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Characters / Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Willy Wonka

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Willy Wonka

I am preparing other surprises that are even more marvelous and more fantastic for you and for all my beloved Golden Ticket holders — mystic and marvelous surprises that will entrance, delight, intrigue, astonish, and perplex you beyond measure. In your wildest dreams you could not imagine that such things could happen to you! Just wait and see!
From Mr. Wonka's message on each Golden Ticket

Played by:
Gene Wilder (1971 film)
Johnny Depp (2005 film)
Daniel Okulitch (2010 opera's 2012 recording)
Douglas Hodge (2013 musical's Original London Cast Recording)
Christian Borle (2017 Broadway Retool of the musical)
J.P. Karliak (Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)

The most famous chocolatier in the world, and a Reclusive Artist ever since he was forced to temporarily close his factory due to espionage on the part of his rivals. The Impossibly Delicious Food his factory churns out, combined with the mystery of how he makes it when no one is seen entering or leaving the factory, has made him a Living Legend, and when he launches the Golden Ticket contest — five winners will receive a personal tour of the factory and a lifetime's supply of sweets — it becomes a global obsession. But all the tales that have sprung up around him and his factory pale next to the reality those winners are about to discover. Mr. Wonka spent his years in hiding turning his factory into The Wonderland, an Elaborate Underground Base of incredible beauty — some of it edible — that has technology as amazing as it is absurd; a world created in his own eccentric image. He is highly intelligent, imaginative, and fundamentally good, but also The Trickster who operates on a different plane of reality than the rest of the world. Whimsical though he may be, he is someone to be taken seriously.


See also the character profile at the official Roald Dahl website. As Mr. Wonka is an Interpretative Character to rival a certain Time Lord, further details about his personality in each major adaptation are summarized along with respective tropes.

