"Farewell, Mr. Hooper." While indeed a major Tear Jerker due to the real-life death of Will Lee (and the fact that it's nearly always sad when a main character dies), let it never be said there weren't heartwarming moments. Big Bird and his human friends hugging is one such moment. Another is Big Bird's drawing of Mr. Hooper. Unable to give it to his friend like he wanted, Big Bird kept it. It would ultimately be hung over his nest, where it still remains to this day. As said on the main page, the loss is handled with honesty, dignity and respect - showing how much both Lee and his character were loved.
How the adults explain death, while crying: it's not fair, it can't be explained but they deal with it by supporting each other in grief. The adults reassure Big Bird that they'll tell him stories, and make his birdseed milkshake.
During Mr. Hooper's tenure, there was a Running Gag of Big Bird mispronouncing his name - leading to a comically frustrated correction. At the end of the famous Tear Jerker scene, Big Bird looks at his drawing and says "You know, I'm gonna miss you, Mr. Looper," and Maria gently corrects him. It's not hard to see it as Big Bird saying goodbye by performing their Running Gag one last time.
Caroll Spinney once related a quote from the late Will Lee about that Running Gag why Big Bird was always being corrected:
"He once said to me, 'I will always correct Big Bird because I am proud of being Mr. Hooper.'"
The fact that Mr Hooper was a bit of Butt-Monkey via that Running Gag makes his ultimate eulogy even more heartwarming. Big Bird couldn't even get the guy's name right, but he still loved him and couldn't comprehend him not being a part of his life anymore.
In something of a follow-up skit in a later episode, Big Bird, Maria and David fondly remember him, which puts both the drawing and old footage on display. Yet another episode had a bird art collector offer Big Bird 100 bags of birdseed for the picture, but after another montage of old Mr. Hooper footage, Big Bird refused because he "couldn't say goodbye to Mr. Hooper again."
There is a sketch where Cookie Monster asks his cousin to find something wonderful that starts with the letter "C." Cousin Monster keeps coming back with vegetables (corn, cauliflower, carrot). Then Cookie Monster gives Cousin another hint: it's "first class sensational!" - and Cousin Monster thinks about it and says "Ohhhhh, Cousin!" and gives Cookie a hug. It's not what Cookie Monster had in mind, but it's still a very cute ending nonetheless.
The song where Cookie Monster defines a friend as someone you give your last cookie for. Here it is.
Brian Jay Jones' biography of Jim Henson begins with a dramatization of filming this scene, making it even better as we get inside Henson's head as he improvises along with the girl right up to "I love you too."
It's made even more adorable by how sad she gets when Kermit walks out; she sadly cries out, "I love you!" Kermit immediately pops back to reassure her that he loves her too, and she kisses him.
I Love My Hair. A Sesame Street writer adopted a daughter from Ethiopia, and after she told him that she wanted long straight hair like her white Barbie dolls, he wrote the song as a way to show her that she's beautiful just the way she is.
Now has a Spanish version, with Mando! The actor wrote it as part of his audition.
Despite not wanting Slimey to go to WASA, let alone the moon, Oscar supports him trying out for space training. On launch day, he asks Lynne Thigpen, WASA commander, if the ship has his favorite foods like pizza. Maria convinces Oscar when he seems to back out, that this is worth it because it's Slimey's dream.
WASA sets up a monitoring station on Sesame Street so they can keep touch with Slimey, with one scientist staying on-site. This helps when an emergency alarm wakes up Maria, Telly and Oscar; they find the astronauts fighting over a bowling ball, which hits the Wrong Way button and sends the crew in a different direction from the moon. Maria gets out the instruction book— worm-sized— and says the crew needs to work together to get back on track. Oscar relays this to Slimey, who agrees in worm-speak. They then succeed beautifully, pressing the Right Way button.
