|“||What should we do, Old Wrinkly? You're the thinker in the tribe.||”|
|— Stoick in Book 1|
Old Wrinkly is an Elder of the Hairy Hooligan tribe and grandfather to Hiccup. He first appears in the children's book Hiccup: The Viking Who Was Seasick. His role is reprised in the main Book series as a minor character, starting with How to Train Your Dragon.
Old Wrinkly's grandson, Hiccup, comes to him for advice when he was very young. Hiccup asks him if Vikings ever get scared. Old Wrinkly tells him to go on a scheduled ocean voyage and then tell him if Vikings get scared.
|“||Your Saltiness," he whispered (for Hiccup had beautiful manners), "do Vikings ever get frightened?||”|
|— Hiccup to Old Wrinkly|
Hiccup goes to sea with his father, Stoick, and other adult Vikings. During the voyage, he gets seasick, a storm hits, the other Vikings get seasick and they get blown off course. Hiccup takes charge and steers them back home. Old Wrinkly asks if Hiccup found out if Vikings get scared. Hiccup and Stoick reply that yes, sometimes they do, but they are brave and overcome their fears.
Old Wrinkly reappears in How to Train Your Dragon, this time advising a much older Hiccup. He took up soothsaying and predicted that his grandson had a grand future in front of him. Old Wrinkly offered cryptic comfort to Hiccup when Hiccup realized he had grabbed the smallest most ordinary dragon possible from the Dragon Nursery.
After discovering that his dragon was very small and unremarkable, Hiccup sought out his grandfather for advice. Old Wrinkly suggested that Hiccup see things from a different perspective, such as that his dragon was not small compared to the other boys' dragons, but rather all their dragons were miniscule compared to Sea Dragons of immense size. He also suggested that perhaps their tribe needed a new type of leadership and that perhaps Hiccup would have to train his dragon the "hard way".
In How to Be a Pirate, the Hooligan Novices encounter a coffin at sea during lessons and eventually bring it back to Hooligan Village. It is the coffin of Grimbeard the Ghastly, and clearly states not to open it. Old Wrinkly and Hiccup are the only two people gathered from the village who recommend not opening the coffin, as advised. However, the tribe opens the coffin anyway and find Alvin, the-poor-but-honest-farmer inside.
After Hiccup looses both half of his How to Speak Dragonese notebook and Toothless, Old Wrinkly tried to ask him what's wrong, as Hiccup appears very depressed and does not eat breakfast. Stoick becomes unmanageably upset when he receives a letter from Big-Boobied Bertha declaring a Blood Fued and refuses to listen to Hiccup that it is actually a 'Fiendishly Clever Plan' of the Romans.
|“||Don't blame your father too much, will you, Hiccup?" said Old Wrinkly sadly. "He means well, but when things get complicated, he gets confused.||”|
|— Old Wrinkly to Hiccup in Book 3|
Old Wrinkly uses his soothsaying abilities to predict the outcome of the Young Heroes Smashsticks-on-Ice competition at the Freya'sday Fete, and divines wrong, causing Stoick to loose money in bets. During the competition, Fishlegs, who is feeling ill, yet again falls into his berserker mode. Hiccup takes him to see Old Wrinkly in his "large untidy house on the beach". Again divining, Old Wrinkly determines Fishlegs has Vorpentitis, which is a fatal poisoning from the Venomous Vorpent dragon. Hiccup is devastated. Old WRinkly proceeds to tell Hiccup a story about the Hysteric Tribe (who believes the world is round, not flat) and a mythical vegetable called a Potato. Determined to save his friend, Hiccup leaves secretly on a Quest for the Frozen Potato on Hysteria, leaving Old Wrinkly to tend the feverish Fishlegs.
When Hiccup returns home, Old Wrinkly admits he 'read the fire' wrong, and it is in fact Hiccup who got stung by the Venomous Vorpent. Hiccup falls over deathly ill. Old Wrinkly is unconcerned, and asks Camicazi, who accompanied Hiccup, for the mythical potato. When she admits the potato is gone, then Old Wrinkly panics. Just as Hiccup is about to die and babbles incoherently, a recovering Fishlegs seems to understand what he is sating and shoots Hiccup with the arrow he brought back. The arrow happened to be stuck in the potato for 15 years and had potato juice on it, thus curing Hiccup.
At the beginning of the story, a poem is written, telling of an "old Man" who feels the coming problems are his fault and takes a vow of silence and places himself in a hole. This is self-punishment for interfering with fate in the past. This is an oblique reference to Old Wrinkly, as is revealed through the story.
