Gobo Fraggle is one of Fraggle Rock’s five main Fraggles. Gobo first appeared in a striped yellow sweater with a purple cardigan. He would exchange his cardigan for a brown vest after the first twelve episodes of the series.
Gobo Fraggle, like his Uncle Traveling Matt, is an explorer. While Matt is exploring Outer Space, Gobo is exploring Fraggle Rock’s many caverns and uncharted regions. Gobo is also the only Fraggle brave enough to enter Doc’s Workshop to retrieve his uncle’s postcards while avoiding Doc’s dog Sprocket. When the Fraggles are in trouble, Gobo turns to these postcards for inspiration.
Personality and Background: Gobo Fraggle
Gobo is daring, astute, and generous. Although he is an excellent leader, he can be arrogant and domineering on occasion. He lives in the same room as his best friend, Wembley Fraggle, and is close to Red Fraggle. Gobo is a talented singer who also plays the guitar. His dialogue is peppered with a Canadian-sounding “eh,” which is most likely a reference to the show being shot in Canada. He has an allergy to radish bars.
Flashbacks to Gobo as a child, raised by Uncle Traveling Matt, appeared in “The Garden Plot” and “Gobo’s Discovery” in the first season. Gobo was dressed in a yellow tank top with the same stripe pattern as his later sweater.
Gobo eventually makes himself known to Doc in “The Honk of Honks.”
Fraggle Rock from the outside: Gobo Fraggle
Gobo Fraggle (along with the other main Fraggles) meets Kermit the Frog and Robin the Frog when they enter a Fraggle Hole in Ma Bear’s house in Grizzly Farm in A Muppet Family Christmas. Gobo later leads his friends into outer space to investigate during the Muppets’ carol medley.
In 1987, Gobo appeared as part of a tribute to Jim Henson on The Television Academy Hall of Fame. Jerry Nelson played Gobo again in the “Just One Person” performance at Jim Henson’s Memorial. In The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, Gobo appeared alongside Wembley in the background of the same number.
In April 2013, Gobo (performed by John Tartaglia) made his first public appearance in twenty years in commercials promoting The Hub’s “Fraggle Rock-A-Thon.” Gobo also performed live at The Spare Room and the Museum of the Moving Image.
In the Background
The term “gobo” (short for “go between”) refers to a type of lighting used in film, television, and theatre. Gobo is named after his great-uncle Gobo, Traveling Matt’s uncle, in the context of the show. “Gobo” means “Take off your hat!” in the ancient Fraggles’ language.
A prototype Gobo puppet was built during Fraggle Rock pre-production and used in the casting audition on November 11, 1981.
In excerpts from the audition that were included as part of a DVD bonus feature, Steve Whitmire is seen playing the character. On December 2, Jim Henson puppeteered this early version of Gobo at a press conference in Toronto announcing the series.
Gobo has a curved beak-like mouth, as seen in the show’s early taped material and some international Outer Space segments. Under a purple cardigan, he wears a yellow sweater with a red stripe. His fur becomes darker orange, and his hair and tail tip match in light purple. Jerry Nelson disliked this version, claiming that the beak made him look like a Skeksis.