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  • Adaptational Attractiveness: He's much more conventionally handsome in the two films than he is in any illustrations of him, as a look at the gallery at his official profile will prove. (Also applies to The Golden Ticket; Daniel Okulitch had to be the second-youngest looking Wonka after Johnny Depp!)
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: As written, Mr. Wonka's Awesome Anachronistic Apparel is wildly colorful and clashing to Rummage Sale Reject levels; he also has a black goatee and his hair is usually colored to match by illustrators (though Quentin Blake went with gray Einstein Hair; this is more obvious when one looks at videos of the Alton Towers theme park ride, which works from his designs). Starting with the 1971 film, adaptations often go with a more coordinated ensemble, let the actor use his natural hair color, and lose the facial hair. The 2013 stage musical averts this trope in favor of working from the original description; whether the actor playing him goes with facial hair or not is up in the air, though (see Good Hair, Evil Hair below).
  • Alliterative Name: Willy Wonka.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: He is brilliant but far beyond the norm of social behavior and thinking, and not even a hint is dropped as to why in the novel and most adaptations — the sole exception is the 2005 film. Even in-story others wonder what's up with him:
    • The brats and their parents think he's legitimately insane, and in the sequel Charlie's other grandparents think this way as well.
    • Charlie and Grandpa Joe, by comparison, see him as sane in an unconventional way. This, in fact, is the heart of the trope named for Mr. Wonka.
    • Him being on the Autism Spectrum is often brought up, with Douglas Hodge outright admitting he played him as autistic.
  • Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: His outfit — top hat, tail coat, etc. — seems more appropriate to a Stage Magician or circus ringmaster than a chocolate factory owner. But then, he is no mere chocolate factory owner...
  • Benevolent Boss: Zig-zagged with regards to the Oompa-Loompas. There's the controversial, much-debated Happiness in Slavery issue, as well as the fact that he uses them as test subjects for his creations. However, they are a lot better off working for him than they were in Loompaland, even having the space to set up their own little towns and villages within the factory, and Mr. Wonka does what he can to rescue them when tests go awry. In the sequel novel, it's revealed that rather than waiting for the de-aged Oompa-Loompas to return to this plane of existence in time, he not only created an aging counterpart to the Wonka-Vite pills but journeyed into the sinister underground world of Minusland to administer it (at great personal risk to himself), simply because he cares about them that much.
  • Bold Explorer: Between the two books, it's clear that he's traveled extensively, even into fantastical places most people aren't even aware exist (i.e. Loompaland, Minusland), all in the service of his work. He even has extensive knowledge of the histories of other planets and alien races.
  • Brutal Honesty: While he does his best to reassure his panicking guests when the brats get into trouble that they're "bound to come out in the wash. They always do", he won't lie about what will and could happen to them either. Often, this honesty just makes matters worse, especially because he's so upfront about his Skewed Priorities.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: No matter which adaptation, he's always an eccentric, reclusive weirdo. But he's also a brilliant chocolatier and candymaker, and a very successful businessman.
  • Callousness Towards Emergency: Zig-zagged. When the four brats disobey him, he has No Sympathy as they end up in danger, calmly watching and snarking from the sidelines even as everyone else panics. Then again he actually knows how they can be rescued and restored, talking about the solutions as if they were standard emergency procedures (since they do have accidents like those from time to time) and assigning the Oompa-Loompas to attend to the victims. Then again he outright leaves Veruca and her parents' fate up to chance (maybe that incinerator isn't lit today!). Then again he is testing them, so his concerns for their safety are probably nonexistent. Then again they are all Hate Sinks and the reader is meant to take great satisfaction in their Laser-Guided Karma punishments. This zig-zagging is one of the key reasons Mr. Wonka is an Interpretative Character highly subject to Alternative Character Interpretations.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: While he appears to practice this at first glance, closer examination shows he averts it. Although he is rich beyond the dreams of avarice, and his factory is filled with exotic and outlandish things, they are all part of Wonka's reinvesting in his company. His vision of "Research and Development" is just not the same as yours or mine. In fact, we see his attitude towards this trope in the text itself: When a middle-eastern prince commissions Wonka to build him a palace made of chocolate, Wonka is shocked at the prince's declaration that he plans to live in it!
  • Cool Old Guy: Implied to actually be this in the novel and 2013 musical (see Older Than They Look below).
  • Crazy-Prepared: In the sequel, his Great Glass Elevator is revealed to be not only capable of space travel but also "shockproof, waterproof, bombproof, bulletproof, and Knidproof". "Knidproof" refers to the Vermicious Knids, carnivorous aliens that cannot survive passing through Earth's atmosphere, yet not only does Mr. Wonka know all about them, he's prepared to fend off an attack should he ever encounter them! And remember that until the end of the first book, he only ever used the elevator to get around his factory!
  • Creepy Good: On the one hand, he's a Large Ham Nightmare Fetishist Rummage Sale Reject and creator/master of a Crapsaccharine World / False Utopia that brings doom upon those who let their vices get the best of them. On the other, he's a Renaissance Man Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and those who prove worthy of that heart will be duly rewarded in time.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: While Mr. Wonka clearly doesn't have any problem with money, inventions like the Television-Chocolate setup and the Great Glass Elevator would probably make him even richer and change the world. Except he never bothers to find any applicability to them outside of candy. (Justified in the 2013 musical owing to his Doing It for the Art motivation.) From the 2005 film:
    Mike Teavee: (Upon finding Wonka has a functional teleporter) Have you ever used it on people?
    Mr. Wonka: Why would I want to transport people? They don't taste very good at all.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He's prone to whimsical and sometimes stealthily insulting responses to the tour group's puzzled and/or rude remarks and questions. When Violet expresses disbelief that his storeroom of beans includes "has beans" he notes "You're one yourself!" Not long afterward, when he's explaining the purpose of Hair Toffee to the group, Veruca asks "Who wants a beard, for heaven's sake?" Mr. Wonka casually remarks "It would suit you very well..." Adaptations take his gift for snarking and run with it, with the 1971 and 2013 incarnations particularly gentlemanly.
  • Determinator: Everyone thought he was a case of How the Mighty Have Fallen after he sacked his original workforce. It took him months, perhaps years, and at the very least travel to distant lands was involved, but — alone — he found a way and a workforce that wouldn't sell his secrets to other candymakers to get his factory up and running again. This also, for both good and ill, was behind his creation of both Wonka-Vite and Vita-Wonk in the sequel — it took 132 tries to perfect the former, and then he had to create the latter and journey to Minusland to rescue the Oompa-Loompas who vanished via the first 131 tries. And again, he did this without any help from outsiders.
  • Deuteragonist: To Charlie Bucket's protagonist in the novel and most adaptations, but especially the 2013 stage musical, which reveals that the two characters have more in common than it would seem. By comparison, the sequel makes Mr. Wonka the protagonist and Charlie his sidekick.
  • Dissonant Laughter: In the novel, he breaks into peals of this after Augustus goes up the pipes, much to Mrs. Gloop's horror and anger, as well as when his Cool Boat races down the pitch-dark tunnel and the Great Glass Elevator takes off sideways (causing the Teavees and Buckets, who weren't expecting that, to tumble to the floor — he was the only one who grabbed on to an overhead strap). This is dropped from most adaptations, but in the 2013 stage musical when the other characters scream and panic when Augustus tumbles into the chocolate waterfall, he's promptly doubled over with laughter — until he catches himself.
  • Does Not Like Spam: He hates breakfast cereal; when Mike brings up the subject, he explains that "It's made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!"
  • Eccentric Mentor: He needs to find a proper child to mentor, though, and his method of doing so crosses this trope with Trickster Mentor.
  • Einstein Hair: Quentin Blake's illustrations give him gray, messy locks that seem to stick straight out, though his Nice Hat obscures them to an extent.
  • Explorer Outfit: In the original Joseph Schindelman illustrations, he wears this in the Oompa-Loompa village. Also turns up in the corresponding flashback in the 2005 film.
  • Fiction 500: He owns the world's largest chocolate factory — so big it has an entire subterranean river system made from liquid chocolate — and develops things like teleportation just to boost his advertising revenues. At one time he had a huge human workforce that he spontaneously sacked in its entirety due to industrial espionage issues (severance pay, anyone?); he then imported an entire unknown nation of people IN SECRET just to staff his factory, and had enough cash stockpiled to allow him to do this while the factory was closed and he was receiving no income. Better yet, he pays the Oompa-Loompa wages not in money but in leftover cacao beans, so every penny spent on a Wonka Bar goes straight to him! While Mr. Wonka tends to laugh a lot, he laughs really hard in the sequel when Charlie's family is concerned about money, telling them he "has plenty of that!"
  • Fun Personified: There are few situations that he can't lighten up with some humor. This is part of what makes him so unnerving to others, given the chaos that seems to swirl around his world. In the sequel, when he and the Buckets are in a space hotel, suspected of being spies, and asked via radio by the President of the United States to identify themselves, he takes advantage of the lack of a video feed to pretend to be an alien. He trolls the Earth for, apparently, nothing more than his own amusement.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Considering he designed/built not only the Factory itself but such wonders as the Television Chocolate setup and the Great Glass Elevator, one suspects his skills go a bit beyond chocolate. And he has an army of Oompa-Loompas — some of which may have helped with or come up with the designs themselves.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: He does love to boast about/show off his many wonders and brush off questions, but that generally stems from happiness and excitement rather than the superior manner of an Insufferable Genius. He is whimsical and tricky yet well-spoken and authoritative. He has quite a few traits of the Gentleman Wizard, in fact — he just doesn't have actual magical powers.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: A good goatee in the novel; some illustrators have given him a dainty mustache as well. In the 2013 musical, Douglas Hodge's Wonka has a chin tuft and a neatly-shaped, slender mustache; overall, this gives an intimidating twist to his look. Starting with the 1971 film, most adaptations have him clean-shaven, and Alex Jennings and Jonathan Slinger, Hodge's successors, followed suit (though understudies followed Hodge's precedent). The Broadway production goes with a clean-shaven Wonka as well.
  • Gut Feeling: He admits, in the end, that he suspected from the start that Charlie would prove to be the heir he was seeking.
  • Hand Rubbing: During the visit to the Inventing Room in the first book, he spends a few moments excitedly dashing about the various stoves, cauldrons, etc. to check up on things. At one point, "he peered anxiously through the glass door of a gigantic oven, rubbing his hands and cackling with delight at what he saw inside." (Please disregard that this trope is usually associated with villains...)
  • The Hermit: He was this for a time in the backstory, after he closed his factory — he completely broke off contact with other people and vanished from the public eye. Eventually he discovered the Oompa-Loompas and hired them as a new workforce, though he remains an in-universe Reclusive Artist.
  • Hypocrite: He considers chewing gum "really gross" and detestable, yet seemingly sees no wrong in making profit from selling it — he explicitly states his desire to get that flawed gum right so he can sell it. He also disdains fat children yet sees no wrong in selling chocolate and candy in general, even though sweets are a key cause of childhood obesity.
  • Iconic Item: His walking stick, though not as iconic as the top hat, turns up in all adaptations. Its design varies from version to version.
  • Iconic Outfit: His Nice Hat (see below) — approaches to his actual suit vary from version to version, but he always has a hat and it is always a top hat, usually a black one.
