From overly talkative to overly violent, dentists portrayed in the movies and on TV often have questionable character traits.
Regardless, the dentists that making our list this month are nearly impossible to forget, for better or worse. Here are six dentists sure to leave an impression and, if you’re lucky, a pearly-white smile (or scream)!
Dr. Thanapapalous, Curb Your Enthusiasm
The most recent member of the list, Dr. Thanapapalous first appeared last year in Season 11 of Larry David’s irreverent HBO comedy. In the episode titled “Angel Muffin,” Larry visits Thanapapalous on the recommendation of his friend, Jeff. Whilst there, Larry is frustrated by the Greek music blasting over the speaker system. When he asks Dr. Thanapapalous to turn it down, the insulted dentist kicks him out.
Following a half-hearted apology by Larry, including a lie that he has grown to love traditional Mediterranean music, Thanapapalous agrees to work on a crown replacement for the curmudgeonly comedian. Little does he know that Larry has stuffed two tissues into his ears! (Seriously, if the music we play, or don’t play, bothers you when you visit, just let us know. We won’t be insulted.)
Dr. Wolfe, The Simpsons
The Simpsons have had plenty of unforgettable one-episode guest characters over the years, including this stern dentist voiced by series regular Hank Azaria in Season Four’s “Last Exit to Springfield.” What separates Dr. Wolfe from a normal D.D.S. is an innate ability to tell when children and adults alike are untruthful; he famously reprimands Ralph Wiggum for turning his office into “a house of lies.”
Since the Simpsons are unable to afford quality braces for Lisa due to their lack of a dental plan, Wolfe gives her an outdated and downright ghastly set of brackets and wires. Luckily for Lisa, family patriarch, Homer, manages to get the plan by the end of the episode, but not before Dr. Wolfe leaves the laughing gas on for the whole family to inhale. (Note: We never try to sedate people in our waiting room. We guarantee!)
Dr. Wilbur Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
In Tim Burton’s 2005 reimagining of the acclaimed 1971 film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, reclusive chocolatier, Willy Wonka’s past is explored in greater detail. Wonka’s father, Wilbur (Christopher Lee) was an acclaimed dentist and an overbearing father who treated his son like another patient.
This meant frequent cavity inspections and attempts to forbid the sugar-loving boy from eating what he loved most — candy. The cold, domineering nature of Wilbur explains why young Willy decided to run away and start his own candy-making empire, defying his father’s will. (Honestly, we’d welcome any of our children to start a line of popular candy — so we can retire earlier!)
Dr. Julia Harris, Horrible Bosses
As one of the titular ‘horrible bosses’, Dr. Julia Harris, played by Jennifer Aniston, harasses her assistant, Dale (Charlie Day), frequently. Since Dr. Harris is a not-so-subtle nymphomaniac, such workplace assault is always of a sexual nature, including threatening to tell Dale’s girlfriend they had sex unless he actually does so with her. Ultimately, the film’s three protagonists manage to turn the tables on Julia when they blackmail her into leaving Dale alone in her dental office.
Christian Szell, Marathon Man
While other members of the list might make you chuckle, Christian Szell would need plenty of laughing gas to elicit a smile. There are few things on the ‘villains’ checklist that Szell, played menacingly by Olivier, doesn’t check off — Nazi torturer, illegal diamond trader, and war criminal. His preferred method of torment? Dental work.
Szell, who had been bouncing from country to country to evade the FBI for years, is obsessed with diamonds, so much so that it eventually leads to his downfall. When Babe Levy (Dustin Hoffman) dumps a briefcase full of them down a grate, Szell dives in to try and retrieve them. Instead, he ends up fatally stabbing himself with his own knife.(Uh, we like diamonds, too, but not enough to stab ourselves.)
Dr. Phillip Sherman, Finding Nemo
While most are more likely to remember his fish-killing niece, Darla, Dr. Sherman plays a major role in the plot of the animated hit, Finding Nemo, since he captures the young clownfish for his office’s aquarium. On top of being a villain to fish, Sherman is a menace to his patients as well — few leave an appointment without having screamed in agony at least once or twice.
Couple that with an ongoing feud with Nigel the pelican and allowing his fish’s tank to become incredibly filthy, it becomes clear that Dr. Sherman’s office is incredibly chaotic, even for an animated dentist. (No worries, we aim for pain-free dentistry, and if we had an aquarium, we’d keep it clean.)
Whatever “bad behavior” these infamous dentists are guilty of, rest assured, we have no intention of following suit! See you at your next appointment…