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  • Acceptable Political Targets:
    • While the series has poked fun at Donald Trump, a lot of it predated his involvement in politics. This didn't begin in earnest until he launched an abortive third party presidential campaign in 1999.
      • In a 1988 episode, Ronald Grump comes to the Street and builds "Grump Tower" on Oscar's property. The episode ends with Grump being thrown in the trash.
      • In the 1994 primetime special Stars and Street Forever, another Trumplica named Ronald Grump, who's a human this time and played by Joe Pesci, tries to destroy the Street to build Grump Tower.
      • During the 2005 run of The Apprentice, Donald Grump came to the Street and hosted a grouchy version of the reality show. A parody Muppet of Trump was also built for the episode, intended to be a taxi cab driver, however his only featured scene was excluded from the final aired version, and he was only seen in promotional photos.
      • Outside the show, The Count became an "enemy" of Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election, as discussed in Memetic Badass.
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    • Also, Fox News. In a 2007 episode, Grundgetta watches "Pox News" and calls it a trashy news network.
  • Adaptation Displacement: The songs in Elmopazlooza are obscure songs from the show, so not a lot of 90s and 2000s kids are going to recognize them.
  • Adorkable:
    • Bert has some shades of this, because he has unorthodox interests and is serious, two things which are considered "dorky", and he also has his cute moments like his chuckle.
    • Even in the Sesame Street universe, Julia’s mannerisms, playfulness and limited dialogue truly stand out.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Pretty much endless, as befits a kids' series with adult fans.
    • Bert and Ernie are a gay couple (debunked repeatedly by Sesame Workshop). Spinoff rumours include a scenario where they're going to marry to teach kids tolerance, and a horrific variant in which Ernie is then to get AIDS and die graphically, again all in the name of understanding. Ironically enough, the series did eventually add an HIV-positive Muppet — but only in its South African version, Takalani Sesame.
      • Word Of God says that originally Bert was going to be the father and Ernie his son, which is why they live together. There were concerns that this would encourage kids to talk back to their parents, so the relationship was changed to make them friends who act like brothers. More specifically, Bert is an older brother as perceived by his kid sibling (kind but boring), while Ernie is a younger brother (affectionate but annoying) from the elder's perspective. The writers eventually kept their ages vague, to allow more kinds of plots between the two.
      • Bert and Ernie aren't adults, but a pair of preadolescent boys living an ideal boy's fantasy life, with the freedoms of adulthood but none (or few — they occasionally clean the apartment, buy groceries and do laundry) of the adult responsibilities. Their lack of any apparent paying jobs and constant habit of playing with toys support this interpretation. Bert's obsession with collecting fits right in with their role as the "latency period" characters in the original cast (just as Cookie Monster appears to represent the oral stage, Oscar the anal and Big Bird, age 6, the Oedipal). C.S. Lewis cites the characters in The Wind in the Willows as an example of a similar trope, using animals instead of people to let them have the freedoms of both children and adults at the same time; likewise, Sesame Street uses puppets to get away with the same fantasy.
      • The question of their relationship has become a Berserk Button for practically all points-of-view on the topic. In a 2018 Queerty interview, Mark Saltzman, who spent 15 years as a writer on the show, briefly mentioned that he personally viewed them as a couple when he wrote for them, and that he used his own same-sex relationship as a model for their interactions. This immediately got exaggeratedly spun by other news outlets as "official" Word Of God that they were gay. Sesame Workshop naturally reiterated their past denials. Frank Oz pointed out that, regardless what Saltzman's own opinion might be, Henson and Oz didn't intend them to be a couple, which led to the odd spectacle of Twitter users accusing the director of In & Out of homophobia. Oz later clarified that he had no problem with fans choosing to view them as a couple.
      • Viewers have debated whether Ernie is deliberately trolling Bert or if he's just being Innocently Insensitive.
      • Why did Bert scream that one time a frog jumped into his oatmeal? Was he surprised, or annoyed, or a bit of both?
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    • Lefty has been perceived by some as representing a drug dealer.
    • Cracked interprets the cast as a case of Dysfunction Junction.
    • The little men from the song about the I in the sky who wear clothes that make them look like monks or medieval peasants and who are very happy to spend their entire existence cleaning the giant letter I that they live in are members of some kind of cult.
    • Is Abby really a magic fairy or is she just playing one as a coping mechanism for the troubles in her life?note  It is revealed in one Very Special Episode that her parents got into a divorce and she feels a part of it is her fault.
    • There's recurring debate with fans whether Grover is just an oblivious bumbler to Mr. Johnson or trolling him with bad service on purpose. This is especially evident in earlier skits, where Mr. Johnson was a genuinely difficult customer even when Grover offered competent service, making it look like Grover became embittered and was seeking payback.
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    • The clown who featured in the "Elmo's Potty Time" game — Did he genuinely need to go to the bathroom, or was he only saying he did to entertain the kids?
    • Oscar will occasionally say or do something good, only to deny it. Is he denying it out of embarrassment, or because he feels that for a grouch, being virtuous is immoral? In the episode where he donates some toys to a daycare and claims to be doing it not to be nice but because he hates them, he may have even been telling the truth, since the toys do seem like something he'd dislike.
    • Zoe and Rocco. As The Film Theorists suggests, Zoe uses her pet rock, Rocco, to be a Jerkass at the expense of Elmo, who gets steamrolled every time Rocco's around. Since Rocco's just a rock, these interactions imply that she's using Rocco to pick on Elmo without directly saying it herself. To add, Zoe's tone of voice often changes when she brings up something that Rocco wants to do. On the other hand, perhaps she is just playing make-believe and doesn't realise Elmo will end up getting the short end of the stick.
    • In one episode, the Count miscounts something and decides to give up counting as a result. Elmo appears to make the same "mistake" he did, which leads to the Count realising that Mistakes Are Not the End of the World, but did Elmo genuinely make a mistake, or was he faking it to get the Count to come around?
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Despite the show being beloved in the US and having worldwide popularity, the show has never managed to make it big in the United Kingdom. The BBC rejected it in an oddly public way when it was offered for export in 1971, accusing the show of "indoctrination" (it's suspected that the real reason the BBC turned it down was fear that it might upstage their self-produced Edutainment series Play School). Sesame Workshop has had made numerous attempts to launch the show in the UK, with varying degrees of success, but in general it's failed to stick. With the UK already having a robust children's television tradition, it's generally felt that Sesame Street just doesn't translate very well to British tastes, with the very American setting and fast pace in particular turning off audiences. The UK is one of the few major countries to lack a international version, with the closest being Sesame Tree, which was made for Northern Ireland and Furchester Hotel, a UK produced spin-off that aired on Cbeebies.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: James Earl Jones was skeptical about the show having an impact and thought the Muppets would scare little kids. To quote what he said about this in an interview, “What did [he] know?”
  • Angst? What Angst?: Used for realism in the special When Families Grieve, where Elmo's father explains death to him. Elmo walks away nonchalantly after hearing his uncle is gone forever, but this is because Elmo is only three. He doesn't have the mental capability to fully comprehend death yet, at least not when it's only explained and not shown. When he sees his aunt and cousin later and his uncle isn't with them, the meaning of what his father told him sinks in and he does feel Age-Appropriate Angst.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: Despite the series' Parental Bonuses, the success of Sesame Street is arguably responsible for reinforcing the stereotype that puppet shows are for very young children; most puppet shows on television are aimed at the preschool crowd, just like Sesame. This trope is in fact what inspired Jim Henson himself to create The Muppet Show, as he didn't want to be stereotyped as a children's entertainer, although this didn't stop the Muppet Show Muppets themselves from suffering from this trope at times.
  • Anvilicious: The Lead Away video. Some Anvils may have Needed to be Dropped at the time, but it is kinda weird that Oscar the grouch would agree to washing his hands before he eats and staying away from dust, and that he gets angry because he thinks they are not taking lead seriously.
  • Archive Panic: If you gave birth to a child, and immediately began watching the run of Sesame Street in succession, that child would be old enough for kindergarten by the time you were finished. That's amusing, given the show's mission and target audience. To date there are currently over 4,560 episodes, plus 2 theatrical films, a number of Made-for-TV Movies and Direct to Video specials, and assorted other media if you want to be comprehensive.
  • Audience-Alienating Era:
    • The "around the corner" era from 1993 to 1998 could arguably be seen as an awkward transitional period between the "old school" years and the modern incarnation of the show, with some characters and elements that weren't present either before or after. In particular, many changes were done to the street set that ended up making it look clean and artificial (for instance, the "ABC" graffiti was removed and a gentrified cul-de-sac that included places like a daycare was added) due to competition brought on by Barney & Friends. Funny thing is, even during this supposed rut, old segments (some dating as far back as the first and second seasons), continued airing, so it's not like they completely forgot their roots.
    • The 2002-2006 era of the show could be seen as this, when the show abandoned its original "magazine" format for a more structured "block" format, starting the episodes with a single 10-15 minute street story and then going into recurring segments hosted by various Muppet characters (such as Prairie Dawn and Cookie Monster's "Letter of the Day," Baby Bear's "Hero Guy," Count von Count's "Number of the Day," Oscar's "Trash Gordon," Grover's "Global Grover," and Big Bird's "Journey to Ernie"). Older segments were shown less and less, not to mention the utilized "building blocks" opening sequence concluding with Super Grover holding up the episode number. Though the show no longer has this format, it seemingly still does.
  • Awesome Ego: Although Grover's generally pretty personable, he often introduces himself as "cute, lovable, furry old Grover," and tends to overestimate his own knowledge and abilities. Of course, this is just a part of what makes him so darn endearing.
  • Awesome Music: Now has its own page.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Elmo is a contentious character, specifically after Kevin Clash made his character into what he is today. Many older fans hate him for the screen time he gets at the cost of other characters and for seemingly not bringing anything to the table. There are also a lot of fans, both young and old, who love him for being relatable to the target audience and his bright, friendly attitude. On top of that, his appearances on talk shows are usually thought of as hilarious with the more exaggerated swagger he has on there.
    • Some people think Abby is a useless addition to the cast and gets too much screen time, while most others (including the Muppet Wiki) think she's a cute little fairy and a welcome addition to the cast.
    • Most people think that it's nice to get some autistic representation with Julia, while a few others believe she's a two-dimensional character who's little more than just "the autistic one".
    • The "yip-yip" aliens. Some people are scared of them or were as kids, while others find them cool.
    • Stinky the Stinkweed Plant. Some find him funny, while others don't like him because of his perpetually melancholy nature.
    • Benny Rabbit: either one of the funniest characters on the show, or a cut-rate carbon copy of Oscar the Grouch?
    • The target audience loves Murray, while some people in the Periphery Demographic couldn't stand him or his segments, and wanted to punch him every time he came on-screen. Others however found him and his little lamb Ovejita quite adorable.
    • Baby Bear is loved by the target audience, and while some of the adult fanbase considers him underrated, others think he's bland and has an annoying speech impediment.
    • Zoe. Depending on who you ask, she's either adorable or annoying. The latter viewpoint became more common after the Rocco skits reached meme status by 2022, with many seeing her as a bad friend who's just using her pet rock in order to get her way at Elmo's expense.
  • Bizarro Episode: From the way it's described in this review, the rarely-seen 1976 episode where Margaret Hamilton showed up as The Wicked Witch of the West was one, with a Darker and Edgier tone and some rather muddled attempts at An Aesop (apparently it was supposed to be teaching about respect and politeness, but it's mostly just the Witch threatening various beloved Sesame Street characters).
  • Broken Base:
    • Parents who watch Sesame Street now might be uncomfortable with the show's transition into "The Elmo Show" and the degree to which Elmo has pushed all the other Muppets into the background (though in later seasons, they stopped being background characters). Children, however, love the little red menace. Complicating matters further, it isn't just a matter of adults vs. children, as some parents have grown to love and passionately defend Elmo because he makes their kids so happy.
