Willy Wonka is one of the most memorable film characters of all-time. First and most memorably seen on screen in the classic 1971 family film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the unique and entertaining character was brought to life thanks to Gene Wilder’s unforgettable performance. The film followed a group of children who were granted access to access a wondrous candy factory by the eccentric Wonka.
Wonka is unnerving, hilarious, and incomprehensible all at once. His other-worldly behavior makes for some great one-liners and endlessly quotable moments from the film.
Updated on December 4th, 2020 by Matthew Wilkinson: When it comes to Roald Dahl’s huge library of characters, Willy Wonka really does stand out as the strongest and most memorable of the bunch. He’s eccentric and over the top, at times being slightly mad. Yet all of that is pulled back with a level of heart, kindness, and whimsical magic that makes him so much fun to watch. Throughout the movie, Wonka comes out with some amazing lines, from his life lessons to his strange tangents to his savage put-downs, here are some of Willy Wonka’s best quotes.
15 “Strike that. Reserve it.”
Wonka is such a compelling and entertaining character because he really doesn’t seem to operate in this world. He is constantly preoccupied with a dozen different thoughts and rushes his guests from one place to the other like a madman. With his hectic style, he seems to confuse himself at times.
He declares as the tour is about to get underway that they have “so much time and so little to see” before catching his mistake. He repeats this mistake throughout the film and it’s a wonder if he’s really this confused or he’s messing with the guests.
14 “There’s no earthly way of knowing. Which direction they are going.”
One of Willy Wonka’s creepier moments is during the boat scene, which takes them down the chocolate river. What starts as a nice, happy journey quickly turns into one of the eeriest moments in the movie which leaves even the sternest of the parents to be freaked out.
Wonka bursts out in song, but not in a happy, joyful manner. Instead, it is all done with a very strange tone as he clearly sings about how the boat journey is descending into madness, which only serves to make it all even weirder, giving the full range to his character.
13 “So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
This line is actually a reworked version of a Shakespeare line, but coming from Wonka’s mouth, it manages to say a lot about his character. The quote means that even if the world around us doesn’t always seem like a particularly good place when one person can achieve something good, it can stand out above the bad.
Wonka has worked his whole life to bring some good into the world. When it comes to moving on, he is dismayed to find that there doesn’t seem to be anyone worthy of his place. Then he meets Charlie and his spirit is restored.
12 “If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.”
One of the more charming elements of this Roald Dahl tale is the musical elements that are spliced throughout. The songs in the movie really are enjoyable, and one of the best is the number that Willy Wonka himself sings as they first enter the factory.
Everything about the scene is of pure amazement, and Wonka’s words reflect that perfectly. He comes across as kind and fun and is everything you initially expect from someone in his position. This quote is particularly powerful though, as it showcases there is a true beauty in everything, with paradise being found anywhere if you look for it.
11 “Gives it a little kick.”
It can be hard to tell when Wonka is being sincere with the ridiculous things he says and when he’s in on the joke. He partly seems to enjoy the idea that everyone around him thinks he’s crazy and tells these jokes only for himself.
When showing the tour guests the bizarre process of making his candy, Wonka begins adding random objects into the mix. Most memorable of all is his addition of an old shoe and his fantastic explanation. Who doesn’t enjoy a good ridiculous pun?
10 “I think that furnace is only lit every other day, so they have a good sporting chance, haven’t they?”
Willy Wonka really does come out with some incredible one-liners during the movie, and one of the best is this one as he reassures a concerned Charlie Bucket that Veruca and her father won’t actually be burnt in the furnace as he first suggests.
It’s a great line because firstly, he has no clue whether they will or won’t, and secondly because it’s so quick-witted at the end as he casually brushes off the situation and the fact that they could be burned. It’s the type of character that he is, often switching personalities, and that’s what makes him so hard to predict.
9 “If the good Lord had intended us to walk he wouldn’t have invented roller skates.”
The wise philosopher persona of Wonka seems to be in direct contrast to his rather childlike rationale of the world. When asked why the tour doesn’t just continue on foot, Wonka gives this response which almost sounds right until you realize how it’s nonsense.
