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YMMV: Wicked

Tropes applying to the novel:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Prepare to have your conceptions of every character turned on its head.
    • The musical has alternate interpretations of the book characters
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: To this day, Gregory Maguire's message board is filled with people trying to understand just what the hell was up with the philosophy club scene.
  • Canon Defilement/Better Than Canon:
    • Nearly everyone is Out of Character, and the timeline is tied in knots— but those who never cared for the original books consider this in a improvement.
    • The books should be considered an Alternate Universe to both the source books and the 'main' movie. Likewise with the musical is AU to those materials plus the Wicked book.
    • It's basically a Deconstruction Fic of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: A serious risk with reading this book.
  • Designated Hero: Elphaba is considered important by pretty much everyone she meets and everyone who hears of her, yet accomplishes nothing of note the entire book. Promising student turned dropout; domestic Terrorist who doesn't get her target; nun being a nurse; and recluse living in a castle in a remote village. When the Wizard stations an army detachment to watch her and brings a hostage to "protect himself from her", the main thing that comes to mind is: Why would he even know who she is?
  • Die for Our Ship: Candle is not well liked by Liir/Trism fangirls. This time, however, the reasoning isn't completely unjustified; after all, she did rape Liir in his sleep and then dump him with the baby she had as a result of said rape.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: At one point in the book, Elphaba walks onto the water and it freezes beneath her feet so that she doesn't fall in and melt. Skip ahead to 2013/14 and her Broadway actress, Idina Menzel, plays a character who does the exact same thing in a Disney movie.
  • Les Yay: Fairly prevalent in the book, particularly on Galinda's side. Note the part where she catches her breath as she realises how beautiful Elphaba is, and that their relationship seems to have been the most meaningful one in Galinda's life. Arguable interpretation. Although she does dwell on how nervous Elphie makes her feel, and remembers sharing a bed with her. It should be noted that the only thing Glinda could remember about the Emerald City trip was that they shared a bed.
    • Plus they have that incredibly emotional goodbye at the train station where they actually DO kiss - twice! - and where Elphaba's parting words to Glinda are "Hold out my sweet...Hold out if you can." And that part in the epilogue where Glinda literally feels Elphaba's death (despite not knowing exactly why she is suddenly so upset).
    • And let's not forget the understated sequence where Glinda literally swoons into Elphaba's arms and Glinda thinks that Elphaba being so close makes her want to purr (seriously). At which point Elphaba tells her to resist followed by "Not here," and "I love you too much." Is that even subtext anymore, or have we hit text?
    • The Les Yay carries over into Son of a Witch, when Glinda flips out when she sees Liir has Elphaba's cape and refers to her as 'My Elphie.'
    • Elphaba's granddaughter gets in on it too, when her semi-romantic interest Tip is revealed to be Ozma Tippetarius.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The people having their faces scraped off...
  • The Scrappy: Liir gets a lot of flak for not being as compelling a character as Elphaba and having a lot of Common Mary Sue Traits.
  • Stoic Woobie: Particularly in the book. Where due to water reacting to her skin like acid, she can't even allow herself to cry. This is especially notable during the Doctor Dillamond situation — all the other girls are beside themselves with grief, while Elphaba remains steely-eyed and in shock.
  • The Woobie: Elphaba obviously had a rotten childhood, but A Lion Among Men reveals that life hasn't exactly been a picnic for Dorothy either. Going from having your parents drowned in a freak storm at sea to being stuck in an orphanage to adopted by a farm couple who imply that she wasn't exactly what they wanted to having an aunt who suffers from sciatica and generally seems to be pretty bad-tempered would make anyone want to go over the rainbow after a while. In the last book, she is sentenced to death for the murder of Elphaba and Nessarose in a show trial in Munchkinland.
    • How has anyone not mentioned Nor, especially for what she goes through in the first book. She may start out sort of annoying, but the poor kid loses her whole family, her home, and not to mention her freedom all in a very short timespan.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: The book is much saucier than the musical. In Gregory Maguire's world, Everyone Is Bi until proven otherwise.