    • Characters being introduced to talk about a particular hot-button topic. For instance, Julia for autism, Lily for homelessness, Alex for incarceration, and Karli for foster care and later parental addiction. Some think this is noble and important, some think it's too soapboxy, and others believe that the intention is good but the characters themselves are dull and require more personality.
  • Crack Pairing:
    • A majority of fans feel this way about how Elmo and Abby, or, at the very least, find that always pairing Elmo and Abby together in a scene seemed forced, as opposed to when Elmo was usually previously paired up with Zoe. It (Kinda) Makes Sense in Context, as Zoe was pretty much conceived to be a counterpart to Elmo (especially visually, as Zoe's orange fur compliments Elmo's orange nose, and his red fur compliments her red mouth). Abby, on the other hand, the writers and producers have been desperately wanting her to achieve the same star-power Elmo has (so the show would have a prominent female Muppet for little girls to relate to), which probably explains why the two of them are almost always paired together in scenes.
    • Sam the robot has also had crushes on two inanimate objects.
  • Creator's Pet: Nearly everyone's had their turn, but the three most recent are Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and Rudy.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • For those who aren't freaked out by them, there are the Martians. YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP. UH HUH. UH HUH. YIP YIP YIP.
    • The Two-Headed Monster! Their segments aired constantly throughout the '80s and '90s, then they were re-cast, started appearing in the "Journey to Ernie" segments, and eventually had entirely new segments made. Fans love quoting them, and eventually they were put in charge of the newsstand that was added to the street set during the revamp the show endured for its 46th season.
    • Roosevelt Franklin, who was intended to be part of the main cast. Sadly, he was cut from the show because of complaints from Moral Guardians. Some claimed it was because he didn’t act “black enough” and some complained that he was “too black”. Despite this, he is looked back on fondly and there are many people demanding for him to come back. Their wish is being fulfilled in the show’s golden anniversary material.
    • Chef Gonger, a character who first appeared on the CBeebies show The Furchester Hotel and made his way to the American Sesame Street in 2017. His unique design and hilarious voice (said by some to sound like either Baby Animal or Stitch), provided by British puppeteer Warrick Brownlow-Pike, help him stand out from the crowd. It helps that he is usually paired with another fan favorite, Cookie Monster.
    • And of course, Donald Grump.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Some fans of The Muppet Show look down a bit on Sesame fans, since it's a show aimed squarely at kids rather than an all-ages show like The Muppet Show. Some of this might be generational (younger viewers being unaware of the more Parental Bonus-laden material of Sesame's first few decades), some might be cultural (particularly in the UK, where Sesame Street never really caught on).
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • How Mr. Hooper died was never explained, so some fans have tried their best to come up with a theory as to how he died.
    • Same with Elmo's Uncle Jack. It's implied he was in the military, but there's some debate about whether he died in action or committed suicide from PTSD.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • Elmo is known by his detractors as "The Little Red Menace". Oscar sometimes refers to Elmo by this name on the show itself.
    • This funky arrangement of the theme song, which played during the funding credits from 1972 to 1992, is officially titled "Sesame Closing Theme". Fans refer to it as "Funky Chimes".
  • Fanon: With the addition of the new vertical neon sign for Hooper's Store, many fans have decided the logical explanation is that Alan and Chris happened to find the old, rusty sign in the basement and decided to restore it and put it to use.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • With The Muppet Show. It's pretty common for Muppet fansites to cover both shows (as well as other Henson/Muppet projects such as Fraggle Rock). There's also the tons of inter-series crossovers Sesame Street had with The Muppet Show in its first decade or so, and there's even a couple of fleeting references in 2014's Muppets Most Wanted.
    • Quite a few Barney & Friends fans are also Sesame Street/Muppet fans. The same goes for fans of Bear in the Big Blue House.
  • Fun for Some: Bert invokes this trope frequently. All of his interests qualify to some extent as nerdy or lame: eating oatmeal, feeding pigeons (actually a pretty routine thing to do in New York City, since they're everywhere), collecting bottle caps and paper clips, and reading a book of boring stories entitled...Boring Stories. ("The prince drank a glass of water...")
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Most people think Count von Count's counting obsession is just a pun on his name. It's not. A largely forgotten vampire legend holds that the best way to escape a vampire is to spill a bag of rice, sand or pebbles, because vampires, being a neurotic species, must stop whatever they're doing until they've counted every last item in a pile. That's why the Count has never killed anyone: he never runs out of things to count!
    • During a promo with Entertainment Weekly, Grover and Cookie Monster manage to work in a reference to stage door Johnnies of all things — a term which would probably be a GRANDparental bonus for modern kids. (They also manage to rhyme dystopia and cookie-copia.)
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
  • Growing the Beard: Although the show was already a household name from day one, the show really started to shine in season two when the Muppets got redesigned and characterized to what we know them as today. The addition of Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt and Fran Brill to the performing ensemble also added new dimensions to the Muppet sketches.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Caroll Spinney's last episode of Sesame Street as Big Bird and Oscar before retiring was the Season 50 episode "The Disappoint-a-Meter". In the actual episode, it's Matt Vogel's and Eric Jacobson's vocals. In essence, those who wanted to see Spinney's last performance were disappointed themselves.
      • It may just be as well because HBO is against using a deceased person's vocals for newly-aired material.
    • David probably gets hit the hardest. For several years, he and Maria were implied to have a romantic relationship, but in Season 19, they had a falling out and she married Luis instead. Now, moments like when Luis took Maria to New Mexico and David stayed behind feel like they're leading up to something. It gets worse when you learn what was going on behind the scenes. In the 1980s, Northern Calloway's health was failing, which was apparently why the writers had Maria marry Luis instead. Taking over Hooper's Store made sense when Mr. Hooper passed away, but it ended up being a way to keep Calloway working on the show when he was gaining weight and not so light on his feet anymore. His poor health and unstable behavior led to his departure after Season 20 (which, to add insult to injury, ended with Maria having her and Luis' daughter) and he passed away a few months later. And to top it all off: the reason he was left out of the movie? While working on the show, he got himself a criminal record that kept him from entering Canada. It's almost as if the Powers That Be didn't want David to be remembered fondly.
