Mac: Have you ever known the commander to do anything...Na´ve Newcomer will think he's genuinely nuts until he does something amazing that proves he's merely using a different brand of logic. Long term employees will either groan at the craziness, become like him, or be so desensitized they'll regard it as mundane and pay no attention. These sort of characters are usually Freakish Loners, but if they do have friends, they will be close ones. Genius qualities do not a Wonka make, but they must show some sort of prowess in at least one area in order to confirm that they are in fact not mad, but merely "differently sane". Other common traits include irreverence, lack of social skill or any sense of danger and doing bizarre things that, nevertheless, make perfect sense if you take a step back and think outside the box, because that's where Wonkas live. From a psychological standpoint, The Wonka perfectly characterizes the schizotypal personality. Different from a Cloudcuckoolander in that Wonkas have their heads in Loonyland and their feet on earth, whereas Cloudcuckoolanders are completely in orbit. Also, Wonkas tend to be more extroverted and energetic than drifty, dreamy Cloudcuckoolanders, and they tend to be more grounded in logic, even if it's of the "lateral thinking" sort. For example, a Cloudcuckoolander may carry a gas mask around once to scare away evil spirits, but a Wonka will carry a gas mask around everywhere "in case there's a gas leak. Duh," and then act as though you're the odd one because you don't. Also different from Bunny-Ears Lawyer in that the lawyer is a brilliant employee who isn't fired because they are so good at their job. Tolerating their weird mannerisms and unusual quirks is worth it for the work they do. They win a cost/benefit analysis. The Wonka is a brilliant employer (or otherwise an authority figure) and can't be fired because they own the company. Also the Wonka's unusual brand of sanity is likely the reason for their success while success and quirks are unrelated in the Bunny-Ears Lawyer. If you have a case where The Wonka indeed runs the entire show, you have The King of All Cosmos. If the roles are reversed such that The Wonka is the one who's the normal one and it's everyone else who's crazy, you've got the Only Sane Man. Compare with Inexplicably Awesome and Eccentric Mentor. Contrast with Genius Ditz and Obfuscating Insanity. (Like The Mad Hatter, Wonkas don't have an act to drop.) Also contrast The Caligula, where being mad and powerful makes the person a danger to himself and others. Please note that this trope doesn't necessarily apply to parodies of Willy Wonka himself. For that kind of trope, please see Charlie and the Chocolate Parody.
Bud: Improper? No. Unconventional. Yes!
Bud: Improper? No. Unconventional. Yes!
— On Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr. in JAG
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The Trope Namer
- Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Wonka is the most famous candymaker in the world, his imaginative sweets such Serious Business that he was forced to become a Reclusive Artist due to corporate espionage. As the finders of five Golden Tickets hidden in Wonka chocolate bars — who win a guided tour of his factory, which has not been open to the public in years and even its workforce is never seen entering or exiting it — learn, he is something of a wonder-filled Mad Scientist of sweetmaking, his secret workforce consists of an imported tribe of doll-sized people who love cacao beans, he does not operate under the same rules as the rest of humanity, and he will roll right past your questions without stopping. And heaven forbid you disregard his warnings while on the tour. He also turns out to be a Trickster Mentor and Inexplicably Awesome, as no explanation for how he turned out the way he is turns up. His inherent brilliance seems even more so in the sequel, in which he helps rescue most of the crew of a space hotel from carnivorous aliens and turns out to have invented a fountain-of-youth pill. The original novel has been adapted many times; prominent interpretations of Wonka include:
- Gene Wilder's in the 1971 film adaptation. He loves to ignore others' comments because of what's Really Important right now while reciting a bit of doggerel, throwing in a pithy quote or other choice bit of sarcasm as a bonus. And let's not get started on the boat ride, which is simply him terrifying his guests for fun.
- Johnny Depp's in 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A genius, sure, but a genius who scares, annoys and bemuses the life out of his ex-employees, never mind his guests. Part of this is because, unlike most versions of this character, he has No Social Skills.
