There's a land that I heard of, once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true...
The film changed the silver shoes to ruby slippers (depending on this source, this was either to show off the new color technology of the time, because silver shoes were boring, or because silver shoes didn't show up well), merged the two good witches, cut out several incidents, including all of Dorothy's (admittedly anticlimactic) return to the Emerald City after killing the Witch and the journey from the Emerald City to Glinda's palace, and added the possible All Just a Dream ending—the studio heads thought the audience was too sophisticated to accept a "real" fantasyland.note
This movie has proven so popular that it has had several stage adaptations written and produced over the years. Professional productions have included a touring ice show in the 1990s, an All-Star Cast concert staging in New York City in 1995, another N.Y.C. production that ran seasonally at Madison Square Garden later in the decade, and a 2011 London production produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber that added several new songs by Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The 2011 Tom and Jerry Direct to Video movie Tom and Jerry and the Wizard of Oz is a Twice-Told Tale version, and got its own follow-up Tom and Jerry: Back to Oz in 2016.
Disney has made two films that effectively serve as (unofficial) bookends to this one. 1985's Return to Oz is a semi-sequel that's substantially Darker and Edgier, but also more faithful to the original Oz novels. 2013's Oz the Great and Powerful is a spiritual prequel to this film, an origin story following the Wizard (played by James Franco) as he first arrives in Oz.
While this version is by far the most well known, and much more well known than the book it is based on, it is not the only, or even the first film adaptation. There were several silent adaptations, the oldest surviving of which is from 1910. That, curiously enough, was based on a 1902 stage musical. Although most of the music for the show has been lost, the producers of the 1939 version were aware of it, and that may have had an influence on their work. Adaptations were far rarer since then, and most since have been based on the film rather than the book.
"We're Off to See the Tropes..."
- 0% Approval Rating: No one, no one is upset when either Wicked Witch is killed. The Munchkins, of course, sing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead", and when the other Wicked Witch is killed, the Winkie guards (who were seemingly her loyal followers) are ecstatic.
- 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.
- Also Glinda (albeit by combining her with other characters), who in this version 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).
- Adaptational Jerkass: This happens with Glinda owing to Composite Character. In the book, the Witch of the North was completely honest that she didn't know what the silver shoes would do but hoped they contained some useful magic. She advised Dorothy to take the shoes but left the choice up to her about if she would or not. At the end, Book Glinda outright says that she wishes she met Dorothy sooner to tell her that the shoes would allow her to return to Kansas without a problem, even on the first day she arrived. Movie-Glinda does none of this; she turns the ruby slippers into a Clingy MacGuffin for Dorothy, enchanting them to stick to her feet before Dorothy can as much as make a decision about it. She justifies it as they couldn't fall into the Wicked Witch of the West's hands, but the end result is that the Witch is gunning for an innocent girl instead. Later, the Scarecrow calls out Glinda for not telling Dorothy about the way to get home when revealing she had the solution the whole time, while Glinda says that Dorothy needed to grow up a little first. Needless to say, the trio of men are annoyed on Dorothy's behalf if relieved that she saved them due to going on this journey.
- Adaptational Timespan Change: The film seems to take place in the span of a few days at most, with Dorothy not taking much time to walk anyplace, and staying in the Emerald City only briefly on each of her two visits. The book takes place over several weeks: the journey down the Yellow Brick Road takes several days on its own, as do the journeys to and from Winkieland; the visits to the Emerald City also take several days each, mostly due to the Wizard being more effective at keeping unwanted visitors out of his sanctum; and then the time spent in Winkieland is much longer, first due to the Wicked Witch keeping Dorothy captive longer before getting melted and then due to Dorothy and her friends sticking around a while to help put the place to rights. (And this isn't even counting the entire extra quest to find Glinda after the Wizard's departure, which the movie eliminates entirely.)
- Adaptational Villainy:
- In Baum's book, the flying monkeys are a neutral party who only follow the Wicked Witch because they are temporarily forced to serve her through her possession of a magic golden cap and later help Dorothy for the same reason. Here, they are exclusively the Witch's minions though when she dies, they thank Dorothy for freeing them.
- 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 (and so that Dorothy would be in real danger), her level of evil, as well as her capacity for harm, are increased significantly.
- Adaptational Wimp: The Cowardly Lion. In the book he was a self-admitted coward but could hide it by roaring loud enough to intimidate most foes. When he encountered foes who weren't so easily scared, he was perfectly willing to fight for the safety of his friends... even if he was scared to death of doing it. The movie version has gone through severe Character Exaggeration and has to be dragged kicking and screaming into any situation that looks even remotely scary.
- Adaptation Distillation: The movie cuts out Dorothy's trip into Quadling Country and Glinda just appears in the Emerald City. It also eliminates the Lion killing a giant spider (which is where he shows his courage).
- Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: An infamous example. There were two Good Witches in the book, of which Glinda was the second. The first one, the unnamed Good Witch of the North, met Dorothy when she first arrived in Oz and gave her the slippers, but Glinda (the Good Witch of the South, who didn't meet Dorothy until the end) was the only one who knew that their magic could help Dorothy get back to Kansas. The movie combines them into one character, leading many viewers to wonder why Glinda didn't just tell her how to get back home at the start of the movie.
- Adaptation Title Change: The movie's title is shortened from the original novel's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- Adapted Out: The Kalidahs, the field mice, the dainty china people, the forest creatures and giant spider, the Hammer-Heads, and the Quadlings.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: The Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard also enjoys using this to intimidate people:
- "You billowing bale of bovine fodder!"
- "You clinking clanking clattering collection of caligenous junk!"
- Glinda the Good.
- Adult Fear: Many:
"Henry, Henry, I can't find Dorothy, she's somewhere out in the storm! DOROTHY!!"
- When Aunt Em is looking for Dorothy during the tornado. Listen to her voice when she calls out for her one last time, before having to retreat into the storm shelter. She sounds absolutely distraught, with Uncle Henry having to pull her down into the cellar.
- Uncle Henry alludes to another instance: your teenage niece sustains a concussion/fairly serious head injury and doesn't seem to wake for at least sixty minutes. Add to that the fact that he and Auntie Em probably only discovered her after leaving the storm cellar. Who knows, really, how long they were down there?
- Also: Said teenage niece runs away to who-knows-where because a sadistic neighbor threatens to euthanize her dog. It's only because the carnival owner encourages Dorothy to return that she doesn't join his caravan. Plus, the sadistic neighbor has the local sheriff in her back pocket.
- Also when Dorothy falls into the pigpen (see Aluminum Christmas Trees below for why that is dangerous). After Zeke rushes in and rescues her, Dorothy quickly realizes that he was more scared than she was.
- An Aesop: After Glinda asks Dorothy what she has learned, Dorothy gives one.If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, l won't look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn't there I never really lost it to begin with.[and after Dorothy returns to Kansas] There's no place like home!
- Age Lift: Dorothy is around eight years old in the book but is aged up and played by the 16-year-old Judy Garland. Several sources have said that Dorothy is intended to be twelve in the film. Her breasts had to be bound very tightly for her to appear younger.
- All Just a Dream: Unlike in the original books. The reason why it was changed for the film was because MGM felt that 1930's audiences were too sophisticated to accept Oz as a straight ahead fantasy, so they made it as a lengthy, elaborate dream, instead. Though some could argue Dorothy's slippers made everybody else think it was a dream of Dorothy's.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees:
- The scene where everyone panics on the farm and rushes to Dorothy's aid when she falls in the pig pen. Most these days see it as unintentional hilarity, but those who have raised pigs on a farm would know the risk of pigs killing and trying to eat small children.
