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Oliver Twist

"Where is love? Does it fall from skies above?"

  • "I Want" Song: "Where Is Love" is him singing about wanting love.
  • Pinball Protagonist: He's an orphan, gets passed from orphanage, to a funeral home, then gets kicked out and gets picked up by the thieves guild, then is taken in by a rich old man. It's a musical, and the characters mostly sing around him as well.


Artful Dodger

"Consider yourself at home, consider yourself one of the family."

  • Affably Evil: He gets a charismatic song to introduce himself, and his pickpocketing is shamelessly cool. Not to mention he's clearly learned nothing by the end, and even uses the distraction of Bill's public hanging to pick a couple more pockets.
  • The Artful Dodger: Of course.
  • Anti-Villain: Only a pickpocket because he was corrupted on the streets by Fagin, and he is just a child.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Is implied to be this with Fagin. The ending pretty much cements it.
  • Karma Houdini: At the end he and Fagin both get away and renew their partnership.
  • Lovable Rogue: He steals to survive but bears no malice.
  • Signature Headgear: His iconic costume includes a big top hat.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: He avoids arrest and being sent to Australia.


"In this life, one thing counts, in the bank, large amounts,"

  • Actor Allusion: At one point in the 2012 production, Fagin (played by Neil Morrissey) says "Can we fix it?" while playing around with his treasure.
  • Adaptational Comic Relief: While Fagin remains an unrepentant thief, he is a much more sympathetic and comic character than he is in the novel. His plot with Monks is deleted and his role in Nancy's death is similarly excised, and he is portrayed as being cowardly and deeply afraid of Bill Sikes.
  • Adaptational Heroism: While still a pickpocket, he's more of a sympathetic character in the musical compared to his portrayal in the original book. In the book, he makes Bill think that Nancy informed on him (when it was precisely the opposite). In the 1968 film, when he sees Bill chasing after Nancy, he calls out "please, Bill, no violence" and when he discovers Nancy's murder, he's horrified.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: He's still not exactly a heroic character, being self-serving and at least somewhat manipulative. However, he's much nicer than his villainous book counterpart, as he does show genuine kindness and care to the children he trains as thieves and makes a dramatic contrast to the abusive and cruel adults Oliver has encountered previously.
  • Bad Samaritan: Downplayed from the book. While still somewhat self-serving, he is portrayed as something of a whimsical Loveable Rogue who does to some extent care for his gang (or at least loathes Sykes' treatment of them).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He's extremely prejudiced against the way Sykes treats Nancy and the way Sykes uses violence to solve every situation.
  • Cool Old Guy: Often portrayed as an older man and something of a fun father figure to the boys.
  • Evil Is Hammy/Large Ham: Effortlessly steals every scene he's in.
  • Hobo Gloves: He wears them as part of his iconic look.
  • Get Out!: When Bills shows up with blood on his coat, a horrified Fagin realises what he's done and yells at him to leave.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Subverted in the movie. He plans to do this, but instead chooses to leave with Dodger and continue a life of pickpocketing. It's rather heartwarming, in a strange way. In the theatre version, however, he plays it straight, deciding that with the breaking up and arrest of his gang, along with the loss of his precious treasures, there has never been a better time to change his ways.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: And he does it all in one song!
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Is implied to be this with Dodger. Confirmed at the end.
  • I Am What I Am: He seems to always come back to the I Am What I Am decision.
  • Karma Houdini: At the end, even though he does lose his treasure he and Dodger are still free.
  • Lovable Rogue: De-emphasizing his Greedy Jew characterization in the original. Particularly notable is Ron Moody's cheerfully hammy performance in the 1968 film version. (He even stands up for Oliver on two occasions.)
  • Noble Demon: He's a thief, who trains others to be thieves, and works with Bill Sykes, but deep down he doesn't like his life and wishes the things he does weren't necessary, and tries his best not to be too bad. This trope is exemplified in the song "Reviewing the Situation":
    Though I'd be the first one to say that I wasn't a saint, I'm finding it hard to be really as black as they paint. I'm reviewing the situation; can a fellow be a villain all his life?... I'm a bad 'un and a bad 'un I shall stay. You'll be seeing no transformation, but it's wrong to be a rogue in every way. I don't want nobody hurt for me or made to do the dirt for me, this rotten life is not for me, it's getting far too hot for me, there is no in-between for me, but who will change the scene for me? I think I'd better think it out again!
  • Spared by the Adaptation: He avoids capture and execution in the end.
  • Tragic Villain: A variation. "Reviewing the Situation" shows Fagin as wanting out of the criminal life, but feels trapped by it. By the end of the film, he more or less accepts his lot in life and seeks to rebuild. In the play, he instead resolves to turn over a new leaf, and limps away.
  • Villain Song: "Pick a Pocket Or Two". "Reviewing The Situation" is a rather sad kind because it's him singing about how he wants out of the criminal life but feels trapped in it.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: As seen in Even Evil Has Standards, he doesn't like the way Bill Sykes treats Nancy, implying that he may have respect towards women.

