Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Dr. Bunsen Honeydew

WMW Bunsen

Today’s article was written by Michael Baldasare with edits and additions by Ryan Dosier. Although we have featured Dr. Bunsen Honeydew on Weekly Muppet Wednesdays before, that article was more of a joke, so Michael has rewritten the article to take a serious look at Bunsen.


Performed by…Bunsen new
Dave Goelz

First appearance…
The Muppet Show Episode 108: Paul Williams (1976)

Most recent appearance…
Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Best known role…
Scientist, inventor, founder of Muppet Labs, punisher of Beaker

Best friend and assistant…

Dr. Bunsen Honeydew is The Muppet Show‘s resident scientist and the host, founder, and lead scientist of Muppet Labs–where the future is being made today. In season one of The Muppet Show, Bunsen worked alone. But it was in season two when the sketches really took off as Beaker was added to the show as Bunsen’s hapless assistant. Bunsen is usually giddy with excitement when showing off his latest scientific discovery or invention, but his excitement about progress usually blinds him to the fact that his invention either doesn’t work or is insanely dangerous.

Dr. Honeydew has come up with a score of outrageous inventions in over 30 episodes of The Muppet Show, the Muppet movies, and episodes of Muppets Tonight. Dr. Honeydew’s many, many ridiculous inventions have included a robotic replica of Abraham Lincoln, a gorilla detector, his own element “Bunsonium,” a teleportation device, fireproof paper, a germ enlarger, an electric nose warmer, exploding clothes, edible paper clips, a banana sharpener, hair-growing tonic, and a machine that can turn gold into cottage cheese.

Bunsen has had a large role in nearly every Muppet movie. In The Muppet Movie, Kermit met Bunsen and Beaker in an old ghost town, where they showed off their latest invention, “Insta-Grow Pills,” which made things bigger–however the effect was sadly temporary. In The Great Muppet Caper, Dr. Honeydew assisted in the break-in at the Mallory Gallery and volunteered Beaker to crack the high voltage security installation. In The Muppets Take Manhattan, Bunsen joins in on the “Manhattan Melodies” finale.

In The Muppet Christmas Carol, Bunsen and Bekaer play well-meaning charity workers who try to get Ebenezer Scrooge to donate to help the homeless. Originally they had a song, “Room in Your Heart,” but it was cut from the film. In Muppet Treasure Island, Bunsen played Dr. Livesey while Beaker played himself. In Muppets from Space, Bunsen invented invisible spray (inside a rubber duckie), mind mist, and Door In a Jar, to help rescue Gonzo and Rizzo from C.O.V.N.E.T. Unfortunately, he and Beaker got left at a gas station with Cheese Twiddles before they could see the inventions used.

In It’s a Very, Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Bunsen and Beaker invent a device for the Muppets to earn money for the “Moulin Scrooge” Christmas show. We get a look of what Bunsen might have been in the world in which Kermit was never born–Dr. Bunsen Honeydew would be a hip, aggressive doorman at Club Dot. In The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, Bunsen and Beaker had crucial roles as the technicians of Emerald City, setting up Dorothy and her Muppet cohorts with their emerald-tinted glasses. In A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, Dr. Honeydew created the Wish Granter 3000, which Beaker demonstrated by wishing for a “meeping” gorgeous woman and wishing himself away from Bunsen.

In his most recent big screen role in The Muppets, Bunsen, along with Beaker, reunited with the Muppets after working at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. In an unfortunately deleted scene, Bunsen was revealed as an accomplice to Gonzo’s bowling ball throwing stunt. The bowling ball, built by Bunsen, was a highly advanced, hyper-intelligent remote control contraption. While demonstrating the device, the bowling ball developed a mind of its own and terrorized Beaker around the theater.

Dr. Honeydew also had a crucial role in the Walt Disney World and Disneyland attraction Muppet*Vision 3-D. Bunsen and Beaker were the inventors of the Muppet*Vision 3-D technology and hosted a live demonstration of the power of 3-D. Dr. Honeydew developed a machine that created a living spirit of 3-D, Waldo C. Graphic. Waldo ended up getting Muppet Labs sucked up by Bunsen’s Vacu-Muppet, and Bunsen and Beaker disappeared from the show after that.

Pre-doctorate Bunsen Honeydew appeared as a toddler in animated form in Muppet Babies. Young Bunsen still displayed a talent for scientific work and was already quite brilliant–and already quite good at injuring baby Beaker. Dr. Honeydew was a significant part of Muppets Tonight as well, developing a number of inventions and most notably going through a midlife crisis which involved crashing a speedboat and dating Andie MacDowell.

Bunsen has appeared many times with the Muppets outside of their own shows, specials, or movies. Dr. Honeydew appeared on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, America’s Funniest Home Videos, WWE Raw, Dancing with the Stars, and other exploits. Bunsen was also the star of two Muppet viral videos: “Ghost Hunt” and “Carve-O-Matic.” He also appeared in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “The Muppet Show Theme” music videos. Bunsen also appeared at the 2009 appearance at D23 Expo, Jim Henson’s Musical World, and the Muppets Comedy Gala at Just For Laughs 2012.

Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker are two of the most popular Muppet characters. These are just some of Bunsen’s many, many onscreen, in-print, and online appearances. Dr. Honeydew has appeared in comic books, phone applications, interactive cruise ship games, awards shows, music videos, live theme park experiences, and commercials during his long career–and he doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon! Bunsen appeared alongside Beaker in Muppets Most Wanted as well, correcting the Muppets during “We’re Doing a Sequel” by singing “I don’t mean to be a stickler, but this is the seventh sequel to our original motion picture.”

Dr. Bunsen Honeydew is another example of the great Muppet character trope of thinking you’re a genius but really just being bad at what you do–and even destructive. Even though Bunsen’s inventions are harmful and fail more often than not, Dr. Honeydew never gives up on his dream of being a great scientist. The Muppets need Bunsen because he continues the Muppet dream of perseverance no matter the cost (although Beaker pays most of the cost). Besides all that, Dr. Honeydew is simply hysterical. The Muppet Labs sketches were some of the most popular on The Muppet Show for good reason.

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

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