When talk of the Jim Henson franchise comes up, the immediate character who comes to mind isn't usually "the crazed stalker-cum-fast-food-tycoon" or "the perverted jewel thief." Still, some muppets and men just don't need no stinkin' Rainbow Connection, and the Muppet universe has produced its fair share of scoundrels and brigands. Some are classic, others are generic, and some are genuinely embarrassing to watch, so let's examine the firmly established empirical facts (translation: my opinion) of which ones were awesome, and which ones were less interesting than Scooter.
Disclaimer: the made-for-TV movies are not applicable here, since there's so many of them.
10. Huxley, Elmo in Grouchland
Once upon a time, a Sesame Street movie was made, and the villain was very, very interesting. Then, another Sesame Street movie happened, now with 500% more Elmo, and as a whole, it was completely dumbed down for the spottiest of attention spans. Henson movies are their best when they trust kids to be smart. This was not the case.
For the villain, we got Mandy Patinkin playing the offspring of the Grinch and Smaug. Huxley has a passion for stealing anything remotely stealable from Grouchland, hoarding it, then repeating from step one until insane. There was only so much material the Hensons could milk from that, but they certainly did try.
9. K. Edgar Singer, Muppets From Space
In which Jeffrey Tambor plays our least favorite Jeffrey Tambor role, as "Anyone but George Bluth Sr.". In all seriousness, Muppets From Space was a seriously lackluster entry in all respects, the villain no exception. It's no wonder that the Muppets took such a break from theatrical releases after this.
8. Uh, New York City?, Muppets Take Manhattan
Muppets Take Manhattan, in a word, is tricky. The Muppets' origin story is completely turned on its head for the sake of this film alone (or maybe it's a parallel universe - is this Crisis on Infinite Muppets?), there are very fun set pieces that ultimately contribute nothing to the plot, most of the action in the latter third comes from a completely random car accident, and if you try to pinpoint a single character as the antagonist, you will get nowhere.
Ultimately, I could only narrow down the villain to being the uncaring city of New York. It's a cruelly gigantic place for a bunch of puppets to put on a musical. Also, that's the last time I will likely ever use that sentence in context.
7. Tex Richman, The Muppets
After the Muppets dusted themselves off from From Space, the hiatus ended with a lovely entry into the canon. The villain was nothing special - he honestly felt like a nonviolent and completely tongue-in-cheek version of Doc Hopper. Still, the lighter tone of this film wouldn't have warranted such a dark villain as Doc, and Tex, while not being enough of a crook to write home about, fit right in with The Muppets.
6. Nicky Holiday, The Great Muppet Caper
When the Muppets set out to make a movie-within-a-movie like The Great Muppet Caper, you know they're going to make it campy as hell. Charles Grodin as a jewel thief mooching off his fashion mogul sister was just what it needed. What really defines Nicky, though, is his downright terrifying romantic obsession with Miss Piggy. On a scale of one to Judge Frollo, he's easily in the 90th percentile of "total creeper."
5. Constantine, Muppets Most Wanted
EVIL KERMIT. Enough said.
4. Miss Finch, Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird
As said in #10, the villain to Sesame Street's first movie was pretty cool. While some would say the villains are the two con artists that try to kidnap and exploit Big Bird, they only are a real danger towards the end - the main antagonist, in my opinion, is Miss Finch, because her actions set the story into motion.
Miss Finch is not necessarily bad. She absolutely means well, but she's also intimidating in her methods - she's basically the Big Bird equivalent of Jane Elliott. Her goal was to try to fix Big Bird's life, even though it wasn't broken to begin with. Still, that's a degree of unselfishness and moral ambiguity seldom seen in most things involving Super Grover.
3. The Goblin King, Labyrinth
Let's put it this way: he stole a baby, and he still gets tons of fangirls. That's not easy to pull off.
2. Doc Hopper, The Muppet Movie
Tex Richman tried to mess up the Muppets' antenna tower. Nicky Holiday pulled a snub-nozed revolver on Fozzie. Doc Hopper set an entire freakin' firing squad against Kermit and all his friends. Without a doubt, Hopper was the most twisted of Kermit's nemeses, with an Ahab-like obsession with having Kermit advertise his frog legs (akin to the mascot of Soylent Green being "Meaty the Man"). He chases Kermit across the country, using any evil thing at his disposal to get his mascot - billboards, hired guns, an ex-Nazi scientist with a brain-scrambling machine, and a professional assassin specializing in murdering frogs (because apparently those are in high demand), and the only thing that could stop him was Animal eating growth pills and going full-on kaiju on Hopper and his mercs. This was the Muppets' darkest villain, and I was disappointed when he didn't make a vengeful comeback in The Muppets as the brains behind Tex Richman.
1. The Skeksis, The Dark Crystal
Now, these guys were amazing. Apart from being my favorite Jim Henson villains, the Skeksis as a group are my favorite antagonist of any movie. The Dark Crystal wouldn't have been half as memorable without them. These sadistic vulture-velociraptor-things were terrifying as well as hilarious. Each one had a different personality and purpose, and they worked both with and against each other like the cogs of a poorly-oiled machine. A better group antagonist can't be found anywhere else. On that note, mmmmMMMMmm...
If I missed any Muppet movies or villains of note, feel free to argue in the comments section.