    • Episode 1520: Bert is feeling sad but can't put his finger on why, and Ernie lists a plethora of reasons why one might be sad. The last reason he lists off — losing your best friend — becomes excruciatingly sad in light of Jim Henson's death. Even more heartbreaking, it re-aired in Episode 2621 in November 1989, just seven months before Henson's passing.
      Ernie: I mean, like, if I, Ernie, your best friend, went away and you thought you'd never, ever see me again. Why, then you- then- [sniffles] ...then you'd have a reason to be sad, Bert.
      Bert: You know, Ernie, you're right. You're right, things could be a lot worse. I feel so much better! Thank you!
      Ernie: [in tears] And I'd be gone away, and we could never, ever sit here and talk, like we're talking now, and we could never go to the beach together, and we could never go to the zoo... [begins crying harder] ...and when you were sad, Bert, old buddy, I wouldn't be here to cheer you up like I'm cheering you up now, oh, Bert! [sobbing hysterically]
      Bert: Oh, Ernie, Ernie, what's the matter?
      Ernie: [sobbing] I'm so SAD, Bert!!!!
    • A 1976 cover of Sesame Street magazine showed Cookie Monster attacking the Twin Towers. Obviously intended as a parody of the then-current hype for King Kong, but 25 years later, it stopped being funny (unless you have a dark sense of humor).
    • A 1986 segment Miami Mice (parody of Miami Vice) had a moment where an airplane flew through the police station, making a plane-shaped hole in the other wall, and the two detectives (although they ducked down when it happened), shrugged it off, as some "low-flying joker". Again, not so funny after September 11, 2001.
    • In a conversation between Jim Henson and Joan Ganz Cooney (shown in the documentary film Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street), Cooney mentions that they have a big library of Ernie clips so Ernie would live on forever, after which Henson jokingly asks if that means he can stop being Ernie. This footage was shot for Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting in 1989 (though that part was cut), one year before Jim Henson died. In terms of Heartwarming in Hindsight, Ernie would be recast four years after Henson died, while in terms of Harsher in Hindsight, the show would stop airing material from Jim Henson's years on the show in 2008 (though his material continues to be uploaded online and released on video).
    • In episode 1564, the last featuring Buffy and Cody, as they get ready to return to their home in Hawaii, Telly worries that he won't see Cody grow up. Considering this is their last appearance, he was correct about this.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Matt Vogel was a huge fan of the show growing up, particularly with his hand puppets for The Count and Big Bird. Cut to the late 1990s; he would be the understudy and respective replacements for Jerry Nelson and Caroll Spinney as those characters.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In a quote featured in the book Street Gang that's either this or Harsher in Hindsight depending on your perspective, Kevin Clash (partially) says most people expect him to be white with glasses. While, of course, Clash is African-American and clear-sighted, it pretty accurately describes Ryan Dillon, his replacement as Elmo.
    • This quote from "Don Music Rewrites Mary Had a Little Lamb"
      Don: No, I don't think that will work. Lambs aren't yellow. I mean, who ever heard of a yellow lamb!?
    • Count von Count being a vampire(-like) guy that loves counting is a concept on its own that will be pretty funny when you know legends of the Chinese Vampire say that it can be escaped by strewing many small objects (like grains of rice) in its path that it would be compelled to stop and count.
      • It's also part of legends about Western Vampires, as mentioned under Genius Bonus.
    • With Herbert's friendly demeanor and mustached, bespectacled appearance, he actually bears a strong resemblance to Ned Flanders. deviantART, anyone?
    • Back in 1987, Cookie Monster accurately predicted the whole "Veggie Monster" kerfluffle that would happen in a couple decades in the opening lines of "Healthy Food":
      Well, me known for eating cookie
      When I don't they shout "Look, he
      Tryin' to throw loyal fans a curve!
      What he doing eating fish?
      Or vegetable dish?
      Man, he sure got lot of nerve!"
    • Speaking of veggie, the chorus to "This is How I'm Made" sounds like the theme to VeggieTales.
    • An early song had Lefty the Salesman asking Ernie, "Would You Like to Buy an O?" a few years before Wheel of Fortune offered vowels for sale.
    • One skit features a family called the Loud family. Years later, a cartoon called The Loud House came out, which also featured a family with the last name Loud.
      • Speaking of which, the Cobblestones' frontman is named Mick Swagger, just like Luna's idol in The Loud House.
    • The Season 4 premiere begins with the characters mentioning names of people on Sesame Street according to the letters of the alphabet. When they get to Z, Big Bird can't think of anyone whose name begins with Z... That is until 1993, with the introduction of Zoe.
    • "When You Wish Upon A Pickle" had a plot where Chris and Elmo switch bodies. In other words, Chris Knowings' vocals come out of a character puppeteered by Ryan Dillon. Cut to the 50th anniversary special, where Roosevelt Franklin makes a cameo, and it has the same acting arrangement, with Chris Knowings voicing Roosevelt Franklin while Ryan Dillon is the puppeteer.
    • The parody of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air featuring Bert and Ernie is now even funnier, since both shows are now part of the HBO Max streaming service (and feature heavily in the service's ad campaign).
    • Episode 3340 in 1995 features a segment where Amy Tan reads her children's book Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat to Elmo and Zoe. Come 2001 and Sesame Workshop co-produced an animated adaptation of the book.
    • At the end of episode 847, the Wicked Witch says she'll leave Sesame Street with her broom and never come back. Considering the episode was withheld from further reruns and unseen by fans again until scenes were screened in 2020 and then available for viewing at the American Archive of Public Broadcasting in 2022, the line could be either this or Harsher in Hindsight.
  • Hype Backlash:
    • Before the show cut back on the parodies in Season 46, some segments that spoofed popular media got this reaction if they went particularly viral, as some people found it baffling how segments from an educational preschool show became unanimously praised and loved.
