Follow TV Tropes


The Wonka

Go To
A boat ride on a chocolate river through a candy forest? Who wouldn't want to work for him?!
Mac: Have you ever known the commander to do anything...
Bud: Improper? No. Unconventional? Yes!
— On Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr., JAG

The Wonka is the genius nut who should, by all logic, be fired. That's never going to happen — this genius nut runs the show.

The Wonka makes perfect sense to himself (and is usually male), but utterly confuses those around him and leaves them wondering whether or not he really is all there. The Naïve 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 make a Wonka, 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. The work they do is worth tolerating their weird mannerisms and unusual quirks. 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.


    open/close all folders 

    The Trope Namer 
  • Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Wonka is the most famous candymaker in the world, whose imaginative sweets are 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:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Niizuma Eiji from Bakuman。 knows as much about creating brilliant manga as he doesn't about normal behavior.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Code Geass, Lloyd is this to ASEEC, and a Bunny-Ears Lawyer to The Empire. However, ASEEC is independent enough for it to count as this, because they're sponsored by Prince Schneizel, who understands that this aspect of Lloyd's personality will pay off for them if they let him run his operation the way he pleases.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Made in Abyss: Becoming a top-ranked "White Whistle" cave-diver seems to require this type of personality. They all must be doing something right to become legendary adventurers in a place that devours humans like popcorn, but how they pull it off isn't always clear (and may have a lot to do with their particular insanity).
    • Lyza is (or was) at the low end of the scale, but she's still a Blood Knight (her nickname is "The Annihilator") and weirdly lackadaisical, or even masochistic, about the dangers and horrors of the Abyss (she got excited when she heard the next area would make her bleed from every orifice).
    • Ozen, Lyza's mentor and operator of an outpost partway down the pit, seems to want to help the heroes... in some sense. Shortly after meeting them she beats the crap out of them both, ostensibly to prove they weren't ready to travel deeper on their own, but she admits to enjoying it a little too much.
    • And then there's Bondrewd, a Mad Scientist who gets away with all sorts of atrocities thanks to his high status, and seems to be a total sociopath. He does accomplish impressive things, at even more impressive cost.
  • The principal in My Hero Academia is a somewhat downplayed example. Generally he acts sane and rational, but one has to wonder why the boss of the world's most prestigious superhero school is a... giant mouse? Ferret-bear? He doesn't even have a super power, per se, he's just a super-intelligent and hard-to-identify Uplifted Animal. His Mask of Sanity slips quite a bit when he plays the role of a villain for the final exam, gleefully smashing Conveniently Empty Buildings with a wrecking ball.
  • One Piece: 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 MegaCorp. 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.
  • 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 (in the anime, at least).)

  • Damage Control: John Porter. Given the nature of the cases they have to deal with, it's understandable.
  • Fantastic Four: Reed Richards drifts near to this trope sometimes. His wife Susan Storm-Richards usually has to reel him back in.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark, CEO of Stark Industries, can be a bit of an oddball.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Rotor Walrus, 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.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Dumbledore is more or less as canon, in that he's a complete oddball who gleefully takes the opportunity given by a massive food fight to stealthily drown a visiting Cornelius Fudge in a tidal wave of jam. He is nevertheless a very important figure in wanded magical society, and a widely respected figure in the supernatural world as a whole — partly because some of the silliness is put on or exaggerated for effect, partly because holy hell, you do not want to cross him.
    • Tony Stark, again, as per canon, qualifies both as this and as the Bunny-Ears Lawyer (in terms of his membership of the Avengers) — he's definitely a bit weird (frankly, more than a bit) but he's utterly brilliant, and a scarily adept pilot of his suits who can fly rings about any would-be rivals.
    • Doctor Strange is generally agreed to be at least half mad, and that's on a good day. He's perfectly aware of it and revels in his weirdness, if only because it's all that stops him from completely breaking down. He's also until he abdicates the title in chapter 29 of the second book, faking his death in the process the Sorcerer Supreme, Earth's leading magical defender, and de facto leader of the heroes when he actually involves himself, because he's an extremely powerful seer and masterful manipulator who's got the road-map to victory in his head.
  • DNMC: Fulhaus "Clu" Cluspaheadia. He's flamboyant, he's bizarre, he's foppish... and he's the leader of an entire military regiment and the head of Atlas' legislative and historical branches. Also serves as a Bunny-Ears Lawyer, since he likely serves under General Ironwood. Deconstructed since, according to his bio, very few people ever take him seriously, with his skills as a soldier and a Huntsman coupled with his noble lineage likely being what keeps him from getting sacked.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 the 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In his own words from the third film (when about to use the recoil from a cannon to catapult him over to the Black Pearl, which also conveniently takes out Beckett's ship's mast):
    Lord Beckett: You're mad.
    Jack: Thank goodness for that, because if I wasn't this would probably never work.
    The captain's acting a little bit
  • The Last Jedi has the Vice-Admiral Amilyn Holdo. While highly intelligent and competent, she is known for her eccentricity and peculiar fashion taste (such as dyeing her hair wild colors and wearing a dress that looks like a ballroom gown onboard a military ship). Her unconventional leadership style and her tendency to be secretive about her plans results in confrontation between her and her subordinate Captain Poe Dameron, who accuses her of incompetence and even of treason, and eventually starts a mutiny against her. Eventually it's revealed that Holdo knew all along what she was doing, and Poe's mutiny foiled her plans.
  • The Grandmaster plays a villainous version of this in Thor: Ragnarok. He's a despot, who loves Gladiator Games but treats life as a giant festival and is far more concerned with having fun than anything else. As a bonus, "Pure Imagination" plays during the expository video that introduces him to Thor and the audience.

