Mom Upset Over "Death Threat" Elmo

Little James here loves Elmo. In fact, his entire house is filled with every Elmo toy you could possibly imagine and even a few you can’t. One of these beloved Elmos is a model that you can program with your computer to say your kids name. Recently, James’ mother replaced the batteries in “Elmo Knows Your Name” and is now convinced that the doll is homicidal.

You see, James’ mother thinks that Elmo is saying “Kill James.”

We watched the clip before we knew what the doll was “supposed” to be saying and thought it sounded like “Carol Kane,” but James’ mother in convinced Elmo is more into Charles Manson than Scrooged.

Fisher-Price has agreed to replace the toy. Feel free to tell us what you think the doll is saying in the comments.

Toddler’s Elmo Doll Makes Death Threats, Family Says [TBO] (Thanks, Everyone!)
Video [TBO]


Edit Your Comment

  1. friendlynerd says:

    She mistakenly got the “Elmo Knows Where You Live” model.

  2. SpoiledGirlieGirl says:

    I think the doll is saying “you have got to be kidding me”

  3. inkdracula says:


    That’s the most popular!

  4. Optimistic Prime says:

    The doll is telling him to kill. Like Elmo is ordering the boogey man, give me a break.

  5. Part-Time-Viking says:

    I was a personal fan of the “Unabomber Elmo”, shame that line was so short lived.

  6. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    This is like the profanity piano from last year. Might as well rename it “abusive lawsuit elmo”

  7. kelptocratic says:

    Oh my God… “Tickle me Hellmo” made real! Squee, run!

  8. JMB says:

    “Here’s the problem. You had the doll set to evil.”

    /Obligatory Simpsons Reference

  9. laserjobs says:

    I thought it said “I like turtles”.
    Oops wrong video

  10. Kurtz says:

    Wait – wasn’t this in an episode of The Simpsons?

  11. Kurtz says:

    @JMB: You beat me to it.

  12. CaptainSemantics says:

    @JMB: Exactly!

    Especially if you watch the video that is linked. At the end, the anchor says “So-and-so has not tried to re-program the doll. She thinks the doll will do the same thing.”

    Um, if my kid’s fav doll was saying “Kill James,” I sure as hell would be trying to reprogram the damn thing. That’s probably the most obvious thing to do.

  13. Angryrider says:

    Hey where’s “Uh oh? Who wants to die?”

  14. John Whorfin says:

    It has become self-aware.

  15. ptkdude says:

    So if this Elmo doll says “Kill James”, does that talking pizza they showed say “Eat Me”?

  16. theblackdog says:

    @JMB: I love you Homer!

    /End Simpsons Reference

    I have to wonder, can’t she connect to a computer again and change or even reset the doll? Perhaps he just needs a reboot is all.

  17. missdona says:

    Did you see the ridiculous amount of Elmos in that living room (including the weird Pizza one)?

    That kid will not notice if Kill James Elmo is missing. Just reintroduce TMX or something.

  18. Jim says:

    It’s programmed by the user. Did this lady recently send you a Home Depot receipt by any chance?

  19. Hiphopopotamus says:

    Wait wait wait… is the doll saying ‘Kill James’ or ‘Kill, James.’ We need to know whether to protect the child or run away from him.

  20. smallestmills says:

    Elmo should act on his impulses and just kill the kid, coz with a parent so fucking stupid he has no chance in life.

  21. Dibbler says:

    *Sigh*…so how much money does she want to help her son get over this horrible experience?

  22. Tzepish says:

    I just watched the video, and it sounds like the doll is saying “kill James” strikingly, ridiculously clearly. Maybe I’m biased because I was told about “kill James” before I heard the doll. I tried listening for other things, including “Carol Kane”, and I just couldn’t hear anything other than “kill James”.

  23. Amelie says:

    It sounds like “Yell James” to me. Regardless, I’m more worried about a mother who feels compelled to feed/encourage a toy character obsession in her child.

    But if it sounds like “Kill James” to her, as evidenced by what her child is mimicking, then the toy should be replaced – which they did.

    The fact that the news gave this bizarre woman air-time, is really pathetic.

  24. Part-Time-Viking says:

    @zouxou: Seconded, just like in Starship Troopers, I feel that we need to impose Parenting Licenses, you cannot procreate without this license, if you do the kid will be promptly given to the state for adoption.

