For 50 years, Sesame Street has been educating generations of preschoolers, kindergarteners, and - let's be honest - adults about many things, including numbers, letters, shapes, and most importantly, what it means to be a good person. Developed from the mind of the iconic creator Jim Henson, the Henson Company, and Sesame Workshop, the long-lasting series has had a far greater impact on our culture than most any other children's programming has.
It's amazing to think about the fact that the series is turning 50 this year, and it would be impossible to try and amass a list of every character, Muppet or human, that has ever walked Sesame Street. But here, we've compiled a list of ten of the series' most meaningful characters.
Julia might be the newest character here, but her impact is undeniable. First introduced through books and online content before her televised debut in 2017, Julia is the first character with autism in the series. The amount of care put into her creation as part of the series' #SeeAmazing initiative more than shows.
Julia is overwhelmed by loud noises and often needs noise cancelling headphones. She loves to flap her hands when excited, carry her stuffed rabbit Fluffster, and locate patterns in mysteries. She might not always pick up on social cues, but she's a valuable member of the Street.
9 Count von Count
Sesame Street on the whole teaches preschoolers and kindergartners the basics of the ABCs and their 123s, but one character in particular can be thanked for teaching generations of youngsters all about numbers. That is, of course, Count von Count, a hilarious vampire who loves all things numerical.
Often laughing boisterously or breaking into song, the Count can be found, well, counting pretty much anything imaginable. The Count doesn't feature as prominently in main adventures on the Street these days, but any visit from the resident number expert is always welcome.
The gender ratio on Sesame Street skews heavily toward male, but in the last 20 years or so, the series rectified this by introducing new adorable female friends. One of the best newcomers arrived in 1993 by the name of Zoe, a three-year-old orange monster.
Zoe is Elmo's best friend, and was introduced with that purpose in mind. She loves ballet, playing with her friends, wears lots of pink, and has a hilarious sidekick in her pet rock, Rocco. You can always count on Zoe to be one of the cheeriest friends on the Street, which is really saying something.
7 Oscar the Grouch
While Zoe might be one of the most cheerful characters in all of Sesame Street, our next character is, well, the grouchiest. Oscar the Grouch is a grumpy monster who loves to live in his world of trash and hates all the joy that goes on outside of his trash can.
But Oscar has a soft side, as seen in his interactions with this adorable pet worm, Slimey. He's kind to other residents of the street, especially the humans, and even occasionally saves the day, such as in the Emmy winning film When You Wish Upon a Pickle.
Snuffleupagus might be one of the biggest characters in all of Sesame Street, but he's also undoubtedly one of the sweetest and gentlest of them all. Introduced as Big Bird's imaginary friend, the lovable gentle giant was Big Bird's best friend and partner in crime, often responsible for things Big Bird would be hastily blamed for.
Once it became clear that Snuffy was, in fact, real and not just a figment of his imagination, Snuffy was warmly welcomed into the main cast. The series even explored his family dynamics, including his adorable baby sister, Alice.
Hello, everyone: coming in at #5 on this list, it is your cute and furry little friend Grover!
Grover is undoubtedly one of the most lovably irritating characters on the series, getting into trouble more often than not. He is clumsy and clueless, leading to many hilarious hijinks.
He is also known for his alter ego, Super Grover, Sesame Street's resident superhero who - much like Grover himself - causes trouble. He is known for some of the series' best song sequences, including the iconic "Monster in the Mirror," as well as the adorable sequences with John John.
4 Bert and Ernie
It's technically cheating to include two characters as one, but there's no way you could ever separate these two. Bert and Ernie have been Sesame Street's resident Odd Couple-esque duo for just as long as the series has been on the air.
Ernie loves to go on adventures and play with his beloved Rubber Duckie, while Bert would be happy to just stay at home with his pigeons and newspapers. These two couldn't be more different from each other, but it's their closeness despite that difference that makes their friendship all the more beloved.
3 Cookie Monster
Did somebody say cookie? Before you start om nom noming away, let us tell you why Cookie Monster has such a high placing here. Though the character might be the personification of poor self-control and the love of junk food, Cookie Monster is also one of the series' most lovable characters.
He is literally and metaphorically fuzzy, even if he struggles to share his cookies. He loves his friends and family, and genuinely listens and learns when he gets in trouble. Cookie Monster might be just a little monster, but he's got a big heart to match his big stomach.
There's no way to overstate or understate Elmo's significance to Sesame Street. First introduced in the 1980s, Elmo is the millennial's Sesame Street resident, as he introduced a new wave of children to everything that makes the show so beloved.
Elmo is always three-and-a-half years old, loves his goldfish Dorothy, and loves to color and draw. His segment Elmo's World has become a hallmark of the series, where he interacts with the viewers themselves. From his adorable laugh to his warm hugs, Elmo might be one of the youngest characters on the Street, but he's accomplished quite a lot, too.
1 Big Bird
If ever there was a character who embodied Sesame Street, it would be Big Bird. Innocent, optimistic, inquisitive, and loving, Big Bird has been one of the series' protagonists for as long as it has been on the air.
Big Bird loves to take naps in his nest, spend time with his best friend Snuffy, snuggle his teddy bear friend Radar, and sing songs. He loves birdseed milkshakes, the alphabet, and playing games. Big Bird's legacy is so immense that he even performed at Jim Henson's memorial service, proving that sometimes, fiction is truly larger than life.