- The 2013 stage musical adaptation (Douglas Hodge plays him on the cast album) focuses on Wonka's incredible creativity to the point that he's a sensitive Mad Artist as well as a Mad Scientist. One of his songs, "Simply Second Nature", has him admitting that while it isn't easy to have a restless imagination (i.e., Hearing Voices is a side effect), "I'd rather be this way than be a bore!" He loves to speak in riddles and more than one twist is placed on the Secret Test he's putting everyone through. With regards to the darker side of the character, his blithe indifference to the fates of his misbehaving guests is more pronounced, and overall he's a good example of a Sugar and Ice Personality Anti-Hero.
Anime and Manga
- The eponymous Irresponsible Captain Tylor is this through and through. His idiosyncrasies annoy his commanders so much that when they gave him a medal, they put a bomb in it.
- Bleach: Kisuke Urahara, the owner of a candy shop is this in spades. He seems childish and a little crazy but he's a brilliant scientist and a captain level shinigami. The fact that he owns a candy shop could be a subtle reference to the trope namer.
- The anime sometimes uses filler comedy to turn Badass Grandpa Yamamoto into one.
- Pegasus, the brilliant but loopy creator of Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Duel Monsters. His employees take his eccentrics in stride. (Note that he was indeed a villain originally, and did use some rather immoral methods; he got better.)
- Niizuma Eiji from Bakuman。 knows as much about creating brilliant manga as he doesn't about normal behavior.
- Shinra's father in Durarara!!. Apparently a relatively well-respected doctor, he goes around everywhere with his lab coat on and a gas mask. After all, everyone knows lab coats protect your body from contamination (that's why you wear them in the lab) and modern-day city air is so filthy it's bad for your lungs.
- Monkey D. Luffy may not be a loner, but he's The Captain and definitely operates on an entirely different wavelength compared to normal people.
- Minaka Hiroto from Sekirei is a brilliant scientist and the CEO of a powerful Mega Corp.. He also runs around in a cape because he can, and organized the entire Sekirei Plan because It Amused Me. His second-in-command and secretly his former(?) lover, Takami, spends a lot of time hitting him with things.
- In Brave10, the Braves regularly comment on how they don't know what Yukimura is thinking, but they also know he's brilliant even if he comes off like a good-for-nothing lord and operates in hard-to-follow and often irritating ways.
- Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four drifts near to this trope sometimes. His wife usually has to reel him back in.
- John Porter of Damage Control. Given the nature of the cases they have to deal with, it's understandable.
- Rotor Walrus from Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, especially during the early comics. To put it in perspective, in the future he will create the living computer NICOLE; as a kid, he grossed his friends out trying to make carbonated milk shakes.
- Iron Man: Tony Stark, CEO of Stark Industries, can be a bit of an oddball.
- Captain Jack Sparrow (another Johnny Depp role) from Pirates of the Caribbean, although he's not really ruler of much other than a few mangy pirates. Still, a good pirate? Yes. A quick thinker? Definitely. Completely unpredictable? Foppish or odd mannerisms? Crazy ideas? Absolutely. When asked if being stranded on a desert island for months and suffering heatstroke was the reason for his... eccentricity, Mr. Gibbs rather flatly (and honestly) replies "Reason's got nothin' to do with it, mate." Sparrow's always been the way he is; a genius mix of madness, Obfuscating Insanity / Obfuscating Stupidity and Confusion Fu. Somehow, it works. Usually. Savvy?
Lord Beckett: "You're mad."Jack: "Thank goodness for that, because if I wasn't this would probably never work."
- In his own words:
The captain's acting a little bit strange......er.
- And in the words of his crew:
- God from Dogma. He/She/It comes to Earth occasionally to partake in such wondrous acts as smelling flowers, playing Skee-Ball and doing handstands.
- Dr. Emmett Brown from Back to the Future trilogy. He constantly comes up with weirder-by-the-minute inventions, steals plutonium from terrorists, and sets all of his clocks to run exactly 25 minutes slow. The first time Marty meets him in the past, he's wearing a metal cage mind-reading contraption on his head that puts jungle gyms to shame. Oh, and he invented Time Travel. It's a deconstruction: he has no employees and this could be why.
