The Muppets are a group of puppet characters created by ‘The Muppeteer’ legend Jim Henson, starting in 1954-55. Although the term is often used to refer to any puppet that resembles the distinctive style of ‘The Muppet Show’, the term is both an informal name and legal trademark owned by The Walt Disney Company in reference to the original characters created by Henson. An eponymous movie written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller was released in November 2011 to much critical acclaim and commercial success.
A common design for a Jim Henson Muppet is a character with a very wide mouth and large protruding eyes. They are distinguished from ventriloquist dummies, which are typically animated only in the head and face, in that their arms or other features are also mobile and expressive. They are also presented as being independent of the puppeteer, who is usual not visible – hidden behind a set or outside of the camera frame. Using the camera frame as the ‘stage’ was an innovation of the Muppets. Famous Muppets from ‘The Muppet Show’ include Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Beaker.