"You don't mess with Animal. He eats glass, man."
- Frank Oz
Animal is the wild drummer on The Muppet Show, performing with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. Animal is a crazed percussionist with three styles of music -- loud, louder, and deafening. He speaks in a guttural shout, often repeating a few simple phrases, such as "BEAT DRUMS! BEAT DRUMS!" or "WO-MAN!" In relatively calmer moods, he is capable of more coherent conversation, but these instances are infrequent.
Animal first appeared in the 1975 pilot, The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence, chained up in a basement cell when he wasn't onstage performing with the Electric Mayhem. He later became a main character on The Muppet Show, and his unrestrained style has made him popular with young people for decades.
Frank Oz says that he sums Animal up in five words: Sex, sleep, food, drums and pain. Occasionally, two of those essentials, food and drums, are interchangeable. In The Muppet Movie, Dr. Teeth had to remind Animal to beat, and not eat, his drums. In The Muppet Show episode 110, when asked by Kermit if he preferred drumming to food, Animal replied that drums are food.
Animal's wild attitude can be compared to Cookie Monster. In A Muppet Family Christmas, after observing Cookie Monster eating all of Janice's cookies in his signature manner, Animal comments, "That my kind of fella!"
Animal's family life is generally non-existent, and outside of the band, the Muppet Show troupe, and women in general, he has no other relationships. A significant exception is depicted in the book The Case of the Missing Mother, which reveals the existence of Animal's mother, LaVerne. LaVerne is also a drummer, and it's implied that percussion skills are a family trait.
It's not surprising that Animal is often compared with other famous drummers -- as Buddy Rich said in his Muppet Show episode, "All drummers are animals." Animal himself considers Rich one of his musical influences, along with Gene Krupa, Keith Moon of The Who and Ginger Baker of Cream and Blind Faith.
When drumming legend Buddy Rich appeared on The Muppet Show, one sequence featured a "drum battle" between Rich and Animal in homage to the legendary face-off album between Rich and his contemporary Gene Krupa.
Although Animal battled Buddy Rich, in an earlier episode, episode 110, it was mentioned in an interview with Animal that Buddy Rich was one of Animal's idols. Also during this interview, Animal revealed that he had been playing the drums for five years, which (assuming a literal timeline) would mean that he's been playing the drums since 1971.
One of Animal's most memorable performances with a guest star was in episode 105, in which he wildly played the drums in Rita Moreno's number "Fever". Other guest stars who have had scenes with Animal include Lou Rawls, Leo Sayer, James Coburn, Harry Belafonte, and Kaye Ballard.
Animal has also had roles in all of the Muppet movies. In The Muppet Movie, he ate Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's Insta-Grow Pills, causing him to grow ten times his size and scare away Doc Hopper. He also appeared in The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets from Space, It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz.
In The Muppets, Animal is found in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, being sponsored by Jack Black. Animal has learned to stay calm (occasionally mumbling "IN CONTROL"), but goes wild when he hears the word "drums." Animal rejoins the Muppets but Jack Black encourages him to stay away from drums. It's only after a moment of psychomachia when Animal decides play the drums again, during the Muppets' performance of "The Rainbow Connection."
Animal is probably the most popular member of the Electric Mayhem. He has certainly been included in more merchandise than the rest of the band. He was also the only member of the band to be included regularly on Muppet Babies.
Animal was the mascot of the U.S. snowboarding team for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Animal made a television appearance in Nagano with CBS reporter Kennedy, during which she stapled his feet to a snowboard.
In Muppets TV, an original French-only show, Animal talks in full-formed sentences, implying that while is English is poor, his French is fluent.