Blue wolf, 1970s.
PERFORMER Jerry Nelson 1971-2012
DEBUT 1971

Green wolf, early 1980s.


Purple wolf, late 1980s.


Gray wolf, 2005.


Orange wolf in "Bad"

for other uses, see Wolves

The Big Bad Wolf is a famous fairy tale character, professional windbag, and connoisseur of pork and baskets of goodies. He continually engages in the good-natured pursuit of the Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. He has been seen on Sesame Street in many different incarnations over the years, most commonly performed by Jerry Nelson. The character debuted in "Sesame Street News Flash" segments which reenacted or spoofed his stories, but later began making appearances on the street itself.

The earliest version of the Big Bad Wolf appeared in 1971, as a blue, shaggy wolf with an angry expression, a variation of the early Herry Monster puppet. One "News Flash" segment about the Three Pigs' feelings substituted a green Big Bad Wolf. By 1988, the character had been redesigned, and a purple puppet was used most often (and would also be used for Jackman Wolf). Other versions of the character with different fur colors have also popped up from time to time. However, all the puppets have had a moving eyebrow mechanism, save for the green wolf.

On occasion, the purple wolf puppet would be used for different wolves (such as the Big Mad Wolf in the song "Bad Wolf," or a Big Good Wolf in one segment when the Three Little Pigs were asked to identify whom was the Big Bad Wolf (it turned out to be the smaller green wolf, wearing a fake beard as a cheesy disguise.)

The Big Bad Wolf has occasionally displayed diverse talents or interests outside of blowing down houses and chasing pigs. In a 1980 News Flash with Cookie Monster as Little Red Riding Hood, he appeared as Dr. Wolf, tending to Cookie's sick grandmother. On another occasion, he invaded Ernie and Bert's apartment, where Bert assumed he was merely Ernie in another disguise. (When the skit was adapted into book form as The Many Faces of Ernie, the Big Bad Wolf was replaced by Frazzle.) The wolf was also a member of Guy Smiley's studio audience in a skit where Smiley takes his entire audience out to lunch. He also appeared in a Monsterpiece Theater skit parodying Dances with Wolves, in which the wolf and a female pig discuss their differences and dance with each other.

In the late 1990s and beyond, in his now mostly standard purple form, the Big Bad Wolf frequently played key roles in street storylines and in videos. He showed a flair for civil service as well, functioning as City Nest Inspector in Episode 3980, and using his hurricane breath to determine whether Big Bird's new nest was safe and could withstand the elements. In Episode 4035, the Big Bad Wolf's brother Leonard visited Sesame Street and taught Elmo and Rosita that not all wolves are the same.

On the video front, he appeared in the direct-to-video production Sing, Hoot & Howl. He also appeared in The Best of Kermit on Sesame Street, providing security as "Pig Control," helping Grover recite his speech for Kermit without being bothered by the Three Little Pigs. Additionally, the Wolf starred in the direct-to-video Elmo's Musical Adventure: Peter and the Wolf; as performed by Noel MacNeal, this was his most substantial role to date, appearing much more primal and less anthropomorphic.

The Wolf also made a cameo in the opening number of the 2008 direct-to-video special Abby in Wonderland, performed by Kevin Clash.

In 2007, the Big Bad Wolf was revamped again in a gray variation using a similar puppet pattern. In Episode 4145, he appears on Sesame Street to terrorize the pigs as Prairie Dawn provides a Special Report for Fairy Tale News. Here, the wolf acted more like a thespian than he usually does, and after he'd blow down a house, he would sing "Huff and puff!" This puppet alternated the role with the purple version in Season 38 as seen in episode 4149.

In Episode 4219, the Big Bad Wolf was suspected by to have been behind the whoosh that made Elmo and Telly's basketball, investigator's hat, and crayon away. The Big Bad Wolf appears and tells them that he is no longer in the pig-chasing business as he is now working as a hair dryer at the salon as he blows at Mrs. Hathahkugel's hair in order to dry it.

In Episode 4266, the Wolf, unable to catch up with the pigs running away, sees Slimey and gets the idea to blow him away. With his singsongy "Huff and puff!", he blows Slimey into Snuffy's spaghetti and later blows Snuffy towards the stoop of 123 Sesame Street, not realizing the harm he's causing. When he does, he apologizes and switches to a new hobby: blowing bubbles!

The purple wolf has been a guest at The Furchester Hotel and is seen in the show's opening sequence.

Casting history

Book appearances

Other "Bad" Wolves

  • In addition to the consistent Big Bad Wolf character and puppets, a few other skits have had "bad" wolves who are clearly intended as different characters. A Michael Jackson wolf was the title singer in "Bad Wolf" (performed by David Rudman), using an orange puppet.
  • In the 2013 "Homelamb" sketch, an updated variant of the green wolf that has commonly been used on Germany's Sesamstrasse as Wolf vom Wörtersee since 2007 and on Eine Moehre fuer Zwei simply as Wolf thereafter, was used for Agent Nicholas Ba-a-a-a-rody (who is also the Big Ba-a-a-a-a-d Wolf), performed again by Rudman.[1]


  • Oscar the Grouch is auditioning for the lead in the play The Big Bad Wolf in the storybook, Ernie and His Merry Monsters.
  • In an interview, Murray Monster mentioned that "I read the Huffing-and-puffing-ton Post. The Big Bad Wolf runs that one." The interviewer mentions "Oh, that's powerful journalism," to which Murray replies "It sure is. Stories that will blow you away."[2]


  1. Facebook conversation between Anthony Thompson and Peter Linz. Nov. 3, 2013
  2. "Joshua Kors: Little-Known Muppet Takes Center Stage: Q&A with Murray Monster, Rising Star of Sesame Street", american superstar, December 1, 2011.

See also

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