Toby Towson (1977-1978) Brian Muehl (1978-1984) Fred Garver (1984-1993) Bruce Connelly (1993-present)
This large, playful Muppet dog is Linda's pet, who understands American Sign Language. Unlike Rowlf, Barkley is not anthropomorphized. When he debuted in Season 9, he was known as Woof Woof. In Season 10, he became Barkley after one episode dealt with changing his name by popular vote.
Break-Out Character: Is the star of the first official Sesame Street movie Follow That Bird, starred in a special where he travels to China, and is the star of other merchandise items such as storybooks, cassette tapes or records. Possibly the first breakout character before Elmo.
Cassandra Truth: The adults constantly disbelieved Snuffleupagus was real at first. See The Reveal under ''Mr. Snuffleupagus"
Gordon: Why are you walking that way? Big Bird: "Just because." ... (Big Bird learns of Mr. Hooper's death) Big Bird: "Why does it have to be this way?" (Beat) Gordon: "Big Bird, it has to be this way because." Big Bird: "Just because?" Gordon: "Just because."
Start My Own: Because Oscar wouldn't let him join the Grouchketeers.
Vocal Evolution: Big Bird started off as a fully-grown Village Idiot with a deep, hick-like voice. Over time, however, he became a young child of five (or six, depending on when you were watching the show) with a higher-pitched voice. Because the show reuses its old recordings of songs in later episodes, it can be very jarring to hear Big Bird sing the "Alphabet Song" in his "hick" voice in an episode from c.1975 or later.
Frank Oz (regularly 1969-2001, occassionally 2001-present) David Rudman (2001-present)
Characterization Marches On: He behaved more like a toddler in the first season: he often interfered with others (though unaware he was doing so), was occasionally fussy when he didn't get his way and was scolded by other characters when he misbehaved. It wasn't until his song "C is for Cookie" in 1971 that Cookie Monster's personality was firmly established.
Hidden Depths: He tends to come off as a dim-witted glutton, but as the years went by he started to be portrayed less dense and more single-minded. He's can be very clever when he wants to be, is a surprisingly talented artist (if he can resist eating his own paintings), and even got a few Deadpan Snarker traits over time.
But Not Too Evil: His original portrayal was fairly sinister compared to his more child-friendly modern portrayal.
Characterization Marches On: He acted a bit more like a vampire in his early appearances, moving his hands around as if hypnotizing others as well as walking around with his cape across his face. His laugh was also louder and more sinister as opposed to the softer chuckle of today.
Military Kid: Yes, believe it or not. This was central to a series of videos specifically made to help military children cope with having a parent deployed, so he subverts most of the typical, negative stereotypes.
Couldn't Find a Pen: Bert asks him to make a shopping list, and the only thing Ernie can find to write with is chocolate pudding. Ernie then makes a list of every writing implement that he couldn't find, adding pudding to the list.
Bert: "He's improving. Last time he used spaghetti sauce."
Hidden Depths: He lays down an amazing saxophone solo during "Put Down the Duckie."
Determinator: The limits to which he pushes himself are actually quite admirable.
Flying Brick: Super-Grover apparently believes he's one of these, judging from how often he tries to bend bars and lift heavy objects. He actually is capable of flight, but takeoffs and landings are a problem for him.
Spock Speak: According to original performer Frank Oz, Grover doesn't use contractions (except in songs) because he's obsessed with doing everything right.
Vocal Evolution: In the first season (known then as Fuzzyface) and early season 2, there was far less distinction between how he and Cookie Monster were voiced which makes sense being that both were voiced by Frank Oz. It was up to later on in mid- or late-second season was when Grover had his more distinct and familar voice.
The Owl-Knowing One: Not all-knowing, but he's wise enough to know you can't play the sax with a rubber duck in your hand, and that carrots are healthier than cookies.
Kermit the Frog
Jim Henson (1955-1990 [the character predates Sesame Street]) Steve Whitmire (1990-present)
The Muppet Show's easily flustered host, here Kermit usually plays a roving news reporter in a trench coat. He also often attempts to give lectures to the audience that are inevitably ruined by another character.
Beware the Nice Ones: Kermit is usually friendly and even-tempered, but when he's pushed too far he can get very angry indeed.
Butt Monkey: Frequently the victim of Grover's bumbling and Cookie Monster's hedonism, among other misfortunes, almost to the point of being The Chew Toy.
Continuity Nod: While preparing to interview Old MacDonald, Kermit tells one of the farmer's pigs, "You know, you remind me of somebody..." (a reference to The Muppet Show's Miss Piggy).
Cross Over: Kermit once made routine guest appearances, frequently playing off Grover and Cookie Monster. Alas, the frog seldom appears these days, due mainly to Disney owning the rights to the character.
Jim Henson: His definitive role; Kermit and Ernie aren't that different, acoustically speaking. This is especially apparent in Bert and Ernie's Muppet Show guest appearance, where Ernie appears and speaks immediately after Kermit introduces the pair.
Loud Gulp: The idea of a frog eating a fly makes him nauseous.
Reality Subtext: Kermit was Put on a Bus because Disney bought out the Muppet Show Muppets. He still appears now and again in the occasional cameo or legacy segment.
Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying: This is Zigzagged in one scene, in which Bob lists frog facts, and Kermit insists that frogs act more like people, with human diets and apartment buildings.
A fluffy orange monster with a round, oversized jaw who rose to fame by hosting a variety of recurring segments; namely Word on the Street and Murray Has a Little Lamb. These are unique in that they're kept separate from the regular Sesame Street scenes by being set in the "real world" where Murray has largely unscripted scenes interacting with "normal" people.
