Ribosomal proteins are ubiquitous, abundant, and RNA binding: prime candidates for recruitment to extraribosomal functions. Indeed, they participate in balancing the synthesis of the RNA and protein components of the ribosome itself. An exciting new story is that ribosomal proteins are sentinels for the self-evaluation of cellular health. Perturbation of ribosome synthesis frees ribosomal proteins to interface with the p53 system, leading to cell-cycle arrest or to apoptosis. Yet in only a few cases can we clearly identify the recruitment of ribosomal proteins for other extraribosomal functions. Is this due to a lack of imaginative evolution by cells and viruses, or to a lack of imaginative experiments by molecular biologists?