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Series / Elmo's World

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Guess what Elmo's thinking about today! YA-TA-TA-TAAAAAA! That's right! Elmo's thinking about the tropes in Elmo's show!

Elmo's World was a segment featured at the tail end of each Sesame Street episode from 1998 to 2012. The segments were produced from 1998 to 2009, and were aired on new Sesame Street episodes up until the 2012-13 season, when it was replaced by "Elmo: The Musical". However, a retooled version of the show was introduced in 2017, with a shorter format, new songs replacing the old ones, and the addition of a talking smartphone named Smartie. Recuts of the original episodes are shown in addition to new ones.

The Elmo's World segment focuses on one subject throughout its 15-minute course, and numerous skits, anecdotes, puns and other gags all center on that subject. The routine is almost entirely rigid, so it's only proper that the tropes start off with...

  • Once an Episode:
    • The theme song kicks everything off, of course. "Lala, lala... lala, lala... Elmo's World..."
    • Elmo reveals the subject of the day (hereinafter referred to as "Subject X").
    • A 30-second clip montage relating to Subject X is shown.
    • "Dorothy's been thinking about (Subject X) too!" Elmo says as a small model pertaining to Subject X is shown inside Dorothy's fishbowl.
    • "Dorothy has a question: How do you (do something involving Subject X)"? First, Elmo asks Mr. Noodle, who tries, in a very slapstick manner, to do it. It often ends in failure, prompting Elmo to walk away saying, "Oh, Mr. Noodle". Sometimes the failure continues as a Funny Background Event.
    • Next, a few kids demonstrate how it's done.
    • Finally, Elmo wants to ask a baby. Elmo goes over to the baby and asks him/her how to (do something involving Subject X), who more often than not does nothing in response.
    • "And now, Elmo has a question foooo-o-o-o-o-o-or YOU!" ...and it's a counting quiz involving Subject X.
    • An animated computer may prance in at this point and declare that "Elmo has mail!" Elmo then reads an e-mail from one of his Muppet friends.
    • An animated end table (named "Drawer") then tosses out a "do random things have/do Subject X" quiz. Almost always a birthday cake and a random Sesame Street character are involved.
    • Next is a slice-of-life segment where a child did something related to Subject X, and that child "told Elmo all about it!"
    • Elmo then wants to find out more about Subject X; at that point, an animated television saunters in so Elmo can watch "The (Subject X) Channel" and a short animated segment. Most of the time, it's either "The Boy/Girl Who Loved (Subject X)" or a lecture on the subject by the Lecture Lady (voiced by Andrea Martin).
    • How can Elmo find out even MORE about Subject X? In comes a Muppet related to Subject X for a discussion.
    • The discussion is interrupted by Dorothy imagining Elmo in a situation involving Subject X. In this segment, Elmo may take on the form of any animal, nationality or profession.
    • In the beginning of the show's run, Elmo would take time at this point to show a video about (Subject X), which he filmed with a miniature camera. This most often involved the help of a Muppet friend.
    • Finally, everyone sings "The (Subject X) Song", which is the name of Subject X sung over and over to the tune of "Jingle Bells".

What are some other tropes appearing in Elmo's World? Oh, good question, Dorothy!