Everyone on Sesame Street gathers for Slimey's birthday to serenade him via song. Despite the technical difficulties, no one gives up. They finally succeed in singing "Happy Birthday," and Oscar admits that he is pleased.
When the worms are landing back on Earth, everyone goes Mass "Oh, Crap!" on hearing that their capsule isn't landing in the ocean but on Sesame Street! There's no water to soften their landing. The adults then take charge; ordering someone to get a bucket, fill it, and stand by until the capsule lands. Doubles as an Awesome Moment that this attempt succeeds, and no one gets hurt. Maria gets splashed in the face, but she takes it well.
The fact that the farmer's chicken manages to go for Refuge in Audacity and sneaks onto the spaceship after she wipes out of WASA training. Chicken gets to live out her dream of going t the moon, and the worms make her part of the parade when they return to Earth.
During the '70s, Big Bird's friendship with folk-singer (and recurring guest star) Buffy St. Marie Wolfchild, was genuinely touching. During a period when the other adult cast members insisted that Big Bird's friend Mr. Snuffleupagus was imaginary, Buffy gave Big Bird the benefit of the doubt, because she trusted Big Bird and knew him to be inherently honest.
Following on from that, Big Bird's other friendship with Bob's Uncle Wally (Bill McCutcheon) was also genuinely touching. During the same period when the other adult cast members insisted that Big Bird's friend Mr. Snuffleupagus was imaginary, Uncle Wally also gave Big Bird the benefit of the doubt, and, in fact, claimed to have encountered other Snuffleupaguses over the course of his travels.
Finally, in a closing of the Running Gag, Mr. Snuffleupagus finally being revealed. Snuffy gets acquainted with the rest of the cast at last, and the adults apologize for not believing Big Bird ("Maybe we should get that in writing"). The reveal was made primarily to teach children not to be afraid about telling adults serious issues.
Within the apology, Susan tells Big Bird he has a right to be angry at her and the other adults for not listening to him. In addition to telling kids that they shouldn't be afraid to tell adults about certain issues, the show is also teaching kids that their feelings are valid.
In "The Ballad of Casey Macphee", Cookie Monster is tempted by the chance to eat a bunch of cookies (which were to be delivered to a birthday party) without immediate consequences, but then decides to eat the avalanche that swamped his train instead and save the day! Also an Awesome Moment.
The entire series. Period. Because it truly is made with care and devotion to the youngest, and seeks to elevate us all. One of modern humanity's greatest treasures.
A DVD was released geared especially towards children with parents serving in the military to help them handle the stress of having a parent deployed to dangerous places around the world.
And taking lead from the Mr. Hooper episode above, a special was also made about dealing with the death of a loved one, this one about the death of Elmo's uncle.
The interaction from the parents is incredibly sweet in the latter, between Elmo's awkward confusion over Uncle Jack and Jesse's aloofness about losing her dad, the adults are conveyed as incredibly patient and understanding, making clear it's okay to remember and be openly emotional about the death of a loved one.
Halloween 2013's tribute episode to Jerry Nelson (see the Meta tab), in which the Count runs late for a ceremony to give him the Noble Prize for Counting. The rest of the cast try to stall the award committee by impersonating the Count, but ultimately fail, but the Count is fine with it—what's really important is he had so many friends willing to help him out. Then the Count literally swoops into the scene, aided by his bats, and proceeds to count all his friends - using prerecorded audio from Jerry. Fade out on thunderous applause, both onscreen and off.
Heck, the reason why the Count was late; he was helping out a friend in Chicago with a counting emergency. The cast notes that it's very sweet of the Count, if inconvenient.
Telly's Leaning on the Fourth Wall declaration to the judges: he says that the Count must receive the award because he taught so many people to count. It doesn't matter for the Street's posterity; he wants his friend to get credit for his good deeds.