  25. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    Does the thing have a french mode? maybe it was saying Quel James?

  26. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @missdona: Really! It sounds like she’s “hiding” this Elmo in plain sight if her son can continue to find it so easily.

    I’m happy no lawsuits were mentioned at least. Her son is young enough to not know what’s going on and a week without the toy will strike the phrase from his memory.

  27. savvy999 says:

    Ah, the if-my-kid-likes-X-let’s-buy-him-1000-of-X gambit. Pure parenting genius.

  28. TWinter says:

    The stupid part is that she didn’t try to reprogram it. IF she had reprogrammed it and it continued to do this it would be a real story. As it is, she looks stupid and the TV news station looks amateurish.

  29. SundaySunday says:

    Why can’t we go back to the old days, when a kid could get his homicidal instructions from the toaster or some such? Ah well…

  30. Kat@Work says:

    Um, this doll can be taught to say things… I smell something fishy here.


  31. badhatharry says:

    I taught a furby to do this back in the nineties.

  32. Kat@Work says:
  33. jerros says:

    Who new chucky’s soul would get stuck in an elmo doll, how insulting.

  34. Steel_Pelican says:

    The doll comes with software and a USB cable to “teach” it your kid’s name & birthdate, family & friends’ names, and the kid’s favorite color, food, and animal.

    Given the vast library of “words” that Elmo must “know” (look at the list of names on the FP website to see what I mean: []), it makes sense to me that the programming could get corrupted so the doll could say something that sounds like “Kill James.,” especially after changing the battery. Ever lose the programming in your universal remote after swapping batteries?

    The real question is: why didn’t the parents try to re-program the doll when they realized there was a problem. The OP sounds like they first called FP, then the news. Sounds like FP is handling it appropriately, though. The parents, on the other hand, are not.

  35. MariSama44 says:

    I find it extremely stupid that the mother won’t even try to reprogram it and get on with her life because “she fears it will just happen again.” Looks like an attention whore to me…

  36. SexierThanJesus says:

    This is clearly the consumer’s fault for f-cking with Elmo.

  37. Whitey Fisk says:

    Cleveland 117, San Antonio 109

    –Tor Eckman

  38. greatgoogly says:

    “My name is talky Tina and you’ll be sorry”

    /obligatory Twilight Zone reference

  39. Youthier says:

    I think Elmo was saying, “Get a life.”

  40. Mr. Gunn says:

    Aren’t you supposed to run this shite between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

    /really, give it a rest

  41. Pink Puppet says:

    What do you expect out of a toy that you stick a USB cord in its bum to program it?

  42. UpsetPanda says:

    It sounds like “yell James” or “tell James” but not “kill James.” If I heard that, I’d be freaked because I have a severe hatred of dolls and talking animals, but I’d simply reprogram Elmo and have him teach my kid about vegetables or something. If she didn’t even try to do that, then I don’t see what she is complaining about.

  43. Part-Time-Viking says:

    @pinkpuppet: “That tickl…. Omph”

  44. This isn’t the Temple of Doom. If you swap a new one in place of the sociopath one, a huge boulder isn’t going to roll you over. Kids are extremely easy. Don’t want to try to distract him? I’m guessing like every other animal on Earth, the child sleeps. Do it then.


    Take the batteries out for a day. Try it again. Is there another child in the house who got past Mommy’s password of password, and messed w/ Elmo to annoy his brother? Seriously. If you want news, send a stupid weatherman and ten reporters out to cover the mysterious white cold substance falling on the city. Detailed analysis will be given by Storm Thunder and his Weather-Plex 9870.

  45. Pithlit says:

    I think it’s saying “Tell James” but sounds like “Kill James” because of that weird Elmo baby talk.

    When my younger son was that age, he had a Telly Tubbies Dipsy doll, and I swear it sounded like it was saying “I can’t breath!” I have no idea what it was actually supposed to be saying.

  46. shadow735 says:

    OMG I want that elmo, it rocks!!! can it be hacked so you can teach it to say different phrases. I could have some fun with that!!

  47. Pithlit says:

    @Pithlit: Should read “I can’t breathe”.

