Literature: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie Bucket and Mr. Willy Wonka, as illustrated by Quentin Blake.
Concerning the adventures of four nasty children and Our Hero with Mr. Willy Wonka and his famous candy plant
—Front cover text from the original edition
Charlie Bucket is an angelic boy who lives with his parents and grandparents in a small hovel. When Willy Wonka
, a reclusive businessman, announces a competition to allow five lucky children into his chocolate factory (a place so secretive that no one, not even its workforce, is ever seen entering or leaving it), Charlie manages to find the last of the Golden Tickets against high odds
The other four children turn out to be deeply unpleasant: Augustus Gloop is a glutton
, Veruca Salt is a Spoiled Brat
, Mike Teavee is obsessed with violent TV and Violet Beauregarde is a rude, pushy compulsive gum-chewer
- utterly obsessed with winning
. Willy Wonka himself proves to be an eccentric inventor
, obsessed with confectionery.
The five children tour the factory
, a wonderland of bizarre and improbable inventions, but one by one the children suffer almost lethal karmic fates
, each underscored by a moralising Crowd Song
from Mr. Wonka's Oompa-Loompas. When only Charlie
is left, Wonka reveals he was actually looking for an heir and promises to leave the factory to Charlie.
Perhaps Roald Dahl
's best-known work, this 1964 children's novel is an excellent example of Adaptation Overdosed
, ranging from a non-musical stage play and a BBC radio play to a theme park ride and video games. (This is particularly impressive given that it's not yet in the public domain.) The following adaptations warrant their own pages:
The novel has a sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
, in which the title vehicle (which Mr. Wonka had been using to get around in the factory) shoots into space, Mr. Wonka stops shapeshifting aliens, and Charlie's grandparents get into trouble with a de-aging potion
. Unfortunately, Dahl was so disgusted at how the 1971 film turned out that he forbade film adaptations of the sequel, and it's rare to see any
adaptations of it.
This story — particularly the 1971 adaptation — is a stock parody
: Charlie and the Chocolate Parody
. It is also the Trope Namer
for The Wonka
: An eccentric authority figure whose success comes from their quirkiness (rather than in spite of it).
See also the extensive character sheet
This novel provides examples of:
- An Aesop: Every Oompa-Loompa song in the book is An Aesop presented in rhyming verse that comes on the heels of one of the brats' comeuppances. They also qualify as...
- Crowd Song and Morality Ballad: Since in-story they are being sung.
- Space Whale Aesop: Don't be a glutton, a gum chewer, a spoiled brat, or a TV fanatic, or you will get sucked up a pipe, transformed into a blueberry, tossed down a trash chute, or shrunk, respectively.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: During the Golden Ticket frenzy, a scientist invents a machine that can detect and grab anything with gold in it in hopes of using it to find a Wonka Bar with a ticket inside. It is destroyed when he demonstrates it to a crowd and it recognizes, and tries to remove, a duchess's gold filling.
- Alternate Continuity: Due to Roald Dahl's instructions that Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator not be allowed to be adapted into a film in the wake of his dissatisfaction with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, most subsequent adaptations of this novel — in any medium — end on a note of complete closure and disregard the sequel's events as well as the more specific personalities given to the grandparents besides Joe, making them alternate continuities.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Many would find the bit about Mr. Wonka closing down due to industrial espionage to be over the top. Many would also be surprised to learn what a cutthroat industry candymaking really is.
- Ambiguous Syntax: The business with the Square Sweets [Candies in U.S. editions] That Look Round hinges on this.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: Several "general misfortune" examples, as the Oompa-Loompas' Crowd Songs about Augustus, Veruca (and her parents), and Mike claim that they're pretty much getting what they're due for their greed, sloth, etc. and that in Augustus' case the prospect of him becoming fudge is a wonderful one because then people will at last have reason to love him! (Mr. Wonka claims to the rest of the tour group that they're just joking in Augustus' case at least, but Grandpa Joe and Charlie are not entirely sure about that.) In the 2013 stage musical adaptation, "general misfortune" escalates to possible Death by Adaptation in several cases — but this trope still applies.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Many of Mr. Wonka's inventions have at least a little of this in them, most importantly the three-course-meal gum, the Television-Chocolate setup, and the Great Glass Elevator.
- Art Major Biology: Three of the bratty kids' fates involve this.
- Augustus Gloop's journey through a tight pipe leaves the Fat Bastard squeezed skinny.
- Violet Beauregarde is transformed into a giant blueberry and has to have the juice squeezed out of her to be returned to Not Quite Back to Normal, in that her skin and hair remains purple/blue. In the 2005 film adaptation being squeezed also leaves her absurdly flexible. In the 2013 musical, she explodes as a result of the transformation but apparently can be put back together — provided she hasn't started to ferment — and, again, be at least Not Quite Back to Normal! (This version also claims her transformation is the result of the gum creating "excess fructose in the fluid sacs".)
- Mike Teavee is stretched out to restore his original height and prescribed Supervitamin Candy to quickly fatten him up. He gets overstretched and becomes ten feet tall!
- Attack of the Killer Whatever: Veruca's attempt to steal one of the Nut Room squirrels results in all 100 of them swarming her and tossing her down a rubbish chute, and when her parents try to rescue her the squirrels kick them down it too. This is a potentially deadly fate since said chute ends in an incinerator, but the humans do survive — besides, Veruca and her parents aren't the most sympathetic potential victims anyway. In certain adaptations the squirrels qualify as Rodents of Unusual Size to boot: in the 2010 opera they're human-sized. In the 2013 musical, while most of them are normal-sized, there are several large enough to have Oompa-Loompa riders that emerge to confront Veruca.
- Audible Gleam: The 2013 audiobook version includes sound effects, and when Charlie discovers the last Golden Ticket, a dramatic shing sound follows the phrase "there came a brilliant flash of gold."
- Audio Adaptation: BBC Radio 4 did a full-cast adaptation in The Eighties. There have also been quite a few straight audiobook versions over the years, the most prominent of which are:
- Author Filibuster: The Oompa-Loompa songs, especially the one concerning TV. Doubles as Anvilicious.
- Author Tract: Four kids are punished for their flaws, and the one perfect kid inherits a huge chocolate factory. Whilst no one would deny that Veruca Salt's brattishness probably got her what she deserved, obesity, gum-chewing and TV addiction (particularly the latter) are more personal bugbears of Dahl's. You could argue that these habits are symptoms of the kids' general Jerkass behaviour which, as Dahl also points out, is indulged by their parents.
- As the perpetrator of the mildest "sin," Violet in particular has been expanded quite a bit in all subsequent adaptations, making her more broadly disgusting and hyper-competitive in a stereotypically over-pressured "stage mother" sort of way. (This may have inspired the Contemptible Cover noted below.)
- Backstory: Chapters 3 and 4 are mostly given over to the backstory of Wonka's Factory and why it became — apparently — self-sufficient, with no workers seen entering or leaving it, after he became an in-universe Reclusive Artist. Chapter 16 has Mr. Wonka revealing how he pulled this off via his discovery of the Oompa-Loompas.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Mr. Wonka giving instructions to an Oompa-Loompa regarding Augustus: "If you leave him in the chocolate-mixing barrel too long, he's liable to get poured out into the fudge boiler, and that really would be a disaster, wouldn't it? My fudge would become quite uneatable!" (He follows this up with a "Just Joking" Justification to the angry Mrs. Gloop.)
- Balloon Belly: A variation: The experimental gum is no larger or different-looking than a stick of regular chewing gum, and it's designed to make the chewer feel no more or less full than if they were having a three-course meal. But owing to a flaw that Mr. Wonka hasn't yet figured out, once Violet hits the dessert course — blueberry pie — she swells up in classic Balloon Belly fashion, actually turning into a giant blueberry.
- Banister Slide: When the tour group reaches the flight of stairs that leads to the Nut Room, Willy Wonka chooses to slide down the banister and the three remaining kids follow suit while the other adults just walk down the stairs.
- Bank Robbery: In an incident typical of the Serious Business of the Golden Ticket hunt, a gangster does this in order to buy tons of Wonka Bars; he's busy unwrapping them when the police arrest him.
- The Be Careful Speech: Mr. Wonka delivers Be Careful Speeches on a regular basis as they travel from room to room. Of course, most of his charges easily forget his warnings or outright ignore them, resulting in Don't Touch It, You Idiot!
- Bedlam House: The saga of Miss Bigelow (see Oral Fixation below) suggests she wound up in one of these, in that she "spent her life shut up in some/Disgusting sanatorium."
- Big Electric Switch: This is used to activate the Television-Chocolate Room's camera.
