|“||Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.||„|
|~ The Once-ler to Ted.|
The Once-Ler is the protagonist villain and narrator of Dr. Seuss' book The Lorax, and its TV adaptation and the secondary antagonist-turned-deuteragonist in the 2012 film adaptation. He is an enigmatic individual who seeks to expand his business of making Thneeds, confronting the Lorax in his endeavors.
In the 1972 animated sequel, he was voiced by the late Bob Holt. In the 2012 film, he was voiced by Ed Helms, who would later voice Mr. Krupp in The Adventures of Captain Underpants.
|“||Now listen here, Dad! All you do is yap-yap and say, Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad! Well, I have my rights, sir, and I'm telling you I intend to go on doing just what I do! And, for your information, you Lorax, I'm figgering on biggering, and BIGGERING, and BIGGERING and BIGGERING...! Turning MORE Truffula Trees into Thneeds which everyone, EVERYONE, EVERYONE needs!||„|
|~ The Once-Ler showing his true nature.|
The Once-Ler is a man who came to a bright and magical forest of "Truffula Trees" long ago to set up a business making garments called "Thneeds" out of the trees' fluffy foliage. The titular Lorax appears from the stump of the first tree he chops down and insists that he stop, but the Once-Ler dismisses him, saying that he has only chopped down one tree out of thousands and is doing no harm. However, the Thneed business quickly grows in size and popularity and more and more trees are cut down to make more of them as the shop grows into a factory, and the forest starts to become more and more damaged and polluted, driving off the creatures that live there. The Lorax continues begging the Once-Ler to stop and showing him the damage he is doing, but is still ignored. Eventually, all of the Truffula Trees are gone and so are all of the animals and, since no more Thneeds can be made, the Once-Ler's business ends. As the very last Truffula Tree is cut down, the Lorax "lifts" himself into the air and vanishes, having nothing left to protect, and leaves behind only a stone platform with the word "UNLESS" on it.
Ever since, the Once-ler has resided in the remains of the Truffula forest and has come to regret his actions. When a young boy comes wandering to his house, the Once-ler tells his story and gives the boy the very last Truffula seed in existence, telling him that if he plants it and takes care of it, the forest, the animals and the Lorax may eventually return.
In the book and TV special, the Once-ler is never fully seen. His only visible traits are his yellow eyes and green hands, since he is meant to be the personification of greed and the concept of business. However, the book implies that his "green hands" may really be gloves.
In the film, the Once-ler is portrayed as a lanky human. As a young man, he has mop-like black hair, blue eyes, and a rounded face with light freckles. He wears a grey fedora, a white shirt, and a grey vest, with the shirt's sleeves rolled up to fit his green gloves. He also has striped trousers and black boots. As he becomes corrupted by his business, he dons a green suit and tie, as well as sunglasses and a top hat.
As an elderly man, the Once-ler retains his suit and hat, but now has a Thneed scarf around his neck. His hair has become gray, and he sports a mustache akin to the Lorax's.
The young Once-ler is portrayed generally as a very optimistic and sometimes a bit thoughtful person in the adaptations and original book, but that does not last long as he becomes more inconsiderate and is obviously taken over by greed.
On the book and TV special, he is considered a total and completely centered villain. While he is also just as bad in the film, otherwise even more noticeable than in the other adaptation and original, it is clear that he was not made entirely the bad guy in the film, leaving the blame almost entirely in some other created character that did not appear in the book. This, just like the other changes, seemed to bother a lot of people when it comes to the moral of the story The Once-ler is in, that anyone could be bad if it took things too far.