- While it's exaggerated as a Weaksauce Weakness, severe water allergy exists.
- The now-iconic outfit of the Witch would have been recognizable to older members of the audience as a black-colored parody of what a "church lady" or catechist would wear in particularly old fashioned and conservative churches, reinforcing the image of both The Wicked Witch and Almira Gulch as examples of people in positions of authority gone bad.
- Ambiguously Gay: The Cowardly Lion. His rendition of "If I Only Had the Nerve" includes the line "I'm afraid there's no denying/I'm just a dandy lion" (with a wave of his arm) and he sings much of "If I Were King of the Forest" (not Queen. Not Duke. Not Prince.) with a lispy voice. He also displays visible delight with his primping makeover, during which he is given a hair bow.
- Ambiguous Syntax: When the Witch skywrites "SURRENDER DOROTHY" above the Emerald City, she uses no punctuation (which is difficult when skywriting) so it's unclear what her specific message is. It could mean "Surrender, Dorothy" as in "Give up, Dorothy, it's pointless to resist"; or "Surrender Dorothy" as in, "People of the Emerald City, if you have taken Dorothy in, give her to me"? (Or possibly both?) The shooting script makes it pretty clear that the intended message was "Surrender Dorothy or Die!"
- AM/FM Characterization: In an early script draft, MGM planned to highlight Dorothy's Fish out of Water status by contrasting her jazzy vocals with an Oz princess who sings operatically. The whole gimmick, including the princess, was scrapped long before filming. Even so, there's still a vestige of it at the beginning of the movie. Notice how "Over the Rainbow," sung by Dorothy in Kansas, is a great example of a straightforward 1930s jazz standard... and then we get to Oz and the whole Munchkinland sequence is a big, intricate, freeflowing Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number in old-fashioned Gilbert and Sullivan style.
- And I Must Scream: Until Dorothy rescues him, the Tin Man has been immobilized by rust for a very long time, aware of the passage of time but unable to do anything, with the oil can that could restore his mobility just out of reach.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: The death of the Wicked Witch of the East is one of the most famous examples, with the Munchkins breaking out into song and dance over Dorothy's unwitting deed of slaying the witch.
- And You Were There: Again, the Trope Namer. The film's ending is also possibly the most famous example of this trope. Five different people Dorothy knows in Kansas—the three farmhands, Miss Gulch, and Professor Marvel—pop up in her dream of Oz as different people. Interestingly, the idea of having farm hands double as Dorothy's companions from Oz comes from the 1925 Larry Semon adaptation, which the film adopted.
- And Your Little Dog, Too!: The Trope Namer. The Wicked Witch of the West wants to kill Dorothy and Toto, even though Toto isn't much of a threat on his own.
- Anthropomorphic Shift: In the original books, the Cowardly Lion was an ordinary, quadrupedal lion, as described. In the movie, he's bipedal during almost every scene after his introduction and is able to disguise himself effectively by wearing a Winkie guard uniform.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Dorothy hitting the Cowardly Lion. Apparently it hurt so much that he thought his nose was bleeding.
- The Artifact:
- In the beginning Kansas scenes, Auntie Em reprimands Hickory note about "Tinkering with that contraption" then orders him and Hunk note to get back to fixing the wagon (something obviously worded as something other than 'that contraption'). There was a cut scene (presumed lost) where Hickory was building a "Weather Machine" so he could control the weather.
- In the scene where the Wicked Witch sends her army of flying monkeys to steal the ruby slippers, she has a somewhat baffling line where she says, "I've sent a little insect on ahead to take the fight out of them!" Some viewers assumed that the insect was what picked up the Tin Woodman and dropped him, but her line actually referred to the scrapped "Jitterbug" sequence. The producers apparently forgot to cut out all references to the nonexistent scene/character (or just hoped that the audience wouldn't notice — or would retcon it into something else).
- When saying her tearful goodbyes to her companions at the end of the movie, Dorothy has a similarly baffling line where she says to the Scarecrow, "I think I'll miss you most of all!", even though nothing in the movie seems to suggest that she's any closer with the Scarecrow than with her other two companions. note This appears to be a holdover from an early version of the script, in which Dorothy had a romantic subplot with Hunk (the Scarecrow's Kansas counterpart), and the first act featured him preparing to leave the farm to study at the Agricultural College. Apparently, the implication was supposed to be that Dorothy grew exceptionally close to the Scarecrow because he reminded her of the man she loved—but with the subplot cut out, it just seems inexplicable.
- At the Palace in the Emerald City, the soldier's mustache is pointed up. In the middle things, the mustache has suddenly changed to point down. This is a relic of a cut scene or sequence.
- Artistic License Chemistry: Tin doesn't rust.
- Artistic License Gun Safety: Once the four are off to deal with the Wicked Witch of the West, the Scarecrow clumsily carries a revolver.
- Artistic License Law: She has absolutely no clue whether or not Toto is the dog that bit her, nor any evidence whatsoever, and no investigation is ever done. But Miss Gulch still manages to get an order from the Sheriff nevertheless, and forces Dorothy to hand him over for her to kill. Just because she hates him, because of Toto chasing her cat. Auntie Em's comments imply that Gulch has paid people off to do her bidding.
- 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.
- An Axe to Grind: The Tin Man never uses it as a weapon as he does in the book, but he sure finds it useful at the castle.
- Axe Before Entering: In a heroic example, the Tin Man has to break down the locked door to Dorothy's cell with an axe in order to save her.
- Bad People Abuse Animals: Every second Miss Gulch spends on-screen, she is a completely awful harpy. But what truly cements her is her desire to have Toto put down by claiming he bit her, when according to Dorothy all he did was chase her cat. She would still be awful regardless, but once again, she wants Toto dead just because she hates him. The biting is providing her with an an excuse.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Shamelessly: "Only bad witches are ugly." Of course you could say it's a case of a person's "inside matching their outside", which is likely why Glinda felt the need to ask Dorothy's intentions when she mistook her for a witch. It makes sense if you consider the idea using evil magic corrupts you over time, as Dorothy's age would hide her future intentions.
- Believing Their Own Lies: True for all three of Dorothy's friends.
- The Scarecrow says that he doesn't have a brain, but he is actually pretty clever.
- The Tin Woodsman says that he doesn't have a heart, but he is the most empathic of the trio, and sobs a lot, too.
- The Cowardly Lion claims that he has no courage, but manages to find it inside him when Dorothy is in danger.
- Berserk Button: Dorothy gets a bit touchy whenever others try to harm Toto. For example, after she slaps the Cowardly Lion when he goes for Toto — after being scared of him:Dorothy: Shame on you!
Cowardly Lion: What did you do that for? I didn't bite him!
Dorothy: No, but you tried to!
- Big Bad: The Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy's only real enemy.
- Big Door: Both the door to enter the famed Emerald City and the one to the much-admired Wizard's palace are towering.
- Big Good: Glinda the Good Witch. Dorothy's guide and protector in key moments. Although some people may argue differently.
- Bittersweet Ending: In retrospect, when one realizes that the plotline regarding Miss Gulch and the police order to have Toto destroyed is not resolved; technically, despite being reassured that "there's no place like home", Dorothy and her family still have to face the imminent seizure of Toto.