    • The show itself suffers from this sometimes, as Sesame Street fans rarely have anything bad to say about the show even though they are well outside its target demographicnote , similar to (but not to the same extent as) My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
  • Memetic Badass: The Count became one in the aftermath of the 2020 US election. After Donald Trump tweeted out "STOP THE COUNT," attempting to stop potential mail-in ballots from being counted in favor of Joe Biden, the internet spun the tweet as an attack on the Sesame Street character, implying The Count was fighting back by continuing to count votes as they came in.
    • This got even funnier when a 2021 episode reused a bit where the Count had to leave to help with a recount in Minnesota.
  • Memetic Molester: Elmo may become this in light of some unfortunate events. South Park had a field day with this with their own take on the Tickle Me Elmo doll.
  • Memetic Mutation: Now has it's own page.
  • Memetic Psychopath:
    • Bert via the "Bert is Evil" meme. Infamously taken up to eleven when a pic of Bert with Osama bin Laden lifted from the Bert is Evil website wound up on a poster used at an anti-American demonstration in Bangladesh in 2001.
    • Both Ernie and Bert (with everyone else in the cast joining occasionally) via the Bertstrips meme.
    • Elmo also gets this treatment as well as a way to vent frustration (and to jump on the bandwagon with those who are venting frustration). Only fueled by the "Rocco" skits, as seeing Elmo get so uncharacteristically frustrated over Zoe's pet rock is quite amusing.
    • Big Bird is a massive racist who owns slaves as far as Reddit is concerned. He's also come to represent recklessness and poor judgment via the "We Ride at Dawn, Bitches!" meme.
  • Misblamed:
    • A couple years before Sesame Street premiered, Jim Henson made a special called Hey Cinderella!, which would not air in America until a few months after Sesame Street premiered. One critic accused the Children's Television Workshop of cashing in on the shows success by putting out a special on commercial television. Jim Henson wrote to the critic, saying that while the two productions shared a lot of the same performers and crew members and both heavily featured Kermit, the special had been produced before Henson was involved with Sesame Street and that the CTW had no involvement in the special at all. Still, the controversy was enough for Kermit to disappear from Season 2 of Sesame to avoid any further conflict of interest accusations (though he returned for Season 3).
    • When it was announced that Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado, and Roscoe Orman were being let go from the show, a number of fans thought this was because of the switch from PBS to HBO. Sesame Workshop had to make a statement on Facebook saying that the channel has no control over such decisions.
  • Moe:
    • Mr. Snuffleupagus fits this perfectly, being a Gentle Giant who's a combination of both eager and shy, and having an endearingly hush voice.
    • Julia. Just take one good look at her.
  • My Real Daddy: Kevin Clash is no longer with Sesame Street, but we owe to him most of what makes Elmo who he is.
  • Narm: The show is full of pop-culture parodies, but the presence of elements meant to be relevant to preschoolers, educational or otherwise (such as counting, healthy food, and crayons) make them a bit hard to take seriously for non-parents.
  • Narm Charm: This is the reason why the show continues to be so popular today, even among adults. Seeing humans act alongside puppets and treating them as if they're real sounds hard to take seriously, but the puppets have so much personality and the humans go along with them so believably that you're inclined to believe it with them too. The skits are also preschool level simple so children can understand them, but it's oddly charming to watch Patrick Stewart wondering "B? Or not a B?" or Liam Neeson emotionally counting to 20.
  • Never Live It Down: While there are plenty of people, including those who're autistic, willing to pass it off as just poor judgement, many people are equally unwilling to forgive Sesame Street for deciding to partner with Autism Speaks.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Plenty. See this page for examples.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Supposedly averted with Sesame Street, or at least its Latin Spanish counterpart Plaza Sésamo. In the late 90s, Abelardo appeared in Otro rollo, a popular Mexican night time show. That alone wouldn't be an issue... except the sketch was full of adult jokes, references, and puns. While it was never confirmed, supposedly the Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) wasn't too pleased when they found out both the official performer and suit were used in such a sketch, and demanded that their characters never get involved with the show or such a stunt ever again, even when it could be debated the sketch was successful in making the show relevant to adults again. Abelardo, Pancho Contreras, and Lola would appear several years later in the show to promote Plaza Sesamo, but the interview is obviously scripted and, compared to the Abelardo sketch from years before, the adult humor is kept at the very minimum.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • When it was announced that the Elmo's Playdate half hour special would simulcast on many networks, many were surprised at Cartoon Network being one of them. This isn't the first time the show had a presence on the network given how Elmo guest starred in an episode of Big Bag, a preschool show that aired on the network in 1997, in which he was Chelli's pen-pal.
    • People often complain that Sesame Street has gone "woke" for their initiatives like anti-racism or staying safe during COVID-19, with Senator Ted Cruz tweeting angrily about Big Bird being vaccinated. They are unaware that from day one, Sesame Street was progressive. It was made with the intent of educating inner-city kids. It featured many minorities (such as people of color, disabled people, etc), all portrayed in a positive light, which actually got it banned in Mississippi. One 1973 episode had Big Bird get vaccinated, and one 90s episode dealt with racism.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: "Picture This" is best known for a line spoken by Grover which seems perfectly innocuous... except it's spoken so quickly, the Internet assumed he dropped an F-bomb.
    Grover: Move the camera, yes, yes, that sounds like an excellent idea!note 
  • Pandering to the Base: The 50th anniversary special, big time. Old human characters like Maria, Luis, Gina, Bob, Gordon, and Susan return, forgotten Muppetsnote  come back, and Kermit appears even though he was bought out by Disney. Also, a medley of classic songs are sung. Now that's how you appeal to older fans.
  • Periphery Demographic: Part of the reason there are so many Parental Bonuses.
    • Joan Ganz Cooney once said that when she once checked into a hotel in The '70s, the manager came to her room to bring her suitcases... and to tell her that he watches Sesame Street everyday, because it's his favorite show; in fact, Cooney once said that many adults have come to her to tell her how much they enjoy the show, and that it seems most older people who watch the show do so because they dislike most of anything else on television.