  • Impossible Genius: Though he'd scoff at the term, as he believes "Nothing is impossible!" A television-based teleporter? An elevator/functioning spacecraft that he claims runs on "candy power" and/or "skyhooks"? Ice creams that never melt or are hot? Candy apple trees that can be planted? "Magic Hand-Fudge — When You Hold It In Your Hand, You Taste It In Your Mouth"? Truly this is a man who has harnessed nonsensoleum to incredible ends.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: He has no family, no stated place of origin. Even his age is uncertain (he looks middle-aged but...). Where did he come from? How did he become who he is and embark upon such amazing successes and travels? How did his priorities become so skewed that they approach Blue-and-Orange Morality? Only the 2005 film outright attempts to answer these questions. The 2013 stage musical says only this much:
    Despite the man seen at these doors
    My childhood home was bland like yours
    But I knew how to look to find
    A world that wasn't color-blind
  • Interpretative Character: The enigma that is a Mad Scientist of candymaking with a unique way of thinking, seriously Skewed Priorities, especially with regard to the fates of those who don't heed him, and Trickster tendencies — not to mention the eternal question of whether he intends to get the kids into trouble by dangling dangerous temptations before them (as it's likely he knows their flaws/weaknesses, given the contest press coverage) — allows for a wide range of interpretations, as seen below.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While he's cheerful and pleasant, he has his moments of Jerk Assishness, particularly when members of the tour group pester him with questions...or get themselves into trouble.
  • Large and in Charge: While he isn't suggested to be particularly tall/physically imposing in most illustrations and adaptations, he's a justified example of this trope in that he towers over his entire workforce, which is a race of Lilliputians / Little People!
  • Large Ham: Mr. Wonka's mysterious, fantastical nature and boundless energy means that actors portraying him have to be large hams by default. Gene Wilder's What the Hell, Hero? rant in the climax of the 1971 version has become a Memetic Mutation, but he gets plenty of other scenery-chewing moments. Johnny Depp not only chews the scenery in the 2005 film, he gulps it down with vodka and asks for seconds. The 2010 opera has the character written as a Badass Baritone. Douglas Hodge's portrayal is a more Hot-Blooded take; even when he's in a calm and reflective mood, he's positively thrumming with energy and zest for life and its possibilities. (It is very telling that Hodge and his successors Alex Jennings and Jonathan Slinger are all bonafide Shakespearean Actors.)
  • Literal-Minded: Sometimes, with regards to how his sweets are made — the whipped cream his factory produces is whipped with actual whips.
  • Living Legend: He's the greatest and most famous candymaker in the world, and his legend only grows after he becomes a recluse yet manages to get his factory up and running again even as no one ever enters or exits it...
  • Mad Scientist: Yes, this trope can be applied to confectionery! This doesn't even get into such wonders as the Great Glass Elevator and (in the sequel) the de-aging and aging formulas.
  • Manchild: Downplayed. He is mature enough to be one of the world's great businessmen and inventors, but he still has a child's creativity, enthusiasm, wonder, impatience, and — to a lesser extent — innocence, rather Ambiguous Innocence at that. (The voice Douglas Hodge gave him in the 2013 musical is a deliberate reflection of this: A rich adult tenor afflicted by the tipsy, quirky inflections and pitch shifts of a child's voice "breaking" upon hitting puberty.)
  • Mr. Exposition: In the first book, he explains the Backstory of the Oompa-Loompas; in the second book, he explains the same for the Vermicious Knids. Later, he has to deliver lengthy explanations of how he created both Wonka-Vite and Vita-Wonk.
  • Nice Hat: Wears a top hat in the novel and all adaptations. Canonically it's black and most adaptations follow suit, but he has a caramel topper in the 1971 film. (There's no way that can't sound like a euphemism.) That version also has the following dialogue:
    Veruca: Who says I can't?
    Mr. Salt: The man in the funny hat...
  • Nightmare Fetishist: The fact that he's usually calm and collected, and even amused, while witnessing at the awful fates that befall the brats bespeaks these tropes! See also the boat tunnel in the 1971 version and his tendency to gleefully join in on the Oompa-Loompa songs in the 2013 musical.
  • No Sympathy: The tour group learns the hard way that he hasn't much sympathy for those who ignore his warnings and get themselves into trouble (after all, he did warn them). His Skewed Priorities don't help. This trait is particularly pronounced in the 2013 musical.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Wonka is a genius confectioner in every sense of the word but he comes across as weird, apathetic and nonsensical. Wonka has a method in madness to his work, the only reason he responds with apathy to the trials of the bratty children is because he knew what would happen to them such as Augustus being overwhelmed with gluttony when he is taken to a room where everything can be eaten. He does warn them to be careful but the parents regard him as a sadistic madman.
  • Older Than They Look: In the novel, he has been a recluse for ten years when the story begins, and looks middle-aged when he emerges for the tour. But at the end he tells Charlie that he actually fits this trope: "I'm an old man. I'm much older than you think." Other versions take different tacks on his age:
    • In the 2005 film, based on the flashbacks, he's in his 40s at most, but might even be around 30 or even still in his late 20s — Johnny Depp was 42 at the time but definitely looked younger. The "I'm an old man" line is cut and replaced by Wonka considering his mortality when he gets his first gray hair.
    • In the 2013 musical, he has been a recluse for over 40 years; according to Charlie's grandparents, he was producing sweets when Mahatma Gandhi (who died January 30th, 1948) was alive. He still looks middle-aged (role originator Douglas Hodge was 53 when the show opened), but when he tells Charlie "I'm a lot older than you think" there's no denying that The Trickster is being honest. His Obfuscating Disability trick when he first appears even plays on this, as he claims "I'm afraid that I might fall/For my eyes and knees/Have grown frail behind this wall".
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Especially when one takes the sequel into account, his work suggests he is an expert in at least three fields — chemistry, engineering, and astrophysics. Of course, he's apparently stumbled into some of this just by throwing things together and seeing what works; the discovery of the substance that he perfected into the fountain-of-youth pill Wonka-Vite was pretty much accidental.
  • Outside-Context Problem: He's this to the Vermicious Knids (themselves outside context villains to most of humanity) in the sequel. When they take over the space hotel, they have no idea that one of the visitors knows what they are and what they're vulnerable to, and even has a vehicle that's Knidproof.
  • Parental Substitute: The 1971 film implies that he'll become a father figure to Charlie (whose father suffered Death by Adaptation before the story begins). In the opera The Golden Ticket, the situation is much clearer: Both of Charlie's parents have been Adapted Out, and after Mike Teavee is shrunk, Grandpa Joe volunteers to stay behind and comfort Mrs. Teavee while Veruca and Charlie head to the next room. Veruca has her father with her, but now all Charlie has serving as a "guardian" figure is Mr. Wonka himself...
  • Pet the Dog: In the novel, 2005 film, and 2010 opera, during the boat ride he scoops two mugfuls of melted chocolate from the river for Charlie and Grandpa Joe to enjoy, having noticed how thin and bony they look. (In the 2010 opera, this is on top of the heavy implication that Mr. Wonka is also the sweetshop owner and thus is responsible for Charlie finding a Golden Ticket in the first place.) Interestingly, both the 1971 and 2013 adaptations leave this bit out, which means Mr. Wonka doesn't get a "definitely a nice guy" moment and his Trickster nature becomes more pronounced. Only at the end of both, once Charlie proves he's earned the grand prize, does he fully let his inner kindness show.
  • Pungeon Master: Many of the things his factory produces involve punny wordplay ("butterscotch and soda", "has beans", etc.). In the 1971 film he tosses a shoe into a cauldron of something-or-other because it "Gives it a little kick." In the 2013 musical, he has such lyrics as (from "Simply Second Nature") "And me, I take sweet honey/And make a tasteful rose".
  • Purple Is Powerful: He wears "a tail coat made of a beautiful plum-colored velvet". Given all these surrounding tropes, he certainly fits this trope's need for a purple-wearer to be powerful and cool.
  • Reclusive Artist: In-universe. The 2013 musical plays up the artist part.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: He can make a meal come out of gum, an ice cream that stays cold and doesn't melt in the sun, build a chocolate palace without a metal framework, can teleport things into TV screens, and has anti-gravity technology - yet he only applies his know-how to candy. This is lampshaded by Mike Teavee in the 2005 film. Then again, considering what happens to Mike, can anyone blame Mr. Wonka for having no desire to apply his teleporting technology to people?
  • Renaissance Man: He's a Supreme Chef, a fabulously wealthy businessman, an architect, a Bold Explorer, a Gadgeteer Genius, a Mad Scientist / Omnidisciplinary Scientist, fluent in at least two languages (English and Oompa-Loompish), incredibly eloquent, and able to recite/create poetry on the fly!
  • Rich Recluse's Realm: Abandoned society after his business rivals began stealing the recipes to his best-selling products, retreating to his legendary chocolate factory — which remained closed to everyone except delivery vehicles from then on. As it turns out, the overwhelming majority of the building is deep underground and encompasses a lot more space than it first appears. Consequently, Wonka uses the factory as a home, a residence for his new workforce of Oompa-Loompas, a laboratory for new products, and a workshop for his own brand of art.
  • Rounded Character: He's the only character in the novels that qualifies as this, and adaptations tend to further expand on his complex personality.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Even back in 1964 when it was written, Mr. Wonka's outfit was Awesome Anachronistic Apparel — but then there's the colors. Plum tail coat, bottle-green trousers, pearly gray gloves, black top hat, etc. See Adaptation Dye-Job above for more on this. This does not keep him from being a...
  • Science Hero: A good-kind-of-crazy Mad Scientist hero, to be specific, one who uses his abilities in the service of making and marketing the best candies in the world. As the sequel proves, though, he can turn his talents to more urgent needs as well — i.e., saving humans from shapeshifting aliens or figuring out how to re-age people into this plane of existence.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Eccentric though his outfit looks, it is beautifully tailored and he is extremely well-groomed.
  • Skewed Priorities: Related to his Callousness Towards Emergency, he definitely cares more about the production and the quality of confectionery than the safety of people. He assures Mrs. Gloop that her son won't be turned into fudge "Because the taste would be terrible"! (In the 1971 version, as he watches Augustus drown in his chocolate river: "My chocolate! My beautiful chocolate!") Also, he seems to be more concerned with attractive aesthetics ("I insist upon my rooms being beautiful!") and the Rule of Cool than practical issues in designing his factory, resulting in the whole place falling under No OSHA Compliance.
  • Staff of Authority: Bespeaking his Living Legend, Fiction 500, and Older Than They Look status, he always carries "a fine gold-topped walking cane" — though he seems much too sprightly to need it. Like the Nice Hat, it's a vital part of his ensemble in all adaptations, though the design varies from version to version.
  • Supreme Chef: On a grand scale, having invented all of the confections his factory produces.
  • Terms of Endangerment: He tends to address the Golden Ticket tour group members as "My dear [blank]". He may not be a villain, but he is The Trickster, and he uses such sweet talk to "politely" discourage others from questioning him, defuse the parents' anger at him when their bratty children are horrifically imperiled, and generally mask his true feelings about his mostly-nasty charges.
  • Trickster Mentor: The whole point of the Golden Ticket contest and tour is to find a child whom he can train as a successor. The 1971 and 2013 incarnations, in particular, love speaking in riddles and Koans and confusing the tour group.
  • Vague Age:
    • The fact that Mr. Wonka is getting on in years is a critical plot point in every version of the story, but thanks to his Mysterious Past, it's pretty hard to pin down how old he is. He physically appears to be middle aged in almost every major telling, including the original book, but he makes it clear that he's a good deal older than that. He's been a recluse who hasn't left his factory for at least a decade, and before that had his factory closed down long enough for some people to assume he was dead, and prior to that was a chocolatier for long enough to secure his Living Legend status and attract the attention of untold rivals. The London stage version especially puts a good deal of emphasis on his age, with him having personally known Ghandi and featuring gags like him throwing out his back while trying to dance, but we're never given a ballpark figure.
    • The only major telling to avert this was the 2005 film, which drops the Mysterious Past and gives a pretty clear timeline of Wonka's life; he's in his fourties at the oldest. They appropriately also drop references to Wonka being an old man, and instead his desire to find an heir comes from him finding a gray hair.
  • Waistcoat of Style: Usually has one in illustrations, as well as in the 1971 film and 2013 musical.
  • The Wonka: Trope Namer: An eccentric and successful business owner.

     1971 Film
"Are we ready? Yes. Good. On we go!"
Mr. Salt: What is this, Wonka, some kind of fun house?
Mr. Wonka: (seemingly surprised) Why, having fun?

This Wonka is gracious, friendly, pleasant, exceptionally well-read — and simply cannot be trusted. Unfortunately, by the time that last point is figured out by his guests, they have no choice but to keep following his lead no matter how wild and woolly things become. Moreover, virtually nothing gets past him, which becomes a problem for Charlie in the late going...

  • Anti-Hero: Despite being a Consummate Liar and The Trickster with a temper it's best not to disturb, he remains Creepy Good. The Reveal that Slugworth's plot is actually another way for Mr. Wonka to test the children boils down to him using tricky means to reach a virtuous end.
  • Beneath the Mask: Initially he comes off as just a quirky sweetness-and-light guy, but he turns out to have a darker side and, late in the game, a dangerous temper. See Surprise Creepy below.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: He's like this throughout the movie, reaching his high point when Mike decides to jump into the TV teleporter; Mr. Wonka, having given warnings to the other kids before the factory claims them, attempts to warn Mike in a tone somewhere between exhausted and bored. You can tell the guy's done caring by this point.
  • The Charmer: He's a non-sexualized example. He is so charming and pleasant, particularly towards the children, that even as his darker, snarkier side begins to show his guests still follow his lead and get caught up in the middle of wacky (i.e. "Just through the other door, please.") and/or creepy hijinks. This is most obvious with the boat ride ("You're going to love this... just love it.") and goes hand in hand with his being a Consummate Liar.
  • Chewing the Scenery: He does this during the boat ride and when delivering his What the Hell, Hero? speech.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: In addition to his eccentric demeanor, he incorporated is factory with many strange visuals— the creepy boat tunnel, the giant geese, a stylized automobile that runs on carbonated water, and a glass elevator that moves in all directions besides up or down— some of which are pointless and with no explanation.
  • Comical Overreacting: His reaction to the sight of Augustus drinking from the river quickly escalates into this and gets worse when he falls in! The thing is, all along he's more concerned with his chocolate being contaminated than the kid's welfare; he quickly calms down as the boy is sucked up the pipe. This presages his much more seriously-played Chewing the Scenery later on.
  • Consummate Liar: Gene Wilder's guiding principle in playing Mr. Wonka was the conceit that neither the audience nor characters would be able to tell whether he's lying or not at any given moment, and this is why his Establishing Character Moment is what it is.
  • Cool Key: It's a flute key!
  • Dissonant Serenity: He tends to slip into an absurdly calm-and-collected state when the bratty kids are getting themselves into trouble, though in the case of Augustus his reactions alternate between this and Comical Overreacting. Even Mr. Beauregarde threatening him over Violet's transformation doesn't faze him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: See Obfuscating Disability below.
  • Face Palm: Does this during Veruca's "I Want" Song, as he watches her smash up the golden egg room.
  • Heroic BSoD: After the tour, he seems to be dejected as he sorts out his mail in his office while Charlie and Grandpa Joe are asking about the lifetime supply of chocolate, upset at the thought of even Charlie having disappointed him via the Fizzy Lifting Drinks incident. Mr. Wonka really doesn't think any child would be the right fit to inherit the factory. He even describes the prior events as "whole day wasted" as he initially shows Charlie and Grandpa Joe the door. This dark mood leads directly into his What the Hell, Hero? speech.
  • "I Am" Song: "Pure Imagination", which has some of the best I Am Choreography one could want.
  • Iconic Outfit: His ensemble — purple coat, white shirt, floral Waistcoat of Style, bow tie, brown trousers and matching top hat — is the go-to image for pop culture depictions of the character to this day, superseding the more garish/mismatched suit of the novel.
  • Insane Troll Logic: His explanation for the Road Trip Across the Street in the Wonkamobile rather than just walking to the next room? "If the Good Lord had intended us to walk, He wouldn't have invented roller skates."
  • Lost in Imitation: Most examples of Charlie and the Chocolate Parody take off from this movie and thus Wilder's interpretation of the character. Wilder also set the precedent for Mr. Wonka being depicted as clean-shaven in almost all subsequent adaptations, and his costume has become an Iconic Outfit.
  • Magical Flutist: He plays a twittering tune on his flute key to summon Oompa-Loompas when he needs to give them instructions.
  • Motor Mouth: Often slips into this when he's excited (hence the Verbal Backspace of "Strike that, reverse it") or just needs to dismiss others' concerns. His response to Mr. Beauregarde asking about the fine print on the contract is "Oh, if you have any questions, dial information, thank you for calling."
  • Non Sequitur: Most of his strange comments and quotes kind of follow on from other people's questions, but his response to Veruca asking what a snozzberry is — "We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams", a quote from a poem by William Edgar O'Shaughnessy — is this.
  • Not So Stoic: Throughout the film Wonka is always reserved and smiling, and seems to know everything before it happens. Even his explosion with Charlie at the end is nothing but an act. There are only two points where he genuinely seems to lose his cool.
  • Obfuscating Disability: He walks out limping with a cane, then sets the cane aside and does a somersault.
    • Invoked as an Establishing Character Moment by Gene Wilder. He requested the scene so that the audience would immediately understand how unpredictable Wonka would be.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: At least some of his quirky behavior is this, to prevent others from forming outside attachments to him (as the Slugworth subplot proves).
  • Parental Bonus: Mr. Wonka isn't a case of Speaks in Shout-Outs, but he loves to pepper his dialogue with literary quotes or the odd snatch of song, all of which qualify as this.
  • Pass the Popcorn: His reaction to the sight of Augustus Gloop getting stuck in the pipe (he's nibbling some sweets).
  • Quirky Curls: Due to Gene Wilder's actual hair being tightly-curled and frizzy, Mr. Wonka gets these as a side-effect of the Adaptation Dye-Job.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Grandpa Joe pressing him about why Charlie was disqualified from the lifetime supply of chocolate triggers his What the Hell, Hero? speech.
    Wonka: Charlie broke the rules.
    Grandpa Joe: What rules? We didn't see any rules, did we Charlie?
    Wonka: WRONG, SIR, WRONG!
  • Restored My Faith in Humanity: By the end of the film, he's become dejected after years of people stealing his secret recipes and all five children, even Charlie, fail to measure up to his expectations, and slinks into his office considering the day a waste. When Charlie, accepting that he did fail, chooses to give back the Everlasting Gobstopper rather than sell it to Slugworth, he not only proves himself worthy to Wonka and atones for his mistake, but helps Wonka to see the good in the world again.
    Wonka: So shines a good deed in a weary world...
  • Secondary Character Title: Although not the case in the original book or the second adaptation of it (known as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), in this film the titular Wonka, though an important character, is the owner of the titular factory to which the main protagonist Charlie wins a trip.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: Besides his flute key, the door to his main chocolate room opens to a tune by Mozart.
  • Surprise Creepy: Of all incarnations, this Wonka initially comes off as the calmest, least hammy, and most "normal" of the lot. As the tour begins and progresses through the Chocolate Room, however, it becomes apparent that he has a dark streak going, and the boat ride reveals just what a Large Ham and Nightmare Fetishist he actually is.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mr. Wonka lets poor Charlie have it when he reveals that he knew about him taking the Fizzy-Lifting Drinks. Grandpa Joe tries one of these on him in response, but it doesn't work. (That said, after Charlie returns the Everlasting Gobstopper to him, he is not only overjoyed by Charlie's virtue but asks forgiveness for his outburst.)

