Puppets from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe

Written By Hannah Walden, Co-Features/A&E Editor

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Growing up watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood is equal parts learning and growing into the person Fred knew we could become. Watching him do different segments with a number of puppets eases the child into understanding the topics Mister Rogers was teaching us. But who was the best puppet from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe? Like most ranking lists, I will start with the worst, and work my way up to the best.

 

#7 Lady Elaine Fairchilde

Need I say more? Her name is a mouth-full and super pretentious, and she is usually an antagonist when the story needs one. Although she isn’t an evil protagonist, she usually challenges King Friday XIII’s authority and has the worst catch-phrase I’ve ever heard. Who would ever say “Okay, toots” on a children’s show? And while looks should never be counted against a person, Lady Elaine is the scariest looking puppet I’ve ever seen on this show or on other shows. As if her large red nose with matching dark red cheeks isn’t scary enough, her loud, scratchy, angry voice seals her fate in being the worst puppet from the Neighborhood.

 

#6XtheOwl

As a child, I loved X because I thought that his knowledge on many things was interesting and made him a smart character. However, I also liked him because I was a hard-headed kid that would rather dig my heels in rather than admit I was wrong or change my mind about some- thing. As I got a little older I found his know-it-all personality and hard-headedness to be a bit pretentious. One of X’s best qualities was his humor towards the other puppets and live actors.

 

#5 King Friday XIII

A fitting stereotype of a king, King Friday can easily be described as egocentric, irrational, temperamental and resistant to change, however he is open-minded enough to listen to the actors when he is wrong. Naturally he has a fondness for giving long-winded speeches and using big words. While his personality traits feel very much like a caricature, King Friday is a very interesting and quirky character that it’s hard not to enjoy him. He even addresses people kingly by stating “Henrietta Pussycat, I presume.”

 

#4 Henrietta Pussycat

This sharply dressed cat with kind and gentle mannerisms won her over in the hearts of anxious and quiet kids. She has a habit of randomly inserting “meow” into sentences, as she is a cat, but she will add more “meows” and speak in shorter sentences when she is nervous or anxious. She also appreciates beautiful things which is shown through her beautiful clothes and her lovely house in the tree next to X the Owl. Henrietta always felt like a very kind and genuine character that is very in-touch with her feelings and, as a very emotional child myself, I could see myself and the way I felt about situations that would make me feel anxious or sad in her.

 

#3 Prince Tuesday

While he may be a part of the royal family, Prince Tuesday is a very down to earth and kind character. As one of the two characters to age in the show, albeit from a newborn to elementary aged kid, Tuesday is so kind and understanding of situations it can be difficult to see how he is King Friday’s son at times. Maybe it is because he is young and can represent the newer royals that aren’t as arrogant and single minded as the royals of old, such as his father. Prince Tuesday is an overall relatable character, even if he is royalty.

 

#2 The Neighborhood Trolley

Bet you didn’t think that the Trolley counts as a character from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, but it does. This small, red sentient electric trolley travels back and forth between the Neighbor- hood of Make-Believe and Mister Rogers’ home, taking the viewers along with it. Trolley communicates through a whistle and bell, and moves back and forth along the track to get characters’ attention. For a Trolley, it sure was sassy and even had a personality, or as much as a small electric trolley can have. Trolley is also the only character that can travel between both of the worlds on the show, making it the segue from segment to segment, world to world. The Trolley was such an interesting way to explain some subject matter to kids and transition throughout the episodes, and a nice little tie for the city’s T-lines.

 

#1 Daniel Striped Tiger

I know it might feel like an obvious choice to put Daniel at the top of this list, but he deserves it. He was one of the most used characters when it came to difficult subject matter, like Kennedy’s assassination in 1968, or dealing with issues of feeling like a mistake. Daniel is a very kind, gentle and child-like character that many kids, including myself, really resonated with. Daniel would ask questions that I would have while watching the episode; he felt like another kid that felt and thought just like all of the other kids. He was able to articulate the fears and anxieties many kids have in such a way that the issue could be addressed properly and the viewer would know how to handle the situation thanks to Daniel and his questions. If you don’t already love Daniel, Mister Rogers and his wife Joanne have even discussed how Daniel is a part of Fred and was his way of articulating his fears without having to outright say them himself.

While these aren’t all of the puppet friends that you can meet while visiting the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, these are the most memorable, the most used and the ones that really have deep personalities that kids can resonate with in different situations.

Except Lady Elaine, she’s mean and scary.