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Characters / The Wizard of Oz

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Characters who appear in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. For characters from the Land of Oz books, go here.

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    Dorothy Gale
Played by: Judy Garland
Dubbed by: Renée Simonot (French)

  • Accidental Hero: She kills two witches without trying.
  • Accidental Murder: She accidentally kills the Wicked Witch of the West by throwing water on her, not knowing it's her weakness.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: In the books, Dorothy is perfectly content with Kansas. Dorothy in the MGM film suffers from Smalltown Boredom, and from the threat of having her dog taken away by mean Miss Gulch. Which explains why she dreams up Oz.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Her hair color is never mentioned in the book series. The first book's illustrations by W.W. Denslow depict her with dark pigtails, but John R. Neill's illustrations for the rest of the series depict her with a blonde bob haircut. This film opts to give her auburn hair with the pigtails.
    • The silver slippers of the book are changed into ruby slippers.
  • Age Lift: From 7-to-9 in the books to roughly 12 in the movie.
  • Berserk Button: Harming Toto, or at the very least, threatening to.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Dorothy is usually a sweet and polite girl, but she is very protective of Toto and once you threaten him, she will get fired up and attack you.
  • Blue Is Heroic: She wears a blue dress and she's the story's heroine.
  • Damsel in Distress: During the attempt to reach the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West, she gets kidnapped by the Witch's flying monkeys and taken to the castle.
  • Deadpan Snarker: ‘My, people come and go so quickly here’ upon Glinda leaving Munckinland.
  • Determinator: Nothing, and we mean nothing, will stop Dorothy from going to the Wizard or returning home.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: When she reaches the Emerald City, she trades her signature pigtails for long, flowing curls topped with a matching bow.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Dorothy wears her hair like this for most of the film. Although, she does wear her hair down when she gets a makeover prior to meeting the Wizard.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: She never goes anywhere without her beloved dog Toto.
  • Iconic Item: The Ruby Slippers. Which were originally owned by the Wicked Witch of the East, but are now in the possession of Dorothy.
  • The Ingenue: Dorothy is a very optimistic, polite and innocent girl.
  • Innocent Bigot: Dorothy, in regards to witches. Glinda sets the record straight to her in record time during their first meeting, and Dorothy apologizes to Glinda upon finding out that she was a witch, too (specifically, the Witch of the North).
  • Kid Hero: She is a young girl on a dangerous journey.
  • Mama Bear: She is very protective of Toto and will not hesitate to attack whoever threatens him.
  • Nice Girl: She is usually nice, kind-hearted, and generous, especially to her friends.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Dorothy's Funetik Aksent from the later books is absent. Justified, since it wasn't present in the first book to begin with.
  • Overalls and Gingham: Her main outfit is a blue gingham dress.
  • Primary-Color Champion: She wears a blue and white gingham dress throughout the film, and gains the ruby slippers not long after she arrives in Oz.
  • The Runaway: She attempts to run away from home at the start of the film.
  • Smalltown Boredom: She is bored of living on a farm in Kansas, as depicted in her song "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".
  • Tap on the Head: She spends most of the movie unconscious, from being brained by a window which was loosed from its place by the twister.
  • Trapped in Another World: She is trapped in the strange land of Oz. Subverted when it's revealed at the end that Oz was just a Dream Land.
  • True Blue Femininity: Dorothy wears a blue and white dress while traveling through Oz.
  • Vague Age: Dorothy in the books is described as being no older than twelve with some illustrations making her look as young as six. Judy Garland was sixteen when she played her, and even with Suppressed Mammaries she didn't look prepubscent. Some sources refer to Judy's Dorothy as twelve, but she has never clearly been aged.

Played by: Terry

  • Adaptation Species Change: From a nondescript "little black dog with long silky hair" to a Cairn Terrier.
  • Canine Companion: To Dorothy.
  • Crosscast Role: Terry was female but Toto is a male character.
  • Heroic Dog: When he escapes the witch's castle, the first thing he does is go find the others so that he can lead them back to the castle to rescue Dorothy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A rare non sapient version. He is shown to chase Miss Gulch's cat and steals Professor Marvel's lunch but when Dorothy is captured by the Wicked Witch of the West and is about to die, he escapes and gets the others to help rescue her.