- Big Labyrinthine Building: The factory; it has hundreds upon hundreds of rooms and corridors. Between the novel and its sequel the visitors are only privy to a tiny fraction of them.
- Billions of Buttons: The Great Glass Elevator is lined with buttons, with one for every room of the massive factory and others serving other functions (such as the notorious "Up and Out").
- Bizarrchitecture: Within this Elaborate Underground Base, there's the mostly-edible Chocolate Room and the chocolate river system just for starters. Via the Great Glass Elevator, even more strange rooms are glimpsed or mentioned in passing: "The Rock-Candy Mine — 10,000 feet deep", a caramel lake, and a fudge mountain. In the sequel, there's also a room where chocolate gushes from the ground the way oil can, and the elevator can even go all the way down to a dreary Minus World.
- Bowdlerise / Orwellian Retcon: The original Oompa-Loompas were black and specifically mentioned to be from Darkest Africa. After numerous people pointed out the Unfortunate Implications of Willy Wonka as a slave owner, later printings changed them to the white and somewhat hippie-ish inhabitants of Loompaland to make the concept less overtly racist. (While the first film adaptation predated the retcon, the very different look of its Oompa-Loompas was specifically thought up to avoid the unfortunate implications of the original premise.) Additionally, regarding the latter trope, the character of Veruca Salt was originally known as Veruca Cruz.
- Black Comedy: Terrible things can happen in the Wonka factory, and they're all played for laughs (though the victims and their parents certainly don't see the humor!).
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Charlie Bucket greets the reader upon the narrator introducing us to him: "How d'you do? And how d'you do? And how d'you do again? He is pleased to meet you."
- Breather Episode: Chapters 22-23, which come between the Inventing Room and Nut Room setpieces, are this in the sense that the characters are just briskly walking down corridors and discussing various other inventions of Mr. Wonka's rather than getting imperiled by Laser-Guided Karma or riding in seemingly-out-of-control modes of transportation. Chapter 23 is primarily devoted to a Pun (see below).
- Break the Haughty: Veruca Salt gets the most humiliating comeuppance of the four naughty kids (thrown down a rubbish chute) when her sense of entitlement leads her to try capturing one of the Nut Room's squirrels.
- Bright Is Not Good: In an example that's not evil but definitely dangerous, Wonka's Factory is presented as a bright, colorful place, often to the point of Amazing Technicolor World in adaptations, and its owner/creator's outfit follows suit. But there's a lot of stuff in his factory that really should not be tampered with or tasted, and not heeding Mr. Wonka's warnings about them seriously results in all manner of crazy disasters. Also, in the 2005 film and 2013 stage musical adaptations, Charlie's environment and costumes therein are outfitted in grays and earth-tones while the four well-off brats come from much more colorful places.
- Captured by Cannibals and Stewed Alive: Mentioned in the Oompa-Loompa song about Mike Teavee when it describes the sort of adventures kids used to read about:
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be!
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
- Also basically the fate of Augustus Gloop (or the intended one, before he's rescued). He's to be poured into the boiler, and the Oompa-Loompas seem quite eager to taste him.
- Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Besides the novel's title, there's the chapter title "Mr. Wonka and the Indian Prince".
- Chemistry Can Do Anything: This appears to be the principle behind at least one of Mr. Wonka's creations, the three-course-meal gum. See Technicolor Science below.
- Children Are Innocent: Willy Wonka specifically wants "a good sensible loving child" to become his heir because "A grown-up won't listen to me; he won't learn. He will try to do things his own way and not mine." In the novel, 2005 film, and the 2010 opera adaptations, Charlie is the one nice, perfectly behaved kid of the five ticket finders. The others are Spoiled Brats who are only innocent in the trope's negative aspects: self-centered, naive, and prone to foolish behavior because they think they know better. The 1971 film and 2013 stage musical adaptations avert this trope by making Charlie flawed but still good at heart and possessed of a huge sense of innocent wonder (and, in the musical's case, creativity) that the other kids lack.
- Cloud Cuckoo Land: The titular factory — home to a huge population of mischevious, singing-and-dancing Oompa-Loompas, and created and run by a brilliant eccentric. The further into it one ventures, the stranger things get. Incidentally, the theme park ride adaptation of this book at Alton Towers is located in the area known as...wait for it...Cloud Cuckoo Land!
- Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: A "wanting something you know you can't have" example. Because Charlie is too poor to enjoy chocolate with the exception of his annual birthday bar, it's painful for him to walk by shops with chocolate bars in the windows, to see other kids enjoying them, and worst of all, to live near the world's largest chocolate factory.
- Comically Inept Healing: The shrunken Mike Teavee is overstretched by the Oompa-Loompas on a chewing gum stretchiness-testing machine and winds up 10 feet tall!
- Comic Fantasy: Albeit blackly, surreally comic.
- Consolation Prize: Along with the tour, the Golden Ticket finders are promised a lifetime supply of sweets. This turns out to be a consolation prize, since one of the finders will become Mr. Wonka's heir and thus inherit the whole factory — and, as Charlie assures Grandma Josephine in the final lines, they'll definitely never want for food again.
- Conspicuous Consumption: Prince Pondicherry, who commissioned a palace made entirely out of chocolate from Willy Wonka. Mr. Wonka didn't realize the prince intended to live in it, and tried to warn him that it wouldn't last in the hot sun of India...
- Contemptible Cover: Penguin Books added this novel to their Modern Classics line of paperbacks in 2014 (coinciding with its 50th anniversary). This line is targeted at adults rather than kids, but the outside-the-box thinking behind the unique cover of this edition — a photo of a girl made up to look like an UncannyValley resident — got Penguin in some hot water, with accusations of this trope and Misaimed Marketing of a book that isn't regarded as having the crossover appeal (and thus "need" for an alternate cover) that something like Harry Potter has.
- Continuity Nod: Several Wonka products appear in later Dahl books, notably The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, which repeats several descriptions word for word from this one as part of an ending that's recycled from one of the original concepts for this book's ending.
- Cool Boat: Mr. Wonka has one that looks like a Viking longship but is made of pink sugar (it was made by carving/hollowing a huge, boiled sweet). All major adaptations have a fancy boat for Mr. Wonka, whether its appearance hews to the book's or not.
- Cool Old Guy: Downplayed with Grandpa Joe, the most fun-loving of Charlie's bedridden grandparents, who ultimately accompanies Charie to the factory. He's always the secondary adult lead in adaptations. Willy Wonka is apparently a straight example of the trope; he looks middle-aged but claims that he's actually much older at the end.
- Cool Ship: The Great Glass Elevator turns out to be equipped for flight — just press the "Up and Out" button — despite resembling no Cool Airship known to man. The sequel elevates (ha!) it to actual Cool Starship status.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Wonka's rivals, who were willing to ruin him by sending in spies to steal his recipes.
- Costume Porn: Willy Wonka's outfit — a cross between Awesome Anachronistic Apparel, Rummage Sale Reject, and Sharp-Dressed Man — is described in full, specific detail when he first appears.
- *Cough* Snark *Cough*: Inverted as a Running Gag! Whenever a guest says something he doesn't want to hear/reply to, Willy Wonka claims that he just can't understand them (specifically accusing Mike Teavee of mumbling), even though they are speaking clearly — or, at one point in the 2005 film adaptation, outright yelling at him.
- Covered in Gunge: A throwaway gag has Grandma Josephine getting a faceful of Grandpa Joe's cabbage soup when he jumps out of bed upon realizing Charlie's found a Golden Ticket; later this turns out to be the fate of Veruca Salt and her parents, who emerge from the factory completely covered in garbage.
- Cow Tools: Among the rooms Great Glass Elevator zips past, one has "An enormous spout with brown sticky stuff oozing out of it onto the floor" in it while another has "A machine with white powder spraying out of it like a snowstorm...."
- Crapsaccharine World / False Utopia: One of the few positive portrayals of these settings. A mostly cheerful and happy-looking candy factory with dancing Oompa-Loompas who teach children important values but at the same time these children are taught these values in ways that could bring upon their deaths, which would mean that they never have a chance to learn from their mistakes. The way Mr. Wonka nonchalantly describes these events adds to the atmosphere. In the 1971 film adaptation sheer luck spares Charlie and Grandpa Joe from what would be the most gruesome death of the bunch, and the brats' fates are left ambiguous; in the 2013 musical some of the brats may actually die offstage. And the Oompa-Loompas are only paid in cacao beans and/or chocolate (though they're more than happy to be away from those hornswogglers, whangdoodles, etc.). Still, the Wonka factory is portrayed in an overall positive manner as a land of wonder and imagination in contrast to the grim outside world: full of nasty, foolish, rude, conniving people who seem to get all the breaks in life and feel themselves to be above the rules while the sweet, selfless, rule-following people tend to finish last.
