Look, we know people have ranked the Muppets before. Hell, as I was contemplating this assignment with the vigor of a serial killer poring over newspapers looking for mentions of himself, Deadspin fired out a list of its own, one that looks about as arbitrary as, well, making lists about decades-old puppets. It had no context. No explanation. It was to true fan lists what the Moopets are to the Muppets. Hilarious, but not real.
You can say the same about me, sure. But I've seen ever movie, every episode, and every spin-off. I am a true fan. As such, my list is perfect. It is final. And it doesn't include anything but Muppets that have appeared on The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, and Muppets films based in the universe established by The Muppet Movie. That means no Treasure Island. And certainly no David Bowie bulge from Labyrinth.
In total, there are more than 500 Muppets. These are the 65 that matter. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have newspapers to clip. Wocka wocka.
65. Robin the Frog
Kermit’s nephew, Robin was brought in to up the cute factor. He’s basically the Cousin Oliver of the Muppets. But he’s kind of a whiner, and most of us like to pretend he never existed. We get it, dude. It's not easy being green. Your uncle told us. Go back to the swamp.
64. J.P. Grosse
The owner of the Muppet Theater -- and, presumably, the one who offered to sell it to Tex Richman in The Muppets -- Grosse is a mysterious, mustachioed man who looks too human, and nepotistically hires Scooter to work at the theater, despite Scooter being clearly incompetent. That’s just bad management.
Muppy was the shaggy white dog owned by Grosse. He hangs backstage and is extremely adorable. But he also bites. Which is why, I’m assuming, he disappeared by season two. We’re guessing they Old Yeller-ed the bitey little bastard, which just makes me sad.
62. The Smashing Pumpkins
Frauds! When Muppets Tonight booked the Pumpkins, they anticipated Billy Corgan and Co. Instead they got a bunch of gourds shaped like Billy Corgan’s head. Big Mean Carl, bless him, smashed them with a club. Perhaps that’s also what happened to Zwan.
61. Bobby Benson
Benson's got sweet style, but he's like the Joe Jackson of the Muppet world, what with his all-baby band that are basically enslaved by him. Even worse, he smokes around them, which might explain their terrifying disfigurements. We can't condone any of this, despite the cool shades.
60. Mary Louise
A sweet little girl in a nice floral dress, she incurred the frequent wrath of Miss Piggy, being yanked off stage by a hook and threatened for attempting to steal the spotlight. We never got to even see her whole act.
Scooter’s just a lackey. A stage hand. And a beneficiary of nepotism. Also, a buzzkill. Next.
58. Eric the Yodeling Clam
A partner of Gonzo, Eric snapped backstage and chomped down on the Weirdo’s nose. He was promptly made into chowder. With that attitude, we’re assuming it was New England clam chowder.
57. Miss Piggy
Not only is she a diva, she’s a violent sociopath, forcing Kermit the Frog into a lifelong prison filled with jealousy and constant domestic violence, choosing to express herself through frequent karate chops, threats of bodily harm, and unwelcome sexual advances. She’s also a borderline psychotic, choosing to threaten all oncoming romantic rivals with death. In the world of the Muppets, Piggy sets interspecies feminism back at least 30 years. Gloria Swinem would not approve.
56. All-Food Glee Club
They said it themselves. They have no bananas. We want no part of this sad, segregationist basket. Especially since it has two different kinds of onions paired with grapes.
55. Purple Rain Man
A Prince superfan who is also a parody of Dustin Hoffman’s Raymond Babbitt? Why the hell not? Oh, maybe because we're being PC.
54. The Babies
Bobby Benson’s brood is a gaggle of horrifying humanoid children that are the stuff of nightmares.
53. Geri and the Atrics
Like the baby band. But elderly. And not horrifying.
Walter’s a milquetoast nerdlinger who is supposed to be our avatar in the new Muppet movies. But we just can’t get into the shoes of a dude who’s played by Jim Parsons in real life. Because, to be honest, Walter should look like ME.
51. Bean Bunny
Muppets are, by nature, kind of ugly. Bean’s patently cute. Next.
If we were ranking these plushies solely on their job efficiency, Beauregard would be way up top, since keeping the Muppet Theater clean amid the flurry of explosions, flying feathers, and actual flurries takes some real professionalism. Alas, he’s otherwise just kind of a dim bulb in the background. But if there was an actual dim bulb in the rafters, he’d be all over it.
Wayne is perpetually in the ballroom, always dancing. Dude’s got endurance, though he’s kind of a dud.
Wayne’s dancing partner. Wanda gets points for standing by her man, and even more for her wonderful taste in hats.
47. '80s Robot
The Muppets was a shamelessly nostalgic love letter to Jim Henson’s creations. But there was a sense of hipster pandering on the periphery. ‘80s Robot played to that mentality, and his inclusion gave the movie an excuse to play crappy ‘80s music as well. Jefferson Starship doesn’t belong anywhere, especially within earshot of "The Rainbow Connection."
