Bowling is a sport in which the player attempts to knock down pins set up at the end of an alley. Bowlers can play singly or in teams. In popular culture, bowling is a common recreational pastime of sitcom characters, especially the middle or working class, from The Honeymooners to The Simpsons. The bowling ball itself often serves as a comedic prop, sometimes being stuck on someone's hand or landing on the head.
The Muppet universe has frequently demonstrated these tropes.
- In the "Pigs in Space" sketch in episode 214, a bored Link Hogthrob complains that he's missing his favorite bowling shows. (According to Miss Piggy, Link cries at the sad parts.)
- The Muppet News Flash delivered in episode 217 states a plane carrying sports equipment had to eject portions of its cargo. Items include 10,000 ping pong balls and one bowling ball (which knocks out the Newsman).
- Animal takes up bowling in episode 221. Unfortunately for the cast, he uses the backstage area as his alley and several Muppets are targeted (due to Animal's overhand style of throwing).
- Leo Sayer points out in the cold open of his episode that his dressing room is so quiet "you can hear a pin drop." Several bowling pins fall from above, caused by a pair of bowling monsters, who call it a strike.
- As passengers interrupt Miss Piggy's performance of "All Alone" in episode 308, she finally karate chops them all. The sound of pins falling is used as they topple over. Elsewhere in the episode, Kermit wonders aloud how Gonzo ever talked him into performing the show from a train station. Gonzo replies the bowling alley was occupied with a tournament.
- In episode 315, Link Hogthrob is asked by Lesley Ann Warren to join her on the discotheque dance floor. Link, suddenly flustered, tries to leave, claiming it's his bowling night.
- The coveted Fred Award is merely a modified bowling trophy.
- In an Ernie and Bert sketch, Ernie prepares for his nighttime bath with increasingly absurd items, culminating with Bert's bowling ball (in case someone needs to borrow it). Sure enough, Ernie's ridiculous predictions come true, including an Anything Muppet man stopping by to borrow a ball for his tournament.
- Professor Nucleus Von Fission's Six Dollar Man includes a bowling ball for a head (which cost him $1.38 at a rummage sale).
- Michael Christensen and Paul Binder appear on the show to set up Oscar's personal bowling alley, but they end up juggling the pins instead.
- An animated Sesame Street insert by Michael Sporn stars a singing bowling ball, who boasts about knocking down all ten pins. (EKA: Episode 2606)
- Flo Bear writes a new version of "Cinderella" in episode 2990, renaming it "CinderTelly." In the story, the royals throw a "bowling ball" and Whamo (the Rental Magician) provides CinderTelly with some proper equipment.
- Among the attendees mentioned in Sally Cruikshank's animated song "Ooh What a Fabulous Party" is a "bowling pin heiress" (a woman with a bowling pin for a head).
- Mr. Bull discusses his favorite B-word sports with Mr. Chatterly in an episode of "Alphabet Chat." One such sport is bowling and a visual aid is placed on Mr. Chatterly's lap.
- Biff spends episode 3217 with a bowling ball stuck on his hand following a round at the alley. After Dr. Edwynn performs a "bowlectimy," he gets it stuck on his finger. Later, Biff and his wife Celeste celebrate his freedom with a round of bowling, only to have a ball get stuck on Celeste's hand.
- The WASA spaceship Wiggleprise includes a bowling alley for the five very brave, very smart, very cute little worm astronauts.
- In the Sesame English episode "Tingo's Stuck," Tingo and Niki make plans to go bowling, only Tingo spends the episode with the ball stuck on his hand.
- Elmo learns how to practice bowling in episode 4156.
- Bert and Ernie appear as cavemen in an edition of Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures. As they attempt to roll a large rock uphill, it gets loose and rolls down, knocking over some bones. Ernie believes they've just invented bowling.
- In a Super Grover 2.0 sketch, he attempts to find a ball a cactus is able to play with. He retrieves a bowling ball, which they find is too heavy to catch (with Grover feeling "bowled over" when trying to catch it). In a season 45 edition of the segment, he attempts to find a suitable set of bowling pins some aquatic creatures can use to bowl underwater.
- While pitching The Jim Henson Hour, Jim suggests one possible episode could be a story about an enchanted bowling ball.
- In episode 207 of Muppets Tonight, Kermit leaves the KMUP premises and jokes that without his supervision, bowling balls would fall from the sky. Instead, the studio monitors immediately fail. Dennis Quaid is able to fix them, which leaves Clifford to be pummeled by bowling balls from above.
- Gonzo attempts a "head bowling" act in The Muppets, where he tosses a bowling ball toward his unfortunate aide (Gary, in a deleted scene, and Jack Black).