- Bootstrapped Theme: The music (Glinda's Leitmotif) heard during the MGM logo opening this movie also played during the MGM/UA Home Video logo used from 1995-1999.
- Boring Return Journey: The book's elaborate journey to the Good Witch (who would lead Dorothy home) was skipped over for time constraints.
- Boss Arena Idiocy: Why exactly does the wicked witch allow buckets of water within a mile of her castle, let alone right on a handy shelf? Granted, there's all those torches, but is she really the type to worry about fire safety? In the book, Dorothy is made the witch's slave, and one of her chores is to scrub the floor— with a bucket of water, but this was not in the film.
- Briar Patching: When Dorothy tries to pick an apple, the angry apple tree comes alive and starts attacking her. The Scarecrow tells Dorothy that she doesn't want that tree's apples because the apples might have worms in them. This makes the tree so mad, it starts throwing apples at Dorothy and Scarecrow, allowing her to enjoy a few fresh apples.
- Broken Aesop: The moral Dorothy learned during the film was that everything she wants is at her home in Kansas. However, while she did wish to travel the world, she wasn't dissatisfied with her life on the farm and she only ran away because she was scared Miss Gulch would kill Toto. This is rectified by the musical, for which the opening number is entitled "Nobody Understands Me" and Dorothy expresses her feelings of loneliness and being misunderstood.
- Canon Foreigner: The five people who Dorothy knows and who appear in her dream - Hunk, Zeke, Hickory, Miss Gulch, and Professor Marvel - were created exclusively for the film, likely to use the "dream counterpart angle" as a plot device.
- Captain Obvious: Dorothy, when she first lands in Oz:Dorothy: Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more. We must be over the rainbow![Glinda arrives in her magic bubble]Dorothy: Now I know we're not in Kansas!
- Cartoon Bug-Sprayer: The Cowardly Lion arms himself against the Wicked Witch with one of these.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Tin Man lugs his axe around for three-quarters of the film until he's finally able to chop open the door in the Witch's castle. Justified in that he's a woodsman, but on the other hand, it doesn't look as if he knows how to use it.
- The Chessmaster:
- The Wizard of Oz himself is this when he sent Dorothy and the others on a quest after the Witch's broom.
- If you interpret the movie as a Coming-of-Age Story for Dorothy, then possibly Glinda qualifies for this Trope, albeit with benign motives.
- Clingy MacGuffin: The ruby slippers won't come off Dorothy's feet, and shock the Witch when she tries to remove them. In the original book, however, Dorothy could and did frequently remove the silver shoes.
- Cold Reading: Professor Marvel uses this skill on Dorothy to convince her to go back to her farm. Once he figures out she's running away, he has a "vision" in his crystal ball of a farmhouse where people are sad and worried about her. (He even makes an astute guess that the barn has "a weather vane with a running horse.") It works and she rushes back home without considering his revelation would require precisely zero psychic ability.
- He sees Auntie Em in Dorothy's picture of the farm, down to the pattern of the dress she is wearing, and deduces she is someone special to Dorothy who will likely be worried about her disappearance. He also sees the weather vane in the picture.
- His cold reading does include the fact that Dorothy once was sick, as any young person would likely be in that time period, and Auntie Em looked after her.
- Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: "...and meet the young lady who fell from a star..."
- Comically Missing the Point: Invoked as Uncle Henry's Obfuscating Stupidity in this gem of a sequence:Miss Gulch: Mr. Gale!Uncle Henry: Howdy, Miss Gulch!Gulch: I want to see you and your wife right away about Dorothy.Henry: Dorothy? Well, what has Dorothy done?Gulch: What's she done? I'm all but lame from the bite on my leg!Henry: You mean she bit you?Gulch: No, her dog!Henry: Oh, she bit her dog, eh?(Henry swings the gate closed onto Miss Gulch's behind.)Gulch: No!
- Composite Character: In the original novel, Dorothy was given her mission upon arriving by the Witch of the North, and didn't meet Glinda, the Witch of the South, until the conclusion. In this version, Glinda combines the roles of both the benevolent witches. Glinda also takes on the role of the Snow Queen (a character from one of Baum's stage plays), sending a snowfall to save Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion from the poppy fields. In the original book, the Scarecrow and Tin-Man carry Dorothy out and the Lion is eventually pulled out by a huge team of field mice, on a wooden cart made by the Tin Man.
- Cool Horse: The Horse of a Different Color that pulls the Handsome Cab in the Emerald City; astute viewers will note that it changes to a different, equally unusual color each time the camera cuts away and then returns to it. (However, being an actual horse, it doesn't fit the Horse of a Different Color trope.)
- Copycat Mockery: At one point, the Witch of the West mockingly imitates Dorothy's crying and begging Auntie Em to come back.
- The Coroner: The Munchkin Coroner, who confirms that the Wicked Witch of the East in not just dead, but really most sincerely dead.
- Corpsing: In the scene where the Lion is introduced, Dorothy covers her face with Toto. This is because Judy Garland could not contain her giggling while the scene was filmed. Director Victor Fleming took her aside and slapped her. He then sent her to the dressing room because she wouldn't stop laughing.
- Cosmetic Award: The Wizard's gifts to the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion "prove" to them that they already have the brains, heart, and courage which they have been looking for. The Scarecrow receives a diploma, the Tin Man receives a ticking clock in the shape of a heart, and the Cowardly Lion receives a medal for valor.
- Crashing Dreams: At one point, Dorothy hears her Aunt Em calling for her through the Witch's crystal ball, sounding worried for her niece. We find out that in Kansas, Aunt Em was talking with her comatose niece, begging her to wake up and come back to them.
- Crazy-Prepared: Oddly enough, the beauty salon at the Emerald City has facilities for both the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodsman.
- Crosscast Role: Toto was played by a female Cairn terrier, named Terry.
- Curtain Camouflage: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" The Wizard of Oz uses a curtain to hide that he operates machinery, rather than using magic.
- Cute Clumsy Girl: Male example. The Scarecrow is afflicted with the weakest legs you ever saw. Several times throughout the film, he trips and has to pick himself back up again, and is practically half-dragged along whenever all four of them skip on the Yellow Brick Road. Justified in that he's made of straw.
- Damsel in Distress: During the attempt to reach the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy is kidnapped by the Witch's flying monkeys and taken to the castle. The Witch decides to kill Dorothy so she can obtain the ruby slippers Dorothy wears. The Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion must infiltrate the castle and save Dorothy from certain death.
- Dangerously Garish Environment: The poppy field has brightly-coloured flowers, but the flowers are enchanted to put Dorothy, Toto, and the Cowardly Lion to sleep.
- Darker and Edgier:
- While it doesn't seem like this to the average viewer, some parts are considerably darker than the book. When writing the book, Baum explicitly said that he wanted to make a story with all the wonder of a classic fairy tale but none of the horror and tragedy. By contrast, the movie features Toto getting sentenced to death, as well as Dorothy and her friends nearly getting killed by the Witch and her minions several times. Instead of the book's comical Witch, the movie's Witch is a genuinely scary villain with obvious sadistic tendencies. And instead of being neutral creatures answering to the Witch's three wishes, the movie's flying monkeys are eerily silent monstrosities who serve the Witch as mindless slaves.
