THEN AND NOW: The muppets of 'Sesame Street' over 50 years later

Play GIFYouTube/Sesame StreetSome of your favourite ‘Sesame Street’ characters have come a long way.
  • In terms of physical appearance, some of the most popular “Sesame Street” Muppets have changed a lot over the years.
  • Oscar the Grouch used to be orange and he didn’t have arms or legs.
  • Cookie Monster used to have pointy teeth.
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Since “Sesame Street” will soon be joining a new platform, there’s no better time to take a walk down muppet memory lane.

WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max is adding the show to its lineup in 2020 and subscribers will have access to 50 seasons of the series, which debuted in 1969.

Since its premiere, the show’s beloved characters have experienced subtle design changes and undergone some pretty extreme makeovers.

Here’s how the most popular “Sesame Street” muppets have transformed over the years.


Oscar the Grouch has seen major changes, from fur colour to limbs.

Play GIFYouTube/Sesame StreetOscar the Grouch now has arms.

Oscar the Grouch is probably the Muppet who has experienced the most changes throughout the years.

In initial sketches, he was supposed to be magenta-coloured but when he first appeared on”Sesame Street,” he was orange.

Now, he’s green – and his colour change was explained on the show. Apparently, he went on a trip to a muddy swamp and came back green.

He also used to be just a head and a neck, but throughout the first season of “Sesame Street,” he began to appear with one arm, then two.


For the most part, Elmo looks the same.

Play GIFGetty/Don Emmert/NBCHis nose got a bit more oblong.

Over the years, Elmo’s look has largely remained the same, but his head has gotten slightly bigger and his fur appears to be a bit fluffier. His nose has brightened up a bit, but his original red colour has remained the same and will likely never change.


Now, Snuffleupagus looks a lot friendlier and he’s real.

Play GIFYouTube/Sesame StreetHis eyes used to be yellow.

With yellow eyes, a sunken body, and a morose-sounding voice, Snuffleupagus looked slightly forlorn when he first debuted on “Sesame Street.”

For years on the show, Snuffleupagus was Big Bird’s imaginary friend and many other muppets on the show questioned his existence.

Later, in the 1980s, showrunners made Snuffleupagus a real-life character who others saw, too, because they were concerned about the potential consequences of portraying Big Bird as a childlike character who no one believed.

His appearance has changed, too. Now, he has lighter eyes, prominent lashes, and a fuller body. His fur has also become more of a reddish-brown.


Bert still has a single eyebrow.

Getty/PeterBischoff/RevierfotHis eyebrow has risen over the past few decades.

Bert was first spotted in the first season of “Sesame Street” with a turtleneck, rumpled hair, and an immobile unibrow.

His style hasn’t changed much, but his unibrow is now inches above his eyes and his nose appears to have moved closer to his eyes. His signature messy hair has remained the same and his classic rainbow turtleneck and sweater combo doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.


Most notably, Big Bird got a bigger head.

YouTube/jtomally9681/Sesame StreetHis feathers are also a bit neater.

A costume designer created this iconic character based on sketches by Jim Henson.

At first, the person wearing the costume would be unable to see out of the suit, so there was a small TV monitor with a camera’s-eye view of Big Bird installed in it.

That said, Big Bird’s gone through many physical changes, too.

Big Bird was originally rougher around the edges than he is today, with a skinny body, dark legs, and ruffled feathers.

Over the decades, he got fuller feathers, a rounder body, a taller forehead, and bigger eyes.


Grover used to be green.

YouTube/theboxofme/Sesame StreetHe looks a lot friendlier now.

Before he made his first appearance on “Sesame Street” in 1969, Grover was a character named “Gleep” on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” He was dark green and his nose was a bit orange.

Now, Grover has a larger pink nose and vibrant blue fur. Over the years, his arms have also been placed lower on his body and his eyes have been angled differently.


Barkley’s fur has gotten less shaggy.

Play GIFPBSHe’s still got orange fur.

Barkley’s design has changed little throughout the years, with his fur becoming slightly less shaggy and brighter orange. He also doesn’t have a lot of yellow in his fur as he once did.


Cookie Monster has no more teeth.

YouTube/MuppetVoicesAndMore/Sesame StreetHe said farewell to all of his pointy teeth.

Cookie Monster was originally called “The Wheel Stealer” when he appeared in a commercial for General Foods’ Wheels, Crowns, and Flutes in 1966.

He then debuted on “Sesame Street” as Cookie Monster, a much bigger Muppet with blue fur, no teeth, and a floppy, expressive body.

From then on his design has mostly stayed the same, but his mouth is slightly more square.

That said, his love for cookies has dulled a bit in the past few years.

In 2005, to address the growing problems of childhood obesity, Cookie Monster began to better manage his appetite for cookies and also enjoy other foods, like fruits and vegetables.


Ernie’s head shape changed slightly.

Getty/Matthew Simmons/picture allianceHe’s still rocking the same colour palette.

When Ernie was shown in the first season of “Sesame Street,” he had a slightly different type of striped sweater that had thick stripes.

Now, his sweater has thinner stripes. Over the years, his head has also become more round instead of football-shaped and his fur is more vibrantly coloured than it once was.


Herry got a new nose.

YouTube/Sesame StreetHe has a tongue now, too.

Herry Monster made his first appearance as a Muppet with light-blue fur, a furry nose, and no tongue. His fur later became darker and he was given a tongue.

During season three, his nose became smooth and purple. Since then, his nose shape has changed several times.

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