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PERFORMER Fran Brill 1993-2015
  Jennifer Barnhart 2016-present
DEBUT 1993
DESIGN Ed Christie designer
  Rollie Krewson builder
Zoe sketch 1

An early design sketch of Zoe. (Source: The New York Times)


Fran Brill on gender

Fran Brill talks about gender and the creation of Zoe at the Museum of Television and Radio.


Zoe and Rocco.


The smaller Zoe puppet originally created for Abby in Wonderland was used as the regular Zoe for Season 40.


Zoe makes her first talk show appearance on The Phil Donahue Show in 1994.


Zoe and Abby Cadabby.


Zoe and Elmo.


Zoe and Ernie.


Zoe with her pet rock, Rocco.

Zoe at the playground

Zoe at the park.

Zoe and Bert

Photo of Zoe and Bert used for the cover of Zoe's Beautiful Ballet.

Zoe is a three-year-old[1] monster who first appeared on Sesame Street in Season 25.

Zoe was created to help balance what was then a predominately male cast of Muppets on the series.[2] The color orange was chosen for her design to complement Elmo,[3][4] who was gaining popularity at the time of her introduction.

Apart from some light jewelry, Zoe was originally unclothed. Beginning in season 33, she started wearing a tutu, as β€” like many girls of her age β€” she is obsessed with ballet. Her love of dance is featured in several episodes, as well as the home video release Zoe's Dance Moves. While she mostly returns to being unclothed in season 49, she still wears her tutu on occasion, and more consistently in illustrations and merchandise.

She occasionally rides a soapbox-style car around Sesame Street, called the Zoemobile, and can sometimes be seen with one of two recurring transitional objects: a pet rock named Rocco and a doll named Mimi. She attended the Day Care Center from season 25 to season 29, and generally celebrates her birthday on September 30[5] (although this date has been inconsistent). Zoe's favorite letter is Z because it starts her name. She has expressed the preference in The Alphabet Jungle Game, in a sketch with Telly (First: Episode 3420), and elsewhere.

Zoe's family includes a father named Brad, a mother (who appeared in I Don't Want to Go to School), and a brother named Joey (mentioned in Episode 4228). She also has an Aunt Chloe and an Aunt Giselle. Zoe received a pet gecko, who she named Gary, in Episode 5221.


From the book Sesame Street Unpaved: "From several possible designs of the character, 'I picked the one that had a face like Carol Channing,' says Fran Brill. 'I wanted her to be obviously female with jewelry and barrettes in her hair. Someone suggested we call her Frannie, since that's my nickname. But I didn't want a Muppet with my name, so I thought of the J. D. Salinger book Franny and Zooey, and suggested Zoe, which seemed to be just right."

To prepare for the character, Brill went to Manhattan preschools and watched 3-year-old girls play. One of the girls said to Brill the phrase which became a catchphrase for Zoe, "Don't joke me."[6] When the first Zoe puppet was built, Krewson's daughter suggested they put sparkles in her hair.[7]

Beginning with the 2005 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, more hair was added to Zoe, including pink and glittery hairs. In season 40 (2009), a smaller puppet was used, based on the one created specifically for her role as Mousey the Hatter Helper in Abby in Wonderland.[8] This version was only used for one season, and was replaced by the normal-sized Zoe puppet the following season.

At William Paterson University, Martin P. Robinson explained that Telly hadn't appeared in any scenes with the rebuilt Zoe, and Robinson expected that the moment they would meet, Telly would freak out. Fran Brill proceeded to take out the Zoe puppet, and sure enough, Telly freaked out.


  • Zoe's nose was originally made from a plastic grape covered in colored fleece.[9]

Album appearances[]

Book appearances[]

See also: Zoe books

See also[]


  1. ↑ Season 47 Press Kit Profile
  2. ↑ Davis, Michael, Street Gang, p. 322
  3. ↑ Sesame Family Newsletter, July 10, 2008
  4. ↑ Borgenicht, David, Sesame Street Unpaved, p. 86
  5. ↑ Press Kit Bios: Season 41, Season 42
  6. ↑ "On the Set With: Zoe; This Monster is a Girl", The New York Times, Erik Eckholm. August 19, 1993.
  7. ↑ Interview with Rollie Krewson on InFANity
  8. ↑ Sesame Street at 40: A Night of Celebration with the Legendary Cast, info written at Tough Pigs
  9. ↑ Sesame Street Unpaved, page 169.