Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Red Fraggle


Written by Ryan Dosier.


Performed by… Red
Karen Prell

First appearance…
Fraggle Rock Episode 101: “Beginnings” (1983)

Most recent appearance…
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Free Comic Book Day at Meltdown Comics (live appearance) (2010)

Best known role…
Stubborn, tenacious, competitive female Fraggle; sports champion (specifically diving and rock hockey); Mokey Fraggle’s roommate; Gobo Fraggle’s rival

Best friend(s)…
Mokey Fraggle, Cotterpin Doozer, Gobo Fraggle

Red Fraggle is arguably the most popular character to come out of Fraggle Rock. She is athletic, energetic, and fun-loving. Nothing would please Red more than a swim in Fraggle Pond or singing a bouncy song or even playing a game with Gobo (as long as she wins). Red’s relationships with every Fraggle are almost always competitive–but, since she’s a Fraggle, you know she always remains friendly. (Fiercely friendly, even.)

Red and Gobo share what is perhaps the most interesting dynamic on the show. The two are always competing against each other, much to the danger and annoyance of their friends. The Season One episode, “The Challenge,” in which Gobo, Red, and Boober get trapped in the Gorgs’ Garden because of Red and Gobo’s rivalry is the perfect example of their relationship. After spending the entire episode arguing about who should be the “boss” of the group, Red and Gobo say, “Good thinking, boss!” to each other in unison come the end and their safe arrival home. However, no amount of admiration for Gobo can make Red interested in hearing his Uncle Traveling Matt’s postcards. She rolls her eyes and groans nearly every time they’re brought up.

Mokey is Red’s roommate, the two moved in together in Season Two in the episode “A Cave of One’s Own,” and her best friend. The two have a sort of Bert-and-Ernie repartee, especially when it comes to Mokey’s creepy looking plant pet, Lanford. But even Red and Lanford solve their differences in the Season Three episode, “The Beanbarrow, the Burden and the Bright Bouquet,” when they were lost and in danger together. Mokey and Red shared many meaningful moments, the most important of which being the entirety of Season One’s “I Want to Be You,” when Red decided she would rather be Mokey than be herself. Red’s acting as Mokey not only solidified her character, but hit a chord showing how much respect the two friends have for each other both when Red wanted to be Mokey and Mokey told Red to just be herself.

Red and Boober’s most prolific moment occurred in Season One as well, in “Marooned.” The two friends were trapped in a rock slide, relying on each other and their dwindling supply of oxygen to stay alive (yes, this happened in a children’s show). They discuss mortality, their friendship, their other relationships, and their lives. It all culminates with the beautiful “Friendship Song,” one of the most moving songs from the entirety of the show. Red would continue to pester Boober at times after this moment, but knowing they had this bond makes it more playful than mean.

Wembley and Red shared more than a few moments together–mostly with Red being annoyed at Wembley’s inability to make up his mind about anything. Red also enjoys enlisting Wembley for odd jobs and random tasks, such as helping (or watching) her practice racket balancing, as seen in Wembley’s song “Help Me For a Change.” However, just like with all of her other friends, Red remains loyal to Wembley when times are tough. She helped rescue him from the Gorgs’ Garden in “Wembley and the Gorgs” and journeys to “The Terrible Tunnel” with Wembley and Gobo as well.

Throughout the course of Fraggle Rock, Red also shared moments with Cotterpin Doozer (“All Work and All Play”), Large Marvin (her fiercest competitor in swimming contests), Cantus the Minstrel (“The Minstrels”), and Uncle Traveling Matt (“Red’s Blue Dragon”). Her competitive side got the best of her in “Playing Till It Hurts,” when Red, trying to impress her idol, Rock Hockey Hannah, injures herself. In “Red’s Blue Dragon,” Red falls into another world inhabited by a ferocious blue dragon guarding a golden apple tree. When she tries to convince her friends and Gobo’s Uncle Matt of what she saw, none of them believe her. Finally, in “Red’s Sea Monster,” Red encounters the Last of the Lily Creatures, a huge beast that wants nothing more than to be left alone.

Recently, Red Fraggle has been making live appearances everywhere from Comic-Con to Free Comic Book Day to the Fraggle Rock Holiday Toy Drive Benefit. Red has also been appearing in bumpers on The Hub network, which airs Fraggle Rock. At most of her live appearances, Red has enjoyed leading sing-alongs with the crowd, including the Fraggle Rock Theme, the “Beetle Song,” “The Friendship Song,” and more. Hopefully Red will continue to make more live appearances in the years to come.

Like any Fraggle, Red loves to sing and dance. Here are a few of her most well-known songs.

  • “The Rules Song (I’m the Leader Now)” with Cotterpin Doozer (“Red’s Club”)
  • “Chase the Wind” (“Playing Till It Hurts”)
  • “One and One (I’m the One that Won!)” with Gobo, Mokey, Boober, and Wembley (“Red’s Club”)
  • “There’s a Lot I Want to Know” (“Inspector Red”)
  • “Dreaming of Someone” (“I Want to Be You”)
  • “Do It On My Own” (“Let the Water Run”)
  • “Muck and Goo” with Traveling Matt, Gobo, Junior Gorg, and Pa Gorg (“The Garden Plot”)
  • “Friendship Song” with Boober (“Marooned”)
  • “Beetle Song” with Mokey (“I Want to Be You”)

Red Fraggle was the first (and still only) major character performed by Karen Prell. Karen didn’t always want to be Red, however. When she auditioned, Karen tried out for the part of Mokey. She was disappointed when she was asked to perform Red instead. It wasn’t until the Season One episode, “I Want to Be You,” where Red impersonates Mokey, that Karen realized what fun being Red could be. And thank goodness she did, because Karen brought a life and energy to Red Fraggle that no one else could have. Karen is currently the only member of the original Fraggle Rock team to perform her character in the 2000s, doing numerous live appearances with Red.

Red brings an energy and exuberance to Fraggle Rock that no other Fraggle can muster. Yes, all Fraggles love to sing and dance and play, but none more than Red. Her entire life is consumed by playing games, singing songs, and being silly–as long as you don’t make her look silly. She is beloved by both girls and boys thanks to her fun nature. The episodes of Fraggle Rock that focus on Red always have the most profound lessons: being yourself is what people like about you, excluding people isn’t always fun, winning isn’t everything.

Red is also the sole Fraggle carrying on the legacy of Fraggle Rock in new appearances recently. Yes, this is probably because Jerry Nelson (Gobo) is retired and Steve Whitmire (Wembley) and Dave Goelz (Boober, Traveling Matt) are incredibly busy, but it’s also because Red is the most popular and well-remembered Fraggle around. Her recent live appearances have been magical and wonderful, showing that the beauty of Fraggle Rock still lives on when tapped into.

Fraggle Rock needs Red for her youth and energy and fun and competitiveness. They need her because Red truly embodies the saying, “Dance your cares away, worries for another day.”

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, ryguy102390@gmail.com

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