Elmo loves his furry blue blanket more than almost anything in the world. When Zoe wants to play with it, he refuses, as it's his. They tug, and Elmo's blanket is nearly ripped—and a gust of wind blows it into Oscar's trash can and through a portal to Grouchland.
Elmo enters Grouchland to retrieve his blanket, but finds it just in time to have it stolen by Huxley (Mandy Patinkin), who considers everything to be his. Elmo embarks on an epic quest across the land to reach Huxley's home and rescue his blanket—and meanwhile, his friends are searching for him.
This movie provides examples of:
- An Aesop: It's not nice to hog possessions, even if they are special to you. Elmo did not know of this trope, Huxley however did know what he was doing is very immoral and selfish, but he was proud of it.
- Another Dimension: Grouchland is an alternate world where all the Grouches live, and everything there runs on Bad is Good and Good is Bad.
- Armor-Piercing Response: The Queen of Trash manages to break Elmo's pride with this.Well, you certainly sound like Huxley.
- Art Shift / Big Budget Beef-Up: Like the previous film, as opposed to shooting on the TV budget New York set, they opted to build a bigger, more feature-laden set somewhere else (Wilmington, NC) with new elements not seen in the show, including a laundromat, deli and a variety of outdoor vendors. (As a side note, it was also the last time characters and elements from the TV show's 1993 expansion "around the corner" were seen.)
- Audience Participation: The audience is encouraged to help Elmo at certain points.
- Award-Bait Song: "Precious Wings" is an inspirational song played during the end credits.
- Bad Boss: Huxley mistreats Bug terribly.
- Bad is Good and Good is Bad: It's against the law to ask for help in Grouchland, and their likes and dislikes are backwards to ours.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Elmo's simple act of saying Bug is "very nice" for giving him (false) directions, and giving the latter a hug before continuing on his way, is what initiates Bug's HeelFace Turn in the end.
- Big Bad: Huxley. He's responsible for all the danger in the plot and Elmo getting back the blanket that he stole is his main objective. Huxley even admits to being evil.
- Big Damn Movie: The second big movie for Sesame Street, involving Elmo traveling to Grouchland to retrieve his stolen blanket.
- Big "NO!": Elmo, when he realizes that he was no different from Huxley.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Huxley has these. Appropriate enough, given that he lives among grouches.
- Bigger on the Inside: Oscar's trash can serves as a portal to Grouchland.
- Blowing a Raspberry: The Queen of Trash demands one hundred of these "raspberries" in a set time.
- Breakout Character: Bill the Bug, who would later go on to be one of main characters for Panwapa Island.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Huxley revels in being evil and greedy, stealing everything just because he can.
- Companion Cube: Elmo loves his blanket so much he talks to it, acts like it's alive, sleeps with it, and refuses to share it.
- Continuity Porn: The contents of Oscar's trash can, while briefly seen, are full of items and objects mentioned on the show.
- Darkest Hour: After narrowly escaping being eaten by a giant chicken, Elmo starts to give up on getting his blanket back.
- Embodiment of Vice: Huxley embodies Greed, though he denies that in his song:"Some may call it greed;
it's not, it's need.
A need I love to feed;
The need to have a lot!
- Everyone Has Standards: Oscar may be a hoarder of most stuff, but Huxley being selfish and keeping Elmo's blanket all to himself is where Oscar draws the line.
- Friendship Denial: Played with, then subverted; Oscar almost calls Elmo his friend whilst he is imprisoned with the search party looking for Elmo, and even Big Bird caught what he was going to say at the last minute. Oscar denies it and says that instead he was going to say French Fry Fish Hips. Oscar then admits, at the encouragement of the others, that Elmo is his friend.
- Grumpy Bear: The Grouches, particularly Grizzy, are grouchy but not bad.
- HeelFace Turn: Bug eventually turns good.
- The Hero's Journey: Elmo goes through one, almost by the numbers.
- I Want My Mommy!: One of the Pesties is heard saying this when trying to flee from the final confrontation.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Bug is completely ineffectual in his attempts to stop Elmo.
- Jerkass Realization: Elmo has one when the Queen of Trash compares him to Huxley. Just to drive the point home, there's a flashback of Elmo's behavior at the beginning of the movie, screaming at Zoe that his blanket is "Mine!" when Zoe asked him to share... which is the same way Huxley acts.
- Kid-Appeal Character: Elmo and Bug are cute characters meant to appeal to kids.
