Following the death of Jim Henson, the producers of Sesame Street had no intention of removing his characters, especially Ernie (despite rumors circulating of them killing the character off). The character continued to appear in library material and made non-speaking appearances in specials.

While Steve Whitmire had taken over the role of Kermit the Frog the Fall after Henson's death, he had not taken over the role of Ernie until three years later. His first televised performance was a brief line in the 1993 New Year's special, Sesame Street Stays Up Late. One of the first, new "Ernie and Bert" sketches, with Whitmire as Ernie, premiered on the February 16, 1994 broadcast in the show's 25th season.

In the sketch, Ernie finds a new fascination with the Spanish language...

Bert admires his bottlecap collection.
Bert ...Figgy Fizz. (laughs) Oh yeah, love that. Oh, Cherryola, my favorite! And, uh, Grape Surprise, and the...
Ernie opens the apartment door and stands in the doorway.
Ernie Hola, Bert.
Bert Huh?
Ernie leaves, closing the door behind him. Bert looks and sees he has gone.
Bert Was that Ernie?
Ernie enters again.
Ernie Hola, Bert.
Ernie leaves.
Bert ...what's he doing?
Ernie enters again.
Ernie Hola, Bert.
Ernie turns to exit, but Bert stops him.
Bert Ernie, Ernie, ho-ho-ho, Ernie, Ernie. Wait a second. C'mere, c'mere.
Ernie Yes, Bert?
Bert W-what's going on?
Ernie Oh, well, I'm practicing saying "hola."
Bert You're practicing saying... "hola."
Ernie Mm-hmm, yeah. You see, "hola" is the Spanish word that means "hello." And I'm saying it over and over and over so I get good at it.
Bert Uh-huh.
Ernie Hola, Bert.
Ernie runs out of the apartment and shuts the door. Bert takes to the camera. Ernie re-enters.
Ernie Hola, Bert.
Ernie exits. Bert sighs and Ernie enters again.
Ernie Hola, Bert.
Once more, Ernie leaves and Bert sighs. Ernie re-enters.
Ernie Hola, Ber-
Bert ERNIE! C'mere, c'mere. Ernie?
Ernie Yes, Bert?
Bert That is enough, okay? Enough! Do you hear me? Enough!
Ernie Well, you're absolutely right, Bert.
Bert Fine!
Ernie I know "hola," the Spanish word for "hello," about as well as anyone possibly could know it.
Bert Good. Fine.
Ernie I won't have to practice saying "hola" anymore.
Bert Right!
Ernie Now, I'll practice the Spanish word for "goodbye." Adios, Bert.
Ernie runs out the door and closes it. Bert sighs and Ernie re-enters a moment later.
Ernie Adios, Bert.
Bert Oh, brother!
Bert starts to leave.
Ernie Hey, Bert. Where ya' goin'? Aren't you even gonna "adios?"
Bert runs out of the room.
Ernie Uh, no, Bert! That's "AHHHH-dios!" (laughs)
Ernie goes out and shuts the door as the closing music sting plays.