One of my all-time favorite classic ToughPigs articles from the pre-Joe-and-Ryan days of Danny Horn is My Week with Grover’s Mom, a 5-part saga chronicling the history, different hairstyles, and uncertainty principles surrounding the woman who gave birth to your furry pal Grover. But it also briefly raises the question: Where is Grover’s Dad?
With Father’s Day around the corner, we considered writing an homage to our favorite Muppet dads, but it seems that there are so many more Muppet moms out there. And many of them are left raising their little monsters, bears, and silly creatures all by themselves. Could there be a correlation between missing fathers and popular children’s entertainment icons? Let’s look at the facts.
Strange as it seems, Grover’s dad has never been seen (the picture above is Grover’s Grandpa). Not in the rare background of a storybook or in an early appearance on the show. Most interestingly, it doesn’t seem to be an accident. Grover’s Mommy has made a ton of appearances, and in every one, she’s playing the part of the single mother. She moves Grover to a new street, where the two of them share a small apartment, she plays a strong part in her son’s second life cosplay, and she’s rarely seen away from his side, possibly to avoid giving him any additional abandonment issues. Grover’s dad, however, has played a large part in Grover’s life. Well, not Grover, but Super Grover. According to one storybook, Super Grover’s helmet once belonged to his dad. Who apparently was a jouster or something.
Big Bird’s Dad
Even stranger than Grover’s dad are both of Big Bird’s parents, neither of whom have ever made an appearance. We know that Big Bird’s mother is still around, as he once received a coat from her, but his dad is all but nonexistent. The parent figure in Big Bird’s life has, as you probably know, been Granny Bird, who conveniently looks exactly like her grandson. (Which is stranger: An old woman looking like a 6-year-old or a 6-year-old looking like an old lady??) The silver lining behind Big Bird’s lack of parentage is that if either one was present, Big Bird probably wouldn’t be living on Sesame Street. He’d be in a tree somewhere, not roller skating or learning the alphabet or being tormented by Oscar the Grouch. So I guess that’s a plus to being orphaned.
The Count’s Dad
The Count has one! One single parent! Ah ah ah!!! In the Number of the Day segment for #0, The Count makes his sole reference to his father: “Oh hello, it is I, The Count. I’m called the Count because I love to count. Err, that, and I inherited my father’s royal title.” I’ve heard some pretty brutal stories about royal titles and to what lengths descendants will go to secure their inheritance, so maybe it’s best if we just leave this one be for now.
Fozzie Bear’s Dad
If you had to rank Muppet Moms, Emily Bear would be near the top of the list. Everyone loves that surfin’ old broad. And she was a great addition to the Muppet clan in the late 80s to early 90s, giving Jerry Nelson another core character, as well as a new much-needed female character to join Piggy, Janice and Camilla. Fozzie’s dad, on the other hand, only appeared in a few non-canon Muppet Kids books (along with Fozzie’s seldom-seen brother Freddie). And because he never showed up in any proper Muppet productions, we’re left wondering how a bear manages to fashion such a fantastic mustache. How???
Kermit the Frog’s Dad
We spotted Kermit’s mom twice: Once in Kermit’s Swamp Years, and once in a Muppet Kids book. And both times, she was seen from behind. Sure, it’s probably a little too much to handle when trying to personify the people (or frogs) who gave birth to a king like Kermit, but it seems that Kermit’s mom was much more of an influence on him and his success than his father. Really, Kermit’s dad could be anyone! He could be a toad or a chameleon or Ray Romano. We just don’t know.
Fozzie Bear and Kermit the Frog’s Dad
Then again, there’s this guy: Fozzie and Kermit’s father from The Great Muppet Caper. We get to see a photo of him (which, by the way, might be the greatest one-off puppet design ever made), and the dialog hints that he’s no longer with us. Did he pass away while Kermit and Fozzie were still young? Did he have a hand in their decision to go into journalism? Did he get mocked for his horrible disfigurement?? We may never know the answers to these questions.
Emmet Otter’s Pa
If Pa Otter were still alive, he’d hock that tool chest, drill a hole in the washtub, and make a misguided attempt to oil a snake. Pa probably wasn’t the best source for advice.
Mr. Snuffleupagus’s Dad
Perhaps one of the most infamous missing fathers is Snuffy’s dad, who (aside from a few storybooks) has only appeared in the unaired “divorce” episode of Sesame Street. (By the way, the guy who looks exactly like Snuffy above? That’s his dad. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?) Could his absence be blamed on his joint custody agreement? That’s probably just as likely as what really happened: Nobody wanted to build another humungous Snuffy puppet.
Okay, so maybe he was around. I just wanted an excuse to show this amazing picture.
Roosevelt Franklin’s Dad
I’m sure there’s some sort of justification behind giving Roosevelt Franklin a single mom, but I don’t even know if they need it. Mrs. Franklin is awesome and supportive and prideful, and she doesn’t need anyone but Roosevelt. And that’s a fact.
Oscar the Grouch’s Dad
No wonder Oscar’s always so moody. He just needs a strong father figure in his life! The sole appearance of Oscar’s dad comes from a tiny image in “How to Be a Grouch”, while Oscar’s mom goes the extra mile to bother her son in person once in a while. Now that I think about it, maybe abandonment is just the Grouches’ way of being extra grouchy. It’s worse than being a present, yet terrible parent. I bet Oscar loves that.
Everyone in Fraggle Rock
Of course, this list doesn’t count for all the fathers who really were there for their kids, the full list of which you can see here. Maybe it’s better to think about those guys this Father’s Day, and not the potentially heartbreaking list I just provided for you.
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by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com