- Then again, there are moments when the movie is Lighter and Softer than the book. The book explicitly had Dorothy's companions kill the creatures sent by the Wicked Witch, and the origin of the Tin Woodsman is considerably horrific. He was a human whose limbs were cut off with his own axe, and were replaced by prosthetics.
- The biggest change in this regard is that, in the book, the Good Witch of the North put a charm on Dorothy that prevented anyone in Oz from hurting her, so throughout the entire story she is never actually in any physical danger. The movie limits it to a brief kiss on Dorothy's forehead.
- Dark Reprise: Dorothy tearfully singing "Over The Rainbow" while imprisoned in the Wicked Witch's castle, which was cut from the film. It had to be recorded live on set as Judy would have had to act in addition to singing it. Reportedly the performance reduced the entire cast and crew to tears.
- Deadly Euphemism: When Dorothy advises the Wizard that she melted the Witch, he responds that Dorothy "liquidated" her. In addition to its resemblance to "liquefy", the appropriate term for melting someone, "liquidate" is a Josef Stalin-era euphemism for "kill".
- Death's Hourglass: The Wicked Witch uses this to freak Dorothy out, though people don't actually die in the Oz series, other than the witches.
- Debut Queue: Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion in succession. This is one of the most iconic and well-remembered examples of the trope.
- Deliberately Monochrome: In the 1939 movie, the real world scenes are black and white, tinted in a sepia tone, and the Oz scenes are in color. This is based on the novel, in which Baum makes a point of describing everything in Kansas as gray.
- Deus ex Machina
- The heroes are cornered, surrounded by all the guards of the Wicked Witch of the West. The Witch herself, gloating in victory, lights the Scarecrow on fire and Dorothy tosses a bucket of water to put him out, some of it splashing the Witch. Lo and behold, water turns out to be the Witch's weakness and she suddenly begins melting for no explainable reason. And all those guards that were surrounding the heroes don't go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, but instead they are all cheering that she is dead. Makes one wonder why they didn't splash some water on her themselves if they hated her so much, or why the Witch kept such a lethal substance lying around in the castle. The melting was taken from the book (which did offer a plausible explanation for the bucket's presence), with the movie giving Dorothy a more direct reason to throw the bucket of water. There may have been mind control involved: some stage plays include the witch mentioning that she put the Winkies under a spell.
- Glinda floating down out of nowhere to tell Dorothy how to get home after all, instantly resolving the central conflict.
- The books contain a surprising amount of casual and sometimes decidedly un-PC violence: in the first one alone — besides the wholesale witchicide — the Scarecrow twists the necks of crows sent to attack them, the Tin Woodsman chops the heads off vicious wolves, and the Cowardly Lion swats the head off a giant spider with his paw. And, of course, the Tin Woodsman became tin by gradually having all his bits cut off and replaced — up to and including his head.
- In the book, Dorothy intentionally throws the bucket of water on the Wicked Witch after she steals her Silver Shoes (she doesn't know it'll make her melt of course). The film changes this to Dorothy trying to put out a fire on the Scarecrow's arms and the water accidentally splashing on the Witch.
- Don't Go in the Woods:
- Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man are scared of a dark part of the woods, thinking that it might contain lions and tigers and bears.
- The way to the Witch's Castle. "I'd turn back if I were you!"
- Dramatic Curtain Toss: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." One moment the Wizard is trying to scare away Dorothy and her friends, the next the curtain is pulled away and the Wizard is revealed as a mere human.
- Dream Ballet: The end of "If I Were King of the Forest", in which Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion reenact what the Lion's coronation as King of the Forest would look like. An unusual example in that the setting does not shift for this one, and besides, it may be part of an even bigger dream anyway.
- Dream Land: Dorothy's adventure may have only been a dream. The tornado winds knock Dorothy out, and everything spins in a delirium about her. The tornado picking up the house is clearly part of the dream, as she sees various impossible scenes out the window, such as an elderly neighbor knitting in her rocker, a pair of men rowing in a rowboat, culminating in Miss Gulch riding her bicycle, then changing into the Wicked Witch of the East.note
- Dressing as the Enemy: The Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion steal the Winkies' uniforms to get into the Wicked Witch of the West's castle.
- Dungeon Master: Glinda made Dorothy trek through Oz on her quest to get home, only to tell Dorothy that she already knew the ruby shoes could get her home. Of course she never abandoned her, she simply knew the only way Dorothy could learn to work the shoes was through first-hand experience.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, with help from Dorothy, learn to discover their abilities of intelligence, heart, and courage which they were hoping the Wizard would grant them, on their journey towards the Emerald City and the Wicked Witch of the West's castle.
- Everything's Better with Rainbows: "Over the Rainbow," of course."Somewhere over the rainbow
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can't I?"
- Evil Laugh: One of the most iconic examples. As the Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton sure could cackle.
- Exact Words: In this version, the Wizard doesn't actually demand that Dorothy and her companions act as assassins (as he does in the novel) he merely demands they bring her broomstick. The majesty and formality of the Wizard virtually require him to request the broomstick, rather than outright request her killing, just as the majesty and formality requires the Wizard to refer to her as "The Witch of the West", omitting "Wicked". Of course, they realize that his intent is for them to kill her, as they would never get it any other way.
- Extremely Short Timespan: Dorothy's adventure in Oz is implied to take place in the span of a few days. Also, given that the Oz section is All Just a Dream, the time that actually elapses in the "real world" appears to be little more than a day at most.
- Faint in Shock: During their meeting with the Wizard, each member of Dorothy's group is called forward to face him. When it's the Cowardly Lion's turn, he faints dead away.
- Falling Chandelier of Doom: The Scarecrow subtly follows with his eyes the rope next to him to the chandelier above the soldiers. Then he slams the Tin Woodman's axe into the rope, causing the chandelier to fall onto the soldiers. It only causes mass confusion, while the four escape.
- The Film of the Book
- Fireballs: "Here, Scarecrow! Wanna play ball?"
- Fire/Water Juxtaposition: The Wicked Witch of the West repeatedly uses fire to torment our heroes—she teleports in a ball of fire and smoke, hurls fireballs at the Scarecrow to taunt him, and ultimately tries to burn him alive—but meets her death when she melts after being splashed with water. More subtly, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man also have fire and water as their respective weaknesses: the Scarecrow is vulnerable to being burned, and the Tin Man easily rusts in the presence of water.
- Forced to Watch: What the Wicked Witch attempts at the climax. "The last to go will see the first three go before her, and her mangy little dog too."
- A very discreet piece of foreshadowing is in "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" in a line between two munchkins, foreshadowing the existence of the three OTHER witches of OZ...Munchkin 1: Which old Witch?Munchkin 2: The Wicked Witch!
- The Scarecrow proclaims he's not afraid of anything — "Except a lighted match!" The first time he meets the Wicked Witch she tries to set him on fire, and come the climax she actually succeeds in doing so, as he screams in terror. Of course, the incident does not prove as fatal to him as it does to her.
- All the Kansas characters created for the film, are signs and real-life courterparts of the main Oz characters, including Dorothy's companions, The "Wizard" of Oz , and the Wicked Witch of the West.Hunk, who becomes the Scarecrow, is limber and clumsy, and tells Dorothy to be smart about Miss Gulch.Hickory, who becomes the Tin Man, is the most sympathetic, but declares that the town will build a statue to him.Zeke, who becomes the Lion, tells Dorothy to stand up to Miss Gulch, and rescues her from the pigpen without hesitation, but is slightly traumatized by the event.
