The Lone Ranger is a character who originated on the radio in the 1930s and went on to become one of the most iconic fictional cowboys. The Lone Ranger, a masked man who was the sole survivor of an ambush on his Texas Ranger troop, rides the range with a cloud of dust, his faithful Indian companion Tonto, silver bullets, and a hearty "Hi-yo, Silver!" to his trusty steed. The program debuted on Detroit station WXYZ in January 1933 and remained on the air until 1956. Its theme song, the strains of the "William Tell Overture," would become forever identified with the Lone Ranger, following him into movies, TV, and commercials.
The Ranger's adventures were black and white morality plays, thrilling but with unusually fastidious habits and a minimum of bloodshed and mayhem. The radio series, though broadcast regionally, gained national interest and, as other individual stations picked up the program, led to the formation of the Mutual Broadcasting System. The Lone Ranger was soon adapted for comic books, film serials, and a television series, as well as inspiring countless parodies and becoming an iconic symbol of the idealized Old West, a sterling knight amongst the sagebrush. As such, the Ranger has been the target of spoofs and joking asides, including several in the Muppet universe.
- In Tales of the Tinkerdee, Taminella Grinderfall and Charlie pose as Santa Claus and a reindeer to gain access to the castle. Charlie states his reindeer name is Tonto.
- In Hey Cinderella!, when preparing for the costume ball, the Fairy Godmother pulls out a black mask which a nice man on a horse gave to her. He also tried to give her his faithful Indian companion.
- The song "You Don't Mess Around with Jim," performed by the Country Trio in The Perry Como Winter Show, notes that "you don't tear the mask off that old Lone Ranger."
- In a Sesame Street sketch, Simon Soundman makes the noise of various forms of transportation. When he makes the sound of a horse (backed by the William Tell Overture), he is mistaken for a real one by a Lone Ranger-esque Anything Muppet who lassos him and refers to Simon as "Silver." As he is dragged away, Simon asks, "Say, who is this masked man anyway?"
- The story "Hopalong Herbert Out West," included in The Sesame Street ABC Storybook, has a masked horse surprising Herbert Birdsfoot by riding him and shouting "Hi, ho, Herbert! Away!"
- The 1977 book Tales of Sesame Gulch includes multiple references. After a masked Herry Monster saves the stagecoach in "The Day Herry Monster Held Up the Stage," Big Bird asks "Who is that masked monster?" Meanwhile, Prairie Dawn rides her faithful horse Silver throughout the book, and dialogue in "Marshall Grover Meets the (Gulp) Noon Train" paraphrases the radio show opening, as there comes the sound of hooves, "a cloud of dust, and a hearty 'Whoah, there, Silver!'"
- In episode 510 of The Muppet Show, The Pied Piper (Jean-Pierre Rampal) promises to rid the rats' town of children if the burgomeister will "cross his palm with silver." A female rat wonders why he would want the Lone Ranger's horse step over his hand.
- A sixth season Muppet Babies episode is titled "The Green Ranger." Baby Kermit adopts that identity in a fantasy when his favorite show, The Range Rider, is canceled. However, the Range Rider bears a stronger resemblance to the likes of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry than to the famous masked man.
- In Big Bird in Japan, Big Bird notices that the young Japanese woman helping them seems to come and go when they need help. He hypothesizes that she's the Lone Ranger.
- In "Elmo's World: Birds," the Bird Channel announcer mentions The Loon Ranger.
- In Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet, when Danvers Blickensderfer needs his best friend Pasquale's help, he calls him "kemo sabe" (the term of endearment that Tonto would use for the Lone Ranger).
- Kermit the Frog appeared at CinemaCon 2012 dressed as the Lone Ranger, to promote the upcoming film.
- Helena Bonham Carter played Red Harrington in The Lone Ranger (2013 film)
- Johnny Depp played Tonto in The Lone Ranger (2013 film)
- James Lipton played Dan Reid on the original radio series in the 1940s
- Christopher Lloyd played Butch Cavendish in The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981 film)
- Slim Pickens appeared in two 1956 episodes of the TV series, as Joe Boley in "The Sheriff of Smoke Tree" and Ed Jones in "The Letter Bride"
- Stephen Root played Habberman in The Lone Ranger (2013 film)