Reptiles and amphibians have become a part of pop culture appearing in everything from music videos to television commercials. The funny thing is that until you really sit down and think about it, you probably wouldn’t even notice.
Because we’re obsessed with all things herpetology-insired at Backwater Reptiles, we’re devoting this blog article to the topic of the top ten most famous fictional reptiles and amphibians in pop culture.
So, in no particular order, here are our picks for the top ten most famous fictional herps in recent memory.
Top Ten Most Famous Fictional Reptiles and Amphibians
Kermit the Frog
Young children to grown adults are probably familiar with the very famous muppet frog named Kermit created by the late Jim Henson.
First appearing in the year 1955, Kermit rose to fame as the leader of the Muppets and became famous for his love affair with an equally famous muppet by the name of Miss Piggy.
Kermit has appeared in many TV shows including The Muppet Show, Muppet Babies, and Sesame Street. He also stars in The Muppet Movie and each subsequent movie incarnation featuring muppets.
Kermit is perhaps most famous and well-known (at least by the older generation) for his chart-topping singles “The Rainbow Connection” and “Bein’ Green.”
Originally performed by the legendary Jim Henson himself, Kermit is now performed by Steve Whitmire since Henson’s passing in 1990.
In addition to appearances on all of his own shows and films, Kermit has been a guest star and made cameos in countless other productions. He has been interviewed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and also played on Hollywood Squares.
And if fifty plus years of pop culture involvement doesn’t make Kermit famous enough for you, he’s even met Michelle Obama in 2014! Not too many frogs can say they’ve had the opportunity to shake the hand of the First Lady!
Kermit the frog also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and had his own set of collector postage stamps issued on his 50th birthday in 2005.
The Geico Gecko
Although we might not know his name, it’s fair to say that anyone who has a TV or watched an online video has likely seen the Geico Gecko in a commercial. You know him – he’s that little green day gecko who tries to persuade you to purchase car insurance in a very sensible manner.
Making his first appearance in 1999, the Geico Gecko has evolved and changed into an anthropomorphic, computer animated cartoon with a cute British accent.
Although Geico has featured other personalities and characters in its ad campaigns, we think it’s safe to say that the Geico Gecko is not only the cutest and most memorable, but the one with the most staying power as well.
Rango is the lead character from the animated feature film of the same name. Rango is voiced by Johnny Depp and his tale is that of a misplaced pet chameleon who ends up in the wild west trying to help the locals recover their water supply. Along the way, he encounters many other animated animals including a female desert iguana named Beans and a gunslinging rattlesnake named Rattlesnake Jake.
While Rango might not be as popular a character as other animated animals such as Mickey Mouse or Dory from Finding Nemo, Rango certainly holds his own in the world of animated, anthropomorphic animals.
Rango is such a quirky character with a unique story that the film even won best animated feature in 2011. And we’re all for any movie starring a chameleon – animated or not!
Okay, we’ll admit Godzilla might better be classified as a monster instead of a reptile, but we think he bears enough resemblance to our herp friends that he qualifies for this list.
Godzilla originated in a Japanese film of the same name in the year 1954 and has since become a cultural icon. He has made appearances in many movies (American and Japanese), comics, and even TV shows.
When Godzilla was first conceived, he was mainly meant to serve as a metaphor and commentary on the threat of nuclear weapons. However, with time, the reptilian monster took on many more nuanced aspects including playing an antihero, a purely destructive villain, and even a defender of humanity.
Godzilla has evolved over time from being played by a man in a suit to his latest American incarnation where he is an elaborate computer simulated masterpiece. No matter how technologically advanced Godzilla might become, he’s still one very famous reptile and we are excited to see the next movie he stars in.
Tick Tock, the Crocodile
There are many iterations of the classic story of Peter Pan in the film and TV world. And many of the stories have some version of a crocodile that ate Captain Hook’s hand leaving him with his famous hook.
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to discuss the 1953 Disney animated version of Peter Pan and the crocodile Tick Tock.
At some point, Tick Tock the croc managed to eat an alarm clock. This has left him with a permanent “tick” and a delightfully catchy tune that accompanies him whenever he appears on screen.
Tick Tock might not get much screen time in the movie, but when he does appear, he definitely steals the scene!
Wally Gator is an old school Hanna-Barbera cartoon that first appeared on TV in the 1960s. Wally lives in the city zoo and is watched over by the zookeeper Mr. Twiddle who has to make sure Wally doesn’t get into too much trouble when he leaves the zoo.
