Meryl Sheep appeared on Sesame Street as a spoof of the actress Meryl Streep. She was introduced in season 19 in 1987, following the success of another parody Muppet, Placido Flamingo. Norman Stiles described her as "a sheep, with a middle European accent, somewhat reminiscent of someone we knew in Sophie's Choice, but not exactly." During her stint on the series, Meryl Sheep taught many students at the Meryl Sheep School of Acting, including Susan Sarandon. The character made recurring appearances through season 21.
Meryl was initially recycled from a stock lamb puppet used on the show as early as 1977, but with more feminine eyes and an added wig (which would alternate between blonde and brunette). Starting in season 20, a new version of the puppet was introduced: her face was completely redone and dyed to match her wool, and she retained a permanently brunette hairdo.