When someone hears the name Jim Henson, they immediately think of one thing — Muppets! Starting on Sesame Street, Henson's Muppets have found their way across the grid of entertainment and media, appearing as guests on shows like Saturday Night Live, earning themselves their own shows and films, and even playing roles in entirely separate movies.
It is clear that, even after his death, Jim Henson's vision lives on as Muppets like Kermit the Frog, Elmo, Big Bird, Fozzie Bear and Gonzo still continue to be active to this day. But which of these Muppets made the biggest impact? Let's take a look at the top five most successful Muppets of all time...
5. Miss Piggy
Though she may act like the Number One Muppet in the world, Miss Piggy really is not the most successful. However, she does hold the position of No. 5. Though Kermit is technically the symbol of The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy always stole the spotlight and made herself known.
Piggy is actually a rather popular Muppet, often being the fan favorite Muppet simply due to her diva attitude. In addition, ABC's The Muppets is now very Piggy-centric due to her popularity, making the mock show they produce in the series about Miss Piggy herself rather than about the Muppets as whole. Well played, Miss Piggy. Now if only we could figure out your first name...
Elmo is by far the most favorite and beloved Muppet on Sesame Street by fans across the world. He even earned himself his own 15 minute segment titled Elmo's World on Sesame Street (which is over a whopping quarter of the show's run time) for 11 years. This was later replaced with Elmo the Musical which is still a regular part of the series to this day.
Outside of the show, Elmo managed to be a very hot selling toy. The "Tickle Me Elmo" doll was arguably the top selling toy of 1996, creating an enormous toy frenzy during the Christmas season as parents everywhere tried desperately to get it for their children, making national news. To this day, other Elmo toys still manage to hit the shelf and be bought almost immediately, simply based on the success and popularity of the character.
3. Cookie Monster
Now you may be thinking, 'why is Cookie Monster on this list? Surely Elmo and Miss Piggy are better than him.' Now, while Elmo and Piggy may be more popular, they are not as successful as this blue Muppet. This is because Cookie Monster is the first and only Muppet to ever host (or co-host) Saturday Night Live.
In December of 2010, Cookie Monster co-hosted the popular sketch series alongside Jeff Bridges. This was in response to Cookie Monster's Saturday Night Live audition tape going viral online, leading millions of fans to attempt to get the Muppet on the show. This is actually a pretty big success for a children's show character and we will not forget him on this list.
2. Kermit the Frog
Kermit is the only Sesame Street character to ever earn himself his own, separate spin-off that still runs on today with just as much power. Kermit was originally voiced by Jim Henson himself as a regular character on Sesame Street, but in 1976 Kermit separated from the Muppets of Sesame Street in New York and earned his own LA-based series titled The Muppet Show.
Since then, Kermit's show has earned itself two spin-off (or reboot) shows and eight movies. In addition, Kermit's shows and films have incorporated a large population of celebrities over the years, giving Kermit and The Muppet Show quite a name. Kermit truly is a rather successful frog.
Though he is at the top of this list, Yoda may also be the most controversial Muppet on this list. This is because some people do not consider Yoda to be a Muppet, even though he fits all the "Muppet" requirements (he is voiced and performed by Muppet voice actor Frank Oz, and was co-created by Jim Henson himself). Although he is made by Henson and performed by Oz, some do not consider Yoda a Muppet simply because he does not appear on a Muppet-themed show.
Nevertheless, Yoda has appeared in a film series more popular than that of any other Muppets — Star Wars! The Muppet of Yoda appeared in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace before being turned into CGI for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and having his voice appear in The Force Awakens. Not a bad legacy for a Muppet. Yoda is clearly the most successful Muppet of all time, even if some don't consider him to be a Muppet at all.
I don't think Jim Henson really knew how successful his Muppets would become when he first made them, but they truly have earned a name for themselves. Everyone on this list has become a household name, and the characters have starred in countless shows and films. The Muppets have really come a long way, and let's face it, most of us will never have as much success as Muppets like Kermit and Yoda.