  • Affectionate Parody: Cookie Monster did a sendup called "Cookie World" in one Sesame Street episode.
  • Animate Inanimate Objects:
    • The door, the window shade, the TV, the computer and the one-drawer end table (a.k.a. "Drawer").
    • The segment also features Muppet guest speakers who are often objects that correlate to the topic of the episode, like a birthday cake for the "Birthdays" episode or a camera for the "Cameras" episode. You get the idea.
  • Art Evolution: The animation has vastly improved in later episodes and is livelier and more colorful.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care:
    • Fishbowls aren't held to be very good for fish.
    • In "Happy Holidays," Elmo brings her out into snowy weather, which probably would have frozen her in real life.
  • Artistic License – Ornithology: The emperor penguin in "Penguins" is actually a king penguin, going by his appearance (he has an orange patch on the side of his head, while emperor penguins are yellow there).
  • Author Appeal: When Kevin Clash was in charge of Elmo and the show, Elmo would periodically get involved in things like basketball, rap, and African dance to remind us that yes, there was a black man under there.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: "Elmo wants to ask a baby!" A few times, he ends up questioning a pair of babies. One episode even had babies as its subject.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The film segment for "Friends" features a girl named Rebecca. It initially creates the impression that she invited another girl, who uses a wheelchair, over to play. However, when they're seen going to the library with Rebecca's mother, she says that she carried their books while her friend held the door open, revealing that she is the girl who uses the wheelchair, and she is narrating the film.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: During the "Penguins" episode.
  • Cartoon Penguin: The "Penguins" episode includes a number of real penguin species, but some of the puppets and animated penguins are not supposed to be any particular kind. Their designs varied; they all had the usual black bodies and white bellies, while the puppets have orange feet and gray beaks, those that Elmo counts have white faces and orange beaks and feet, and the animated portion with the "penguins on parade" has three penguins with white faces and yellow bills.
  • Coincidental Broadcast:
    • Elmo's TV just happens to be tuned to the channel about whatever Elmo's thinking about. (Examples: "The Teeth Channel", "The Building Things Channel", "The Frog Channel" and yes, "The Weather Channel".)
    • On the episode about skin, the TV shows the "All About Skin Channel". Evidently "The Skin Channel" sounded too porno-ish for a children's TV show.
  • Didn't Think This Through: When asked by Elmo how to do something, Mr. Noodle sometimes jumps right into trying to provide an answer without comprehending it first. "No, try again, Mr. Noodle!"
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: From the television lecture on babies, and it keeps carrying on like this until the subject turns to the baby's development.
    Lecture Lady: The (baby's) mouth has three positions: up, down, and full. When it's up, the baby is happy and cute and gets lots of coochie-coos...
  • Door Roulette: What's Elmo thinking about today? Most often after pontificating this, he'll go to the door behind him, open it... and either get run over by Muppet animals or people, have a wall of objects fall on him, or be confronted by a random snippet of video.
  • Epic Fail: Each time Mr. Noodle tries to experiment the topic that is being discussed, it ends in a comical failure.
  • Firehouse Dalmatian:
    • In the episode, "Dogs", during the photo quiz, a question about a fire truck owning a dog is deemed false, but a dog can ride on the truck, and a Dalmatian appears on the truck as it is stated.
    • The "Mike the Firefighting Dog" segment in the episode, "Firefighters", features Mike the Dalmatian, who fulfills the role of a typical firefighter when he goes off to rescue a puppy from his burning doghouse. It's later revealed to be a dream he was having.
  • The Flapping Dickey: In the episode about getting dressed, Elmo asks Mr. Noodle how he gets dressed, and Mr. Noodle dresses himself in a collared shirt, a dickie, and a bow tie. As this happens, the bottom button of the dickie comes undone and it sticks up. Mr. Noodle can't get it to stay down unless he holds it down.
  • The Fool: Mr. Noodle, who has no idea of how to perform a simple task and has to be guided by Elmo and the kids in order to do it correctly. Although, it mostly ends in a failure.
  • Funny Background Event: Sometimes Mr. Noodle's fail will continue in the background as Elmo continues discussing about the topic.