Nowadays, Wally isn’t really seen too much on TV, mainly due to issues with remastering the series. Fans of this anthropomorphic Cajun alligator still hope that a complete DVD set of the series featuring all fifty two episodes will be released at a future date.
The character of Mr. Toad actually originates in literature. He is one of the main characters in the book The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and he is also the title character in the A.A. Milne play Toad of Toad Hall which is based upon the book.
Although he is a famous literary character, Mr. Toad has also made his way into many hearts by being animated into a Disney film entitled The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The film depicts Mr. Toad as an egocentric chaser of fads who is accused of car theft and ultimately winds up being acquitted. If you’ve ever been to Disneyland, there is an entire ride in Fantasyland based around the crazy antics that Mr. Toad gets himself into.
Ultimately, Mr. Toad is portrayed as a lovable but selfish rogue. He gets himself into trouble, but not too much trouble. The people who live with him put up with him and have come to accept his behavior as normal although he is constantly obsessed with something or other.
Kaa the Snake
Kaa is another famous fictional reptile born out of literature. He makes his debut in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a tale many of us have come to know through countless adaptations on the big screen.
Probably the most famous incarnation of Kipling’s Kaa is in the 1967 Disney animated feature film The Jungle Book. Not only is this movie filled with memorable songs, but Kaa is portrayed as less of a menacing character and more of a bumbling failure. Each time he tries to eat Mowgli, he is unsuccessful and flounders comically when his attempts are thwarted by Bagheera the panther.
The Disney animated version of Kaa even gets his very own song in the movie titled, “Trust in Me.”
Kaa’s lisping voice coupled with his hypnotic powers make him quite a memorable reptile, even if he is only a cartoon.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The popular eighties cartoon featuring the four teenage mutant ninja turtles – Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael – has since been adapted to big budget feature films directed by established action-flick director Michael Bay.
The older generation will fondly remember the popular Ninja Turtles animated cartoon TV series that aired in the 1980s until 1996 and lasted a full ten seasons! This was a fairly light-hearted cartoon where the turtles ate pizza and fought crime. The cartoon was accompanied by a series of toys that became extremely popular. While the cartoon was on the air, the Ninja Turtles could be seen on everything from lunch boxes to T-shirts.
Aside from being television stars, the four Ninja Turtles have also starred in several movies. In the early nineties, they starred in three live-action films with partially animatronic likenesses portraying the iconic turtles. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop developed animatronic heads that were placed atop real actors and the result, while considered somewhat “cheesy” by today’s special effects standards, was quite cutting edge at the time.
Since the three films in the nineties, director Michael Bay has resurrected the legacy of the Ninja Turtles within the last few years, giving Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael new life thanks to the magic of computer special effects and digital animation. The Ninja Turtles have become super heroes and action heroes in their own right.
Not only do the Ninja Turtles have quite a presence in TV and movies, they even starred in a series of video games. The Ninja Turtles were first seen in game form on the NES system and have since been found in arcade systems as well as more modern consoles like the Playstation and XBOX systems.
We’re pretty sure Yoshi isn’t a typical reptile. In fact, to be fair, he’s essentially a dinosaur, but we’re still including him on this list because he very closely resembles some of our lizard friends and we think he deserves recognition.
Yoshi is a creation of Nintendo. He’s a cute little green dinosaur who originally started out as Mario and Luigi’s side kick. He has since grown into a character with his own game series and personality to match.
Yoshi is known in the gaming world for his ability to eat virtually any enemy and produce a spotted egg which can then be used as a weapon. Like a chameleon, he has a sticky tongue that extends very far out of his mouth and allows him to grab food and enemies from very far away. He is also capable of behaving like a horse and Mario and Luigi can ride on his back if both characters are appearing in the same game.
Aside from appearing in the various Super Mario Brothers games, Yoshi has starred in his own Nintendo games such as “Yoshi’s Story” and “Yoshi’s Island.” He is also always a playable character in the Super Smash Brothers games as well as the Mario Kart series, both of which are games that feature a collection of Nintendo characters pitted against one another.
Even though all of the fictional reptiles on this list might not technically be considered true reptiles and/or amphibians, we think it’s great that herps have gotten recognition throughout the years and carved out such notable niches for themselves in pop culture.
So, whether your favorite herp appears on TV, in movies, in a video game, or even in a classic work of literature, be sure to note what a feat it is that they became so recognizable in the first place. The more reptiles and amphibians we see on a daily basis, whether fictional or real, the happier we are!
So, what did you think of our list of the top ten most famous reptiles and amphibians in pop culture? Was your favorite included? Any noteworthy or honorable mentions you think we should have included? Let us know in the comments section!