  • Discworld
    • 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.
  • 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. He even is aware of schemes and games other people play around him, yet plays it off as if it were nothing.
    Cornelius Fudge: [having tried to keep Dumbledore from attending a hearing over Harry's future at Hogwarts by re-scheduling the meeting] You... err... got the letter that the time and place of the meeting had changed?
    Dumbledore: [cheerfully] I'm afraid I must have missed it, but by a happy mistake, I arrived at the ministry three hours early.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mr. Lemoncello, from the books of the same name, speaks mostly in Shout Outs, dances around wearing burping banana shoes, and builds extremely high-tech libraries, but his company is very successful thanks to their creative games. He’s compared to the Trope Namer in the first book.
  • 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.
  • Viceroy's Pride: Deconstructed. Henry Ibis is basically a big kid who made his billions through stories and games. So when he wants to make sure the new magic acts like his stories and games, no one can actually stop him. In particular, he subjects Dan to an unnecessary and dangerous medical procedure using experimental technology just because he wants the story to be a LitRPG.

    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 gun runner who planned out a combination of a Uriah Gambit and a Xanatos Gambit.
  • 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).
  • Doctor Who:
  • Steve Valentine's persona as the host of Estate of Panic. Imagine Depp's Wonka, but 20 years older.
  • 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 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. It's downplayed in the sense that she's not overtly eccentric in her behavior, but Daenerys is sometimes known to do things many people would find irrational or bizarre that have worked out extremely well for her. For example, everyone thinks she's been driven mad with grief when she fearlessly walks into Drogo's funeral pyre, but she is certain she'll survive because she has observed her apparent immunity to heat damage (though there's a big difference between hot baths and an actual inferno) and she also figures out she can hatch her dragons this way, even though the eggs are supposedly fossilized and only she can sense life in them. And then there's walking right up to an angry dragon, climbing on its back and commanding it to fly. As Tormund states in Season 8, only "a madman" would do something like that...and Dany subsequently became the first person to ride a dragon in over a century.
  • Kousei Kougami 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!!!!"
  • Deconstructed in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which featured a wealthy Wonka-like toymaker who is secretly a serial pedophile, using his charming eccentricity and natural rapport with children to lure in his victims. He unfortunately goes completely unpunished due to bribing family members of his victims into creating reasonable doubt for him, though they at least are arrested for obstructing justice.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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."
  • The central premise of Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger is that each team member is the ruler of their own kingdom in the world of Tikyū, with every single one of them proving to be an effective and just ruler who is very dedicated to the safety and prosperity of their country and people. However, they are still a Super Sentai group, meaning they all quite quirky and downright eccentric as they go about their day-to-day duties.
  • 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?"
  • Westworld: Probably the darkest personification of this trope ever portrayed, Dr. Robert Ford. As Westworld's creator, he's a technological genius who created lifelike androids and runs a role-playing amusement park where guests can indulge their darkest impulses. At first glance he seems an eccentric old man, concerned only with his robotic toys and being pushed out the door by the park's parent company. As the series unfolds, we see that he has actually anticipated and outmaneuvered anyone who even thinks of making a play against him, ruthlessly keeping an iron grip on his creations as he plans his ultimate masterpiece: Nothing less than the complete eradication of mankind and the androids' ascent as the dominant life form.

  • 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.