- Played straight in Back to the Future: The Ride where he's head of The Institute of Future Technology. And is still eccentric.
- Edward Magorium from Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. He operates by his own brand of logic, which is to be expected from a 200-year-old owner of a sentient toy store.
- In Frozen Assets Newton is introduced as an escaped mental patient on the run from authorities. Sure, he's a Cloudcuckoolander, but he proves surprisingly useful to protagonist. In the end he turns out to be a billionaire, who decided to have a vacation. He's hiding from his employees, who want him back.
- Sherlock Holmes solves a lot of cases and solves them in weird, kooky ways, but is respected-pretty much by Watson and the fans.
- Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series seems to have a mild case of this. The Hogwarts Headmaster and highly respected and able wizard seems to use a different strand of thought to the rest of the world — his unorthodox problem-solving methods and airy manner have often caused people to wonder if he's winding them up. The answer is usually no, as is shown when he gets the last laugh.
- Captain Carrot. The other characters can see some sort of sense in his optimistic, simple and innocent way of thinking, but how he can honestly, truthfully sail through events that would drive anyone else mad with a childlike smile on his face is so far beyond everyone's comprehension that most characters at least suspect that it has to be an act. Not only that, but he also has near-supernatural powers of persuasion despite very rarely using threats or violence and being shocked at the idea of blackmail, and is so literal-minded that almost any idiom or bit of sarcasm gets totally lost on him.
- Mustrum Ridcully is rude and overbearing, has a very limited attention span and is willfully ignorant at times, but somehow seems to be an effective Arch-Chancellor.
- Cohen the Barbarian. He takes violent exception to being called any word he doesn't know to be harmless, considers odds of 1:100,000 to be an amazing bargain, shouts terms that in anyone else would count as hate crimes, and yet he ends up as emperor of the Agatean Empire.
- Danny Wallace from Join Me, Yes Man, Friends Like These, and all of his other autobiographical books, tends to act a little like this. Most of the books involve him taking on strange projects that seem unnecessary and unfeasible to those around him, but never the less make perfect sense to himself. Also the narration can sometimes take the oddest turns, and he will seem to genuinely believe something that most normal people would dismiss as impossible as soon as it occurred to them.
- Psmith from P. G. Wodehouse's series. Other characters are constantly confounded by his refusal to follow a normal conversation, although he's completely reasonable in his own way.
- Michael from the Knight and Rogue Series is this. He does whatever he wants within the law and just smiles when people laugh at his odd idea of being a knight. Though he claims it took him a while to get used to this, and he does still care when dealing with his father or being treated like a retard.
- Inheritance Cycle: Angela is definitely one of these. She is known for random quips (modeled after the author's own sister of the same name), general looniness, and concern with unusual names for already-awesome objects (e.g. a sword potentially made of diamond that can slice through anything like a hot knife through butter gets named... Tinkledeath).
- Kelsier from Mistborn gathered a gang of thieves to rob the resident Physical God. And to Kill the God and take over the empire. Questions about his sanity are very commonplace.
- Alexander II, King of Alaska in MaryJanice Davidson's Alaskan Royals trilogy. Fitting as the royal household is essentially a Cloudcuckooland.
Live Action TV
- The leader of The A-Team, Col. John "Hannibal" Smith. He's very unorthodox, in charge of the team, completely addicted to danger, comes up with brilliant and crazy plans, and is easily as crazy as Murdock, if not more so (it's just he, unlike Murdock, doesn't look like it at first glance).
- Chick from Bates Motel is a villainous example. He's a completely random and unpredictable guy who swings between acting creepy and sinister to kind and gentle within a few minutes. However, he's also a Genre Savvy gun runner who planned out a combination of a Uriah Gambit and a Xanatos Gambit.
- Kousei Kougami the Cakeboss from Kamen Rider OOO. He runs a company invested in the phlebotinum that constitutes/powers the series' monsters, and sits around baking cakes. And did we mention, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!"
- Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) of Fantasy Island. The charming host of Fantasy Island and his staff invite you to spend a weekend on his exotic island where you can live your wildest fantasy. Roarke can accomplish this by working in mysterious ways or very mundane means (such as talented actors playing whatever roles the charade fantasy requires), all aided by Roarke having intelligence on his clients that rivals the NSA. He is accompanied by his companion, a cherubic assistant named "Tattoo." While the island's staff does their utmost to fulfill each guest's fantasy, Mr. Roarke does insist on one thing: he alone makes every decision on his island and those decisions are final. 'The customer is always right?' Not here. Roarke will give you what you want, but be careful what you wish for. He gives his guests their ultimate fantasy in the form of a moral lesson, and he offers it in the hopes that his guests leave better persons. He is always on hand to offer daunted guests encouraging advice as he simultaneously manipulates them to seek out their greatest fantasies. Just who is he? Tattoo: "Some people call him...points folded prayer hands heavenward...some people calls him...points prayer hands downward...I just call him Mr. Roarke."However...
- Denny Crane from Boston Legal is the definition of this trope. He shoots clients, aggressively hits on anything that moves, spouts blatant racist comments without even realizing it, and repeats his full name about 20 times per episode. As he frequently points out, he's a Senior partner, and his name comes first in the practice title. Slight aversion, in that Denny's behaviour is partly down to his early stage 'Mad Cow' disease. Also, his apparent level of sanity improves when he's in court (most of the time).
- The Doctor from Doctor Who. He has saved and ended worlds countless times, yet acts like an overexcited Jack Russell who's been locked in the cellar for too long, leaping backwards and forwards between highly technical, rapid-fire explanations to "It's my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there's stuff." Occasionally he will calm down long enough to feel sorry for himself, but once the crisis is averted, the chuntering is switched back on and he will zoom off again, his imagination running berserk. This could apply to any incarnation of the Doctor. He ranges from an archetypal Trickster to a bit of a grumpy old man, but he's always the same lovable, ineffable weirdo. Bonus points for also doubling as Inexplicably Awesome, as we really have no idea how he ended up this way. His logic always saves the day (after a while of alien happenings and running). For instance, in Terror of the Vervoids where the best way he can think of to combat a plant race is to accelerate their life-cycle.
- The John Simm incarnation of The Master, who was a closer Evil Counterpart than usual - dancing around to the Scissor Sisters whilst trying to destroy the world, for instance. He kept it up even while pretending to be a human politician, mocking the US President and quoting Little Britain in a speech to the nation.
- Charlie Crews, the Defective Detective and Zen Survivor in Life. In the first season, his more level-headed partner is guaranteed to question his sanity and/or stare at him in total incomprehension at least once per episode. This lessens during the second season, but it's outright stated that this is because she's getting more like him, not the other way around.
- On an episode of Frasier, both Crane brothers were hired to testify on opposing sides of a hearing in which a rich eccentric old man was accused of being incompetent. Frasier believed that the man was The Wonka, whereas Niles thought he was suffering from dementia. Niles was right.
- Ted Allen's persona on Food Detectives on the Food Network is casually sadistic towards the cast of test subjects with a whimsical, oblivious smile; the overall effect is two parts Adam Savage and five parts highly concentrated Wonka.
- Steve Valentine's persona as the host of Estate of Panic. Imagine Depp's Wonka, but 20 years older.
- Judge Harry Stone from Night Court. As he points out in one episode, he might have been last on the list of people considered for becoming a judge but he was on the list nevertheless.
- In the same episode, Harry explains how he became a judge. In a nutshell: The exiting Mayor of New York had to appoint a judge before he left office. It was a Sunday and he went down the list, calling the prospective candidates. He got to the last name on the list, which was Harry, and got through. As Harry put it, he was appointed that Sunday because "I was home."
- Jimmy James from NewsRadio, although considering how crazy the rest of the cast can be, he can sometimes be seen as just the leader of a pack of lunatics to Dave Nelson's Only Sane Man.
