Hotzenplotz is the titular main antagonist, and later protagonist, from the German book series The Robber Hotzenplotz by Ottfried Preußler.
He is, along with the evil wizard Petrosilius Zwackelmann, the main antagonist of the first book and serves as the single antagonist of the second book, but then he's a protagonist in the third book when planning to redeem himself and being falsely accused of theft.
The Robber Hotzenplotz
Interested in the coffee mill owned by Kasperl's grandmother, which is able to play music, Hotzenplotz steals it. Kasperl and his friend Seppel decide to follow him to his cave and get it back. In order to this, they carry a box which has "Watch out, gold!" written on it. Hotzenplotz, believing it to be full of gold, steals it. He soon realizes that this was a trick to follow him as the box is full of sand and has a hole in it, resulting in the box leaving a trace of sand to his cave. The robber manages to trick the boys by leaving another trace which leads to a trap. However the two "disguised" themselves by switching hats, resulting Hotzenplotz mistaking them for each other when taking them prisoner. He decides to keep "Kasperl" his prisoner and slave while selling "Seppel" to his friend, the evil wizard Petrosilius Zwackelmann.
When Kasperl escapes from the castle to get the fairy herb in order to turn the fairy Amaryllis, another prisoner of Zwackelmann, back into human form, Zwackelmann decides to use his hat to summon him back, but that results in the summoning of the real Seppel. After Seppel told him that they switched hats, the wizard demands Kasperl's hat and learns that Hotzenplotz burned it. Furious at his friend's stupidity, Zwackelmann uses his boot that Seppel had in his hand to summon him. Zwackelmann tells Hotzenplotz that he got tricked and sold him the wrong person and burned the only thing he could have used to get him back. When he calls him a "Gimpel" (in German, it's an old word meaning both idiot and bullfinch), he decides to make that statement literally and turns him into a bird which he puts in a cage.
Hotzenplotz, still a bird, is later taken away by Kasperl and Seppel after Zwackelmann fell into a pool, drowning, and Amaryllis, having returned to her true form, has destroyed the castle. In front of the grandmother and the policeman Dimpfelmoser, Hotzenplotz is turned back into a human and arrested.
News from Robber Hotzenplotz
Hotzenplotz manages to escape as well as taking Dimpfelmoser's uniform after locking him into the nozzle house. Wearing the uniform and posing as Dimpfelmoser, he tricks Kasperl's grandmother into accompanying him on the bike, kidnapping her. Kasperl and Seppel pass by nozzle house the and hear Dimpfelmoser from inside, they believe that it's Hotzenplotz before eventually realizing the truth. However, the real robber locks them all in, but they are able to break out using the fire truck.
Kasperl and Seppel find a letter at home, saying that they should deliver a huge sum of money if they wanted to see the grandmother again. At the meeting point, however, they get taken prisoners by Hotzenplotz who tells them that he only promised that they would see her again, as his prisoners. Serving him mushroom soup in his cave, Seppel pretends to have belly ache,, claiming that the soup contains mushrooms that cause him to burst. As he also ate the soup, Hotzenplotz panicks and begs them to tie him up to prevent him from bursting, resulting in the robber being captured once more.
Der Räuber Hotzenplotz und die Mondrakete/The Robber Hotzenplotz and the Moon Rocket
In 2018, a book called Der Räuber Hotzenplotz und die Mondrakete/The Robber Hotzenplotz and the Moon Rocket was published. Despite its late release, it was also written by Preußler and takes place between News from Robber Hotzenplotz and Hotzenplotz 3.
In this story, Hotzenplotz once more manages to escape from the syringe house. Kasperl and Seppel have an unusual idea of how to get rid of Hotzenplotz for good: by putting him into a self-made rocket and send him to the moon, which, as everyone knows, is made of silver.
After being legally released from prison and deciding to quit his life of crime for good, Hotzenplotz is soon falsely accused of having stolen the crystal ball from the fortune teller Schlotterbeck. As Kasperl and Seppel are the only ones to believe in his innocence, they help him to hide and even assist in his redemption ritual by throwing his pistols into a lake.
It is later revealed that it was Schlotterbeck's dog Wasti, whom she accidentally turned into a crocodile a long time ago, who stole the ball. By using the fairy herb, Wasti's returned to normal. Schlotterbeck uses the crystal ball and prohecies that Hotzenplotz will open a pub. Hotzenplotz decides to do exactly that.