- A very discreet piece of foreshadowing is in "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" in a line between two munchkins, foreshadowing the existence of the three OTHER witches of OZ...
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: When Dorothy is trapped in the Witch's castle, she sees an image of Aunt Em looking around for her in the Witch's crystal ball. Dorothy futilely tries to call out to her, but Aunt Em's image is replaced by the Wicked Witch who mocks Dorothy and then turns to cackle directly at the audience, as if to say "I'm coming for you next!"
- Funnel Cloud Journey: After Dorothy's house is pulled up into the tornado, she sees through the window outside, animals, objects, an elderly neighbor knitting in her rocking chair, and Miss Gulch riding away on her bicycle. Miss Gulch fades into the cackling Wicked Witch of the East flying on her broomstick.
- Get Out!: The Wizard gives Dorothy and friends a hammy one of these when sending them to get the Wicked Witch's broomstick:The Wizard: Bring me her broomstick, and I'll grant your requests. Now, go!
Cowardly Lion: But... but, what if she kills us first?
The Wizard: I said, GO!
- Girlish Pigtails: Dorothy (who acts younger than her age) wears pigtails until her makeover at the Emerald City.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: When Dorothy cowers from the Great and Powerful Oz, she cries out "Jiminy crickets!", which predates Pinocchio, but was often used as a minced oath for "Jesus Christ!".
- G-Rated Drug: The field of poppy flowers, which are a notable source of opium in real life.
- Grass Is Greener: When Dorothy feels like everyone on the farm is too busy, she runs away from home, only to get back into the house and be transported to Oz via tornado. While in Oz, she starts out as being charmed by its magical wonders; as the journey progresses, she starts to despair while being kept prisoner at the Witch's castle, missing Kansas, her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. When in the Emerald City, she learns that she should never look any further than her own backyard for her heart's desire.
- Hand Wave: Attempted. When asked why she never told Dorothy about the shoes' abilities, Glinda replies, "you wouldn't have believed me."
- Happy Place: The entire Land of Oz is this for Dorothy, a place where there isn't any trouble (for the first two acts, at least) and bathed in color.
- Hate Sink: Miss Gulch is a very bitter harpy.
- Hell: Only ever referred to in the film, and euphemistically so as "where the goblins go, below, below, below".
- Hollywood Law: Everything regarding Miss Gulch's order to hand over Toto. As pointed out by CinemaSins:"How can you order the removal of a dog without any investigation into whether or not it was in fact the same dog that did the biting? For that matter, how do you issue this order but then have the victim carry out the eviction?"
- Homage: Ray Bolger was a major fan of Fred Stone, who originally played the Scarecrow in the 1902 musical. His loose-limbed dancing and walk were copied from Stone's characterization. (Stone played the Scarecrow so well that he appeared on stage so motionless for the first act that the audience thought it was a prop, not an actual actor!)
- Horse of a Different Color: A Literal Metaphor, as the Gatekeeper does an Invoked Trope on a purple horse.
- Hostage for MacGuffin: Subverted in that the Wicked Witch demands the ruby slippers in return for Toto (who is threatened with drowning), but the slippers are stuck to Dorothy's feet and won't come off. Although Dorothy agrees to hand over the slippers (since losing the slippers is preferable to losing her dog), the Witch gets a nasty shock when she tries to remove them.
- Huge Holographic Head: One of the guises assumed by the Wizard.
- Hypocritical Humor: When Dorothy has fallen asleep in the magic poppy field:Tin Man: Help, help!Scarecrow: It's no use screaming at a time like this. Nobody will hear you. Help! Help!
- Iconic Outfit: Dorothy is mostly remembered as wearing a blue-and-white checkered dress and the ruby slippers, with brunette hair braided in pigtails. It should be noted that this outfit is indeed the look she had for most of the original illustrations in the book, though she started out wearing a red dress when the twister came. (Some confusion was caused by a later artist having drawn her as a blonde with a bob cut in a rather stylish dress.)
- Implausible Deniability: The Wizard is caught as just a man, but tries a last ditch save with the line "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"
- Incoming Ham: The Wizard gets two in a row: "COME FORWARD!" And "I am OZ! The GREAT and POWERFUL!"
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Dorothy and friends are really bright and very sweet characters to contrast with the Wicked Witch of the West.
- Inelegant Blubbering: Mostly by the Cowardly Lion. The Wizard's doorman does his share too, overlapping with Ocular Gushers.
- Informed Attribute: All the wonderful things the Wizard of Oz supposedly does. We aren't told about any of them, but the characters tell us repeatedly through song that he is a great wizard among wizards who does wonderful things. It turns out the characters don't know either, and he actually doesn't do anything wonderful and possibly never did.
- Informed Flaw: Due to Dorothy's companions not believing in themselves, their actions tend to contrast their words. Though the Scarecrow claims to not have a brain, he is a rather smart character. The "brainless" Scarecrow hatches most of the plots that get the party out of trouble. Though the Tin Man claims to not have a heart, he is shown to be quite a sensitive character. Which is unfortunate since he is a tin man his tears tend to rust him when he cries. The "heartless" Tin Man has been labeled "the most sensitive character in the history of film.". The Cowardly Lion despite claiming what his name would indicate is brave enough to try to protect Dorothy from the witch instead of abandoning his companions. His eventual courage is a result of Character Development. This characterization was taken from the source material, the book.
- 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).
- Insane Troll Logic: How Uncle Henry manages to confuse Elmira Gulch:Almira Gulch: Mister Gale!Uncle Henry: Well, howdy, Miss Gulch.Almira Gulch: I want to see you and your wife right away about Dorothy!Uncle Henry: Dorothy? Well, what has Dorothy done?Almira Gulch: What she's done? I'm all but lame from the bite on my leg!Uncle Henry: Oh! You mean she bit you?Almira Gulch: No, her dog!Uncle Henry: Oh, she bit her dog, eh?Almira Gulch [frustrated]: No!
- Instantly Proven Wrong: Immediately after the Wizard's Huge Holographic Head threatens Dorothy and company, Toto accidentally exposes him for the humbug he is.Wizard: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
- Irony: A meta example. When the cameras weren't rolling, Dorothy got along with the Wicked Witch of the West better than she did with her onscreen friends.
- I Shall Taunt You: When the talking tree gets mad at Dorothy, the Scarecrow uses this tactic to trick the tree:Scarecrow: Come along, Dorothy. You don't want any of those apples. [Scarecrow harrumphs]
Angry Apple Tree: Are you hinting my apples aren't what they ought to be?
Scarecrow: Oh, no. It's just that she doesn't like little green worms!
All of the apple trees jabber in outrage.
Scarecrow (whispering to Dorothy): I'll get you some apples.
Scarecrow turns and delivers the trees a Bronx Cheer. The trees all angrily throw apples at Dorothy and Scarecrow, and Dorothy is able to have something to eat. As she gathers up apples, she discovers the Tin Man.
- It Was with You All Along: Dorothy's entire quest is based on her need to return home. And she then learns that she could have used her shoes to do that at any point.
- It's the Journey That Counts: The Trope Codifier. Glinda states Dorothy had to learn for herself she had the power.
- "I Want" Song: "Over the Rainbow", perhaps one of the best examples of an "I Want" song. Also, "If I Only Had a Brain/a Heart/the Nerve".
