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Literature / The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
aka: The Centenarian Who Climbed Out The Window

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The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Original title: Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann) is a 2009 novel by Swedish author Creator/Jonas Jonasson. It was adapted into a film in 2013.

Meet Allan Karlsson, soon-to-be centenary. The occasion calls for a celebratory party, with the mayor, the journalists, and all the old man's house patients and staff. But Allan has other plans...


The book alternates between two storylines: the first, or "present" one, narrates Allan's escape from the institution and theft of a suitcase, while meeting new people and being chased by the owners of the suitcase, the criminal cartel Never Again, and by the police. The "past" storyline details the life of Allan, who meets lots of historical figures and causes a lot of troubles.

In 2018, the book received a sequel called The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man.

A sequel to the film, unrelated to the sequel novel, premiered on Christmas Day 2016. It's called The 101-Year-Old Man Who Skipped Out on the Bill and Disappeared.


This novel provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Subverted with Allan: he always appreciates a good glass of alcohol, but we never see him become out-of-his-mind drunk.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Allan participated in the Spanish Civil War and in the Cold War. On both sides. He also made the atomic bomb possible.
  • Black Comedy
  • Book Dumb: Herbert Einstein (hilarious, since he's his brother's brother) and his wife Amanda.
  • Book-Ends: The first chapter of the "present" story line is repeated word by word as the last chapter of the "past" storyline.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: On a whim, Allan steals a suitcase. It turns out to contain fifty million Swedish krona (worth about six million U.S. dollars) from a drug deal.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Allan, explosives expert.
  • Chaste Hero: Allan was sterilised in his twenties, while being held in a mental institution. Not that he cared much about sex anyways. Subverted in the last few pages.
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  • Chekhov's Gun: Dozens. Rest assured that no detail mentioned, however small, is just going to be there for its sake. The Iranian chief of security putting off his cigarette in Allan's coffee, the rescue of Mao's wife, Stalin's translator fainting...
  • Con Man: Julius.
  • Cool Old Guy: Allan, in the present-day storyline and in the latter chapters of the past-day one.
  • Corrupt Politician: Amanda Einstein becomes one.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Herbert.
  • Crazy Awesome: Allan. He somehow distilled vodka from goat milk.
  • Cute Kitten: At the end of the past storyline Allan settles down and adopts a stray kitten, naming him Molotov.
  • Death Seeker:
  • December–December Romance: At the very end of the novel, Allan and Amanda.
  • Disaster Dominoes: The whole Vladivostok incident, beginning with a number of explosives going off, setting fire to a train wagon filled with wool blankets, making a lot of smoke. Then, a number of prisoners daring an escape in said smoke, while the guards aim for them and shoot, partly missing, setting off the next wagon, filled with explosives, including rockets, who manage to put a tanker in the docks ablaze, filled with petrol, who then goes adrift and collides with the pier, setting the city on fire..... and all this confusion gives Allan (and Herbert) the opportunity to get away, while the news of this incident start off the stroke that kills Joseph Stalin.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Per-Gunnar Gerdin, aka Boss, aka... Pike.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Yes, exactly.
  • The Fool: Allan. Throughout his 100 years long life, Allan has avoided death and changed the course of history more times than the average person brushes his teeth... All the while never swearing, never becoming angry with anyone, never lying unnecessarily, and generally being innocent, cheerful and good-natured about all things. Just about everyone who's ever met him dismissed him as an idiot, and he was fine with that, because in the end he never wanted anything more than a glass of good alcohol, a hot meal and a nice place to sit down.
  • Foregone Conclusion: From the very beginning we know that, no matter what, Allan's past storyline will end with him staying (and escaping from) a retirement home in his native Sweden.
  • Guile Hero: Allan, again, who despite leaving school at the age of 9, manages by sheer cleverness and likeability to accomplish such things as escaping a gulag, befriending just about every important historical figure in the 20th century, starting and ending the Cold War...
  • Heel–Face Turn: Gerdin.
  • Incompatible Orientation: It is mentioned that Caracas is hopelessly in love with Gerdin.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Benny, by virtue of having almost gotten a degree in countless subjects.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Gustavsson the wholesaler pestered Allan's mom for money, bought a Fabergé Egg from her for almost nothing and sold it to get himself a car. Unfortunately he goes off the road and into Allan's property, right when Allan was experimenting with a new explosive.
    • The chief of Iran's domestic security and intelligence keeps putting out his cigarette in Allan's coffee. Allan exploits this by filling his cup with black-dyed nitroglyceryne.
    • Heavily implied for Josef Stalin. Yes, that one. He has a stroke which leads to his death after discovering that Vladivostok has gone up in flames. He himself sent Allan to a gulag near that city. And yes, Allan was responsible for that disaster.
  • Lady Swears-a-Lot: Gunilla.
  • Love at First Sight: Between Benny and Gunilla.
  • Loveable Rogue: Many characters.
  • Made of Iron: Among other things, Allan has trekked through the Himalayas on foot, spent five years in a gulag, and survived an explosion which totalled his house - at the age of ninety-nine - none the worse for wear.
  • Nice Guy: Again, Allan. He only loses his temper once in his long life: when a fox kills his cat Molotov.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: in order:
    • Allan, a Cool Old Guy who is also an explosives expert.
    • Julius, a petty criminal surviving by poaching, producing brandy, and leeching from the city electric grid. Acts as The Lancer.
    • Benny, The Smart Guy since he almost earns ten university degrees (due to his uncle's will, he would get a monthly allowance if he was attending school, and full access to the money once finished. His brother quickly completed a welding course, while Benny stayed on the monthly allowance, always switching his major just before graduating, until there was no more money).
    • Gunilla, The Chick with her Team Pets, Buster the dog and Sonya the elephant. Also swears. A lot.
    • Bosse, Benny's brother, who is a really good cook (even though he uses some tricks) and claims everything he makes "Swedish" even if imported. Acts as the Token Religious Teammate since he rescued half a ton of Bibles from the recycling center and read one from start to end to understand why someone would throw away so many bibles. A verse had been appended "and they all lived happily ever after" ("Snipp snapp snut, så var sagan slut").
    • "Pike" Gerdin, the boss of the "Never Again (In Jail)" gang, and the "legitimate" owner of the suitcase. Token Evil Teammate turned good by Bosse.
    • Inspector Aaronsson, Token Good Teammate, inspired enough by Allan's story to quit his job and join them in Bali.
  • Precision F-Strike: Done by Allan and Julius when they realize what is in the suitcase.
  • Second Love: Allan for Amanda Einstein.
  • Shout-Out: Herbert Einstein, being the (fictional) brother of Albert Einstein, refers to the known Swedish tv comedy show with the main characters called — Albert and Herbert!
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Allan again. The most notable instance is his escape from a gulag. It involved the destruction of Vladivostok.
  • Suicide by Cop: Herbert Einstein tries - and fails - to do this in North Korea, by running away from the soldiers who are guarding him, while yelling that he is fleeing and they should therefore shoot him. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depends on how you see it) for him, he merely ends up stumbling into a broom closet which he mistook for the exit.
  • Team Pet: Gunilla's pets, Buster the dog and Sonya the elephant.
  • Unfortunate Surname: Herbert Einstein. He was kidnapped by the USSR to work on the atomic bomb.

