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"This is the humbug, a very dislikeable fellow" -The Spelling Bee's opinion of the Humbug

The Humbug is a character of The Phantom Tollbooth. He went along with Milo on his adventure.



The Humbug is very polite and wants to know how he can serve other people. However, he doesn't like The Spelling Bee who he often challenges on big words.


He first appeared at the Market Place in Dictionopolis. There, he challenged the spelling bee to spell "balderdash" but she just refused to. They then got in a fight and ended up destroying the Marketplace. The Humbug then went along with Milo on his journey. They went to the Royal Banquet to eat. Afterwards, they went on to Digitopolis and saw the the Mathemagician's workshop which impressed the Humbug.

Milo then saw Chroma the Great who was conducting the sunset. After Chroma finished, he told Milo to wake him up at 5:23 to conduct the sunrise. Tock wanted Milo to go but he couldn't. Humbug said that he should conduct the sunrise himself and that it wouldn't disturb Chroma. Milo thought that was a great idea but then messed up the sky. He then drove up to the Mountains of Ignorance and saw the Terrible Trivium. The Terrible Trivium made Milo, Tock, and the Humbug do worthless jobs. Humbug was the only one that listened the most and even when Tock was pulling him away from the Terrible Trivium, he still did his job of making a hole in a cliff with a needle.

Then, Milo found a path to the Castle in the Air in order to rescue Rhyme and Reason but got stopped by the demons of ignorance. Milo defeated them and rescued the two princesses. Afterwards, there was a celebration and Milo said bye to Tock and the Humbug.


Book Appearance: Short and black; has a more buglike face

Film Appearance: Tall and blue; has a more anthromorphic face



Milo and the Humbug have a big relationship. He got mad at the Humbug when he wanted to quit breaking the door to Digitopolis. After Chroma conducted the sunset, he suggested Milo to conduct the sunrise. Milo thought that was a great idea but it wasn't. He messed up the sky. In the end, Humbug missed Milo who was leaving the lands beyond the tollbooth. Overall, Milo and the Humbug have a good relationship.


Humbug and Tock don't have a huge relationship as much as Milo and the Humbug. Tock didn't like Humbug's idea of Milo conducting the sunrise. However, Tock still likes the Humbug.


The Humbug is nice to pretty much everyone except the spelling bee who he often makes spell big words like "balderdash".


  • The humbug's name is a pun on the word "Humbug"

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