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Because, Talking Time. You are... A Top 50 Puppets Countdown

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
I can confirm that Johnny does, in fact, eat like the Cookie Monster.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
Again, I regret limiting my muppets. Ideally, my list would have just been Cookie Monster and Big Bird. But, alas, I tried to mix it up. I only hurt myself.
 

Issun

Avarice
This entry is brought to you by the number:
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KERMIT THE FROG
219 Points; 7 Votes; Octopus Prime (#1), Issun, Lokii, Falselogic (#2), Johnny Unusual (#3), Torzelbaum (#5), Kirin (#8)

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Laster of Muppets
Kermit is the consummate straight man (er, frog), and proof that, if done right that kind of role can eclipse even the more colorful characters that they're reacting to. He's an every...frog who is easy to get along with, but more high-strung than his affable surface would lead you to believe. His act could be distilled down to a slowly building frustration with whatever the other character is putting him through until he breaks. The Muppet movies have focused more on his tender side, without him losing the straight act he's known for.

Kermit began life as a character on the 1950s show Sam and Friends, though not as a frog. It was Johnny Carson, in an interview on The Tonight Show who first gave him that designation, and it stuck. Kermit found a semi-permanent home on Sesame Street, but it was as host of The Muppet Show where he finally had his chance to shine, and shine he did, as he is probably the most famous and beloved of all Jim Henson's creations.

I’ve been posting examples of the straight-man genius of Kermit throughout this list, so instead of another one of those, here’s Rainbow Connection:

 

Issun

Avarice
This entry is brought to you by the number:
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and
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WILKINS
300 Points; 10 Votes; (all other data has disappeared under mysterious circumstances)

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Drink Wilkins or die
This proto-Kermit has turned out to be even more popular on Talking Time than the frog himself! Wilkins might be a frog, or he might be a demon from Hell. All proto-Sesame-Street monster Wontkins wants to do is live his life, but this horrible creature offers him coffe, and when Wontkins turns it down, he is murdered. It is unclear whether there is more than one Wontkins, or if Wontkins is a Highlander.

Wilkins coffee no longer exists, but its mascot lives on. Watching. Waiting.


 

Issun

Avarice
This entry is brought to you by the number:
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AUDREY II
298 Points; 10 Votes; Purple (#1), Torzelbaum, Octopus Prime (#2), Beta Metroid, Bulgakov (#3), Lokii (#5), Kirin (#6), Violentvixen, Falselogic (#9), Johnny Unusual (#22)

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Mean Green Mother from Outer Space
When the lists first started coming in, it was any puppet's race. Then the votes for Audrey started growing until she devoured the competition. It's not the most shocking or explosive number one, but her topping the list was not a foregone conclusion, either.

We had a few other puppets from horror films, but none of them have the personality of Twoie. Voiced by Levi Stubbs and playing across from Rick Moranis meant a puppet that had to be up to the task, and Frank Oz, Lyle Conway, and Jim Henson's Creature Workshop did what they do and created something truly unforgettable. As one would expect, Audrey was mostly cables and foam rubber, though the skull was made of Kevlar. During the most intensive scenes (like Mean Green Mother), there were 51 total puppeteers, though there were four people operating the head and five underneath the set operating the vines (the vines were the first puppet of their kind that were freestanding, non-marionetted). Audrey's unique movement was due to the film being sped up (meaning the actors had to act more slowly in any scene with Audrey, which took some convincing from Conway). The final product was 13 feet tall, and one of the most memorable movie monsters in history.

 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
During the most intensive scenes (like Mean Green Mother), there were 51 total puppeteers, though there were four people operating the head and five underneath the set operating the vines (the vines were the first puppet of their kind that were freestanding, non-marionetted). Audrey's unique movement was due to the film being sped up (meaning the actors had to act more slowly in any scene with Audrey, which took some convincing from Conway). The final product was 13 feet tall, and one of the most memorable movie monsters in history.​
Whoa I did not know any of this! Crazy.
 

