Q: It seems that Rizzo the Rat isn't in the Muppet cast anymore. What happened? He and Gonzo made a good team.

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

It depends who you ask. Some say he was dropped as part of the high-profile firing of Muppeteer Steve Whitmire ("CAVE iN"), but if you ask Rizzo himself, he was shouldered out to make room for a new guy. Either way, it ain't pretty.

Rizzo the Rat started as a background character but came into his own when he was tasked with co-narrating "The Muppet Christmas Carol" (1992) alongside Gonzo. That partnership bore fruit for several years afterward, and Rizzo maintained his new, high profile. That is, until 2011, when he was barely seen and never heard in the big-screen hit "The Muppets."

His screen time has been down ever since.

In the next big-screen film, "Muppets Most Wanted" (2014), he was given enough time to say that he and some of the other characters had been shouldered out to make room for new Muppet Walter (voiced by Peter Linz, "Sesame Street").

This is, of course, a joke for the film, but in terms of screen time, he's right. Walter, a brand-new character without the decades of backstory that Rizzo boasts, has in fact been a featured character in those two movies and some other recent productions.

Meanwhile, Rizzo's screen time has decreased to the point that he's been completely absent from all of the recent Muppet shows and films; something likely to do with Whitmire's absence — he was fired in 2017 for "unacceptable business conduct" (per Muppet Studios).

Some of Whitmire's bigger characters — including a certain famous green frog — were recast. Rizzo, however, hasn't been seen since.

Though the rat may yet return — provided producers find the right new voice for him.


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