10 Fun Facts About ‘Fraggle Rock,’ Now 40 Years Old

Fraggle Rock - Jim Henson
HBO/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Forty years on, fans still want to be “down at Fraggle Rock,” the fantastical world created by Muppets mastermind Jim Henson for a TV show that debuted on HBO on January 10, 1983.

Fraggle Rock followed the titular characters — a species of underground-dwelling, radish-loving creatures — as they interacted with the societies of Doozers, Gorgs, and the silly creatures of outer space. (Those would be us humans.) And over its five-season run, Fraggle Rock taught young viewers valuable lessons about the real world.

“For decades, those involved with Fraggle Rock have chuckled self-indulgently about its purported mission, which was, supposedly, ‘to save the world,’” producer Michael Frith told GeekDad in 2013. “But perhaps that’s not as ridiculous as it might at first blush sound … Fraggle Rock’s simple ambition [was] to open kids’ eyes to the interconnectedness of all things and the unassailable fact that their own actions would have consequences.”

Frith added: “The audience we were reaching for was one that we felt was, at least where television was concerned, massively underserved — the ‘mid-kid,’ beyond Sesame Street but not yet, as we so succinctly put it back then, ‘reading Playboy,’ still able to become lost in the magic of fantasy and music and storytelling … all in an impossible world brought to life by brilliant puppetry.”

As we celebrate 40 years of Fraggle Rock — and as the reboot Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock streams on Apple TV+ — keep reading to learn trivia about the series.

Different countries got different “outer space” scenes

The human scenes of Fraggle Rock varied by region, according to TIME. In the North American and German versions of the show, Doc is an inventor. In the French version, he’s a lighthouse keeper. And in the French version, he’s a baker (with a dog named Croquette, not Sprocket).

The actor behind Doc was Doc in The Boondock Saints, too

After playing Doc on Fraggle Rock, the late actor Gerard Parkes played a bartender named Doc in the 1999 film The Boondock Saints and its 2009 sequel, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.

The Fraggles were almost called Woozles

According to a Jim Henson Company archivist cited by TIME, the show was called Woozle World until the creative team realized that Woozles were already creatures from the world of Winnie the Pooh.

Fraggle Rock was HBO’s first original series

Quentin Schaffer, former executive vice president of corporate communications at HBO, told Al Jazeera America in 2013 that Fraggle Rock was HBO’s first original series — and critical to the premium cable channel’s development.

It was the first North American television show to reach the Soviet Union

In another Fraggle Rock first, the series was the first North American television show broadcast in the Soviet Union. “We always joke that Fraggle Rock led to the end of the Cold War,” Karen Falk, Archives Director at The Jim Henson Company, shared in the book Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal (per Al Jazeera America). “By the end of the year, as the show’s lessons of tolerance and understanding wafted through the airwaves, the Berlin Wall came down.”

Some Fraggles are named after film equipment or techniques

According to Mental Floss, the name of two Fraggles are in-jokes for filmmakers: Traveling Matt refers to “traveling matte,” a special effects technique, while Gobo is also the name of a plate or screen used to shield a lens from light or to project a shape from a spotlight.

Fraggle Rock spawned animated spin-offs

The spin-off Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series aired a single, 13-episode season on Saturday morning NBC in 1987. And The Doozers, a computer-animated spin-off, debuted on Hulu in 2014 and streamed for two seasons.

You can spot Fraggle Rock characters in Muppets movies

Characters from Fraggle Rock appeared in multiple Muppets movies, including 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan, 1987’s A Muppet Family Christmas, 1992’s The Muppet Christmas Carol, 2011’s The Muppets, and 2014’s Muppets Most Wanted. Call it the Jim Henson Cinematic Universe?

You can also see Fraggles in a Ben Folds Five music video

Red, Gobo, Wembley, Boober, Mokey, and Traveling Matt all appear in the 2012 Ben Fold Fives music video “Do It Anyway.” And Chris Hardwick and Anna Kendrick honor the Gorgs from Fraggle Rock in the video, sporting a Junior Gorg tattoo and a “Boy Gorg” T-shirt, respectively.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was once attached to a Fraggle Rock feature film project

Development of a Fraggle Rock feature film kicked off in 2005, according to Muppet Central. The idea wended in and out of various studios over the next decade, until Joseph Gordon-Levitt signed on to produce and star in a Fraggle Rock film for New Regency in 2015. In 2020, however, the actor confirmed that the film was a no-go, telling Variety, “There’s so many projects that are in development. … We all spend lots and lots of time working on lots and lots of things that don’t become real. This was one of those.”