    The Scarecrow
Played by: Ray Bolger

  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The brains to the Tin Man's beauty and the Cowardly Lion's brawn. He wants to see the Wizard of Oz to receive a brain.
  • Logical Weakness: Naturally a man made of straw and rags is very vulnerable to fire.
  • Hammerspace: He rather inexplicably produces a revolver for protection when danger pops up, though he never fires it. Where he got the weapon and where he usually keeps it are also equally unexplained.
  • It Was with You All Along: The Wizard convinces him that he already had the brains which he wanted, and gives him a diploma as proof.
  • The Smart Guy: Despite not having a physical brain, he's the cleverest of Dorothy's three friends, who comes up with all the plans and solutions on their mission to rescue her from the Witch's castle.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: His Disney Death from the novel is omitted. In the film he gets scattered about by the Winged Monkeys, but the Tin Man quickly re-stuffs him. The two of them rejoin the Lion in taking the Winkies' uniforms to rescue Dorothy; in the novel, he is not so fortunate, since his straw is completely scattered all over and the Tin Man is left a helpless, battered wreck. He doesn't get re-stuffed until the Winkies agree to help restore him after the Wicked Witch is destroyed.

    The Tin Man
Played by: Jack Haley

  • Adaptational Angst Downgrade: His tragic backstory about having been a human is never mentioned.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the 1939 movie, he uses his axe only once: to chop open the door to the room in which Dorothy has been locked in. All of his badass moments from the book are left out, leaving him to do little but cry and lament his lack of a heart. In fact, he doesn't even know how to hold an axe. (A photo contrasts a scene from the film with the corresponding scene in which Buddy Ebsen plays him.) The Scarecrow uses his axe to cut a rope, dropping a chandelier on the Winkie Soldiers threatening them.
  • Adaptation Name Change: He is known as the "Tin Woodman" in the books; he also has a real name, Nick Chopper, which the film never mentions.
  • Adaptation Species Change: In the book he was a human whose cursed ax cut him to pieces, and was rebuilt as a tin man. That was probably a little too dark, so he was simply built by a tinsmith instead.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The beauty to the Scarecrow's brains and the Cowardly Lion's brawn. He wants to see the Wizard of Oz to receive a heart.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Despite his sweet nature, he occasionally makes a mild snarky quip. For example, after the winged monkeys tear the Scarecrow to pieces:
    Scarecrow: They tore my legs off, and they threw them over there! Then they took my chest out, and they threw it over there!
    Tin Man: Well, that's you all over.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: As with the Scarecrow, his Disney Death from the book is cut. In the film, he manages to escape the Winged Monkeys and join the Scarecrow and Lion in ambushing some Winkie guards and taking their uniforms to infiltrate the Witch's castle and save Dorothy; in the novel, the Monkeys turn him into a dented wreck who is later restored by the newly-freed Winkies.

    The Cowardly Lion
Played by: Bert Lahr

  • Adaptational Wimp: Curiously enough, in the 1939 movie he really doesn't have any courage. Where the Lion of the books would fight despite being scared, the Lion of the movie always chickens out and has to be physically dragged along by the Scarecrow and the Tin Man.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: He is bipedal, unlike in the books.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The brawn to the Scarecrow's brains and the Tin Man's beauty. He wants to see the Wizard of Oz to receive "the nerve".
  • Breakout Character: While plenty of characters in the film are memorable, he (and the Wicked Witch of the West) are among the most given his wonderfully hammy nature and the only one of Dorothy's companions to receive a solo song. Bert Lahr's performance certainly helps.
  • Cowardly Lion: He is the Trope Namer; he presses on with the group to meet the Wizard on spite of his own fears and the trials that the Witch puts them through.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Lion does have moments of sarcasm and wit including this gem: "Unusual weather we are having ain't it?"
  • Faint in Shock: He promptly does this upon meeting the Wizard, as the latter's booming voice and ominous, angry approach scares him witless.
  • Miles Gloriosus: The Lion starts out this way when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man first meet him. It doesn't last long. Later, when he is about to rush into the Witch's castle to rescue Dorothy, the Scarecrow and Tin Man make sure that he doesn't run away when he hoped they would talk him out of it.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lahr based his voice on Curly Howard.
  • Talking Animal: He's a talking lion.