  • Funny Photo Phrase: At the end of "Cameras", a camera announces she will be taking a photo of everyone. However, a cheese wedge begs Elmo not to say cheese. It turns out Elmo was going to say "broccoli". And so, a broccoli shows up and everyone says "broccoli" as the photo is being taken.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: During the Mr. Noodle and photo quiz segments, a couple of kids are heard (but never seen) coaching Mr. Noodle and responding to the quiz, respectively.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: An odd version of this happens in "Penguins", where the presenter greets a macaroni penguin from the Indian Ocean with "Namaste, Apu". Macaroni penguins do live on some of the Indian Ocean's subantarctic islands, but nowhere near the Indian subcontinent the ocean was named for.
  • Jerkass:
    • The Shade always messes when Elmo whenever he wants to talk to Mr. Noodle. Either refusing to move when pulled, or just flat-out not letting Elmo grab it.
    • The Drawer likes to knock Elmo down in the process of getting out the photo quiz. It's about as Jerkass as it can be in a preschooler-oriented program, anyway.
    • In "...Happy Holidays", Door harassed Elmo with its mistletoe, demanding multiple kisses when it was first introduced, and insisting upon being kissed each time Elmo answered the door thereafter.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In "Happy Holidays", Elmo sings "Happy Holidays" to the tune of Jingle Bells. Then he and Dorothy join the cast of Sesame Street in the arbor to sing Jingle Bells itself.
    • In "Hair", Elmo asks viewers to count the brushes brushing his fur, and he's still ticklish. When the third brush makes contact with Elmo's fur, he starts laughing in a way he hadn't since Tickle Me Elmo.
  • No Fourth Wall:
    • Elmo talks to the viewers for pretty much the entire duration of the episodes.
    • Most of Sesame Street's 35th anniversary special, The Street We Live On is an extra-long Elmo's World segment about Sesame Street.
  • Planet of Steves: The apartment next door to Elmo, where you'll find Mr. Noodle, "Mr. Noodle's brother Mr. Noodle" (played by the late Michael Jeter), and occasionally "Mr. Noodle's sister Ms. Noodle" (played by Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth), and their first names are never mentioned.
  • Quacking Up: "Doctors" makes a visual pun on the phrase "quack doctor"; it features a few appearances by a duck dressed as a doctor.
  • Rearrange the Song: At the end of the episode, Elmo plays "Jingle Bells" on his piano... however, the lyrics are just "water, water, water... water, water, water..." or "hands, hands, hands... hands, hands, hands..." or whatever the subject of the episode might be repeated ad nauseum to that effect. The "Farms" episode is an exception; instead, it's "Old McDonald Had a Farm" that's being rearranged.
  • Running Gag:
    • Elmo opening the door to have whatever the subject of the episode is either fall on or trample over him.
    • Elmo trying to open Drawer, only for it to open by itself, and push Elmo off-screen.
  • Sequel Episode: Some episodes address topics of earlier episodes more specifically or rarely, more broadly. For example, there's "Food" and "Bananas", "Pets", "Dogs", and "Cats", note "Shoes", "Hats", and "Getting Dressed".
  • Shout-Out: In "Music", Elmo interviews an accordion which has more than a little bit of white and scarlet on it.
  • Strictly Formula: Indeed. The order of some of the routines is switched up in a handful of episodes, however.
  • Stylistic Suck: The videos Elmo shoots from the early run of the show. The camera constantly moves, and his hands can be seen over the lens.
  • Suspender Snag: In one episode about getting dressed, Elmo asks Mr. Noodle how he gets dressed. When Mr. Noodle puts on his pants, he has a hard time keeping them from falling down, so Elmo and the children tell him to use his suspenders to hold them up. Mr. Noodle does so, but in the process, his suspenders get stuck to the hook on the door, which holds him back.
  • Volumetric Mouth: Sometimes when Elmo talks loudly, you can only see his mouth and his nose.
  • The Voiceless:
    • None of the household objects that Elmo interacts with actually talk (with the exception of the computer, who just says "Elmo has mail"). Instead, they communicate with body movements and sounds.
    • Same with Mr. Noodle and his family, who communicate with facial expressions and actions.
  • Wrap-Up Song:
    • Elmo's World ends with Elmo playing the piano and singing a song To the Tune of... "Jingle Bells" about that day's subject, ending by saying goodbye to Dorothy, the viewers, and whoever he interviewed on the topic of the day.
    • The reboot uses its "Happy Dance" song. Elmo says goodbye to the viewers in a similar manner to the original. In some episodes, he is joined by another Muppet from Sesame Street to sing the "Monster Dance".

Statler: That's it? That's what's special about Elmo and his world?
Waldorf: What do you expect? Maybe it's because he's the only Muppet with lots of exaggeration!
Both Do-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-hoh!


Video Example(s):


Elmo's Closet

Whatever Elmo is thinking about today comes tumbling out of his closet all over the place.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ExplodingCloset

Media sources: