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Recycled Puppets

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Lenny the Lizard
Lenny the Lizard.
Wendell Wizard
Wendell Wizard.

The Muppet universe frequently requires large numbers of one-shot characters. Thanks to the enormous library of puppets at the Muppet team's disposal, this end is frequently met by passing a minor or background character (sometimes one from a different series) to another performer and giving it a new name and personality.

Sometimes the puppet is identical from situation to situation (as with Joe the Armadillo from Kermit's Swamp Years and Annette from Bear in the Big Blue House); sometimes it is simply re-costumed (The Muppet Show's Shakey Sanchez became Princess Lulabelle on Mopatop's Shop through the addition of a hat and dress); and sometimes the puppet itself is modified (Taminella Grinderfall's fang was removed and hair was added when she became Tommy in commercials for Kern's Bakery).

The concept is taken to its logical extreme in the Anything Muppets, Whatnots, and Unisaurs, who are endlessly recycled as different characters and frequently have changeable facial features.

Puppets passed around in this manner occasionally acquire stable identities when the right combination of performer and writer comes along. Snarl, the Cigar Box Frackle, was an unimportant character from The Great Santa Claus Switch, but that puppet rose to stardom when recycled as a Muppet Show performance artist named Gonzo. Similarly, the furry red puppet used for a minor Sesame Street character named Baby Monster was recycled a decade later to become the show's ultra-popular Elmo, while the Wheel-Stealer puppet used for the Wheels, Crowns and Flutes commercials was recycled into Sesame Street's famous Cookie Monster.

Recycled Puppets

Start a Discussion Discussions about Recycled Puppets

  • Character recycling for external franchises

    7 messages
    • Should Mats really be deleted because I don't know what episode of Sesamstrasse or Sesame Street he appeared in. I know Little Bird re-appeared...
    • None of what you're saying is true, that a character designed by one company is "recycled" by another because there's a resemblance (the "Cou...

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