- "Okay, pipe down, you hooligans, or you'll be in detention till Christmas yet to come!"
- ―Muriel in "Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave"
Muriel P. Finster, often referred to as just Finster, Miss Finster, or Muriel, is an administrative assistant (later fifth-grade teacher, previously Kindergarten teacher) who is the children's constant nemesis on the playground, and is the main antagonist (and sometimes an anti-hero) of the series. She also serves as the tritagonist of the first movie.
She lives in an apartment, as shown in the episode "Weekend at Muriel's," in which she calls it "[a] pad." As seen in the 2003 feature-length film, Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade, she becomes the gang's Fifth Grade teacher. She is voiced by April Winchell.
Archetypal authoritarian teacher personality, Muriel Finster has a strong desire for a school in which children aren't allowed to have fun or act like children. She is feared by all the children and is always closely followed by her teacher's pet, the equally nefarious Randall J. Weems, who is also largely despised by the other students. Her disposition plays an important part in maintaining stability within the society of the playground providing a common enemy for the children of Third Street School, as shown in the times when she is not fulfilling her duties and the playground devolves into a war zone.
Though she loves harsh punishments, even she has a limit to how far things should go. Such as being visibly shocked when she hears that the Mayor's Council has planned to split the gang send the children to different schools.
Despite her authoritarian nature, she has shown to be a deeper and kinder person at times. Outside of school, she has shown to be friendly, fun and supportive of others as shown with several interactions with the gang outside of school. She was even disgusted by the actions of her ex-boyfriend Dr. Phillium Benedict and stated she could never be with a man that doesn't love recess as well as refusing to go back to him.
We don't get much about Finster's early life, but an old photo courtesy of Thaddeus T. Third V shows that she was as carefree as Spinelli when she was ten years old, which Finster herself recalls with fondness in her old age.
During her early years as a teacher, Muriel was actually slim and attractive, though she still had the exact same gruff voice. She also had a softer approach to teaching for all those years up until she taught 'The gang' in Kindergarten where she had managed to get them to behave until Gus Griswald managed to get the class to act like tribal children again.
Despite her age, Finster is an accomplished fighter and is generally in excellent physical condition, demonstrated on a number of occasions. Particularly in the 2001 feature-length movie Recess: School's Out, where she defeated the Bald Guy on her own.
- Hank: Finster has been shown to have a relationship with the school's janitor, but they later broke up when they saw it was causing problems in their jobs, as stated in "To Finster with Love"
- Miss Grotke: In Recess: School's Out, when she learn that Grotke is secretly trained in some form of martial arts, this impresses Muriel, who develops a newfound respect for her. Finster even suggested a friendly match between her boxing and Grotke's martial arts, but the latter declined due to her skills only being for self-defense.
- T.J.: She treats him like a hooligan, but according to the episode Nobody Doesn't Like T.J., she likes him. In the movie, while she initially believed to be up to no good, she came to his rescue when he was nearly attacked by Bald Guy, while stating she was just doing her job.
- Spinelli: She is friends with Spinelli's Parents and her maternal grandmother. One weekend, Spinelli slept at Finster's, because Spinelli's parents were at a conference. There are even moments where Miss Finster gives advice to Spinelli when she's in trouble.
- Dr. Phillium Benedict: She used to have a relationship with him back in the 1960’s, but broke up with him after he tried to cancel recess and she declared that she couldn't be with a man who doesn't love recess. Phillium was very shocked at her rejection and deemed her against him as he yelled that he didn't need her. They met again thirty years later, Phillium was shocked to see her and complimented her continued beauty and wanted to reconcile their relationship but she refused and now sees him as a "two-bit recess hating pretty boy" and was very disgusted by his vile actions. Angered by this rejection, Phillium ordered his men to attack her. In the end, she helped in defeating him along with the students and teachers to protect summer vacation and he was arrested.
- Principal Prickly: He is Miss Finster's best friend, they have known each other for decades and are very close. It is clear they are platonic as he is married and Muriel has had interest in other men.
- Randall: Randall is Miss. Finster's assistant and often does her dirty work. Despite their friendly status, Muriel has been shown to punish him like she would the other students as shown in Tattletale Heart, which showed she doesn't play favorites and in Randall's Friends she was very disappointed in Randall for trying to bust T.J. out of detention but she decided to let him off with a warning because he has a spotless record and it was his birthday.
- Miss. Finster had a broken hip and phlebitis in 1983.
- The episode "The Biggest Trouble Ever" shows a childhood photo from when she was ten years old. In it, she is shown playing on the statue of Thaddeus T. Third III.
- Miss. Finster tries to hide her secret friendship between her and the Recess Gang, especially regarding Spinelli, due to her connections to her family.
- Her surname "Finster" is the German word for "sinister."
- Her surname "Finster" also rhymes with "spinster," which means "an unmarried woman, typically an old woman beyond the usual age for marriage." Many spinsters are often portrayed as very mean, probably due to the fact that they aren't married. This describes Miss. Finster well. She's not married, even though she briefly dated Hank, the janitor. With her gray hair, it may be implied that she's at least sixty, past the usual age when women do get married.
- Miss Finster entertained soldiers in the Pacific and Guam in 1952 (as stated by Ms. Finster in "Weekend at Muriel"), and she was displayed to be young during the 1960’s in Recess: School's Out! In all considerations, that would likely place her in her sixties.
- She was much happier when she was younger, before her ex-boyfriend Dr. Phillium Benedict tried to take away recess.
- She mostly allies with the children when they behave, but she was seen as an enemy to the children when they are misbehaving (but neutral). "All right whoever made this account without consulting me will be in detention till high school yet to come"
- There are some inconsistencies of her job. In To Finster with Love she is shown grading papers, with Randall being in her class (and getting better grades by just a couple points). In My Fair Gretchen, when Gretchen is walking down the hall to Prickley's office, Miss Finster and Randall can be seen watching her from one of the doors