"The magic is always there, as long as we keep looking for it... "
—Uncle Travelling Matt
The story goes that Jim Henson was taking a long and boring trip and mused aloud, "I'd like to make a TV show that brings about world peace."
The result of this idea was Fraggle Rock, produced for the CBC in Canada, and aired on HBO in the U.S. in 1983-87. The series depicted a colorful and fun world, but it was also a world with a relatively complex ecosystem. The different races of creatures were each connected through symbiosis, even though they never realized it. This was meant as an allegory of the human world, where each group was somewhat unaware of how interconnected and important they were to one another. Creating this allegorical world allowed the program to entertain and amuse while seriously exploring complex issues of prejudice, spirituality, personal identity, ecology, and social conflict.
The series' triumph, by far, was being able to express all of this onscreen without being Anvilicious or insulting the intelligence of its young audience. By the second season, there wasn't an issue they wouldn't tackle. The writers refused to over-simplify any individual issue, and instead simply illustrated the consequences and inherent difficulties of different actions and relationships. Though the Fraggles do learn important lessons, they are rarely self-conscious about it.
And furthermore, the series is fun as hell. With wall-to-wall music and engaging characters in a fantastic, well-realized setting, you barely notice that you're learning any life lessons at all. It also contains some of the most astonishing and ingenious special effects ever devised for a Muppet series. Many have argued that the series is even better when you go back and watch it as an adult with your own children.
The ideals of friendship, being true to yourself and learning to love those who are incredibly different were the cornerstones of Jim Henson's work throughout his career, and he considered Fraggle Rock to be one of the purest and most successful expressions of that vision. In turn, many Henson fans have agreed that Fraggle Rock may be his masterpiece.
A comic book continuation by Archaia Entertainment began in 2010 and is still running.
Fraggle Rock is part of the programming schedule for The Hub.
Not to be confused with where the pilgrims landed.
- Adult Child: Doc certainly didn't have the most mature outlook on life, but he never lost his childlike sense of wonder either.
- Adventurer Outfit
- An Aesop: Each different variety of Aesop got to have at least one episode.
- All There in the Manual: Where do baby Fraggles come from? According to the book "The Legend of the Doozer Who Didn't", Doozers who stop working turn into these!
- Though it turns out that's just a story Doozer parents frighten their children with, as revealed in "All Work and All Play." Cotterpin Doozer wants to become a Fraggle, but eventually has to face up to the fact that the old story isn't true and that she has to remain a Doozer.
- According to one of the "series Bibles" included with one of the season DVD sets, Fraggles are apparently egg-layers. This along with their feathers, beaks, and long tails [dead link], has led to some interesting logic.
- Although this may be inconclusive, as none of the Fraggles knew what an egg was in "Wembley's Egg".
- Ambiguously Jewish: Marjorie, the Trash Heap. According to her performer Jerry Nelson, the network got a few angry letters from people whose kids asked why a pile of garbage talked like their grandmothers.
- Ambition Is Evil: Bug-eyed Marlon Fraggle has "frustrated megalomaniac" written all over him.
- Animated Adaptation: Ran for a single season immediately after the Muppet-centric series ended. Suffered from significant Adaptation Decay in both the scripting and musical departments, and the animation wasn't fantastic either.
- Author Avatar: Cantus, who is a great character to be sure, but Jim Henson wasn't even subtle about it.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Junior in one of the last episodes. Promptly subverted when he realizes the Universe is fine on its own and abolishes the Gorg monarchy forever.
- Balloonacy: used to return a bird who's egg has fallen into the Fraggle Pond back to the Gorgs' Garden.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animals/Does Not Wear Shoes: All of the Fraggles go barefoot, with the exception of Uncle Traveling Matt (at least while he's exploring the human—er, silly creature world). Which leads to the Fridge Logic: where do the socks Boober Fraggle washes come from?
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Red and Gobo - even the Trash Heap's attendants noticed.