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- Toto went into Miss Gulch's yard, chased her cat up a tree, and bit Miss Gulch on the leg. Okay, Miss Gulch should have been kinder and far more lenient, but face it, she is well within her rights to be upset.
- The Talking Trees. They are trapped in place, unable to move, and every now and then, people come along to snatch off pieces of their body and eat them. What makes it even more terrifying is that since apples carry seeds, the trees are forced to watch people steal and eat their BABIES. Their anger at Dorothy is pretty justified.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Auntie Em is shown to treat Dorothy with gruff indifference at the beginning of the film, which is part of what Dorothy's dissatisfaction with Kansas is attributed to. But Em is later revealed to be quite a loving old lady at heart, showing great distress at Dorothy being out in the middle of a storm, and comforting Dorothy when she wakes up from her long coma dream.
- The Wizard.Dorothy: Oh — You're a very bad man!
The Wizard: (sighing, smiling) Oh, no my dear. I'm a very good man. I'm just a very bad Wizard.
- Job Song: In "Merry Old Land of Oz", several workers sing about their jobs, including the hairdressers, the repair staff, and some people who seem to get paid to eat lunch.
- Jungles Sound Like Kookaburras: A kookaburra can briefly be heard in the forest. Could be explained away by noting that Oz is a Dream Land, or at least a magical land where lots of different animals live together that normally wouldn't.
- Kick the Dog: The Wicked Witch gets a good number of these:
- Threatening Dorothy's dog Toto in the Trope Namer for And Your Little Dog, Too!.
- Ordering her mooks to drown Toto anyway after Dorothy had already agreed to do what the Witch asked.
- Trapping Dorothy in a room with an evil hourglass, making Aunt Em appear in her crystal ball, and then sadistically mocking her once she's completely broken down.
- The above-mentioned Forced to Watch attempt at the climax.
- Her Kansas counterpart, Miss Gulch, also has moments of this, not just to Dorothy and Toto but Auntie Em and Uncle Henry as well.
- Kill It with Water: The Wicked Witch of the West is killed when splashed with water.
- Large Ham: They all have their moments.
- The Wicked Witch Of The West takes the cake. That woman was having fun. All lesser hams, bow before your queen!
- Frank Morgan in his roles as the gatekeeper, the guard, Oz's flaming head, and the Wizard himself. Professor Marvel and the cabby, not so much, perhaps.
- Last-Second Word Swap: After the real Wizard has been unveiled:The Wizard: Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila... er, phila... er, yes, er... good deed doers.
- Leitmotif: Several other than the ones based on songs made for the film or the Standard Snippets listed below.
- The Wicked Witch's theme, which is a somewhat inverted minor variation of "We're Off to See the Wizard". It is first heard when Miss Gulch is seen riding her bicycle. This theme is often parodied in popular culture, such as in Pee-wee's Big Adventure and was used as the basis for Candace's theme on Phineas and Ferb.
- Glinda's six-note theme, first heard over Leo the Lion's roars, and notably accompanying when she comes and goes by bubble.
- An "Orientale" theme is used for both Professor Marvel and the Wizard.
- A short march is heard throughout the Emerald City sequences, notably during the exits of the guard and before the Wizard makes his speech in the balloon.
- Letting Her Hair Down: When Dorothy gets her makeover in the Emerald City, her hair is let down out of its pigtails (though still partially tied up). The style is a modified "lioness", and was popular off and on through the 1970s.
- Light Is Not Good: While her sister generally preferred darker clothes, if the tornado sequence is to be believed the Wicked Witch of the East wore white.
- Lighter and Softer: In some regards, though a few elements are also noticeably darker than in the book. In particular, Dorothy and her companions come off as a bit more innocent here, whereas the book featured them occasionally having to use violence to overcome the odds against them (the book has them outright killing the animals that the Witch sends against them, and it includes a scene where the Cowardly Lion proves his courage by killing a monster in its sleep). The Tin Man's grisly origin, where he got his metal body after a magic spell cursed him to hack off his limbs, is also never brought up in the movie.
- Literal Metaphor: Upon learning that Dorothy has the ruby slippers, the doorman at the gate to Oz responds that that is "a horse of a different color". In the next scene, the party sees a color-changing horse, referred to as "the Horse of a Different Color [they had] heard tell about".
- Little People Are Surreal: Munchkins sure are odd. An entire society who celebrates Dorothy as their hero for killing the Wicked Witch of the East. They sing and dance for her, but do not volunteer to help in her quest.
- Loads and Loads of Roles: The farmhands and Miss Gulch became their own counterparts in Oz, but Professor Marvel (played by Frank Morgan) became every speaking character of the Emerald City: the gatekeeper, the cabby, the palace soldier, the Wizard in his flaming Huge Holographic Head form, and (finally) the Wizard himself.
- Logical Weakness: The Scarecrow and The Tin Man are almost invulnerable, but Scarecrow is very flammable and Tin Man rusts incredibly easily.
- Magic Feather: The Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman and Cowardly Lion all had brains, heart and courage, but the Wizard gave them "features" (a diploma, a testimonial, and a medal) to make them think they were granted it.
- The Makeover: In "The Merry Old Land of Oz". Dorothy changes hairstyles, the Cowardly Lion receives a bow, the Scarecrow gets new stuffing, and the Tin Man has his rust removed.
- The Man Behind the Curtain: Trope Namer. The Wizard of Oz turns out to just be a regular, non-magical man from Kansas who hides behind a curtain, operating the machine that produces the Wizard's Huge Holographic Head.
- Melodrama: Fits this genre, especially in the beginning and end. At the beginning we have a drama about a wealthy older woman who wants to kill a girl's pet dog. Then the girl becomes a teenage runaway. At the end, we have the entire farm worrying about Dorothy's health.
- Miles Gloriosus
Wizard: 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.
- The Lion starts out pretending to be brave and aggressive 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.
- 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:
- Mind Screw: while the ending states that it was all a dream, it can be quite difficult to know what real and whats not. Especially since the ruby slippers sent Dorothy at the exact same time she woke up.
- Monochrome to Color: The film used this to show the splendor of Oz, as well as to show off the Technicolor. Kansas scenes are all sepia-colored, while Oz scenes have color.
- Montage Ends the VHS: The 50th Anniversary VHS, Laserdisc and Betamax release features the trailer for the movie, Along with more bonus features (such as deleted scenes). The Criterion Laserdisc also features clips from the 1925 silent adaptation starring Oliver Hardy as the Tin Man after the film is over.
- Mood Whiplash
- The movie cuts right from "Over the Rainbow" to Miss Gulch riding in on her bicycle, complete with that music.
- After first blowing the audience's mind by going from sepia to technicolor and giving one cheerful song after another, everything comes crashing down when the Wicked Witch of the West appears in a flash of fire.
- Mordor: The region of Oz that the Wicked Witch rules as her domain has a dark forest and high mountains, with Red Eyes, Take Warning animals and spooks that can grab you and throw you up into the air.
- Mugged for Disguise: Dorothy's three friends get into the castle after beating up three Winkie guards and taking their uniforms. It isn't the best disguise, but it works. Technically, the friends didn't mug the guards; the guards snuck up behind them and attacked, so it was more of a self-defense reflex.
- The Musical: The film is a musical, with many scenes featuring songs.
- Mythology Gag:
- The two men in the rowboat are a reference to the "Hurrah For Baffin's Bay" number from the original 1902 musical. The cow is a reference to Imogene, who replaced Toto on stage as well.
