When Mr. Hooper, one of the four or so, original human cast of Sesame Street, died, they actually included the death in an episode, to help children learn about and cope with people dying. He had a heart attack and his sphincter released, but I can’t remember if they showed that in the episode.
When Hurricane Katrina ravaged much of the US coast, Sesame Street did an episode where Big Bird’s nest got destroyed in a storm. It was another daring move and one that many critics and parents appreciated.
In the South African version of Sesame Street, they have “Kami is a furry yellow five-year-old HIV–positive girl muppet orphaned by AIDS who always has the sniffles.” As daring as that was, a friend of mine pointed out, “If they really wanted to be cutting edge, they would say how she got HIV.
Recently, the voice of Elmo was accused of befriending children on the internet, sending a limo to their home and then having sex with them. I think that would make a very disturbing Sesame episode, especially with that Elmo voice, saying “Come play with me.”
“Not enough liquor and therapy in the world to undo that.” Archer