Through decades of movies, TV shows, and more, the Muppets have never failed to provide us with a gloriously bizarre spectrum of characters. They're poised to return to television for the first time in almost 20 years on The Muppets, premiering tonight on ABC.
Now that the Muppets are back in the weekly spotlight, here are some lovable oddities from years past that we'd love to meet again soon.
The African Masks
Yes, that's Harry Belafonte, and yes, he's flanked by a chorus of singing African tribal masks. The King of Calypso would later reprise this performance of "Turn the World Around" at Jim Henson's memorial.
In a 1980 episode of The Muppet Show, we discovered that Waldorf's wife Astoria (get it?) looks an awful lot like his best pal Statler in drag.
Kermit introduces this musical act as "the wind section" of the Boston Pops Orchestra.
In what is surely one of the weirdest Muppets Show episodes ever, guest star Alice Cooper encourages Miss Piggy to sell her soul to the Devil. In exchange for fame and fortune, she's transformed into a rainbow-colored bird. As Beakie, she and Cooper snuggle up for an unexpectedly romantic performance of "You and Me" before Piggy demands that she be restored into her normal form.
When Muppets Tonight parodied The Real World, songwriter Darci played an original composition for her all-male roommates:
I hate men
I hate men
All men should die
Death to all men
Digit, the occasionally buggy android who worked in the MuppeTelevision control room, was The Jim Henson Hour's answer to Max Headroom.
Feather Boa Constrictor
Zoot poses this riddle to guest star Juliet Prowse in the very first episode of The Muppet Show: "What has one eye, sharp teeth, and is long and fuzzy?" She doesn't have an answer for him.
"I don't know either," Zoot says, "But you're wearing it!"
You probably recognize Foo Foo, Miss Piggy's adorable white furball of a dog. But you might not know that this character was originally played by not only a puppet, but also a real dog—and sometimes by both in the course of the very same sketch.
Fully Operational Automated Tony Bennett
Crooner Johnny Fiama's proudest possession was this life-sized singing robot constructed in Tony Bennett's exact likeness… who just so happened to be the flesh-and-blood Bennett himself, pretending to be animatronic so the starstruck Fiama would feel confident enough to duet with him.
Geri and the Atrics
Don't be fooled by their appearance: these elderly ladies (and one set of surprisingly musically gifted false teeth) worship at the altar of rock and roll.
Bobby McFerrin performed with colorful puppets who stepped out of a graffiti mural on The Jim Henson Hour.
Kermit and Fozzie’s Dad
In 1981's The Great Muppet Caper, the frog and pig play a pair of unlikely twin brothers, a relationship that's (sort of) explained with a sight gag: this photo of their mixed-species dad.
Kermit the Protozoa and Fozzie Amoeba
Sam the Eagle's stern educational segment on 1979 episode of The Muppet Show is interrupted when his microscope turns up tiny, equally ridiculous versions of Kermit and Fozzie in a drop of pond water.
Lola the Fan Dancer
Kermit can't go on because Piggy, jealous of his romantic connection with guest star Linda Ronstadt, has locked him in a trunk (it's a long story), so Scooter sends out Lola the fan dancer instead. The GIF above depicts her performance in its entirety.
Squire Trelawney, the wealthy moron who bears a startling resemblance to Fozzie Bear, was one of the highlights of 1996's Muppet Treasure Island. But Squire Trelawney would be nothing without Mr. Bimbo, the man who—Trelawney believes—lives in his finger. In retrospect, this was a very strange movie.
A baby-faced Sylvester Stallone shows off some boxing combinations on the punching bag in his dressing room, then learns that the punching bag is himself a fan.
Molly Fitzpatrick is senior editor of Fusion's Pop & Culture section. Her interests include movies about movies, TV shows about TV shows, and movies about TV shows, but not so much TV shows about movies.