Warning! Spoilers For Snowpiercer and Dune ahead

A popular Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory fan theory poses that Wonka is actually a child serial killer, purposefully choosing terrible children to visit his factory, so he can kill them. Charlie Bucket, a poor boy whose biggest luxury is a Wonka Bar, miraculously finds a Golden Ticket in his chocolate bar and joins four kids on a tour of the Wonka Factory. The five families explore the secret factory and its fantastic candy world, advanced science, and multifaceted laboratories while every misadventure is cleaned up by the singing Oompa Loompas.


Willy Wonka is one of the most memorable characters in modern history, leading the popular 1971 film to change the title from the book’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (also the 2005 remake’s title) to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Wonka lived in isolation since closing his factory to the public after competitors tried to steal his recipes, fueling the eccentricity seen in his encounters with his guests. Wonka is wary of human nature, and his invitation to tour his factory is his way of testing his theory of human selfishness and greed on a group of children. Willy Wonka’s own theories about children aren’t the only fascinating ones to consider, however. Plenty of bizarre hypotheses exist about Willy Wonka himself, thanks to the cult following that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory amassed over the years.

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Was Willy Wonka Really A Serial Killer?

Willy Wonka, the children, and their parents stand on a staircase overlooking the chocolate river in Willy Wonka and the chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka’s solitary and peculiar nature, including his attitude in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘s tunnel scene, has inspired a fan theory that Wonka is a child serial killer. The theory is based on the idea that Wonka intentionally chose his victims for the tour and tempted them with a weakness he knew they would succumb to, leading to their deaths. Augustus Gloop is sucked into the chocolate river, Veruca Salt is sent down a garbage shoot, Violet Beauregarde is turned into a blueberry, and Mike Teevee is shrunk to 3 inches. The original movie never details exactly what happened to these four spoiled kids, but their fates seem grim.

The four kids who “die” throughout the Roald Dahl-inspired Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie aren’t sympathetic characters. They are the antitheses to Charlie’s kind nature, so Wonka may (wrongly) believe that murdering them is a way to rid society of greedy people. Augustus is a gluttonous boy whose only desire is to eat, at whatever cost. He may have been notable to the factory for consuming high quantities of Wonka Bars, gaining the attention of Wonka himself.

Veruca is a spoiled, rude brat whose vast wealth and bad manners are noticed by anyone who comes into contact with her. Wonka likely heard of her family’s selfish and extravagant tactic for finding one of the Wonka Golden Tickets, making sure she got one. Violet is self-obsessed, arrogant, and impulsive, which made her the easiest for Wonka to dupe into eating an unfinished product. Mike is a technology-obsessed know-it-all, an easy target for Wonka’s new technology laboratory.

Another note for Willy Wonka’s serial killer nature is his nonchalant, apathetic reactions to the life-or-death situations of the antagonistic children. It seems as if their demise was assumed since Wonka had no concern for their wellbeing. This perspective is corroborated by the Oompa Loompas’ clean-up, who tend to the deformed or transported children and exit the scenes singing songs about the immorality of each child. Just like Wonka, the Oompa Loompas in the borderline-horrific Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie are unfazed by the kid’s plight, as if their job is more to clean up after their boss’s murders than to maintain the factory.

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If the other children were all spoiled and greedy, purposefully brought in to be killed by Wonka, one might wonder why Charlie, a gentle poor boy, was also chosen. Wonka may have wanted to see if poor children could be just as greedy as wealthy children, originally intending for Charlie to die. Charlie was almost killed when he and Grandpa Joe drank some of the Fizzy Lifting Drinks, so he nearly fell in with Wonka’s supposed hypothesis. Since Charlie survived and ends up inheriting Wonka’s factory, it’s theorized Charlie will be groomed by Wonka into also becoming a serial killer of perceived terrible children.

Willy Wonka Didn’t Kill The Kids – But That Doesn’t Matter

Willy Wonka showing the children a stick of gum in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

While the movies might not offer up all the details about what happens to the kids visiting Willy Wonka’s factory, the Roald Dahl book and its sequel do. In the end, Charlie gets to see each of them leaving the factory, hopefully with lessons learned. The truth is that whether Willy Wonka actually kills the kids that visit his factory doesn’t matter. Willy Wonka doesn’t have to be a proven serial killer to still be the epitome of creepy.

His eccentricities are made clear in the novel, but the eccentricities are made creepy, even outright terrifying, in the movies. That’s not just in his apathy about the potential for serious injuries or death to his guests. That’s also in his demeanor in other key scenes. The tunnel scene, with its changing color pallet, flickering images, and ominous music in addition to Wonka gleefully scaring the children about the unknown, is often pointed out as the scariest point in the Gene Wilder movie by those who saw it as kids. The scene is like a teaser from a horror movie.

There’s no reason for Willy Wonka to keep intentionally scaring the people on the tour. Explaining to them that they’re too selfish to take over, or not grateful enough for the opportunity, would have sufficed. Instead, he takes exceptional glee in creeping out his guests and bringing them close to harm. That’s enough to keep fans theorizing about who he is in new and terrifying ways.

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Other Completely Bonkers Willy Wonka Fan Theories

A blended image features Chris Evans in Snowpiercer and Gene Wilder in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

In line with the concept that Wonka grooms Charlie into a new maniacal murderer, there’s a wild theory that Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer movie is a Willy Wonka sequel in which Charlie ends the world. Surprisingly, many aspects of this bizarre theory hold up rather well. In a scenario in which Wilford is really a grown-up Charlie Bucket, his knowledge of how to build a whimsical, self-sustaining mechanical world like the Snowpiercer train could logically have come from Willy Wonka, whose factory operated on similar principles.

Likewise, Wilford, a.k.a. Charlie, uses a similar method for finding a successor that Wonka does, hiding messages in food for Curtis to find. This theory also coincides well with the idea of Willy Wonka being a serial killer, as he would have surely passed a total disregard for human life onto Charlie – a disregard that Wilford absolutely displays.

Will Timothèe Chalamet’s Willy Wonka Pick Up The Serial Killer Theory?

Timothee Chalamet as Laurie in Little Women and Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

The Willy Wonka prequel movie starring Timothèe Chalamet has the opportunity to extend the Wonka-as-serial-killer theory. While it seems unlikely that Wonka would want to tarnish an almost universal childhood favorite by giving it such a dark twist, Chalamet could certainly handle such a story. His starring role as Paul Atreides in Dune takes him to similarly dark places, as Emperor Paul Atreides becomes responsible for the genocide of billions in Frank Herbert’s novels. This might seem like a far cry from the whimsical Willy Wonka, but if the candy genius does have skeletons in his closet, Chalamet seems like a great choice to explore this in Wonka.

When Is Wonka Coming Out And What Do We Already Know About It?

Timothee Chalamet as Willy Wonka for Wonka movie

Exactly what take the Wonka prequel will offer on the iconic character remains to be seen as the film is slated for a December 2023 release. At one point, Wonka‘s release date was March 2023, but Warner Bros. bumped it back with several other projects. Few details are available about Wonka‘s story other than the fact it will highlight the character’s younger years. In addition to Chalamet, Wonka will also star Olivia Colman, Keegan-Michael Key, Sally Hawkins, and Rowan Atkinson. If Wonka generates a fraction of the cult following that the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has, it’s certain to get plenty of buzz, serial killer or not.

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