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Is the Count on Sesame Street a vampire?

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The Count cape cover

The Count's Number Parade drew criticism in 1979 from one reader who wrote: "It seems poisonous to make a monster (Dracula) to appear as a competent teacher (even a teacher of numbers) because such an appearance would seem to mislead children into trusting Dracula, and possibly monsters in general."

Sesame Street's Count von Count was originally modeled after Béla Lugosi's interpretation of Count Dracula. Yet while he exhibits many classic vampire clichés - an old spooky castle, a fondness for bats, fang-like teeth, and his overall appearance - he has never been explicitly identified as a vampire in the series.

The Count resembles Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Dracula in voice (speaking in an Eastern European accent and pronouncing his V's as W's), appearance and sometimes mannerisms. For example, in early sketches, the Count waves his hands to exercise hypnotic power over other Muppets and holds his cape over the lower part of his face while moving.[1] In addition, an early skit revealed that the Count shows no reflection in a mirror, and the Season 40 online press kit listed garlic as a pet peeve; both of these characteristics are consistent with vampire ailments.

Unlike vampires as traditionally depicted in legend and motion pictures, however, the Count often relaxes in the sunlight (as seen in "Counting Vacation" and "Coconut Counting Man," among others), but has shown a tendency to stay out of it when he can.[2] Furthermore, the Count has never demonstrated a fondness for blood or the ability to turn into a bat. Nor does he sleep in a coffin; he also sleeps at night in a normal bed.

A 2009 version of The Count's profile on Sesame Workshop's website refers to the character as a "number-friendly vampire" and suggests that he may be a distant relative of Count Dracula.[3] In addition, the book Sesame Street Unpaved describes the Count as a "Numerical Vampire."[4] In contrast, the 2001 Sesame Street Muppets Drawing Guide insists "The Count is not a vampire."[5]

Some traditional vampire myths depict vampires as having a similar fixation with counting small objects, providing a means of distracting them by tossing a handful of seeds or salt on the ground. This is seen as a protection from the vampire. The Count's own arithmomania may simply be a coincidence, however, with the character inspired more by the pun on his title of nobility.

We have tried to make it clear that the Count is not a representative of evil. He is presented a rather eccentric character – obsessed with counting everything in sight. Other characters on Sesame Street react to the Count’s behavior with amusement (or sometimes exasperation) but never fear.[6]


In popular culture

A 2002 episode of the television series Family Guy titled "Family Guy Viewer Mail #1" addressed the issue of the Count as a vampire when Peter and Brian see a clip of Sesame Street involving The Count counting bats in his castle. Peter questions the Count as a vampire asking if he's ever killed somebody and sucked their blood for sustenance.

Peter: Hey, is the Count a vampire?
Brian: What's that?
Peter: Well, he's got those big fangs. Have they ever shown him doing somebody in and then feeding on him?
Brian: You're asking if they've ever done a Sesame Street in which the Count kills somebody and then sucks their blood for sustenance.
Peter: Yeah.
Brian: No, they've never done that.

In the June 29, 2009 episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen states that we have to attack counting. "Counting uses Arabic numerals, and it is a known associate of vampires." A picture of Count von Count accompanies the statement.

The vampire-themed segment of 2010 Halloween episode of The Simpsons features a parody of the Count sucking a Big Bird parody's blood.

See also


  1. See, for example, Sesame Street Episode 0406.
  2. MomsLA interview at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour 2014 in Pasadena on January 21, 2014 ({{ #NewWindowLink: | YouTube }})
  3. Sesame Workshop profile. Accessed November 19, 2009.
  4. Borgenicht, David Sesame Street Unpaved; New York, NY: Hyperion, 1998, pp. 56–58.
  5. Stevenson, Nancy W. (illustrator) Sesame Street Muppets Drawing Guide; Sesame Workshop: New York, NY, 2001, p. 9.
  6. November, Deborah. CTW Assistant Editor. May 23, 1979.

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