Again, it’s hard to say if this is just another way of messing with the kids and displaying his eccentricities, or if he really does believe roller skates were invented by god. Either way, these strange saying somehow make him always seem like the smartest person in the room.
8 “She was a bad egg.”
All these years later, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, while still a beloved family film, has a fair bit of dark humor to it. Ignoring the genuinely creepy tunnel sequence, the movie shows young children continuously put in danger by this insane factory owner. But as the kids keep finding themselves in peril, it’s hard not to laugh at Wonka’s total lack of interest in their safety.
After the admittedly obnoxious Veruca Salt steps on the egg-testing machine, she is judged correctly and sent where all the other bad eggs go. Wonka’s matter-of-fact reaction is a great bit of twisted humor.
7 “Help. Police. Murder.”
In the age of the internet, Wonka has become a bit of an icon for the totally uninterested. He is a poster child for those who have to put up with pestering and annoying people. A lot of the humor in the film comes from his total and open dislike for most of the people on his tour. Especially when they find themselves in danger.
Several times in the film, when the children’s greed gets them in trouble and the parents begin to panic, Wonka gives a totally unenthusiastic cry for help. Wilder nails these moments, making them some of the funniest parts of the movie.
6 “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”
Wonka might not be a person who lives in the real world, but he does represent what many people wish they could be more like. Aside from owning a chocolate factory, Wonka knows not to take things too seriously. He lives in a world of nonsense and, to him, the people who live in normal life are the strange ones.
He is there to inspire people to embrace a bit of the nonsense in life. Wonka seems to think “now and then” means all the time, but the words are still true. Being ridiculous every once in a while can be a good thing.
5 “It happens every time. They all become blueberries.”
One of the most iconic moments from the movie is when Violet swells up and starts turning blue, which is the punishment she suffers from eating chewing gum when told not to. As he is when all of the children end up being punished, Willy Wonka is very relaxed about the entire situation.
It’s hilarious to see just how calm he is while everyone else is freaking out (as you would) about how big she is getting. He ends up summing things up perfectly with this one-liner, reflecting on how they always turn into blueberries, which is very calm.
4 “The suspense is terrible. I hope it’ll last.”
One of the most memorable moments in the film is what happens to poor Augustus Gloop. The plump young man is the first of the children on the tour to make an early exit. After his sweet tooth leads to him getting a bit too close to the chocolate river, Augustus falls in and is soon sucked up by a suction tube.
As the others look on in horror as the poor lad gets stuck in the pipe, Wonka excitedly watches as the pressure continues to build and eventually shoots Augustus out. It’s another example of how Wonka is a bit of a madman.
3 “You lose. Good day, sir.”
One of the more shocking moments in the movie comes when Wonka abruptly ends the tour with only Charlie left. Wonka’s magical persona disappears as he becomes withdrawn and almost depressed. When Charlie’s grandfather asks about the prize that was promised, Wonka snaps insisting Charlie broke the rules and loses.
The sudden switch takes the viewer off-guard. Wonka was such an oddball character, to see him suddenly become very serious and enraged is a jolting moment. Wilder delivers the line with such frustration that it makes it all the more rewarding when the happy Wonka returns.
2 “We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of the dreams.”
Even though he operates a chocolate factory, Wonka is meant to represent everyone who is willing to think outside the box.
This fantastic quote is his simple response to one of the children commenting on the fact that they’ve never heard of an everlasting gobstopper before. The fact that it didn’t exist before is not a reason for it not to be imagined and dreamed up by some imaginative mind. It is this kind of thinking that makes Wonka an inspirational character. We should all strive to dream big and introduce the world to something they’ve never heard of before.
1 “I’m very pleased to hear you say that, because I’m giving it to you.”
While Willy Wonka can be very angry and a little intimidating at times, he also shows real moments of softness. At the end of the movie when he asks Charlie if he enjoyed the factory, this brings out one of his kinder quotes as he peels away the facade and seemingly shows the real him.
There’s no performance or act in his voice, it is just him, being himself and making it clear that he is giving Charlie the factory. It’s one of the most crucial parts of the movie and is the feel-good finale everyone hopes for, which is what makes it such a great moment.
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