    Video Games 
  • Deconstructed in Bendy and the Ink Machine with Joey Drew, head of the animation studio and old friend of the protagonist. His eccentricities (such as insisting on using the titular Ink Machine) grated on his employee's nerves and interfered with the production of new cartoons, eventually causing the studio to tank. Plus, it's revealed over the course of the game that, beneath his sunny public face, Joey was really a sociopathic jerk who ruthlessly exploited his employees and didn't even buy into the "Believe in your dreams" rhetoric he spouted.
  • 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.
  • Mister Torgue Flexington, shown to be the head of the Torgue corporation in Borderlands 2. Very geeky despite growing up almost alone, obsessed with Stuff Blowing Up after his parents died in a mine explosion, sold his first designs for twelve dollars and a hi-five, and swears more than all voiced characters in the series put together note  and has absolutely No Indoor Voice. He's also rich enough to fund the hiring of several bandit biker clans and build a gigantic arena for a gladiatorial campaign from his own pocket, and makes very powerful but also efficient and just plain useful items from gyrojet guns (easily the highest damage per shot, surpassing even Jakobs) to MIRV grenades and explosive spike and nova shields. He's definitely doing something right.
  • In CLANNAD, whatever you may say about her odder traits, Kotomi is still the most successful student in the school. Why carry scissors around everywhere? To cut paper, of course!
  • Agent Francis York Morgan from Deadly Premonition as well as Agent Dale Cooper, the character he's based off of.
  • Wade, the Ambiguously Gay Ultimate Blacksmith from the Dragon Age series.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, all of the councilors of Great House Telvanni qualify. Each, in one form or another, is a massively powerful wizard while also being of questionable sanity. They use sorcery to extend their lifespans by thousands of years, summon lesser Daedra as guards and test subjects, openly defy Imperial law, and have a system of advancement centered around Klingon Promotion and Might Makes Right. The reason they can get away with it is because they are such ancient, powerful wizards. Even Reasonable Authority Figure Master Aryon has his moments of Pragmatic Villainy and needs his Imperial attendant to pull him back to reality from time to time.
  • Fallen London: The Manager of the Royal Bethlehem Hotel, a jolly, energetic man with a very shiny uniform who, despite his odd interest in the mad that leads him to give every madman he finds a free stay at his hotel until they get better, manages to keep it afloat and extremely luxurious, to the point only the richest in London can even afford a room and yet there's always another willing to pay the price for it. Really, his eccentricities let him know exactly what his guests, insane or not, could want or need, so stays at the hotel are always magnificent.
  • 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.
  • In Luigi's Mansion, there's Professor E. Gadd, a nutty and eccentric scientist who helps Luigi. Apart from inventing the Poltergeist 3000, Ghost Portrificationizer, and F.L.U.D.D., he thinks barnacles in a diesel marinade is a nice old family recipe.
  • Yu Narukami, the protagonist of Persona 4, is generally regarded to be the quirkiest protagonist in the series. He delights in trolling the people around him, can spend entire days at a time petting stray cats, will attempt to eat grass if given a chance, spends huge amounts of money on strange costumes to wear into dungeons, and more. Other characters frequently state that they don't understand how his thought processes work, and even the fans can't work out if he's being a weirdo on purpose or just so comically serious that he doesn't realise that what he's doing is odd. Nevertheless, Yu is an extremely powerful Persona-user and a naturally charismatic leader. He's persuasive and his weirdness gets good results, so he remains in charge of the Investigation Team.
  • 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!) While Johnson's company did see massive leaps in various fields, they were consistently passed over in favor of Black Mesa due to the competitor company being (outwardly) more sane and due to Johnson having burned many bridges due to his eccentricities (the Government offering research contracts probably didn't appreciate what he did to those astronauts...). 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kel'thuzad from Warcraft. Among his eccentricities are his completely unique spells, Nightmare Fuel creations, sadism, staggering arrogance and penchant for creative insults. By far his weirdest trait however, is his servile attitude towards the Lich King. He lords it over the Death Knights and the Four Horsemen, but despite the Lich King not being a Magnificent Bastard (rather, he bizarrely retains Arthas' down-to-earth Royals Who Actually Do Something persona) Kel'thuzad treats him as if he was a god. This is despite Kel'thuzad being a brilliant general in his own right. the Shadowlands expansion reveals why. Kel'thuzad has always been working for The Jailor: who was the creator of the Helm of Domination, worn by the Lich King. The Jailor actually IS a Physical God.
  • Yakuza: Goro Majima. Where do we begin? Between his increasingly bizarre dress sense, penchant for crossdressing, thick and blatantly fake Kansai accent and tendency to obsess over things like karaoke, slot car racing and fighting series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, he definitely has the nuttiness down pat. However, he is also an extremely savvy businessman, who managed to claw himself from being a nobody to one of the most powerful men in the Japanese underworld, while running a number of extremely profitable businesses on the side. His subordinates respect his skills and groan at his antics, and remain steadfastly loyal even when Majima decides they've earned a beatdown.

