The public broadcasting mainstay Sesame Street celebrated its 40th anniversary last month. Here are some highlights from the educational program’s four decades on TV:

  • 1969—The show displays a rough, experimental vibe early in its run, as evidenced by the fact that Oscar the Grouch is orange and Big Bird is headless
  • 1971—Maria joins revolutionary group the Letter Underground and kidnaps the entire alphabet
  • 1982—As Sesame Street turns 13, its age surpasses the highest number that any of its characters can count to, meaning that the show must rely on outsiders to tell it how old it is
  • 1984—Elmo is introduced as an outlet for the Children’s Television Workshop’s virulently anti-corporate viewpoints
  • 1988—When he is finally given a speaking role on the show, Sully the Construction Worker accidentally says “cocksucker” on air, leading to a $500,000 FCC fine
  • 1991—Ernie’s harebrained prediction that a slower, sludgy new blend of heavy metal and punk could come sweeping out of the Pacific Northwest and change the face of popular music actually comes to pass, much to Bert’s chagrin
  • 1999—Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visits, explaining the NATO bombing of Kosovo by throwing firecrackers into Oscar’s trash can
  • 2003—After decades of anxiety, paranoia, and depression, Telly Monster finally takes his own life

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