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Ernie Through the Years

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The evolution of Ernie.

Image As seen in / Year Notes
1969 Ernie
Sesame Street
Season 1
The first Ernie puppet sports a purple and orange shirt, with yellow collar and cuffs (resembling that of a turtle neck shirt), and has a purple nose. During the pilot episodes, Jim Henson experimented with Ernie's eye focus; at one point he looked downwards instead of upwards.
Sesame Street
Season 2
Ernie wears a red-blue pattern sweater instead of a purple-orange one which becomes his prominent attire design. His nose changes from purple to red.
Sesame Street
Season 3
Ernie's eye focus is improved, and he has a brighter orange skin tone.
Sesame Street
Season 8
Ernie's skin is now darker orange antron fleece, instead of blanket fleece. Also, his head is considerably flatter.
Sesame Street
Season 14
Ernie's head becomes taller making it slightly less football-shaped. His skin color reverts back to a more vibrant orange. The collar and cuffs of his shirt also change, making it look more like a regular shirt.
Sesame Street
Season 17
Similar to the previous design, except the eyes are somewhat separated apart, and his hair is thinner.
Sesame Street
Season 25
Ernie's skin becomes a light warm orange. He also has a fuller tuft of hair, making it appear somewhat longer.
Sesame Street
Season 31
Once again, Ernie has a rounder, more football-shaped head, closely akin to the 1976-1982 version.
Sesame Street
Season 34
The structure of Ernie's head is much smoother and less bumpy than earlier puppets. There is less of his now thinner hair.
Predecessor Puppets and Planning
Moldy Hay from Sam and Friends
(circa 1960)
Distinct from the papier-mâché humanoid characters like Sam, Moldy Hay's orange fleshy skin and wide-mouthed grin are traits that would later be refined into Ernie.

Bert-and-Ernie sketch
Design sketches for Sesame Street
(circa 1969)
Early sketches bear a closer similarity to Moldy Hay, with messier hair and enormous ears. Contrast is established between Ernie's horizontal stripes and round-faced look and Bert's vertical stripes and leaner appearance.

Start a Discussion Discussions about Ernie Through the Years

  • Oldest Ernie's puppet

    2 messages
    • In the test episodes and in the first episodes of the first season of Sesame Street, Ernie looks a little more different: his nose is more opa...
    • There's not really that distinct a difference between the two compared to what follows chronologically. Plus, his face in the second image...

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