A 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, and later a musical, Wicked is the story of Elphaba, who will one day become the Wicked Witch of the West. Yes, that Wicked Witch.Elphaba was born with green skin after her mother had an encounter with a travelling businessman. Her mother gives birth to an armless child, Nessarose, and then later dies giving birth to Elphaba's third sibling, her brother, Shell.When Elphaba is older, she goes to school at Shiz, and is roomed with the pretty, popular Galinda. At first Galinda is not happy about this.Things change, however, when Professor Dillamond, their Talking Animal teacher, is found dead, soon after Animal hate speech started being promoted by faculty members prompting Galinda to change her name to Glinda in honour of him. Elphaba and Glinda become close compatriots and the former rescues a Lion cub brought in by his replacement, and gains a passion for fighting for Animal rights. Elphaba goes to the Emerald City to speak to the wizard of this, and her life changes forever. Events push the two friends along their paths towards becoming the Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West.Not to be confused with the creepy Australian kid's books of the same name.The book has been expanded into a series entitled The Wicked Years, with three sequels, revolving around Elphaba's possible son Liir, the Cowardly Lion, and Liir's daughter Rain, respectively. The 4th and final book was released November 11, 2011.
Wicked and its sequels contain examples of the following tropes:
Alternate Universe: The book is set in an alternate universe of both the Wizard of Oz movie and books series, which in themselves are alternate universes of each other. The musical for Wicked is also an alternate universe of the Wicked books.
Oz itself is implied to be an alternate universe version of the United States.
Her father, who admits to being in love with Turtle Heart but not in a specifically romantic or sexual way, may be a prime example.
An Ice Person: Elphaba subconsciously freezes a river in order to rescue Chistery.
3 Books later in Out of Oz Glinda and Rain use the Grimmerie to freeze a group of dragons that are being used to attack Munchkinland.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Elphaba's skepticism towards her father's religious beliefs isn't arbitrary because Maguire deliberately wrote it with a cynical eye on Christianity, but insisting that the Kumbric witch couldn't be possible when she herself was born unable to touch pure water without it feeling like acid? Why does Nor need to demonstrate that the broom can fly when Elphaba has already seen magic at work...and magically killed a couple of people? Why isn't it possible that Dorothy and the Wizard are from another world?
Arranged Marriage: Fiyero was married this way before entering Shiz. Not that this mattered too much.
Bee Bee Gun: Elphaba keeps bees, and like in the original story she ends up sending them after Dorothy.
Bestiality Is Depraved: Played straight. Tibbet has sex with a male Tiger at the Philosopher's Club and is described as having 'never been the same.' He dies later of an unspecified illness.
The Cowardly Lion is married to Illanora but their marriage is a chaste one (for obvious reasons.)
Bi the Way: Liir, Elphaba's father, and Turtleheart are the most obvious, but you can say that pretty much everyone is open for interpretation.
Body Horror: Illanora has her vagina sewed shut. Dear god.
Breather Episode: The third book staunchly refuses to move the plot at all, and presumably pretty much covers all the loose plot holes that aren't important to the ending of the next book.
Cant Get In Trouble For Nuthin: Elphaba murders Madame Morrible and then goes to a dinner party and talks about it. The guests refuse to judge or call the police—they're too entertained by the novelty of the situation and the opportunity to debate the meaning of good and evil.
Slightly subverted; the reason nobody calls the authorities is because they think it is a novelty; none of them believe she really killed her
A Child Shall Lead Them: Munchkinlanders try to invoke this with Dorothy. Glinda sent her to the Wizard to prevent the whole mess this would create. Some Oz citizens believe this will happen with their previous ruler - Ozma and Elphaba show her hatred to this trope a few times.
In the last book the Ozma supporters get their wish granted, as Ozma does return and is still a child, therefore playing this trope straight
Clingy MacGuffin: As much as Dorothy might like to hand Nessarose's ruby slippers over to Elphaba, they won't come off, thinking that Galinda might have put a spell on them so they'd stay stuck to her feet.
Crapsack World: This book basically takes every political interpretation of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and makes them canon, with a spin and adds one hundred pounds of misery on everyone that means anything.
Furry Confusion: Only the Animals (note the capital "A") are fully sapient, while the regular animals are just...well, animals. Further confused when Elphaba starts experimenting on animals to see if she can teach them to become Animals. Her monkeys seem to become nothing more than talking parrots, but the second book shows that Chistory became genuinely intelligent.
Heel Realization: The death of Doctor Dillamond in the book was a wake up call for Galinda to re-evaluate what's important in life and stop being obsessed with popularity and being such a dumb blond.
