The Muppet movies, like most films, have their share of mistakes and goofs. Sometimes directors knowingly bend the rules of continuity, nature or physics for the sake of storytelling or cinematography, but many times errors are not noticed until it is too late. The goofs committed are also different in nature: a revealed puppeteer is a clear mistake, whereas plot holes and factual errors are harder to clearly prove.
In the film's opening shot, a statue of a director is seen on top of the movie studio gate, with a globe spinning on his finger. The globe is spinning in the wrong direction, with the continents moving to the west.
In the scene where Kermit meets Fozzie, Fozzie tosses a rubber chicken over his shoulder. As he does this, the puppeteer's arm at the end of Fozzie's glove can be seen.
When the pie from the sign is thrown at Doc Hopper's limo, some of the pie can be seen flying onto Doc Hopper. However, in the next shot with Doc Hopper, he is clean, with no signs of pie.
During the Movin' Right Along number, Kermit and Fozzie stop to greet Big Bird who is further behind the car. However, in the next shot, Big Bird is directly next to the car.
When Fozzie and Kermit's truck are about to confront Gonzo's truck, Kermit says, "Fozzie, look at that funny little truck!" in which Fozzie responds, "Yeah...cute, huh?" But in the mirror in the car, you can clearly see that Fozzie's mouth isn't moving.
After Kermit asks Sweetums if he wants to go to Hollywood with the gang, a glimpse of Kermit's sock can be seen.
When the gang sees Gonzo flying away on the ballons at the Bogen County Fair, Richard Hunt's face can be seen in frame, possibly right-handing or filling in for another puppeteer's character in that shot.
In the scene where Fozzie Bear gets ice cream for Kermit and himself at the fair, the colors of the ice cream are different than the second scene where Fozzie finds Kermit and hands him his cone.
The colors and positions of Gonzo's balloons change during his flight.
When Gonzo is flying with the balloons and says "Look at our little car down there," the sunlight makes the cord suspending the balloons visible.
When Kermit and friends first enter the front office of Lew Lord, the fan in the background is turned on. After talking to the secretary, Kermit goes over to the fan, which is now off, and turns it on to spread the animal dander.
Sweetums is seen in the film the Muppets are watching (at the car dealer and chasing after the Muppets as they travel to Hollywood). However it is established at the end of the film that he did not actually catch up to them until after the movie was filmed and initially screened. How could he have appeared in the movie Kermit showed if he was still tracking down the Muppet gang?
When Janice and Floyd are talking to Miss Piggy, some of Janice's hair gets stuck in her mouth throughout the entire scene.
On most full-screen home-video releases of The Muppet Movie (including most VHS editions and the 2001 DVD) this transfer is taken from a non-matted version of the film. When the movie was shot, the film used was of a larger aspect ratio. In the editing process, the "black bars" commonly associated with widescreen films were added to cover the top and bottom of the picture - trimming off material at the top and bottom of the frame. This method is common and is cheaper than shooting on 1.85:1 widescreen film. When it comes to creating a full-screen edition for home-video release the edges of the wide rectangular film are cropped-off to fit the picture to the shape of the standard TV. With The Muppet Movie, however, the full-screen prints were made from the non-matted version. This allows a little less of the sides to be cropped off, but it shows more of the top and bottom not seen in the original widescreen version. When removing the widescreen matting on the film, it results in more arm socks, arms, heads and other flubs coming into the shots that were originally cut off by the black bars. To see The Muppet Movie in its intended version, with less arms and heads poking in, one should view the original widescreen version. Each shot was arranged with the intention of masking the top and bottom, so puppeteers sometime got on the film expecting to be cropped off by the masking - the full-screen edition of this film contains more goofs.
As Kermit introduces the movie to the Muppets, his arm sock can clearly be seen.
When Mr. Tarkanian gets up from his desk, Jim Henson's head peeks above the desk as Kermit goes to follow him across the Daily Chronicle newsroom.
When Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo ask the gentleman in the park to recommend a free place to stay in England, he mentions the Happiness Hotel. However, Pops asks them how they are going to pay during the song "Happiness Hotel" (although he offers them the option of sneaking out in the middle of the night).
