Top 10 Greatest Muppet Shows

There’s something about muppets that make us become a child. In this countdown we take a look at some of the best Muppet shows produced by the Jim Henson Company. Some of the shows included are Bear and the Big Blue House, Sam and Friends, The Muppets, Dinosaurs, Muppets Tonight, Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Jim Henson Hour and Muppet Babies.
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Top 10 Muppet Shows

These puppets bring out the inner child in all of us. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Muppet Shows.

For this list, we’re focusing on animated or live-action shows produced by the Jim Henson Company, created by Jim Henson himself or featuring the famous Muppet characters we know and love.

#10: “Bear in the Big Blue House” (1997-2006)

Like most Muppet shows, this Disney Channel series taught us about friendship, love and living together peacefully. Y’see, Bear’s the head of a house full of kooky animals, and together they learn valuable life lessons. “Bear in the Big Blue House” is aimed more towards the preschool and grade school crowds than some Muppet shows, with the characters and the audience learning about the episode’s theme together. Thanks to its unique concept and colorful cast, this series warms our hearts and reminds us that the moon, the bear and the big blue house will always be waiting for us to come and play.

#9: “Sam and Friends” (1955-61)

Ever wonder where Kermit got his start? It was on this five-minute sketch puppet show, created by Jim Henson and his future wife, Jane Nebel, in 1955. It centers on a human Muppet named Sam and his lovable friends – one of whom is a not-quite-a-frog, not-quite-a-lizard named Kermit. Originally, the characters would lip-sync to existing songs or comedy records, but eventually they moved on to scripted skits and parodies of popular TV shows. The first of Henson’s many televised puppet shows, “Sam and Friends” is not his most famous piece of work, but it opened the door to one historic career.

#8: “the muppets.” (2015-16)

It may’ve been short-lived, but this Muppet series brought Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest back to the small screen for the first time since 1998. Only this time, they were a bit edgier, what with their wardrobe malfunctions, sexual innuendos and complicated romantic entanglements and all. Taking us behind-the-scenes of the late night talk show the Muppets worked together to run, this show was sadly cancelled after just one season – and before Kermit and Piggy could officially reunite as a couple. Even so, this was a fresh take on some classic characters that brought the Muppets back where they belong.

#7: “Dinosaurs” (1991-94)

Although Jim Henson passed away in 1990, this show was his brainchild; it’s a traditional, formulaic American sitcom, where the main family just so happens to be dinosaurs living in 60,000,003 BC. And sure, while the puppets, fourth-wall breaks and silly voices appeal to kids, the show grabs adults by tackling serious issues like sexual harassment, women’s rights and drug use. Perhaps most poignantly, the show’s finale sees the Sinclairs and all of dino-kind falling victim to a global cooling that hits fairly close to home. “Dinosaurs” was an important ‘90s Muppet gem that’s still relevant all these years later.

#6: “Muppets Tonight” (1996-98)

A primetime variety series similar to “The Muppet Show,” with sketches, behind-the-scenes hijinks and a new celebrity host every week, “Muppets Tonight” brings back most of the original Muppets, but also introduces a barrage of fun, new characters eager to take their place in Henson’s world. With Clifford as the show’s host in place of the beloved Kermit, audiences and critics had a tough time warming up to series, and it only lasted two years. But for all its shortcomings, “Muppets Tonight” did feature that same Muppet charm – plus more than enough laughs, songs and celebs to keep us entertained.

#5: “The Jim Henson Hour” (1989)

Conceptually similar to the “Walt Disney Presents” TV specials, “The Jim Henson Hour” was created to show off new things in Muppet-ville on a weekly basis. Henson himself introduced each episode, which usually consisted of a half-hour of the new and improved “Muppet Show” – called MuppeTelevision in this iteration – followed by 30 minutes of something that was often much darker. “The Jim Henson Hour” didn’t last a full year, with many viewers left confused by its loosey-goosey structure. But the more serious content was new for the Muppets, and a welcome change from the normal silliness – not that we didn’t enjoy the silliness.

#4: “Muppet Babies” (1984-91)

Inspired by a scene in “The Muppets Take Manhattan” that shows what the lovable weirdos would’ve been like as kids, this Saturday morning cartoon features the Muppets before they were big stars. Baby Kermy, Baby Piggy and the rest all live in a nursery under the watchful eye of a pair of legs known as Nanny, and together they go on adventures and spoof popular franchises. Ever wanted to see the Muppets take on “Star Wars”? “Star Trek”? How bout “Indiana Jones”? Relatable and fun, “Muppet Babies” reminds us what a blast it is to have friends and an active imagination.

#3: “Fraggle Rock” (1983-87)

This Jim Henson masterpiece features the adorable Muppets known as Fraggles, who live in an underground cavern with the Doozers next to the home of an inventor, Doc, and his dog Sprocket. But it’s not just a musical show about a bunch of silly creatures; “Fraggle Rock” also covers issues like environmentalism, discrimination and, basically, how to live together peacefully, proving that the Muppets are more than just weird looking puppets. With a theme that’s as appropriate today as it was in the ‘80s, “Fraggle Rock” is just the kind of half-hour break from the real world both kids AND adults would love.

#2: “Sesame Street” (1969-)

Need proof of this show’s influence? A 1996 study revealed that 95% of American preschoolers had seen it before age three. “Sesame Street” pioneered the type of fast-paced, musical and funny educational children’s programming that’s become mainstream. Today, anyone with a TV knows wacky Muppets like Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Snuffy, Grover, Bert and Ernie and Elmo, who teach children about things like basic math, grammar, etiquette and geography, as well as multiculturalism and feminism. As a result, this classic series has been going strong since 1969, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it was educating youngsters for generations to come.

Before we get to our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:
- “The StoryTeller” (1988-90)
- “Mopatop’s Shop” (1999-2005)
- “The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss” (1996-98)

#1: “The Muppet Show” (1976-81)

Sometimes surreal, sometimes slapstick-y but always hilarious, this is the series that represents everything we love about the Muppets. A variety show in the truest sense, “The Muppet Show” was Jim Henson’s attempt to prove he wasn’t just a children’s entertainer. With help from Muppets both old and new, as well as the celebrity hosts, Henson achieved his goal by producing an all-singing, all-dancing series that appealed to all members of the family. The perfect balance of edgy self-awareness and goofy humor, “The Muppet Show” made Jim Henson and his puppet creations household names, setting the tone for the Muppetational future of kids’ entertainment.
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