The Muppets ranked and Rita Moreno

People have strong feelings about which Muppet is the best. I am one of them. The people at Pop Culture Happy Hour asked their listeners to vote for their favorite and they got more than 18,000 responses with over 150 Muppets receiving votes. Some extremely tough questions had to be addressed, such as what Muppets qualified. (The answer: “Any Muppet from any property or era was eligible, including The Muppet Show, Muppet Babies, Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street, Labyrinth, etc.”) Then before tabulating the results, there were other issues such as should Statler and Waldorf, Bert and Ernie, or Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker be considered as individuals or as pairs. Only Statler and Waldorf were considered as a pair, which I agree with.

As for me, my feeling is that the top five are Grover, Kermit, Cookie Monster, Bert, and Ernie. They are all from Sesame Street, with Kermit being the only crossover with the Muppet show. From the latter show, I like Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and Animal, making eight in all. My standard for preference is that if they appear on TV, I don’t leave the room until their segment is over. Sadly, only five of those eight made the top ten. Cookie came in at #11, Ernie at #18, Bert at #23. It is a scandal that Beaker, Beaker!, came in at #4. What are these people thinking? And who the hell is Sweetums, who gets to be #19?

A nice thing about the list is that almost entry is accompanied by commentary from the people who host PCHH, who also have strong views on this topic, along with clips defending their choices. Here is a wonderful clip of Animal, drummer for the band Electric Mayhem, accompanying the great Rita Moreno on the song Fever in her 1977 appearance on The Muppet Show. It never fails to crack me up, however many times I see it. She won an Emmy for this appearance.

In the comments to the YouTube clip, someone posted the English translation of her words: “Hey buddy, I just want to tell you that you should not do that, it’s not nice, you understand? Look at me when I speak to you. This is my number and if you annoy me more I’ll give you a gag that will leave you silly. Cool it!”

Moreno was a breakout star when she appeared as Anita in the 1961 film version of West Side Story, providing some of that film’s most memorable moments and for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She had to learn to dance to take on this role though you would never guess that from her performance, since she looks like she had been a professional dancer all her life.

She was a true triple threat, being an excellent actor, singer, and dancer. Add to that her stunning good looks, and her performance should have catapulted her to superstardom. Unfortunately, as the song America itself suggests, Puerto Ricans faced, and still face, discrimination and she never received her full due. As she said, “I didn’t make another movie for seven years after winning the Oscar…. Before West Side Story, I was always offered the stereotypical Latina roles. The Conchitas and Lolitas in westerns. I was always barefoot. It was humiliating, embarrassing stuff. But I did it because there was nothing else. After West Side Story, it was pretty much the same thing. A lot of gang stories.”

But despite that, over a long career she won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony, one of only three people who have received all four awards, collectively referred to as EGOT.

Here she is appearing on Jimmy Kimmel’s show in 2019. At age 87, she looks as stunning and vivacious as ever.



  1. flex says

    There is no question in my mind, Rowlf is the best Muppet. I want a bust of Rowlf to put on my piano.

    After I get a piano.

  2. says

    Hands held high, the best Muppet is Grover!

    If I had the chance to take on the personality of any Muppet, his would be the one for me, for many, many reasons, but mostly because he is the kindest, most helpful in the group.

    My No. 1 pick of his performances would be: Grover demonstrates two chin ups.

    Closely followed by the classic Near and Far at No. 2.

  3. larpar says

    One, one favorite muppet.
    Two, two favorite muppets.
    Three, three favorite muppets.
    Four, four favorite muppets.

  4. jenorafeuer says

    Sweetums is one of the full-suit Muppets. If you’ve seen The Muppet Movie, the original one, he was the one at the used car dealership (Jack not name, Jack job!) who ended up chasing after Kermit and crashed through the movie screen at the end. He’s pretty much the ultimate ‘big scary-looking monster who’s really a softie at heart’.

    My grandfather’s favorite Muppet was always the Swedish Chef. I’m not sure how I would rank them myself.

    As for Rita Moreno, yeah, I remember that number with Animal. And it’s sad that she didn’t get her due later on… frankly, that’s one of the things The Muppet Show was always good with, and why so many people loved coming on the show: they let the actors do their thing and be themselves, doing things that most other shows would never let them do.

  5. drken says

    Beaker seems to be increasing in popularity as time goes on, particularly with the younger set. You’d have to ask somebody who is younger and/or studies these sorts of thing because despite my approval of Beaker’s timeless appeal, I’m not sure what’s going on there. It is nice to see people know who Sweetums is, even if Mano doesn’t. Personally, my only two issues with the list is the presence of Miss Piggy, despite her history as a domestic abuser, and the absence of Crazy Harry. He is truly the most under appreciated muppet.

  6. publicola says

    My fave is Oscar the Grouch, maybe because he’s closest to my personality. ( There’s a painful and humiliating admission. ) Also, I love the Count, Animal, Cookie Monster and Statler and Waldorf. As for Rita…timeless.

  7. brucegee1962 says

    Woah, you could have started another discussion about trans women in sports, or abortion, or the value of the Democratic party. But you went with the MUPPETS? Is your intent to blow up any hope of comity in this comments section? Sever every friendship? Do you want half your commenters to declare war on the other half?

    Also, Statler and Waldorf, for sure.

  8. Mobius says

    The Muppet Show was excellent and I watched every episode I could. But my favorite was Muppet Super Adhesive with the great Gilda Radner. Absolutely brilliant.

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