As Beauregard makes a hairpin U-turn over a sidewalk, Fozzie grabs Gonzo's nose, pulling the foam around Gonzo's left eye slightly down to reveal more of the puppet's eyeball.
In the song "Happiness Hotel," it's stated that there's no kitchen and no food. Yet when Beauregard crashes through the lobby, the Swedish Chef emerges with food, apparently from the kitchen.
When Kermit is dancing on the bed during the "Steppin' Out with a Star" dance number (when Fozzie tosses him his top hat), the effect was done by controlling the full-body puppet through a hole in the wall blocked from the camera's view by the puppet's body. However, the shadow of the puppeteer's arm going into Kermit's back is clearly visible on the wall behind him.
During the same number, when Kermit says "I'm ready to fly!" and the Murphy bed goes up with him on it, Jim Henson's head can be seen for a split second underneath the bed.
After Miss Piggy introduces Kermit to Nicky Holiday at Lady Holiday's fashion show Kermit leaves. If you look closely at the mirror behind Miss Piggy, you can see a reflection of Jim Henson puppeteering off the screen.
When all the Muppets are sitting on the bed and Gonzo informs them about Nicky Holiday's plan to steal the baseball diamond, the slit in Scooter's pants where a puppeteer's arm would go through becomes visible.
When the Muppets confront and distract "the bad guys" at The Mallory Gallery, some more characters suddenly appear, including Louis Kazagger, rats, and others, that were not with the Muppets when they went to the gallery and broke in.
At the end of the film, when the Muppets are thrown out of the plane, they are clearly not wearing parachutes -- yet once they are out of the plane, parachutes magically appear on them and deploy. Also, Statler and Waldorf were shown seated in the main cabin of the plane, but they appear in the closing number, parachuting down with the rest of the gang.
When Kermit says "But, we don't have…" after Mr. Price demands $300 each from the Muppet gang, Frank Oz's head briefly appears underneath Fozzie. Additionally, two human arms can be seen right behind him.
In a goof visible in only the wide-screen version of "You Can't Take No for an Answer", the Muppets are auditioning for a shaving producer. At one point, the head of a puppeteer beneath Rowlf is seen.
When Rizzo says, "Lazy rat? Okay, have it your way," the camera is reflected on the toaster as it pans into the kitchen.
In the scene where Miss Piggy is watching Kermit and Jenny hug from the construction site, she bends a metal pole in the middle and starts hitting a barrel with it. In the next shot, when she hits the barrel, the pole she's holding is much thicker, a different color, and not bent in any way. In the next shot, the pole is thinner, longer and similar to the one she originally bent -- but it's only bent slightly at the end, whereas Piggy bent it in the middle. In the next shot, the pole is now thicker, unbent, and a different color.
When Miss Piggy is following Kermit and Jenny on their jog in the park, she stops to catch her breath by a lamppost. When she goes to remove her hand, it's stuck in a large wad of chewing gum -- but the gum wasn't there when she reached for the pole.
During the "I'm Gonna Always Love You" musical number, baby versions of Scooter, Gonzo and Fozzie pop up from behind the piano, shaking maracas. As Rowlf leans back while playing the piano, the puppeteer's arm can be seen performing Baby Fozzie.
The rig on which the performers for Bill, Gil and Jill are on can be spotted as they approach Pete's Luncheonette. Also, the arm of the performer of Bill can be seen as they enter the diner.
In the scene where Fozzie attempts to help Kermit remember everybody with jokes, Rowlf is seen next to a mirror on the right of the screen, with Scooter at the other end of the scene on the left. However, in the following shot, Rowlf is nowhere near the mirror, but to the left of Scooter.
As everyone turns to watch Kermit and Piggy enter the church in the closing number, Whaddayasay Bird and Forcryingoutloud Bird are sitting in front of Sam, peering out into the aisle. In all the other shots of the congregation, Muppy is in their place.