     2005 Film
"Good morning, star shine! The Earth says 'hello'!"
Everything in this room is eatable. Even I am eatable, but that is called "cannibalism," my dear children, and is in fact frowned on in most societies.

This youthful-looking fellow is at least as brilliant as any of his other incarnations when it comes to sweetmaking, but unlike them is completely lacking in social skills and graces to the point that even the Golden Ticket finders come off as more mature than he. His arrested development stems from a heartbreaking experience in his past that he has never quite been able to put behind him — and is coloring what he wants from a successor in the present.

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: His Daddy Issues.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Due to both Character Exaggeration and a Not His Sled twist (see below), Wonka is less likable/charming and generous than in other versions. Luckily, he gets better by the end of the film.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Mr. Wonka's backstory and his dentist father who hated chocolate. This expansion is for much the the same purpose as the Slugworth subplot in the '71 version, an effort to give the story a more complex ending.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Of the major adaptations, this Wonka is the furthest from his book counterpart, going from a charming, confident Trickster Gentleman and a Scholar to an Insufferable Genius with No Social Skills.
  • Anti-Villain: In order to achieve his goal of finding a proper heir, this Wonka believes he must tear a loving family apart, uncaring of what said heir thinks of this, sending him into this territory. Again, he does come around.
  • Badass Longcoat: He is almost always seen wearing a black or red trenchcoat.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": In an attempt to get around his social awkwardness, some of his tour spiel is on index cards. When he reads from them — the first time he does this is as he's introducing himself — he falls into this trope's "stilted and monotone" flavor.
  • Big Entrance: He's supposed to make this at the end of the puppet show, but he wanted to watch it instead of be in it, so he quietly joins the Golden Ticket group while it's in progress. They don't notice him until it's over and they realize that someone's applauding.
  • Blatant Lies: He denies that the Oompa-Loompas' songs about the mishaps happening to the children were prepared in advance, even though they clearly were.
  • Blind Shoulder Toss: Does this with Mr. Salt's business card as soon as it's given to him.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: As a child.
  • Broken Ace: Like his counterparts, this Wonka is a candymaker extraordinnaire with a legendary reputation, but his traumatic childhood left him with some nasty mental scars that have caused him major trouble.
  • Character Exaggeration: Not only does Depp exaggerate the eccentricity and enthusiasm of the original, he also picks up on the not-quite-hidden apathy for the other children and turns it into outright dislike.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Downplayed. While Mr. Wonka wears gloves in the novel, that's in service to his outdated Rummage Sale Reject look. The pale purple gloves the 2005 Wonka wears seem just a bit... off by comparison. It turns out that the gloves and his tunic-esque shirt are similar to those of Dr. Wilbur Wonka's dentist scrubs. Willy's fashion sense is, unconsciously, partially inspired by his father.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: While the novels and most adaptations regard Mr. Wonka as Inexplicably Awesome, director Tim Burton and screenwriter John August present his eccentric, effectively solitary nature as the result of being estranged from his father over his choice of career. And rather than Creepy Good, he's an Anti-Villain who embodies off-putting social awkwardness rather than charm and creeps out the other characters at all times. The reconstruction comes as he is capable of reaching a happy ending, provided he can stop being a freakish loner and start relating to others again.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Even more so than his 1971 counterpart. This Wonka keeps on smiling even as the kids are going through horrifying things right in front of him, with the sole exception of the scene where he runs for cover as Violet turns into a blueberry.
  • Emotionally Tongue-Tied: He has a hard time saying the word "parents" — he can't get past the P-sound without looking as if he's about to vomit.
  • Everyone Has Standards: When Violet insists on trying the three-course gum, it's the closest he comes to sounding genuinely concerned about the children's safety.
    Violet: It's amazing! Tomato soup, I can feel it running down my throat!
    Mr. Wonka: Yeah! Spit it out!
  • Excited Kids' Show Host: By Johnny Depp's design, this Wonka's surface mannerisms owe a lot to this trope...and he's always "on".
  • First Gray Hair: Currently provides the page quote for this trope. Willy Wonka reveals to Charlie that this made him realize he was getting old and needed to find an heir.
  • Flashback: Lampshaded!
    Mr. Wonka: (in a dazed way) I'm sorry, I was having a flashback.
    Mike Teavee's Dad: (disturbed) These flashbacks happen often?
    Mr. Wonka: Increasingly... today.
  • Freudian Excuse: Okay, he's not evil, but his behavior is partially due to his harsh childhood.
  • "I Am Great!" Song: The puppet show song that the tour group views outside the factory entrance is specifically about how awesome he is. Tellingly, he's supposed to be revealed at the end of the performance, but instead turns out to be watching it with the others! (While the song is known as "Wonka's Welcome Song", it doesn't really count as a Welcoming Song as it's all about him.)
  • Insufferable Genius: Rather than the whimsical Gentleman and a Scholar / Gentleman Snarker of the novel and other adaptations, this Wonka is a socially-awkward braggart — he's still brilliant, but childishly so.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: As Charlie is shining Mr. Wonka's shoes after refusing to move to the factory:
    Charlie: I met him. I thought he was great at first. Then he didn't turn out that nice. And he has a funny haircut.
    Mr. Wonka: (throws down the newspaper he's reading) I do not!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In this version, this trope doesn't fully surface until the climax.
  • Keet: Johnny Depp makes — by far — the cutest, youngest-looking, and most effeminate Willy Wonka, and the more excited he is the cuter he gets.
  • Licking the Blade: Defending himself from one of Loompaland's vicious, giant insects, he manages to cut it in two with a machete. Noting the goo that leaves on the blade, he licks it off, because one never knows when one might find an ideal new ingredient (seeking such was what brought him to Loompaland to begin with).
  • Lonely at the Top: He doesn't realize it initially, but his decision to defy his father to follow his dreams, and to a lesser extent his subsequent decision to shut himself away from the rest of the world (with only his Oompa-Loompa workforce to interact with) to protect his recipes, has left him emotionally stunted and inwardly unsatisfied despite his huge success. It's only when he reconciles with his father and accepts the Bucket family into his life that he can start on the path to being well-adjusted. This is related to...
  • Loners Are Freaks: This is the only adaptation to date that regards Willy Wonka in these terms. In other versions, he is certainly isolated and separate from "regular" people, largely by choice and partially owing to his eccentricity, but it's not presented as a bad thing.
  • Manchild: This trope is exaggerated compared to other versions of the character. One of the many ingredients Depp named for his Wonka was a "bratty child". He's a stubborn, moody, frighteningly careless, easily delighted, self-absorbed braggart, who argues with the rotten kids just below their level, doesn't seem to understand adult behavior, and harbors some very silly ideas about science and geography. The good news is that he presumably ends up best friends with Charlie, who becomes a sort of spiritual mentor to him.
  • Missing Mom: We never see or hear anything about his mother — just his father — and no explanation for this is given.
  • No Social Skills: Though he does have a very good Freudian Excuse.
  • No Sympathy: He doesn't show much concern over the children's fates in his factory. The most glaring example is when he explains that the pipe Augustus went through leads to the Fudge Room, and Mrs. Gloop horrifiedly asks if that'll be her son's fate, he has this to say:
    "No. I wouldn't allow it. The taste would be terrible. Can you imagine 'Augustus-flavored Chocolate-coated Gloop'? Ew. No one would buy it."
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, who clearly doesn't have his father Wilbur's British accent. Granted, Mrs Wonka never appears and she could have been American, but Willy does have a British accent as a child!
  • Not His Sled: Mr. Wonka initially refuses to allow Charlie to take his family to the factory to live with him, contrasting with the endings of all other versions.
  • Obliviously Evil: He honestly doesn't understand why Charlie isn't willing to leave his family so he can inherit the factory.
  • Perpetual Smiler: He always seems to be cheery and perky, but this is hinted to be a front to cope with his daddy issues.
  • Pet the Dog: While he makes no effort to hide his disdain for the other bratty children, he behaves much more decently towards Charlie, allowing him a sampling from the chocolate river after noticing how famished he is and answering all of his questions in a genuinely open and honest manner. This reinforces the notion that the outcome of the tour was a Foregone Conclusion to him, as he confesses when Charlie proves to be the last child standing in the end.
  • Rags to Riches: Mr. Wonka's backstory is this, as he ran away from his father and apparently raised himself by bootstraps into his position as chocolate king.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Falls into this once with the aforementioned index cards: "I shake you warmly by the hand!"
  • The Runaway: After a disagreement with his father over his choice of career, he left home. He ended up going to a flag museum and stayed until it closed, possibly to give his father time to cool off from their argument, but when Willy returned home he discovered that both his father and their house were completely gone.
  • Self-Made Man: Unlike in the book, here it is clear that he got no help whatsoever from his own family.
  • Smug Snake: He's played more like this with his fake smiles and mannerisms. He has his own introductory song (sung by puppets) about what a great and brilliant guy he is, and is so certain that Charlie will abandon his own family to own the factory that he falls into depression when Charlie refuses, being unable to comprehend the family's importance to him.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Although this Wonka has No Social Skills, he is no less fearless about travelling into Hungry Jungles, flying about in a glass elevator, etc. than his counterparts in other versions. On top of that, he's been on his own since his father abandoned him — and he was a kid at the time.
  • Stepford Smiler: He is inwardly depressed despite his cheery exterior, the result of trying way too hard to put his past behind him.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: In the Oompa-Loompa village, he sampled a bowl of mashed caterpillars during his meeting with the Oompa-Loompa chief.
  • Technicolor Eyes: He has violet colored eyes. Interestingly, they're brown as a child and go back to that color following his reconciliation with his father, implying that they were linked to his issues with the man.
  • Totally Radical: How he speaks to children, with slang and references that wander from The '50s to The '70s. It's a side effect of his isolation Played for Laughs.
  • Trauma Button: Charlie's innocent questions about Mr. Wonka's youth (and his "Candy doesn't have to have a point" comment) unknowingly trigger his flashbacks to his ill-fated relationship with his father, causing him to space out in the present.
  • Unreliable Expositor: He attempts to pass off the Oompa-Loompas' songs as skilled improvisation when the others have reason to suspect that they (and by extension he) know more about the bratty kids and their fates than they're letting on.
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: Mr. Wonka and glass doors. (thud!)