- Beneath the Earth
- Blinding Bangs: Boober.
- Book Ends: Always involve the local equivalent of the Doc's Workshop subplots.
- Canon Discontinuity: The Animated Adaptation basically pretended the earlier series never happened. Naturally, most fans pretend the animated series never happened. As this Tough Pigs review shows, it isn't terrible, but it isn't nearly as good as the classic series (in short, a similar case to Muppet Babies vs. The Muppet Show).
- The fact all of the songs were blatantly recycled from the original show didn't help.
- Canon Immigrant: Is there anything more glorious than Kermit and Robin visiting Fraggle Rock?
- Catch Phrase. Many.
Junior Gorg: OOOH! A FWAGGLE!
- Cats Are Mean: The first thing Fluffinella does upon seeing Sprocket is attack him. This being Fraggle Rock, it later turns out that she's a lot nicer than she seems at first.
- Character Development: The Doozer, Fraggles and Junior. The Doozers were all but invisible to the Fraggles until Cotterpin made friends with Red, and even more shocking was that by the final few episodes, Junior had stopped trying to capture (and kill?) Fraggles and was on a first name basis with Gobo.
- On a more personal level, all the Fraggle Five went through some Character Development over the series. It's most notable with Wembley, who at the beginning of the series has no opinions of his own and just agrees with whoever spoke last, but over the course of the show learns to think a little more for himself and even stand up for himself when he needs to—but without losing his flexibility and gist for seeing everyone's point of view.
- Christmas Episode: Fraggles of course don't celebrate Christmas - instead, they enjoy The Festival of the Bells.
- Chroma Key: Possibly the producers' one favorite special effect in the entire series. When there is a Conspicuously Light Patch around someone, generally that means something's up.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Personified by Skenfrith, ties into the secret of The Festival Of Bells, and there's more and more.
- Doc and Sprocket's belief in the Fraggles (Gobo in particular) created the new tunnel and hole in the wall at the very end of the final episode.
- Comically Missing the Point: Doc manages this frequently. In one episode, he's trying to figure out how he and Sprocket can communicate:
Doc: And now the "I want to be friends" gesture. (rolls on his back like a dog, limbs in the air)
- Continuity Nod: Tons. In part this was budgetary—custom Fraggle models reappeared frequently in crowd scenes after their debut, for example—but many were entirely script-based, such as Traveling Matt recognizing the hopping creatures.
- Cool Old Guy: Apparently, the Fraggle aging process only causes an elderly Fraggle to sprout a beard Dumbledore would envy. The World's Oldest Fraggle is even louder and more energetic than the main cast, and wavers somewhere between Crazy Awesome and Nightmare Fuel (by virtue of leading the happy, friendly, peace-loving Fraggles to war).
- Amongst the Doozers, the Architect also was pretty rev.
- Doc himself seems to be a fun person to be around.
- Cosmic Horror: The Nightmare Fuel-eriffic Invisible Garboyl episode.
- Crossover: All six major Fraggles, plus Doc and Sprocket, appeared in A Muppet Family Christmas.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Put dithering, self-proclaimed wimp Wembley under stress and you get a Fraggle who furiously pummels the "Hairy Monster from Outer Space" (read: Sprocket, but consider how a Big Friendly Dog looks to a smaller creature) or beats The Ace Gobo in a full-out race.
- Cryptic Conversation: Cantus is quite fond of these. Lampshaded on multiple occasions by Red Fraggle, and Murray the Minstrel.
- Cultural Translation: Different actors played Doc's role for different countries. For example, the French version of the show took place in a bakery and in the UK Sprocket's owner was a lighthouse keeper called The Captain.
- Dead Guy, Junior: Gobo, possibly. He was named after his great-uncle, whom Traveling Matt adored. Given Matt’s own advancing age and the fact that the original Gobo is only seen in flashback, it’s probably safe to assume that he is deceased.
