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File:WheresWaldo 6691.jpg
"...oh, there he is."
—Last line from the cartoon show's Theme Song.

Where's Wally? (titled Where's Waldo? when exported to North America) is a series of picture books where each page is a complex scene filled with hundreds of tiny people. The goal is to find Wally/Waldo, a man in glasses, a bobble hat and a red-and-white striped shirt, carrying a cane. Each page has a short flavor text where Waldo describes his adventures, pointing the reader to other, usually humorous, things to look for.

Has become a catchphrase for finding various things; see Where's Deado, for instance.

The Where's Wally/Waldo? books include:

  • Where's Wally/Waldo?
  • Where's Wally Now? (retitled Find Waldo Now in North America) (featuring various historical scenes)
  • Where's Wally?: The Fantastic Journey (retitled The Great Waldo Search in North America) (featuring fantasy scenes)
  • Where's Wally/Waldo? The Ultimate Fun Book
  • Where's Wally/Waldo? In Hollywood
  • Where's Wally/Waldo? The Wonder Book (more fantasy scenes)

Aside from Wally/Waldo, recurring characters include his friend Wenda, his nemesis Odlaw, his dog Woof (who is usually hidden except for his tail) and the Wizard Whitebeard.

Spawned a short-lived Saturday Morning cartoon show which justified its connection to the books by having a "find Waldo" puzzle before each act break. These were often much harder than the ones in the books, not because they were particularly complex, but because the low resolution on TV's at the time made finding small details (like Waldo) a trying task.


These books contain examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: the animated series. Among other things, it gave Odlaw a reason to antagonize Waldo (he wanted to steal his magical cane).
  • A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: A crew of stereotypical pirates, led by a Blackbeard clone, are shown boarding a cruise ship at the marina. One of the pirates is chasing a woman in a bikini, while another is pursuing men wearing nothing but swim trunks!
  • The Artifact: Odlaw was invented for the American animated adaptation and was given a Sdrawkcab Name as Waldo's opposite. This name is still kept when the cartoon was redubbed back into British English for a British audience and 'Waldo' is Wally again, so the reference is lost. Admittedly 'Yllaw' would be unpronounceable unless you're Welsh.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Santa Claus is seen going on a nature hike at the camp site Waldo visits. No reason; just 'cause.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Similarly, Tarzan, Paul Bunyan, and Count Dracula make cameo appearances in the "realistic" first book.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: That red and white striped shirt, hat and glasses.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience (Waldo and Odlaw)
  • Disaster Dominoes
  • Distaff Counterpart (Wenda to Waldo)
  • Dub Name Change: Wally is called Walter in German, Charlie in French, Willy in Norwegian, Holger iin Danish, and Waldo in America and Canada. Additionally, when the cartoon was aired in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, Waldo was changed back to Wally.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first book is entirely mundane contemporary scenes. Quite the contrast to its successors, which use time travel historical settings, completely fantastic settings, and some combination of the two respectively.
    • The scenes also have less people in them, compared to the later books. While the first book has plenty of people in the pictures, there's still a fair amount of space between them. The others are packed with people.
  • Evil Twin (Odlaw)
  • Eye Glasses
  • Flying Carpet
  • Funny Background Event: Pretty much everything that isn't Wally himself.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Look carefully. There are naked people.
    • You don't need to look that carefully. One's a naked clown hopping on a pogo stick. He's pretty impossible not to notice.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Wizard Whitebeard with his long white beard (duh) and Odlaw with his small dark moustache.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Apparently, his entire wardrobe is brown shoes, blue jeans, a red-and-white striped long-sleeve shirt, glasses, and a red and white toque. And his red-and-white striped socks.
    • Wenda has a similar wardrobe (although swapping a blue dress for the pants), as does Odlaw (though he wears brown and yellow eclusively).
  • Lost in a Crowd (The Great Waldo Search)
  • Lost in Translation: Odlaw's name obviously comes from the reverse of Waldo. In countries where Waldo is named Wally, Odlaw is still Odlaw, somewhat ruining the joke.
  • Market-Based Title
  • Memetic Mutation: Waldo soon invaded the pop culture in a big way, with spoofs of his character turning up (among other places) in The Naked Gun film series and on the America's Funniest Home Videos spinoff America's Funniest People.
  • Meganekko: Wenda.
  • Mayincatec (Find Waldo Now)
  • Monochrome Casting: Thankfully averted, although creator Martin Handford only went so far as to make every tenth person in the crowds black, with occasional "exotic" Asians, Native Americans, and Middle Easterners for Costume Porn.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles (In several of the books, the last challenge is to find Waldo and his companions when they are hidden amongst hundreds of characters dressed exactly like them)
  • Nerd Glasses: Waldo seems to be the "smart guy" type.
  • Nice Hat: His red and white bobble hat. Several sceneries have a lot of copies of it lying around.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Waldo seems almost oblivious to many of the chaotic events happening around him, some of which are illegal or downright dangerous.
  • Nintendo Hard: Where's Wally/Waldo 3: The Fantastic Journey ends with having to pick Wally out of a dimension filled almost entirely with other Wallies (The only way to know he's the real one is that he's missing a shoe.
    • Taken even further in that you then have to find his shoe on the same page.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger
  • Recursive Adaptation: The books were adapted into the TV series (below) and then new tie-in books were released directly based on the TV series.
  • Reference Overdosed: (Where's Waldo? The Wonder Book)
  • Scenery Porn
  • Silly Reason for War (Find Waldo Now)
  • Still the Eighties: When Waldo stops by the airport, passengers are shown disembarking from the jets via external movable stairways like they did for most of the twentieth century (and, presumably, during Martin Handford's childhood), rather than by way of the connected tunnels that were common in airports by 1987;.
  • Sdrawkcab Name (Odlaw again)
  • Updated Rerelease: Several of the books were given an anniversary release in which Waldo was moved in each scene, and the supporting characters were added in to the books they hadn't been in before.
  • Visual Pun (Lots of them)
    • The original 1987 book alone has a "school" of, uh, "fish" (with the whale in front wearing a professor's mortarboard), an oversized playing card in a World War I-era biplane (a "flying ace," get it?), and a literal "one-armed bandit" (a cowboy with an amputated hand) on a carnival midway.
  • Wizard Beard (Wizard Whitebeard)
  • You All Look Familiar (The Great Waldo Search)

