The first appearance by proto-Muppets was way back in 1955, with the debut of Jim and Jane Henson’s first original TV series, Sam and Friends. The ensuing 65 years have seen the puppet-filled brand extend into virtually every medium. The Muppet Show kicked off with a confetti-filled bang in 1976. The Muppet Movie sent the gang off into the real world in 1979. They became staples of the Disney parks with Muppet*Vision 3D in the early ’90s. After Jim Henson’s death in 1990, his son, Brian Henson, picked up the reins to direct The Muppet Christmas Carol, one of the best Christmas movies of all time.
Over the years, the Muppet-verse has expanded beyond the iconic cast of Kermit, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and Animal. You can’t talk about “the Muppets” without considering Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Storyteller, the oddities of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, and even the Jim Henson Company’s ventures into the realms of CG animation. From film and TV to music and theater, and then on to internet memes, Vines, and an AR app, the Muppets have prevailed in every arena.
That’s an awful lot of Muppet history to sort through, but inevitably, we all have our favorite Muppet moments. And with the newest Muppet TV series, Muppets Now, heading to Disney Plus on July 31, Polygon’s writers continue to chart the course of Muppeting as it plays out into the future. Here’s everything we love about Muppets, all in one place.