no me. I do not exist. There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed." The scene has since been quoted many times as summing up Sellers' view of himself as doomed to be seen only as his various characters and not his true self. In fact, he contributed to the sketch in lieu of the show's usual scene of the guest star out of character backstage, due to his discomfort at being seen out of character.
One of the show's best moments was Harry Belafonte singing "Turn the World Around" accompanied by Muppets inspired by African masks. The song is upbeat, but it's hard not to cry when you know that Belafonte performed the same song at Jim Henson's memorial. The lead-in to the songwhich talks about how life is very brief but we can change the world if we care about each otheronly makes things worse.
In the Alice Cooper episode, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew enlarges a virus to make it easier to study. (Beaker, of course, gets overwhelmed by it.) The virus is specifically mentioned to be a streptococcus virus. Jim Henson would die of a streptococcus infection a decade later.
Growing the Beard: The first season is a little slow, as mentioned on the main page under Early Installment Weirdness. But the pacing and a lot of hallmarks of the show came about in the later seasons. Beaker, for example, didn't appear until season 2, so not only did Muppet Labs have a duller looking set, lack its introductory jingle, but it was Bunsen on the receiving end of all his inventions going wrong. It was also in the second season when Rudolf Nureyev made his appearance on the show, which changed the producers' job of finding willing guest stars into picking and choosing guest stars.
One episode had Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge as co-guest stars. Miss Piggy drops hints to Kermit about how they're a example of a showbiz pair who are happily married. Too bad Kris and Rita would end up divorced less then two years after the episode aired...note In fact, of the three married couples that did the show, only Roy Rogers & Dale Evans stayed together; Shields & Yarnell divorced as well (although they did continue to tour together occasionally until the latter's death).
A real-life example. When the series first started, it was a real struggle to obtain guests. The prospect of appearing with "puppets" seemed embarassing, so to get guests, personal favors had to be made/called in. Rudolf Nureyev's Season 2 appearance reversed this. Now, it's hard to believe that any actor wouldn't want to be involved in a Muppet production, considering it's a clear sign you've hit the big time as a star to be invited to clown around with Kermit and the gang.
In one episode, a moose named Mickey becomes popular with most of the gang, even leading to them singing "M-I-C-K-E-Y" and wearing special hats. Kermit objects to this and wants nothing to do with Mickey Moose or friend Ronald Duck. Flash forward to 30 years later and, well...
Similarly, the cast's rendition of "When You Wish Upon a Star" as the finale of the Star Wars episode. Besides the obvious—Disney now owns both the Muppets and Lucasfilm—it's also oddly reminiscent of Disney's newest Vanity Plate, which was displayed at the beginning of the 2011 movie.
Even cooler was hearing Mark Hamill go absolutely bonkers with vocal impersonations and voice gags. First remember that the special aired before Frank Oz played Yoda. Secondly, he has since had an amazing career as a voice actor.
In The Muppets' Valentine Show, the first Muppet Show pilot, it's mentioned that guest star Mia Farrow flew in from England. The Muppet Show would end up being produced in England, requiring most of its guest stars to fly to England.
The technique Jim Henson and Frank Oz used to operate the Swedish Chef became a game on Whose Line Is It Anyway? called "Helping Hands", letting the audience see firsthand just how much dexterity was required.
The name of the ship in the Pigs In Space segments, which spoofStar Trek, is the USS Swinetrek. Thirteen years later, Garfield and Friends had a Star Trek parody called "Swine Trek" that had Orson, a pig character, in the lead role.
The season 2 episode with Rich Little features the "Glow-worm" sketch, which was performed on several variety shows with Kermit, (see The Muppet Show for more information) only with Lenny the Lizard replacing him. Several episodes later, in the one hosted by Steve Martin, Lenny tries to replace Kermit again, this time by auditioning to be the new host of the show.
This Muppet Labs sketch pretty much spelled it out for anyone who wasn't already suspecting something between Bunsen and Beaker.