The I Am Spartacus moment. Elmo came so close to impersonating the Count, with Maria backing him up, but the lightning didn't show up at this crucial time. The whole street proceeds to claim they are the count, starting with Gordon. Humans and Muppets alike don the cape, monocle, and "ah ah ah" laugh. It ends up not working, but it's touching that they would all work hard to get him the award.
This beautiful song sung by Dave Matthews and Grover.
"If Moon Was Cookie" is a very sweet song where Cookie Monster sings about how he likes to look at the moon, mostly because it looks like a giant cookie to him. He then has an Imagine Spot involving himself riding on a rocket to the moon and then eating it - at which point he realizes that if he ate the moon there would be no moonlight. He then states that he's glad the moon isn't a cookie or he'd be sad that there would be no moon for him to look at if he ate it.
In a similar spirit, the song "My Outer Space Friend" from The '90s, where Telly sings about having a Martian as his friend and doing all sorts of friendly things with him, set to a similarly lilting arrangement.
The cartoon short "Bumble Ardy #9" about a boy who invites a group of swine to celebrate his birthday while his mother, "Sweet Adeline", is out. The pigs make a horrid mess and Bumble's mother sternly orders them out when she comes home. But when she realizes that Bumble has also left, and is meekly asking if he can come in, she takes him on her lap and kisses him nine times without a word of reproach.
The song I'm An Earthworm after Slimy returns from the moon. Filled with montage of clips from Slimy's trip to the moon.
Slimy: I miss you too, Oscar.
"Furry Happy Monsters"withR.E.M.. Although Michael Stipe has famously gone on record as hating "Shiny Happy People," he and the other group members look genuinely happy as they goof around with the Muppet monsters. Stephanie D'Abruzzo (who voiced the Kate Pierson parody Muppet) said they had a blast, and Stipe even complimented her voice when they pre-recorded the song!
It gets better too. Stipe also said that the night before they were to film the segment, he was having vivid night terrors. However, the next morning when her and the rest of the band came in to record, performing with the Muppets helped cheer him up.
In the end of the song Big Kids Cry, A little boy (performed by Brian Muehl) cheers up the three sad big kids (performed by Kevin Clash, Michael Earl Davis, and Karen Prell) with a box a popcorn. They all went to the park.
The depiction of Julia, the first puppet with autism, is absolutely heartwarming. She is treated as part of the gang and her symptoms, including stimming, aren't ridiculed but completely accepted and treated as normal. Julia herself is an absolutely adorable bundle of joy.
In one skit, Grover is tutoring Elmo to deliver telegrams, with him giving a demonstration to (quite expectedly) Mr Johnson, and botching it. Elmo decides to try it out, with the same door. It looks like he's going to annoy Mr Johnson even further, except he gets the lines right. Mr Johnson is actually quite touched by the service and tells Elmo to come back anytime ("without him"), giving him a rare last laugh against Grover.
Even though the songs about sadness and/or crying (such as "Sad", "Big Kids Cry", "It's All Right to Cry", and "All I Can Do is Cry") are tearjerkers, the message that it's fine to be sad or cry is heartwarming.
Even though in this skit, Ernie ends up bothering Bert and leaving no room in his bed, it was still sweet of him not wanting to disturb Bert.
Speaking of the friendship between Bert, they have some nice Friendship Song's, such as "Do You Like Me?" (where Bert reassures Ernie that he likes him), "Loud and Soft" (where they compare their singing styles) and "But I Like You" (where they sing about how they like different things but both like each other).
The Best Friends song about the friendship between Baby Bear and Telly.
All of the "Here is Your Life" sketches.
This sketch is mostly just comical, but it has a heartwarming ending. Basically, the Alligator King is feeling depressed so he asks his seven sons to cheer him up, giving them the incentive that he'll let the one who succeeds wear his crown. After his first six sons try showering him with gifts that go horribly and hilariously wrong, the youngest simply helps him up after he trips. This wins him the crown, because as the King explains...
