Grouches are an eccentric race of pessimistic, argumentative, and unhygienic furry creatures who prefer to live wherever there is garbage: trash cans (Oscar's preferred choice), city dumps, even the occasional landfill (although, some Grouches live in old cars, broken down houses, although Oscar remarks some live in "yucky beautiful houses"). Grouches are a distinct species from Monsters.
A Grouch's mission in life is to be as miserable and grouchy as possible, and pass that feeling on to everyone else. Only then will a Grouch feel in touch with his or her world and be happy. Yet, even though a Grouch may show happiness at anyone's misfortune (including his or her own), a Grouch would never admit to being happy. Such is the stability of a Grouch's life: so balanced, and yet so unbalanced. Oscar is especially aware of this.
Anything a Grouch likes is best described (to you and me) as rotten, smelly, yucky, awful, dirty and trashy to name a few. A Grouch will only buy appliances that don't work, keep pets that no person would keep in a house (such as elephants and worms), eat foods that are undesirable for any reason (they have a particular affinity for sardines in anything), sing out-of-tune, play the radio at high volume, and bathe in mud. Any Grouch that chooses to wear clothing will generally make sure it's the rattiest, dirtiest and most threadbare it can find. More about Grouches can be learned in the book How to Be a Grouch.
Whoever your favorite celebrity is, or whatever your favorite TV show or attraction is, the Grouches are sure to have their own grouchy analogue. Examples include TV show host Sally Messy Yuckyael, reporter Dan Rather-not, and the Grouch theme park Six Crabs Yucky World. With their many parallels of real aspects of American culture and of the human condition, the Grouches are an important element of Sesame Street's diverse environment.
While Oscar the Grouch is the best-known Grouch to viewers of Sesame Street, many other Grouches have surfaced over the years. Originally, they were made from a spare Oscar puppet, and thus shared the same color. In 1978, a new set of Grouch puppets of various colors and sizes were created that could be repurposed into different characters (similar to an Anything Muppet). Grouches figured prominently in Follow That Bird and especially The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. The latter explained that most Grouches come from Grouchland USA, presented as Oscar's hometown, though many Grouches are also found internationally. According to the production notes for Elmo in Grouchland, 25 new Grouch puppets were made for the film (and reused in variations to create a large Grouch population). Many of these are still used on the show today.
Oscar the Grouch and family
- Mentioned but unseen: Uncle Louie, Uncle Smarmy, Uncle Philip (mentioned in a Wired video), and Oscar's nephew, Timothy Grouch.
Grouches from around the world
These are Grouches from international Sesame Street co-productions.
Though Grouches are usually presented as a unique species much like Monsters or Honkers, occasionally humans have shown up as Grouches, likely designated as such because of a similarity and sympathy in temperament and personality.
- According to Sesame Street Magazine, October 15th is National Grouch Day.
- Grouches have teeth, but you can't see them.