- Deadpan Snarker: Boober. He gets easily the funniest lines in the show.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Dreaming of Someone, Talking About Germs, Do You Want It, Chase the Wind, I'm Never Alone.
- Ditto Aliens: Cotterpin: "You Fraggles all look alike to me." Boober: "No we don't!"
- Dramatic Wind: When there's wind blowing stuff around, something's up.
- Easy Amnesia: Boober gets this in the episode "Boober Gorg".
- Edutainment Show
- The Eeyore: Boober.
- Egg McGuffin: Done very well in the episode "Wembley's Egg".
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Junior Gorg.
- Everything's Better With Zombies: Doc is excited about one of the games for his new computer in season one episode The Challenge.
Doc: Zombie Attack! "Chase the alien enemy zombies from outer space, hurling flaming marshmallows!" Oh, yes, Sprocket! It sounds like a challenge!
- Expository Theme Tune
- The Faceless: Ned Shimmelfinney.
- And in the short-lived animated series version of the show, Doc.
- Face of the Band: In-universe. Cantus is the only Minstrel the Fraggles know by name. Justified, however, in that the other four Minstrels’ names are All There in the Manual.
- Fantastic Racism
- Fiery Redhead: Red. Boober is a subversion.
- Five-Man Band: There are actually two of these. The obvious example are the main Fraggle characters; but the Minstrels also qualify.
- The Fraggles tend to trade roles back and forth; but mostly fall into the following:
- The Minstrels don't have as much screen time, but their roles are a bit more clear-cut. Trickster Mentor Cantus is clearly The Hero of the group; with Only Sane Man Murray as The Lancer. What roles the others play seem to be along the lines of Brool as The Big Guy (mainly due to his size and his hinted past as a warrior), Brio as The Smart Guy, and not-too-bright Balsam as The Chick.
- Five Races: Humans, Fraggles, Gorgs, Doozers, and miscellaneous (too many others to count).
- Flat Earth Atheist: The source of some of Gobo's angst, most notably during The Festival Of Bells.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble (or rather, the five-temperament expansion):
Gobo - Sanguine / Phlegmatic Type II
- G-Rated Drug: Wembley's wonderful whoopie water, Love Potion Number Nine.
- Gang of Critters
- Genius Loci: Not only the Trash Heap, there are several episodes that heavily imply that the Rock itself is "alive".
- Gentle Giant: Junior Gorg, though he does seem like a bully at first glance, especially Season 1.
- Brool the Minstrel also qualifies. Especially evident when we hear him speak and sing in "Mokey and the Minstrels".
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Has anyone noticed that the episode "We Love You, Wembley" contains homoeroticism? Both male and female Fraggles are affected by Wembley's Love Potion Number 9.
- Grand Finale: It took the last seven episodes or so to wrap up all the major plots.
- Granola Girl: Mokey. If she were human, you could easily picture her listening to sitar music and polishing crystals.
- Grumpy Bear: Boober, at first. Turns out he just has a bad, bad case of OCD.
- Hair of Gold: Wembley. Also Traveling Matt, back in his younger days.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: The Fraggles and Doozers...
- Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: ... except for Traveling Matt.
- Henpecked Husband: Pa Gorg is this at times.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Doc and Ned Shimmelfinney. Particularly evident in the last episodes.
- Hollywood Darkness: Those caves are awfully brightly lit for an underground world. Turns out the light is supplied by tiny bioluminescent creatures called Ditsies that feed on music.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Poor Wembley. He’s wound up at the mercy of the Gorgs, Convincing John, a mean genie, the shady Wizard of Fraggle Rock...
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Highly Subverted, though Uncle Matt immediately identifies us as "The Silly Creatures".Later on, Doc agrees with him.
- Matt tends to hear words incorrectly. He misinterpreted "city creatures.
