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Character Appreciation: Wirt from ‘Over the Garden Wall’

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So I binge-watched all of Cartoon Network’s ten episode animated miniseries Over the Garden Wall the other day and I fell hard in love with it. (It’s whimsical and musical and surprisingly dark with tons of semi-subtle depressing existential dread, so of course I did.) Based on Patrick McHale’s 2013 short film Tome of the Unknown, Over the Garden Wall — which is also helmed by McHale — follows two brothers trying to find a way home after getting lost in a magical forest. Wirt, the older brother and the subject of this particular character appreciation, is voiced by Elijah Wood, while younger brother Greg is voiced by Collin Dean.

The miniseries is short and (bitter)sweet, with each of its episodes lasting only about ten minutes. As such, we don’t get to spend as much time getting to know the show’s array of characters as we’d like — and yet, they manage to endear themselves just as easily as characters on a thirty minute or hour long show might. So let’s get down to appreciating one of the show’s most endearing characters: Wirt.

Willowy

“I’m… Wirt? I – I’m just a guy, I guess.”

Especially compared to his rotund, stumpy baby brother, their bird companion Beatrice, and the countless other denizens of The Unknown, Wirt is stick thin and pretty tall. This coupled with his flutteriness and his creative interests — more on that later — seems to make Wirt very self-conscious about himself. He obviously considers himself to be an outsider and a weirdo, though his anxiety over his friends and his crush not liking him prove to be unfounded.

Interests

“THAT TAPE HAS GOT POETRY AND CLARINET ON IT, GREG. POETRY AND CLARINET.”

There’s no way around it, Wirt is a huge nerd. His passionate interests include poetry, architecture, and the clarinet. He can even play the bassoon in a pinch. Best of all, Wirt has a habit of dramatically whispering poetic lines to himself at appropriate moments like he’s narrating his own life in iambic pentameter. It’s fantastic.

Realist

“Greg, can we please stop pretending we’re gonna get home?”

By “realist” I mean that age-old saying, “I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist,” because poor sweet Wirt has shades of both. Where Greg’s young age and naturally buoyant demeanor help him to easily accept and find joy in their predicament, Wirt starts off the show vehemently rejecting the magical new world he’s in. Just when he’s starting to appreciate the adventure and give in to his childish, carefree and fun side, something happens to make him lose hope, which then makes him susceptible to darkness.

Theatrical

“My life is crumbling all around me!”

Wirt also has a bit of a flair for the overdramatic. He’s highly expressive and in tune with his feelings and somehow always finds a surface to drape himself on while reciting his lines of poetry. When he’s accused of being a pushover by Beatrice he goes overboard in proving that he isn’t (and he decides to go about this by being the biggest self-aware pushover ever). There’s also that mini meltdown he had over the mixtape he made for his crush Sara. Hilarity.

Who’s your favorite Over the Garden Wall character?