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Willy Wonka is a fictional character in the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as well as the film adaptations Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Wonka is stated to be old, as he is portrayed in the story to be "older than you think".

Wonka in the film adaptations

A musical film adaptation of Dahl's book Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, titled Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, was directed by Mel Stuart and starred Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. It was released in 1971. It was originally a box office flop, but has since been considered a children's classic by critics, and has attracted a worldwide audience.

This film added some dialogue with references to poetry, including Shakespeare, that were not in the novel. The film also included a rival chocolate maker offering the children money if they betrayed Wonka and provided him with an 'Everlasting Gobstopper', but this turns out to be a morality test set by Wonka to determine the finder's worth. Another departure from the novel had Charlie disobeying Willy Wonka with the encouragement of Grandpa Joe, allowing Wonka to deny Charlie's prize at the end of the tour. Also, Veruca Salt's "elimination" involved a room full of golden-egg-laying geese of which she wanted one. When she went to stand on one of the egg-testing machines, she was pronounced a "bad egg" and dropped down the garbage chute. This is different from the book (and 2005 film) where Veruca went after a squirrel, got tested by a squirrel, and thrown down the garbage chute by the squirrels because "her head sounded hollow."

Another film version of the tale was released in 2005. Titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it is a comedy directed by Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.

This film featured sections of the novel that were not included in the first film, but also removed some scenes which were in both.

Tim Burton's 2005 version added a history of the character: Willy Wonka is the son of dentist Dr. Wilbur Wonka (played by Christopher Lee). Wonka had a traumatic childhood: Wilbur Wonka locked Willy into dreadful orthodontics that bore more resemblance to a medieval torture device, and every Halloween, he would throw his son's candy in a fire. When Willy Wonka asks to try a piece of chocolate, his father forbids him to and continues to throw the candy into the fire. Eventually, Willy tastes chocolate and starts getting ideas for other candies. When he becomes an adult, Wonka opens his own candy store, with Grandpa Joe being one of Wonka's first employees; Mike Teevee's father was hinted to be one as well. Additionally, in Burton's film, Wonka initially refuses to allow Charlie to bring his family to his factory. An eventual reconciliation between Wonka and his father causes Wonka to change his mind and allow Charlie's family to move in with him as well. At this point, it is revealed that Dr. Wonka, despite his dislike of candy, came to greatly admire Willy whilst he was away, and made a habit of collecting and framing newspaper articles about Willy's great success in the chocolatier industry along the years.

Other appearances

  • In the Family Guy episode "Wasted Talent", Pawtucket Pat, a spoof of the Gene Wilder version of Wonka, offers a tour of the Pawtucket Brewery to winners in a plot similar to Dahl's and the 1971 movie version.
  • In Dexter's Laboratory, a contest took place in which Professor Hawk gave gold floppy disks to stores around the world; whoever found these golden floppy disks, which were sold amongst normal floppy disks, were allowed to tour Professor Hawk's laboratory.
  • In the Futurama episode "Fry and the Slurm Factory", Fry wins a contest to visit the Slurm factory after finding a golden bottle cap in a can of slurm. The factory features a slurm room where Grunka Lunkas (whom Professor Farnsworth detests) sing. The tour guide slug is dressed like Willy Wonka and tells Hermes Conrad he could fire the whole workforce of Planet Express and hire a team of Grunka Lunkas for half the wage and that the Grunka Lunkas are practically slaves.
  • In The Simpsons, a Willy Wonka-like gag shop owner named Goose Gladwell claims to own "20 stores in 30 states" and buys Bart Simpson's line of T-shirts. Goose is a former green beret who fought in Vietnammarker and claims that his experiences from those days are what made him crazy.
  • Johnny Bravo once won a contest to visit a jerked beef factory managed by a Wonka-like character named Jerky Jake, who was so impressed by Johnny's jerky-related knowledge he decided to name him his heir but changed his mind after Johnny's display of his usual stupidity during the press conference held to announce Johnny as Jerky Jake's heir.
  • In What's New, Scooby-Doo?, the Scooby Snack factory owner dresses himself like Willy Wonka and once held a contest where whoever finds the golden Scooby Snack could pick between a tour in the factory or a trip to Arubamarker. Shaggy and Scooby win and Velma comments only they would pick the tour instead of Aruba.
  • In the Scottish comedy Chewin' The Fat there is a spoof in which a man bites into a pie and then finds a golden ticket inside. This summons Wullie Pie who takes this man and two friends on a trip to the pie factory where they spoof the imagination song and the factory is revealed to be a disgusting and dirty place that makes the men throw up, for which Wullie blames bad pie.
  • In Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Rin owns a chocolate factory that parodies Willy Wonka's. Nozomu is refused entry as he doesn't have a Golden Ticket, however he was able to enter because he threatened to notify the health inspectors if he becomes suspicious about how the chocolate is made.
  • In The Office, Michael decides to offer 10% discount coupons to clients but accidentally ships all five golden tickets to the same client. He also forgot to mention they cannot be used together and hence has to face delivering 50% off the price of paper to Dunder Mifflin's biggest client. Michael tries to frame Dwight for this, who has never seen or read Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
  • A Marilyn Manson music video for the song "Dope Hat" is a twisted reference to the boat ride scene, and a few parts of the movie, such as the oompa loompa songs.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Toy to the world", Phineas remodels the toy factory and suddenly everything looks like Willy Wonka's factory. A reference to the Oompa Loompas in the same episode is also shown.
  • In Superjail, the main character of the show is the Warden, a parody of Willy Wonka. He is also described as a "sadistic Willy Wonka".
  • In an episode of Drake and Josh, Drake and Josh's room is filled with candy, and Josh has a similar appearance to Wonka, with the brown top hat and a cane. He even eats the cup he used to contain chocolate milk.
  • In Epic Movie, four people are trapped inside a factory with Willy Wonka (Crispin Glover) who says that they are 'mine now' and try to take their body parts.

Nestlé's mascot

An animated version of Willy Wonka, based on Gene Wilder's portrayal and Quentin Blake's illustrations, serves as a mascot for Nestlé's Willy Wonka Candy Company brand. He appears on the packaging, marketing, and in the company's television commercials. Animated versions of Oompa-Loompas are seen on the website.


Willy Wonka is most known for shipping his delicious candy worldwide. In popular culture he's also known well for his eccentricity. According to Roald Dahl, the idea he got for the story was "What if there was a factory that shipped out marvelous things... and there was a crazy man running it all."

The book and the 1971 film adaption both show this rather vividly (to the point that Veruca was commented, "He's absolutely bonkers!"). In the 2005 film adaption this trait is somewhat waysided as he is more creative and rude than he is eccentric. Also here he's portrayed as a flawed character, constantly teasing several of the children except for Charlie and also getting kicks out of teasing Mike Teevee. It was revealed at the end that he didn't tease Charlie at all (which he didn't) since he was the least rotten of all the children. All of these negative aspects apparently stem from a strained relationship he had with his father Wilbur Wonka, D.D.S.

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