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Elmo is right about Rocco and it’s time we acknowledge that

Elmo has been beefing with a rock since 1999

The National Museum Of American History Celebrates Jim Henson’s Birthday With Puppet Donation Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Elmo is about to crack. Sure, the lovable red puppet seems like he lives a quaint life on the popular children’s show Sesame Street. There, he is content to live his entire life making friends and learning his ABCs. But his life has had a less obvious, dark side: Elmo has been feuding with a rock named Rocco since 1999 and the conflict is at the heart of a new viral clip of the show.

Rocco (also known as Rocko) is Zoe’s pet rock. In the show, Rocco is literally just a rock that Zoe totes around with her. It’s not a rock-inspired puppet. It’s not a real pet named Rocco. It’s a normal grey rock — basalt apparently. (I imagine a show producer picking it up randomly on a walk and then bringing it to set.) The stone first appeared on air in 1999 in an episode called “Zoe’s pet rock, Rocco” and Elmo has not known peace since.

On Tuesday, a clip of Elmo calling out his friends on their bullshit went viral on Twitter from a 2005 episode titled “Elmo feels he’s treated unfairly by Rocco.” In it, Elmo asks for an oatmeal raisin cookie to which his friends Zoe and Gabi tell him he can’t have because Rocco wants it. (Oatmeal raisin is Elmo’s favorite, by the way.)

Elmo’s frustration comes to a head and he says, “How?! How is Rocco going to eat that cookie Zoe!? Tell Elmo! Rocco doesn’t even have a mouth. Rocco’s just a rock. Rocco’s not alive!” Kevin Clash, who puppeted and voiced Elmo at the time, delivers the lines with the absolute fury of a child who can acknowledge what’s plainly in front of them. You can view the scene below.

A brief look into Rocco’s filmography reveals just how unending Rocco’s reign of terror has been. In episode 4126, Zoe throws an entire birthday party for Rocco (and introduces us to the rest of Rocco’s family), and characters are tasked with figuring out what to get Rocco as a gift. In episode 4043, Elmo and Zoe have to go on a full search and rescue mission to find Rocco. In another episode, Rocco accidentally nearly commits involuntary manslaughter by almost being eaten by Cookie Monster.

Rocco is a rock and doesn’t deserve someone’s favorite cookie. Elmo is just calling it like it is. And maybe it’s everyone’s collective mood after dealing with a pandemic that’s upended nearly every part of society, but it seems like everyone is now finally ready to call Zoe and all the other Sesame Street characters on their bullshit.

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