     2010 Opera 

Yes, it's me!
I, Willy Wonka, the great and magnificent!
I, the sorcerer! I, the scientist!
I, the magician!
I, the weaver of chocolate spells!
I, the creator of sugary secrets!
I, the mysterious! I, the unknown!
I, Willy Wonka, greet you all!

A grandiose, commanding figure with a Badass Baritone, he is noticeably less wacky and snarky than his counterparts, his eccentric appearance notwithstanding. He is also leading a double life as the owner of a sweetshop that Charlie sometimes visits...

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Blonde.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: To Charlie Bucket.
  • Badass Baritone: He's written as a bass-baritone, never mind that the novel says "His voice was high and flutey." Other musicalizations have him as a tenor.
  • Badass Boast: See the lines quoted above — they follow directly on from his Big Entrance.
  • Badass Longcoat: He wears a purple one for his Big Entrance at the end of Act One. His primary costume is a white plaid three-piece suit, which deliberately echoes Charlie's grey plaid winter jacket.
  • Big Entrance: Arrives to greet his guests via a hot-air balloon that soars up and over the factory wall.
  • Composite Character: This Wonka is crossed over with the book's sweetshop owner. As "Mr. Know", he runs a small chocolate shop built into the factory's outer wall, and after getting to know Charlie better in the "Chocolate Geniuses" sequence midway through Act One, sells him the Wonka Bar with the last of the Golden Tickets in it. It's telling that the show doesn't have a reveal regarding this, instead letting the audience figure things out on their own. Daniel Okulitch didn't even affect different voices for them. Charlie, for his part, never figures out what's going on.
  • Cool Key: He bequeaths an ornate key to Charlie upon declaring him his successor, which apparently works for the whole factory.
  • Flowery Insults: This Wonka is more direct with his insults to the naughty kids when the chips are down for them, noting that Violet has "gone too far./She's grown too big./She's like a bloated, purple pig."
  • Grumpy Old Man: Downplayed with his disguise/persona as Mr. Know, who doesn't much care for answering questions and suggests to Charlie (when he's despairing over not finding a Golden Ticket) that Mr. Wonka is "a silly and strange old man!" but is otherwise a nice guy.
  • King Incognito: Apparently just running the world's largest chocolate factory wasn't enough to keep him busy...
  • Mr. Exposition: Played with: As Mr. Know, he doesn't answer Charlie's questions about the factory or why Mr. Wonka's launched the contest, but the discussion itself is still enough to get the audience up to speed on what's going on as this adaptation begins In Medias Res.
  • Rule of Seven: He chalks up his Gut Feeling that Charlie would be the last kid standing to his "seventh sense".
  • Sarcasm Mode: As Mike chases the bubbles in the Bubblevision room: "Ah, three good little children. The others were bad. But I'm sure you won't disappoint me."
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: The shop window claims its proprietor's name is "A. Know" — a reversal of Wonka.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Fits the first two parts of the trope in that he wears a messy gray wig and thick glasses as Mr. Know. He doesn't disguise his voice, though.

