The Caterpillar is another one of the pantheon of rich and cryptic creatures that Alice meets
on her journey through Wonderland. Like many of the characters she meets, the Caterpillar
is cryptic and all but straightforward, yet assists Alice in completing her journey with advice
about how to navigate an otherwise confusing world. With many reimaginings of this
character, including his name and age –believed to be a million–, he’s one of the many Alice
in Wonderland characters that’s cemented his place in pop culture.
After leaving the garden of living, singing flowers, Alice meets the Caterpillar. He’s perched
atop a mushroom, smoking his hookah pipe and singing. Alice thinks him rude as he doesn’t
immediately respond to her, and after a short and confusing conversation, Alice has had
enough of him and leaves in a huff. The Caterpillar tells her to come back because he has
something useful to tell her. She explains that she wants to return to her normal size
because being 3 inches tall is ‘an awful’ height. This infuriates the Caterpillar who is exactly
3 inches tall himself, nevertheless, he teaches Alice how to grow taller and shorter by taking
bites of different sides of a mushroom.
In the Tim Burton films, the Caterpillar is voiced by Alan Rickman and is referred to as
‘Absolem’. He appears several times in these films; first on the shoulder of Hamish Ascot as
he’s about to propose to Alice, and again later when the White Rabbit, Tweedledum &
Tweedledee, the Dormouse, and the Dodo consult him to consider Alice’s identity. At the
end of the film, he reveals himself as a butterfly before setting off to China. The 2016 film
was Alan Rickman’s final film performance before passing away.
The Caterpillar has appeared in numerous other games, anime, and series, even being
referenced in Freddy vs. Jason, as Freddy briefly turns into a hookah-smoking caterpillar.
Check out the Mad Hatter's Tea Party to meet the characters!