The 2013 film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: A lot of Allan's historical adventures have been removed. Bosse was Adapted Out.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • One of Benny's most distinctive features in the book is his ponytail, but in the film he's balding.
    • Likewise, Bulten is described with blond hair and a shaggy beard in the book, while both are shaved in the film.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Benny becomes a Nervous Wreck in the film.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: In the film Hinken's brother becomes Gunilla's ex boyfriend.
  • Adaptational Sexuality and Gender Flip: Caracas, in the book, was a gay man. In the film she's a woman and Gäddan's lover, thus removing from the table the Incompatible Orientation.
  • Adapted Out: Bosse.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Caracas buying watermelons. This is a leftover of a plot thread in the book which involved Bosse (who was Adapted Out) selling doctored watermelons.
  • Book-Ends: The film ends with the same words Allan said, as narrator, at the beginning of his flashbacks, thus implying the whole past story we saw is the content of Allan's conversation with Julius.
  • Canon Foreigner: Big Bad Pim and Popov's son Oleg. The latter plays the role Amanda had in the novel by providing the protagonists a passage to Bali at the end.
  • Cerebus Call Back: Allan and Popov first meet at the urinals of a high-end restaurant in Stockholm. They meet again years later at the urinals of a squalid eatery in Moscow.
  • Composite Character: A very minor one: the bus driver who gets coaxed by Bulten at the beginning of the story is conflated with the ticket officer.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Whole chunks of Allan's backstory are removed (from the Manhattan experiment the story skips directly to Sweden in 1948, and again from the gulag escape to Paris in 1968), while the present-day storyline gets an Adaptation Distillation.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Downplayed, Hinken still meets his end by being crushed under Sonya the elephant, but while it was caused by Allan in the novel, here it's an accident.
  • Easy Amnesia: Gäddan loses most of his memory after a crash. He's otherwise not really injured besides a head wound, and can stand and talk lucidly within an hour. He just doesn't remember who he is or what he's doing there, beyond the word "Bali". This actually plays to his advantage, since he is no longer a threat, and they take him along to Bali and share the spoils. Contrast his two friends, who ended up dead for their trouble.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: The movie sequel revolves around Allan remembering that he's in possession of the recipe to People's Soda, Russia's answer to Coca-Cola that was created in a Freak Lab Accident but which was never publicly released or mass-manufactured since the US assassinated the chief researcher and stole the recipe before they could do either: everyone who tastes it immediately declares it to be the best soft drink they've ever had and if it had been released as intended, Coke and Pepsi would've both been history and Russia would've had the world monopoly on sodas. Naturally, multiple parties want to get their hands on it, either to massively profit off it or just because they drank it before and will do anything to get more of it.
  • Motor Mouth: Esteban. This gets him killed by the first shot of the Spanish civil war.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Gäddan gets a couple of Shirtless Scenes.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The scene with Allan escaping the retirement home. It's just an old man opening a window and feebly climbing through, but the music...
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The members of Never Again, while all having full names in the novel, are here called only by their codenames: Bulten/Bolt, Hinken/Bucket and Gäddan/Pikenote .
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Near the end, they go to Bali, where the Big Bad - who wants them all dead — is waiting (although he obviously doesn't think they'd come there, and is trying to track them down instead). While out driving, he spots them on the road — with the money, too! — and both he and his driver are so distracted by the sight... that they drive right into an oncoming truck and die in flames. None of the protagonists ever even knew that he existed.

Alternative Title(s): The Centenarian Who Climbed Out The Window


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