     2013 Musical
"For it must be believed to be seen."

Let's hope that you're a bit like me
As you walk through my factory
For in the end there's quite a prize
If you can see with more than eyes...

Sugar and ice, as opposed to spice...that's what the most intimidating Wonka to date is made of. Beneath mannerisms, style, wit, and lack of sympathy worthy of a Large Ham Disney Animated Canon villain, there lies the soul of a sensitive, if mad, artist. But in a world where even children seem to toss away their potential for creation in favor of consumption as soon as they're able, is there a kindred spirit that can melt the ice around his heart?

  • Absent-Minded Professor: During the long, twisting run down corridors from the Inventing Room to the Nut Room, he notes that he once got lost in his Big Labyrinthine Building and still hasn't found his way out of it. Not-so-incidentally, the Inventing and Nut Rooms are right next to each other. Actually he's ventured into the "real" world more than once recently and probably leads the tour group on the circuitous path for his own amusement.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: As the Great Glass Elevator descends to Earth at the end of "Pure Imagination", he gives Charlie's hair a friendly ruffle.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: The lyrics to "Simply Second Nature" include mention of "all the voices in my head," implying he may be schizophrenic. Not helped by the line being not sung, but rather spoken in a broken-sounding voice. There are other hints dropped that he may not be all that right in the head. At the very least, he's clearly got a case of schadenfreude.
  • Ambiguously Evil: He could leave parody Wonkas who are presented as wicked quaking. He's unnervingly hammy and can even do an Evil Laugh; he won't give a drop of sympathy to those who imperil themselves in his dangerous, temptation-filled world — even if they should perish! Once the brats pass the point of no return in disobeying him, he tends to stand back and let them suffer through their karmic punishments/humiliations (when Veruca goes through the gate to the Nut Room's arena, he thoughtfully relocks it behind her — for the others' protection or her punishment?). While he does set his Oompa-Loompas to work rescuing Augustus and Violet offstage, it's suggested Veruca and her father can't be saved from the incinerator, and as for Mike, he has no qualms letting Mrs. Teavee just take the now-shrunken boy home, as she prefers him in this state. Still...he's sensitive in the best ways as well as the worst and capable of amazing generosity to those who win his favor. This darker portrayal is by design; David Greig, who wrote the book of the musical, noted in a Twitter chat that while the novel has No Antagonist, "I started to wonder about the dark side of Willy and realized he is a goodie AND a baddie." Director Sam Mendes' take is similar: "Is he your mischievous favorite uncle? Or is he the devil incarnate? Is he in control of the Oompa-Loompas? Or are they in control of themselves? You can't work it out."
  • Based on a Dream: In-universe, "Simply Second Nature" suggests that at least some of his creations are drawn from his dreams ("It's simply second nature/To dream of something new/Then wake on fire and try to sculpt each day").
  • Beneath the Mask: Beneath his bluster, iciness, and lack of sympathy for the disobedient, he is a sensitive artist who is self-aware and aware of how others see him, and even worries about his own sanity ("And though some nights I dread/All the voices in my head"), though he remains happy to be who he is. His desire to have others recognize and appreciate what he's managed to achieve is actually one reason for his boastfulness. Sadly, because most of his guests are afflicted by Creative Sterility, they find what lies beneath his mask just as odd, if not as frightening, as the mask itself.
  • Berserk Button: Insulting his creations. He nearly fights Grandpa Joe after the latter complains about the lifetime supply of sweets being "one measly Gobstopper".
    Mr. Wonka: Measly?! How dare you?! HOW DARE YOU INSULT MY WORK?!?!
  • Big Entrance: Double subverted in an Internal Homage to the 1971 film. The stage-spanning factory gates slowly open as the crowd sings his name, but the little door beyond opens to reveal an anxious man dressed in a black overcoat pleading in a quavering voice for someone to help him walk down a flight of steps. Then he changes his mind and declares he'll do it himself, almost topples over with that first step — then strikes a pose that causes the coat to vanish, revealing his wildly colorful suit...and true personality. Cue the Showstopper.
  • Blessed with Suck: "Simply Second Nature" suggests that he sometimes views his brilliant imagination as the former (downsides: Hearing Voices, having to live in thrall to his creative urges, etc.) but usually views it as the latter at worst, having moved into the Sweet and Sour Grapes state of the downside not mattering much when he can make the world a more colorful, exciting place than it otherwise would be. In fact, the last lines of the song are:
    It's no blessing, it's a curse!
    Wait, no, strike that and reverse
    I wouldn't have it any other way.
  • But Now I Must Go: After Charlie has won the factory, Wonka departs and travels to continue his work in our world.
  • Cartoon Conductor: His "conducting" of the Act Two entr'acte, especially once he starts shouting at the orchestra to play faster after he checks his pocketwatch.
  • Catchphrase: The 1971 Wonka twice mixed up his words and corrected himself with "Strike that, reverse it", a phrase that became Ret-Canon in the novel's sequel. Here it's elevated into a full-on catchphrase. In the Act Two opening song "Strike That, Reverse It" it turns up five times, and two slight variants appear later at key emotional moments.
  • *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": After "Vidiots", he needs one of the Oompa-Loompas to straighten out his back, commenting "Now I remember why I gave up raving..."
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: "Strike That, Reverse It" has him focusing more on getting the adults to sign a confusing contract and getting the tour underway than getting to know the members of the group.
  • Doing It for the Art: In-universe. For starters, with the exception of the chocolate-mixing waterfall, the entire Chocolate Room is simply an artistic creation of his.
  • Double Meaning: Mr. Wonka has a gift for this trope, the better to speak in riddles.
    • "If you can see with more than eyes" can refer to both the imagination and the ability not to pass judgments based on appearances.
    • "And me, I take sweet honey/And make a tasteful rose" is a Pun referring to his talents as both candymaker and artist.
    • And of course, the all-important "Making something out of nothing"...
  • Eye Motifs: His songs and dialogue are rife with references to sight and eyes, tying into his gifts for imagining amazing things and finding ways to make them exist (one might say he's a visionary). This motif is, naturally, most prominent in "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen".
  • For Happiness: He regards his powerful imagination and unstoppable drive to realize his visions — and thus make the world a happier place — as blessings. Alas, because his artistic medium is candy, his creations tend to be mindlessly consumed rather than truly appreciated. (And imagine how he must have felt when rivals started stealing his work solely to make money...) He is not immune to the dark side of this trope, mind — non-ethical hedonists (aka the four bratty kids) quickly find that his world has a way of dealing with those who pursue selfish desires above all, a sort of small-scale Utopia Justifies the Means.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: He's the only character clearly aware of the audience and the theatre itself, Breaking the Fourth Wall on more than one occasion. The Golden Ticket tour group does make their entrance at the top of Act Two by charging through the aisles when he calls for them, but they don't acknowledge the audience — they're likely just following his lead, not realizing their surroundings. In the end, he leaves the world of the story to continue his work in the real world.
  • Gem-Encrusted: His cane has tiny gems set into it, reflecting his grandeur and elegance. But it also bends like the bamboo cane that was an Iconic Item of Charlie Chaplin's famous Little Tramp character, reflecting his playfulness.
  • Hearing Voices: He admits to having a problem with this in "Simply Second Nature"; it would seem to be a side effect of being a powerful Mr. Imagination.
  • "I Am Great!" Song: "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen", which also has much stylistic overlap with a Villain Song (brassy, catchy, cheekily sinister, glitteringly-staged).
  • "I Am" Song: In the London version , "Simply Second Nature" is his way of explaining himself to the confused adults in the tour group.
  • Instant Costume Change: During his Big Entrance his black coat vanishes so quickly it's almost as if he bursts out of it.
  • Mad Artist: In addition to a Mad Scientist. He is a relatively benign example.
  • Medium Awareness: He "conducts" the Act Two entr'acte, and that's just the beginning.
  • Motor Mouth: The reason that "Strike That, Reverse It" is the title and recurring phrase in the Patter Song that opens Act Two — he can be too fast a talker/singer even for himself. (Downplayed when he was played by Alex Jennings; the song's tempo was slowed down for him save for the contract summary stretch.)
  • Mr. Imagination: He credits being this as the key to his success in "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen". Given all these surrounding tropes, his intelligence and imagination are definitely forces to be reckoned with.
    No magic spells or potions
    Forswear legerdemain
    My kingdom's created from notions
    All swirling inside of my brain
  • Narrator: For the first year of the show's West End run, he was the (prerecorded) narrator of the "Creation Overture" animated prologue, though the audience wouldn't realize it was him until the end of Act One. The prologue was dropped with the 2014 cast turnover.
  • Not His Sled: At the end, he makes Charlie a Grade-School C.E.O. immediately and disappears to continue his creative work incognito in the audience's world.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Part of his Big Entrance (see above).
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: His purple tail coat has teal lapels and cuffs which contrast with his orange waistcoat. His tie is predominantly blue as well.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "A Little Me" is his way of encouraging Charlie to embrace his fate as a Grade-School C.E.O..
  • Pet the Dog: He wants his guests to truly appreciate and enjoy the Chocolate Room, his heretofore-private work of art, to the point that the only thing he declares off-limits from eating is the waterfall. Also, during "Simply Second Nature"'s second verse he presents the rose made of honey (see Double Meaning above) to Veruca and takes a moment to admire a butterfly that alights upon his cane before tenderly taking it in hand and releasing it into the air. Right after this song, though, Augustus disobeys his warning about the waterfall and Mr. Wonka's darker side fully emerges and dominates until the show's climax and denouement.
  • The Proud Elite: Sure, the world regards him as a brilliant businessman and chocolatier, and he is fiercely proud of his achievements, but he wishes he were appreciated as an artist — he sees his creativity as what makes him truly elite.
  • Reconstruction: While this Wonka is an Ambiguously Evil Anti-Hero who may actually be mentally ill, this adaptation explores why he's devoted his life to making absurd, whimsical sweets and turning a factory into The Wonderland, and the reasons given turn out to be rather beautiful. As well, while the novel and other versions have him seeking a good, obedient child who won't change the way his factory is run, this version has him seeking a child who knows better than to fool with what they shouldn't, yes, but also has their own creative ideas and determination to share them even if it means breaking a silly rule or two, who can carry on Mr. Wonka's work in their own unique way.
  • Self-Made Man: The bridge of "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen" suggests that he was a child living an ordinary life until he put his mind to imagining greater, more beautiful things.
  • Smart People Build Robots: The Everlasting Gobstopper and Great Gum Machines (or as he calls them, Barrel and Bertha) are noisy Tin Can Robots.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Most of the time he's frosty towards the tour group, all business and punctuality with no sympathy for those who end up destroying themselves through their vices and despite his warnings. But he is a sensitive, perceptive artist capable of great warmth and kindness...provided one can understand his quirky way of looking at the world and appreciate the things he creates.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: He's the most elegant and authoritative Wonka to date, and if Grandma Georgina's comments in "The Amazing Fantastical History of Mr. Willy Wonka" are anything to go by, he even had female admirers in his pre-recluse days. (As a bonus Alex Jennings, the second WestEnd!Wonka, is so tall that he had to remove his top hat for the Imagining Room / Great Glass Elevator sequence to stand up straight in the elevator.)
  • Villain Song: Subverted. While not a traditional example, "It Must Be Seen to Be Believed" would not be out of place as one.
  • Weekend Inventor: The Great Glass Elevator? In this version, Mr. Wonka invented it and put it together the morning of the tour. ("Let's hope that it works" indeed!)