    • To say nothing of the violence, occultism, and Elphaba being a domestic terrorist.
      • And the sex. So much sex.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: In the book Boq is fascinated that "Dorothy" means "gift of the gods" and the ruler (president) of her land at the time was named "Theodore", which means "God of gifts".
  • Word of Gay: Maguire has stated that "something" was going on between Elphaba and Glinda, but he doesn't specify what.

Tropes applying to the musical:

  • Accidental Innuendo: From As Long As You're Mine: "If it turns out it's over too fast..."
  • Actor Shipping: Thanks to the high amount of Les Yay in the script, supplemented by their professed adoration of each other in interviews, many fans have shipped original Elphie and Glinda actress Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. Ironically, these rumours probably are matched only by the rumours that the two hated each other.
    • The latter are Jossed and largely never heard of anymore. Both have confirmed they are friends. Very nice friends.
  • Adaptation Displacement: Part of why fans of the book are so nervous about a movie version of the musical being made is that it will further cement into peoples minds that this is the official Wicked story, and people will continue to forget about and ignore the books.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Once you take in the Word of God that Glinda was in love with Elphaba, it puts quite a few scenes in a new light. Likewise with the books, but more so with the musical where everything is not nearly as explicit (yet probably more so in a way) and is more covered up.
  • Award Snub: It lost the Best Musical Tony to Avenue Q, which doesn't seem to have had as much longevity. At least over a decade later, Idina Menzel ended up working with the composer of Avenue Q on a certain world-renowned Disney film which has a hugely popular song that is what Defying Gravity has been for Wicked (and won Best Original Song at the Oscars to boot).
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: More like Big Lipped Alligator Object. The Clock of the Time Dragon, which played an important role in the book, is completely cut from The Musical with the exception of its unexplained presence above the stage. All it does is look scary while audiences try to figure out what the hell it's supposed to be, then freak them out by coming to life at seemingly random intervals.
  • Canon Defilement/Better Than Canon: Just like Wicked the book is to the original movie and Oz novels, so is this in turn to that book. Some don't like it while others prefer the changes.
  • Critical Dissonance: The musical received a lukewarm reception at best from critics, but has since gone on to become one of the most successful and beloved productions by theatergoers in recent years.
  • Ear Worm:
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • Galinda tries to teach Elphaba that "it's not about aptitude, it's the way you're viewed". Ironically, she has a point; in politics especially, your aptitude isn't worth anything if you can't get things done, and unfortunately, getting things done often means needing to be — guess what? — popular. Family-unfriendly, absolutely, but also quite realistic.
    • Whole songs in this musical could be considered this: 'Popular' is about how appearances often matter more than intelligence or integrity. 'No Good Deed' exemplifies how some people will never find acceptance no matter how hard they try. 'Wonderful' describes how ambiguous history really is compared to the way people prefer to remember it. Overall, Wicked by itself is one long Family-Unfriendly Aesop!
  • Foe Yay: "What Is This Feeling?", which has the added benefit of having lyrics that make it sound exactly like a Silly Love Song, except for the fact that it's about two people absolutely hating each other.
  • Heartwarming In Hindsight: "Popular" is about how Galinda plans to make Elphaba popular. Well Elphaba certainly became popular to fans of the play.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Here, Idina Menzel plays a misunderstood character who is an older sibling, has magical powers, has a dramatic I Am Becoming Song, and stars alongside a blonde-haired actress whose first name is Kristin. Fast-forward to the end of 2013... and Idina Menzel is again playing a misunderstood character who is an older sibling, has magical powers, has a dramatic I Am Becoming Song, and starring alongside a blonde-haired actress whose first name is Kristen. Coincidence? Well, maybe, but that doesn't stop it from being both hilarious and awesome.
    • When Glinda confronts Elphaba near the end and says "I mean they're just shoes... let it go!". Try to hear that now without mentally playing "Let It Go" in your head.
    • One part of No Good Deed goes, Is that all good deeds are/When looked at with an ice-cold eye. Well, that next famous musical role she did certainly did have icy eyes.