46. The Newsman
We know Ron Burgundy. And you, host of Muppet News Flash, are no Ron Burgundy.
The fiddle player is always the MVP of the bluegrass group. Consider Gramps Boyd Tinsley to Lubbock Lou’s Dave Matthews. Actually, don’t. Because that would imply that Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers are terrible.
Kermit’s Russian doppelganger is hilarious, but it was a bummer that he had to be augmented by CGI during his daring escape. Kermit could have pulled off that daring caper without even removing the hand from his butt.
43. Sam the Eagle
Basically, Sam is the prototype Fox News anchor. And a fun sponge.
42. Angus McGonagle
A deranged Scotsman who gargles the songs of George Gershwin, he was nearly bumped off the show by Mark Hamill, who was proved a great singing partner. He also gave Chewbacca a run for his money on the weird noises.
For a brief moment before Kermit took over, Nigel was host. He was promptly demoted to orchestra conductor, but you’ve gotta hand it to the dude: if you were tasked with keeping the burnouts in the Electric Mayhem and a bunch of aliens who play their own bodies in tempo, you’d prefer not to pull double duty either.
40. Spamela Hamderson
Somebody, quick, call Tommy Sooie! Wocka!
He looks like a monster from Where the Wild Things Are, and exists solely to destroy things other people think are pretty. Still, he’s probably more fun at a party than Sam.
38. David Hoggselhoff
Star of Bay of Pigswatch. Inexplicably popular in Germany. More specifically, in German sausage.
37. Gorgon Heap
All this big purple bastard does is eat other Muppets. Vincent Price called him one of the greatest eaters of all time. That’s prestige, baby.
36. Miss Poogy
She’s like Miss Piggy, except honest about her horribleness.
Ever wonder who the big, fat, blue monster at the beginning of The Muppet Show is? Now you know. And that's kind of his thing.
34. Big Mean Carl
Basically, Big Mean Carl -- a green-furred, yellow-horned beast -- exists to smash stuff. I also like to smash stuff. Carl and I would be fast friends.
33. The Irish Rodents
If the Irish Rodents were content to just be a bunch of rodents simply speaking in stereotypical Dublin accents and playing jigs, they’d be incredible. That they do it while bathing in a vat of fondue makes them personal heroes.
32. Pepe the King Prawn
Everybody loves Pepe, but honestly, he’s little more than an ancillary figure who’s skated by for far too long on his erratic movements and Hank Azaria-aping accent. He's the favorite Muppet of people who claim to love the Muppets but don't know what a Koozebanian is.
31. Bobo the Bear
Bobo started out as a security guard, making him like the Paul Blart of the Muppets. And he looks too much like a real bear for my tastes.
30. Uncle Deadly
Deadly’s a misunderstood monster who appears to seem evil but, in later incarnations, thwarted evil designs on the Muppet legacy, embracing his Muppet heritage. Plus, he’s wicked-cool looking.
29. Link Hogthrob
The Pigs in Space leading ham, with his cleft chin and golden locks, is the kind of lovably aloof hunk Hollywood used to churn out. Except he could be made into hunks of ham.
28. Bunsen Honeydew
27. Elton John’s Lunch
When human Muppet Elton John hosted back in the ‘70s, he had a nice chat with his lunch items before scarfing them down. That they didn’t really care is the mark of professionalism.
26. Dr. Julius Strangepork
The beating, bizarro heart of Pigs in Space. Also, a somnambulist.
25. The Koozebanians
It’s kind of cheating to lump an entire planet’s worth of creatures into one number, but the Koozebanians are united in their abilities to turn their bodies into musical instruments. If another planet hears the bullshit music we transmit into space and responds, let’s pray it’s Koozebane that sends back its sounds.
24. Lew Zealand
Is it just me, or does Lew -- master of the boomerang fish -- look like he could have walked off the set of a ‘70s skin flick? This man needs more back story, stat.
23. Rizzo the Rat
Rizzo’s great and all, but he’s just kind of a prick. Granted, he’s got a lot to compensate for, but unlike Statler and Waldorf, he doesn’t really seem to have earned the attitude.
I’m guessing it’s Zoot, the mellow, blue sax player from the Electric Mayhem, who scores weed for the rest of the band. Dude just seems like a guy who knows where to get things.
21. Marvin Suggs
A multi-instrumentalist who would shame Beck, Suggs both conducts the All-Food Glee Club and is the master of the Muppaphone, which is like a xylophone made of living creatures. Sure, that seems cruel. But they love the spotlight.
The only Muppet monster who appears to visit the dentist regularly, he seems like the friendliest of all the monsters whose sole purpose is to eat other Muppets. And he even duets with them while they’re in his mouth.
19. Mahna Mahna
No need to explain Mahna Mahna. Just know that I wish you luck getting the song out of your head now.
18. Hugga Wugga
Lest you forget that the Muppets were products of jazz-loving, super-imaginative hippies, I present to you, Hugga Wugga.