At the start of Book 5, Berk and most of the Archipelago is accosted by a severe heat wave. Old Wrinkly is frequently "babbling" about the heat being a "terrible Omen of Doom" and that a "new kind of Terror-Dragon had awoken in the West". No one pays him much heed.
Old Wrinkly is very wise and loving towards Hiccup.
He is referred to as "the thinker of the tribe" and is skilled at seeing the bigger picture of things, such as referring the Thors'day Thursday initiation as a "piddly little test", and realizes the danger of it lightening the sleep of a few very large and ancient Sea Dragons. He is usually depicted as a wise, frail old man smoking a pipe.
Old Wrinkly is, as his name suggests - old and wrinkly. He is rather thin and gangly. In Hiccup the Viking Who Was Seasick, Old Wrinkly is depicted as having red hair, as opposed to white or grey hair as one might assume. His beard is longer than he is tall and tapers to a messy point. His helmet is dark and conical, with two very curled horns.
In Hiccup: The Viking Who Was Seasick, Old Wrinkly is described as "the oldest Viking of all ... whose barnacled beard fell down to his toes." He is illustrated as having bright red hair. He also had breath that "was like being kissed by mackerel".
Old Wrinkly fancies himself a soothsayer for the tribe, but most think he is incorrect in his predictions. However, as the reader finds out, his predictions are not necessarily wrong, just not obvious.
|“||He had taken up soothsaying in his old age and he kept on telling Hiccup how he had looked into the future and that Hiccup was destined for great things.||”|
|— How to Train Your Dragon|
Old Wrinkly is also the Tribe's healer, and has a listing of remedies called Old Wrinkly's Cures for Common Illnesses.
|“||Old Wrinkly was the wise man and soothsayer of the Hooligan Tribe. If you were ill, you would go to Old Wrinkly and he would examine you, consult the gods, and then give you some perfectly disgusting medicine like rabbits' droppings in limpet goo that might or might not make you better. (Doctoring and looking into the future are complicated businesses-to tell the truth, Old Wrinkly did not always get them right.)||”|
|— Book 4|
Old Wrinkly also knows other languages such a Latin, which he teaches to Hiccup, as mentioned in How to Speak Dragonese. Though not mentioned specifically, Hiccup knows French, possibly taught by Old Wrinkly.
Old Wrinkly is "Hiccup's grandfather on his mother's side". He is the one who tells Hiccup 'the world is changing' and a new generation of heroes is needed. He is very observant and watchful over Hiccup, finding out he is a friend to most dragons by spying on him. He is fluent in Latin and (against the wishes of his father) teaches it to Hiccup, saying it will "come in handy someday".
Although it was not specifically shown in the books, Old Wrinkly and Valhallarama had a good relationship. As she was his daughter he was quite protective of her, because of this he set an impossible task if anyone wanted her. Many people failed the task including Humongously Hotshot the Hero. In his ‘older’ age he did regret how cruel the task was.
Stoick the Vast was his son-in-law. Because of their age gap and also Stoick being a typical Viking-type, they didn’t have a close relationship. Old Wrinkly always tried to reason with Stoick when he was acting without much logic. In Stoick’s perspective, Old Wrinkly was quite an unreliable soothsayer and thought he might be going a little senile.
|“||There are those that say the Vegetable-That-No-One-Dares-Name can be found in a great country to the west known as America ...||”|
|— Book 4|
|“||There's no such thing as im-POSSIBLE, Hiccup, only im-PROBABLE. The only thing that limits us are the limits of our imaginations ... and I used to think of you as an imaginative boy. Give up, if you want to ... but I used to think of you as the sort of boy who would NEVER give up, however bad things looked.||”|
|— Book 4|
|“||Soothsaying from the fire is very complicated. ... I won't go into the details, but take it from me, it's tricky ...||”|
|— Book 4|
|“||It means, that one little weirdo looks very like another when your soothsaying in a fire, and it was HICCUP who was bitten by the Vorpent, and not Fishlegs.||”|
|— Book 4|
|"How to Train Your Dragon":||Appears||"How to Ride a Dragon's Storm":||Appears|
|"How to Be a Pirate":||Appears||"How to Break a Dragon's Heart":||Absent|
|"How to Speak Dragonese":||Appears||"How to Steal a Dragon's Sword":||Appears|
|"How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse":||Appears||"How to Seize a Dragon's Jewel":||Absent|
|"How to Twist a Dragon's Tale":||Background||"How to Betray a Dragon's Hero":||Absent|
|"A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons":||Absent||"How to Fight a Dragon's Fury":||Appears|
- While he has never appeared in the film franchise, an item called Old Wrinkly's Cauldron can be purchased in the School of Dragons game.
- Like Valhallarama, Old Wrinkly had concept art for the film, but was later scrapped.