- In fact, some of the silly creatures are very friendly towards Uncle Matt, especially the little girl from "Let The Water Run" who shares her umbrella with Matt while it is raining, and a bunch of street punks who dress him up in punk clothes, in which Uncle Matt refers to them as the closest things a silly creature can be compared to a Fraggle!
- Identical Great Nephew: In the flashbacks to Traveling Matt's childhood, we see that Gobo inherited his great-uncle and namesake's color scheme (orange with fuchsia hair).
- Identity Amnesia In "Boober Gorg", Boober gets a thump on the head and ends up thinking he's Junior Gorg. Ma and Pa Gorg think so too.
- I Just Want to Be You: The episode "I Want to Be You" is all about this. Red gets jealous of Mokey for being (so she thinks) more popular than her with everyone ("especially Gobo"), and spends the episode trying to imitate Mokey's hairstyle, voice, touchy-feely new age poetry, etc.
- Impossibly Delicious Food: the Grapes of Generosity, so delicious that anyone who finds them will not want to part with them.
- Invisible to Normals: The final episodes have a very strange variation on this one. Seems Gobo never had to go through all the stress of hiding from Doc all those years...
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: Poor Skenfrith.
- Lighthouse Point: Where the UK version took place.
- Like a Weasel: Wembley does this all the time, at least at first.
- Lost Forever: The British localization of Fraggle Rock suffered this fate, when the master tapes were junked. Of the 96 episodes made, only 12 are known to survive. This is why there's never been a DVD release.
- Lovable Coward: Boober Fraggle.
- Love Is in the Air
- The Magic Goes Away/The Magic Comes Back: The finale. When it looks like Doc is moving, Gobo races to tell him that he cannot leave the magic—and gets there too late, finding only a cold, dark, empty, utterly mundane room stripped of all the life and joy Doc and Sprocket had infused it with throughout the entire series. Luckily, the message wasn't an order. It's a statement of fact.
- Magic Music: Plays a role in a good number of episodes, and almost guaranteed to be employed whenever Cantus shows up.
- Manipulative Bastard: Sort of. "Convincing John can convince anyone to do anything." So he's got the manipulative part down. He isn't shown to be evil, per see, although he does convince them to do really silly things for no apparent reason, such as convincing Red that wearing a blindfold all the time is the only way to live. He was also exiled from the Rock prior to the start of the series.
- Meaningful Name: Cantus is the Latin word for "song".
- Sidebottom is the fun side of Boober that he keeps on the bottom.
- Meganekko: Storyteller Fraggle.
- Mistaken for Profound: Trash Heap.
- Mouse World: And multilayered to boot.
- The Movie: Announced quite a few years ago. It was in development limbo for a very long time. Given the development time, some of the rumors, the actual revealed plot elements, and the recent news that the studio heads are gunning for a Darker and Edgier script (seriously), some fans are understandably very apprehensive. However, as of 2011, that iteration of the film is officially dead. The Henson Company still intends to make a film someday.
- Multi National Shows: While the Fraggle scenes were the same all over the world, various countries had their localized version of Doc (see Cultural Translation above).
- Mushroom Samba: "It tastes like a party!!!"
- Musical Episode: Inverted. Non-musical episodes were Something Completely Different.
- Neologism: "Wemble", a verb meaning "to be pathologically indecisive". A "wembler" is a person who wembles, and "wembley" is an adjective describing a person who wembles (and it's also an acceptable name to give a child in Fraggle Rock—though according to Wembley, the people who named him apparently thought it meant "makes his mind up easily").
- When Wembley stops being indecisive, he demands he be called "Wilfred", which might be his real name.
- "Rev" is Doozer for "cool".
- Never Say "Die": Averted like crazy.
- Nice Hat: Gobo has an extensive collection of these, and he wears them in many episodes.
- No Name Given: Doc (and his equivalents). In the finale, mail finally reveals that Doc's name is "Jerome Crystal". Yes, that's right, Doc Crystal.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Sprocket repeatedly tries (and fails) to prove the Fraggles' existence to Doc.
