The Resurfaced "Unhinged Elmo" Feud — and The Rock's Involvement — Is Why the Internet Exists

Of all the feuds you might have predicted to be the first one to consume Twitter in 2022, I bet you didn't pit Elmo (yes, the furry red Muppet from Sesame Street) against a literal rock.

But 2022 has been filled with surprises, so if you've been living under a rock (see what I did there?) and haven't heard the clicks of legions of Twitter users threatening to cancel the disgraced Muppet — or that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is now inserting himself in the dispute — let's break it all down together.

Earlier this week, 2004 "footage" of the beloved Muppet resurfaced. In the nearly 20-year-old clip, Elmo asks to eat the last oatmeal cookie, but when his friend Zoe suggests he can't have it because it belongs to her pet rock, named Rocco, Elmo proceeds to get into a one-way shouting match with Rocco in a full-on tantrum you'd sooner expect from the likes of Cookie Monster.

click to play video

"Rocco's a rock, Zoe! Rocco won't know the difference!" Elmo shouts. When Zoe holds firm, Elmo loses it: "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!"

The 35-second clip quickly went viral, amassing more than eight million views, and — in a tricky PR cycle for the folks down on Sesame Street — the creature has been called "unhinged" and "savage."

And as Elmo's original on-screen rant began to circulate around the globe, it was inevitable that additional proof of his beef with Rocco would bubble up:

It even dredged up other instances of Elmo's combative behavior with costars and late-night hosts alike.

Eventually, Elmo was forced to address the controversy on his official Twitter account.

It is true that Elmo and Zoe patched things up. In fact, Elmo's outburst actually ended up winning the argument moments later in that early-aughts episode. (Gabi pointed out that Elmo was right – that the pet rock is not actually a sentient being – and therefore does not have feelings or an appetite.)

Notably, Elmo did not publicly apologize to Rocco.

In a follow-up, he seemingly addressed the omission by doubling down on his long-standing falling out with the small gray rock.

As often happens at this stage of a social media controversy, celebrities got involved. Some, like actress Melanie Lynskey, defended the Muppet for his "righteous fury." Others (ahem, Jada) wanted to dig deeper and blow this story wide open.

But one famous face may have taken this viral moment a bridge too far. The rock's possible namesake Dwayne Johnson directly answered Elmo's earlier tweet that (rhetorically, I might add) asked if anyone has ever seen a rock eat a cookie. It's worth noting that in Johnson's tirade, the wrestler-turned-movie-star seems to allude to a planned assault of Elmo himself.

As if there were any question whether Cookie Monster would weigh in . . . oh, he very much did:

So what began as Elmo vs. a rock has now devolved into Cookie Monster vs. The Rock.

As of press time, Rocco has not responded to Elmo's tweets due to the fact that he is a rock. Stay tuned for updates as this breaking story continues to develop.