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Muppet Wiki
Muppet Wiki
PERFORMER Steve Whitmire
DEBUT 1980

Rizzo as he originally appeared on The Muppet Show.


Rizzo as he appeared on The Muppets Go to the Movies.


Rizzo working at Pete's Diner in The Muppets Take Manhattan.


Rizzo playing sidekick to Charles Dickens in The Muppet Christmas Carol.


Rizzo with fellow cabin boy Gonzo in Muppet Treasure Island.

Gonzo rizzo deleted scene

Deleted scene from Muppets from Space.


Behind the scenes on the set of The Muppets.


The unproduced Rizzo photo puppet replica.

Rizzo concept

Conceptual art of Rizzo's outfit for Muppet Treasure Island.

Muppets Most Wanted Teaser 29

Rizzo appearing in the teaser for Muppets Most Wanted.

MHM Rizzo cameo

Rizzo's brief cameo in Muppets Haunted Mansion.

Rizzo the Rat is a wisecracking rat and the most prominent of his species on The Muppet Show and subsequent projects. Sometimes, as seen in The Muppets Take Manhattan, he tries to cheat people into getting something he wants. However, he also has a sensitive side (according to Tim Hill and Gonzo during an audio commentary for Muppets from Space) and is good friends with Gonzo and Pepe the King Prawn.

He was created by Steve Whitmire after he took a fascination to a bunch of old rat puppets made from bottles by Don Sahlin for The Muppet Musicians of Bremen. Whitmire made costumes for Rizzo, and the Muppet Show Fan Club newsletter (vol. 2, no. 4, 1980) claimed that "It is Rizzo's greatest ambition to wear a different costume every time he appears in a shot! Watch out for this well-dressed rodent -- he has every intention of succeeding. Rat on, Rizzo!" Rizzo is named after Ratso Rizzo, a character from Midnight Cowboy portrayed by Dustin Hoffman. The name was suggested by Frank Oz.[1] According to a line in The Muppet Christmas Carol, Rizzo is "from Jersey."

Rizzo first appeared in episode 418 of The Muppet Show, as one of a group of rats following Christopher Reeve around backstage.[2] He can be seen mugging and reacting to practically every line of dialogue. His first known mention by name on-screen was by Kermit in episode 422. He remained a scene-stealing background figure through the final season, occasionally performing with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

He had a minor role in The Great Muppet Caper and a larger supporting part in The Muppets Take Manhattan, but his "big break" occurred when Jerry Juhl paired him with Gonzo to narrate The Muppet Christmas Carol. He has since become one of the principal Muppet characters, also starring in Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets from Space, Muppets Tonight, and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (appearing in the latter as the Mayor of Munchkinland).

Since The Muppet Christmas Carol, Rizzo and Gonzo have been best pals. However, that wasn't their first pairing together. They had previously interacted in The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, and appeared in a sketch together on Good Morning America, broadcast March 10, 1992. Rizzo and Pepe also seem to have a strong friendship as seen in Muppets from Space and A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa.

Although Rizzo has no lines in the 2011 film, The Muppets, he and Gonzo were interviewed together behind the scenes. In an interview, Nicholas Stoller explained that they tried to include as many characters as possible, but couldn't find a spot for him (or Bean Bunny) in the movie.[3]  His absence is referenced in Muppets Most Wanted, in a scene where he and Robin point out that the previous film replaced older characters such as themselves with the new character Walter. Rizzo returned as a prominent character in the 2015 series The Muppets, where he served as one of the writers for Up Late with Miss Piggy along with Gonzo and Pepe.

In a one-off appearance in The Muppets comic strip from May 26, 1983, Rizzo is given a "girl friend," Joy, in order to fulfill a play on words, before Yolanda Rat enters his life in The Muppets Take Manhattan.

In the 1999 book Muppets from Space: The Making of Muppet Movie Magic, Whitmire said:

โ€œ[Playing Rizzo] was tough at first. I was much more inhibited about the performance because I wasn't sure who he was or what I should do with him. Plus, they wanted him to be a sarcastic sort of New York character. I'm from Atlanta, you know? I mean, I didn't know anything about a sarcastic New York character, so I sort of had to grow into him.โ€

Rizzo also tried to impersonate Mickey Mouse in Muppet*Vision 3D to get money from Sam the Eagle, though his disguise didn't work. Later in 2016, a Rizzo-themed pizza parlor titled PizzeRizzo opened adjacent to Muppet*Vision 3D.

Since 2017, following Steve Whitmire's departure from The Muppets, Rizzo has largely been absent in new productions, save for occasional non-speaking cameos. Rizzo has also appeared in animated form as a recurring character in the Disney Junior reboot of Muppet Babies.


Book appearances[]


Video Games[]