Best Sesame Street Characters, Ranked
Where are our '80s and '90s kids at? If you were born any time after 1975, we'll bet you ate your Lucky Charms while watching Sesame Street. The show first aired on November 10, 1969, but Sesame Street reached peak popularity in the '90s. One 1996 survey found that 95 percent of American toddlers had watched the show before they turned three.
By 2006, it had become the most popular children's show in the world, broadcast in 120 countries. As of 2023, new episodes are still being released 54 seasons later. The timeless show and its beloved characters have reflected shifts in culture, psychology, and attitudes towards early childhood education. So while we may have all grown up, we still love the familiar characters of Sesame Street ... although some more than others.
Here are the best Sesame Street characters of all time.
15. Telly Monster
Telly Monster normalized stressing out over little things, and we love him for it.
He was originally introduced as a monster who adored watching TV, but since that seemed like a bad influence, the writers of Sesame Street rebranded him as a large, anxious monster who panics over minor, everyday things. He's terrified of making mistakes and trying new things, which is why we love him so much.
14. Sherlock Hemlock
Egad! The world's greatest detective is amazing at one thing and one thing only: Solving his own crimes. Swiping half of a friend's sandwich, for example. Sherlock makes us all feel more competent in comparison, and reminds us that introspection and self-awareness are highly underrated skills.
Rosita joined the cast of Sesame Street as the show's first bilingual character. The fluffy blue monster is five years old and celebrates her Mexican heritage with her large, tight-knit family. Her enthusiasm about her culture is contagious, and it doesn't hurt that she can fly.
This four-year-old Sesame Street mainstay was another groundbreaker in children's programming. Julia is on the autism spectrum, and her character was partly designed by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
She was invented to spread awareness about autism and to help young viewers understand how to support peers with autism and embrace our differences. Julia is also celebrated as a gifted artist, demonstrating unmatched focus when she's wrapped up in a new creative masterpiece.
11. Abby Cadabby
Abby Cadabby's bubbly personality is irresistible. The pink and purple fairy monster is unique on several fronts. She's not quite like the other monsters, showing fascination with every day experiences like drawing pictures. While she doesn't have a specific race or cultural background, her character helps normalize our differences.
Abby Cadabby is a child of divorce, helping young children understand the concept and appreciate families of all shapes and forms, sans judgment.
10. Mr. Snuffleupagus
Mr. Snuffleupagus, an old pal of Big Bird, is fondly known as Snuffy. Initially, it seemed like Snuffy was a figment of Big Bird's imagination, but it was revealed that Snuffy was real after over a decade. The fact that the adults on the show overlooked the giant mammoth in the room just goes to show that it's easy for busy grownups to overlook details that are very important and real to kids.
9. Count von Count
Count von Count is a parody of the infamous Count Dracula, except there's nothing scary about him. He's perfectly friendly, and not even remotely blood thirsty. He does live in a castle filled with bats, but the only thing frightening about him is his obsession with counting.
He loves to count everything, which is pretty annoying to parents stuck watching the show, but we're pretty sure he taught most of us to count. Thanks, I guess.
As you'll quickly notice as you continue scrolling, the original cast of Sesame Street was heavy on male leads. Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Elmo, and most of the other stars of the show are all boys. Zoe added much-needed representation of girls, and she's quite a feminine girl at that.
She loves ballet, putting on funny skits, and spreading good vibes. She's basically the female version of Elmo, and while she's not as well-known, she's just as important.
Grover is a multi-faceted monster if ever we've seen one. The royal blue fluff ball is a ray of sunshine on Sesame Street. He loves to sing and has a habit of avoiding contractions when he talks. He always jumps at the chance to help members of his community, even when he's not much help at all. He tries, and that's what counts.
He also has amusing alter-egos like Super Grover. Maybe we should try getting through our toughest work days by creating powerful alter egos of our own.
Viewers either love or hate Ernie. Bert's jovial roommate serenades his beloved rubber duckie on the regular and frequently interrupts Bert's practical goings-on with his goofy antics. Without Bert, he'd be a mess. Without Ernie, Bert would be a stick in the mud. They complement each other in the funniest way possible, so long as Ernie's unique laugh doesn't drive you up a wall.
Bert and Ernie are inseparable. Bert is a little dull, but it's like the saying goes: Opposites attract. His organizational skills and paper clip collection balance out Ernie's chaotic enthusiasm. The nature of the comedic duo's relationship was up for debate for years, but a former Sesame Street writer, Mark Saltzman, said that the pair are, indeed, more than just roommates.
They were based on Saltzman's own relationship, with film editor Arnold Glassman, affectionately known as Arnie. Sound familiar? The show never specifically defined Bert and Ernie's sexual orientation, and the producers of the show claim they have none– They're just best friends. We'd have appreciated more overt representation, but we'll give the show a pass since the characters are great role models either way.
4. Big Bird
Big Bird is iconic — brighter than a traffic cone and the face of Sesame Street.
He's friendly, outgoing, and grounded, displaying a maturity that many of the younger characters lack. He's only supposed to be six-and-a-half years old, but he's surprisingly empathetic and responsible. He even helped keep kids calm during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanks, Big Bird.
3. Cookie Monster
Cookie Monster is arguably the most relatable character on Sesame Street, for obvious reasons. He's obsessed with chocolate-chip cookies and appears to be incapable of eating them at a reasonable pace. He gobbles them down with gusto, yelling "nom-nom-nom" the entire time.
After some backlash from critics who felt the cookie-crazed monster might promote unhealthy eating habits, Cookie Monster started snacking on a variety of fresh fruits and veggies too.
2. Oscar the Grouch
The perpetually disgruntled trash monster, Oscar, is the grumpiest creature on Sesame Street, but he's impossible not to love.
He's irritable, but he has a good heart. His taste in interior decor leaves something to be desired, but in today's housing market, that trash can doesn't look so much different than a $1,200 studio apartment. If utilities are included, consider us sold.
Elmo's high-pitched voice is on the annoying side, but kids love it. He behaves much like a curious, good-natured preschooler, with an optimistic, upbeat attitude and innocent view of the world. He's always up for learning something new, setting an example we can all learn from.
He was such a popular character that when Tickle Me Elmo dolls were released, over 5 million were sold between 1996 and 1997.