This version is portrayed by Gert Fröbe, who also portrayed Auric Goldfinger in Goldfinger and Baron Bomburst in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. As the movie sticks very close to the source material, is appearance is exactly as in the book.
In the 1979's sequel, which has a complete new cast overall, Hotzenplotz is played by Peter Kern. The sequel is also based on the book, at least plot wise, as Hotzenplotz's appearance differs from the first movie. Also, Hotzenplotz doesn't just leave them a letter, he orders an ice cream man to hide the letter in a waffle and has it delivered to the boys. The sequel features a different ending as well: Dimpflmoser as well as all policemen at his disposal search the hideout, however Hotzenplotz uses one of the stolen uniforms to blend in and later steals the fire truck, resulting in a car chase that ends when Hotzenplotz crashes right into prison, mumbling that he'll be back.
Hotzenplotz appears in the remake from 2006, which is actually consisting of the first two books instead of just the first one. This version is portrayed by Armin Rohde. Unlike the original movie, the remake is rather loosely based on the source material, giving him a new appearance. Another change to the source material is that he tends to use a hollow tree as a disguise. When he's arrested in bird form, he, unlike the book and other adaptions, turns into a human by accident when Kasperl accidentally wastes his third wish. He is also defeated in yet a different way at the end of the second half of the movie: Kasperl and Seppel first call for Amyrillis, who appears but can't help them as she can't use her powers in a kitchen. Hotzenplotz then takes them all prisoner. He later falls for the trick with the mushrooms, however he then starts laughing when he realizes that he still got the keys for his prisoners' chains in his pocket. However, he is defeated for good when Wasti appears next to him, the shock causing him to fall unconscious as he mistakes Wasti for a real crocodile, allowing the others to get the keys from his pocket without having to untie him. He is seen in the post-credit scene, singing a song while trying to escape from his prison cell, only to return to it when he realizes that Dimpfelmoser is guarding the front door.
The Chinese Puppet movie 大盗贼 (Big Thief) is possibly the only adaption of all three books. The story, however, differs greatly from the book, as for example, in the adaption of the third book, Hotzenplotz is not accused of theft of the ball and the movie ends with Hotzenplotz being arrested instead of being redeemed.
Hotzenplotz is shown to be very small-minded at times: in his greed, he falls for Kasperl's and Seppel's trick with the box filled with sand, believing it to have gold inside simply because they wrote it on the box and taking it without looking inside first. Later, his friend Zwackelmann is furious at him for foolishly burning Kasperl's hat for fun, despite Hotzenplotz was simply not aware that he was robbing the wizard of his only chance to summon Kasperl back. At the end of the second book, he is tricked by Kasperl and Seppel who make him believe that the mushroom soup he and Seppel ate contained mushrooms which will cause him to burst, which results in him allowing himself to be tied up before learning that the soup was alright.
However, Hotzenplotz also showed a very cunning side of his personality (despite being not as intelligent as his friend Petrosilius Zwackelmann), especially in the second book. In the first book, he lures Kasperl and Seppel into a trap after discovering that they tricked him. In the second book, he outsmarts and traps Kasperl, Seppel and Dimpfelmoser in the syringe house before using the stolen police uniform to pose as Dimpfelmoser and kidnap Kasperl's grandmother. He even misleads them into thinking he's release her by writing in his letter that they would see her again if they paid the ransom, but he later points out that he only wrote that they should see her again, as his prisoners.
The robber's prime interest is stealing. He takes the grandmother's coffee mill because of its unique ability to play music and later attacks Kasperl and Seppel when they falsely claim to have a box filled with gold. In the second book, he kidnaps Kasperl's grandmother and demands a ransom for her.
In the third book, his primary goal is completely redeem himself, being tired of a life of crime. At the very beginning, he tries to apologize to Kasperl's grandmother, however she thinks it's a trick and locks him away, however she is later forced to let him go when Hotzenplotz shows her, Kasperl, Seppel and Dimpfelmoser the document that proves his legal release from prison. He even becomes friends with Kasperl and Seppel after their long enmity when they help him to hide from Dimpfelmoser who falsely believes that Hotzenplotz stole Schlotterbeck's crystal ball. After hearing from Schlotterbeck that he will open a pub, he likes the idea and becomes an innkeeper.