17. Floyd Pepper
Floyd was a Muppet version of Willie Nelson before Willie Nelson was a Muppet version of Willie Nelson. And, really, any version of Willie Nelson is a good version of Willie Nelson.
Meep meep. Meep meeeeep meep. Meep -- meep meep meep -- meep meep. Beaker meep meep meep; meep meep. (Meep meep meep.)
15. Dr. Teeth
The trippiest member of the Electric Mayhem, and thus the leader, Dr. Teeth’s pretty prone to giving up and calling it a day. But that’s probably because he scored some grass from Zoot and is pretty stoked to get back to the bus.
14. The Flying Zucchini Brothers
Simply put, the greatest dysfunctional group of Italian stereotypes/acrobats ever to exist.
The Electric Mayhem’s guitarist is the Muppets’ most appealing humanoid. But she’s also got range, as proven by her acting skills on Veterinarian’s Hospital.
Along with his homeboy Statler, Waldorf sits in the balcony show after show, complaining about how it’s gone downhill and griping about how terrible every sketch is. Basically, he’s the personification of every Internet comments section, ever.
11. Crazy Harry
The Muppets’ pyrotechnic expert might not be that great at his job, considering his work results in more holes than the plot of Interstellar, but damn does he enjoy himself. He also invented the explodaphone. His original name, by the way, was Crazy Donald. We’re assuming he changed it to avoid prosecution.
He and Waldorf are pretty interchangeable. But Statler looks exactly like my grandpa, so he gets the edge.
When Sweetums -- all shaggy hair and floppy jaw -- first popped onto the scene, he was terrifying. Turns out, dude just wants to be loved. And sometimes dance with Alice Cooper and eat other Muppets.
Behind every great performer, there’s a great chicken. And Camilla has stood by Gonzo through good times and bad, always giving a cluck when times are tough. Were it not for Camilla, Gonzo would have resigned himself to being a toilet salesman. She didn’t henpeck him. She told him to follow his heart. Also, she’s a hell of a performer, as she recently demonstrated by, awkwardly, clucking Cee-Lo’s “Fuck You” in a PG-rated movie.
Look, we all know Kermit’s everybody’s favorite. His philosophies on the difficulties of greenness have affected me endlessly, and his overall practice of love and acceptance is universally applicable. When I was a kid, I admired his keen reporting skills. Hell, I walked down the aisle to “The Rainbow Connection.” He’s a leader and a role model -- and it’s in the latter field that the frog falters.
Because Kermit, perhaps because of his incredible heart, is a pushover. It’s because Kermit can’t say “no” that the Muppet Theater is in constant danger --he’s willing to give any old dog and pony show a place in the spotlight without considering that dogs and ponies shit all over the place. He’s constantly getting walked on. And, at the end of the day, he goes home to an abusive wife who snarls at him and slaps him around and forces herself on him. I love you, Kermit. But you know what? It’s time for you to take some time and learn to love yourself.
Gonzo’s true love might be Camilla, but she never brought out the passion in him quite like Yolanda, who executed a fiery, spinning tango around the Weirdo as he donned a matador costume and provided a soundtrack of “arrrrriba” for his partner. She only made one Muppet Show appearance. That’s all she needed to make it to the top of this list. Oh, and also, Yolanda is a block of cheese.
5. Fozzie Bear
Twin brother of Kermit the Frog. Master of dad jokes. And the most loyal of all Muppets. Even though, like most comedians, there’s an underlying sadness to Fozzie that -- damn! That’s bumming me out. Hey! Why did the hot dog wear a sweater? Because it was a chili dog! Wocka wocka wocka. (Sigh)
Like John Bonham before him, Animal’s a gifted drummer that’s very likely to punch you in the face at any given moment. Unlike Bonham, Animal’s relationship to sharks is considerably more innocent.
3. Swedish Chef
If you really think about it, the Swedish Chef is kind of the villain of the Muppets. He’s constantly trying to butcher Gonzo’s in-laws. He hacks members of the All-Food Glee Club into little pieces. And he wastes enough food to feed Stockholm for a month. Frankly, every ensemble needs a good villain. That the Chef has been allowed to maintain his status as a friendly face while engaging in a decades-long murder spree makes him the most compelling and prolific mass murderer in the history of family entertainment.
2. Rowlf the Dog
Rowlf’s got the most dynamic array of talents of any Muppet, making him a key player in the ensemble. He’s a master pianist, able to transition from classical to jazz to Koozebanian without losing rhythm. He’s a skilled actor, as proven by his role as Dr. Bob on Veterinarian’s Hospital. And through it all, he’s somehow the sanest of them all. Good dog indeed.
1. The Great Gonzo
Gonzo exemplifies the Muppet spirit more than any. He’s not just weird. Weirdo is his species. He dances with cheese. He blows himself up. He’s a master gardener, a skilled businessman, a terrible trumpet player, wrestler of bricks, catcher of cannonballs, and defuser of bombs. Gonzo can be anything he wants. What he is, is himself. Also, he bangs a chicken. But he does it with heart.