Played by: Billie Burke

  • Adaptational Badass: Glinda gets this by combining her with other characters. In this version she sends a snowstorm to rescue Dorothy from the Poppy spell. She also intentionally sends the Ruby Slippers to Dorothy to protect her from the Wicked Witch, and is even able to scare the Wicked Witch away (while in Munchkinland at least) simply by telling her off. In the original book, Glinda only appears in one of the last chapters and her skills in magic are only alluded to. (She makes more use of them in the sequels.)
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the books, good witches wear white. The film opts to instead give Glinda a pink dress.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: She is very attractive and beautiful, so obviously she is a good witch. She even states this herself: "Only bad witches are ugly."
  • Composite Character: In the 1939 film, her character was merged with that of the Good Witch of the North, making her the only good witch in Oz. Glinda in the book rules the South, not the North like in the film.
  • Cute Witch: A grown-up variety at the very least.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A few.
    'Only bad witches are ugly’
    'Keep tight inside of them. Their magic must be very powerful or she wouldn’t want them so badly’
    'Be gone or a house will fall on you too’ .The Witch of the West actually being blind to Glinda’s sarcasm makes it funnier.
  • Fairy Godmother: Although technically not one, she looks the part, with her pink ballgown, sparkly crown and magic wand. Because of this, Dorothy doesn't immediately recognize the fairy-queen-like Glinda as a witch.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: A rare wholesome example from Glinda when confronting the Wicked Witch of the West with this line: "Ohoho, rubbish! You have no power here. Begone! Before someone drops a house on you too!"
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Her justification for not telling Dorothy about the slippers magic earlier
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Billie Burke Ziegfeld was born in New York, but she put on a rather ambiguous accent for the role of Glinda. It's not quite British, and it's not exactly Mid-Atlantic.

    The Wizard of Oz
Played by: Frank Morgan

  • Dark and Troubled Past: He hints in his talk with the Tin Man that he did not have a good life before coming to Oz or that he lost something precious.
    Wizard: You want a heart? You don't know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.
  • The Dreaded: The good guys are afraid of him until Toto reveals his true identity.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Oz the Great and Powerful, who scares Dorothy and her companions as a big fiery head into getting the Witch's broomstick, is later unmasked as a humbug, only to confess his own fears when Dorothy asks if he was frightened:
    " Frightened? Child, you're talking to a man who's laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe... I was petrified."
  • Stage Magician: The Wizard of Oz was not a wizard at all, but a stage magician transported by a straying balloon into a Magical Land, where through clever use of stage magic he was able to convince the denizens he was a powerful wizard.
  • Walking Spoiler: Just try to talk about The Wizard without revealing he isn't an actual wizard.

