Where's Wally? (titled Where's Waldo? when exported to North America) is a series of picture books where each page is a complex scene filled with hundreds of tiny people. The goal is to find Wally/Waldo, a man in glasses, a bobble hat and a red-and-white striped shirt, carrying a cane. Each page has a short flavor text where Wally/Waldo describes his adventures, pointing the reader to other, usually humorous, things to look for. The Where's Wally/Waldo? books include:
Where's Wally Now? (retitled Find Waldo Now in North America) (featuring various historical scenes)
Where's Wally?: The Fantastic Journey (retitled The Great Waldo Search in North America, though a updated re-release went back to the former title) (featuring fantasy scenes)
Where's Wally/Waldo? The Ultimate Fun Book
Where's Wally/Waldo? In Hollywood
Where's Wally/Waldo? The Wonder Book (more fantasy scenes)
Where's Wally/Waldo? The Great Picture Hunt (A balance between the normal books, and The Ultimate Fun Book)
Aside from Wally/Waldo, recurring characters include his friend Wenda, his nemesis Odlaw, his dog Woof (who is usually hidden except for his tail) and the Wizard Whitebeard.Spawned a short-lived Saturday Morning cartoon show which justified its connection to the books by having a "find Waldo" puzzle before each act break. These were often much harder than the ones in the books, not because they were particularly complex, but because the low resolution on TV's at the time made finding small details (like Waldo) a trying task.Also had an Nes game which had even worse resolution (Everything was 8 bit)
A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: A crew of stereotypical pirates, led by a Blackbeard clone, are shown boarding a cruise ship at the marina. One of the pirates is chasing a woman in a bikini, while another is pursuing men wearing nothing but swim trunks!
The Artifact: Odlaw was invented for the American animated adaptation and was given a Sdrawkcab Name as Waldo's opposite. This name is still kept when the cartoon was redubbed back into British English for a British audience and 'Waldo' is Wally again, so the reference is lost. Admittedly 'Yllaw' would be unpronounceable unless you're Welsh.
Cat-apult: In Find Waldo Now, "The End of the Crusades" has a cat loaded onto the rightmost catapult.
Celebrity Paradox: Tarzan, Paul Bunyan, and Count Dracula make cameo appearances in the "realistic" first book.
Dub Name Change: Wally is called Walter in German, Charlie in French, Willy in Norwegian, Holger in Danish, Valli in Icelandic, and Waldo in America and Canada. Additionally, when the cartoon was aired in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, Waldo was changed back to Wally.
Early Installment Weirdness: The first book is entirely mundane contemporary scenes. Quite the contrast to its successors, which used time travel to historical settings, completely fantastic settings, and some combination of the two respectively.
The scenes also have less people in them, compared to the later books. While the first book has plenty of people in the pictures, there's still a fair amount of space between them. The others are packed with people.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the original printing of the first book, the beach page, had a woman whose bikini was being yanked off and part of her breast was showing. This has been censored in subsequent printings.
Good Hair, Evil Hair: Wizard Whitebeard with his long white beard (duh) and Odlaw with his small dark mustache.
Monochrome Casting: Thankfully averted, although creator Martin Handford only went so far as to make every tenth person in the crowds black, with occasional "exotic" Asians, Native Americans, and Middle Easterners for Costume Porn.
Needle in a Stack of Needles: In several of the books, the last challenge is to find Waldo and his companions when they are hidden amongst hundreds of characters dressed exactly like them.
Nice Hat: His red and white bobble hat. Several sceneries have a lot of copies of it lying around.
Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Waldo seems almost oblivious to many of the chaotic events happening around him, some of which are illegal or downright dangerous.
Nintendo Hard: Where's Wally/Waldo 3: The Fantastic Journey ends with having to pick Wally out of a dimension filled almost entirely with other Wallies (The only way to know he's the real one is that he's missing a shoe.
Taken even further in that you then have to find his shoe on the same page.
Offstage Villainy: Whatever Odlaw gets up to in the cartoon series, in the books, he's just there, and not seen doing anything bad.
Only Six Faces: Handford's drawing style isn't particularly imaginative, with almost every character having the same basic face with different colors of hair and skin. Even the women simply look like men with long hair and... uh... "equipment."
Still The Eighties: When Waldo stops by the airport, passengers are shown disembarking from the jets via external movable stairways like they did for most of the twentieth century (and, presumably, during Martin Handford's childhood), rather than by way of the connected tunnels that were common in airports by 1987).
The original 1987 book alone has a "school" of "fish", with the whale in front wearing a professor's mortarboard; an oversized playing card in a World War I-era biplane (a "flying ace," get it?), and a literal "one-armed bandit" (a cowboy with an amputated hand) on a carnival midway.
Captain Oblivious: Waldo in the cartoon. He is always blissfully unaware of Odlaw's attempts to destroy him, and in fact, seems to have no idea that Odlaw even exists. He always beats Odlaw through sheer dumb luck, all while never actually seeing him.
Actually, Odlaw's pretty self-defeating...
Lampshaded in one episode where a man comes up to Odlaw and asks "hey, aren't you that guy who Waldo never sees?"
In one episode, Odlaw briefly entertained the idea of not following Waldo since he'd bring back the magical cane anyway but had a change of mind when he heard about a magical fruit.
Chekhov's Gun: The corn Wizard Whitebeard gives Wally in A Stone Age Story. Turns out it was needed to complete the first movie theater...by being used for popcorn!
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Odlaw knows he's in a cartoon and is the villain, tells off the cameraman and the narrator (tries to beat him up once, too), and even tries to learn from previous episodes; unfortunately, the whole universe is against him and even the scenery beats him up.
Odlaw: "I've learned my lesson on this show. I'll stand over here, out of the way...gaaaahsp!" (is smashed by wrecking ball)
Medium Awareness: Odlaw - he directly interacts with the narrator, and he even tries to learn from what happens to him on the show. His only problem is that he doesn't seem to learn that he's the Cosmic Plaything.
Odlaw: "That walking stick will soon be mine."
Narrator: "Yes, because little does Wally know that's he's being wathed. By the mean, Nasty, LOATHSOME.."
Nightmare Fetishist: Wally smiles constantly while watching others get pummeled or is in danger of a pummeling himself (said eagerly: "Who's the menacing fellow who looks as if he'd like to twist me into a knot and throw me off a cliff?"), is excited to be standing in front of an angry stampede, be attacked by monsters, be tied up in chains, be taken prisoner ("Wow, Woof, didjya hear that? We're official prisoners!"), hop into a dangerous pit of doom (shaking bag and smiling: "Well, Woof, apparently I didn't bring my parachute."), and is nothing short of thrilled to be in a cave-in. ("Wow, Woof! It's a real cave-in! And we've only been here just a few minutes! (elated sigh) How lucky can you get?") Seriously, how did Woof survive being around this guy?