Bulgakov

Yes, that Russian author.
(He/Him)
Subsequent to the events you have just witnessed,
Unsuspecting jerks from Maine to California
Made the aquaintance of a new breed of flytrap
And got sweet-talked into feeding it blood
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Listening to Feed Me Seymour is giving me serious flashbacks because I was in the pit band for the musical in high school. Good times.
 

Issun

Avarice
I'm so glad you guys picked this one. It's been a list I've been wanting to do for a while, and I submitted it once or twice before. Puppets are super cool, and it's been awesome going over our favorites.

If nothing else, this list pushed me to finally watch Little Shop of Horrors, and that's a victory right there, I think.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
Here's my list:

  • Rowlf the Dog
  • Kermit the Frog
  • Sprocket
  • Jurassic Park Dinos (1993)
  • Falkor (Neverending Story)
  • Goblin Knights (Labyrinth)
  • Yoda (Empire Strikes Back)
  • The Skesis (Dark Crystal)
  • Audrey 2
  • Grover
  • ED-209
  • Triumph the Insult Dog
  • Showa Era Monsters (all the ones that aren't just men in suits)
  • Grabboids (Tremors)
  • King Kong
  • The Thing (from The Thing 1982)
  • The Terminator
  • Giant Squid (20,000 Leagues under the Sea)
  • Gizmo
  • Thunderbirds
  • Rancor (Return of the Jedi)
  • Gmork (Neverending Story)
  • Bruce (Jaws)
  • E.T.
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Oscar the Grouch
Velociraptors (Jurassic Park)
Alien Queen (Aliens) I found this article while making this list and dang this puppet was insane: https://www.stanwinstonschool.com/blog/aliens-alien-queen-full-size-puppet
Miss Piggy
Yoda
Yip Yips (Sesame Street)
Bunsen and Beaker
Shadow Puppets - I saw an actual Wayang Kulit production in middle school and it blew my mind https://wilderutopia.com/traditions/hindu-epic-mahabharata-in-balinese-shadow-theatre-and-dance/
Audrey II (Little Shop of Horrors)
Tom Servo
Crow T Robot
Bert (Sesame Street)
Chinese Lion Dance Puppets
Cookie Monster
Daniel Striped Tiger (Mr Rogers) - Looking back I think this puppet was a representation of social anxiety
Zazu (The Lion King)
Triumph the Insult Comedy Dog
Slimer (Ghostbusters)
Egungun - this is not quite right. I remember elaborate mask/dance/puppet festivals when I lived in Kenya but this appears to be in Nigeria. However as soon as I saw the images it sparked some memories so it must be close. Bah! I doubt anyone else is voting for this so I won't stress much but dang I wish I could remember more details, I was too young it seems. https://www.omenkaonline.com/egungun-festival-yoruba-people/
Jack Skellington
Fozzie Bear
Falkor
Oliver J. Dragon
Punch and Judy
Team America World Police- this was the movie my spouse and I saw on our first date so I'm obligated to list it

Pretty sure this is my highest hit rate list yet.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
My list:
  1. Johnny 5 (Short Circuit 1&2)
  2. Audrey II (Little Shop of Horrors 1986)
  3. Oscar the Grouch
  4. Count von Count
  5. Kermit
  6. Cookie Monster
  7. Grover
  8. Bert
  9. Ernie
  10. Martian / yip yip muppets (Sesame Street)
  11. Waldorf
  12. Statler
  13. Yoda (Star Wars original trilogy)
  14. Gremlins (Gremlins 1 & 2)
  15. Lamb Chop
  16. ALF
  17. Tom Servo
  18. Crow T. Robot
  19. Fizgig (The Dark Crystal)
  20. Little Homie (Key & Peele)
  21. Ebenezer T. Squint (Pinwheel)
  22. Squish (Lexx)
  23. Crazy Harry
  24. Floyd Pepper
  25. Punching Puppet Ghaleon
Pretty sure this is my highest hit rate list yet
Same here. My choices #2-18 and 25 made the final list (one way or another).
 
