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The Muppets character
First appearanceThe Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975)[1]
Created by
Voiced by
Performed by
In-universe information

Animal is a Muppet character from the sketch comedy television series The Muppet Show, and the wild and frenzied drummer of the fictional band Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. The character was originally performed by Frank Oz and currently by Eric Jacobson. His original concept sketches, which show him as a very hairy human, were drawn by Bonnie Erickson and Jim Henson.


Original performer Frank Oz has stated that Animal's character can be summed up in five words: sex, sleep, food, drums, and pain.[2] Animal's vocabulary is generally limited to guttural shouts and monosyllabic grunts, often repeating a few simple phrases, as well as his trademark gravelly laugh. During performances, Animal is usually chained to the drum set by a collar around his neck, as his musical outbursts are extremely violent. In some episodes, he has been summoned to chase off performers who are 'being annoying'.[citation needed]

From The Muppet Movie (1979), as the members of Electric Mayhem introduce themselves:[citation needed]

Animal: [flails and babbles wildly, pants, and yells as Fozzie clutches an also-frightened Kermit in fear]
Floyd: Oh yeah, that's Animal. Show 'em whatcha do, Animal!
Animal: I want to eat drums! [loudly chews on a cymbal]
Dr. Teeth: No, no, beat drums, beat drums.
Animal: [open eyes wide] Beat drums! Beat drums! [hits the third tom-tom drum three times with his head, grunting before each hit]
Floyd: Down, Animal!
Animal: Down!
Floyd: Back!
Animal: Back!
Floyd: Sit!
Animal: Sit! [laughs shortly as he gets back up to look at Scooter, who is introducing himself]

Unique among characters on the show, Floyd Pepper has trained his fellow musician to obey a few simple off-drum commands correctly, suggesting dog training.[citation needed]

Animal's bushy eyebrows and hair, outrageous behavior, and wild drumming has sometimes been compared to several classical hard-partying rock drummers, such as The Who's Keith Moon,[3] Led Zeppelin's John Bonham,[4] and Cream's Ginger Baker.[5] Animal is a savant, versatile session drummer, to back Muppet tunes, capable even of finishing a slow song, if the singer is a nice lady. He can match both Buddy Rich and Harry Belafonte in drum-offs on The Muppet Show, Questlove on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2011, and Dave Grohl on The Muppets in 2015.[6]

Animal shows a talent for jazz in a television advert for the Renault Clio car with French footballer Thierry Henry.[7]

Animal has sometimes run afoul of Muppet Show guests. In 1981, the aforementioned scene with Buddy Rich ends with the seasoned pro learning Animal's gonzo style, and performing it with twice the speed and proficiency.[8] Animal throws a drum onto the irascible entertainer's head. When he repeatedly interrupted Rita Moreno's rendition of Fever with loud drumming outbursts, she became annoyed and slammed his head between a pair of cymbals (to which Animal responded by saying "Uh, that's my kinda woman!", before passing out). In another episode, he chased Mark Hamill and Angus McGonagle the Argyle Gargoyle offstage at Kermit's request after they snuck onstage. In another episode, Animal became hostile toward Dudley Moore when Moore tried to replace the band with a programmable, music-playing robot. On another occasion, however, Animal is starstruck by James Coburn after the movie tough-guy demonstrates his own violent streak in a parodic manner:[citation needed]

Coburn: There's a right way and a wrong way to handle aggression...
Animal: Aggressionnnnn...
Coburn: You don't want to bust a chair up like that – [takes the chair Animal is mauling] you bust it up like this! [smashes chair to bits on the staircase banister (forcing Animal to duck) and coolly walks back up to his dressing room]
Animal: [eyes wide] My kinda guy! [races after him] Jimmy! Jimmy!

A common gag involves someone imparting a figure of speech to Animal: Animal turns to the audience, his eyes go wide and he goes berserk, taking the figure of speech literally. For example, Jim Nabors once spoke the traditional theatrical good luck wish "Break a leg", whereupon Animal indulged him by trying to break Nabors's leg. Another gag would occasionally occur when the band plays a slow song: Animal will get about halfway through and then after announcing "Too slow!" launch into a faster paced version of the song. The band would usually comment that Animal lasted much longer than they thought he would.[citation needed]

Animal is a literal skirt-chaser. In The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), he chases a female student out of the auditorium, chanting "Woo-maaaan!" after her. He also chases cars. While many Animal gags involve a role reversal, or a moment of intellectualism, others are still more subtle, such as in this piece of dialog from The Great Muppet Caper (1981), where it is revealed that Animal has a passion for the impressionist paintings of Pierre-Auguste Renoir:

Kermit the Frog: What's wrong with the drummer? He looks a little crazed.
Zoot: Oh, he's just upset about missing the Rembrandt exhibit at The National Gallery.
Animal: [Correcting him in a wild, angry tone] Renoir!!