- The movie changes Dorothy's silver shoes from the book into ruby slippers. Though this was ostensibly done so that the production staff could show off their Technicolor technology, the ruby slippers can also be considered a subtle nod to the region of Quadling Country, which was cut from the movie. In the book, Quadling Country was filled with ruby mines, and it took red as its totemic color. Note that the ruler of Quadling Country—who sat on a throne of rubies—was also the one who finally told Dorothy that the shoes could send her home.
- The cap the Wicked Witch of the West is shown gesturing with at Nikko (just before she flies off to the Emerald City) is the same cap she used in the book to control the Flying Monkeys. The reason this was never revealed (aside from not wanting to add in unnecessary explanations) is because the cap in the book could only be used three times by any one person, which would make the audience question whether or not the Witch still had enough uses left when she captured Dorothy.note
- Because Glinda and the Good Witch of the North were combined into one character, the moment when she kisses Dorothy on the forehead before departing is a reference to the Witch of the North doing so in the book. The implication is that this kiss had the same protective power, and explained why Dorothy couldn't be harmed by the Wicked Witch of the West (or anyone else) just as much as the slippers kept her safe.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The villain is named The Wicked Witch of the West.
- Needlework Is for Old People: Among the people and things seen inside the tornado is an old woman sitting in a chair, knitting.
- Never Say "Die": Miss Gulch insists that Toto should be "destroyed". Averted later on when the Wicket Witch accuses, "Who killed my sister?" and later on Dorothy says they have to kill her to get the broomstick. There's also a song called "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead".
- Nice Guy: Dorothy really lucked out in meeting the guys when she first came to Oz. The Cowardly Lion seems mean at first, but it turns out it is just an act with which to hide the fact he's really terrified of them.
- Nice Shoes: The Ruby Slippers, which originally belonged to the Wicked Witch of the East, are now in the possession of Dorothy.
- 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!" Burke sells that line, and Hamilton's reaction is priceless. She ducks and looks up in horror, clearly half convinced Glinda could make another house drop. And she probably could, too.
- Noo Yawk: The Cowardly Lion gots a lot of Brooklyn in dis film, 'coz he's got noive.
- No Fourth Wall
- While the farm house spins in the tornado, Dorothy screams in terror and at one point glares at the audience.
- The Cowardly Lion does this a few times. He laughs at the camera when he makes fun of the Tin Man. More infamously, he stares at the audience during his signature song "King of the Forest" and does it again after he says "You can say that again" when his friends say "courage" in unison.
- The Witch of the West arguably performs the most infamous one after sarcastically telling Dorothy she will give her "Aunty Em" via her crystal ball before cackling towards the camera.
- No Song for the Wicked: While Dorothy and her companions each got their own song, the Wicked (Witch of the West) doesn't get one. Might as well be the Trope Codifier.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Dorothy gets this from Auntie Em and Uncle Henry when she is trying to tell them about what Miss Gulch was planning to do to Toto.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Uncle Henry. Just looking at him you can tell he's just playing dumb to avoid trouble from Miss Gulch, like the way he asks if Dorothy was the one who bit her right before slamming the gate on her butt. (The complete exchange is under Comically Missing the Point.)
- Odd Friendship: This is a story where a young girl from Kansas, a scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion become True Companions and go on a Hero's Journey together. All of them are looking for something, only to find that, in the end, what they were searching for was right in front of them the whole time.
- Offstage Villainy: The Wicked Witch of the East's actions are never depicted.
- Oh, Crap!:
Wicked Witch: DON'T THROW THAT WATER!!
- The scarecrow when he realizes that the Wicked Witch is about to burn him alive.
- If you listen closely, just before Dorothy throws the water at the scarecrow, you can hear the Wicked Witch screaming at her not to.
- The Wizard has a brief panic when he realizes that he has been exposed.
- Or Was It a Dream?: When Dorothy returns home, Aunt Em, Uncle Henry and the farmhands dismiss Dorothy's adventure as just a dream, but Dorothy doesn't think so otherwise.
- Pan and Scan: Inverted. The movie was filmed in 4:3, but the theatrical re-releases from 1955 and 1998 presented the movie with the top and bottom missing for widescreen projection. The 2005 reissue, 2013 IMAX 3D re-release and 2019 4K Fathom Events reissue restore the movie to its original 4:3 aspect ratio.
- Paper Tiger: When the Cowardly Lion first appears he acts in an aggressive manner, charging the group and challenging them to a fight. When he tries to attack Toto, Dorothy smacks him on the nose and he starts crying. Granted, the Cowardly Lion also turns out to be a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass later on.
- Parental Bonus: Many lines, especially the Wizard's.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Glinda's super frilly dress.
- Plucky Girl: Dorothy is a bit more subdued than in the book, but the pluck is still there.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The movie. It can, at times, be difficult to find someone who knows that there are two good witches, let alone the rest of the stuff cut from the book.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The orchestral music that plays in the background when Dorothy's friends are in the Wicked Witch's castle and arrive to rescue Dorothy is Night on Bald Mountain (the Rimsky-Korsakoff-streamlined version) by Modest Mussorgsky.
- Pun: Various examples, including the "Horse of a Different Color", the "Handsome Cab" and the Triple Cross medal the Wizard gives the Cowardly Lion.
- Punch-Clock Villain: The Wicked Witch's guards, judging by how they react to the heroes killing her.
- Race Against the Clock: The Wicked Witch has an hourglass with its sands running out measuring how much longer Dorothy has to be alive.
- Rays from Heaven: These are used very blatantly during "Over the Rainbow" — a shot of them through the thick clouds temporarily breaks the footage of Dorothy singing. They emphasise the sky theme and show the height of her hopes.
- Reality Ensues:
- Even after he gets his brain, the Scarecrow still has a lot to learn, as demonstrated by his mangling of the Pythagorean theorem.
- The Poisoned Poppy Field doesnt affect the Scarecrow or Tin Man, since they arent organic/dont have lungs.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: The Cowardly Lion's costume looks like something whipped up from old plush and yak fur. It was actually made from a real lion, complete with paws and tail.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The evil owls and vultures in the Haunted Forest have red blinking/Glowing Eyes.
- Red/Green Contrast:
- Aside from the deadly poppy fields surrounding Emerald City, the magical ruby slippers that Dorothy is wearing give a striking contrast to the all-green setting of the city.
- Inbetween Dorothy is the conflict between the all-pink Glinda the Good and the green skinned Wicked Witch of the West.
- Real Is Brown: For the first part of the film the coloring is a sepia-toned brown, right up until Dorothy steps out into Munchkin Land. Even after all these years, the effect can be quite shocking upon a first viewing.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Aunt Em gives Miss Gulch a pretty epic telling-off at the beginning of the film.Aunt Em: Almira Gulch, just because you own half the county doesn't mean that you have the power to run the rest of us. For twenty-three years, I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you. And now...well, being a Christian woman, I can't say it! (Runs off trying to hold back her tears.)
- In 1989, the Kansas portions of the movie had the sepia color scheme restored. Audiences for the theatrical re-releases and TV broadcasts from the previous 40 years had only seen them in plain black and white.
