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Trash heap
PERFORMER Jerry Nelson
DEBUT 1983
DESIGN Michael K. Frith designer
  Jane Gootnick,
Maria McNamara builder

Marjory's initial design as seen on "The Thirty-Minute Work Week," the first episode produced.


Marjory and the Fraggles


Marjory in Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock

Marjory the Trash Heap is a large, matronly, sentient compost heap from Fraggle Rock. According to her rat-like companions Philo and Gunge, who serve as her acolytes, the Trash Heap knows all and sees all. In fact, Marjory is all: "I'm orange peels, I'm coffee grounds, I'm wisdom!" She serves as an oracle to the Fraggles, dispensing advice and wise sayings, and the Fraggles stand in awe and reverence of her. However, the trash heap lives outside the caves of Fraggle Rock, residing in a corner of the Gorgs' Garden. This makes any journey to seek her wisdom perilous, as the Fraggles must sneak past Junior Gorg.

Marjory's pronouncements "sound a little like Dear Abby on a bad day," according to the presentation booklet used to pitch the series. Her advice usually proves beneficial, though her audience occasionally mistakes practical suggestions for magic spells. She does occasionally supply the Fraggles with "magic" objects such as a lucky blanket or Love Potion No. 9, and does appear to have some magical ability, such as the ability to teleport objects or Fraggles and to speak to someone telepathically, either while awake or in their dreams. Though Marjory enjoys her work, she frequently attempts to offer not just temporary solutions but to encourage the Fraggles and the other species to come together in harmony, and to become more self-reliant. Some attempts, such as in "The Great Radish Famine," are less successful than others. While Philo and Gunge refer to her as "Marjory," the Fraggles address her with the more formal title "Madame Trash Heap," "Madame Heap," "Your Trashiness" or occasionally simply "Trash Heap." Marjory in turn refers to Philo and Gunge as "my boys."

Marjory occasionally uses a lorgnette when peering at her visitors, and often settles down into her trash pit when sleeping or depressed. She speaks in an erratic Eastern European accent, sometimes with a hint of German and often heavy in Yiddish inflections. John O'Connor of the New York Times described her as sounding "like somebody's idea of revenge on a Jewish mother-in-law," though her accent or even her gender (such as it is) is based on where in the Gorg's garden she is placed. In Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock, she is given a strong Brooklyn accent. Like many of the other Fraggle Rock characters, Marjory is also musical, often belting out her advice in the form of a rousing song, with Philo and Gunge on backup, and accompanying herself with a tambourine.

In the episode "Home Is Where the Trash Is," it is revealed that the Trash Heap was not a living, sentient being until Philo and Gunge found her, at which point she sprang to life. In the same episode, Philo and Gunge decide to leave Marjory, and she falls gravely ill until they return.

Marjory has mentioned relatives on rare occasions, though particulars of how trash heap families work are never explored. Marjory references her mother in the lyrics to "I Seen Troubles" from "Beginnings." In "I Don't Care," Marjory reminisces about Uncle Maximillian, life of the party.

Marjory figured most prominently during the first season, appearing every other episode or so. In "The Trash Heap Doesn't Live Here Anymore," Marjory is relocated. Her appearances become more sporadic from then on, but she plays a key role in the final episodes.

Behind the scenes[]

The concept of a trash heap character was originally pitched by Michael K. Frith for the 10th season of Sesame Street, but was ultimately passed over. When production of Fraggle Rock began, Frith revived the idea for the character that would ultimately become Marjory.[1]

Most trash heaps tend to change their appearance over time, and Marjory is no exception; she underwent a slight cosmetic adjustment after the first filmed episode. Her triangular mouth became more crescent-shaped, and a bit more bulk was added to the top of her head.

Jerry Nelson initially based the character's voice and accent on actress Maria Ouspenskaya. The puppet was operated by three performers, with Nelson on the head and face and two other performers working her arms. Nelson would use a piece of wood to raise Marjory's head and keep her shape.[2]


See also[]