The Muppet Christmas Carol: The facts you may not know about the festive classic

Virgin Radio

22 Dec 2022, 15:22

Robin the Frog, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in The Muppet Christmas Carol

Credit: Rex

It’s hard to imagine the festive season without The Muppet Christmas Carol, and it’s been thirty years since Gonzo, Rizzo and the gang walked Michael Caine through the true meaning of Christmas - just like Charles Dickens would’ve wanted. 

On 11th December 1992, Jim Henson’s colourful creations came to life once again to portray the festive tale, which had already been adapted countless times for the stage and screen. There have been a number of famous portrayals of Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge, from Patrick Stewart’s classic take, to Bill Murray’s comical Scrooge-like boss Frank Cross. 

However, none of those versions include any ‘cheeses for our meeces’ so in our humble opinion, The Muppet Christmas Carol is up there with the very best.

But don't just take our word for it! In a new study by, almost two thirds (63%) of people surveyed watch The Muppet Christmas Carol every year, while Kermit the Frog was voted the most iconic Muppet character in the film.

With all that said, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Muppet Christmas Carol, here are some fun facts you may not know about the now legendary Christmas flick: 

Miss Piggy was almost cast as the Ghost of Christmas Present

Miss Piggy, Kermit’s constant love interest and frequent karate chopper, was originally supposed to represent one of the three Ghosts destined to visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve night.

When production first began on the movie, it was planned for the Muppets themselves to play the Ghosts, with Miss Piggy lined-up for the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present, who would bring Scrooge to see the lowly Cratchet’s on Christmas Day, as well as his own family enjoying the celebrations without him. 

Of course, that idea never took off from the page, and instead, Miss Piggy continued her reign as Kermit’s one and only love, playing Emily Cratchet opposite Kermit’s Bob. 

The Ghost puppets, closer in style to those in Dickens’ 1843 novella, were brand new creations by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, designed especially for the film. They ranged from the ethereal Ghost of Christmas Past, the larger-than-life Present, and, of course, the truly terrifying Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, which is to blame for many a Christmas nightmare as a child. 

The ballad, When Love Is Gone, was cut…but is officially back!

It’s well known there was a secret ballad that never made it into recent editions of The Muppets Christmas Carol, but did you know you will soon be able to enjoy the nostalgic tack once more?

Scrooge’s trip to the past involved an emotional moment between his past self and his former love, Belle, who leaves him upon realising he loves money more than he loves her. 

In the 1993 VHS release, a touching ballad, called When Love is Gone, is sung by Belle actress Meredith Braun, and present day Scrooge, Michael Caine. 

The scene was cut from the 1992 cinematic release, as it was deemed too emotionally mature for the young audience they were targeting, and never made it back out on DVD or Blu-ray following the video release. 

The song was thought to be lost forever after the original masters went missing, but with some movie magic by Disney+, the archival team at Disney managed to restore it, and introduced the scene to the full version of The Muppet Christmas Carol, which is available to watch on the streaming service now. 

The shooting star is an Easter egg and tribute to Jim Henson

The Muppet Christmas Carol was the first Muppet movie to be made without its creator, Jim Henson, who passed away aged 53 two years prior. 

However, the Henson legacy continued with Jim’s son, Brian, who took over the reins and made his directorial debut with the film adaptation. 

During the iconic track, One More Sleep ‘Till Christmas, Kermit/Bob Cratchet ends the song by looking out into the night sky to see a shooting star. 

Brian himself confirmed the shooting star was a little nod to The Muppet Movie from 1979, and in turn, a small tribute to the man who was there from the very beginning. 

Since 1992’s festive film, the shooting star Easter egg has landed in a number of future films, including Muppet Treasure Island, Kermit’s Swamp Years, It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and The Muppets. 

Muppet Christmas Carol

Credit: Rex

Michael Caine wasn’t the only actor considered for Scrooge

We couldn’t imagine anyone else other than Michael Caine stepping into the role of the heartless Ebonezer Scrooge, but it turns out a whole host of other actors were in the running for the role. 

Gladiator actor David Hemmings, Oliver! star Ron Moody, David Warner (who had starred in the 1984 Christmas Carol) and American stand-up comedian George Carlin were all in the running, before director Brian landed on the Italian Job icon. 

Michael wanted to come out of his comfort zone for such a prestigious role, and told Henson he wasn’t going to make the family-friendly movie a laugh-fest, but instead play the cold and unfeeling character exactly how the greats would. 

Speaking in the Guardian, Henson revealed that upon being cast, Michael confessed to him: “I’m going to play this movie like I’m working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink, I will never do anything Muppety. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role and there are no puppets around me.”

Luckily for Caine and Henson, the dream team of a classic portrayal of the Dickens character worked a treat with the backdrop of a Muppets world, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Gonzo and Rizzo in The Muppet Christmas Carol

Credit: ©Muppets Studio

Most of what Gonzo says is taken from the original work of Dickens

You wouldn’t think that the Muppets Christmas Carol is one of the more accurate when it comes to how close it is to the source material, but it turns out, much of what Gonzo, or the Muppet Charles Dickens, says in the movie is taken directly from the novella itself. 

Henson confirmed “ninety-five percent of what Gonzo says in the movie is directly taken from the book” because of how “wonderfully he described the scenes.” Why change perfection?

The reason they chose Gonzo to be the famed author was because he was the “least likely” to be seen in the same way, but who else could be a “pain-in-the-neck sidekick” better than tiny, scratty rat Rizzo?

The Muppet Christmas Carol (Full Extended Version) is available to watch on Disney+ now.