Traction Jackson, aka TJ, is a wheelchair-bound African American boy who appears in computer animated segments on Sesame Street, beginning in Season 35. TJ, whose real name is Tyrone Jackson, is an energetic boy who enjoys basketball and whose best friend is his dog, Bernie. TJ's chair features unique, colored swirls on the wheels.
TJ made his debut in the 35th season opener/special The Street We Live On. New segments were added beginning in Season 36. Reminiscent of previous Sesame Street characters like street-scene regular Tarah, TJ was introduced as part of Sesame Workshop's curriculum to teach children that people are the same beneath physical differences.
The Traction Jackson shorts are produced by the Tennessee-based studio Magnetic Dreams. The studio's creative director is Muppet performer Rickey Boyd, who used his friendship with Kevin Clash to arrange for his company to win the assignment. According to articles about the series, Boyd said the character of TJ was inspired by child in a wheelchair he met while working as a puppeteer on Animal Jam. "Everyone was just amazed at what a great attitude he had," Boyd recalled.
|Picture||Theme / First Appearance||Description|
|Me and My Chair|| A remake of an earlier live-action song, TJ sings about how his chair enables him to move faster than he could with shoes.
|14 Baskets|| In this counting short, TJ attempts to make fourteen consecutive baskets, while Bernie cheers from the sidelines.
|Fruit Snack Samba|| TJ corrects Bernie about his junkfood habits, singing a lively tribute to fruit.
|TJ Meets Margarita|| TJ and Bernie encounter Margarita, a neighborhood kid who initially refuses to let TJ use the court, believing his wheelchair prevents him from playing. TJ proves her wrong, and the two become friends.
|Follow Me|| TJ, Bernie, and Margarita play "Follow Me" with Grandpa Mudcat.
|The Doggone Jealous Blues|| TJ is sad because Bernie is playing with Margarita instead of him. Grandpa sings him a song about "The Doggone Jealous Blues," after which Margarita invites him to play.
|Counting to 40||TJ and his friends count to 40 by 10s in song.|
|Imagining I Words|| TJ and his friend sing about I words.
- Creative Director/Storyboards: Rickey Boyd
- Associate Producer for Sesame Workshop: Rebecca Rosa
- Character Modeling: Jeff Gruelich
- 3D Backgrounds and Sets: Gruelich, Rainey Kirk
- Animators: James Coakley Jr., Todd Smith
- Technical Director: Steven Alley
- Lighting & Composition: Don Culwell