- In Sherlock the eponymous character usually comes off this way to people who've just met him. This is due to his insanely fast thinking passing through several logical steps (or simply making an intuitive leap) to a seemingly bizarre conclusion within the space of a few seconds, and then either just blurting out the answer or stating where they need to go next to find more information. That's usually when people go "huh?"
- Luckily, John's not freaked out by this.
- Strange Animal by Gowan describes The Wonka as seen by a man sent to spy on him, presumably by his rivals or the government.
- Henry Phillip's On the Shoulders of Freaks, a play on "On the Shoulders of Giants" with lyrics emphasizing the weird habits of great intellectuals.
- Sukone Tei of the UTAU crew. Normally seen as either an Yandere Griefer, or as a Lovable Sex Maniac, Tei is actually rather smart and has coordinated her own fandom out of those beliefs, and her own actions label her as influential enough to affect both the Vippers and Vocaloid as a whole.
- Every master in the Great House Telvanni from The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Even Master Aryon, who needs Turedus Talanian to bring him back to harsh reality.
- Wade, the Ambiguously Gay Ultimate Blacksmith from the Dragon Age series.
- Kang the Mad from Jade Empire; Completely off his rocker, oblivious to most forms of danger, loves explosions more than anyone sane ought to, creates working fighter planes from Bamboo Technology, refuses to replicate his designs due to Uniqueness Decay. Then again, he's actually Lord Lao, a minor god of technology and invention. He completely forgot about this, and the player needs to solve his sidequest to jog his memory about it.
- Yuyuko, the Ghost Princess of the Netherworld from Touhou. She acts utterly, completely loopy to nearly everyone (save for her old friend, Yukari), treating, for example, an investigation of an incident as a midnight stroll for snacks. However, she's also one of the oldest and wisest beings in Gensokyo and is one of its major power players despite (or perhaps, because of) her unique brand of logic. This becomes apparent in the games where she's playable. While everyone is frantically investigating the cause of the latest incidents, Yuyuko tends to have already figured out the cause and the parties responsible from the very beginning; all her loopy antics are just ways of passing the time while waiting for everybody else to come to the same conclusion.
- Agent Francis York Morgan from Deadly Premonition as well as Agent Dale Cooper, the character he's based off of.
- Cave Johnson from Portal 2 is a Deconstruction of this trope. He's crazy and ran Aperture Science into the ground because of it. (Advisors telling you to stop making prerecorded messages to save on budget? Make more prerecorded messages - you're the boss! Can't afford to buy moon rocks? Hell, buy 'em anyway!) In a nutshell, he's what happens when someone disregards all safety precautions, warnings, and advice; He died broke, miserable, bogged down by lawsuits, and only his precious Caroline left.
- In Luigi's Mansion, there's Professor E. Gadd, a nutty and eccentric scientist who helps Luigi. Apart from inventing the Poltergust 3000 and the Ghost Portrificationizer, he thinks barnacles in a diesel marinade is a nice old family recipe.
- Robert and Rosalind Lutece from Bioshock Infinite escort Booker Dewitt to the lighthouse where his mission to Columbia begins, treating the player to a Cryptic Conversation on the way and as they depart the island. They somehow end up on Columbia, and keep running into Booker to offer supplies and cryptic advice.
- Even by the generous standards of Sith Lords, the Sith Inquisitor Player Character from Star Wars: The Old Republic is certifiably insane (though s/he prefers the term "differently rational"), but you don't end up being on the Dark Council, and therefore one of the twelve most powerful Sith in the Empire, by collecting bottlecaps. Admittedly, when it's your job to find and make sense of the relics and ancient knowledge left behind by centuries of scheming madmen, an unconventional view of the universe is probably an asset.
- Roger Bacon of Shadow Hearts has comprehended the will of God, he has handled that about as well as you might think. He is now an eccentric hermit living alone in an observatory that would be sci-fi by today's standards, and this takes place in 1912. His mind has been so warped that he can talk directly to the player.
- Llewellyn from Ozy and Millie. In the creator's own words, opinion is divided between those who think he's incredibly wise, and those who think he's got a screw loose. The reality, of course, is that both are true. It's just sort of a dragon thing, in general, to judge by his relatives. Their occasionally-successful dabblings in the surreal also make them a mild case of Inexplicably Awesome.