    The Wicked Witch of the West

  • Abled in the Adaptation: In the original books, she only had one eye. This version of her has both eyes.
  • Adaptational Badass: While the Witch could cast a few magical spells in the original novel, she is a far more powerful sorceress in this version; she couldn't do such things as throw fireballs or fly on a broomstick in the novel. Also, in the book she had nothing to do with the poppy field with pollen that lulled Dorothy and the Lion into a slumber; in this version, she created it.
  • Adaptational Species Change: Possibly. She has green skin and exaggerated features (including a prominent pointed nose), suggesting that she might not be entirely human. Her Winkie guards notably have green skin and pointed noses like she does, perhaps implying that the Witch is a Winkie herself.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Wicked Witch herself gets a bit of this. While she is undoubtedly a bad person even in the first book, her role in the story is relatively minor and she is not especially powerful. In order to make her the main antagonist of the story (so that Dorothy would be in real danger), her level of evil as well as her capacity for harm are increased significantly.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • In the books it is never explicitly mentioned what colors her clothes are, but there's a high chance she wears not black but yellow (as it is mentioned the West is associated with the colour yellow).
    • Her iconic green skin is a MGM creation. The book's illustrations depict her with a normal human skin tone.
  • Age Lift: She is described as very old in the books, but is middle aged at most in the film.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: She has green skin.
  • Ascended Extra: The Witch wasn't truly an "extra" in the original book, but she only appeared in one chapter; her role is expanded greatly in this version.
  • Ax-Crazy: She is villainously unstable.
  • Big Bad: She serves this role in the movie, menacing Dorothy throughout and being the biggest obstacle to her safe return home.
  • Breakout Villain: Despite being only the villain of one book and being killed at the end, the Wicked Witch of the West is the most recognizable Oz character besides Dorothy. She is upgraded to a reccuring villain and has more than one derivative work based around her backstory.
  • Creepy High-Pitched Voice: Her shrill, grating voice only makes her more terrifying.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Downplayed. Dorothy intentionally threw water on her in the book (though she didn't know it would kill her-she just wanted to teach the Witch a lesson for trying to steal the Slippers.) In the film, water accidentally splashes on her, when Dorothy tries to put out a fire.
  • The Dreaded: Everyone in Oz and the heroes are scared of her.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Zig-zagged. When she first shows up, she's legitimately enraged at her sister's death and wants to attack Dorothy for it, but immediately forgets her when Glinda brings up the Ruby Slippers and never brings up her sister again.
  • Everyone Calls Her "Barkeep": Everyone just calls her "The Wicked Witch" or "The Wicked Witch of the West".
  • Evil Is Burning Hot: She can create fireballs and she's evil.
  • Evil Is Hammy: She hams it up in just about every scene she is in.
  • Evil Laugh: Her legendary, full-throated, sadistic shriek of a cackle is employed often.
  • Evil Wears Black: In the movie she dresses in all black and she's its main baddie.
  • Fireballs: She can conjure fireballs.
  • Green and Mean: Her skin is an unnatural green colour and she’s the villain.
  • Kill It with Water: Being soaked in water causes her to melt.
  • Laughing Mad: Several of the instances where she laughs reek of this, especially when she laughs most often at others' suffering and death, and cracks jokes at them.
  • Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": To her, death is funny.
  • Related in the Adaptation: She isn't the sister of the Wicked Witch of the East in the books.
  • Sadist: She clearly finds others' suffering amusing.
  • Secondary Color Nemesis: To contrast with the blue and red associated with Dorothy, her skin is a hideous green hue.
  • Sinister Schnoz: The Wicked Witch has a prominent and pointy nose to match her gruesome appearance and personality.
  • Terms of Endangerment: The Wicked Witch tends to refer to Dorothy as "my pretty", "my dear", and "my fine lady".
  • Villainous Breakdown: She throws a fit before she dies.
  • Villain Teleportation: The Witch can appear and disappear via puffs of red smoke, sometimes with flashes of fire for the hell of it.
  • Wicked Witch: Where do we begin? Pretty much every witch Halloween decoration made since the movie owes something to her.
  • Witch Classic: Guess witch (rimshot) variety.
  • Your Little Dismissive Diminutive: The Ur-Example.

    The Wicked Witch of the East

    Aunt Em and Uncle Henry

  • Curse Cut Short: Aunt Em cuts herself off from insulting Miss Gulch.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Aunt Em gets one in the scene with the three farmhands where she reprimands them for slacking off on the job.
    Hickory: Someday, they're going to erect a statue of me in this town, and...
    Aunt Em: And don't start posing for it now.
  • Good Parents: Of the "surrogate parent" variety. Even though their work on the farm sometimes distracts them from Dorothy's concerns, and even though they can't go against the sheriff's order that lets Miss Gulch take Toto away, they truly love Dorothy, which she learns to appreciate by the end.
  • Mama Bear: Auntie Em furiously lays into Miss Gulch after she takes Toto away. And when the tornado comes her foremost concern is finding Dorothy.
  • Nephewism: They are raising their niece Dorothy. As Miss Gulch refers to Uncle Henry as "Mr. Gale" it is implied that he is Dorothy's blood relative, presumably her father's brother. The books, by contrast, never make this distinction.

    Elvira Gulch