Dorothy Gale (Fairuza Balk)
The film's protagonist, who finds herself back in Oz.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Possibly. The original W.W. Denslow illustrations portray her dark hair in Girlish Pigtails but the John R. Neill illustrations used for most of Baum's books portray her as having a blonde '20s Bob Haircut. This film uses a design based off of Denslow's version.
- Cassandra Truth: Tries desperately to convince Henry and Em that her experiences in Oz were real. They don't believe her.
- Honor Before Reason: When the Nome King offers to send her back to Kansas (when she's practically walking to death), she refuses, since it would mean leaving her friends behind.
- The Insomniac: One of the reasons Dorothy is sent to an asylum is because she hasn't been able to sleep since she visited Oz a few months prior.
- Or Was It a Dream?: In the end it's ambiguous whether Oz is a Dream Land like in the 1939 film or if it's a fairy land like in the books.
- Vague Age: While Dorothy's age in the original novel isn't specified, she's described as "a young girl." She was portrayed by the considerably older Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, to which Return to Oz serves as a sequel note . By contrast, Dorothy here looks much closer in age to how she did in the original illustrations (for what it's worth, she's played by Fairuza Balk, who was 10 during filming). A deleted scene has a newspaper clipping that says that Dorothy is 8.
A sassy hen from the farm in Kansas, who winds up in Oz alongside Dorothy.
- Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Her unusual name is never explained. In the books, she was named "Bill" but Dorothy disliked it and changed it to "Billina".
- Adaptation Origin Connection: In the books she meets Dorothy at the start of Ozma of Oz. Billina was named "Bill" by a boy who couldn't tell her sex, but Dorothy changed Bill's name to a more feminine "Billina". The film scraps this and has Billina as Dorothy's hen from the start.
- Deadpan Snarker: She's quite sassy.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Early in the movie, she tries to lay an egg, then later finally does while hiding inside Jack Pumpkinhead. This ends up killing the Nome King when he tries to eat the group during the climax.
- Talking Animal: Like all animals, she can talk in Oz.
The Royal Army of Oz, and a friend of Dorothy's.
- Battle Butler: Tik-Tok. He even calls himself Oz's "army".
- Clock Punk: Tik-Tok, the mechanical man. He even has wind-ups that activate his thoughts, action and speech separately.
- Clockwork Creature: Has to be wound up in order to move, think, and talk.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: His fight against the wheelers.
- Robot Buddy: Towards Dorothy.
A pumpkin-headed man, he's Ozma's "son" and a friend of Dorothy's.
Princess Mombi (Jean Marsh)
An evil beauty-obsessed princess, she's captured the Emerald City and stolen everyone's heads.
- Adaptational Villainy: Princess Langwidere in Ozma of Oz, while not particularly heroic, doesn't pose much harm to anyone and agrees to help the heroes save the Royal Family of Ev. Her counterpart in this film, Princess Mombi, is The Dragon to the Nome King who conquered the Emerald City by force and stole its denizens' heads for herself.
- Age Lift: Due to her Composite Character nature, she's significantly younger than the Mombi of the books.
- And You Were There: She's played by the same actress as Nurse Wilson, who acts as her non-Oz counterpart.
- Bad Boss: Constantly berates and flogs her henchmen.
- The Caligula: Rules the Emerald City and is a selfish tyrant.
- Composite Character: Princess Mombi combines Old Mombi from The Marvelous Land of Oz with the multiple-head-wearing Princess Langwidere of Ev in Ozma of Oz.
- Deadpan Snarker: "And that's a fact."
- Dirty Coward: Is frightened by Jack Pumpkinhead when she sees him in a feel and when the Nome King orders her to kneel before him, she voluntarily does so until she's flat on the floor.
- The Dragon: To the Nome King.
- The Dreaded: Everyone in the Emerald City, including her henchmen, is afraid of her.
- The Evil Princess: She's a vain and evil princess.
- Evil Sounds Deep: With her second head, she has a characteristically witch-like, snippy, baritone voice. In her true head, she's an outright ...
- Guttural Growler: She's played by Jean Marsh who has a naturally deep voice but she lowers it for the role.
- Informed Ability: She's called a witch but aside from switching her heads, we never see her practice any magic.
- It's All About Me: Only cares about her own power and comfort.
- Jerkass: She's snooty, self-obsessed and an outright evil princess to boot.
- Large Ham: Varies between this and Cold Ham.
- Lazy Bum: Doesn't seem to do much besides sit around her palace, playing her sitar and trying on heads.
- The Quiet One: She doesn't talk much. It adds to her menace.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: In her first form she's played by Kitty Walker who has a voice like bunny rabbits floating on clouds of marshmallows. In her true form, as noted above, she's a Guttural Growler.
- Spikes of Villainy: Sports these on the shoulder pads of her rather ornate dress.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Feels this way towards the Wheelers.
- Villainous Breakdown: Has one after Dorothy escapes with her magic powder and it continues until she arrives at the Nome King's palace with sweat coursing down her evil visage.
- Villainous Cheekbones: Being played by Jean Marsh helps.
- Wicked Cultured: She plays the sitar!
