Rolli (Rölli in Finnish) is a well-known children's television character in Finland. He was originally created in 1985 by the Finnish actor and screenwriter Allu Tuppurainen as a character in radio dramas and children's songs. The songs led to the creation of the television series that was first aired in 1986 on the children's TV show Pikku Kakkonen (Finnish for "the little two"). The original episodes were produced until 2001 and older episodes have been seen in constant reruns on the program. Tuppurainen not only wrote and directed the show and composed music for it, but he also starred as the main character.
Rölli is a troll-like creature who lives alone in a small wooden cabin in the middle of "Rölli Forest". He prides himself on the fact that he never brushes his teeth or takes a bath. He portrays himself as a terrible scarer like the rest of his species, but he's in reality shy and goodhearted. He occasionally commits thoughtless and silly acts out of enthusiasm, but not out of real malice. He spends his days by telling stories of his amazing adventures, often criticizing and questioning public norm or the activities of people (especially humans). However, Rölli himself has been known to fall prey to human wonders and gadgets, and later regret it. The series didn't initially have a very well organised mythos, and Rölli would often claim to have met witches, ghosts, robots, giants and some such which would never actually appear on the show (some did appear in later audio plays).
Rölli has appeared in five feature-length films, portrayed by Allu Tuppurainen in all of them:
- Rölli hirmuisia kertomuksia (Rolli Amazing Tales) (1991),
- Rölli ja metsänhenki (Rollo and the Spirit of the Woods) (2001),
- Röllin sydän (Quest for a Heart) (2007),
- Rölli ja kultainen avain (Rölli and the Golden Key) (2013), and
- Rölli ja kaikkien aikojen salaisuus (Rölli and the Secret of All Time) (2016).
One of the themes coming to the fore in Rölli's songs, television series and films is the acceptance of one's own difference. Other themes are respecting nature, encouragement of curiosity, and facing one's own fears.
In 2006, Rölli was voted on the programme Satusuomalainen of Yle as the greatest Finnish fictional character.
The Rölli franchise provides examples of:
- All Trolls Are Different: Though troll-like, Rölli isn't really a troll. Allu Tuppurainen has said that he thought the character as part of a strange species which wasn't animal but not human either, and that species is called Rölli.note In Quest for a Heart, Rölli is actually highly offended when Millie the Elf calls him a troll.
- Bad is Good and Good is Bad: Röllis are supposed to be bad, do mean things, and not be socializing with nice creatures.
- Catchphrase: "Kautta likaisten varpaitteni!" ("By my dirty toes!")
- A Dog Named "Dog": Rölli. The other members of the species have names attributed to their features/roles. In Quest for a Heart, it's stated that the reason why Rölli's just Rölli is because he lacks any special feature/role that'd distinguish him from the others.
- Dumb Muscle: Big Rölli is the largest and strongest rölli, but he's also clumsy and dim-witted.
- The Ghost:
- As stated above, Rölli speaks of his encounters with a lot of creatures, but none of them appear in the series.
- One particular character who's often mentioned and never introduced is a rölli called Rupeltaja. He often makes the front page due to his achievements among the röllikind, but he's also a Know-Nothing Know-It-All. It's not until Quest for a Heart that he appears (named Longwind in the English dub) as a Bungling Inventor.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rölli intentionally tries to act like a terrible monster his species is portrayed as, but he's just too nice to successfully carry that out. He can still be cranky and thoughtless, but his heart's in the right place.
- Odd Friendship: Rölli with Tiina Tonttu since röllis aren't supposed to socialize with nice creatures. Which is why he wants to keep their friendship a secret.
- Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Tiina Tonttu, Rölli's friend in the series, is a gnome/elf-like creature, but also attractive and kind.
- Super Strength: Big Rölli, the largest and strongest rölli, is frequently portrayed to be strong enough to move boulders.