- Lampshade Hanging:
Stenchman: He's getting help! Is that legal?
- When Elmo asks the audience to help blow raspberries for the Queen of Trash's "ultimate challenge", one of the Stenchmen takes note of it:
- While Huxley spitefully gloats to Elmo about stealing the latter's blanket, Bug blurts out specifically synthetic details about Elmo's blanket, Huxley asks him if he really knows how to ruin a villainous moment and tells him to get in the cartoonishly evil vehicle and drive.
- Large Ham: Huxley gets a whole song about how evil he is, and spends much of his screen time hamming it up.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to the other Sesame Street film Follow That Bird, this one is less intense.
- MacGuffin: Elmo's blanket.
- Minion with an F in Evil: Bug is terrible at being evil and acts as Huxley's voice of reason, which he ignores.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Combined with Because You Were Nice to Me above. After being a Butt-Monkey for most of the film, Bug is the one to return Elmo's blanket, after telling off an incapacitated Huxley, and then forces Huxley to promise to give back everything he stole or claimed as his own.
- Music for Courage: "Take the First Step," although it's sung to only one person. By a plant and some woodland critters.
- Naked People Are Funny: Bert first appears in his shower cap.
- Nice Mean And In Between: Elmo is nice, Huxley is mean, and Bug is in-between.
- No Fourth Wall:
- Bert manages to pause the movie four times to ask Ernie about certain details (First, when Elmo is hurdling through the portal to Grouchland, second, after Huxley takes off with Elmo's blanket, third, when Huxley tells Bug his plans to lure Elmo into the Queen of Trash's kingdom, and lastly, when Elmo is sitting at the foot of Mt. Pickanose, at his "all-is-lost-moment"), as a way of reassuring the audience (and Bert) that everything will be fine.
- Elmo himself directly addresses the audience a few times, either asking for help and advice, or just needing someone to talk to.
- Bert and Ernie also address the audience once more when the movie ends, commenting on the happy ending, and telling the audience to give themselves a round of applause for playing along. Bert even stays behind to look at the credits, only persuaded to leave when Ernie tells him it's time to feed Bernice.
- Not So Different: Elmo has this realization thanks to the Queen of Trash. Specifically, Huxley's constant attitude is "Mine!", because he can't share anything. Elmo acted the same way at the beginning of the film, refusing to share his blanket with Zoe "because it's mine!"
- Out of Focus: Cookie Monster. He joins the others on their journey to Grouchland, but he has no function in the story and gets very little to do.
- Parental Bonus:
- Parent Service: Vanessa Williams' scene provides a good deal of fanservice for adults.
- Pep-Talk Song: "Take The First Step", as Stuckweed encourages Elmo to go after Huxley and get his blanket back.
- Police Are Useless: When the Sesame Street gang go to the Grouchland police for assistance in tracking Elmo, the police lock them up in a jail as it is a crime in Grouchland to ask the police for help!
- Psychopathic Man Child: Huxley acts like a child but is a grown-up, and when Elmo breaks in to reclaim his blanket he tries to crush him with a stamper.
- Road Sign Reversal: Huxley's henchmen turn the arrow on the sign that leads to Huxley's Castle in the opposite direction to trap Elmo in a cave.
- Rousing Speech: Oscar gives one to the Grouches while in prison.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Despite appearing in a very small role, the Queen of Trash is proven to be a powerful influence as she managed to make Elmo see that he can be like Huxley. And all it took was giving him an Armor-Piercing Response.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The Pesties run away abandoning Huxley when the cooperative Grouches show up to rescue Elmo, with one Pestie admonishing Huxley for never paying them anyways.
- Shadow Archetype: Huxley acts as this for Elmo, representing what would he be like if he refuses to share his possessions to anyone.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Bug gets a HeelFace Turn and returns Elmo's blanket after enduring enough of Huxley's actions.
- Token Good Teammate: Out of all the inhabitants of Grouchland USA, Grizzey, Stuckweed, the fireflies, The Queen of Trash, the caterpillar, and Bug are the nicest sheep you'll meet there.
- Toilet Humor: Grizzy's Soggy-Pants Sandy doll's main feature is the ability to wet her pants.
- Villain Song: Huxley's song, appropriately titled "Make it Mine!"
- What Happened to the Mouse?: While we can assume Huxley for his many crimes of theft was sent to the same jail that the Sesame Street gang looking for Elmo went to, it's unknown what happened to the Pesties. They were last seen running away.