- Creation Sequence / Technology Porn: Most of Chapter 20, "The Great Gum Machine", is a description of the machine and its Technicolor Science process. No wonder that the group initially views the little stick of gum it produces as an anticlimax.
- Crunchtastic: Charlie finds his Golden Ticket in a Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight Wonka Bar. The 1971 movie has its own Crunchtastic equivalent, the Scrumdidilyumptious Bar.
- Creator Provincialism: Though Wonka's contest is supposed to be open to all children of the world, the only children who win appear to be British — or at the very least English-speaking. The 1971 film adaptation established that Augustus is German, Veruca is British, and Violet and Mike American, and subsequent adaptations often follow suit. Charlie's hometown and thus Wonka's Factory said to be in the U.S. in the sequel novel, but this contradicts the U.K. text (see Cultural Translation). Many adaptations leave their location ambiguous, as it is in the book, but the 2013 stage musical goes with England.
- Cryptic Background Reference: Willy Wonka explains that in their homeland the Oompa-Loompas were at the mercy of "hornswogglers and snozzwangers and those terrible wicked whangdoodles". All the guests and the reader/viewer learn about these creatures in the novel and 1971 film is that they are carnivorous beasts with huge appetites, leaving their appearance, etc. to the imagination.
- Cultural Translation: The U.S. edition was published three years before the U.K. one, and various terms differ between the editions to this day. Dollar bill or fifty-pence piece? Square Candies or Sweets That Look Round? The Great Glass Elevator or Lift? There are also a few slang terms changed between the two versions — "Jeepers!" becomes "Goodness me!" for instance. This had an interesting effect on the sequel, which not only was released in the U.S. first but specifically locates Charlie's hometown and the factory to that country: The U.K. edition has extra dialogue added to the opening chapter to cover for the book using elevator in place of lift. (Mr. Wonka explains that now that the lift is flying, elevator is a better term for it.) All adaptations use the term elevator throughout, including the 2013 musical which otherwise sticks to the U.K. text.
- Daddy's Girl: Veruca Salt, whose doting parents — but especially her father — made her into a little monster. This may explain why Mrs. Salt is usually Demoted to Extra or Adapted Out in adaptations (Richard George's non-musical play is the key exception).
- Dangerous Workplace: The factory practically runs on NO OSHA Compliance, and the crazy inventions being tested on the Oompa-Loompas have resulted in such mishaps as one growing so much hair that "we had to use a lawn mower to keep it in check", 20 of them being turned into blueberries, one floating off into space, and (in the sequel) 131 being de-aged out of this plane of existence, though it's implied or stated that most of them were rescued. Note that Mr. Wonka, when similar disasters happen to his visitors, talks about the solutions as if they were standard safety procedures.
- Darkest Africa: In the original 1964 edition, the Oompa-Loompas came from here, but later editions and all adaptations change that to a Fictional Country with no continent given, though it's still a Hungry Jungle.
- Darkest Hour: Mr. Bucket losing his job and the family, Charlie most of all, beginning to starve to the point of Nothing but Skin and Bones. Probably because this is hard to visualize with live actors (especially kids), it's eliminated in adaptations. Instead, Charlie just finding out that the first four or even all of the tickets (the fifth later proving to be a forgery) have been found, which combined with his family's poor straits robs him of all hope that he can find one, plunges him into a down state — to the point of a Heroic BSOD in the 2013 musical.
- Death World / Hungry Jungle: Loompaland, the Oompa-Loompas' homeland. On the ground, they were constantly at the mercy of carnivorous beasts. Creating a Tree Top Town helped with that problem, but they still faced a general lack of palatable food...
- Debut Queue: After the first chapters establish Charlie, his family, and the Backstory of Wonka's Factory, the Golden Ticket contest is announced. Over the next few chapters the bratty kids (and their respective parents) are each introduced in turn as each finds their ticket. Then Charlie finds the final ticket, everyone gathers for the tour, and Willy Wonka himself finally appears "onstage". The remainder of the book has a departure queue going on!
- Department of Redundancy Department: "Violet, you're turning violet, Violet!"
- Developing Doomed Characters: One reason the story doesn't actually get to the factory until a third of the way in is because it's establishing so many characters, including the four brats.
- Disastrous Demonstration: The gold-detecting machine gets one of these. By comparison, in Willy Wonka's factory his demonstrations of the Great Gum Machine and Television Chocolate go off as planned; it's the brats' meddling afterward that causes trouble.
- Disproportionate Retribution: What happens to most of the kids qualifies. Their punishments are brought on by their flaws, but are still excessive. Even though they all live and recover to some extent, they have some unpleasant permanent changes. Violet, for example, is no longer inflated, but is still blue. Just for chewing gum. (Of course, this is common in Dahl's works; they get off relatively easy compared to what happens to the villains in some of his other books.) On the other hand, Mr. Wonka figures Mike Teevee actually is better off — since he's stretched so tall, he could become a successful basketball player!
- Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Throughout the tour, Mr. Wonka keeps warning his guests not to touch/disturb potentially dangerous things, but in turn, each of the four brats comes upon something that they want and proceeds to disregard him, with disastrous results.
- Down the Rabbit Hole: Five children (three male, two female), most of whom with their parents in tow, undertake a journey into The Wonderland that is mostly an Elaborate Underground Base with many twisting corridors, and at least one long, dark, intimidating tunnel that they travel through by boat. Four prove themselves unfit to progress further and are subjected to a variety of absurd disasters — notably, Augustus Gloop is sucked into a pipe and briefly stuck in it, and Veruca Salt and her parents are tossed down a garbage chute by nut-sorting squirrels. They return to the real world sadder, wiser, and (in Violet's case) Not Quite Back to Normal. Charlie Bucket, on the other hand, is a good child who needs a change of life — and is rewarded for his virtue by becoming the heir to the place. In the sequel, he and Mr. Wonka effect an Orphean Rescue by travelling far beneath the Earth. Also, in the 2013 stage musical, Mike Teavee's mother — a Stepford Smiler Housewife who has affected her mannerisms in a desperate attempt to cope with her Enfant Terrible son — is, for much of the tour, a frightened Only Sane Person who just wants to come out of this place in one piece, but eventually finds herself affected by the Infectious Enthusiasm of Willy Wonka and the Oompa-Loompas and leaves the factory a much happier person than she was when she went in, thanks in part to her son getting...reduced to a manageable state.
- Dramatis Personae: The five children are listed/described in this manner before the story proper begins in most editions. The text is quoted over at Anvilicious (and Flat Character, too).
- Driven by Envy: It was envious competitors who stole and duplicated Mr. Wonka's work who drove him to be a recluse to avoid ruination.
- Driving Question: One reason the Golden Ticket contest is such Serious Business is because the finders will learn the answer to the question "How does Mr. Wonka, who has been a recluse for ten years, manage to keep his factory producing the best candies in the world when no workforce is ever seen entering or exiting it?"
- Eccentric Millionaire: Prince Pondicherry (see Conspicuous Consumption above).
- Elaborate Underground Base: Most of the factory is underground, which allows for its immense size. It's large enough that it has whole villages for the Oompa-Loompas to live in!
- Eldritch Location / The Wonderland: The factory — a beautiful, wondrous, but also bizarre and dangerous place that defies physics and reality in general, and serves as a perfect reflection of its creator and his curious sense of logic.
- Elevator Gag: The Great Glass Elevator can go sideways and slantways as well as up and down to reach any room in the factory — and turns out to be a Cool Ship. This isn't even getting into what it's capable of in the sequel.
- Everything's Better with Rainbows: One room features "Rainbow Drops — Suck Them And You Can Spit In Six Different Colors".
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin / In Which a Trope Is Described: MANY of the chapters have a title that spoils the ensuing events. "Augustus Gloop Goes up the Pipe" and "Mike Teavee is Sent by Television" are just two examples, and not the worst ones!
- Fairy Tale: Albeit one based on mad science rather than magic.
- False Teeth Tomfoolery: When the Great Glass Elevator crash-lands into the Bucket house at the end, it's noted that "Grandma Josephine dropped her false teeth" in shock.
- Famed In-Story: Both Willy Wonka and his factory, even more so after he sacked his original workforce, became a recluse, and then managed to get the place up and running again without anyone being seen entering or leaving it. All the rest of the world can do is speculate as to who the mysterious shadows seen in the factory's windows belong to.
- Fantastic Flora: In another Cryptic Background Reference, Mr. Wonka notes that "the bark of the bong-bong tree" was one of the things the Oompa-Loompas used to mix in with their mashed caterpillars back in Loompaland (and while these things didn't taste good either, it was still an improvement on just mashed caterpillars).
