The Phantom Tollbooth Wiki
A Lethargian from the film.
Vital statistics
Title Lethargarians
Gender Males
Race Lethargarians
Faction Unknown
Health Unknown
Level Neutral (Novel). Evil (Movie)
Status Alive (Novel). Unknown (Movie)
Location The Doldrums

Lethargarians are a race of irresponsible, lazy, and slimy little creatures that have the ability to divide and multiply themselves. They live deep in the Doldrums, a terrible swamp of laziness and dread. They appear as a warning to Milo about what can happen if people are too bored or inactive. They sit around sleeping every full day and they have laws that includes no thinking or laughing allowed and smiling only permitted on alternate Thursdays. These laws are called Local Ordinance 175389-J and Local Ordinance 574381-W. They also believe that thinking, reasoning, meditating, presuming, and speculating are unethical.

Lethargarians' Schedule[]

8 AM: eat

8 through 9:feat

9 through 9:30: dream

9:30 through 10:30: Dawdle and Delay

10:30 through 11:30: Take late early morning nap

11:30 through 12: Bide time and then eat lunch

1 PM to 2 PM: Linger and Loiter

2 through 2:30: Take early afternoon nap

2:30 to 3:30: Put off for tomorrow of what could've been done today

3:30 to 4: Take Early Late Afternoon nap

4 to 5: Loaf and Lounge until Daily Evening Nap

8 to 9: Waste Time

9: Go to Sleep


This article is a stub. You can help The Phantom Tollbooth Wiki by expanding it.

The Lethargarians are lazy, sleepy, lethargic and irresponsible creatures who prefer to do nothing all day. They can get upset whenever someone uses the word "Think", laugh or question their ways. They have fear towards Tock the Watchdog who chases them away. The Lethargarians are also open to offer people to stay in the Doldrums. They don't believe in responsibilities and just go about with no chores or tasks to accomplish, but they are so obsessed with being lethargic that they even have a schedule for their nothingness activities. They plan out their days to make sure they get nothing accomplished. There's "'almost no time for brooding, lagging, plodding, or procrastinating, and if we stopped to think or laugh, we'd never get nothing done,'" they inform Milo. Their whole purpose in life is "to get nothing done". By doing this, the Lethargarians have lost their color and sense of self. They finish each other's sentences and almost seem to have a group mind. They don't have any individuality, and the longer Milo stays around them, the fewer thoughts he has. Tock shows Milo that the key to getting away from the Lethargarians is to think as many thoughts as he can, because they banish the Lethargarians and help him escape from the Doldrums.

In the movie, the Lethargarians are still the same as in the book with their personalities, traits and role, however, the Lethargians are given a villainous role as they sing Milo to sleep to prevent him from leaving trying to make him one of them and even try and chase him and Tock down as they try to escape the Doldrums.


In the original book, the Lethargarians are portrayed as small grey human-like creatures who turn change color depending on the color of the surface like a chameleon.

In the 1970 Chuck Jones movie, the Lethargarians appear as small, translucent, light yellow-green, slimy creatures with three fingers on each hand, three toes on each foot, big noses, yellow lazy eyes with bags underneath, skinny limbs and strokes of hair sticking from the top of their heads.


This article is a stub. You can help The Phantom Tollbooth Wiki by expanding it.

In the 1970 Chuck Jones live-action/animated adaption, the Lethargarians are portrayed as small, light yellow-green and slimy creatures who have the ability to melt, multiply and merge with each other. While the Lethargarians are faithful to their roles in the book, they are portrayed as mischievous and sinister creatures who do everything they can to prevent anyone from leaving the Doldrums to make them one of them. They also seem to be indestructible and feel no pain as when they are swatted by the Car's wiper. The Lethargarians appear to have the ability to control the slime in the Doldrums as demonstrated when the slime engulfs Milo's Car, one of the Lethargarians waves the slime towards the car. The Lethargarians also have the ability to turn into huge menacing waves of slime when trying to chase down Milo and Tock. When a Lethargian talking to Milo fails to continue speaking due to their sleepy nature, another Lethargian continues the conversation.

In the movie, after Milo's encounter with the Whether Man, he proceeds on his journey and he drives down the long stretch of road leading to Dictionopolis. Milo becomes tired and proceeds to lay back in his car taking advantage of travelling through the Tollbooth commenting on the advantages of "Nobody telling him what to do, no decisions to make, nothing to think about and nothing to care about". Milo then proceeds to slowly fall asleep as his car approaches a fork in the road, where he accidentally drives his car down the wrong road and into the Doldrums where his car soon becomes stuck in the slime and melts slightly (Due to Milo's lack of thinking not powering the Car). When Milo wakes up, he wonders aloud where he is and soon he gets his answer from a Lethargarian who falls onto his head and welcomes him to the Doldrums and introduces the Lethargarians to Milo while demonstrating its ability to melt and multiply.