The cartoon contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Wenda is pointedly missing from the show, except for one episode, while even the scrolls and cane made it in.
  • Big Ball of Violence: In A Stone Age Story, and I'm sure others.
  • Captain Oblivious: Waldo in the cartoon. He is always blissfully unaware of Odlaw's attempts to destroy him, and in fact, seems to have no idea that Odlaw even exists. He always beats Odlaw through sheer dumb luck, all while never actually seeing him.
    • Actually, Odlaw's pretty self-defeating...
    • Lampshaded in one episode where a man comes up to Odlaw and asks "hey, aren't you that guy who Waldo never sees?"
  • Chekhov's Gun: The corn Wizard Whitebeard gives Wally in A Stone Age Story. Turns out it was needed to complete the first movie theater...by being used for popcorn!
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Sooo Wally.

 Witch: (proffers open palm) ...for a tip.

Waldo: Never sneeze with your mouth closed.

  • Cosmic Plaything: Odlaw, as noted below.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Odlaw knows he's in a cartoon and is the villain, tells off the cameraman and the narrator (tries to beat him up once, too), and even tries to learn from previous episodes; unfortunately, the whole universe is against him and even the scenery beats him up.

  Odlaw: "I've learned my lesson on this show. I'll stand over here, out of the way...gaaaahsp!" (is smashed by wrecking ball)

  Odlaw (after a narrator pun): (groan) "I thought you already said your three bad puns for this episode."

  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Odlaw. The poor guy gets beat up almost constantly, and Wally doesn't even know he exists.
  • Medium Awareness: Odlaw - he directly interacts with the narrator, and he even tries to learn from what happens to him on the show. His only problem is that he doesn't seem to learn that he's the Cosmic Plaything.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Wally smiles constantly while watching others get pummeled or is in danger of a pummeling himself (said eagerly: "Who's the menacing fellow who looks as if he'd like to twist me into a knot and throw me off a cliff?"), is excited to be standing in front of an angry stampede, be attacked by monsters, be tied up in chains, be taken prisoner ("Wow, Woof, didjya hear that? We're official prisoners!"), hop into a dangerous pit of doom (shaking bag and smiling: "Well, Woof, apparently I didn't bring my parachute."), and is nothing short of thrilled to be in a cave-in. ("Wow, Woof! It's a real cave-in! And we've only been here just a few minutes! (elated sigh) How lucky can you get?") Seriously, how did Woof survive being around this guy?
  • Perpetual Smiler: Wally; can stray into Stepford Smiler territory at times...
  • Secret Handshake: Wally's family greeting he does with his cave ancestor. Also counts as Mirror Matching.
  • Small Annoying Creature: Woof; he's pretty useless. He's just there for Wally to talk to so he doesn't look crazy.
    • Not sure, he chases off Odlaw from time to time.
  • Team Pet: Woof again.
  • The Voice: The narrator
  • Unknown Rival: Lampshaded once, "Hey aren't you the guy Wally never sees?"
  • Unusual Euphemism: Bear: "Grr, grr, grr and grr again!"
    • Also, Odlaw's tendency to say things like 'gahsp' instead of actually gasping.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Odlaw; could possibly be British?
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