There’s a lot about the plot of Muppets Most Wanted that we’ve been able to glean from the numerous trailers and promotional videos/images. It’s kind of hard not to. Even while avoiding any larger than life spoilers, it’s easy to figure out pieces of the plot without the movie having even hit theaters yet.
One plot point that seems blatantly obvious is that we’re going to see Kermit in jail for a distinct amount of the film. Whether you’ve picked that up from the official trailer, this film clip, behind-the-scenes footage, or Tina’s interview on The Tonight Show, odds are you’re probably expecting it to happen already. Heck, I’ve been expecting some prison scenes ever since it was announced Tina Fey was playing a Russian prison guard named Nadya.
So this got us thinking. What are some of the previous times we’ve seen the Muppets – or other Henson creatures, for that matter – face time behind bars? Has it happened a lot? It sure does feel like it has. Well turns out there have been more than a couple times we’ve seen the Muppets in prison (although whether those times have been justified or not is an entirely different story).
Now, here for your enjoyment, is a look at some of those moments where we’ve witnessed Muppets do time in jail.
Miss Piggy in The Great Muppet Caper
I’m sure Piggy landing herself in the big house (“Big house, squealer, slammer. That’s the lingo we use here in the joint.”) is probably the most memorable when it comes to jail-related Muppet moments. It’s certainly a good one! We get Miss Piggy and Rosenthal’s romantic kiss, as well as Piggy using her brute strength to pry open the bars of her cell so she can go and save the day.
The Sesame gang in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland
It’s been more than a few years since I last watched Elmo in Grouchland, but having loved it throughout my childhood I have no problem recalling this portion of the film. Oscar, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Telly, Zoe, Maria, and Gordon get themselves thrown into Grouchland Jail where they have “the right to scream [their] heads off” in the process of looking for Elmo.
Although cut from the final theatrical version, the prison scene in The Muppets is pretty well known by the fans. Not only is it a deleted scene on the DVD, it appeared in several of the movie’s trailers before release and also in the novelization of the film. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was surprised to walk out of the movie theater without having seen Wanda Sykes or Danny Trejo. At least Danny Trejo’s getting a second chance in Muppets Most Wanted soon – let’s hope he makes the cut this time!
Mokey in “Fraggle Wars”
Despite being a show that was created under the premise of bringing about world peace, Fraggle Rock was never afraid to tackle the hard hitting topics, including war. In “Fraggle Wars” the Rock Fraggles and Cave Fraggles almost end up at war with one another over a long standing dispute between them. In the process of this, we see Mokey taken prisoner by the Cave Fraggles and kept caged up for a good amount of the episode. Lucky for us, she sings the beautiful song ‘Sunlight and Shadow‘ while imprisoned.
Rizzo in Muppets from Space
Everyone loves a good Shawshank Redemption parody, which makes Rizzo’s break-out-of-rat-prison scene all the sweeter. While Muppets from Space normally ranks on the lower side of the Muppet films, I’ll be the first one to admit I’m actually quite fond of Rizzo’s prison scenes.
Lefty on Sesame Street
Lefty has always been an incredibly shifty character over the years, constantly trying to outsmart and con characters – and by characters, I mean a certain rubber duck-loving roommate. Rarely do we see Lefty get reprimanded for his shifty ways, so it was a bit different when Lefty stole the golden AN, which landed him “10 days in the can.” While we don’t see him in prison, we know that’s exactly where he’s headed when the policeman shows up near the end.
Gobo, Mokey, Red, and Boober in “Wembley and the Gorgs”
Of course we can’t forget the time the crew were taken hostage by the Gorgs in the second ever episode of Fraggle Rock. Not only did the episode give us a better introduction to the Gorgs, it also gave us the great number ‘Fraggle Rock Rock‘.
Bear on Patrol sketches on The Muppet Show
How could Bear on Patrol not make the list? The sketches were set in a prison, for Pete’s sake! Bear on Patrol is one of the best remembered sketches from The Muppet Show; perhaps not as much as Pigs in Space or Veterinarians Hospital, but it’s still definitely up there.
Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo in The Great Muppet Caper
Okay, is this one a bit of a stretch? Maybe. But does it still work on this list? Yes. Yes it does.
Kermit on The Muppet Show
We all remember Kermit and Linda Ronstadt’s mutual attraction, which unsurprisingly resulted in Miss Piggy not taking it well. Kermit spent a good deal of Linda’s episode locked inside Gonzo’s fungus trunk, unable to escape. Not that Kermit was complaining. He was rewarded with Linda serenading him throughout the episode. Lucky frog.
The Podlings in The Dark Crystal
Maybe imprisonment isn’t the right word here. I guess the Podlings lean a little bit more on the slavery side of things… which is a type of imprisonment in and of itself, right?
Big Bird in Follow That Bird
One of the more memorable imprisonments was Big Bird finding himself caged up and painted blue in Follow That Bird. He sings the song ‘I’m So Blue‘ for his carnival audience, in which he realizes Sesame is where he belongs and all he wants is “to be back home again.” It’s a touching moment in Sesame Street‘s film canon, and it always manages to bring a tear to my eye.
Blotch and Goggles in Kermit’s Swamp Years
Everyone sort of forgets Kermit’s Swamp Years, don’t they? It wasn’t disliked enough to be talked about consistently, nor was it liked enough to be fondly remembered. Heck, I own a copy of the Swamp Years DVD and I still manage to forget its existence unless I’m digging around for a movie to watch. That being said, Blotch and Goggles did get imprisoned in a pet store for the duration of the film. Did I have to Google the film’s synopsis so I could remember the names of these characters and the plot of this film? Maybe, but characters were indeed imprisoned, and that’s good enough to get Swamp Years a spot on this list.
And now, for the enjoyment of all you extreme Henson fans, here are some special bonuses which aren’t exactly Muppet-y, but are definitely related to the Muppets.
I hate to admit it, but I’ve still yet to see The Cube. Despite my over abundant love of all things Henson and the knowledge that both Jerry’s make on screen appearances, it’s just one of those things I’ve never gotten around to watching. However, thanks to the wonderfulness that is Muppet Wiki, it’s easy to see why The Cube definitely belongs on this list. While not necessarily in his predicament due to causing a crime, the protagonist spends the entirety of the film being imprisoned in a single room, unable to leave. Definitely sounds like a metaphoric imprisonment to me.
Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, and Dave Goelz in “The Mild Bunch”
This comic, which appeared in the 1980 edition of the magazine “The Mild Bunch”, features the crew of Muppet performers being held in a prison and robbing a bank. I don’t know about you, but I’d gladly read a comic where all the Muppet performers don cowboy hats and run around committing crimes like stealing gigantic piggy banks. In fact, why is that not a thing that exists yet?? Who do I have to pay to get that to be a thing?
Jim Henson in Time Piece
Of course we can’t leave out Time Piece, where we see our protagonist (an incredibly young and dapper looking Jim Henson) thrown behind bars, dressed in prison garb and breaking rocks, then making a break for it. While brief, it definitely leaves an impact, as does the whole of the film.
Click here to make a jailbreak over on the ToughPigs forum!
by Julia Gaskill