The Cameo: Murray very rarely appears in "street scenes." Joey Mazzarino has said that he prefers for Murray to be kept in the "real world" à la Uncle Traveling Matt.
Early-Bird Cameo: Murray made several appearances before he was first called by name on screen.
Epic Fail: A lot of his first attempts at the focal activity in the segment results in this. Once, while trying a high-kick in a Dance School segment, he not only sends himself flying onto his back, as he is wont to do, but manages to kick himself in the face in the process.
Palette Swap: His design is an orange variant of a purple monster, named Filfil, from the Egyptian co-production. In fact, most of the crew just called him "Filfil" until someone came up with "Murray."
Bizarre Taste in Food: He hates foods most would consider nice or healthy, but loves noxious combinations of food that are technically still edible... just really gross. Like sardine ice-cream. Again, it's a species trait.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Every now and then, some of the mean-spirited pranks and schemes he pulls tend to backfire, where he may end up being the victim himself. Often happens when he's frustrated when targeting a rather slow-witted character with his pranks.
Oscar's mission in life is to be as miserable and grouchy as possible, and pass that feeling on to everyone else. When a visitor knocks on his trash can — invariably interrupting him from a nap or an important task — Oscar greets them with a snarl. He complains that he wants to be left alone, although when he's left entirely to himself, he's dissatisfied — there isn't anybody around to irritate or complain to.
Nice Job Fixing It Grouchy: There does appear to be an occasional running gag, where as mentioned previously when his intended mean-spirited ways backfire, unwittingly causing rather pleasant and helpful results for other characters along with a few other schemes he may try to pull. Much to his dismay, of course.
The Nicknamer: As far as Oscar is concerned, Bob and Maria are Bright Eyes and Skinny, respectively.
Slave to PR: One has to wonder if he'd be so concerned about being a "real Grouch" - or if he'd be so self-conscious anytime he says, does, or thinks something even remotely pleasant - if it weren't for Grouch society constantly stressing how Grouches are supposed to act.
Too Grouchy To Walk: He's rarely seen walking. When he needs to be transported somewhere, a garbageman named Bruno carries his can.
Small Name, Big Ego: He maintains that he's the World's Greatest Detective, despite evidence to the contrary.
Jerry Nelson (1971 - 1978) Michael Earl (1978 - 1980) Martin P. Robinson (1980 - present)
Richard Hunt (1971-1975)
Peter Friedman (1976-1978)
Brian Muehl (1979)
Frank Kane (1979)
Bryant Young (1979-present)
A slow-talking, elephantlike creature and Big Bird's best friend.
Characterization Marches On: He started out with a rather odd and perpetually sad personality as well as speaking with a rather creepy, echoing, sad voice. It wasn't until when Marty Robinson took over the character that, though still sad occasionally, his personality became relatively more cheerful and his voice had a wider range of emotions.
Real After All: He is revealed to the adult cast 13 years after his debut, in order to encourage kids to be more honest with their parents. It was an emotional experience for the characters and actors.
Bob Payne (1979)
Brian Meuhl (1979-1984)
Martin P. Robinson (1984-present)
A mildly neurotic, easily discouraged monster. Was best friends with Oscar; now best friends with Baby Bear.
Bizarro Universe: Grouch society mirrors human society (right down to similar celebrities — Dan Rather-Not and Donald Grump, for example), but they prefer unhappiness and filth to happiness and cleanliness.
Blue and Orange Morality: As explained above, they dislike (often downright condemn) nice and pleasant things, and like things that most other people would find unpleasant. Although a bit odd, it sounds simple enough, right? Well, this also means that they like feeling miserable, and yet the nice things they hate make them miserable, which they like and... yeah. Try not to think about it too hard.
The Anything Muppets (known internally as "AMs") are "blank" Muppets with interchangeable features and clothing, and allow puppeteers to create new characters without having to build the Muppets from scratch. Famous Anythings include Guy Smiley, the Count, and Prairie Dawn.
Call Back: He debuted in the first episode to feature Elmo's World, when he hosted a huge Birdketeer meeting, and was in over his head. In the first episode to feature Elmo the Musical, he knows what he's dealing with, and tries to nip chaos in the bud during another big event.
The Other Darrin: Roscoe Orman, the current and longest-running Gordon, is the third actor to play the character after Matt Robinson and Hal Miller (the fourth, if you count Garrett Saunders, the actor in the week of test episodes from summer 1969). And the only one without a 'fro.
Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Averted at actress Linda Bove's request. Both the actress and the character are deaf, but Bove specifically requested that her deafness not be treated as the defining aspect of the character, and that the writers not shy away from jokes about ASL.
Apple of Discord: She successfully petitions Luis for a raise (before marriage).
Aside Glance: One of the most noted characters of the human cast to do this, particularly when dealing with Muppet characters.
Charlie Chaplin: In the 1980s, she did many sketches dressed as Chaplin's "Little Tramp". Two of them featured Linda as a second Chaplin impersonator. Sonia Manzano wrote the sketches herself because as a college student she was a fan of Chaplin's films.
Dawson Casting: Maria celebrated her 21st birthday in 1979. Sonia Manzano, on the other hand, was 29 at the time the episode aired.
An oddly dressed Vaudevillian mime who lives outside the window of Elmo's World. The role is occasionally performed by Mr. Noodle's brother Mr. Noodle, his sister Miss Noodle, or his other sister Miss Noodle.
The Ditz: The Noodles' role is to provide a character to whom 3-year-old viewers can feel superior.
One Steve Limit: Averted. Of course, all the Noodles are pretty much interchangeable.
The Speechless: When a Noodle vocalizes, he or she usually produces a French horn or animal sound.