- Fantastic Fruits and Vegetables: Willy Wonka mentions snozzberries in passing, and ignores the kids' questions as to what exactly they are...
- Fat Bastard: Augustus Gloop. Veruca's mother Angina isn't much better.
- Fictional Country: Loompaland. Even the characters in-story, aside from Willy Wonka, have never heard of it — and one's a teacher of geography!
- Flat Character: As suggested by the Quotes page for this trope quoting the Dramatis Personae, most of the characters in both books qualify as flat, with the key exception being Willy Wonka. This is particularly obvious with the brats' parents, who are almost interchangeable, and Charlie's family. Adaptations usually give the parents/grandparents who aren't Adapted Out or Demoted to Extra distinct personalities, but their roles are still too small for them to warrant being fully rounded-out. Charlie becomes a Rounded Character in the film adaptations (especially the 1971 version) and 2013 musical.
- Flowery Insults: Mr. Wonka is usually a stealthy snarker, but when Mrs. Salt's calling him a liar with regards to the Square Sweets That Look Round, he responds with "My dear old fish, go and boil your head!"
- Follow the Leader: In the Backstory, Mr. Wonka's rival candymakers did this by outright stealing his recipes via spies and duplicating them. The Joseph Schindelman illustrations present one company even advertising their version of one of his products as "Just like Wonka's".
- Food End: In the final scene, Charlie, now heir to the titular chocolate factory, and his family head there via the Great Glass Elevator to live in it. Grandma Josephine asks "Will there be anything to eat when we get there?" and Charlie replies "Just you wait and see!" This gets an override in the Immediate Sequel, as the trip back becomes the start of a variety of further adventures.
- Food Pills: The three-course-dinner chewing gum is a variant. It does manage to avoid the conventional problems with food in pill form — it's clear Mr. Wonka thought both of the psychological need to do something resembling eating over a period of time and of the physical need for stomach fullness. He's just not through with the new set of problems created by the solution...
- Food Porn: There's plenty of this throughout the book. A particularly obvious example is Violet raving about how good the various courses of the experimental gum taste and feel as she chews her way through them.
- Foreshadowing: The Prince Pondicherry anecdote Grandpa Joe tells Charlie foreshadows what happens to the brats when they, like the prince, disregard Willy Wonka's warnings in favor of getting exactly what they want.
- Free Prize at the Bottom: The Golden Ticket contest works this way, with the twist that only five Wonka Bars contain tickets. Those who can afford to do so buy up the bars in bulk in hopes of finding a ticket, and Veruca Salt getting hers is an extreme case of this.
- From Bad to Worse: In Chapter 10, a harsh, long winter falls upon Charlie's town...and then his father loses his job. Not for nothing is the chapter titled "The Family Begins to Starve", and Charlie suffers the most, partially due to his selflessness; the rest of his family is perfectly willing to let him have some of their shares of food, but he won't take them. He's Nothing but Skin and Bones by the time he finally gets a break in the form of the Golden Ticket.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The snozzberry. In My Uncle Oswald, by the same author... well, let us just say that snozzberry does not refer to a fruit.
- Giant Food: The legendary chocolate river is a spectacular example of this. Later, the Great Glass Elevator passes rooms that contain such oddities as a caramel lake and a fudge mountain. As well, because sending something by television results in it being shrunken, the chocolate bar that Mr. Wonka sends in a demonstration is initially the size of a mattress, so it will come out normal-sized on the screen.
- Gingerbread House: The chocolate palace Prince Pondicherry commissioned from Mr. Wonka.
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: The Television-Chocolate Room is so brightly lit — on top of its being a White Void Room — that the only way to avoid discomfort/blindness while in it is to wear special dark glasses (actually goggles in the film versions) at all times.
- Gold Makes Everything Shiny: The five Golden Tickets, which grant admittance to the factory.
- Gone Horribly Right
- The gold-detecting machine (see A.I. Is a Crapshoot above).
- Hair Toffee. It does grow hair — but right now, way too much.
- Fizzy Lifting Drinks are so powerful that using them outdoors is extremely dangerous. (Mr. Wonka realized this the hard way; see Precision F-Strike below.)
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The three course meal gum is either this or Gone Horribly Right, depending on how much one trusts Willy Wonka.
- G-Rated Drug: At one point the tour passes by a room where the Oompa-Loompas are drinking "butterscotch and soda" and "buttergin and tonic", which make them "tiddly".
- Greater Need Than Mine: Charlie's parents sometimes go without their shares of food so the boy can have them and grow up healthier than he otherwise would. As the family struggles through the winter with even less food than before, all of the adults try to share with him, but he refuses all attempts.
- Growling Gut: In the 2013 audiobook version, when the opening chapter notes that the Bucket family "went about from morning till night with a horrible empty feeling in their tummies", a weak growling gut sound can be heard beneath the narration.
- Harmful Healing: Particularly in adaptations.
- Violet has to have the blueberry juice squeezed out of her to turn her back into a human. The 2010 opera suggests that it is indeed not a comfortable process for her (doesn't help that in that version the juicing machine's "never been used"). She's Not Quite Back to Normal when all is said and done, as nothing can be done about her skin and hair turning blue. In the 2005 film, she also ends up with Rubber Man abilities as a side effect, which to her credit she regards as getting Cursed with Awesome. In the 2013 stage musical, she actually explodes offstage as a result of the transformation, but the others are informed by Mr. Wonka that — provided she hasn't started to ferment — she can be restored to normal. "Well, maybe not normal, but you know, near enough." One shudders to think about what that healing would entail...
- Mike Teavee, upon being shrunk to an inch high, is stretched to restore his height (according to Mr. Wonka, boys his age "stretch like mad"), and given Supervitamin Candy to avoid becoming a paper person in the process. But not only is a side effect of the candy his toes growing out to the same length as his fingers (which Mr. Wonka sees as a good thing), he gets overstretched thanks to Comically Inept Healing! It gets worse in the 2005 film — the candy is left out...
- Happily Ever After / Wealthy Ever After: Well, the sequel does threaten to derail this, but after that — yeah.
- Happiness in Slavery: The Oompa-Loompas, probably because the life they had before was much worse.
- Happy Dance
- Grandpa Joe is so thrilled when Charlie shows him the last Golden Ticket that he leaps out of bed for the first time in twenty years and does this. This is expanded into whole musical numbers in the 1971 film ("I've Got a Golden Ticket") and 2013 stage musical ("Don'cha Pinch Me Charlie") versions.
- As Mr. Wonka emerges from the factory to meet the Golden Ticket finders, he does "a funny little skipping dance in the snow" out of excitement. (Most adaptations go in other directions for his introductory scene, ranging from an Obfuscating Disability trick in the 1971 film to a puppet show that goes awry in the 2005 film to a Big Entrance via hot air balloon in the opera to a Double Subversion of a Big Entrance in the 2013 stage musical that homages the '71 film!)
- Hate Sink: All four brats — much of the book's Black Comedy comes from seeing them getting what's coming to them for being such jerks. Of course, there are readers who think the brats get Disproportionate Retribution for their bad habits, which is probably why more recent adaptations tend to make them more obnoxious, if not outright wicked (as in the case of the 2013 musical with regards to Mike Teavee). They're still not outright villains, though.
- Help, I'm Stuck!
- Augustus falls into the Chocolate Room's river and is sucked into and subsequently trapped in a glass pipe...until the pressure of the chocolate he's blocking forces him through.
- Mr. Wonka says this might be the case with Veruca in the bad nut chute. See Hope Spot below for the result.
- Heroic Bystander: When Charlie finds the fifth Golden Ticket in a local sweet shop, the various adults inside immediately try to pressure him into selling it to them. The owner of the shop intervenes, telling them to leave Charlie alone and urging him not to let anyone have the ticket.
- Hidden Elf Village: The Tree Top Town in Loompaland was one for the Oompa-Loompas, affording them some safety from predators. In its way, Mr. Wonka's factory is this for them in the present — he transported them into it in secret, and they even have their own system of villages within it. Thus, the factory runs without anyone being seen entering or exiting it, and outsiders can only wonder what's going on.
- Hope Spot
- Charlie's two tries at finding a Golden Ticket in a Wonka Bar, via his annual birthday bar of chocolate and one that Grandpa Joe pays for with the little money he's saved. After this, in the two film adaptations things get worse when it appears that all five tickets have already been found. By comparison, the 2010 opera and 2013 musical only give him one hope spot. In all cases, only when Charlie has lost all hope that he'll find a ticket does fortune finally smile upon him.
