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There's A Theory That 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' Is Actually About A Tormented Killer

Updated April 16, 2019 64.0k views11 items

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a 1964 book by Roald Dahl, tells the story of a reclusive confectioner who invites five children to visit his mysterious and eccentric chocolate factory. The tale has thrilled fans for generations, not only through Dahl's original iteration, but also through two films: 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and its 2005 remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Many have long perceived the factory's owner Willy Wonka as a quirky, elusive character who doesn't appear overly fond of children, despite seeking one to serve as an heir to his candy-making empire. The famous confectioner is played by Gene Wilder in the original '70s film and by Johnny Depp in the 2005 remake, and while their interpretations of the character differ, both are sardonically irreverent. So much so that, over the years, fans have concocted various increasingly dark interpretations of the story, one of which even paints Wonka as a prolific child slayer. 

Each of the children who navigates Wonka's factory is implied to meet a grisly off-screen fate, much to the complete indifference and subtle delight of Wonka. While the notion may sound outlandish, credible evidence suggests Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a thinly veiled case study into the mind of a tormented and unbalanced evil genius.

  • The Wonkamobile's Seats Prove Wonka Anticipated His Guests' Fates

    After Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, and Veruca Salt meet their peculiar fates, Wonka ushers his remaining guests to the Wonkamobile, a soda-powered, foam-spouting cart that is magically dry-cleaned when it drives through a mysterious portal. Bizarrely, the eccentric contraption contains exactly enough seats for Wonka and his remaining guests: Mike Teavee, Teavee's mom, Charlie, and Grandpa Joe.

    Some believe this is part of Wonka's well-constructed and sadistic plan to eliminate his guests: he is aware the other three children and their chaperones wouldn't reach this point in the factory tour. Similarly, there are just enough seats on Wonka's boat, the SS Wonkatania, for everyone excluding Augustus Gloop and his mother. Some fans extrapolate Wonka must have known Augustus and his mother would never travel beyond the chocolate room.

  • Wonka Enjoys His Guests' Terror On The Psychedelic Boat Ride

    The SS Wonkatania, Wonka's pleasure boat, isn't for the faint of heart. The ride first carries guests through a pitch-black tunnel, after which they are treated to images of a beheaded chicken, an insect crawling on the face of a seemingly unconscious person, and other unidentifiable and frightening scenarios. This is all accompanied by a terrifying poem recited by an increasingly deranged Wonka.

    The glee Wonka finds in his guests' terror is evident. He seems to feed off of this emotional manipulation, and those who watch the scene closely may even detect a slight smile on his face. This is one of the film's few moments in which Wonka appears to be genuinely happy.

  • None Of The Factory's Victims Could Survive Their Fates

    The children in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory could not realistically survive their mishaps. The pressure from the pipe that transports Augustus from the chocolate room to the fudge room would have, at the very least, significantly and adversely impacted the child's brain.

    Similarly, Veruca Salt's lengthy fall down the "bad egg" chute would most likely have led to blunt-force trauma and fractured bones. Violet Beauregarde would have suffered necrosis from transforming into a blueberry, and Mike Teavee - who shrank himself down through the experimental process of "Wonkavision" - was likely torn limb from limb in Wonka's taffy-pulling machine. 

    Even more terrifying, had Grandpa Joe not realized burping would deflate Charlie and himself after they drank Wonka's untested Fizzy Lifting concoction, they might have been chopped up by the chamber's fan.

  • Wonka May Be Eliminating The Children Based On Their Sins 

    Some fans believe the children who visit Wonka's factory represent several of the seven cardinal sins and, as such, Wonka eliminates them in ways that punish them for their most egregious traits. According to this theory, Augustus Gloop represents gluttony, Violet Beauregarde represents sloth, Veruca Salt represents greed, and Mike Teavee represents pride.

    This is allegedly all planned by Wonka in advance - he somehow is aware which children would win beforehand and, based on Slugworth's initial interaction with each ticket-winner, Wonka anticipates how they would respond to each room in the factory. The Oompa Loompas' songs serve as further supporting evidence, as each tune directly and specifically relates to each child's demise.