     2017 Broadway Retool and Touring Productions
"Do come in."

There comes a time in every chocolatier's life
When the chocolate he makes turns dark and bitter
That's when he knows it's time to lay down his spoon
To hand it over to someone else. Someone new!

The Broadway production substantially expanded Mr. Wonka's role in the story, via a plot device similar to that of The Golden Ticket — in Act One, he masquerades as the owner of a candy shop in Charlie's hometown and interacts with the boy. The following additional tropes are thus invoked.

  • Adaptation Personality Change: His sensitive Mad Artist nature and For Happiness motivations — the "sugar" side of his Sugar-and-Ice Personality — are downplayed thanks to such things as "Simply Second Nature" being cut (the conversation about the purpose of the Chocolate Room is left intact, but that's it). This ties into his...
  • Adaptational Villainy: He taunts Charlie in his King Incognito persona with false promises of free candy and having him watch the TV coverage of the Golden Ticket finders, leads his guests through an invisible maze in which most of them end up injured, destroys their personal property, etc. Following complaints that this made him Unintentionally Unsympathetic, this was Downplayed in the touring productions.
  • Big Entrance: Following in the footsteps of the London production, also in an homage to the 1971 film. The crowd sings his name, but the door opens to reveal an old man dressed in a black overcoat pleading in a quavering voice for someone to help him walk. Then he changes his mind and declares he'll do it himself and falls making that first step. The press members try to help him out — suddenly Mr. Wonka pops out from the crowd, revealing his colorful outfit and true personality.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: The impact of spies stealing Wonka's work is played up compared to other adaptations, including the London version of the show. He even threatens death upon anyone who dares to spill his secrets or view them, making the "Imagining Room" scene more dramatic.
    Willy Wonka: My creations are for your eyes only. Remember: you talk, you die!
  • Composite Character: With the shop owner who sells Charlie the Wonka Bar with the Golden Ticket in it, that being his King Incognito persona.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Not to nearly the same extent of his London counterpart, but he still addresses the audience on occasion. His opening number "The Candy Man" is sung to the audience, and he still beckons the audience in after "It Must be Believed to be Seen".
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: He's interested in hearing that people hurting each other over the Serious Business of the Golden Ticket contest and he straight-up abuses his guests frequently (mostly in the Maze of Deadly Traps).
  • "I Am Great!" Song: While like his London counterpart he has "It Must be Believed to be Seen", he also has "The Candy Man". However, he's going King Incognito at the time and thus singing about himself in the third person.
  • "I Am" Song: This version replaces "Simply Second Nature being with two songs from the 1971 version. Both "The Candy Man" and (loosely) "Pure Imagination" sum his philosophy up.
  • Imagination-Based Superpower: Mr. Wonka uses this to transform his factory into the various different rooms the tour group visits.
    • Broadway only example. He magically makes a candy store appear out of thin air, with the tap of his cane.
  • King Incognito: As in the 2005 musical Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka and The Golden Ticket, he interacts with the public as a candy shop owner and not-quite-befriends Charlie over the course of Act One. This isn't a spoiler because the very first scene shows Mr. Wonka revealing this plan to the audience. (In London, he also did this, but that he and the Tramp were one and the same was not revealed until the very end.)
  • Parental Substitute: Becomes this to Charlie at the end, as Mr. Bucket suffered Death by Adaptation before the action begins.
  • Pet the Dog: As in the London production, Mr. Wonka wants the group to truly enjoy and appreciate the Chocolate Room. This trope is particularly pronounced in the touring productions, where he sings most of "Pure Imagination" directly to Charlie. Once Augustus falls into the chocolate waterfall, Wonka's darker traits come forth and dominate a good amount of the show until the climax.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: As the candy shop owner, he often very nearly gives Charlie some of his treats, but decides against it at the last minute.
    Willy Wonka: Bucket, tell you what...
    [breaks off chocolate to give it to him]
    When you're right, you're right! [eats chocolate piece]

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