The Muppets are an ensemble cast of puppet characters known for their self-aware, burlesque, and meta-referential style of variety-sketch comedy. Created by Jim and Jane Henson in 1955, they are the namesake for the Disney media franchise that encompasses television, music, film, and other media associated with the characters.
The Muppets originated in the short-form television series Sam and Friends, which aired from 1955 to 1961. Following appearances on late night talk shows and in advertising during the 1960s, the Muppets began appearing on Sesame Street in 1969. The Muppets attained celebrity status and international recognition through their breakout roles in The Muppet Show (1976–1981), a primetime television series that garnered four Primetime Emmy Award wins and twenty-one nominations during its five-year run.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Muppets diversified into theatrical feature films, including The Muppet Movie (1979); The Great Muppet Caper (1981); and The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984). The Walt Disney Company began involvement with the Muppets in the late 1980s, during which Henson entered negotiations to sell the Jim Henson Company. The Muppets continued their media presence in the 1990s with television series The Jim Henson Hour (1989) and Muppets Tonight (1996–98), both of which were similar in format to The Muppet Show, and three films: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), and Muppets from Space (1999).
Disney acquired the Muppets in February 2004, allowing the characters to gain broader public exposure than in previous years. Under Disney, the Muppets achieved revitalized success, starring in two films - The Muppets (2011) and Muppets Most Wanted (2014) - as well as a short-lived primetime television series on ABC and a reboot of the Muppet Babies animated series.
Throughout their six decades of existence, the Muppets have been regarded as a staple of the entertainment industry and popular culture in the United States, receiving recognition from various cultural institutions and organizations, including the American Film Institute, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Library of Congress, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.