  48. marsneedsrabbits says:

    I hear “Tell, James”; not “Kill, James”.
    Either way, that kid has way too many Elmo dolls.

  49. UpsetPanda says:

    One thing I’ve found out is tha t Elmo is really expensive, and not worth it. One of my friends has a son who also loves Elmo. I secretly refuse to buy Elmo toys for him, he has so many already. I flipped through some of the Elmo books. I’d rather give him a Discovery Channel book for kids, but he’s too young for anything BUT Elmo and picture books. I think if I had a kid, I’d try diversifying the toys.

  50. GF_AdventureGrl says:

    Tickle me one more time, I swear to God,

  51. MercuryPDX says:

    @marsneedsrabbits: I agree. This kid is a furry in the making. Not to completely fault mom for taking the easy way out and just giving in to what the kids wants, but how about trying to branch him out into something NOT Elmo?

  52. chiieddy says:

    She “doesn’t want to reprogram the doll because she’s afraid it will do it again”

    Lady, you an probably fix the damn thing by just resetting it. And Hasbro has said they’ll replace it. Just send them the defective doll.

    What’s the problem here again?

  53. UpsetPanda says:

    @chiieddy: You know the mos hilarious thing? It’s not even defective!

  54. UpsetPanda says:

    @UpsetPanda: Shound read most*

  55. Parting says:

    Poor kid, with such parents… His mom is much more creepy than the elmo. I’m suspecting the toy is ”saying” something else, but since the speakers are so cheap, the word gets distorted.

  56. Parting says:

    @chiieddy: His mother probably was traumatized by Chucky in her time ;)

  57. NewYorkNewYork10001 says:

    They forgot to report about the dad in the computer room rolling on the floor laughing at his insipid wife and the idiot news people.

  58. @greatgoogly: I’m glad someone said it. I was getting antsy.

  59. nardo218 says:

    This is like “Paul is dead,” you hear what you expect to hear.

    BTW, My friend’s four-year-old despises Elmo and thinks he’s “so mentally challenged.” I think the kid in the clip isn’t the brightest crayon in the box.

  60. MisterE says:

    The story should have been about the Mom’s obsession with Elmo and how it’s harming her son. I’m willing to bet a mental evaluation would prove the mother is reliving her childhood and views her son as a “friend”, thus the addictive personality the son will develop due to not having proper parental guidance.

  61. wring says:

    @JMB: that’s one of my favorite episodes

  62. Taed says:

    To me it sounds like “cowl Jane’s”, but I can see her hearing “kill James”.

  63. CapitalC says:

    What are these people smoking… and where can I get some?

  64. traezer says:

    The babysitter probably reprogramed it, and laughing off their ass right now.

  65. I could see Kill James, but I also heard, Carol Kane, Carol King, King James (WITNESS!), or King James (It’s a biblical reference). Perhaps we could view this as a Rorschach test. The mother is the Manson Family’s Most Likely, since she’s hearing Kill Kill Kill. Clearly, she needs the help, not the doll.

  66. Joe_Bagadonuts says:

    Hey! You’re talking to my guy all wrong…

    + Watch video

  67. utensil42 says:

    @Tzepish: Ditto. It’s pretty clearly “Kill James.” If you listen at the end, you can clearly here the “s” in “James.”

  68. Annika-Lux says:

    Someone watched too many episodes of The Twilight Zone.

  69. UpsetPanda says:

    @Tzepish: I’m still hearing “kell james” or “yell james” which I determined before I saw zouxou‘s post about hearing ‘yell james’.

    @utensil42: The ‘s’ at the end is pretty clear, but the kill vs. kell vs. tell vs. carol cake isn’t too clear. I can see how kill and kell or kill and tell might be similar, but just because you know the doll is saying ames doesn’t mean it is definitely, for sure, saying kill.

  70. UpsetPanda says:

    frick! *carol kane.

  71. m4ximusprim3 says:

    I’m Rick James, Bitch!

  72. BugMeNot2 says:

    remind me of the teletubie that would say “i got a gun i got a gun” instead of “again again”.

  73. shadow735 says:

    program it to say Tickle my hairy nuts again again hah hah ha thats right come to daddy Elmo

  74. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    “Whoa, here’s your problem…Elmo is set to ‘Evil'”

    (Reference = Evil Talking Krusty)

  75. shadow735 says:

    @BugMeNot2: Terrorist teletubby?

