A Fond Tribute to the Tough Pigs Muppet Fan Forum

Published: December 8, 2023
Categories: Commentary, Feature

Well, it’s really happening. After the announcement last week, the gates of the new Tough Pigs Discord server were officially opened to the public, and over 300 people moseyed in.

That’s a lot of Muppet fans! More Muppet fans have now showed up on the Discord than actual Muppets showed up for Kermit and Piggy’s wedding in The Muppets Take Manhattan. It’s very, very exciting. And yet, I’m also feeling a tug of… some other feeling. It’s not sadness, exactly. It’s hard to describe. But I know the reason for this category-defying feeling: Embracing the new Tough Pigs Discord means finally acknowledging that the Tough Pigs forum on Delphi Forums is no longer a viable venue for active online discussion.

The Tough Pigs forum was founded in 2001, around the same time as the website. Since the earliest days of Tough Pigs, the forum has been our primary space for regular conversation about the Muppets, as well as lots of things that aren’t the Muppets.

I started participating in conversations on the Tough Pigs forum not long after Danny Horn started it in 2001. I had previously been semi-active on the original Muppet Central forum, which was also hosted on Delphi. But with Tough Pigs, Danny’s goal was to create a Muppet fan website with a grown-up attitude, and the forum would reflect that as well.

Over the years, a bunch of us became regulars, and a quirky community formed on the Tough Pigs forum. It was a lot like Kermit accumulating friends as he travels across the country in The Muppet Movie, except we never did get to meet a cigar-smoking Orson Welles.

When new Muppet stuff came out, the forum would see a surge in activity from occasional users and newcomers, and we would scrutinize every scene, joke, and background Muppet. The forum was where we talked about everything from the MuppetFest convention to the Palisades toys, from Studio DC: Almost Live to the 2015 ABC sitcom.

Sometimes forum activity would achieve head-spinning momentum. When there was a big news story, when a new TV special aired, or when a new book or DVD was released, new posts would pop up seconds apart. Threads could reach hundreds of posts within hours. Just as the welcome page described it, it was a long-running party. At its peak, it became a genuine non-stop shindig.

We talked about old Muppet stuff and new Muppet stuff, we created ridiculous polls, we made up stupid “clubs,” and we perpetuated running gags, some of which might be classified as memes today. Some of us would check in all day, every day, constantly refreshing the forum to see what was new.

But never during work hours. Probably. I don’t know. For some strange reason, I’m kind of hazy on that.

We even had Santa Claus showing up on the forum! Really! One December during the heyday of the forum, a Delphi user with the user name “OlStNick” and the display name “Santa” started a new thread wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and asking what kinds of gifts we wanted under our trees. His posts were all written in rhyme, and dozens of forum users replied, writing hundreds of lines of poetry. Santa’s visits became an annual tradition we would all look forward to as we enjoyed the long-running party.

Then, at a certain point… things started to shift. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter grew to massive proportions, and became global stages for all humans to post their thoughts about everything — including Muppets. The old message board format for online discourse started to fall out of fashion. 

It didn’t help that Delphi probably hasn’t had a significant upgrade since the mid-’00s. It’s not the most mobile-friendly website in the world, which means that Muppet fans looking to keep themselves occupied for a few minutes now have more convenient options for those moments when they’re eating a bowl of Froot Loops, or riding the subway, or sitting on the… um, couch.

And so, a while back, a small group of us glanced up from our conversation, looked around the forum, and said, “Hey… Why is it so quiet? Didn’t there used to be a lot more people at this party?”

It took us a long time to actually do anything about it, but we realized it was time to start moving the party to a different house. A more modern house, where it smells a little fresher and the refrigerator has a built-in ice dispenser. Thus, the Tough Pigs Discord server. Which is mobile-friendly!

So far, the new joint is jumpin’. When I browse the Tough Pigs Discord server, I see familiar folks and fans who are new to me. All the channels are buzzing, and the extremely smart and capable Tough Pigs contributors who created the server (shout-out to Becca and Katilyn!) have even had to create new channels because people are coming up with stuff to talk about that we hadn’t even anticipated!

I suppose all of this means we should have created a new space years ago. It’s as plain as the nose on Gonzo’s face that there are heaps of Muppet nerds online, and they’d love to talk about the Muppets with other nerds. The fact that activity on the forum had slowed to a trickle doesn’t mean there was nothing left to say. It just means very few people were interested in doing it on an old Delphi forum.

I love the Tough Pigs forum. The Tough Pigs forum literally changed my life for the better, and I’ll always be grateful it existed. But nothing ever stays the way it is forever, as Muppet fans have learned over and over again. Sometimes you gotta leave that swamp, get on your bicycle, and head off to the new browser tab or app store that’s going to take you to Hollywood.

Thanks for everything, Tough Pigs Forum on Delphi Forums! You’ve been fantastic!

Having said all that, we’re not planning to delete the Tough Pigs forum any time soon. If you want to keep posting there for now, have at it. We’ll be keeping an eye on things to make sure it doesn’t get too wild and crazy. Just be aware that there probably won’t be a lot of other folks hanging around.

Also: If you’re a brilliant computer person, and you happen to know a way we could archive the entire history of the forum, please let me know! There are decades of Tough Pigs history there, spread across 19,200-something threads. I don’t think Delphi is likely to vanish unexpectedly tomorrow, but even still, I’d love it if I could somehow save it so I’d never lose access to that extremely important poll about Letters to Santa or that one hilarious joke Anthony made in 2013.

Click here to tip your hat to the Tough Pigs forum on the Tough Pigs Discord server!

by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com

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