Most of us are familiar with the genius of Jim Henson, whether from The Muppets, Sesame Street, or any number of his films. The famous puppeteer and creator certainly had a gift for creating memorable and visually stunning characters. So much so, in fact, that an entire workshop was created dedicated to the production of some of these famous creatures.
Classic shows like The Storyteller and Fraggle Rock (and movies like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal) owe everything to this visionary. Some of their most wonderful creations were all conceived in Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Today, we're having a creature feature as we spend some time with ten of the Jim Henson Company's greatest creature creations. Oh, and don't worry: as you can see, we haven't forgotten the Muppets; they've been ranked separately!
10 Bear in the Big Blue House
We'll start our list with a howdy from the big bear himself, Bear from Bear in the Big Blue House. One of the largest creatures created by Henson's company (along with characters like Sweetums), Bear was the warm and inviting star of his own show. It aired on the Disney Channel in the 90s.
In the mornings, Bear would welcome viewers into the titular Big Blue House for a day with all his friends, such as Treelo, Ocho, Pip and Pop Otter, Shadow, and Luna the Moon. Bear was as big and warm as his personality, and he always made his viewers feel welcome. What better way to start out our list?
9 Rankle, Rose, and Edgar
What do a reanimated cat mummy, a zombie raccoon, and a werewolf with a sweet tooth have in common? They are all friends of the quirky and charming Christine McConnell. These three are certainly some of the more adult characters the company has created, but at the same time, they are as charming as any Muppet or other creation.
Brought to us by Henson Alternative, Rankle, Rose, and Edgar are easily the highlights of the show. Rankle is snarky, sarcastic, and mildly sinister, Rose is bawdy and loud, and Edgar is a teddy bear with a horror-movie-quality exterior. What's not to love?
8 The Sinclair Family
Created in memory of the famous Muppet-maker, Dinosaurs was a sitcom that centered around the prehistoric happenings of the Sinclair family. For four seasons, viewers tuned in to the lives of Earl, Fran, Robbie, Charlene, and their hatchling, Baby Sinclair. The show was a weird but wonderful combination of creatures and comedy that had quite the following.
Despite its use of creatures, the sitcom jumped through all the genre hoops in the way of Family Matters, Full House, and Boy Meets World. It had the family-centric narrative, but also tackled some interesting issues, including a controversial season finale. It was a strange show, but certainly one we can appreciate.
7 Gelflings (2019 Version)
The Dark Crystal is arguably one of Jim Henson's greatest creations; essentially his Lord of the Rings. As much as we wanted to include Jen and Kira from the original film, the prize has to go to the newer Gelflings featured in the new Netflix series.
The Gelflings, as their name might allude, are elf-like creatures from the land of Thra. In Age of Resistance, there are even tribes of them somewhat akin to the elves of Tolkien. Rian, Brea, and Deet are three of the new Gelflings, and they could not look better. They have better puppet models, a more high-fantasy design, and their different personae are absolutely enchanting. Color us impressed.
On the other end of the Dark Crystal spectrum, we have the sinister and insidious Skeksis. This breed of nightmare fuel is quite possibly the most horrifying thing Henson ever dreamed up. With their beaks, claws, teeth, and aristocratic sense of style, there's definitely something outright evil about their persona.
From the snarling Emporer Skeksi to the creepily charming Chamberlain, the Skeksis have ruled Thra with an iron claw, bewitching and deceiving their world to their whims. They are truly as hideous on the outside as they are within, but we still love watching them. They're easily one of our favorite monsters.
5 Creatures of the Labyrinth
Though we have a soft spot for Sir Didymus, we couldn't pick just one creature for this spot. For those who haven't seen this marvelously magical film, Labyrinth is Jim Henson's collaboration with the legendary David Bowie, which resulted in one of the most iconic fantasy films of the 80s.
Jareth, Hoggle, Ludo, and all the legions of monsters that inhabit this mystical magical world were just too many to count. Worthy of a list all their own, the creatures from the titular labyrinth could rival those of Dark Crystal fame, but we'd be lying if we said Bowie didn't give them an unfair advantage.
4 The Fraggles
Dance your cares away and let the music play, down in Fraggle Rock with these colorful creatures. The Fraggles are small, carefree critters who, along with the workaholic Doozers, live their lives and go on adventures in the caves of Fraggle Rock.
Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, and Red are just the starring cast of Fraggle Rock, but there are legions more of the fuzzy creatures living beneath the home of Doc and his dog, Sprocket. These lovable creatures are some of Jim Henson's most memorable characters, and we can see why. Much more than Muppets, the Fraggles delighted kids for five seasons and 96 episodes.
Frank Oz couldn't have put it better any other way: she's so ugly she's beautiful. Yes, we've mentioned the rest of the Dark Crystal characters already, but we can't leave out Aughra. Aughra is one of the most powerful beings in the realm of Thra, as well as one of the most uniquely-designed creatures the Creature Shop has ever created.
Born from the rocks before even the race of Gelflings, Aughra is the only one of her kind. She's a mystic, a wizard, and a cosmic being all rolled into one. As one of the most strange and mystifying creatures on our list, you can bet we applauded her return in Age of Resistance.
2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Bringing Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michaelangelo to the big screen outside of animation was no easy feat. Enter Jim Henson's Creature Shop to bring them to life. Using a mix of puppetry and full-body effects, the turtles sprang from the sewers and onto the big screen for the very first time.
Though the characters themselves were not created by Henson or his crew, the technology to bring them to life was. This led to the creation of the Henson Performance Control System, which revolutionized puppeteering and practical effects. If it wasn't for this film, who knows where the creature shop would be.
1 Big Bird
Arguably the most famous resident of Sesame Street, Big Bird has entertained legions of children and even adults since he first appeared in 1969. The large yellow avian has represented every curious child to ever tune in to the popular PBS program, teaching them the value of imagination and an appetite for learning.
From his bright, yellow, fluffy exterior to his enormous heart, Big Bird has delighted millions of viewers the world over. Though not a product of the Creature Shop, without Big Bird there might not even be a Sesame Street. Adorable, curious, and even a trendsetter, how could we not give the big guy our number one spot?