''The Imagination Song'' is another heartwarming moment. Ernie complains to Bert about nightmares he has of monsters (Not friendly monsters like Grover, Herry or Cookie, which Bert mentions, but scary ones from under his bed). Bert comforts Ernie back in bed by telling him to think about dreaming of good things. Ernie thinks about balloons. And it breaks into the song. In the end of the song, a dream sequence appears of balloons pouring all over Sesame Street.
Bert: What do you like?
Ernie: Well, I like big balloons, Bert!
Bert: Well, That's nice! Big balloons! That's good! What else do you like?
Ernie: Well, Small balloons, Bert!
Bert: Small balloons? Okay, So you like big ballons, and you like small balloons! There must something else you like, Though!
Ernie: Oh there is, Bert!
Bert: Oh, Good, What?
Ernie: Middle-size balloons, Bert!
Bert: (sighs) Okay. So you like balloons.
Ernie: Oh yes, Bert!
Bert: Well, Then imagine balloons!
''Closer to Me'' is an Elmo song from the mid-1980s about how good it feels to be by yourself sometimes. The way he sings it is so cute.
The short cartoon skit titled "Mother and Child Draw Love". Basically, a woman and her daughter who looks about 18 months old are taking a nap on the couch on a rainy day, when the girl notices she can draw on the window with her finger. The mother wakes up and draws the daughter, who then crudely draws the mother and then the baby makes it so the drawings are holding hands.
In episode 5015, Charlie and The Count have lots of fun counting together. Even when The Count thinks that Charlie has usurped him as Sesame Street's resident, she assures him that no one could ever replace him.
Caroll Spinney, known for being the puppeteer of Big Bird since Sesame Street's beginning, has had a lot of heartwarming moments away from the show, with these ones taking the cake for being tear-jerking as well.
Jim's memorial service period - or at least the parts that weren't Tear Jerkers.
The independent documentary I Am Big Bird is absolutely filled with these. The relationship between Carroll Spinney and his wife Deb is ADORABLE. Here's a clip.
During a live event at a college campus, the Big Bird puppet was left in the care of some students while the Sesame Street crew went to lunch. When Spinney noticed these same students running around outside with yellow feathers in their hats, he ran inside where Big Bird was being stored as fast as he could. To his horror, the students had destroyed the puppet; his hind quarters were bare and an eye was hanging down. According to others present, he burst into tears and was inconsolable for quite some time. When Spinney describes the incident, he refers to Big Bird as though he were alive, and likened it to finding his own child injured. Carroll and Big Bird are truly one.
Spinney had a very frosty relationship with director-writer-executive producer Jon Stone, with Stone frequently yelling at Spinney for not getting takes right or some other mistakes made. In one very nasty instance of Stone snapping at Spinney, cast member Emilio Delgado (Luis) angrily stormed into the control room and gave Stone a very vocal and very confrontational "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Delgado later admitted he could have lost his job for this confrontation, but did it anyway, because, in his mind, "Luis is very protective of Big Bird."
Spinney: I got a letter from a fan who said his little boy, who was 5 years old, his name was Joey, he was dying of cancer. And he was so ill, the little boy knew he was dying. So the man, in his letter, asked if I would call the little boy. He said the only thing that cheered him at all in his fading state was to see Big Bird on television. So once in a while, he wouldn't see Big Bird on some days, because he wasn't necessarily in every show. So he asked could I telephone him, and talk to the boy, tell him what a good boy he's been. So I took a while to look up a phone, because this was before cell phones. And they got a long cord to bring a phone to the boy. And I had Big Bird say "Hello! Hello Joey! It's me, Big Bird!" So he said "Is it really you, Big Bird?" "Yes, it is." I chatted a while with him, about ten minutes, and he said "I'm glad you're my friend Big Bird." And I said "I'd better let you go now." He said "Thank you for calling me Big Bird. You're my friend. You make me happy." And it turns out that his father and mother were sitting with him when the phone call came. And he was very, very ill that day. And they called the parents in, because they weren't sure how long he'd last. And so his father wrote to me right away, and said "Thank you, thank you" - he hadn't seen him smile since October, and this was in March - and when the phone was hung up, he said "Big Bird called me! He's my friend." And he closed his eyes. And he passed away. And I could see that what I say to children can be very important. And he said "We haven't seen our little boy smile in MONTHS. He smiled, as he passed away. It was a gift to us. Thank you."