    • Sesame Street itself has such a large fanbase among teenagers and adults, that it could very well be in a league all its own if it were to ever have cons associated with it. In fact, this actually causes problems for the show itself: it's still a children's show aimed at preschoolers, and always will be; however, older fans are the vocal ones (since they have the ability to do so, especially with the advent of social media), so the people involved with making this show are always looking for ways to not lose the show's focus and goal, while at the same time, find some way(s) to cater to older and longtime fans to make them happy (Season 38 is a great example of this, because it was the first time in five years the show had an episode presented in its original magazine format, rather that the block format it adopted in 2002, and it was also the first time in nine years that the show had an episode that did not include an Elmo's World segment during the final fifteen minutes).
    • Due to the Muppet characters' universal appeal, they make frequent guest appearances and interviews on adult-oriented talk shows and websites. While still mostly clean, the change in audience allows them to make more allusions and references that their show's usual audience wouldn't understand.
    • It helps that the show was originally conceived to educate adults as well as children.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Abby is this to many Zoe fans. Zoe was the original Distaff Counterpart to Elmo, however later on the writers decided to capitalize on girls in their Princess Phase and create Abby. With many fans who grew up with Zoe, Abby was an unwelcome addition who is seen as causing Zoe to be Demoted to Extra.
    • Mr. Handford was this to David fans, at least when Leonard Jackson played him (see below). A lot of fans weren't happy when an ever-popular show runner was so abruptly written out and replaced with a Grumpy Old Man who came from nowhere.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Again, Mr. Handford. Despite the fact that Leonard Jackson and David Smyrl looked nothing alike, fans old and new generally agreed that the recast was a good idea. While the former was something of a Replacement Scrappy for David, the latter changed the character into a likeable and enthusiastic Nice Guy who gradually won fans' hearts.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Many, but probably the strangest and most surreal would be Giancarlo Esposito as Big Bird's friendly camp counselor, decades before he would go on to play Gustavo Fring in Breaking Bad, one of the most terrifying villains ever put on television.
    • Among the show's earliest sketches were James Earl Jones slowly saying the alphabet and counting to ten, noted at the time as being the ones that drew the biggest responses from focus group children.
    • A number of notable actors have played some of the miscellaneous kids on the series over the years, including Raphael Sbarge, Ashley Tisdale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kim Raver, Aldis Hodge, Jenna Ushkowitz, and Lindsay Lohan. Here's a list.
    • Rosario Dawson appeared in a live-action insert of the show in Episode 2889, four years before she made her onscreen debut in Kids.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • After Big Bird got vaccinated, high-profile Republicans (such as Ted Cruz) starting demonizing him and making him out to be a communist. Big Bird, Bert, and Ernie were even banned from the CPAC!
    • A similar situation occurred when Elmo appeared on a CNN segment with his dad to address the civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd.
    • Outside of politics, the show's characters are popular to make 'evil' in memes and parodies. See Memetic Psychopath above.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Some fans have seen Rodeo Rosie as this back in the 1970s, due to her being loud, overbearing, and bossy.
    • Deena and Pearl, Deena especially, due to their segments being nothing more than cheap attempts to copy the formula of the Bert & Ernie segments (in the eyes of the periphery demographic). It's no wonder that most of their sketches are lost media.
    • All of the Monster Clubhouse characters (Mooba/Googel, Mel, Narf, and Groogle/Phoebe). Heck, the entire Monster Clubhouse segment as a whole as this. Not only did the adult fanbase dislike it, but so did children due to the segment's frenetic pace. It was abruptly dropped after Season 34.
    • Horatio the Elephant also isn't very well-liked, mainly due to his annoying voice and the fact that when he gets overly excited he forgets he's an elephant and jumps up and down, causing a small earthquake in the process. It's not so bad when the Horatio puppet is utilized as a generic, unnamed elephant.
    • Several parents on Reddit seem to dislike Charlie, a human child of a military family, introduced in Season 50 who is strangely a regular character as opposed to a one-off like the other kids. Apparently, she shows up everyone and knows everything (in fact, her affinity for counting caused the Count to undergo a temporary Heroic BSoD).
    • Some parents find Rudy during the Abby's Amazing Adventures segments to be quite annoying due to his formulaic tendency to just give up on whatever they’re doing when it gets hard before Abby pushes him to carry on.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • The period that lasted from around 1998 to present day, when Elmo dominated the show, is often seen as its lowest point.
    • A majority of fans (and some of the cast and crew) felt alienated when the "Around the Corner" era first surfaced in 1993, when the street itself was cleaned and brightened up, and extended to include a number of new locales. Another majority feel the same way starting with 2002, when the show changed from its original magazine format, and adopted a block format.
    • Some old-school fans also feel that the show has indulged in too much of Political Overcorrectness. However, the show caused an uproar in its early years because of its cultural pluralism, so accusations of this are pretty baseless.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Now that everybody does it, it's hard to remember that Sesame Street invented quality, research-based, curriculum-based, entertaining, and educational children's TV that has an ethnically diverse cast and doesn't talk down to its audience.
  • Signature Scene: Mr. Hooper's death and Big Bird coming to terms with it.
  • Signature Song:
    • Bert has "Doin' the Pigeon".
    • Cookie Monster has "C is for Cookie" and "If Moon Was Cookie".
    • The Count has "The Song of the Count" and "The Batty Bat".
    • Elmo has... "Elmo's Song".
    • Ernie has "Rubber Duckie" and "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon".
    • Gladys the Cow has "I'm Proud to be a Cow".
    • Grover has "Proud of Me" and "Monster in the Mirror".
    • Kermit has "It's Not Easy Being Green", "Doo-Wop Hop", "This Frog", and "Caribbean Amphibian".
    • The Oinker Sisters have "A New Way to Walk".
    • Oscar has "I Love Trash".
    • Mr. Snuffleupagus has "On Top of Spaghetti".
    • For non-Muppets, Bob has "The People in Your Neighborhood".
  • Squick: Basically everything that Oscar the Grouch eats.