    Web Animation 
  • Dr. Crafty has a strange approach to life. He spends his days dead-set on satisfying his childish whims, all while acting like a bumbling supervillain. Consequentially, he starts out being somewhat difficult to work with; his rudeness and lack of common sense occasionally clashes with his cohosts, especially Nurse. Yet it's still apparent to his friends that those eccentricities come from a genuine place, even more so after "Crafty Hearts Re:Grouped." There, a dream conversation with Sasha helps Crafty put things into perspective about how he's handled his life since they last met. Taking Sasha's words to heart, he starts changing how he expresses himself to cultivate stronger relationships with his his coworkers, who he quickly starts viewing as friends. Through a Dr. Crafty anniversary party, those same friends celebrate how much of a positive impact that Crafty has had on them during "Happy Crafty Day!"

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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).
  • After being fired from a toy company (and subsequently burning down the factory), Doctor Steel became president of World Domination Toys.
  • The Nostalgia Critic anchors the Channel Awesome organization with his insightful, poignant analysis of nostalgic popular culture. His personality, however, ranges from Manchild 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.
  • SCP Foundation: The current head of the Dr. Wondertainment toy company, Dr. Isabel Helga Anastasia Parvati Wondertainment, is a hyperactive Womanchild who binges on sweets regularly and has an army of pet corgis, all named Jeremy. She's also the possibly-magic/possibly-reality-warper genius behind most, if not all, of the Dr. Wondertainment products the Foundation currently holds. She's basically if Willy Wonka had a twin sister who made toys instead of candynote  and had an even more fucked up sense of whimsy, even though tales focused on her indicate that she does genuinely want to bring wonder and joy to people.
  • 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 15-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.

    Web Videos 
  • Jacob Rabon IV, better known as Alpharad, has been the host of multiple charity events, and even as a host, he still maintains his eccentric, trollish personality, which ultimately leads to more traction and more revenue due to the uniqueness of the events.

    Western Animation 
  • 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'. He always preaches the importance of "opening your mind to the possibilities" and demonstrates this to Aang through three trials that were only passable through his brand of outside-the-box thinking.
  • 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.
  • Futurama
    • 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. In his case, a fair amount of his behavior is chalked up to senility, though by no means all.
    • Hermes can be spacey at times, such as in the Valentine's Day Episode where he yelled at himself for slacking on the job.
  • 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.

    Real Life 
  • 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.
  • Timothy Dexter may have been one. Among other things, he successfully sold warming pans and mittens in tropical areas, and made a great profit shipping coals to Newcastle. While one might argue that he is merely an extremely lucky Cloudcuckoolander, considering how unfailingly he managed to profit from the weirdest endeavours, it seems there must have been some system to his madness.
  • Elon Musk's sense of whimsy is demonstrated by his companies.
    • Tesla cars have a "Ludicrous Mode". At one point Musk lowered the price of the Tesla Model S to $69,420.
    • He says that his frustration with Los Angeles traffic gave him the idea to dig tunnels beneath the city. That tunnel-digging venture is called "The Boring Company" note , and he raised money partly by selling "flamethrowers" (actually torches) branded with the company logo.
    • When he needed a heavy payload to test a SpaceX rocket, he volunteered his personal Tesla roadster; it will remain in space for generations. SpaceX also has two remote-control barges that serve as landing pads, which Musk named after ships from the Culture series: Of Course I Still Love You and Just Read the Instructions.
  • Where to begin with Vince McMahon? From his pathological hatred of everything from sneezing to smoking to his habit of shaving several times a day to avoid any hint of stubble to his love of Toilet Humor to his being Married to the Job and never taking vacations to his Non-Idle Rich competing in matches himself, bleeding all over the place and taking vicious beatings on par with wrestlers half his age, Vince is either a mad genius or just plain mad.
  • Steve Jobs was a perfectionist and had a sharp sense of aesthetics, and he applied both of those traits to almost everything he or his companies did. While this got him into many disputes throughout his life, including one that saw him Kicked Upstairs at the company he founded, it also gave him a drive to create products and ideas that others wrote off as impossible at the time.
  • Frank Amodeo was a bipolar psychotic billionaire who managed to run a massive business Empire due to his productivity when manic. He built a private army and was imprisoned for tax evasion


King Bumi

"He looked me in the eye and said..."

How well does it match the trope?

4.89 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / Cloudcuckoolander

Media sources: