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YMMV / Sesame Street

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  • Acceptable Political Targets: The series has poked fun at Donald Trump numerous times.note 
    • 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.
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    • Also, Fox News. In a 2007 episode, Grundgetta watches "Pox News" and calls it a trashy news network.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • 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?”
  • 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 (2019) there are currently over 4,526 episodes.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Mr. Snuffleupagus was originally conceived as Big Bird's Imaginary Friend, and so for many years there was a running joke of Snuffy wandering away just as anyone else entered the scene, and nobody believing that he was real. The writers later realized that this accidentally sends the message that "grownups won't believe you if you try to tell them something important." This is a bad thing, so in the 1985 season premiere they decided to make other people see Snuffy too, and the adults sincerely apologized to Big Bird for not believing him.
    • One criticism for seasons 46-47 was focusing too much on a core cast of Muppets (ie Elmo, Grover, Abby, Cookie Monster, etcetera) over others (ie Ernie, Bert, Baby Bear, etcetera) due to the show's new half hour format. Starting in season 48, there have been more stories that include more Muppet characters.
  • 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. After Kevin Clash started performing him, he became a Creator's Pet to a lot of the show's older fans. Clash, on the other hand, has developed into the Derek Jeter of children's television, set with the task of training Muppeteers all over the world.
    • To a lesser extent, Abby. Some people think that she's a useless addition to the cast and gets too much screen time, while others think she's a cute little fairy.
    • Julia. Some people think that it's nice to get some autistic representation, while other people 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.
    • Murray. The target audience loved him, while the Periphery Demographic couldn't stand him or his segments, and wanted to punch him every time he came on-screen.
    • 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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 two most recent are Elmo and Abby Cadabby.
  • Dork Age:
    • 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. Of course, some old-school fans would argue that the show is still in a Dork Age. Funny thing is, even during this supposed Dork Age, 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... but after this era, the show brought us Elmo's World.
    • The 2002-2007 era of the show could be seen as this, when the show had abandoned their original "magazine" format for a more structured "blocks" 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," and Count von Count's "Number of the Day," and Big Bird's "Journey to Ernie"). Older segments were shown less and less, and the show got more and more childish during this period, not to mention the "building blocks" opening sequence utilized during this time concluding with Super Grover holding up the episode number.
    • Some could say season 46 is this; still trying to figure out a much more abridged running time, cramming in a ton of segments (including the return of the dreaded Elmo's World, albeit much shorter now) and making the street stories a lot more childish and less mature.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • For those who aren't freaked out by them, the Martians could also qualify. 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.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Some fans of The Muppet Show find it strange for Sesame fans to enjoy a show for preschoolers rather than one for all ages.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: 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).
  • 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.
  • 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!"
    • 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.
  • Hype Backlash:
    • Some modern Sesame Street segments (particularly ones that spoof popular media) can get this reaction if they go particularly viral, as some people can find it baffling how segments from an educational preschool show become 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 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 Big Hugs Elmo doll.
  • 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).
    • Big Bird is a massive racist who owns slaves as far as Reddit is concerned.
  • Misblamed: When it was announced that Bob McGrath, Emillio Degardo, 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.
    • 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.
  • Moe: 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.
  • 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 Sesamo. 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.
  • 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.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: While the licensed games are actually pretty fun to play, they do have a flaw: some of them ("Super Salad Diner", "Elmo's School Friends", and "Story Book Builder" come to mind) put too much of an emphasis on "calming down". On "Elmo's School Friends", it's not so bad since you can play it without the "calming down" parts (they're optional), but it's particularly obnoxious with "Super Salad Diner" and "Story Book Builder". The former is an interesting game about running a salad diner that presents a challenge even to older players, but the downside of this challenge is that if you lose on two levels in a row, Bert will get frustrated and take deep breaths, which feels like it's shoehorning "calming down" into a game that's otherwise not about emotions. In the latter, nearly every dang plot has, at one point, the question, "Should X count to three or breathe?". There's also the "Comfy Cosy Nest" game which is surprisingly entertaining for a game about a coping strategy, but all the music is slow, which, if you're bored by slow music, can make for a boring experience.
  • 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.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Many, but probably the strangest and most surreal would be Giancarlo Esposito as Big Bird's friendly camp counselor, years 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.
  • Scapegoat Creator: In-universe, in the pageant on teeth, Prairie Dawn points out that Bert is the writer and director of the play, "so if you like it, you can thank Bert, but if you don't like it, you have no one but Bert to blame."
  • The Scrappy:
    • Elmo. What did you expect?
