Rizzo the Rat

Rizzo the Rat
The Muppets character

Rizzo in A Tail of Two Piggies episode of The Muppets
First appearance The Muppet Show (episode 418)[1]
Created by Jim Henson
Performed by Steve Whitmire
Species Muppet rat
Gender Male
Nationality American

Rizzo the Rat is a Muppet character, performed by Steve Whitmire.[2]


Rizzo's name is derived from Dustin Hoffman's Ratso Rizzo character in Midnight Cowboy. Steve Whitmire was inspired by rat puppets made out of bottles when he created the character.[3]


Rizzo first appeared in episode 418 of The Muppet Show, as one of a group of rats following Christopher Reeve around backstage.[3] He can be seen mugging and reacting to practically every line of dialogue. He remained a scene-stealing background figure through the final season, occasionally performing with Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem.[3]

After that he appeared in The Great Muppet Caper as a bellboy in a fleabag London hotel. He has appeared in most later Muppet projects, including The Muppets Take Manhattan and Muppets Tonight. In The Muppet Christmas Carol, he developed a popular double act with Gonzo, which was continued in Muppet Treasure Island and in Muppets from Space. While formerly associated principally with Gonzo, he transitioned to being more often a sidekick to Pepe the King Prawn.

Rizzo is a streetwise rat with a New Jersey accent, 1,274 brothers and sisters (as told to Gonzo in The Muppet Christmas Carol), and a self-proclaimed acrophobic.[4] In Muppets From Space, as the spaceship lands, he panics to himself and mentions in his prayers that he's "always obeyed his mother" and that he "never carried the plague, not even once!"

Rizzo appears as a background character in the 2011 film The Muppets, without a spoken dialogue, although he is seen singing along during the finale, as well as the scene in which Kermit the Frog addresses a large crowd of Muppets. In Muppets Most Wanted (2014), he appears to decry his lack of screentime in the previous film, along with Kermit's nephew Robin.

Rizzo returns to prominence in the TV series The Muppets, where he is on a writer crew with Gonzo and Pepe, as he is paired up with them again.



  1. Shemin, Craig (2014). Disney's The Muppets Character Encyclopedia. New York: DK Publishing. p. 151. ISBN 9781465417480.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 "Voice Of Rizzo the Rat". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  3. 1 2 3 top-story (2009-01-01). "The Stories Behind 20 Muppet Favorites". Mental Floss. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
  4. The Muppet Christmas Carol. There are only two things... I hate: heights, and jumping from them
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