  76. jfischer says:

    The Twilight Zone.

    It was an ooold Twilight Zone, one from long before you were born. Back when color was considered a distraction from the drama. So long ago, Telly Savalas still had hair. (Of course, now everyone’s going to ask “who the heck was Telly Savalas?” and make me feel really old.)

    Anyway, the line was:
    “My name is Talky Tina and I’m going to kill you.”

    Here’s a review of that episode with a link to YouTube

  77. badfad says:

    The sardonic side of me thinks that is absolutely awesome.

    I can understand the woman’s concern and she even did the right thing by going to Fisher Price with the issue. But how deprived of attention is that woman? And why on earth did that network deem the story worthy of two-and-a-half minutes of their broadcast?

  78. BigBoat says:

    Nice tag. Expect to get a lot of mileage out of that one?

  79. Rachacha says:

    My daughter has a similar toy, but it is a Dora the Explorer doll. The doll really is not that smart, you select your child’s facorite color, food, pet name etc from a list in the software, plug a USB cable in Dora’s butt, upload the data from the PC to the doll, and the doll plays back pre-recorded messages, and inserts the information that you input on the computer…like “Do you like (sister’s name)? Me Too!, or “Let’s eat some Cherry Pie”

    To me, it sounds like Elmo is only saying the last sylable of the word “Tickle” (Tickle James). When Elmo pronounces the word Tickle, he pronounces it “Ti-Kell James”, or in this case “Kell James”.

    My guess would be that either the batteries might not have been brand new, or she just needs to reset the doll.

  80. Xkeeper says:

    @Rachacha: That might be it. It does sound amazingly like “Kill James”, so at least this one isn’t as absurd as some others.

    Thanks for the explanation, too; it makes a lot of sense…

  81. MercuryPDX says:

    @badfad: Three words…. Slow News Day. :)

  82. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:


  83. JT says:

    It amazes me, not so much anymore, what qualifies for Local Broadcast NEWS these days. Watching the repeaters (reporters) makes me cringe, until I think about what they get paid and I lose my guts. Weathermen/women … they take the cake.

  84. pfeng says:

    @missdona: Or just take the batteries out of it. “Ahhh, looks like Elmo won’t talk any more. Sorry!”

    Not like a two-year-old has much idea of what the phrase would mean, anyway. He still seems to be laughing it up. It’s the mother who’s been traumatized. (I use the word lightly… I wouldn’t particularly enjoy death threat toys, but I’d also fix it myself [see Tip #1, Battery Removal, above] instead of calling the news and the toy maker.)

  85. pfeng says:

    @jfischer: Telly Savalas had hair? I thought he was born bald :)

  86. lordkertaz says:

    What disturbed me was that she refused to try to reprogram the doll. It should be simple procedure, and it would possibly stop the unintelligible phrase. But that would destroy her chances of getting on TV news, wouldn’t it?

  87. DarrenO says:

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned this toy can be hacked to say whatever you want it to say:


    Wouldn’t be surprised to find out the mother did it herself. Just wait for the lawsuit!!

  88. deverbative says:

    It could be glitch that makes it say two names in a row or something. It’s kind of messed up that the lady thinks it’s saying “kill.” With the low quality compression and Elmo’s high pitched squeaky voice, it could be saying “care” or “hello” or something. The fact the kid is saying “kill james” sounds like he’s exposed to too much tv. Also the kid is getting way too much exposure to advertising. Seriously, a kid that age shouldn’t be watching that much television.

  89. Bill Brasky says:

    Fisher price will gladly replace the doll…

    With a Zuni Fetish Doll of equal value. Chain not included.

  90. Chase says:

    Well, to be fair, James is a terrible name.

  91. pfeng says:

    @DarrenO: Hehehe… actually I’m now wondering whether Little James has a naughty older sibling who knows how to reprogram the toy…

  92. riverstyxxx says:

    Anyone else remember Chucky?

  93. first2letters says:

    I distinctly heard, “What’s the frequency, Telly?”

  94. Giant_of_Landover says:

    I don’t know… kind of sounded like “Tell James” to me…

  95. The Marionette says:

    Hmmm, they should make a movie out of that…. oh wait…