The Nome King (Nicol Williamson)
The new ruler of Oz, who usurped the throne in Dorothy's absence after finding the Ruby Slippers.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the original books, he resented "upstairs people" mining all the jewels from the earth but never acted on it — in fact he was indifferent to Oz, until Queen Ozma stole his magic belt, which at that point made it very personal for him. Here he wreaks untold havoc on Oz once he gets the Ruby Slippers for the most flimsy of reasons — he wants the emeralds used to build the Emerald City back, even though he has plenty of jewels already and the people he takes his revenge on had nothing to do with it.
- And You Were There: Resembles Dr. Worley from the mental hospital at the film's beginning, and is played by the same actor. Lampshaded in the novelization, which describes his face as frighteningly familiar in spite of its alienness to Dorothy, reminding her of the mental hospital in Kansas.
- Batman Gambit: Challenges Dorothy and her friends to find the Scarecrow. If they fail, they all become ornaments, and the Nome King becomes human.
- Composite Character: In the books, the Wizard of Oz kidnapped Ozma with Mombi. Return to Oz has the Nome King taking the Wizard's role in Ozma's disappearance.
- Did You Actually Believe...?: The Nome King makes perfectly clear he had no intention of following his bargain if Dorothy solved his game.
- Faux Affably Evil: Is quite courteous, even giving Dorothy and co. limestone pie and melted silver to eat. When Mombi arrives however, he reveals his sadistic nature, admitting to her he only gave her a chance because it's more fun to watch. He soon blatantly proves he never had any intention of actually going through with the bargain if she won. The Novelisation also insinuates most of his sympathetic act was just to toy with Dorothy while she was down.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Smokes a pipe during his interaction with Dorothy, just as Dr. Worley had at the film's beginning.
- Humanity Ensues: Every time he turns somebody from Oz into an ornament he becomes more and more humanlike — if Dorothy had turned into an ornament he would've been human completely. Why he just doesn't use the Ruby Slippers to turn himself human is a mystery.
- It's All About Me: "It sounds fair to me. And what I think is all that matters."
- One-Winged Angel: After being outsmarted by Dorothy when she restores her friends, he becomes his much larger golem form and tries to eat the group.
- Villain Ball: Grabs this at the climax when he tricks Dorothy and her friends into an elaborate game to turn them into ornaments one-by-one. This naturally gives Dorothy not only the chance but the conditions to free everyone he's imprisoned.Mombi: Why not just transform them all right away?
Nome King: It's more fun this way.
- Villainous Breakdown: After Dorothy outdoes his gambit he goes into a psychotic tantrum, deciding to eat her and her friends in a Laughing Mad frenzy. He completely subdues when he accidentally swallows Billina's egg in the process, whimpering terrified as his body dissolves and crumbles.
- Weaksauce Weakness: During the climax he's revealed to be terrified of chickens, and he makes the mistake of trying to eat the heroes as Billina starts laying an egg.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Eggs are poison to the Nomes, when he overhears Billina he becomes paralysed with fear, realising too late he swallowed one of her eggs.Nome King: *terrified* Don't you... know that... eggs are... poison?Billina: Poison indeed!
Ozma (Emma Ridley)
The princess of Oz.
- Ambiguous Situation: It's not crystal-clear whether she and the girl Dorothy meets at the hospital in Kansas are the same person, and if they are, how much the doctor and nurse know about her, if anything.
- Adaptational Backstory Change: There's no reference to Ozma being raised as a boy. She was also imprisoned in a mirror after being Mombi's slave for years.
- Adaptational Personality Change: Tip and Ozma are the same person, but their personalities are different (whether it be because of gender roles or magic): Tip is a boyish trickster while Ozma is serene and pure of heart. Tip being removed means that some of his traits were added to Ozma, making her less Princess Classic.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Her "ruddy blonde" hair (which is usually either brown or black in illustrations) is a dark blonde here.
- Age Lift: In the books, Ozma has a Vague Age. Illustrations depict her as being anywhere from Dorothy's age to a young woman, but the text implies that she's a teen no older than sixteen. Return to Oz treats her as Dorothy's age.
- And You Were There: She has the same actress as the unnamed girl that helps Dorothy. Unlike the other examples, it's possible they were the same person.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: The ruler of Oz and yet she's no older than Dorothy.
- Composite Character: In the books, it was Ozmas male alter-ego, Tip, who was raised as Mombis slave and who built Jack Pumpkinhead to try and scare her although technically the same person, the two were written as though they were completely separate characters. The movie cuts out any mention of the gender swap and leaves the female Ozma in both roles.
- Damsel in Distress: She was enslaved within a mirror by Mombi, at the behest of the Nome King.
- Hidden Depths: Retaining the functions of her male alter-ego means the Princess Classic Ozma was still mischievous enough to try and scare her captor with a pumpkin-headed man and knew enough about craftsmanship to be able to put him together.
- Infant Immortality: Assuming she was the mysterious girl that seemingly drowned at the start, she turns out to be just fine.
- Nice Girl: After she is released and Mombi is imprisoned, Ozma forgives her.
- The Trickster: Like her book counterpart, she originally constructed Jack Pumpkinhead as a means of giving Mombi a fright.
Aunt Em (Piper Laurie)
Dorothy's aunt and guardian.
Uncle Henry (Matt Clark)
Dorothy's uncle and guardian.