19 Controversies Involving Muppets

List Rules
Vote up the Muppet controversies that make you shed a puppet-tear.

Whether you're Gen X, a millennial, or Gen Z, you likely have some good memories of The Muppets, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock. These shows provided wholesome entertainment and continue to be a source of nostalgia decades later. That said, not everything about these shows was always as G-rated as it seemed. Scandals and controversies have occurred both on- and off-screen in the 50-plus years that Jim Henson's creations have appeared in movies and television.

From episodes that have aged poorly to disgruntled puppeteers to tackling major social issues, we'll look at some of the most controversial stories to ever involve Muppets.


  • Kevin Clash Was Accused Of Sexual Abuse
    Photo: Sesame Street / Sesame Workshop
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    698 VOTES

    Kevin Clash Was Accused Of Sexual Abuse

    Kevin Clash was the voice of Elmo for 28 years before leaving Sesame Street in 2012 after allegations of child sex abuse. Clash was accused by three men who reported he had abused them when they were still minors.

    The case was thrown out of court in 2014, but only because the judge claimed the allegations were brought forward "too late" and were beyond the statute of limitations. Clash denied all allegations.

  • Child Abuse Cases Led To Snuffleupagus No Longer Being Imaginary
    Photo: Sesame Street / Sesame Workshop
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    810 VOTES

    Child Abuse Cases Led To Snuffleupagus No Longer Being Imaginary

    The beloved character Mr. Snuffleupagus made his Sesame Street debut in 1971, but at first, only Big Bird could see him. That all changed in 1985 when the rest of the cast finally saw Snuffleupagus and realized Big Bird had been telling the truth about his "imaginary friend" the whole time.

    Showrunners made the decision after a series of child abuse cases made national headlines. The powers that be on Sesame Street wanted kids to know that adults would believe them when they told the truth.

  • 'Sesame Street' Character David Was Charged With Aggravated Assault
    Photo: Sesame Street / HBO
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    582 VOTES

    'Sesame Street' Character David Was Charged With Aggravated Assault

    Northern J. Calloway, known for playing David on Sesame Street from 1971 to 1989, was arrested for aggravated assault in 1980 after beating a woman in Nashville, TN. After attacking the woman, Calloway ran down a residential street in the nude and smashed the windows of local homes.

    Calloway later received psychiatric treatment and passed in 1990 at the age of 41.

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    545 VOTES

    The 'Sesame Street' YouTube Channel Was Hacked To Show Explicit Content

    In 2011, the 148,000 subscribers to Sesame Street's YouTube channel received a surprise lesson when the page briefly featured pornography. A hacker had managed to delete every video on the YouTube page and replace it with hardcore adult entertainment.

    Although YouTube was quick to take down the new videos, plenty of people still managed to see them.

  • Kermit The Frog’s Puppeteer Of 27 Years Was Fired For 'Unacceptable Business Conduct'
    Photo: The Muppet Movie / Associated Film Distribution
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    492 VOTES

    Kermit The Frog’s Puppeteer Of 27 Years Was Fired For 'Unacceptable Business Conduct'

    Stephen Whitmire was fired in 2017 after being the voice of Kermit the Frog for nearly three decades. Although Whitmire claimed he was "stunned" and had been given no warnings about being fired, Jim Henson Productions had a different story.

    The studio responded that Whitmire had been difficult to work with and was warned multiple times about his "unacceptable business conduct." Jim Henson's daughter, Cheryl Henson, said at the time of the firing that Whitmire had turned Kermit into "a bitter, angry, depressed victim."

  • Roosevelt Franklin Was Removed From ‘Sesame Street’ in 1975 For Promoting Harmful Stereotypes
    Photo: Sesame Street / Sesame Workshop
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    450 VOTES

    Roosevelt Franklin Was Removed From ‘Sesame Street’ in 1975 For Promoting Harmful Stereotypes

    Roosevelt Franklin was the first Black Muppet to appear on Sesame Street in the 1970s. Franklin was so popular that he even got his own album released in 1971 called The Year of Roosevelt Franklin.

    As time went on, parents wrote in to the show saying that the character was a poor role model for Black children. There was also a critical essay written in 1973 that appeared in Black World, which examined the way Franklin spoke. The character was eventually removed from the show in 1975.