- The Obi-Wan: Cantus again. "We see with our eyes. We know with our hearts."
- One-Hour Work Week: Almost literally (it's half an hour).
- The Oner: Simulated in the opening and closing titles and in the "walking through the tunnels" scenes.
- Only Sane Man: Boober often plays this role for the Fraggles. Murray is clearly this for the Minstrels.
- Pac-Man Fever: When Doc and Sprocket start playing Zombie Attack in one episode. The game even plays the Pac-Man death sound when you lose.
- Parental Bonus: Lots of 'em!
- Poisonous Friend: Begooney is arguably the first example of Borderline Personality Disorder in a kids' show.
- The Power of Friendship: Coupled with both Clap Your Hands If You Believe and The Power of Rock; the Fraggles are really a force to be reckoned with if you think of it.
- The Power of Rock: It's right in the title, isn't it?
- Punny Name: Uncle Traveling Matt. A "traveling matte" is a kind of Matte Shot where at least one of the elements being blended is in motion.
- Reality Warper: Begoony (who managed to be genuinely creepy), the Mean Genie, and a few other one-off characters.
- Running Gag: Quite a few including Sprocket's reaction to any mention of Ned Shimmelfinney and Wembly's bad luck with that one pipe.
- Serious Business: Satirized ten ways to Tuesday, most aggressively in the "Grand Poobahs" episode. Note that, in Fraggle society, major, far-reaching decisions can be settled with such things as who can stack the most pickles on the end of her/his beak.
- Shout-Out: To other Muppet productions.
- Sneeze of Doom: In "The Perfect Blue Rollie", Wembly sneezes when he sneaks into Boober's hidey-hole to retrieve the rollie, waking up Boober. Then he sneezes and blows the rollie into a crack in the wall.
- Soapbox Sadie: Mokey.
- The Southpaw: Gobo plays his guitar left-handed. This is par for the course for Muppets, though.
- Species Surname
- Stable Time Loop, or prehaps Tricked-Out Time: "Mokey, Then and Now".
- Team Chef: Boober.
- Team Mom: Mokey, again. Jim Henson referred to her as "the den mother of the Fraggle Five", and the oldest.
- This Is No Time to Panic: "The Great Radish Famine". When there's no radishes, Fraggles, Gorgs and Doozers all say this - then panic and accuse the others of stealing them.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Red and Mokey.
- Trapped in Another World: Gobo in one of the very first episodes. Sprocket, at least once a season thereafter.
- Trickster Mentor: Cantus again, mostly by virtue of being terribly mysterious.
- Unexplained Accent: Gobo has a Canadian accent complete with "eh" at the end of many of his sentences. That said, his Muppeteer is Canadian.
- Unusual Euphemism: Pa Gorg's "Drat and Deuteronomy!"
- Vague Age
- Verbal Tic: Wembley has a tendency to run around yelling "squeet squeet squat squat" or some variation thereof when he's happy or excited. It shows up in many of his songs, too.
- Walking the Earth: "Call me Uncle Traveling Matt."
- Walk This Way: Invoked by Cantus in "Junior Faces The Music", which resulted in the Fraggle Five following him and imitating his regal gait.
- Wandering Minstrel: Cantus.
- Welcome Titles
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Boober's attitude towards laundry.
- Wild Hair: Mokey and Cantus have it. The latter gets bonus points for having tufts of hair that defy the laws of gravity.
- The World Tree
- You Mean "Xmas": Actually well-done and believable in this series. Happy Festival Of The Bells!
- Zeerust: King Gorg owns a blunderbuss.
- The Gorgs are this in general; they're the only ones who seem to be living in a weird combination of medieval times and a perpetual warfront (with a completely imaginary enemy).
- Partially justifiable when you consider how old the Gorgs are and that they are essentially isolated from the rest of the world.