    • Elphaba has black hair and green skin. In one of Elsa's earliest designs, she had black hair and blue skin. When you get right down to it, Elsa can be summed up as "Elphaba as An Ice Person".
  • Hollywood Homely: Even green skin paint can't make Idina Menzel look bad. Or most of the other Elphabas. Of course, that's actually the point - people within the story ignore her beauty and focus on the green.
  • Jerkass Woobie: An ultimate subversion with Nessarose when Elphaba finally casts a spell allowing her to walk again, when she becomes an outright Ungrateful Bitch.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In the musical, Morrible crosses it by sending the cyclone after Nessarose.
  • Narm Charm: By themselves, the song's lyrics are rather cheesy, but in the context of the story, combined with the amazing vocals and score, not to mention the performance itself, they manage to become Awesome Music.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The Wizard's contraption thing could count. That giant robotic face with the moving mouth, his booming voice...
    • The Time Dragon Clock set-piece coming to life, for some.
    • Some of the latter half of "No Good Deed" is decidedly unnerving in the hands of a talented enough actress (and singer). Kerry Ellis delivers "I'm Wicked through and through" about three minutes in like the powers of hell just came out of her larynx.
    • The scene where Nessarose completely loses her temper after Boq tells her that he's in love with Glinda, and the result of her Magic Misfire.
  • One True Threesome: In the musical, things would never have turned into quite the tragedy it did if only Elphaba/Fiyero/Glinda had been a thing. There's enough subtext on all ends for someone to make a case for it too.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • For a small but very vocal portion of the fanbase, Idina Menzel is the only Elphaba. The rest of us understand the need for replacements, due to the fact that the show's been running for a decade and counting as of this entry, and Idina's career is expanding.
    • Made especially ironic when a Carrie Underwood clip show was put on YouTube...set to Idina Menzel's studio recording of "Defying Gravity." The comments page exploded with Idina fans' rage that a pop singer was covering the song. As with all musicals, everyone will have their favorite portrayal of a given character.
    • Some of Idina Menzel's successors in the role have their rabid, overly-defensive fans as well. Let's just say "Who's the best Elphaba?" is about as dangerous a question as "Mike or Joel?".
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: It exists within the book fandom but its most common in the musical fandom. Gelphie (Glinda/Elphaba) vs Fiyeraba (Fiyero/Elphaba) is the most common by far.
  • Signature Song: "Defying Gravity."
  • Surprisingly Improved Adaptation: A number of people who didn't like the book consider the musical to be better.
  • Take That: That bit about 'Great Communicators' not having brains or knowledge but succeeding because they're popular...
  • Tear Jerker:
    • "For Good". "No Good Deed" certainly counts, too. "I'm Not That Girl" is definitely a sad moment.
    • "As Long As You're Mine", especially considering what happens immediately after.
    • Pretty much everything in the finale qualifies: "For Good", the melting scene, Chistery's first time speaking, the Wizard finding out he was Elphaba's father, and the ending.
    • Kristin Chenoweth's last "For Good" is even sadder than most — she authentically breaks down. Her entire last performance basically consists of her voice breaking with every line.
    • The realization that Fiyero likely jumped into that cornfield not intending to come out alive.
  • Triang Relations: Runs rampant in this story, and are the source of half the drama and tragedy that plays out. A type 7 was the cause of Elphaba's birth to begin with. Two different variants of type 4 or 10 happen between Elphaba, Fiyero, and Glinda straight up, but depending on whether or not you toss in platonic feelings or read into subtext, you could also make cases of varying degrees for types 8, 9, 11, and 12 between them too, which also change over the course of the show (their interrelationships are rather complicated...). Meanwhile type 5 runs between Nessa, Boq, and Glinda, with tragic results.
  • Wangst: "No Good Deed", for some.
  • Writer Cop Out: Somewhat. In the book, as in the original movie, Elphaba dies after Dorothy throws water on her. Apparently wanting a more family-friendly ending for the musical, it turns out that she was Faking the Dead. However, as mentioned on the main page, it's still a Bittersweet Ending in that she and Fiyero can never return to Oz nor tell Glinda that they're alive and well.

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