  • Stock Parody Jokes:
    • Bert and Ernie being a gay couple, which Sesame Workshop has had to clear up several times.
    • With today's increased awareness of childhood obesity, it's not uncommon to accuse Cookie Monster of being executive-meddled into a "Veggie Monster", something the show actually referenced.
    • Cookie Monster is literally addicted to cookies.
  • Strangled by the Red String: After nearly 20 years of Maria and Luis having a purely platonic / professional relationship, they fall in love and get married. This kind of thing isn't normally too out of the ordinary, but the entire romance-to-marriage arc occurs in one single season (the nineteenth season, to be precise)! Previously, Maria had been set up with David, but the two characters were implied to break up after the events of episode 2358 where Maria is turned into a root beer float.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
    • Very prevalent with most of the Parental Bonus segments, but most egregious with the "Let It Be" Affectionate Parody "Letter B".
    • The theme song had to have been influenced on some level by Petula Clark's 1965 hit "I Know a Place". Both songs have an identical Epic Riff, and they both have lyrics about how great it is to go to a certain place.
  • Tear Dryer: The song "Ballad of the Sad Cafe" is about some cowboys and cowgirls who come to the titular cafe when they're sad, which generally makes it a pretty gloomy song, especially because the cafe apparently doesn't even serve food! However, after the song, the cowboys and cowgirls cheer up and decide to go to a different cafe.
  • Tear Jerker: See this page for examples.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: By its very nature, Sesame Street has to be constantly changing and evolving. It started out as a non-profit show intended to be educational for preschoolers, but now a bigger problem is an audience that's constantly turning over. The trouble comes when a viewer grows up and tunes in (often with their own kids) and finds out that the show isn't a carbon copy of what they grew up on and loved:
    • Old-time fans were not fond of the calypso theme (used from 1992-1998) and the Dancing City closing credits (1992-2006), which replaced the themes the show had been using for 23 years. The hate died down over the years, though.
    • In Season 30 (1998-1999), Elmo received his own 15-20 minute segment, Elmo's World, considerably slowing the breakneck pace and kitchen-sink randomness of the show's structure. It was absolutely hated by the show's Periphery Demographic when it was first added.
    • The "Around the Corner" era (1993-1998) and the "Blocks" era (2002-2006) are often seen as this by old-school Sesame Street fans.
    • The show having letters and numbers as its sponsors being downplayed.
    • Season 40 (2009-2010) was the first season to not have any clips featuring any characters performed by Jim Henson. This essentially obliterates the presence of the late Jim Henson from the show. In addition, the show was taken over by Murray Monster, more long-form segments were introduced, and the adult cast (save for Chris and Alan) made little-to-no new appearances.
    • Season 46 onward, with a move to HBO (and later another to HBO Max), a half-hour format, and the mission statement "fewer puppets, fewer parodies", which has made adult fans upset in particular. This coming on the heels of several high-ranking performers leaving the show with varying degrees of grace hasn't helped.
    • The removal of the classic "Sesame Street has been brought to you by the letter ___ and the number ___. Sesame Street is a production of the Children's Television Workshop (which was dropped after Season 31, when CTW became Sesame Workshop)" and instead after the final "Elmo's World" there's a quick cut to the end credits where the Muppets sing "Smarter, Stronger and Kinder."
    • This was the reaction of many Japanese fans when the first official Japanese coproduction of the series debuted on TV Tokyo in 2004, the reason being that it was mostly in Japanese with very little English and also that some of the English used was grammatically incorrect. By contrast, NHK had aired American episodes mainly in English.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: There was no 40th anniversary special (just a special two-DVD release of various inserts from the show's 40-year history), but shortly afterwards came The Best of Elmo 2, in which Elmo helps a robot that feeds on memories. This would have made a better plot for an anniversary special.
  • Toy Ship: Elmo tends to be shipped with either Zoe or Abby. In fact, in his Youtube interview, one of the unused questions shown for a split second is someone asking if he has a crush on any of them.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-universe. Alistair Cookie's introduction to "Waiting for Elmo."
    Alistair Cookie: Today me proud to present a modern masterpiece. A play so modern and so brilliant, it make absolutely no sense to anybody, including Alistair.
  • Ugly Cute: Some of the Muppets, like the Martians. Frazzle is probably the best case; it helps that his scary-looking appearance does not reflect his actual personality.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • Kermit making an appearance in the 50th anniversary special. Before this, everyone just assumed that he'd never appear on the show again due the rights to his likeness changing hands to Disney. The special even points out that he came straight out of nowhere.
    • Not exactly a "character", per se, but rather a performer; who expected Karen Prell to be listed as Muppet performer in the credits for Season 50, given she last performed on the show in Season 12?
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: There's poor, poor Bert. He's admittedly a stick-in-the-mud, likes dull things, and can be cranky, but there are some occasions where Ernie, who is (presumably) the character kids are supposed to relate to more (Ernie is the FUN one! Bert is boring!), goes from doing silly things to just plain being rude. In one particular example, Bert plans to give his nephew Brad a bath, and Ernie criticizes him for not giving the baby any toys to play with. Bert agrees with Ernie and tells him that it's certainly OK to put a few toys in the tub... only for Ernie to throw countless inflatables, boats, and other trinkets into the water. Bert politely tells Ernie to stop, grows increasingly frustrated, and finally SCREAMS, which is the only way to get Ernie to listen to him. He then points out that with all of the toys Ernie's put into the tub, there's no way that he can safely bathe Brad, which means all of the preparation was for nothing (any caretaker will tell you that running a bath that's just the right temperature and getting a child settled down enough to take it is a challenge). So does Ernie remove some of the toys and apologize? Nope — he jumps in the tub himself and says that he doesn't want to waste the water, which may have been his plan all along. And we're supposed to laugh at this?
    • Similarly, there are multiple occasions where Bert is engaged in some quiet activity, only for Ernie to barge into the room and loudly tell him exactly what he wants them to do. When Bert disagrees, he almost always does so courteously, pointing out that he's already doing something and would not like to play (he's never rude about it — more like a "no thank you, Ernie"). Ernie's activities may be nominally more relatable, but Bert genuinely seems to enjoy what he's doing and is having fun in his own way, so why should he have to stop his own leisure time to accommodate his roommate?