- According to the author, the Bob and George version of Dr. Light was supposed to have this characterization, but Characterization Marches On, and his eccentricity was instead attributed to his drinking habits.
- One interpretation of God in Sinfest.
- Eniko Maragos from Holystone fits this pretty well. She doesn't seem to grasp the concept of "decorum", talks to gods as though they were equals, and her best friend is a pirate. But she's got an astounding head for policy and history, and seems to be a good judge of character.
- Mad Scientist Casey from Casey and Andy is an interesting example, in that he's a Wonka whose best friend and roommate (Andy) is a Cloudcuckoolander. The comic switches between having the two clash over the most ridiculous things, driving the rest of the world nuts with their weird experiments and off-beat antics, and annoying one another when their similar-but-different worldviews come into play.
- Whateley Universe:
- Cheese. One of the very few people on earth so smart that Jobe respects his intelligence. In fact, Jobe fears his intelligence, and with good reason, as seen in the short story Bad Seeds. No one even understands why he specialises so much in new kinds of lactose based technology.
- Thorn. A fifteen year old mutant with the power to create literally anything from ectoplasm, who dresses and carries himself— by choice— as a Victorian era gentleman, and has an express taste for surrealistic humor.... and surrealistic behavior in general. He even looks like The Wonka, specifically the Johnny Depp version, and dresses in Victorian garb, from top hat to spats.
- Dave of Civil Protection is prone to doing whatever random thing comes into his head, like pretending to be a ninja because he's bored. He does seem to be the smarter of the two main characters, though, and he knows a lot of random trivia (often about dangerous things, like how to make napalm).
- The Nostalgia Critic anchors the That Guy with the Glasses organization with his insightful, poignant analysis of nostalgic popular culture. His personality, however, ranges from Man Child to violent, criminal insanity. More than once, mental health professionals—apparently always standing by off camera in case of complete psychotic break—have intervened during reviews. It gets deconstructed, as he's regularly depressed that his only talent seems to be riffing on cheesy nostalgia.
- After being fired from a toy company (and subsequently burning down the factory), Doctor Steel became president of World Domination Toys.
- Miss Frizzle of The Magic School Bus. Everyone knows she's unconventional, and she seems to love that label. She regularly takes her class out on wacky and often dangerous adventures, turns them into animals, and shrinks them down to bug size (sometimes even smaller) just to teach an elementary-level science class. And yet somehow, nobody ever gets hurt and everybody always learns something. Huh.
- The Simpsons
- Goose Gladwell, a Willy Wonka parody, from the episode "Fat Man and Little Boy". Goose is a former Green Beret who fought in Vietnam and claims that his experiences from those days are what made him crazy.
- Hank Scorpio, a fast-talking, casual, but caring Diabolical Mastermind.
- The Warden of Superjail! can only be described as a psychotic Willy Wonka, right down to the clothing.
- King Bumi of Omashu from Avatar: The Last Airbender, a man who takes great pride in being called a 'mad genius'.
- The Sequel Series The Legend of Korra:
- Aang's eldest son, also named Bumi in namesake, is called a "wild man" by his superior, General Iroh, but is nonetheless a high-ranked and highly-valued officer in the Republic's United Forces. We later see one of his zany plans in action, proving that his crazy stories were not mere bluster and that he is a master of the Indy Ploy.
- In the second season, we meet Varrick, a southern water tribe shipping magnate who varies from goofy to serious and salient and back again all in the same wacky tone of voice. Despite his wild eccentricities he is a brilliant investor and inventor.
- Phineas from Phineas and Ferb is a child example. He even gets to dress up as Willy Wonka in the episode where he and Ferb take over a factory. (Which isn't even a chocolate factory, but hey.) Another character to be considered a Wonka in that episode was the head of the company that owns the factory. Not only did he have a chocolate river in the factory (even Phineas questioned the logic of having a chocolate river in a toy factory), but he once wore nothing but his underwear and claimed to be wearing clothes only intelligent people could see.