- Mr. Wonka suggests to the Salts that their daughter might be stuck in the chute rather than headed for the incinerator, "and if that's the case, all you'll have to do is go in [to the Nut Room] and pull her up again." It turns out that's not the case, and the squirrels push each parent in in turn as they look down the chute. (Luckily, the incinerator wasn't lit today.)
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: After Mr. Wonka closed his factory and subsequently disappeared, everyone eventually assumed this trope was in play, according to Grandpa Joe: "And everybody said, 'Poor Mr. Wonka. He was so nice. And he made such marvelous things. But he's finished now. It's all over.'" As it turned out, he was really working on finding a way to make a comeback all that time.
- I Can't Hear You: Mr. Wonka claims he's slightly deaf in one ear and can't hear Mike criticizing his explanation of how television works. When Mike repeats his claim in a louder voice...well, see You Talk Too Much below.
- Impossibly Delicious Food: Willy Wonka's candies have a reputation for being the best in the world, hence his rivals sending in spies to steal the recipes for them. This was what forced him to become a Reclusive Artist.
- I'm Taking Her Home with Me!: Veruca attempts to take one of the Nut Room's squirrels when Mr. Wonka refuses to sell her one. This does not end well...
- Indestructible Edible: Exaggerated with Everlasting Gobstoppers. Developed "for children with very little pocket money", these candies are designed to never grow smaller no longer how long one sucks upon them.
- Infinite Supplies: Willy Wonka; despite spending years as a recluse and only occasionally venturing into the outside world, he has no problem acquiring the means not only to expand and outfit his gigantic factory with amazing inventions and living quarters for the Oompa-Loompas, but to keep the whole operation running at full steam.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Virtually all of the processes in Mr. Wonka's factory: "If television breaks an image down into little bits and sends them through the air, why not a bar of chocolate?" Then again, Mr. Wonka's nonsense explanations are usually for the benefit of the candidate children, most of whom he doesn't trust at all.
- Just Desserts: The Oompa-Loompa song about Augustus claims that this will be his fate once his trip through the pipe is through; specifically, he'll be turned into fudge. Subverted in that he's rescued before that can happen (in most versions, anyway). The deleted Miranda Mary Piker subplot (see Playing Sick below) has them making the same claim about her, though she's seemingly fated to become peanut brittle instead of fudge; her actual fate is unknown.
- "Just Joking" Justification: Mr. Wonka gives this to Mrs. Gloop when she takes offense to his apparently being more concerned with his fudge than her son, and also gives it on behalf of the Oompa-Loompas after their song about Augustus. When Charlie asks Grandpa Joe if they really are joking, he replies that he hopes they are. In the deleted Miranda Mary Piker subplot, Mr. Wonka claims to Mrs. Piker that he's just joking after he claims that school headmasters (like Mr. Piker) are an ingredient of Spotty Powder right after they vanish.
- Just Think of the Potential: Mike Teavee's reaction to the Television Chocolate setup. If it can send chocolate through the airwaves, why not other items — or even a person? Mr. Wonka hasn't thought of this (he created it as a new way to advertise his products), but when Mike brings it up, he admits that it could teleport a person, which is all the kid needs to hear to try it out on himself...
- Karma Houdini
- Veruca Salt is easily the worst of the kids, and while their experiences leave them permanently altered (stretched, blue, thin) hers just leaves her badly frightened and dirty. Considering that her father has his own factory she has a great deal more to bounce back with—it's even implied that the lesson of her story was more about punishing her parents for spoiling her than her awful behavior (as opposed to say, Mike Teevee getting blamed for his TV watching even though his parents could also have stopped him).
- In the 2005 film, Violet is actually a little happy about what happened to her. (She's become rather flexible after being juiced, despite being purple.)
- Augustus Gloop being slimmed down is arguably a good thing, though the experience would probably be very painful and his resulting body shape is questionable.
- Mr. Wonka does suggest that "every basketball team in the country" will be after Mike now, but then, he does have a weird sense of humor.
- Also, Mr. Wonka keeps his word and gives them all the lifetime supply of chocolate they were promised, which turns out to be a Consolation Prize (since the true "winner", Charlie, becomes his heir). Of course, he might be the biggest Karma Houdini of all! He subjects all these kids to terrifying and life-altering experiences and it never occurs to anyone to report him to the police — and then there's the oft-questioned by critics Oompa-Loompa slave labor.
- Karmic Death: Sort of. While none of the children die, each one (except Charlie) is taken out in a similar manner. The endings of the book, 2005 film, and 2010 opera show the naughty kids walking out of the factory, albeit considerably changed based on their punishments. But the 1971 film has their fates left ambiguous, and the 2013 musical teases the possibility of actual offstage demises on top of that!
- Kids Are Cruel: In the Oompa-Loompa song about Mike Teavee, they note that should you take away the TV set and give the kids books to read, you'll have to put up with their abuse for a while — such as "hitting you with sticks" — before they come around to reading.
- The Kindnapper: Willy Wonka, Charlie, and Grandpa Joe all qualify as this trope in the final scene. When Mr. Wonka lands the Great Glass Elevator in the Bucket family's shack to round them up, they're terrified by the crash landing. Even after Charlie and Grandpa Joe explain what's going on, and even though the shack is wrecked and they really will have a better life in the factory, none of them want to go. The threesome wind up herding them into the Elevator despite their protestations and taking off. In the Immediate Sequel, the grandparents' understandable panic over all of this becomes the start of a variety of further adventures for the group. Note that this trope is absent in most, if not all, adaptations, including the four that warrant their own pages here.
- Killer Rabbit: The squirrels in the Nut-Sorting Room. They are adorable... and if you get too close, they'll catch you and throw you down to the incinerator if they judge you to be a bad nut.
- Level Ate: The Chocolate Room, in which the entirety of the meadow-esque landscape is actually candy. See also Gingerbread House above.
- Licensed Game: Two. The 1985 game for the ZX Spectrum even came with a hard copy of the book. Decades later Poptropica would feature an island themed to the novel, with graphics based on the Quentin Blake illustrations.
- Lightmare Fuel: This trope doesn't kick in until well after the 1/3 mark (when Augustus Gloop falls into the river), but once it does, the remainder of the novel is chock-full of whimsical Black Comedy.
- Little Known Facts: According to Mr. Wonka, breakfast cereal is "made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!"
- Loads and Loads of Characters: To the point that when the tour starts, there's 15 people in the group (the four naughty kids and their parents, Charlie and Grandpa Joe, and Willy Wonka leading the way). It quickly becomes a Dwindling Party, but still. Most adaptations — including all four that warrant their own pages on this wiki — trim down the cast by limiting the number of adults a Golden Ticket finder can bring with them to one, resulting in four of the naughty kids' parents being either Demoted to Extra or Adapted Out. Check out the trivia page for information about many characters who didn't make the final cut!
- Long List
- Veruca doesn't have a squirrel! "All I've got at home is two dogs and four cats and six bunny rabbits and two parakeets and three canaries and a green parrot and a turtle and a bowl of goldfish and a cage of white mice and a silly old hamster!"
- Part of the Oompa-Loompa song about Veruca lists the "rather different set of friends" (translation: pieces of refuse) she'll meet in the rubbish chute in this manner.
- Mr. Wonka rattles off one when describing his Supervitamin Candy, which will be used to fatten Mike up after he's been stretched out to his original height, to the Teavees. In brief, it has vitamins A through Z with the exceptions of H and S, plus vitamin Wonka, which makes the user's toes grow out to the same length as their fingers.
- The Oompa-Loompa song about the perils of TV and joys of reading has a stretch running down various stories/books kids used to read, going from stock premises to specific works in the process.
- Lookalike Lovers: A variation: An inordinate number of men are married to women with the feminine version of their name. Charlie's grandparents are Joe and Josephine and George and Georgina. And in the 1971 movie, Veruca Salt's parents are named Henry and Henrietta.
- Look Ma, I Am on TV!: Mike Teavee thinks defying Mr. Wonka's warnings in order to become "the first person to be sent by television" is totally worth it, never mind what it does to him. He's on TV!
- Lost World: The Oompa-Loompas' homeland, in all versions (located in Darkest Africa in the original edition, a Fictional Country in later editions/all adaptations). Willy Wonka may have been the first outsider they ever had, though the 2013 musical has him explaining that they are "an ancient, long-lost tribe".
- Meaningful Name: Lampshaded by Mr. Wonka with Veruca, who was named after a plantar wart. And then there's Veruca's hoity toity mother, Angina.
- Beauregarde is French for "good/high regard", fitting for the most prideful of the kids.
- Mike Teavee's name crosses over with Punny Name and Prophetic Name in summing up his object of obsession.