When Milo asks for their help, thinking he is lost, the Lethargarians suddenly react to the word "Think" and tell Milo not to say it as it's against the law to think in the Doldrums which to Milo sounds ridiculous as everybody thinks. The Lethargarians explain to Milo that they don't and that most of the time he doesn't and tell him that he wasn't thinking nor paying attention which is how he got stuck in the Doldrums.

The Lethargarians proceed to demand to Milo that he stop laughing as it is also against the law and add that smiling is only permitted on "Alternate Thursdays". When Milo asks "If you can't laugh, or think, what can you do in the Doldrums?" a Lethargarian answers by singing "Don't Say There's Nothing to Do in the Doldrums". The Lethargarians soon sing along to the song while explaining their ways to Milo while lulling him into a sleepy state. Afterwards, Milo eventually decides that the Lethargarians lead a "Rich, productive life" and proceeds to sing along with the Lethargarians unaware of them showing their devious grins as their true nature is revealed.

Seeing Milo adjust to their ways, the Lethargarians grin and cackle as one of them force the indecision gauge of Milo's car from "Going?" to "Staying" to prevent Milo from leaving.

As Milo sleepily waves the Lethargarians towards him, the Lethargarians in the swamp all seize the opportunity as the slime surrounding Milo's Car proceeds to swarm onto the Car, engulfing it as it melts more with Milo finishing the song with the Lethargarians as he falls into a deep slumber.

However, seconds later, Tock arrives. As Tock scares off the Lethargarians, they scatter to their hiding places leaving the sleeping Milo in his Car. Tock finds Milo and learns that he is killing time. Tock tries to convince the boy not to spend the rest of his life in the Doldrums and tries to get him to leave. Unfortunately, Milo sleepily refuses having adjusted to the Lethargarians' ways wanting to sleep.

Seeing Tock trying to help Milo, the Lethargarians emerge from their hiding places and with angry looks proceed to creep their way towards the two. Noticing this, Tock tries once again to convince Milo to start thinking to no avail as Milo sleepily insists that he would rather not do anything. Tock explains that the Lethargarians don't want Milo to do anything such as eating or breathing. Upon hearing this, Milo comes to his senses as Tock helps Milo with his escape getting him to think all sorts of things like "Birds that swim and fish that fly". As Milo does this, he becomes more awake and his thinking manages to get the car out of its melted shape and start its engine. Tock helps get the car out of the slime of The Doldrums by pushing it.

By then, the Lethargarians proceed to crawl faster and faster determined to stop Milo and Tock from escaping. They form giant tidal waves. Luckily Milo's car gains enough power to leave, jumping over a ravine out of the Doldrums as the Lethargarians fall off the cliff. It is unknown if the Lethargarians are alive after the fall. It can be assumed they survived as Milo asks Tock if it is alright to leave them alone.



When the Lethargarians meet Milo, they welcome him to their home. However, they did get snappy at Milo for questioning their ways, laughing and using the word "Think" which the Lethargarians didn't like as they preferred not to do anything. Since Milo was always bored with life, he soon adjusted to the Lethargarians' ways after they offered him to stay for a while.

They then explain their ways to him while demonstrating their melting, merging and multiplying abilities. When Milo asks what they do in the Doldrums since they don't laugh or think, they sing their song to Milo causing him to become sleepy and sing with them, unaware of their true nature. The Lethargarians seize the opportunity to engulf his car in their slime and prevent him from leaving so they can stop him from doing anything, even eating and breathing.

In the movie, it is unknown what the Lethargarians would've planned to do with Milo. It can be assumed that they had planned to make him one of them.


The Lethargarians are terrified of Tock who they call "The Terrible Watchdog" as he is always barking at them and chasing them away.

In the movie, the relationship between Tock and the Lethargarians are still the same, however, when Tock tries to help Milo escape, the Lethargarians show more courage as they prepare to chase after the two.


  • Thurl Ravenscroft was the voice of the Lethargarians, The singer from How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Monstro from Pinnochio.
  • In the film, the scene featuring the Local Ordinance is taken out.
  • The Lethargarians in the 1970 movie share some similarities with Kaa the Python from Walt Disney's The Jungle Book. Both characters were featured in books that were adapted into movies where they received villainous roles. Another similarity is that they sing a song to the main hero to make him fall asleep, in Kaa's case its the song "Trust in Me" where he hypnotizes Mowgli while singing to him about trusting him so he can eat him, while in the Lethargarians' case its "Don't Say There's Nothing to do in the Doldrums" where they sing about their ways while lulling Milo to sleep.