In all the long shots of the church crowd, Mahna Mahna and a Snowth are seen sitting between Luncheon Counter Monster and The Fazoobs. However, in the closer shots of the congregation, Luncheon Counter Monster is right next to the Fazoobs, with Mahna Mahna and the Snowth nowhere to be found and Purple Lothar is in their place.
Some goofs pop up only in the full-screen version of The Muppets Take Manhattan.
In the opening musical sequence, "Together Again," Frank Oz's head is briefly seen below Miss Piggy while she dances, as well as Camilla's arm sock. Also, another puppeteer's head appears between Camilla and Miss Piggy.
In the full-screen transfer, when the Muppets enter Martin Price's office, Kermit's sock is seen.
Several goofs pop up in the full-screen version of You Can't Take No for an Answer. When the Muppets are walking down the street, two puppeteer heads become visible, one underneath Kermit and one assisting on Fozzie. When the Muppets are auditioning at a theater, a performer's head is seen next to Rowlf. And when the Muppets are seated in Central Park, a puppeteer's arm is seen operating Fozzie's arm.
At the end of the song "It Feels Like Christmas," the camera dramatically pulls up, showing a high shot of the square with the Ghost of Christmas Present singing the final line. As the camera moves, the forced perspective on the set is broken. The streets and houses look small and distorted, revealing the trick used to make the small city appear life-size on film. As Brian Henson explained in the DVD audio commentary, the filmmakers were aware of this problem but decided that the nice closing shot was worth it -- plus, they figured not many people would notice the goof.
The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and the Future, along with Scrooge, are invisible. However, during the "It Feels Like Christmas" number, almost everybody is aware of the Ghost's presence.
The holes that are underneath Rizzo's feet that blow out smoke after he lands on the goose can be seen as he sits on the bed.
In the opening nightmare scene, before Noah gives Gonzo his umbrella, Gonzo says, "Yes, sir?" but his mouth does not move.
In the scene where the Swedish Chef causes the raspberry flapovers to go "ka-boom-boom!", Pepe announces they will serve baloney sandwiches, but it turns out that the bread was also blown up, so he says with no bread. However, a few moments later, Gonzo arrives at the table and starts to eat toast.
When Agent Singer shows the spiral pattern of the alien messages, the spiral is contained in the Western Hemisphere. However, earlier he showed messages from Giza, Egypt, which is in the Eastern Hemisphere, and one in England (Stonehenge), which is on the edge of the Western.
In the establishing shot of the boarding house before Gonzo's jacuzzi party, he is seen still sitting on the roof. (This goof only appears in the pan-and-scan version of the film.)
After Johnny and Sal leave Gonzo's party, Robin's arm sleeve and part of his puppeteer become visible.
When Gonzo, in tin foil regalia, steps behind the UFO Mania desk, a little narrow slit can be seen where Dave Goelz can be seen entering performing Gonzo.
When Agent Barker goes to deal with Miss Piggy, he removes his sunglasses and places them in his pocket as he says "I'll deal with her" to his partner. In the next shot, as Piggy replies, he takes off his glasses again and places them in his pocket.
When Kermit and the gang visit Muppet Labs, there is a moment when the characters move to the work table to examine Bunsen Honeydew's inventions. At that moment, the performers of Kermit, Bunsen, and Fozzie all become visible.
When Gonzo decides to stay, Rizzo jumps at him. When Rizzo jumps at him his arm sock is visible.
During Kermit's announcement about working for free, in a wide shot of the characters sitting in the theatre seats, puppeteers' faces can be seen while operating Beaker, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and Fozzie.
A puppeteer's head can be seen during Fozzie's speech ("...when Kermit's done so much for us!") from a behind shot.
Eric Jacobson's head can be seen when Miss Piggy enters the crowd in the scene where it is announced the money has been collected.
When Kermit asks the audience to turn off all cell phones and pagers, Steve Whitmire's black-covered head is seen during the pan shot to the crowd.
During "Santa Baby," when Miss Piggy says "Let's pick it up a little!" Jacobson's forehead is visible behind her.
