If you’re new to The Muppets, you might assume that it’s all one plushy foam dogpile of every popular puppet ever created, with ALF and the Pets.com dog intermingling with Elmo and Kukla. Frankly, this is blasphemy. There are puppets, and there are Muppets, and even amongst The Muppets there’s some separation (you will never see the Bear in the Big Blue House interact with Pepe the Prawn, for example). Don’t worry about your ignorance -- if you like joy and happiness, go see the new movie. Kermit’s in there.
Now, as a casual Muppet fan, maybe your ears have perked up with the buzz surrounding the new movie The Muppets. Maybe you can’t wait to see your favorites -- Clifford and Rizzo the Rat -- back on the big screen. Sorry to break it to you, but you’re in for a disappointment. The focus is on Kermit and his closest confidants, and, with a few exceptions, you don’t get to see some of the more obscure, recent Muppets in the mix.
Not every Muppet who ever Muppeted shows up in The Muppets. Keep this in mind: The Muppets is supposed to be a revival of the original gang, and in that way, it’s near-perfect, but there are some Muppets who are MIA. Hopefully this handy-dandy guide to notable absences will keep you sane.
Kermit's charming little Frog Scout nephew doesn't show up in The Muppets, but outside of Muppet Christmas Carol, he rarely pops up on film. Tadpole labor laws? Robin was a Jerry Nelson character, and since Nelson retired from performing his Muppets (Lew Zealand, Floyd Pepper) a few years ago, Robin may have been left without a performer.
Muppet fans know the truth -- Skeeter was never an actual Muppet. She was created so that there would be another female character on The Muppet Babies cartoon, one who would be remarkably different from the divalicious Miss Piggy. She’s never made a single appearance as a living, breathing Muppet, but pops up on the occasional piece of Muppet Babies merchandise. As such, there was no chance she’d be making an appearance in the new movie, one that specializes in reviving the original characters.
Once poised to be The Next Big Thing in the world of the Muppets (he was even added to the cast of The Muppet Babies), Bean was quickly relegated to side character status upon Henson’s passing in 1990. Performer Steve Whitmire had to put Bean aside to take on Kermit, and while the character has had a few appearances here and there since then (including Muppet Christmas Carol), his overwhelming cuteness is not missed a bit in The Muppets.
Pops has never been a major player in the Muppet movies, with the exception of a pivotal role in The Great Muppet Caper. His absence from The Muppets is noticeable, only because of how much of the movie seeks to recreate the old show. I expected Pops to show up somewhere in the film, perhaps selling tickets at the box office alongside his eye-patched cat. It never happened.
Poor Clifford never seemed to find a hook outside of being blandly Jamiacan. Originally created for MuppeTelevision as the bass player for the band Solid Foam (a misguided attempt to create a replacement for the dated-but-lovable Electric Mayhem), Clifford was pushed to become one of the most prominent new Muppets during the 1990s. It didn’t take. Despite appearing in the last few Muppet films and video games, it didn’t earn him a single appearance in the new movie.
The Sesame Street Gang
Muppet News Flash! Traditionally, The Muppets proper and the Muppets of Sesame Street rarely interact. While Kermit was once known to straddle both worlds, Children’s Television Workshop now operates independently of the Disney-owned Muppets. What does that mean? Well, that cameo by Big Bird in The Muppet Movie is a thing of the past. CTW lawyers told The Muppets screenwriter Jason Segal that the characters were off limits.
Johnny Fiama and Sal Minella
Did anybody like these guys - a lounge crooner and his angry monkey? Though both appeared on Muppets Tonight and the Muppet TV movies, something tells me we’ll never see them again. Moving right along.
Outside of one interaction on A Muppet Family Christmas, the Muppets just don’t mingle with Fraggles. Complicating matters is a new movie deal at New Regency, who are looking to revive their own bit of Henson magic with a Fraggle Rock feature film. I don’t think anyone really expected to see a Fraggle pop up in The Muppets, but stranger cameos have happened. I don’t think anyone expected to see Orson Welles in The Muppet Movie either, but there he was.
Rizzo the Rat
While not entirely MIA in The Muppets, his role has been reduced from a Muppet star to a non-speaking cameo. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I have no idea why Rizzo’s part in the gang was reduced so dramatically (perhaps to get Gonzo back to his roots as a reckless solo act?), but don’t expect him to play a big part here. He’s as quiet as a mouse.