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Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
So we all know Lamb Chop as beloved entertainment for all ages but did you know that her and Shari started out as an adult comedy act?
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Pinwheel was a kid's show from the late 70s that I have fond but incredibly vague memories of. I threw Ebenezer on my list as a representative of the show. You can see a couple of videos of him here:
Ebenezer singing
Pinwheel road show

I also vaguely remember a little worm puppet on a kid's show that I always liked but couldn't remember or find which character that was. :( (I thought it was also from Pinwheel but that was not the case.)

There were some other Muppets that I thought I wanted to include but after doing a little research I realized that they weren't my favorites but they did appear in one of my favorite Muppets Show skits:

(You can read about the skit here on the Muppet wiki.)

While researching that sketch I also learned that it was based on an older skit called Sclrap Flyapp that was shown on variety TV shows before the Muppet Show ever aired. Here are some links to a couple of those performances:

color, Ed Sullivan show

black & white - Jack Paar Show on May 21st, 1965
 
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Purple

(She/Her)
Oh hey, I went and annotated these when I first submitted them, that's a time-saver!

#1- Audrey II, Little Shop of Horrors. Size, detail, absurd degree of articulation, screen presence, the only honest choice.
#2- Pilot, Farscape. Everyone's favorite big friendly uh... squid-crustacean-cyborg pal.
#3- Rygel, Farscape. You just don't tend to see muppets in the core cast of serious drama type shows.
#4- Cookie Monster, Sesame Street. Just raw natural charisma.
#5- Count Von Count, Sesame Street. Same, and also it's cool they were progressive enough to let a vampire educate children.
#6- Handy, The Tick. Little pal of The Human Ton? Read a book!
#7- Gonzo, The Muppet Show. Good to get some non-binary representation in the list.
#8- Catterpuppy, House 2. Who couldn't love a face like that?
#9- Ankh, Kamen Rider OOO. Kind of a moral quandary if a disembodied Golbez arm counts as a puppet, but he's very expressive and steals popsicles from children.
#10- That giant skeleton, Kubo and the Two Strings. Did that skeleton even have a name? On here for sheer size.
#11- The Helping Hands, Labyrinth. Again, kind of a grey area, but they're so creative in how they form faces.
#12- Greta, Gremlins 2. Positive trans representation, AND a happy ending!
#13- Animal, The Muppet Show. A true embodiment of how we all feel in this modern era.
#14- Telly Monster, Sesame Street. Remember the super neurotic red monster we used to have before Elmo came along and murdered him in his sleep?
#15- Puppet Strong Bad, Homestar Runner. I'm not actually sure if Puppet Strong Bad and regular Strong Bad are officially the same guy.
#16- Brynn, Dave Made a Maze. High five!
#17- Gizmo, Gremlins. Did they ever make versions of him with suction cups to stare out the back of car windows?
#18- Krites, Critters. Especially the time they formed a big skeletonizing katamari.
#19- Blade, Puppet Master. The only puppet on my list I can confirm has killed a bunch of nazis. Although I guess the Count might have too, back in the day?
#20- Crow T. Robot, MST3k. He's different.
#21- Ernie, Sesame Street. Naturally along with the obvious...
#22- Bert, Sesame Street. More relatable than Ernie, but less interesting on his own.
#23- Fizzgig, The Dark Crystal. Basically I'm voting for another krite here.
#24- Monami, Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl. It might only be when it's neck chomping time but I'm counting it.
#25- Brain Gremlin, Gremlins 2. I mean he is like half the movie.

Honestly I'm surprised as many of these made the list as did, even with relatively few people tossing things in. Pretty much everyone who didn't make the cut here seems like it was me making a horror movie deep-cut (and hey they got bumped for The Thing and Graboids and such), having too many representatives to chose from with some Henson stuff, or being primarily thought of in animation.

Kinda surprised nothing from Kubo made the list though.
 
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