When the green-painted Fozzie crashes into the street corner Santa, he loses his hat (making him look like the Grinch). However, after he is chased through the steam bath, he is clean and wearing the hat.
When the newly-cleaned Fozzie turns and is stopped by a Who, Eric Jacobson's head is visible as Fozzie turns.
When Kermit enters the Bitterman Bank after his spat with Fozzie, Steve Whitmire's head can just be barely seen picking up through the wrapping paper.
When Kermit makes his speech towards the end ("...they'll never touch the Muppet Theatre in our hearts!"), the other Muppets are seen cheering him on, and the black dowel connected to the bottom of Rizzo's arm rod becomes visible.
When Bunsen and Beaker enter in the final scene, Whitmire's head is visible under Beaker.
Before the finale, Bobo tells the Muppets on stage that there are carolers outside and that they should come out and join them. Both Dr. Teeth and Crazy Harry are shown excited to hear this and are seen leaving the scene with the other characters. However, in the following scene of caroling outside the theater, the two are nowhere to be found.
When the telethon begins, Zoot is shown not wearing his hat in the wide shot of the orchestra, and then is wearing his hat when he blows his note in close-up.
During the recreation of The Muppet Show opening, Janice is seen in the orchestra pit, but is then seen as part of the female chorus. At the ending reveal, Janice is nowhere to be seen in the row of female characters she was in.
When Bobo and Uncle Deadly, are singing "Together Again," Bobo is seen holding a spray bottle, but when the two are commanded to stop singing by Tex Richman, Bobo's hand's are empty. Then, when Bobo and Uncle Deadly are blaming each other for the singing, Bobo has the spray bottle in his hands again.
When Tex Richman knocks out the phone lines, Sam the Eagle is seen in the balcony, struggling with his phone. Shortly after, he is seen offstage wearing a tuxedo, and later returns to wearing nothing at all
During the beginning of Walter's whistling performance, The Swedish Chef is seen wearing a tuxedo, and standing with the other Muppets. As the song ends, he is seen standing behing Gary & Mary, wearing his regular clothes.
Muppet Height Relations
One of the big errors people can nitpick with the Muppet productions is continuity of the characters' heights. For example, Rizzo and Pepe the King Prawn normally appear around (or even above) waist height compared to their human co-stars. However, a full-body look at proportions of the character would suggest they would barely reach a human's knee. Kermit, Fozzie, and the other Muppets also appear in a flexible height range in order to interact comfortably with humans and sets. Steve Whitmire said in a 1998 interview that "If a character like Rizzo only appeared at his true height next to a human actor, you’d only see the human actor’s feet when you saw Rizzo. That’s an extreme example, but the idea is true for most of the characters. Even so, we do know the relative heights of the characters to each other and make an effort to keep that in mind." The suspended belief that the audience has when watching the Muppets allows this flexible reality to exist without major distractions. So even though Pepe's feet would be floating three feet off the ground, the audience still goes along, not questioning, and usually not even perceiving.
Many people argue that the Muppet films and TV shows are non-canonical; that each production is a world unto itself - that the Muppets are timeless personalities and characters that carry throughout productions, and these characters are presenting a show. People continue to argue and debate over what is Muppet truth and what is just acting and plain entertainment. For instance, Muppet Babies undermines the whole notion of The Muppet Movie, and Scooter's role as The Electric Mayhem's road manager in The Muppet Movie undermines his backstory set up in the early run of The Muppet Show as the theater owner's nephew hired by Kermit as a go-fer. There have been many contradictions in Muppet canon and backstories throughout the 50+ years of the Muppets. However, writers and performers will overlook or circumvent them in order to create new compelling stories, new characters or character traits, or just deliver a humorous joke.
In episode 210 of The Muppet Show, Gonzo explains his mother died before he was born and left a note to his father regarding Gonzo's name. This is contradicted in the Jason Alexander episode of Muppets Tonight where Gonzo claims his mother liked his unique college interpretation of Death of a Salesman. However, the whole notion of Gonzo remembering his parents is somewhat dispelled in the film Muppets from Space.