The evolution of Ernie.

Image As seen in / Year Notes
1969 Ernie.jpg
Sesame Street
Season 1
The first Ernie puppet sports a purple and orange shirt, with a yellow collar and cuffs (resembling that of a turtle neck shirt), and has a purple nose. During the pilot episodes, Jim Henson experimented with Ernie's eye focus; at one point he looked downwards instead of upwards.
Sesame Street
Season 2
Ernie wears a red-blue pattern sweater instead of a purple-orange one which becomes his permanent attire design. His skin tone is a slightly faded orange compared to the season one puppet, and his nose changes from purple to red.
Sesame Street
Season 5
Ernie's eye focus is improved, and he has a brighter orange skin tone.
Ernie season 6.jpeg
Sesame Street
Season 6
Ernie's skin is slightly darker. His eye focus is not as refined, seemingly due to smaller pupils. His hair is also less fluffy.

Sesame Street
Season 9
Ernie's skin is now even darker orange antron fleece, instead of blanket fleece. His head is also considerably rounder, and his hair lays flatter than previous versions.

Getting closer to (and eventually entering) the 1980s, a redo of this design was built. This build has slightly lighter-toned antron fleece and more evenly-placed facial features, and his eyes are a bit closer together.

Sesame Street
Season 16
Ernie's head becomes taller and less football-shaped, and has larger cheeks. His skin color reverts back to a more vibrant orange. The collar and cuffs of his shirt also change, making it look more like a regular shirt.
Sesame Street
Season 17
Similar to the previous design with a larger space between his eyes and thinner hair.
Sesame Street
Season 30
Ernie's skin becomes a light warm orange. He also has a fuller tuft of hair, making it appear somewhat longer.
Sesame Street
Season 32
Once again, Ernie has a rounder, more football-shaped head, closely akin to the 1976-1982 version.
Sesame Street
Season 35
Ernie's head is now taller and has a flatter, less bumpy shape than earlier puppets. There is less of his thinner hair.

Sesame Street
Season 45
In recent years, two Ernie puppets have been used interchangeably. One is similar to the previous puppet, but with a less rounded head and thicker hair. As the puppet has gotten older, the mouth plate has become slightly malformed. The other has a rounder head that is seemingly wider. He also has thinner, more parted hair.
Predecessor Puppets and Planning
Moldy Hay from Sam and Friends
(circa 1960)
Distinct from the papier-mâché humanoid characters like Sam, Moldy Hay's orange fleshy skin and wide-mouthed grin are traits that would later be refined into Ernie.

Bert-and-Ernie sketch.jpg
Design sketches for Sesame Street
(circa 1969)
Early sketches bear a closer similarity to Moldy Hay, with messier hair and enormous ears. Contrast is established between Ernie's horizontal stripes and round-faced look and Bert's vertical stripes and leaner appearance.
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