- Million-to-One Chance: Charlie managing to get his Golden Ticket. His family is so poor that a bar of chocolate is a once-a-year birthday luxury for the boy. Ultimately, he gets four tries at it — the birthday bar, one Grandpa Joe pays for out of what little change he's saved, and two bars he buys after finding some money in the snow. The fourth time is the charm. Interestingly, by that point he isn't even thinking about the contest, as he and the family are more concerned with just making it through the winter after his father loses his job. His finding the ticket — at the last possible moment (the day before the tour is to be held) to boot — is such a good example of this trope that more recent adaptations lampshade/play with it.
- Mister Strangenoun: Professor Foulbody, the inventor of the gold-detecting machine.
- The Mole: In the backstory, this was how Mr. Wonka's rivals stole his work. Their hired spies got jobs in the Wonka factory, and managed to steal his recipes for their original employers. Mr. Wonka, when he realized what was going on, decided he had no choice but to sack his entire workforce and close his factory.
- Multigenerational Household: The Bucket family — two adult generations plus Charlie in one little shack.
- Mundane Luxury: Chocolate is this for Charlie — with regards to the aforementioned birthday bar of chocolate, he nibbles only a tiny bit of it each day to prolong his happiness.
- Musical World Hypotheses: An eternal riddle is whether the factory is Alternate Universe or Diegetic. According to Mr. Wonka, the Oompa-Loompas just love spontaneously coming up with songs, but the songs are so specific to the visitors' situations that in the 2005 film adaptation it's remarked upon (Mr. Salt: "I do say that all seemed rather rehearsed..."). In any case, the 1971 and 2013 adaptations are full-on Alternate Universe for all of the characters.
- Mythology Gag: Many relating to other Roald Dahl books published before and after this one.
- The deadly creatures that inhabit Loompaland were first mentioned in James and the Giant Peach, and later warrant mention in the posthumously published The Minpins. As in this novel, what they actually are is left vague.
- That well-known fruit, the snozzberry, is mentioned in the earlier adult-oriented book, Sometime Never: A Fable for Supermen. (We pass lightly over My Uncle Oswald, in which "snozzberry" ...doesn't refer to a fruit.)
- This book has a chapter titled "The Family Begins to Starve". Dahl's next book for children, Fantastic Mr. Fox, has a chapter titled "The Foxes Begin to Starve".
- In the American stage musical adaptation Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka (2005), the kids in the candy store at the beginning are named James, Matilda, Sophie, Danny, Alfie, and Billy.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast
- Mr. Wonka's corrupt rivals are Prodnose, Ficklegruber, and Slugworth. Prodnose suggests someone who is prodding and nosy — all three were this utilizing spies to steal recipies from the Wonka factory. The latter two have names that bring disgusting creatures to mind (grubs and slugs) and also have a K sound and a TH ending, respectively. (Also counts as Mister Descriptor.)
- The Punny Name of the Golden Ticket forger? Charlotte Russe (pronounced ruse), which is also a Shady Name.
- Narrative Filigree: The Oompa-Loompa songs are the most obvious examples of this offhand — the things that happen to the naughty kids are Anvilicious enough on their own — but in fact a significant chunk of the book, including whole chapters, are devoted to observing, describing, discussing, or even just listing amazing creations of Mr. Wonka's that have no direct bearing on the plot. They do, however, provide lots of humor and go to show just how vast his factory is and how powerful his imagination is. Adaptations have upgraded some of this filigree to plot-affecting levels — the Fizzy Lifting Drinks and Everlasting Gobstoppers in the 1971 film, for instance.
- Never Trust a Hair Tonic: At the moment, Hair Toffee is too good at growing hair. (Also, it apparently is intended to have the same effect on both men and women — even though women don't usually have beards and mustaches!)
- New Media Are Evil: The Oompa-Loompa song following on from Mike Teavee's undoing is an anti-television/pro-books screed.
- No Antagonist: The four brats are rude and nasty, but they're not actively working against Charlie.
- No OSHA Compliance: The factory itself is riddled with unbelievably dangerous areas, from a chocolate river with no safety rail that leads to a grinding machine via pipes, a gaping hole in the middle of the nut-sorting room that leads straight to a furnace, and a glass elevator that smashes through the roof, just to name a few. Part of the problem seems to be that the owner seems to be preoccupied with attractive aesthetics ("I insist upon my rooms being beautiful!") over practical safety issues.
- Nothing but Skin and Bones: Played for Drama — Charlie is this by the time he and Grandpa Joe (who, like the other grandparents, was already in this state at the start of the story: "They were as shriveled as prunes, and as bony as skeletons") get to the factory after weeks of subsisting on next-to-no food, and other characters notice and remark upon it. Willy Wonka's Pet the Dog moment is his giving each of them a mugful of freshly-mixed melted chocolate during the Cool Boat ride, out of concern for how starved they look.
- Not Quite Back to Normal: Violet is left permanently blue after her transformation into a blueberry is undone.
- Nutty Squirrel: The residents of the Nut Room.
- Obsessed with Food: Augustus Gloop's "hobby" is eating. In a sadder example, the Bucket family, never flush to begin with, is forced into this state once Mr. Bucket loses his job — all they can think about is how to not starve, or how to conserve their energy as they do. According to Willy Wonka, the Oompa-Loompas were/are obsessed with cacao beans, which was one reason they were willing to work for him.
- Omnibus: The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka packages this book and its sequel in one volume.
- Only Child Syndrome: None of the five Golden Ticket finders have siblings, and one reason Willy Wonka is seeking an heir is because he has "no family at all" (so no siblings, much less nieces/nephews who could serve as successors in the absence of sons/daughters).
- Oral Fixation: Violet, with her love of gum chewing. As well, the Oompa-Loompa song that comes on the heels of her undoing is largely devoted to recounting the sad tale of one Miss Bigelow, who had exactly the same fixation, with dreadful results — see Tongue Trauma below.
- Orphaned Series: A third book, Charlie in the White House, didn't get any further than its first chapter.
- Out of the Frying Pan: Augustus faces the threat of drowning in the chocolate river (as he can't swim). He is saved from this...when he gets sucked into a pipe, and promptly gets stuck inside it. Then the pressure of the liquid chocolate behind him sends him shooting up and away...to a chocolate-mixing barrel that will soon be tipped into a boiler!
- Overly Pre-Prepared Gag / Pun: A whole chapter is devoted primarily to Square Candies/Sweets That Look Round; they're square, but if you enter their room they'll look 'round to see who's there; also counts as Anthropomorphic Food. The buildup to this joke takes up several paragraphs.
- Passing the Torch: Mr. Wonka is seeking someone to pass the torch to once he's too old to run the factory himself. Depending on the adaptation, the story ends either with Charlie simply becoming Mr. Wonka's protege (as in the book) or this trope taking effect immediately and making Charlie a Grade School CEO.
- Piggy Bank: As the Golden Ticket hunt kicks into high gear after Augustus finds the first one, it is noted that "Children were taking hammers and smashing their piggy banks and running out to the shops with handfuls of money."
- Pinball Protagonist: Charlie. The only thing he actually does that affects the plot is buy the chocolate bar with the Golden Ticket; otherwise he's pretty much just jostled along by the story. Most adaptations, including the two films and the 2013 stage musical, add plot complications/twists to rectify this.
- Playing Sick: A deleted subplot involving a sixth naughty child, snotty and school-obsessed Miranda Mary Piker, had her and her headmaster dad attempt to destroy a machine that makes "Spotty Powder", which allows a child to convincingly play sick for a day to stay home from school. The book Spotty Powder and Other Splendiferous Secrets (The Missing Golden Ticket and... in the U.S.) includes a rough draft of the chapter featuring their comeuppance, along with other trivia.
- Plot Coupon: The Golden Tickets.
- Plot Hole: As Ron Novy notes in his essay "Willy Wonka and the Imperial Chocolate Factory" (which examines the Unfortunate Implications of the Happiness in Slavery of the Oompa-Loompas), how did Willy Wonka learn the Oompa-Loompas' language — and thus communicate with them — when he came to their country? (Especially in the pre-Bowdlerised version, in which he was the first white person to venture into their country!) And why did they learn English as his workers when it would have been just as easy for him to continue using their language?
- Plot Parallel
- The Backstory of the Oompa-Loompas is a mirror of Charlie's situation in the present. Both involve a struggling group of people who are starving to death thanks to outside circumstances, and as the Oompa-Loompas' seemingly unobtainable Trademark Favorite Food is cacao beans, Charlie's is chocolate — which cacao beans are the core ingredient of. In both cases, fate crosses their paths with Willy Wonka's, and where the Oompa-Loompas become his workers, Charlie ultimately becomes his heir and their new boss. (Note that the Oompa-Loompas' leader "threw his bowl of mashed caterpillars right out of the treehouse window" when Mr. Wonka made his offer, and Grandpa Joe accidentally sends his bowl of cabbage soup flying when he jumps out of bed.)