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Ernie in some occasions when he goes from doing silly things to just plain being rude. In one particular example, we're supposed to feel sorry for Ernie when Bert yells at him for putting too much toys in the bathtub to give his nephew Brad a bath. The thing is that Ernie throws countless inflatable bath toys in the water and doesn't listen to Bert even when he gets irritated until the moment Bert yells at him that there are too much toys in the water for Brad to take his bath in. On top of that, Ernie's response is to get in the bathtub and says that he doesn't want to waste the water. This naturally would have been best avoided if he just simply listened to Bert all along about just a few toys in the tub and not overdo it. Similarly, there are multiple occasions where Bert is engaged in some quiet activity, only for Ernie to barge into the room and loudly tell him exactly what he wants them to do. When Bert finally agrees to do it in the end, Ernie decides to immediately stop having fun with Bert and says he has to do something else. So what makes Ernie stop Bert from enjoying his own leisure time to accommodate him?
    • David in the Wicked Witch episode. He refuses to give back the witch's broom until she shows him respect, but he was also being a jerk by taking someone else's property. If David just gave her back the broom, so much trouble would have been avoided. It's somewhat hard to side with David in this case.
  • Values Dissonance: Standards for what's okay to show to kids in the show seem to have changed note  to the point that releases of the early seasons advise to the parents that they "may not meet your child's educational needs". The early episodes include the likes of an adult Muppet approaching a bunch of kids and pulling letters out of his trenchcoat, a sketch where a proto-Grover engaged in what can only be described as civil disobedience, and a cartoon sketch where a monster grabs a little girl and kisses her on the lips (followed by an Ernie and Bert segment where Ernie finds humor in the unwanted kiss situation... until he in turn is grabbed and kissed by the Beautiful Day Monster, which Bert laughs at).
  • Values Resonance: A 1977 episode showed Buffy breastfeeding her baby Cody and explaining the action to Big Bird. The depiction of breastfeeding as normal still resonates today because breastfeeding is a controversial issue in the United States, often seen as too inappropriate to do in public. A children's show depicting breastfeeding as a normal, non-sexual thing is still a novelty even decades later.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Because of his fairly non-gendered personality and his higher-pitched voice, some casual fans have mistakenly thought Big Bird was a girl (and his longtime performer having the first name Caroll might've contributed to the misconception). This isn't a new situation, either: the infamously shoddy 1979 Adventures of Big Boy comic about the Muppets calls Big Bird "she".
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The Sesame Street: Old School DVD sets, compiling material from 1969 to 1984, featured a disclaimer: "These early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grownups and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child." While the sentiment being expressed was legitimate (the early years of the show were based on educational theories that got revised over the next few decades), the wording was awkward, and seemed to suggest that the show's content was too racy for children, leading to a backlash from fans.
  • The Woobie:
    • Grover, on a kid's-TV level. He frequently pushes himself to literal exhaustion in his drive to be helpful, as when for example demonstrating concepts like "Near and Far".
    • Telly, who's constantly nervous, distressed, or even paranoid, getting himself worked up about almost anything even when everyone else is in a good mood.
    • Bert gets this a bit too. Most of the time he's just going about his day or keeping to himself but he invariably gets drawn into whatever antics Ernie feels like doing, even when he actively tries to avoid or get out of them.
    • Big Bird is, pardon the pun, one of the biggest on the show. He's basically a sweet child who manages to avoid much of the misfortune that the other characters get into but when he does have problems he gets the big ones. Losing Mr. Hooper, not being believed about Snuffy to the point that he once doubted his own friend's existence because no one else ever saw him, having his nest destroyed by a hurricane, etc. You want to hug him sometimes just because of how unfair the world can be to him. And that's not counting the crap he has to go through in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, and that episode where he becomes the subject of bullying courtesy of members of the so-called "Good Birds Club".
  • Woolseyism:
    • In a Hebrew version of "It Sure Is Hot", instead of the boy trying to talk to the girl in Spanish, he tries to talk to her in Hebrew instead.
    • The Dutch version changes the girl to one who knows only English, and so the boy instead teaches her a little Dutch.
    • "C es de cebolla" from Plaza Sésamo, a remixed version of "C Is for Cookie". Here, Pancho sings about his love for onions.
    • AM Muppet Carlo teaching Betty Lou the Spanish word for friend "Amigo" is flipped around for the Spanish version on Plaza Sesamo in teaching her the English word for amigo is "Friend".
    • On the Dutch show, the voice actors for Ernie and Bert are allowed to write their own material, and have released several albums of original material with the characters. They are the only Ernie and Bert in the world who are allowed to do that (although the German version also has its own Ernie and Bert).
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency?:
    • Max Headroom was a guest star in one episode. Let that sink in for a bit. To make matters worse, they have him talk down to the audience at the end. While that's completely in-character, that's something you'd never see on this show otherwise.
    • One 1990 episode featured an Indiana Jones Expy, played by Jeff Goldblum of all people.
    • Groogle/Phoebe Monster was first played by Alice Dinnean, then John Tartaglia.
    • Near the end of Caroll Spinney's career (and life), he found an understudy on Oscar the Grouch in, of all performers, Eric Jacobson! Yes, the same Eric Jacobson who has taken over most of Frank Oz's characters! Thank goodness he can do a near-perfect Oscar, though.
    • Matt Vogel's Big Bird gets this quite a bit since he makes him sound deeper and less energetic than Caroll Spinney's take on the character, even taking the later years of his life into account.
    • Zoe has been voiced/puppeteered by Jennifer Barnhart since Fran Brill's retirement in 2014, with the character now having an older-sounding voice than Brill's take on her.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Bip Bippadotta resembles Mahna-Mahna from The Muppet Show, only he has sunglasses in place of his big black eyes.
    • Betty Lou is often confused with Prairie Dawn, as they are based on the same Anything Muppet pattern.

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