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The Count from Sesame Street - Vampire or Not?
“Do you know why they call me the Count? Because I love to count!”
He’s not one of the biggest characters living down on Sesame Street, but Count Von Count – as he is formally known – is certainly a beloved one for many of us. Who can resist that crackly laugh and obsession with numbers?
Now, the Count is a character on a kids show, a nice, we-love-everyone kind of show. So just what is a vampire doing on that kind of show? Or … is the Count a vampire at all? Let’s consider the evidence.
Roots for The Count Character
The character of the Count was definitely based on a real vampire. OK, a persona of a vampire, specifically the Bela Lugosi version of Dracula, in voice and appearance at least. Thus the cape, teeth and weird accent.
Early on, the Count had a few more characteristics Lugosi brought into the vampire canon. He was fairly sinister with hypnotic powers and the ability to stun people by waving his hands. Given that Sesame Street already had one “bad” guy – Oscar the Grouch – it was decided to make him a bit friendlier.
Two traits they did keep, though, were the Count’s pipe organ and violin, vampire activities associated with Lugosi’s portrayal.
Evidence For Vampire
Given that the Count was based on a vampire character, you’d think we could just stop there with the evidence for, correct? But let’s look at the complete picture here.
The Count’s appearance is a dead give-away, at least if you were to see him on the street. The fang-like teeth and swirling cape just scream “run away”. He may not act very sinister these days, but he still has that classic vampire look going for him.
Add to that the creepy castle filled with bats. Nobody really lives in those except vampires. Well, and mad scientists. But they tend to have fewer bats and more mutant creatures.
One of the most compelling pieces of evidence based on traditional vampire lore is the lack of reflection. This was part of an early skit called Counting Letters in which the Count checks a mirror at the beginning.
The Count Checks His Non-Reflection
Evidence Against Vampire
So what have we got on this side of the debate? The most compelling piece of evidence is that the Count goes out in the sun. He’s regularly seen out interacting with the other characters during daylight hours and had a couple of relaxing beach scenes where he was definitely in the sunlight.
But that piece of evidence depends on which vampire canon you choose to go with (thank you, Twilight) so can we offer anything else?
In various skits, we see the Count sleeping at night and in a regular bed, not a coffin. Again, depending on whom you go with, vampires might not sleep at all and coffins may not be required.
We also see the Count with food quite often. There’s a series of the Number of the Day sketches where the Count and Countess are in a restaurant. And then the Count’s unfortunate picnic where the ants take off with all his food. (But he got to count the ants and then it rained so he was happy.) Now, we never see him actually eat any of the food, but the settings imply that he would.
Still, is that enough? We never see him engaging in other typical vampire activities like drinking blood or turning into a bat, but you can’t use the negative to argue this point.
The Count and Harry on a Sunny Island
I’ve been running a debate for a few years and have a few people who’ve chimed in. The overwhelming choice by most people is friendly vampire – maybe they mean one like the Cullens or Vladimir Tod. I’m not buying that since the evidence for is all circumstantial and can easily be faked by a human, while the evidence against is tough for a vampire to fake. (Depending on whose vampire mythology you’re following of course.)