This is last mostly because it was the biggest failure. Hoping to piggyback on the success of Muppet Babies, CBS created an hour-long package with Little Muppet Monsters, which featured three live-action Muppet monsters -- Tug, Boo and Molly -- starting their own show in the basement after Scooter put them down there. The show lasted just three episodes in 1985, with the remaining 10 never seeing the light of day, and it was actually Jim Henson who decided to pull the plug because of the rushed, ill-conceived idea.
Muppets From Space isn't necessarily a terrible movie -- just not a good one. The first entirely original Muppets film since Jim Henson's death, it was also the first non-musical one and the first not to focus on Kermit, choosing instead to explore Gonzo's origin. Nothing against Gonzo, but those were two major missteps that resulted in a lot of unfunny blandness. It's no accident that the Muppets took a 12-year sabbatical from the big screen after this.
Hosted by Jim Henson, the anthology series was for true die-hard Muppet nerds. Every episode was split in half, the first half featuring Muppet sketches, usually on MuppeTelevision, and the second full of more serious fare with behind-the-scenes scoop, such as Henson's Storyteller segments. The format might've been too different for fans, and the low-rated show was canceled after nine of 12 episodes aired. (Two more eventually aired on Nickelodeon in 1992 and 1993.)
The Muppet Christmas Carol is a fine adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic (casting Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge is just perfect) and will warm your heart through the cold, dead winter. It's certainly not as playful as other Muppet films, but its sweetness isn't too over the top -- and it was arguably cathartic for filmmakers too. The movie was the first to be made after Jim Henson's death.
The sequel had a high bar to clear after the highly successful 2011 reboot and it did a serviceable job, especially without Jason Segel behind it. The film is an obvious ode to The Great Muppet Caper and boasts the comic genius of Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell. Unfortunately, the Muppets play too much of a second fiddle to the homo sapiens. It's called Muppets Most Wanted, not Humans Most Wanted.
After The Muppet Christmas Carol, director Brian Henson (Jim's son) utilized the same structure for Treasure Island: adapt a literary work with inspired human casting (Tim Curry as Long John Silver). Unlike the earnest Christmas Carol, though, Treasure Island is somewhat of a return to form -- or at least it got back on track. While it is heavy on the humans and light on the felt crew, the movie's fun, carefree and swashbucklin' to the T. Dead Tom's dead!
Let's be real: The '90s were a rough time for the Muppets. It didn't get much easier with Muppets Tonight, which lasted only 22 episodes over two seasons, but the short-lived series was a worthy small-screen Muppet Show successor. An updated version of '70s series, Muppets Tonight had the gang hosting a variety show on KMUP and introduced new characters, including Pepe the King Prawn, Sal Minella, Seymour and Bobo the Bear. It would be the last Muppet TV show for 17 years until ABC's The Muppets debuts in September 2015.
The only Muppets movie directed by Jim Henson, the thievery flick is a breezy romp with catchy tunes, amazing puns, great cameos (John Cleese, Peter Falk and Peter Ustinov) and a divine pre-Game of Thrones Diana Rigg as the victim of a jewel heist. It also taught us how to tell the difference between frogs and bears. Bears wear hats, duh.
The Muppets are at their best when they are just trying to put on a show and there's no bigger place to do that than on the Great White Way. Misadventures abound, culminating in one of the best cinematic weddings of all time (if not the only one) between a frog and a pig. But the film's biggest contribution: It gave us Muppet Babies.
If you don't like the Muppet Babies, you have no soul. Inspired by Miss Piggy wondering in Muppets Take Manhattan what it would've been like had she and Kermit grown up together, the animated sitcom brings that to life with child versions of entire group living in a nursery with a Nanny, whose face is never seen, and letting their imaginations run wild. Plus: It had one of the best TV theme songs ever.
The only person who could spearhead a Muppets comeback 12 years after Muppets From Space flopped was Muppets die-hard Jason Segel, who co-wrote the script. The film is a perfect throwback to the Muppets days of yore that doesn't overly rely on nostalgia, but rather finds new ways to pay tribute, like via Walter, who grew up with The Muppet Show as well. The songs, written by Bret McKenzie, who won an Oscar, are flawlessly catchy and pose one helluva question: Are you a man or a Muppet?
It's the original. The road trip film is still unmatched in terms of storytelling, jokes and warmth. Plus, no offense to Miss Piggy, but it really is a star-making turn for Kermit. Because if nothing else, we all found the "Rainbow Connection."
None of this would be possible without The Muppet Show. Aside from the innovative work at the time and a genius twist on the variety show, the series managed the rare feat of not only being appealing to all ages with its meta humor and slapstick, but also standing the test of time. You have a lot to live up to, ABC.