- The Oompa-Loompas' song about Violet is a story-within-a-story about another girl who had a chewing habit that ended badly for her, the difference being that Miss Bigelow is now confined to a Bedlam House while Violet (though she does need de-juicing first!) is still capable of changing her ways and avoiding a similar fate.
- Precision F-Strike: Willy Wonka, explaining how an outdoor test of the Fizzy Lifting Drinks went sadly awry: "I stood there shouting 'Burp, you silly ass, burp or you'll never come down again!'"
- Pretty in Mink: Veruca Salt wears one to the factory.
- Prophetic Name: Mike Teavee is obsessed with television, and Violet Beauregarde's fate leaves her very violet indeed.
- Punny Name: Mike Teavee, of course, but also Charlotte Russe (see Names to Run Away From Really Fast above).
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The Oompa-Loompas shout during their song for Mike: "THEY... USED... TO... READ!!!!!!!"
- Rapid Hair Growth: Hair Toffee. It makes hair grow on your head a half-hour after you eat it, which is perfect for bald people...but right now it's too powerful.
- Reading Is Cool Aesop: The Oompa-Loompa song about Mike Teavee urges parents to get rid of their television set — no matter how much their children might protest — and bring in books as a substitute. Once the kids get bored enough to give the books a try, they'll come to love them far more than they ever did the TV.
- The Reveal: The tour is actually a Secret Test (see below).
- Rhyming List: The Long List examples (see above) that are part of the Oompa-Loompas' songs count as rhyming lists as well.
- Rule of Cool: Seems to be a guiding principle for Mr. Wonka with regards to his factory and inventions — for instance, it's not enough that he has a giant subterranean chocolate river system running through his factory, he needs a Cool Boat made out of sugar to travel down it!
- Rule of Three
- The three-course dinner gum works this way for Violet. It starts with a delicious soup course, followed by an equally-tasty roast beef plus baked potato course, and finally blueberry pie and cream for dessert — and that course is where things take a turn...
- Whenever the tour group sees something particularly remarkable, Veruca wants one of her own and her dad promises her he'll get her one as soon as possible. First it's just an Oompa-Loompa. Not long afterward she also says she wants "a big pink boiled-sweet boat exactly like Mr. Wonka's! And I want lots of Oompa-Loompas to row me about, and I want a chocolate river, and I want...I want..." Finally she decides she wants one of Mr. Wonka's trained squirrels...
- Running Gag: Mr. Wonka constantly brushing off the group's questions and interjections about the stranger aspects of his world, often with claims that he doesn't understand what they're saying (because they're mumbling, he's slightly deaf in one ear, etc.).
- Satire: Of parents who coddle and indulge their children, and the spoiled brats that said children become, with a contemptuous, Juvenalian approach as the brats meet a variety of blackly comic fates. The Serious Business of the Golden Ticket hunt and its media coverage come in for gentler, Horatian satire, especially in adaptations. The 1971 and 2005 films dial back the aggressiveness of the satire with regards to the brats. But the 2013 stage musical not only updates two of the brats to satirize vapid modern celebrity (Violet) and parents who try to excuse a child's downright malicious behavior (Mike) but tightens the screws.
- Scare 'Em Straight: The Oompa-Loompa song regarding Violet is an example of this with regard to the habit of chewing gum, especially with its Bedlam House ending. An Alternate Character Interpretation of Mr. Wonka is that the entire tour is actually an effort to do this to the naughty kids and their parents, but even if it isn't, the novel itself does work as a blackly funny morality play for children.
- Scenery Porn: Dahl indulges in this to describe the Chocolate, Inventing, and Television Chocolate Rooms. Adaptations tend to follow suit, especially with the Chocolate Room.
- Science Cocktail: The Great Gum Machine works in this manner.
- Screwball Serum: The three-course-meal chewing gum. It works wonderfully until one hits the blueberry pie course...
- Secret Test: The Golden Ticket contest and subsequent tour is Mr. Wonka's way of finding a proper heir, specifically a good child who will learn from him and follow in his footsteps rather than change the way things are done (as an adult would). Starting with the 2005 film, adaptations at least drop a hint or two to the kids that there's something more to be won than just the tour and the lifetime supply of sweets, piquing their curiosity, but what that might be — and how it's to be won — is a riddle.
- Seven Deadly Sins: Augustus is Gluttony, Violet is Pride, Veruca is Greed (with a touch of Envy, in that she covets many things Mr. Wonka has in his factory, culminating in the Nut Room misadventure), and Mike is Sloth, creating some convenient Aesops. In the 2005 film, 2010 opera, and 2013 musical, Mike also embodies Anger/Wrath (loves violent shows or video games in all three versions, wants to be a Sociopathic Soldier in the opera, and is an Enfant Terrible in the musical). Violet embodies both Pride and Sloth in the 2013 musical (she becomes a celebrity only because her Greedy father hypes up her "talent" of chewing a piece of gum for a long time). In the 2005 film, Mrs. Beauregarde even shows hints of Lust for Willy Wonka (keep in mind, he is played by Johnny Depp in that version).
- Serious Business: The pursuit of the Golden Tickets. Even though the contest is aimed at children, adults all over the world get in on the act, some even resorting to criminal means.
- Shout-Out: In the Oompa-Loompa song about Mike Teavee, the long stretch about the joys of children reading books name-drops/references the work of Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, and The Wind in the Willows.
- Show Within a Show: The Miss Bigelow story in the Oompa-Loompa song about Violet is a Plot Parallel Type 4 example.
- Shrink Ray: Because images on TV are always smaller than the original objects were, the Television-Chocolate Room's setup applies this to whatever it teleports. To get an ordinary-sized bar of chocolate to show up on the screen, the original chocolate bar has to be huge. When Mike tries the setup on himself, he winds up small enough to fit in the palm of his mother's hand.
- Social Services Does Not Exist: After Mr. Bucket loses his job, things get a lot worse for the family, but no one seems to notice the four starving grandparents confined to a single bed or that Charlie is looking a lot thinner and doesn't have the energy to play at recess.
- Spoiled Brat: Veruca Salt is the most obvious example, but the other three naughty kids have been spoiled in their own ways, with their parents indulging and even encouraging their respective vices.
- Static Character: The whole cast, in both books.
- Stunned Silence
- When Charlie breaks the news to his family that he's found the last Golden Ticket, this is their initial reaction out of amazement; Grandpa Joe breaks it by asking if he's just pulling their legs.
- The entire tour group is flabbergasted into silence by the sight of the Chocolate Room. Up to this point, they (and the reader) have every reason to believe Wonka's Factory is just a factory, albeit an enormous one...but here, in the first room they visit, it's revealed to be The Wonderland.
- Surprise Creepy: Starts as a light story about wacky, mostly bratty kids and a whimsical factory...then Augustus Gloop gets sucked into the pipe, the Oompa-Loompas claim he'll be turned into fudge, and Mr. Wonka thinks the whole situation is hilarious. From this point on, the book is firmly in Black Comedy territory.
- Surreal Humor / Surreal Horror: Once inside the factory, a lot of the book's comedy runs on the former — kids falling into chocolate rivers and getting sucked up pipes, turning into blueberries, getting attacked by walnut-sorting squirrels. This is often in conjunction with Black Comedy, so depending on the reader, the second trope may or may not come into play; the notorious boat ride in the 1971 film adaptation is definitely this.
- Take That: The whole Mike Teavee plot thread picks on television at length. Willy Wonka puts it this way: "I don't like television myself. I suppose it's all right in small doses, but children never seem to be able to take it in small doses." (Note that Dahl himself seemed to have a love-hate relationship with television — much of his work for adults was adapted for TV over the years, and he sometimes wrote the scripts himself.)
- Technicolor Science: The Great Gum Machine mixes a cauldron's worth of unidentified but bright and colorful liquids together, then ultimately reduces the resultant mixture to a single gray strip of gum.
- Teleporter Accident: Mike's attempt to become the first person transmitted by television works, but also results in him being shrunk to an inch high.
- Teleporters and Transporters: The Television Chocolate setup.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: Played for Laughs to contrast the Salts' reactions to the news that Veruca's headed for an incinerator. While Mrs. Salt is reduced to shrieking hysterics, the calmer Mr. Salt tells Mr. Wonka "My daughter may be a bit of a frump — I don't mind admitting it — but that doesn't mean you can roast her to a crisp. I'll have you know I'm extremely cross about this, I really am."