- Professor Farnsworth's cloned son berates him as a total crackpot, only to later discover that the Professor's theories and inventions all work because he thinks outside the box.
- Hermes can be spacey at times, such as in the Valentine's Day Episode where he yelled at himself for slacking on the job.
- Mr. Anybody from Mr. Bogus
- Deconstructed in Gravity Falls with Quentin Trembley. Despite being an efficient President of the United States, his insanity got him kicked out of office. He's so embarrassing that there's a Government Conspiracy in place to prevent people from knowing he ever existed. However, he managed to successfully preserve himself in peanut brittle for at least 150 years.
- Sir Isaac Newton. Genius? Check. Has confusing ideas that make sense the longer you think about them? He tried to reduce all of reality to basic mathematical equations, so check. Batshit insane? Check. He experimented with alchemy at a time when people had already stopped taking it seriously, and suffered from dementia caused by mercury poisoning. He was the first person to find the reason why the orbits of the planets are ellipses, rather than circles— a problem that was a really big deal at the time. He then completely forgot about it until he offhandedly mentioned it to a friend. When his friend asked to see his proofs, he realised he'd misplaced them. Solution: rewrite all the calculations purely from memory. When the friend perused over the papers he did find, there were the whole Principia Mathematica, putting everything then known about maths, physics, optics and the Universe on its head. Newton had not organized them; it's simply that, to be able to solve a problem, he'd invented infinitesimal calculus wholesale.
- Nikola Tesla. 50% genius, 50% crackpot, 100% amazing. He was self-employed but did have to get investors.
- Joy Division producer Martin Hannett was this, bordering on a flat-out Cloudcuckoolander.
- Real Life chocolatier Louis Barnett was once considered a real-life Willy Wonka. As a kid, he was home-educated after not meeting his teachers' expectations.
- Heston Blumenthal, who is rated as one of the world's leading chefs, acknowledges that Willy Wonka is one of his childhood heroes and inspirations, and has been told by a psychiatrist that he may have OCD. Hence the snail porridge and bacon-and-egg icecream.
- Frank Zappa. The man had genius level IQ, and his discography spans nearly every genre of music and features near impossible compositions. Despite his songs covering topics like fetishism, human-muffin hybrids, teenage prostitution, televangelism and even a man dressed as a House Wife courting a nuclear powered Pan-Sexual Roto-Plooker.
- Billionaire Howard Hughes was no doubt a genius, and was clearly incredibly eccentric, especially late in life. (Though maybe not as much as he's often portrayed as.)
- Supposedly, Johnny Depp's portrayal of Willy Wonka was inspired by his long-time friend (late '80s, before the band even started) Marilyn Manson. Whether or not that's true, Manson does seem to be a wee bit obsessed with the 1971 film adaptation: the first track on the first official album is just him doing the scary boat scene poem, one music video is set there, his outfits early on were based on Wonka, and Smells Like Children used the Wonka font. Now that tons of backstage videos and interviews are available, it's pretty easy to see it in him. Between multi-color leopard print suits with giant sunglasses and platform boots, derpy dancing on stage (and throwing birthday cake at the audience), using smoke bombs to evade the paparazzi, and his sense of humor (his lines on Californication were not written by him, but freaked him out because it was perfectly him) make him The Wonka, perhaps intentionally. And, when he gets serious, he tends to be the only logical one around.
- You've heard of the Bunny-Ears Lawyer? Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the clown-nose Pope.
- Whether he was truly a genius or not depends on personal opinion of his controversial ideas, but by his own admission, "right to die" advocate Jack Kevorkian thought he was like this. To quote from an interview from 60 Minutes:
Andy Rooney: I think the American public is puzzled about you. They don't know if you're a medical philosopher or a nut. Which are you?Kevorkian: Probably both. You might say I'm a philosophic nut or a nutty philosopher. It doesn't matter, words don't mean anything. If you dig into anybody's character you can find eccentricities, and you can characterize him as a nut.
- The whole interview is here.