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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.


Dorothy Gale

Played by: Judy Garland

  • 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 suffers from Smalltown Boredom, which explains why she dreams up Oz.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
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    • 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 '20s Bob Haircut. This film opts to give her dark brown 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: ‘My, people come and go so quickly here’ upon Glinda leaving Munckinland.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: She never goes anywhere without her beloved dog Toto.
  • 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).
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  • Kid Hero: She's a young girl on a dangerous journey.
  • Nice Shoes: The Ruby Slippers. Which were originally owned by the Wicked Witch of the East, but are now in the possession of Dorothy.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Dorothy's Funetik Aksent from the later books is absent.
  • Overalls and Gingham: Her main outfit is a blue gingham dress.
  • The Runaway: She attempts to run away from home at the start of the film.
  • Smalltown Boredom: She's bored of living on a farm in Kansas, as depicted in her song "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".
  • Trapped in Another World: She's 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's never clearly been aged.
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Toto

Played by: Terry

The Scarecrow

Played by: Ray Bolger

  • It Was with You All Along: The Wizard convinces him that he already had the brains he wanted and gives him a diploma as proof.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: He get scattered about and the Tin Man has to re-stuff him and they rejoin the Lion in taking the Winkies' uniforms to rescue Dorothy; in the novel, he is not so fortunate, since his straw is so scattered all over and the Tin Man is left a helpless, battered wreck and 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 Upgrade: Inverted. 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 Dorothy's 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's known as the "Tin Woodsman" in the books.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: 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's bipedal, unlike in the books.
  • 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.
  • Talking Animal: He's a talking lion.

Glinda

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 her 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's very attractive and beautiful so obviously she's 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A few.
    'Only bad witches are ugly’
    'Keep tight inside of them. Their magic must be very powerful or she wouldn’t 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

The Wizard of Oz

Played by: Frank Morgan

  • 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:
  • 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.

The Wicked Witch of the West

Played by: Margaret Hamilton

  • Adaptational Badass: While the Witch could cast a few magical spells in the original novel, she's a far more powerful sorceress in this version; she was not able to 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 Jerkass: The Wicked Witch herself gets a bit of this. While she's undoubtedly a bad person even in the first book, her role in the story is relatively minor and she's not especially powerful. In order to make her the main antagonist of the story (and 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's never mentioned what colours her clothes are, but there's a high chance she wears not black but yellow (as it's 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's 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.
  • 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's upgraded to a reoccuring 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). In the film, water accidentally splashes on her when Dorothy tries to put out a fire.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Everyone just calls her "The Wicked Witch" or "The Wicked Witch of the West".
  • Evil Is Hammy; She hams it up in just about every scene she's in.
  • Evil Wears Black: In the movie she dresses in all black.
  • 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.
  • Related in the Adaptation: She isn't the sister of the Wicked Witch of the East in the books.
  • Sickly Green Glow: Her skin is an unnatural green colour.
  • No Name Given: She's simply known by her moniker.
  • 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".
  • Villain Teleportation: The Witch can appear and disappear via puffs of red smoke, sometimes with flashes of fire for the hell of it.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Being soaked in water causes her to melt.
  • Your Little Dismissive Diminutive: The Ur-Example.

The Wicked Witch of the East

Aunt Em and Uncle Henry

Played by: Clara Blandick and Charley Grapewin

  • 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.
  • Nephewism: They're raising their niece Dorothy.

Miss Gulch

Played by: Margaret Hamilton


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