In the "funny and heartwarming" category is Spinney's oft-told story about how he got the Sesame Street gig. He had a featured performance slot at the 1969 Puppeteers of America convention, with an ambitious show that mixed live puppetry and animation. The show proved to be an utter disaster, with numerous equipment problems and Spinney being forced to ad-lib at several points. To make things worse, he'd been told before the show that Jim Henson, who he idolized, was in the audience. Feeling absolutely horrible after the show, Spinney was spotted by Henson, who told Spinney "I liked what you were trying to do", then asked him if he'd be interested in joining the Muppets to work on a new Edutainment Show.
The outpouring of grief from Muppet fans worldwide after Jerry Nelson passed away in 2012, when it isn't being a Tear Jerker, really shows how much the people below the Muppets, and not just the Muppets themselves, made a positive impact on the fandom's lives.
This thread from Muppet Central is especially poignant - it starts off with a bit of denial as the news had just broke, then escalates to nearly everyone on the forums posting eulogies, pictures, YouTube videos and song lyricsnote Jerry was regarded for singing in nearly every single one of his works and was even a composer and guitarist in his own right, having released an independent album in 2009 to keep Jerry's spirit alive. The site's Live365 radio distribution even ran nearly all of Jerry's songs non-stop for the week after he died (they continue to do this today on the anniversary of his death). While Jerry's death never warranted splashy coverage in the vein as Jim's deathnote he even made it to #2 in Cracked's annual list of the most overlooked deaths of the year, behind actor Lance LeGault, the fact that the Muppet fandom - a fairly small fan community when compared to Whovians, Bronies and Directioners - cared so much about the loss of one of their idols is entirely heartwarming.
ToughPigs, another Muppet fansite, had another lengthy thread about Jerry's passing. Among the many posts in the thread, this one stands out:
I haven't been on Facebook much over the last couple of days, and didn't realize that the news had made the mainstream rounds. So I was a bit puzzled when my friend Eitan approached me this morning in synagogue and said, "I have a surprise for you." He'd been asked to lead the end of services today, and told me that he'd been up until 3 AM trying to figure out what melody to set the liturgy to. And then it hit him: "In honor of Jerry Nelson, I'm going to use the Song of the Count." It certainly was a... surprising surprise. As the service unfolded, and as everyone found themselves singing along, even if they couldn't quite put their finger on the tune, I'm told that it was amusing to watch my face. Considering that I was simultaneously on the verge of laughter and tears, this is probably true.
This line from Cracked's list of the most overlooked deaths of 2012 has this to say about Jerry:
A lesser publication would use this opportunity to make a hilarious number joke, but God help us, we wouldn't know how to count past six if it wasn't for Nelson. So we're hoping that he's enjoying that big math castle in the sky right now.
David Beukema's tribute to the then-recently deceased Alaina Reed (Olivia) is filled with gushing praise for Reed and her surprisingly gorgeous voice.
Alaina Reed as Olivia was a bright, shining light in an already magical world. Her performances never rang false, and immeasurable joy exuded from her at all times. For a little kid to have that kind of friend, one you can always depend on, one who was so fun and so sweet, was priceless.
Shortly after announcing her retirement, Sonia Manzano (Maria) appeared onNPR's Ask Me Another and talked fondly about her time on Sesame Street and her interactions with fans of all ages. Later in the show, she played a quiz game against Emilio Delgado (Luis), and they concluded their appearance by singing "Hola," a song they'd sung together on Sesame Street (this time with Jonathan Coulton providing guitar accompaniment). You can't really tell by listening to AMA, but the misty-eyed live audience there that night gave them a standing ovation.
