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|First appearance||May 5, 1990|
|Created by||Scott Adams|
|Portrayed by||Ricky Dean Logan (Dilbert's Desktop Games)
Gordon Hunt (TV series)
Wally is a fictional character from the Dilbert comic strip. He is characterized as an employee so deeply jaded that instead of doing any real work, he spends all his time and effort successfully gaming the system.
Wally was inspired by a coworker of creator Scott Adams at Pacific Bell. In Seven Years of Highly Defective People and What Would Wally Do, Adams explained that his co-worker at Pacific Bell had made a bad judgment call, so management froze him at his position and pay scale rather than fire him. Then Pacific Bell started offering a generous severance package for the lowest ten-percent of workers, so the coworker, knowing management had hinted that he should leave the company and knowing it was better to leave with money than without, had an incentive to become a low performing worker. Adams was inspired by this co-worker's serious dedication toward this goal, and the concept of a completely shameless employee with no sense of loyalty became Wally.
Another co-worker of Adams provided the inspiration for the "Wally Report" (see below).
In early strips, there were characters who resembled Wally in appearance and had bit parts, not unlike Ted the Generic Guy. Some of the more memorable ones include Bud, a cynical engineer who broke the spirit of a newcomer; Les, a short-tempered, short-statured man who clashed with Dilbert and other co-workers; Johnson, who failed a drug test by testing positive for Diet Pepsi and Cheetos; and Norman, who was "snorted" by a woman with a huge nose. This was referenced in a comic where the company's biggest customer is killed, and the Pointy Haired Boss announces a plan to have one of the employees impersonate him. When the Boss held up a picture of the customer, he was revealed to be identical to Wally, who recognized and identified him as "Willy from the club of people who look exactly like me." The true Wally did not appear until October 21, 1991, when Adams wrote in the co-worker's story of attempting to get fired. At the time, the character was called "Bruce".
Wally is described in the animated series as the "shell of a long gone great programmer". As described by a female employee in a flashback sequence, "He just programmed an entire database from scratch!". He is used later in the same episode to solve the Y2K bug while hypnotized. When the hypnosis wears off, Wally claims he is more "soiled" than usual and asks if he had been working.
He drinks numerous cups of coffee and is almost never seen without a coffee mug (since March 23, 2017 with KeepCup). He avoids all situations in which he has to work and when assigned tasks he does everything he can to stall or delay, or pass the work to someone else. Since he does not feel loyalty to the company, he takes pleasure in annoying others by asking frivolous questions during budget requests, disregarding rules, loitering around others' cubicles (especially Alice's), and turning his own cubicle into a swimming pool. Wally is so apathetic and demotivated that his mere presence is enough to suck the optimism and hope from nearby people. He is sometimes criticized for a lack of hygiene, particularly chronic flatulence. In the TV series he constantly needles Alice with sexist jokes, which usually are met with violent retaliation from her. He is the bane of the Pointy Haired Boss' existence, using the Boss' own policy decisions and the company bureaucracy to avoid work, and has often proved impossible to fire, claiming a "laziness disability" which gives him protection under anti-discrimination legislation. The Boss once confessed to an unperturbed Wally that he has fired nine bald men that he believed were Wally.
In one strip he tells Alice that he invested everything he got in their competition, which made him financially independent. He states that the only reason he still comes to the office is because of the fact that he can't make coffee.
In spite of Wally's unproductiveness and lack of ethics, Adams notes that Wally is "effective in his own way." In his quest to avoid all work, he often finds creative means of solving problems, such as tricking Alice into bending a metal rod for one of Dilbert's projects by telling her it is an award "for being male." Less constructively, he regularly tricks others into doing his assigned tasks for him, and has many creative excuses for avoiding work (such as "imagining what it would be like to be a fly").
Wally has been married at least three times; his last wife divorced him because of his long work hours. He appears to have a crush on Tina the Tech Writer (although the feeling is not reciprocal), and he has dated several times. He briefly obtained a trophy wife when he became "cool" by growing his hair long and tying it in a ponytail. Carol the secretary briefly became obsessed with Wally when he booked every conference room for the entire year in order to prevent work being created for both of them, but she quickly returned to her customary contempt for him. He openly makes a habit of stalking attractive coworkers and women on the internet, to such an extent that he has developed an immunity to pepper spray.
Wally has a mentor-student relationship with Asok, and once told him that the reason he enjoys talking to him is that he is there. Besides Asok, his closest relationship seems to be with Dilbert, although this is more due to mutual convenience than friendship. Wally is generally described as being a sociopath and he is shown to have no qualms exploiting or misleading other people.
Occasionally at staff meetings, he gives the Pointy Haired Boss the "Wally Report": an over-dramatic, story-like report detailing his weekly "accomplishments" which in reality are always trivial if not nonexistent. Some of these include:
- Copying "over 800,000 bits of data to a disaster backup facility" (copying his resume to a diskette)
- Stating that "he had so much work, his happiness was in extreme jeopardy. So instead of doing his work, he wrote the Wally Report instead."
In 2004, Wally made himself irreplaceable by convincing a major customer that every employee at the company but him was an escaped felon. Wally was fired on one occasion in 2008 for hanging a comic on the wall, but then almost immediately hired back as a contractor at a higher wage because people outside the company appeared smarter to the Pointy Haired Boss and Catbert. He eventually became immune from getting fired, when in 2010 he came into the sole possession of the company's "critical knowledge". This was revealed to him by the company's oldest veteran, "Old Johannsen". The latter died immediately thereafter, leaving Wally as the sole keeper of that "critical knowledge", making him irreplaceable. Despite this the Pointy Haired Boss did try to replace him with a robot who drank coffee and looked at inappropriate websites, the only things Wally did at work. Wally and Dilbert hacked it to make it disgruntled to prevent Wally being replaced. The Boss has also learned to essentially weaponise Wally by loaning him to projects run by another manager who he hates, inflating his worth so that he will be transferred to a rival department, or simply sending him to attend a meeting with a rival manager.
In 2017, it was revealed that Wally has the highest pay in the department.