The List: Ranking puppets

Jim Fischer
Columbus Alive
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

Whether live or onscreen, the use of puppets has allowed storytellers and performers to say things they might not otherwise be able to, from political commentary against an oppressive regime to offering a voice that young viewers might be more inclined to hear. With apologies to Columbus' own Mr. Puppet, who makes no appearance on this list, here is a ranking of the top puppets of all-time.

Unranked: Elmo

“Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Show,” “Fraggle Rock” and “Labyrinth” all built a stockpile of goodwill Jim Henson needed for giving us Elmo.


Band leaves major label, desiring greater creative control. Titles album metaphorically. Gets picture taken for album cover connected to strings.

10. Lamb Chop (Shari Lewis)

Not even the Red Hot Chili Peppers have done more for socks than Shari Lewis. On one hand, you're like, “Really, lady? A sock?” But on the other hand you're like, “Damn, lady. A sock!”

9. Kukla and Ollie

The 1950s-era children's show “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” became as popular among adults as it was with kids. They win out over other puppets of the period, including Howdy Doody and Topo Gigio (not made up).

8. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

Note the statement above: “say things they might not otherwise be able to.”

7. Ronald Reagan

For a few years in the '80s, the wrinkly-faced puppets from the political comedy show “D.C. Follies” were ubiquitous, none more so than the then-President.

6. Blue

Whether joined by Steve or Joe, this friendly pup was the … blue that held “Blue's Clues” together. (Dad joke required since this was a show I watched with my daughter when she was little.)

5. Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit

For kids, this pair never ran short of ways to drop ping-pong balls on Captain Kangaroo. For adults, Mr. Moose's clever snark and Bunny Rabbit's non-verbal frustrations were comedy gold.

4. Trekkie Monster

“The Internet is for Porn”

3. Lester

No dummy, this character, voiced by ventriloquist partner Willie Tyler, was the funniest back in the '70s, appearing everywhere from late-night talk shows to Las Vegas.

2. Lady Elaine Fairchilde

A foil for Mr. Rogers and King Friday, Lady Elaine was clever, smart and at times cruel. But her humanity also showed through, making her a better antagonist than say, Randy from “Pee Wee's Playhouse.”

1. Kermit the Frog

This whole list could have been Muppets: Bert and Ernie, Grover, Zoe, the Swedish Chef, Beaker, Janice, that one-named Fraggle and many, many more. They're all worthy of inclusion. But Kermit is the ultimate everyman, er, everyfrog. And he makes it look easy.