An interview conducted by fansite The Muppet Mindset with performer John Tartaglia note A longtime Sesame puppeteer who's most famous outside of the show as Pinocchio in the Broadway version of Shrek, the title character of the Playhouse Disney series Johnny and the Sprites, and the originator of Rod and Princeton in Avenue Q. has this little passage to melt your heart. To give a little background, Richard Hunt note Scooter, Beaker, Janice, and Statler on The Muppet Show, Junior Gorg on Fraggle Rock, a slew of minor Muppets on Sesame Street, and, outside of the Muppets, the Dukes' stockbroker in Trading Places is his idol:
A few years ago, an award was created called the Richard Hunt spirit awardits an award given by the cast and crew at our wrap party to someone that everyone feels continues the humor and spirit of Richard on set. Richard was known for keeping everyone laughing and motivated and in the grind of shooting a daily television series, sometimes thats needed! Anyway, this season I was the recipient of it, and as this was my first season back full time for many years, I was shocked and truly honored. I broke down and cried actually. Its my favorite award Ive ever received above all others. I really mean that.
The story of how Elmo came to be is this, mixed with a CMOF. Kevin Clash was thrown his most famous character by Richard Hunt. Literally. Hunt tossed the Elmo puppet into Clash' lap and told Clash to come up with a new personality for him.
After decades of the show's crew denying the frequent jokes about Bert and Ernie being a gay couple, in 2018 Frank Oz himself finally stated that if fans want to see them that way, they should.
What prompted this was long-time Sesame writer Mark Saltzman remarking in an interview that, when writing Bert and Ernie, he modeled them on himself and his now-dead boyfriend Arnold Glassman.
I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked are Bert & Ernie lovers? ... I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were. I didnt have any other way to contextualize them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie & I as Bert & Ernie.
I was Ernie. I look more Bert-ish. And Arnie as a film editorif you thought of Bert with a job in the world, wouldnt that be perfect? Bert with his paper clips and organization? And I was the jokester. So it was the Bert & Ernie relationship, and I was already with Arnie when I came to Sesame Street. So I dont think Id know how else to write them, but as a loving couple. I wrote sketches Arnies OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And thats the Bert & Ernie dynamic.
When Sesame Workshop responded to this with a canned response about how "Muppets don't have sexuality", fandom counteracted with a massive outpouring of love and support for Saltzman on social media, which got Oz's attention. And while at first he parroted the Workshop's response, it was that outpouring which turned him around.
While Caroll Spinney's death is sad all around, Bob McGrath's statement on how his performance inspired millions of kids to be kind is very sweet.
On a related note, there's this dedication that came out in the first episode that aired after his death: "Thank you for bringing so much to Big Bird and Oscar. We'll miss you Caroll."
This obituary from Muppet Mindset includes a passage about the outpouring of love shown for Spinney on social media, and how sincere all of it was.
Sure, we tend to think we appreciate Sesame Street a little more than your average folk, but that doesnt mean the average folk dont appreciate it. Ryan Reynolds likely grew up singing I Love Trash to himself. Michelle Obama likely knows what the alphabet sounds like when pronounced as one word, thanks to Big Bird. Theres every chance that your next door neighbour had a Big Bird plush on her bed as a child. For five decades, Caroll managed to touch the lives of hundreds of millions of kids and adults alike around the world.
During the "Sing A Song" musical number during the 50th anniversary celebration, Caroll Spinney and Fran Brill make cameos singing with everyone. Despite retiring from the show at this point, there was still incentive to include them since they helped make the show special.
In response to a widely-made discovery in February 2021 that Sesame Street has international versions as well as their own "Big Birds", Big Bird tweeted on his Twitter about some of his cousins around the world. Aww.