Jim Henson's Muppets have brought joy to countless millions across the globe. Yet in sticking with Topless Robot's ongoing commitment to pointing out the dark side of life whenever possible, today's Daily List overlooks the happiness presented by Kermit and company and instead chooses to focus on the dark side of the Muppets. As any parent who had to tend to their children's Skeksis-induced nightmares will tell you, not all of the Henson Creature Shop's output is cute and cuddly. But let's cast aside any night terrors caused by Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal or any other non-Muppet projects (whose scary creatures merit a list of their own) and today focus strictly on terrifying creations featured in Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. Be it based on appearance alone or something more sinister that lies just beneath the surface, each of these 15 entries is enough to fuel plenty of nightmares.
Just a quick note before we begin: because what people find scary is subjective and this list is based on my own experience, you may not agree with some of my picks. If that's the case, be sure to name which Muppets scared the bejesus out of you in the comments. That said, let's take a look at my picks for the 15 most nightmare-inducing Muppets ever seen.
15) The Yip Yip Martians
Let's start things off easy with some Muppets that are less overtly scary and more nightmarish in a frustrating way, the so-called "Yip-Yip Martians." Just like the co-worker who shares the same anecdote about meeting Adam West at Wizard World over and over again, the Yip-Yips drone on repetitively without end. There's no way to be sure, but I'm guessing the reason that Sesame Street featured them so often was to prepare children for the constant bores they would encounter in their adult lives. A few minutes with these aliens and you'll feel like you're watching a production of Sartre's No Exit produced by the Children's Television Workshop.
Guess what kids? PUSHERS ARE EVERWHERE! Have fun trying to enjoy the rest of your childhood when danger lurks around every corner.
One of the new creations for The Jim Henson Hour, Digit was a creepy looking puppet fever dream who was supposed to be part robot. Jump to 1:50 in the above clip (taken from the appropriately titled The Cosby Show episode "Cliff's Nightmare") to see Digit in action. So this is what the offspring of Max Headroom and Miss Piggy would have been like. Shudder.
On the surface Janice seems to be a joyful hippie who is all about peace and love. But you know who else was? Squeaky Fromme. Look how that turned out.
11) Count von Count
Fact: exsanguination is an 'E' word. The only thing deadlier than a typical vampire is one with an untreated case of OCD. That's one, two, three neck bites. Bwa ha ha.Fortunately, Liam Neeson snapped the Count's neck shortly after the above video was filmed, so that's one less puppet vampire on the loose.
10) Gonzo the Great
I'm as moved by "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday" as much as the next guy. But that song's considerable pathos isn't nearly enough to make me overlook the fact that Gonzo is a alien puppet character who wants nothing more from life than to have endless sex with chickens. Does anyone else think this is a questionable raison d'être for a character on a show largely geared towards children to have?
8) Dr. Bunsen Honeydew
As we traverse the perils of adolescence on our way to adulthood, one of the most difficult lessons we learn is that grown-ups don't always have our best interests at heart. This painful bit of growing pains is represented on The Muppet Show by Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, the felt embodiment of how science is all too frequently debased by those in power--leaving us Beakers of the world to suffer the damage and carry on somehow. Say what you will about Crazy Harry, at least he wears his destructive tendencies like a badge of honor.