- The Three Faces of Adam:
- Charlie Bucket — The Hunter: a sweet boy whose dreams are crippled by his family's poverty.
- Willy Wonka — The Lord and, secretly, The Prophet: a fabulously successful businessman concerned with maintaining/expanding upon his successes to the point of Skewed Priorities, but also older than he looks and seeking an heir.
- Grandpa Joe — The Prophet: He no longer has goals for himself but is The Storyteller to Charlie and protective of him.
- Adaptation Expansion adds Mr. Slugworth as a darker Lord counterpart to Mr. Wonka in the 1971 film and Willy Wonka's dentist father Wilbur as the Lord who came into conflict with his rebellious Hunter son in the flashbacks in the 2005 film.
- Toilet Humor: A mild example regarding the Fizzy Lifting Drinks — the only way to come down after drinking them is to burp (which brings up the gas that causes the lifting effect). One of Mr. Wonka's theories as to why an Oompa-Loompa who tried them outdoors chose not to burp and thus floated away is "Perhaps he was too polite."
- Tongue Trauma: The sad case of Miss Bigelow (see Oral Fixation above): She chewed gum (or anything else at hand) so much that eventually, while asleep, her jaws just kept on moving even with nothing to chew...and ultimately bit her tongue in two, whereupon she lost the ability to speak and subsequently went insane!
- The Tooth Hurts: The gold-detecting machine's attempt to remove the duchess's gold filling (see A.I. Is a Crapshoot above).
- Trailers Always Spoil
- In an Italian edition from the late 1980s, the book cover reveals that Charlie will find a Golden Ticket. Well, that's pretty obvious. But it goes on further, revealing that the children (cite) "one by one, will meet a dreadful fate, according to their flaws. The last one (who?) will become the new owner of the factory". The whole plot and ending spoiled!
- There hasn't been a copy of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator that didn't have a blurb that spoiled the ending of its predecessor.
- Adaptations usually spoil most, if not all, of the plot in their trailers going back to the 1971 film version, though they do tend to hide any major Adaptation Expansion. That said, most people checking out newer adaptations know what to expect going in, as the story is so well-known.
- Transformation Sequence: Violet turning into a blueberry. First the tip of her nose turns blue...then the rest of her skin and hair follows suit...then she starts swelling up...
- Trash Landing: Veruca Salt and her parents end up making this when the Nut Room's squirrels toss them down the bad nut chute, which is directly connected to the factory's rubbish pipe, and emerge from the building in the denouement completely covered in garbage.
- Trash the Set: At the end, when Mr. Wonka steers the Great Glass Elevator to the Bucket family's shack to pick the rest of them up, Charlie and Grandpa Joe explain that the other grandparents are bedridden. Mr. Wonka is fine with taking their bed with them, and since it won't fit through the shack's door, he crashes the elevator through its roof to ease the moving process! He points out to the shocked Mr. Bucket "From now on, you're never going to need it [your shack] again, anyway."
- Travel Cool: While the tour begins on foot, Mr. Wonka is fond of this trope: A Cool Boat ferries them from the Chocolate Room to the Inventing Room (and it would have seen further use by the tour group if it weren't needed to take blueberry!Violet to the Juicing Room), and the trip from the Nut Room to the Television-Chocolate Room uses the incredible Great Glass Elevator — which turns out to be a Cool Ship in the final chapters (and, in the sequel, Cool Starship and even Hellevator). All adaptations have both a Cool Boat of some kind and the Elevator, but two go even further with this trope by adding additional vehicles. (This is partially to hold off on revealing the Elevator until the climax/denouement for budget/practical reasons.)
- The 1971 film adds a Wonkamobile for a slow-moving Road Trip Across The Street that leaves its occupants Covered in Gunge...at least until it goes through the Wonka Wash.
- The 2010 opera adds a Cool Train to transport the dwindling group from the Bubblevision Room (substituting for the Television-Chocolate Room) to the Bazaar of the Bizarre where the nut-sorting squirrels live.
- Tree Top Town: The Oompa-Loompa village in Loompaland was one of these in order to afford the inhabitants some safety from the many predators roaming the land.
- Unknown Character: The rival candymakers who drove Mr. Wonka into reclusiveness — they're indirectly responsible for the mystery of how his factory operates in the present but have no further effect on the story in the novel and most adaptations. The exception is the 1971 film, in which Adaptation Expansion gives Mr. Slugworth an Ascended Extra role.
- Unnamed Parent: All of the kids' parents with the exception of Angina Salt; instead, they are referred to as Mr. or Mrs. [Last Name]. Some of the brats' parents are Named by the Adaptation in the films and 2013 musical, but Charlie's have never warranted that trope.
- Urban Fantasy: Between the two books, it's clear that there are all sorts of fantastical things and possibilities in its world; most people just aren't aware of them. Mr. Wonka, on the other hand, is aware, and the result is a factory that doubles as The Wonderland.
- The Villain Sucks Song: The Oompa-Loompas sing one for each of the kids except Charlie, although they don't really count as villains. Augustus's fits the mold the most: Violet's and Mike's songs are anecdotes about gum-chewing and TV watching. Veruca's is more a disclaimer that her parents should have some of the blame. Augustus Gloop's song, however, is a storm of insults directly aimed at the boy.
- A Weighty Aesop: Augustus Gloop, thanks to his unfavorable portrayal.
- What's a Henway?:
They passed a yellow door on which it said: STOREROOM NUMBER 77—ALL THE BEANS, CACAO BEANS, COFFEE BEANS, JELLY BEANS, AND HAS BEANS.
"Has beans?" cried Violet Beauregarde.
"You're one yourself!" said Mr. Wonka. "There's no time for arguing! Press on, press on!"
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Thanks in part to the above Cultural Translation issues, it's unclear where Charlie's hometown and Mr. Wonka's factory are supposed to be located in the original novel, though the sequel claims it's somewhere in the U.S. The movie versions are intentionally vague, while the 2013 musical heavily implies that it's in England.
- Whip It Good: One of the storerooms along the tunnel the chocolate river flows through is devoted to "Whips — All Shapes And Sizes." When asked about it, Mr. Wonka says that they're for making whipped cream: "Whipped cream isn't whipped cream at all unless it's been whipped with whips." There are several other storerooms in the hallway, each labeled with equally atrocious puns.
- White Void Room: The Television-Chocolate Room. Aside from the camera setup at one end and the television monitor setup at the other, it's "completely bare" and white thanks to the walls, floor, and ceiling being painted such, as well as the extremely bright light coming from overhead lamps (so bright that one cannot enter the room without donning special dark glasses).
- Wolverine Publicity: Poor Charlie tends to be downplayed in cover illustrations and advertisements for adaptations in favor of focusing on Willy Wonka, who doesn't show up "onstage" until the 1/3 mark of the novel and the halfway point of the major adaptations. The two films are by far the worst about this, though given that the 1971 version wound up with a Secondary Character Title it's not surprising that its ads would focus on Mr. Wonka more than Charlie.
- World of Pun: Punny Names, the repulsive Augustus Gloop leaving such a bad taste in the Oompa-Loompas' mouths that they claim he'll be turned into sweet fudge instead, "has beans", "hair cream", "whipped cream", "butterscotch and soda", Veruca turning out to be a "bad nut", a "rock-candy mine"...and some adaptations add tons of puns of their own.
- Worrying for the Wrong Reason: Mrs. Gloop fears her son will be turned into marshmallows when he vanishes up the pipes. Mr. Wonka assures her that he won't suffer that fate..."Because that pipe doesn't go to the Marshmallow Room! It doesn't go anywhere near it! That pipe — the one Augustus went up — happens to go directly to the room where I make a most delicious kind of strawberry-flavored chocolate-coated fudge..." (This exchange is memorably incorporated into the 1971 film.)
- Worst News Judgment Ever: The Golden Ticket search, Serious Business that it is, warrants huge media coverage worldwide: giant front page headlines in newspapers and crowds of reporters tracking down the winners. (This results in a curious continuity error in the sequel, which claims that the opening of a space hotel was getting similar coverage, because there's no sign of that here.) Both the 1971 film and 2013 stage musical have fun with this trope.
- You Monster!: Exact words used by Mrs. Gloop when she sees that Willy Wonka is laughing hysterically after her son is sent off to who-knows-where via the pipes.
- You Talk Too Much: The culmination of the Running Gag of Mr. Wonka claiming he can't understand what Mike is saying: "You're a nice boy, but you talk too much."
- Zany Scheme: Mr. Wonka needs a good child to serve as his heir...so he launches a contest that will bring five random children to him, whereupon he'll use the tour of his factory as a Secret Test to choose the heir. In the end, he succeeds!