It’s time to play the music, light the lights, and get things started on this muppetational celebrational of our favorite moments with Kermit and the gang…
The Muppets have been an entertainment institution for more than 50 years, and whether they’re guests on a talk show or stars of an ABC mockumentary, Jim Henson’s creations have made a huge impact on people’s lives. With so many films, TV shows, merchandise, and more that feature Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and the rest, how can any article talk about even 100 of their best moments, let alone seven? Yeah, we don’t know what we were thinking either.
And yet, here we are, exploring the top 7 funniest, tearful, hopeful, muppetiest moments in the puppets’ long history. Some are more recent than others, but all have a way of reminding us just why we loved all these characters in the first place, on top of showcasing the brilliance of their late mastermind, Jim Henson. So, why don’t we get things started on what we call the Muppet Top 7?
7. I Can Get You What You Want (Cockatoo In Malibu)
Muppets Most Wanted is Kermit’s most recent film, and despite good reviews and an impressive cast, it wasn’t all that successful. Why didn’t people want to see the Muppets tour Europe and deal with an evil Kermit impersonator?! Those poor saps missed out on the film’s high point, Kermit-doppelganger Constantine singing an ’80s style ode of devotion to Miss Piggy, with the earworm-worthy “Cockatoo In Malibu” hook. It’s a catchy, comedic song that’d work great on Flight of the Conchords, not surprising since the song was written by one half of the band.
The extended version gives Bret Mckenzie ample room to show off his Oscar-winning composition abilities, and amps up the early era music video cheesiness. Sure, I don’t know what kids will be entertained by very specific reference to a musical style, but this moment wasn’t for them. This great moment of post-Henson music is a great reminder that the Muppets can still be loads of fun no matter what decade it is.
6. The Great Muppet Caper’s Bike Ride
Sure, the Muppets have always been about making people happy in an old school, Vaudevillian style of show business, but I’d say that’s only half of what Jim Henson’s vision. The other half was constantly pushing for technological advancement of physical puppetry, and using said tech to create scenes that seem physically impossible to create. Nowhere in Muppet history is that sense of “how’d they do that?” mystery on show than when the whole gang of Muppets ride bicycles around a London park.
Set to the original song “Couldn’t We Ride,” Kermit and Miss Piggy’s tender moment of reconnection via an adorable bike ride together touched me as a child. As an adult, I can’t help but marvel at the smoke and mirrors it took to make it look like foam n’ felt recreations of a frog and pig could ride bikes. Then the rest of the gang shows up and even now I can’t help but lose it seeing all the effort that went into making this scene look so damn effortless. If you ever wondered how they did it, below is Henson’s answer…
5. Turn The World Around
For the billions of dollars Muppets have made in merchandise, Jim Henson’s dreams of uniting humanity and multiculturalism were always in plain sight in his productions. You saw it more in Fraggle Rock, but the hippyish interest in the environment, world peace, connection, and love came up from time to time on The Muppet Show, especially when collaborating with artists like Harry Belafonte. Henson and Belafonte worked closely to create one of the show’s signature moments, this stirring rendition of Harry’s then-lesser-known song, “Turn The World Around.”
Your cynical reaction may be to see this as corny, but Belafonte and Henson sure didn’t see it that way when working hard to craft the perfect African mask-inspired Muppets for this closing number. Even without Belafonte’s above explanation of his love for working with Henson, you can see the care that went into this onscreen. Sure, there were funnier moments on The Muppet Show (like John Cleese pulling apart Gonzo), but this is the one that still stirs my heart the most decades later.
12 thoughts on “Top 7 Greatest Muppet Moments”
I watched Muppets Most Wanted on a rental and woof I’m sorry but it was not very good. Especially compared to the amazing The Muppets that preceded it. That was amazing.
Cockatoon in Malibu is so damn good
I got chills watching the last clip. It sucks that Henson died before I was born and that The Muppets weren’t culturally relevant until I was 16.
“Cockatoo in Malibu” is one of the best Muppets songs ever. Right up there with “Life’s A Happy Song”, the original “Rainbow Connection”, and “Can You Picture That”.
My first thought immediately goes to the german Kermit on The Daily Show. Would’ve posted a link but I seemingly can no longer find it.
I cried no less than twice while reading this list. And Baby Rowlf playing piano is the absolute greatest achievement in puppeteering. It’s one of the greatest things ever committed to film.
I do a live show in Philadelphia that’s more than a little Laser Time inspired. We did our Muppet episode a few months ago and it was far and away our most popular. The theater was packed and it was so much fun to chat about the Muppets and play games and show clips in front of a big audience who loves them as much as we do. I basically ate, slept, and breathed Muppets for the month leading up to that show.
The Muppets are something important to me, as I cannot remember a time before they were part of my life. I wasn’t born during the first wave of the Muppets in the 70’s, but through my parents it became one of the many old things that I loved. I did experience the latter half of the 80’s when they were more experimental, and was thrilled to be there for the new wave of actual Muppets in the 90’s (sadly after Jim Henson’s death). We watched Muppets Tonight, Muppet Babies, and both Christmas Carol and Treasure Island. We played the Muppet CD-Rom, had a Muppet lunchbox, and there was even a Muppet songbook. Even discounting Sesame Street, the Muppets were a huge part of my childhood, and while the love of some of those old things has faded a bit with time, my love for the Muppets remains strong.
Unfortunately, as I got older I lost a lot of that love I had for the Muppet’s. I just can’t get back that child like enthusiasm and imagination that allowed me to fully love and appreciate them. Growing up, I would regularly watch old re-runs of The Muppet Show and immensely enjoyed the movies; in particular Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island. I have to say though, articles like this really flush out those old feelings of love that I had for the Muppet’s. I really appreciate some of these best-of moments and behind-the-scenes clips, and your #1 pick sure got those tears flowing. One of my personal favorite moments comes from me recently re-watching the movies. The Muppet’s Take Manhattan is probably my favorite Muppet movie at this point, and I would consider the wedding scene another great moment to go along with your #3 (The Muppet Babies dream sequence). I think it’s the combination of the lovely song and the inclusion of Sesame Street characters and those wide shots are amazing to watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0ChbqaTIs8
PS: The wide shot starts at 1:50
The Muppets are warm and fuzzy on the outside and they make me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. I’m glad they got a new show while I miss their old variety show style of entertainment. This article brought me back those warm memories and only a couple of years ago I decided to revisit the classics such as Muppets Take Manhattan and some hold up pretty well. You begin to notice the cameos and understand other jokes that went over your head as a child. The movies seem ahead of their time in terms of cameo style humor. Thanks for this great article hank and i’m guessing chris chipped in on this one too.
i love this list. My personal favorite Muppet thing is The Storyteller episode The Soldier and Death, specifically when the soldier gets so tired of being alive he tries to go hell, but not even they offer relief. That show was dark.
This was a great article guys. I got into the Muppets pretty late…really only started up during The Muppets movie. But I got into it hard. While The Muppets is the only movie I’ve seen, I’ve watched every episode of the original show. It’s a great list, but MY favorite event was in the Madeline Kahn episode. Gonzo is smitten with her, and after overhearing her spurning him, he sings this heart wrenching-ly sweet little song about wanting to be someone else after a quick chat, the song changes to be how he can be happy anyways, without having everything he wants…and how he’s okay. It’s sappy, short, and probably doesn’t really rank way up there…but it still gets me every time. Plus it ends with a little Gonzo magic.
Damnit now I’m just watching Muppet show clips.