"He swears and curses. Times Square was better when he was gone," the guy dressed as Batman told the New York Daily News after the surly Elmo returned from a hiatus of a few months.
Batman is among the people in various costumed characters who pose for pictures with tourists, generally in exchange for a modest gratuity.
But Elmo is considered a little too over the top because he actively demands a few bucks and, some feel, can get a little too outspoken, especially for a Sesame Street character who appeals to small children.
"What's happened to society?" asked New Jersey dad Lehman, who hustled his 3-year-old along as Elmo haggled with another passer-by. "Now Elmo is trying to shake down kids for a dollar? Only in New York."
Amanda Kelly-Knox told the Daily News: "I think it swore at me. I wasn't going to let my daughter anywhere near it. I also think it kind of smelled."
But the guy in the Elmo suit defended himself. "I'm not being rude," he told the newspaper. "Taking an Elmo picture without paying is rude. It's called making a living."