The musical itself
- Accidental Innuendo: The last line of "Slide Some Oil To Me": "Let me lubricate my mind."
- Ear Worm: Many of the songs, but "Ease on Down the Road", "Everybody Rejoice (Brand New Day)", "You Can't Win", "Slide Some Oil to Me" and "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News" are the standouts. In some of the songs cut from the film, there is the Tornado Ballet
- Ending Fatigue: After Evillene is killed, there's not much story left to tell, but it still takes several songs to get to the end. The screen adaptations each cut three numbers from this stretch (though Schumacher and Firestein made different choices on the second song worth removing). Made more bearable for viewers who consider at least one of the two songs that survive all versions of this stretch, "Believe in Yourself" and "Home", the musical's Awesome Music.
- Minority Show Ghetto: The musical seems to fall out and in of this, depending on the quality of the production. On the positive end of the spectrum, the original Broadway version ran for four years, and the 2015 TV special scored NBC their strongest Thursday night ratings in at least two years. On the negative end, the 1978 movie bombed so hard that it killed Blaxploitation, and the 1984 Broadway revival closed after only 10 days (reviews claim that too little time had passed since the end of the original Broadway run to necessitate a revival, and that the production values also seemed cheaper).
- Painful Rhyme: "Soon As I Get Home" has a failed attempt to rhyme "air" and "fear". Neither Stephanie Mills nor Shanice Williams even tried to force the words to sound similar, and Diana Ross just skipped this part of the song.*
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: If you believe in yourself and work hard to take advantage of the perfect opportunities, you can bring about positive change in your life and others'.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Some fans of the play have expressed these sentiments towards the screen adaptations, since neither of them seem 100% faithful to the show.
- We're Still Relevant, Dammit: The screen adaptations make a few extremely forced attempts to reference their respective eras of American culture. To name but one example from each, the movie has a disco in the center of the Emerald City, and the TV version replaces Addaperle's Magic Slate with an iPad.
- Base-Breaking Character: Nipsey Russell's Tin Man's talk-singing made some viewers deem the actor an inappropriate choice (especially since he seems like the only one of Dorothy's friends to get two songs all to himself), while others try to defend him by arguing that the talk-singing further highlights the tragedy of the Tin Man's inability to feel.
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
- The Emerald City is represented by the World Trade Center.
- During the second season of American Idol, during the movie theme week, one of the contestants sung "You Can't Win" as their choice which didn't agree with the judges. In the following elimination round, he was knocked out of the running.
- Harsher in Hindsight: Dorothy's goodbye to her friends at the end as they fade to black is all the sadder when you realize that Diana Ross has outlived each one of her main co-stars from the movie. Even sadder is the Scarecrow's last line to Dorothy considering what would happen to the actor who played him.
Scarecrow: Success, fame, and fortune, they're all illusions. All there is that is real is the friendship that two can share.
- Most Annoying Sound: The Tin Man can be brought to tears by the memory of his fourth wife Teeny, or as he tends to put it, "TEEEEEEENY, TEEEEEEEENY, TEEEEEEEEENY, TEEEEEEEENY, TEEEEEEEEENY..."
- Narm: Glinda attempting to perform "Believe in Yourself" as a gospel number can fall under this or Narm Charm, depending on how strongly you think Lena Horne's hamminess and un-convincing lip-syncing overshadow the song's message.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: It's terribly obvious how far out of his comfort zone Sidney Lumet was, showing no idea of how to stage musical numbers despite the songs themselves still being pretty good. The worst offender is filming "Ease on Down the Road" from behind the actors.
- Vindicated by History: The film is viewed a bit more positively nowadays (especially among the black community), to the point where it has become something of a cult classic. Though there's still plenty of people that view it as a bad film, you're just as likely to find people that like it and defend it.
- Wangst: Don't do a Drinking Game of how many times Dorothy sobs piteously. You'll be passed out after 30 minutes.
- What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Oz features hookers, an opium den, and a (mostly) clothing-optional musical number. Nonetheless, the MPAA still rated the movie G for General Audiences.
- WTH, Casting Agency?: Diana Ross, who in her thirties seems out of place in the shoes of the much younger Dorothy despite her singing chops. Ross was initially refused the part but eventually won it after persisting in her negotiations with the producer, with her age singled out as having rendered her unconvincing in the role of an emotionally distraught young woman.
- The Woobie:
- Arguably The Scarecrow who starts out being tortured by the crows and is similarly abused throughout the movie. Being played by a 19-year-old Michael Jackson helped.
- At the end, the Wiz reveals he lives a lonely, fearful life, and begs Dorothy and her friends not to leave:
The Wiz: "Please... please don't... don't go. I li... I live here all alone... in terror... that someone will find out that I'm a fraud. Please... just stay with me a little while and talk. You can talk to me crazy... call me names..."
The TV version
- Author's Saving Throw: Dorothy's arc, about learning to adapt to new environments, provides a contrast to the lesson of MGM's adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:
Dorothy (1939): If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with!Dorothy (2015): Omaha is where I was born, but where I belong is with Aunt Em in Kansas...Home isn't where you live, it's where you love.
- Award Snub: Despite positive reviews, the telecast failed to earn an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Class Program, settling for six technical nominations. It also failed to break the streak of NBC musicals earning zero Emmy nominations for acting.
- Growing the Beard: For NBC's attempts to bring back the live TV musical. After its previous productions of The Sound of Music and Peter Pan were largely seen as hot messes buoyed by the occasional good performance, The Wiz got strong reviews just in time for other networks to try the concept out. After Fox's January 2016 telecast of a new Grease also earned a positive reception, The Wiz might very well mark a Genre Turning Point for live TV musicals.
- Jerkass Woobie: Evillene tries to paint herself as one when she admits her frustration with Dorothy killing her sister, taking said sister's shoes, then rallying her new friends to help her also kill Evillene. However, Evillene's threats to stew Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion, and her plans to enslave everyone in Oz, make it harder to pity her when Dorothy does kill her.
- One-Scene Wonder: Glinda makes the most of what little screentime she has compared to Addaperle and Evillene, from when she descends from the sky in a Big Entrance, to when she belts out a show-stopping performance of "Believe in Yourself".
- The Scrappy: Common as the Emerald City guard, pointed out by every review as sticking out horribly in an otherwise well cast production. At least his costume was pretty cool.
- She Panned It So She Sucks: Raven-Symoné fell victim to this when she admitted that she didn't think Shanice Williams and Elijah Kelley could compare to the "original" Dorothy and Scarecrow, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. She proceeded to receive a ton of reminders that Ross and Jackson weren't really the first people to play Dorothy and Scarecrow in The Wiz.
- Slow-Paced Beginning: It takes about four minutes to reach the first songnote , most of that time spent delivering talky exposition regarding Dorothy's new backstory.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Dorothy delivers this gem when the Tin Man sounds shocked to discover that the seemingly-powerful and high-ranking Wiz was actually a woman.
Dorothy: And what's wrong with being a woman?
Tin Man: (nervously) Uh, nothing...
Dorothy: That's right, nothing wrong with being a woman! I don't know where y'all fools learned y'all manners.
- Special Effects Failure: Like Peter Pan Live!, the strings helping the actors and acrobats fly proved impossible to hide at certain scenes.
- The Woobie: Ne-Yo sure brought a lot of tragedy and pathos to the Tin Man, especially in his heart-wrenching deliveries of his backstory and his "I Want" Song.