In the film Muppets from Space (1999), Animal meets his match in the form of a security guard played by Kathy Griffin—after chasing her down a hallway with his "Woo-man" call, he later comes running back around the corner, yelling "HELP HELP!" with Griffin calling after him about how they'll settle down, buy a house, and have children.[citation needed]

Ty Pennington commented about the possibility of Animal having ADHD when the character appeared on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.[9]

Animal's lack of social grace is on display at the very end of The Muppet Movie. After the credits, his face fills the screen as he admonishes the audience: "Go home! Go home!"[10]


Animal was performed by Frank Oz from his first appearance in the pilot for The Muppet Show until his 2000 appearance in the video game Muppet RaceMania. He has been performed regularly by Eric Jacobson since his 2002 appearance in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.[11]

On The Muppet Show, Animal's drumming was performed by Ronnie Verrell up until his death in 2002.[12]

Animal has had roles in all Muppet movies, and was the only member of The Electric Mayhem to be included regularly on the Muppet Babies cartoons.[citation needed]

Animal was voiced by Howie Mandel in the first two seasons of Muppet Babies, followed by Dave Coulier in subsequent seasons. Animal was performed by Rob Mills in the series finale of The Jim Henson Hour, and he was occasionally performed by Kevin Clash on Muppets Tonight in the absence of Frank Oz. John Kennedy also briefly performed Animal in a 2002 commercial for MasterCard, as well as for the 2003 video game Muppets Party Cruise. Drew Massey performed Animal in Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony. In Jim Henson's Little Muppet Monsters, Animal was voiced by Hal Rayle (who also voiced Gonzo and Miss Piggy).[citation needed]

Appearances in other media

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Animal" Muppet – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (December 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

In 1993, Animal performed The Surfaris' song "Wipe Out" on the Muppet Beach Party album. Animal's track was also released as a single in the UK where it reached number 38 in the charts.[13]

Animal was the official mascot of the U.S. Ski Team during the 1998 Winter Olympics.[14] He was also featured in one of eleven commemorative stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service.[15]

In 2010, Animal was featured in a viral video alongside power-pop band OK Go, where he challenged the band's drummer, Dan Konopka, to a staring contest. Animal ultimately wins and forces Dan to be his roadie for a year.[16]

Animal and his fellow Muppets made a guest appearance on the Halloween 2011 episode of the wrestling TV show WWE Raw, where he was a guest timekeeper. Animal is present in the 2011 film The Muppets, having gone into anger management therapy since the Muppets disbanded. He also made a special appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as a guest drummer with The Roots house band, and on the eighth UK series of The X Factor in 2011, where he drummed for Olly Murs on his song "Dance with Me Tonight".[17]

In 2022, Animal was featured in the Game Awards prior to the "Best Sound/Music" award. His skit prominently centers around his jokes towards video games, such as Elden Ring's infamous Malenia boss battle, Metal Gear Solid, and Animal Crossing, and haste towards the next award's winner, on which he also participates with.[18][1]

On July 28, 2023, Animal made a surprise appearance with My Morning Jacket to close out their headlining set at the Newport Folk Festival.[19]



  1. ^ Shemin, Craig (2014). Disney's The Muppets Character Encyclopedia. New York: DK Publishing. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-4654-1748-0.
  2. ^ Larena (September 25, 2009). "In Honor of Jim Henson's Birthday, Five Mindblowing Muppet Revelations (Wayback Machine archive)". CNN. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  3. ^ "Myers 'to play' Who's Keith Moon". BBC News. September 30, 2005. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  4. ^ McStarkey, Mick (September 25, 2021). "The five greatest drummers inspired by John Bonham". Retrieved December 21, 2021.
  5. ^ "Five Questions with Beware of Mr. Baker Director Jay Bulger". Filmmaker Magazine. March 10, 2012. Retrieved December 21, 2021.
  6. ^ Respers France, Lisa (December 2, 2015). "Dave Grohl takes on Animal in epic 'Muppets' drum battle". CNN.
  7. ^ Carter, Melanie (October 25, 2003). "Thierry And 'Animal' Explain The Meaning Of Va Va Voom". Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  8. ^ "Buddy Rich vs. Animal on the Muppet Show / Boing Boing". November 20, 2007. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  9. ^ "New Muppet Stuff Extreme Makeover: Home Edition". March 6, 2005. Archived from the original on February 14, 2008. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
  10. ^ Adler, Shawn (May 31, 2007). "Stay In Your Seat! 'Pirates,' 'X-Men,' 'Harry' Keep Going, Even After Credits Roll". MTV. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  11. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (March 11, 2014). "How Kermit and the Muppets Got Their Mojo Back". Variety. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  12. ^ "Drummerworld – Animal – Ronnie Verrell". September 18, 2014.
  13. ^ "Official Charts". Official Charts.
  14. ^ "U.S. Snowboarders Have An 'Animal' Attraction". The Washington Post. June 11, 1997. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012.
  15. ^ "Jim Henson, Muppets, Get Stamps of Approval". US Postal Service. September 28, 2005. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  16. ^ Beale, Scott (June 28, 2010). "OK Go Drummer In Epic Staring Contest With Animal From The Muppets". Laughing Squid. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  17. ^ Grant Cumberbatch, Aimee (October 27, 2017). "X Factor live shows: From Britney to Beyoncé, 10 of the biggest acts that have ever performed on the series". Evening Standard. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  18. ^ "The Game Awards 2022".
  19. ^ Brathwaite, Lester Fabian (July 30, 2023). "Animal from the Muppets rages on the drums with My Morning Jacket at Newport Folk Festival". Yahoo Entertainment. Retrieved August 7, 2023.

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