"Just Joking" Justification: Madame Morrible attemps to defend the egregiously anti-Animal quell she recited (without any criticism) by proclaiming it to be "satire". (after the Animals on staff, as well as Elphaba, have complained) Elphaba is not amused.
She does have to look hard to understand, as the words seem to move about the pages. It is implied that the book is simply a standard (though magical) book to people from Earth. To Ozians, it is not just reading in a different language, but in a different dimension, which Elphaba's real father aided her in.
Non-Indicative Name: Elphaba, "The Wicked Witch of the West", actually isn't any of those things. She isn't evil (she's a Well-Intentioned Extremist), she isn't a witch (she's a political activist with no interest in sorcery and no formal magic training), and she isn't from the West (she's a native of Munchkinland, the Easternmost region of Oz).
Not So Different: In the final section of the book, Elphaba realizes that Dorothy reminds her of her younger self.
Patchwork Fic: For copyright reasons, Wicked is supposed to be based on the original Oz books, but both the book and musical draw heavily from the MGM Wizard of Oz film.
Most glaring example? In the original book, the Wicked Witch of the West is not green.
In the fourth book, Mombey gains the appearance-changing abilities of Mombi in Return to Oz.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The terrorists/resistance group never seem to do anything. Elphaba is foiled by her humanitarian instincts when a bunch of children unexpectedly surround her target, but we never find out about anyone else in the group ever doing anything either.
Progressively Prettier: In the book, Elphaba's described as having a long nose, gangly limbs, a mannishly strong jaw, and if it weren't for her being green, she wouldn't be much to look at. But in the musical, along with most book illustrations, and fan art, she's a generically cute girl whose only flaw is being green. Though to be fair, Elphaba is also compared to her mother a few times, as far as appearance; and Glinda at least at one point does describe her as beautiful (hat, dormitory).
That's probably in part because Fiyero says she's beautiful in her own way, both in the musical and the book. But still, she's not written as conventionally beautiful...
Rape Is Love: Subverted, Liir is very distraught over losing his virginity while in a coma to a maunt who is now pregnant. But he stays with her out of obligation, although neither seem to really care much for each other.
The subversion is later subverted, since after Candle leaves and never comes back in the last book, Liir is said to leave the door to the house open at night, hoping she will return
The Scrappy: In-universe, nobody besides Dorothy can stand Toto. Not even the narrator.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The book ending. Every single sympathetic character is dead or no longer sympathetic, and the Wizard leaves for reasons mostly unrelated to their struggle. Elphaba fails at every single major initiative she attempts during her lifetime.
Rain: "Don't wish, don't start. Wishing only... The same words are sung by Elphaba in the musical.
Other examples from Out of Oz, though they may be a stretch, might include Dorothy singing about rainbows, a section entitled "Somewhere" (as in 'Somewhere over the Rainbow'), and Brr being called King of the Forest. Even more of a stretch might be Dorothy repeating in sing-song 'Maybe this time...', which could be looked at as a shout out to Kristin Chenoweth who sang that song on "Glee" and who played Glinda in the musical.
To say nothing of Liza Minelli, Judy Garland's daughter, who sang that song a long time before Cheno introduced it to the tweens of the world.
There's a shout out to Charlotte's Web in "Out of Oz". Rain asks if the spiders could write words in their webs for her to read. Mr. Boss says that would be "some spider". The first words Charlotte wrote in her web were "some pig".
There are plenty of shout outs to the movie and the original book, as well - like when Nessa gets the slippers.
Too Much Information: Dorothy explains to Elphaba that she's been trying to remove Nessarose's slippers for days. Fair enough. But did she really have to mention how sweaty her socks had gotten from wearing the slippers for so long?
At one point in time, Fiyero thinks that one of his tattoos has rubbed off on Elphaba ...down there. Which means he has tattoos there as well. Fiyero is attractive, yes, but still: TMI...
Unable to Cry: One of the reasons why she grew up to be such a distant, cold, and antisocial was because of water burning her skin, causing her to be unable to cry without her tears painfully burning her face like acid.
Wham Line: At the end of Son of a Witch: "He took her to the doorway and held her up in the warm rain. She cleaned up green."
Notably (and frustratingly), this is the very last line in the book.
This may or may not count. It had already been confirmed to the readers that Liir was Elphaba's son. By showing us his infant daughter was green, it confirms it to himself
What Is Evil?: A major theme in the book. After Elphaba bashes Madame Morrible's head in she attends a dinner party where all the guests sit around discussing the nature of evil, all of them having different opinions on exactly what evil is.
Who Is This Guy Again?: It's pretty easy for a lot of people to forget about Elphaba's brother Shell. He wasn't mentioned much in the first book, and was cut completely from the musical, causing his sudden appearance in the second book quite a "oh yeahhhhh...." moment for some.