Rowlf and Fozzie make a pretty popular pairing, seeming to stem from their enjoyable onstage chemistry, particularly in the English Country Garden number.
In two obscure "Muppet Melodrama" skits, Wayne plays a hero who's supposed to rescue Miss Piggy from Uncle Deadly, but instead really hits it off with Deadly and forgets all about his damsel in distress. In fact, Piggy is doomed to die because Wayne decides to assist Uncle Deadly after the two share a series of heavy compliments.
Gonzo was also very appreciative when Scooter was turned into a chicken by the rare and bizarre disease cluckitis.
Informed Real Life Fame: Had this to an extent—especially in the first season, when no one knew how big it was going to be, and the special guests were mostly doing Lew Grade a favour. So there were several British celebs that American audiences had never heard of, but Kermit would still try and convince everyone that Bruce Forsyth was an international megastar (the most he got internationally was the ABC game show Hot Streak, a 13-week flop in 1986). (This went both ways throughout its run, as not all the American guests were familiar to British audiences.) That said...it actually does fit Kermit's character, and the fact that it's supposed to be a D-list variety show...
"You've never heard of the banana sketch?"note The Sandy Duncan episode has a recurring joke about an unseen "banana sketch". Everyone (including the guest) thinks it's hilarious, except for Kermit cause he's the only one who hasn't heard of it.
"Did somebody say boom/bomb/bang?"note Crazy Harry's shtick
More or less relating to the franchise itself, but in the Vinesauce community Kermit being the father of streamer Joel due to his real father having a similar voice has become memetic.
Mahna Mahna: That one sole skit on the first episode of The Muppet Shownote Having been performed previously on various variety shows of the 1960s and 1970s, most notably The Ed Sullivan Show became so popular, all three characters made appearances on Muppets Tonight, and all the way into The Muppets!
Seasonal Rot: Deliberately inverted. Jim Henson wanted to ensure that the show ended on a high note and promised himself that he would cease production as soon as it was at its peak popularity. True to his word, by the fifth and final season, the show was not only #1 in TV Guide but had enough episodes to go into syndication.
"Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: The show was Jim Henson's attempt to prove that his craft could be prime time adult entertainment, not just early morning children's programming. The Muppet Show was initially viewed as a raunchy, all ages show but time has caused many of the skits to seem less mature than when they first premiered and the Muppets themselves have become much more skewed towards younger audiences. As such, re-runs and home video releases pretty much market the program as a children's show.
Signature Song: "Halfway Down the Stairs" for Robin, which even became a Top 10 hit in the UK in 1977. Kermit has "Bein' Green" and "The Rainbow Connection", but they both originated outside the show (Sesame Street and The Muppet Movie, respectively).
Smurfette Breakout: Miss Piggy, one of the few female Muppets, was initially only a minor character, but her popularity skyrocketed and she is now probably the most famous of them, along with Kermit.
So Bad, It's Good: Much of the comedy comes from just how lousy is the variety show that the Muppets put on. Notably, Gonzo's stunts and Fozzie's jokes. The Muppet Show, like Monty Python's Flying Circus and the cartoons of Jay Ward, is a nigh perfect example of how it takes great intelligence and talent to create something so deliberately silly that it crosses the line into awesomeness.
Society Marches On: In the episode featuring Teresa Brewer, the episode's subplot has Miss Piggy going on a diet. The jokes played at her expense, while funny, come off more mean-spirited than intended in today's body-conscious society.
Early on, Gonzo's routines (like eating a tire to "Flight of the Bumblebee") straddled the line between dumb stunts and Performance Art.
Ugly Cute: It's most apparent in the "monster" characters—Sesame Street monsters such as Grover, Telly or Elmo tend to be more traditionally cute, but the monsters of The Muppet Show and related productions are usually designed to look more grotesque, and are still pretty adorable—but it's a widespread trope for the Muppets in general. In fact, any Muppet not specifically designed to be cute is likely to be Ugly Cute in some way.