    • 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.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • The subject matter is up for dispute, however, 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 Correctness Gone Mad. 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
    • Cookie Monster has "C is for Cookie"
    • Ernie has "Rubber Duckie"
    • Bert has "Doin' the Pigeon"
    • Oscar has "I Love Trash"
    • Kermit has "It's Not Easy Being Green"
    • Elmo has... "Elmo's Song"
    • For non-Muppets, Bob has "The People in Your Neighborhood"
    • The Count has "The Song of the Count" and "The Batty Bat"
    • Grover has "Proud of Me" and "Monster in the Mirror"
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: While the show has always provided lessons on school topics to preschoolers, there's another, subtler message that every episode broadcast: namely, diversity. From the very first episode, Sesame Street itself was full of people of all races, ages, religious orientations, sexes, and physical abilities. Better yet, they were all friends who valued each other's differences and opinions, never ignored one another, and got along just fine without fighting or arguing. A deaf woman (Linda) is an active part of the community, and everyone around her knows enough sign language to communicate; black and white children play with each other and share everything; Christmas and Hanukkah are celebrated on the street, and people of both creeds happily wish each other specific holiday greetings. To a child in a metropolitan area like New York, this is relatively common—but Sesame Street was nationally broadcast, including in places where children had never seen a person of color. By plainly showing children that people who look, act, or believe different things than you are human beings worthy of respect and love, Sesame Street has been quietly advancing a message of tolerance, acceptance, and love for nearly fifty years.
    • One episode dealt directly with racism, and, in true Sesame Street fashion, the showrunners dealt with the issue bluntly and directly, rather than sugarcoating the idea. In the episode, Gina (who is white) and Savion (who is Hispanic) go to see a movie together, then, on the walk back to Hooper's Store, clown around and generally act like best friends. When they arrive, an anonymous person calls up the store and says some very nasty things about the idea of black and white people being friendly with each other (we don't hear exactly what, but Gina and Savion's reactions say it all). Telly, who's confused, asks what happened, and Gina and Savion explain that there are "some really stupid people in the world who can't stand to see it when people of different races are friends." When asked why, the two are forced to admit that they don't know, but point out that Sesame Street is full of people (and monsters, and birds...) who are all different colors and races, but still friends. Telly sums it all up—"What does color have to do with being friends?" And, in a bittersweet but Truth in Television ending, the show closes with Gina and Savion remarking that the racist who saw them earlier could very well still be watching them, and might never change their mind. They resolve to stay best friends anyway, which promotes a message about doing what's right, but it's also powerful to acknowledge that racism isn't going to go away after forty-five minutes. Check out the relevant scenes.
    • "Meet Julia": Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and Alan introduce Julia to Big Bird. When she doesn't talk to him right away, he thinks she doesn't like him, but Alan explains that she has autism, so she interacts differently than most people. Throughout the episode, Elmo, Abby, and Alan help him understand that although she doesn't say much, stims constantly, and has sensitivities that need to be acknowledged (she doesn't like the way paint feels on her skin and hates loud noises, demonstrated when she has a meltdown when a fire engine siren goes off) she is a happy person and a great friend. The episode ends with the kids playing "Boing Tag", a game Julia invented earlier in the episode. Julia (whose actress herself has an autistic son) was widely praised for subverting Hollywood Autism in favor of a sensitive and accurate portrayal of the neurological condition note . The showrunners also got bonus points for partnering with the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network instead of the much-maligned Autism Speaks when they did the researchnote .
  • 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.
  • Squick: Basically everything that Oscar the Grouch eats.
  • 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 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 are not fond of the newer intro.
    • In Season 30 (1998-99), 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.
    • The "Around the Corner" era (1993-98) and "Blocks" era (2002-07) are often seen as this by old-school Sesame Street fans (see Dork Age above.)
    • 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.
    • Season 46 (2016) is the biggest game-changer in the show's history. A move to HBO, reduction to 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.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: There was no 40th anniversary special (just a special two-DVD release of various inserts from the shows 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.
  • Uncanny Valley: With prominent green eyes and an ovular face, Julia looks like she got beamed down from a spaceship. In fact, she looks like a Dinger.
    • However, due to being a playful little girl, Julia could also be considered Creepy Cute.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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).
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: Pretty much inevitable given the show's age, although not nearly as bad as it could be. Here is an article on the subject.
  • What an Idiot!: One "Ernie and Bert" skit: Bert plans to go shopping, and beforehand, he practices asking Ernie to let him in. He goes out, but has forgotten his money, so he asks to be let in. Trouble is, Ernie thinks he's just practising again.
    You'd Expect: Him to explain that he's not practising and that he forgot his money.
    Instead: He keeps knocking, ringing, and saying, "Let me in!". Even worse, he knows why Ernie isn't letting him in, and instead keeps repeating, "This is me [doing X action]" which only makes it sound even more fake.
    Result: He never gets his money and so can't go to the store, so he and Ernie have nothing for dinner.
  • 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.
  • 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 Sesamo, 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).
  • WTH, 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.
  • Groogel/Phoebe Monster was first played by Alice Dinnean, then John Tartaglia.
  • 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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