Bill Sykes

  • Disproportionate Retribution: Speaking his name aloud is, apparently, grounds for being killed, even if it's a whisper. He claims he actually followed through and did kill someone for boasting that he could his name in vain.
  • Domestic Abuse: To Nancy.
  • The Dreaded: The moment he arrives in the tavern after "Oom-Pah-Pah" the whole place goes dead quiet, segueing perfectly into his Villain Song.
    Sykes: Strong men tremble when they hear it
    They've got cause enough to fear it
    It's much blacker than they smear it
    Nobody mentions... my name.
  • Hate Sink: While a lot of the antagonists in the musical are either sympathetic or comedic, Bill Sykes lacks in either department. Having no problem with harming women, children or animals.
  • Jerkass: Calling him this would be putting it kindly.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Things take a decidedly darker turn whenever he appears.
  • Never My Fault: In the film, after he murders Nancy, he's heard saying to himself, "Nancy, I loved you, didn't I? Look what you've do to me?!" How do you figure that one, Bill?
  • Sanity Slippage: After he kills Nancy, he becomes rather unhinged, to the point even his own dog ditches him.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Nancy loved him enough to keep him out of jail and he still goes and kills her.


"Oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah, there's a little ditty, they're singing in the city, especially when they've been on the gin or the beer, if you've got the patience, your own imagination, we'll tell just exactly what you to hear..."

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: She sings about her love of Bill Sikes, the best thief, who's a cold, bullying monster. It turns out bad for her in the end - he winds up killing her.
  • Broken Bird: Her plight is summed up in her song, "As Long as He Needs Me" which explains why she stays with Sikes despite his domestic abuse.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Beaten to death by her boyfriend, in front of a little boy. Poor girl.
  • Fatal Flaw: Her misplaced Undying Loyalty to the monstrous Bill Sikes.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Shani Wallis and numerous other stage Nancys have blonde hair.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sikes forces her to lead Oliver into a trap so he can be brought back to Fagin. Later she risks her own life to save Oliver from Sikes.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Possibly one of the most famous examples in literature. It should be noted that 'prostitute' in Dickens's day just meant a woman who lived unmarried with a man outside of respectable society. So it's possible that's what the author was referring to in a preface (as Nancy only says she's a thief in the text).
  • I Am What I Am: She's fully aware of the fact that Bill is a complete bastard, but she can't help loving him, complete with song. And then, to top off the love fest, he kills her.
  • Indy Ploy: How she manages to get Oliver to the bridge - she starts up a huge song and dance number to cause a distraction, then grabs him and runs out. Too bad Bull's Eye blew her cover...
  • Lady in Red: She's often given a red dress to identify her as a Good Bad Girl.
  • Love Martyr: She has this BAD for Bill Sykes. She recognises this in "As Long As He Needs Me", but even though he's a murderous thug and robber who beats her and plans to kill Oliver, she still can't bring herself to hand him over to the law.
    As long as life is long
    I'll love him, right or wrong
    And somehow I'll be strong
    As long as he needs me.
  • Mama Bear: To Oliver - and it gets her killed.

Mr. Brownlow

  • Nice Guy: He takes Oliver in after he realises he falsely accused him of pickpocketing him, and later tries to warn Nancy not to go back to Bill. She doesn't listen.

Mr. Bumble

  • Big "WHAT?!": Lets one loose when Oliver asks for more gruel.
  • Death Glare: Fixes Oliver with one as the former approaches him to make the request.
  • Fat Bastard: Fat, pompous and unkind.
  • Henpecked Husband: After he married Widow Corney, and he even laughs at the fact that the law saying his wife should answer to him - saying something to the effect of "the law must be a bachelor".
  • Large Ham: Particularly in the film. "MORE?!"

Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry

Noah Claypole

  • Butt-Monkey: Especially in the film. Noah ends up slipping in the snow as he is bringing Mr. Bumble to the Sowerberry's.
  • Demoted to Extra: He disappears after Oliver flees from the Sowerberrys instead of turning up as one of Fagin's gang.
  • Jerkass: Generally rude and bullying.
  • Kick the Dog: Insult's Oliver's dead mother at one point which leads to Oliver kicking the crap out of him.
  • Your Mom: As mentioned above.


  • Composite Character: She'll sometimes be included in "Consider Yourself" just to give her actress more to do. Likewise getting the line "You've murdered Nancy!"
  • Demoted to Extra: In the 1968 film, all her solos in "It's A Fine Life" are just given to Nancy.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: As Nancy's best friend, she can be assumed to be a prostitute too. She's also one of Fagin's former thieves at least.
  • Living Prop: As the best friend to Nancy, she shows up to nod and agree with her, get dismissed by Bill when he wants to talk to Nancy alone and help kidnap Oliver back.
  • Satellite Character: Always appears with Nancy.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Oliver recognising her on the street and calling her by her name is what allows her and Nancy to pull of the scam that he's one of them.
  • The Voiceless: For someone who appears in several scenes, and gets prominently featured in most of them, she doesn't have a single line of spoken dialogue (but does sing solos in "It's A Fine Life" and "I'd Do Anything"). Averted in the film.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the book it's said that she was so traumatised by hearing how Nancy died, she ended up in a mental hospital. She just kind of disappears towards the end, though some productions have her be among those who identify Bill's murder of Nancy.