Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian era partnership of librettist W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900). The two men collaborated on fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado are among the best known.
Gilbert, who wrote the words, created fanciful "topsy-turvy" worlds for these operas, where each absurdity is taken to its logical conclusion—fairies rub elbows with British lords, flirting is a capital offence, gondoliers ascend to the monarchy, and pirates turn out to be noblemen who have gone wrong. Sullivan, six years Gilbert's junior, composed the music, contributing memorable melodies that could convey both humour and pathos.
- Rowlf the Dog and Sam the Eagle sang "Tit Willow" from The Mikado in episode 120 of The Muppet Show.
- Episode 304 of The Muppet Show features Gilda Radner and a Seven-foot-tall Talking Carrot performing a medley of songs from The Pirates of Penzance.
- The composers were most prominently referenced on Sesame Street with Gilbert and Sullivan, a pair of Anything Muppets who lead large, operatic musical numbers.
- On Sesame Street, a 1974 segment presented the "Numerical Correspondence Song", with five Anything Muppets singing a Gilbert and Sullivan-style operetta song about adding numbers.
- In a mock break-out quote on the back of the 1977 Sesame Street album Big Bird Leads the Band, W. S. Gilbird and A. S. Gullivan (lyricist and composer of HMS Pinfeather) provide a rhyming tribute: "Bird, thou never wert/we do assert/so musical/as on this al-/bum."
- Scooter performs a version of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" in episode 412 of The Muppet Show, singing a fast-patter list of all of the guest stars who had appeared on the show.
- In The Muppet Show Comic Book: The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson, the Muppets perform a "H.M.S. Pinafore" finale for the show.