- After this movie entered Warner Bros.' possession, along with the rest of the pre-1986 MGM library, WB developed a tendency to commission new restorations every few years, as Technology Marches On and fans become able to watch the movie at home in progressively higher resolutions.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: The Scarecrow carries one in the Haunted Forest. Clumsily. It has never been explained where he got it, and, like the other weapons the heroes bring with them to kill the Witch, they are never used and just disappear once the scene ends.
- Royal Decree: The Wizard gives one at the end, declaring the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man would rule in his stead. Based on the original novel, where he makes the Scarecrow ruler of Oz.
- Rule of Symbolism:
- The yellow brick road is portrayed as a symbol of the journey of life that everyone has to take, filled with thrills, dangers, deceptions and surprises. In Dorothy's case, it's a journey where she discovers the lure of adventure, the exciting possibilities outside her sheltered life, and a lesson about the real meaning of growing up and the comforts of home. The road seems exciting at first but ultimately leads to the realization that the wizard was just an ordinary man and that Dorothy's sparkling dreams sometimes are not all they are cracked up to be.
- The ruby slippers are especially notable considering they were silver in Baum's original book. Symbolically, they represent Dorothy's potential power, which she didn't know how to use at the time. That might explain why Glinda sent her off to see the Wizard. Only after all of her adventures, and the attendant self-reliance and confidence that comes with taking out two wicked witches single-handedly, could she tap into that power and use it to get what she wants.
- The Wicked Witch herself is a walking piece of symbolism. She is basically a personification of someone who causes misery and takes great joy in taking away innocence in any way they can. But she also serves as a lesson that the scary people in someone's life are only as scary as they let them be. Dorothy just needed a little bravery and the right instincts (in this case, coming to Scarecrow's aid when the Witch tried to burn him alive) to take her down, and it was surprisingly easy. That's why the water melted her.
- The cyclone is a catalyst for change, both in terms of the landscape and in terms of the characters. That Miss Gulch morphs into the Wicked Witch in the middle of it was intentional, along with Dorothy learning the meaning of the phrase "Be Careful What You Wish For". It also stresses the fact that change is inevitable, and can't be stopped or haulted, and you need to adjust to it.
- Dorothy was looking for a physical location, but her three teammates are a different story — The Scarecrow wants intelligence, the Lion wants guts and The Tin Man wants a heart. The film's central twist is that the characters actually had those traits, and the journey helped them to find these traits and use them to help their buddies out of their various scrapes. Like the ruby slippers, the gifts they get at the end are just symbolic representations of their own capacity to think, love and stand up to the Big Bad.
- In the beginning, Kansas was very stifling to Dorothy, hence the sepia shade representing how boring and indifferent it was to her. Oz on the other head was popping with incredibly vibrant colors and constant singing and dancing. This gives the sense of a bright, fresh, and amazing universe that Dorothy was seeing for the first time. But Oz started to reveal certain disturbing things, such as the witch and her winged monkeys. Kansas may be dull, but at least it was safe, and warming. Plus when Dorothy returns to Kansas, the sepia background looked more stable and less depressing.
- Rule of Three: Three sidekicks join Dorothy on her journey — Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, in that order.
- Rust-Removing Oil: The Tin-Man's oilcan is able to mobilize his rusted joints within seconds.
- Sanity Slippage: The Wicked Witch of the West undergoes one in the second half. Granted, she was always insane as far as the picture was concerned, but up until she figured out that the ruby slippers had been charmed to Dorothy's feet by magic and wouldn't come off as long as she lived, her main goal was to get them back and to get revenge on Dorothy for killing the Witch of the East. Afterwards, she becomes more and more obsessed with destroying Dorothy and her friends with extreme prejudice; the last few times she antagonized the others, it was for helping Dorothy and, later, for trespassing in her territory.
- Sarcasm Mode: The Wicked Witch of the West has her moment in a line that only appears in the script:Witch: And as for you, my little Dorothy, I wish you luck with the Wizard of Oz, and a happy journey back to Kansas!
- Scarecrow Solution: Ironically, Oz the Great and Powerful (operating behind the facade of a big, fiery head) uses this technique, and a loud, roaring voice to get Dorothy and friends to bring him the Witch's broomstick:The Wizard: Silence, whippersnapper! The beneficent Oz has every intention of granting your requests!
Cowardly Lion: What's that? What'd he say?
Dorothy [picking the Lion up]: Oh, come on.
The Wizard: But first, you must prove yourselves worthy by performing a very small task. Bring me the broomstick of the Witch of the West.
Tin Man: But if we do that, We'll have to kill her to get it.
The Wizard: Bring me her broomstick, and I'll grant your requests. Now, go!
Cowardly Lion: But... but, what if she kills us first?
The Wizard: I said '''GO!'''
- Seeking the Intangible: Each of the central characters spends the story searching for something they feel they lack. Dorothy wants to find home, the Scarecrow wants a brain, the Tin Man wants a heart, and the Cowardly Lion wants... courage. When they all receive representations of their desires in the end, the Lion can only be given a medal verifying his bravery, since it's not a tangible item (though the Scarecrow also doesn't get a physical brain for obvious reasons, and the Tin Man gets a heart-shaped watch). As for Dorothy, they try to send her home in a balloon, but it doesn't work. Luckily, there is a reveal that the ruby slippers she was given at the beginning of the film are magic and could have always taken her home.
- Self-Guarding Phlebotinum: When the Wicked Witch of the West tries to take the Ruby Slippers from Dorothy's feet, they generate an electric shock field that prevents their removal.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Dorothy doesn't have an obvious reason to go on the journey at all, if the slippers would have let her return at any time. If there is any reason for waiting, such as the slippers not responding until Dorothy has had an emotional epiphany, it's not explained in the story.
- Shut Up and Save Me!: The Scarecrow reacts this way when the Tin Man and Lion make jokes while he is lying on the ground in pieces.Scarecrow: Don't stand there talking — put me together! We've got to find Dorothy!
- Significant Double Casting: All the characters in the Kansas sequences reappear in Oz, in similar roles (Prof. Marvel is the Wizard).
- Sinister Schnoz: The Wicked Witch has a prominent and pointy nose to match her gruesome appearance and personality (it's actually a prosthetic applied to Margaret Hamilton for the role—her real nose was nowhere as distinct).
- Skip of Innocence: The group all skip like this when they sing that they are going off to see the Wizard of Oz.
- Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: The film is a type 2 (Recognizable Adaptation) but it almost, but not quite, qualifies as a Type 3 (Pragmatic Adaptation) as well.
- Snake Oil Salesman: Professor Marvel was one, and sort of a Loveable Rogue type, using his "skills" to trick Dorothy into going home by making her think her aunt was ill, when he found out that Dorothy ran away.
- Sneaking Snacks:
- When Dorothy and Toto visit Professor Marvel, Toto eats a sausage from the professor's toasting fork.Dorothy: Toto, that's not polite! We haven't been asked yet.
- The animated trees are none too happy about Dorothy taking their apples.Tree: How would you like it if I was to come along, and pick something off of you?
- When Dorothy and Toto visit Professor Marvel, Toto eats a sausage from the professor's toasting fork.
- Solitary Sorceress: The Wicked Witch of the West has a castle all to herself, with a platoon of guards patrolling the approach, and a battalion of flying monkeys nearby. Only Nikko, the leader of the latter, is ever seen in the same room as the Witch; otherwise, her servants seem to steer clear unless summoned.
- Spared by the Adaptation: The Scarecrow and the Tin Man manage to survive, ambushing some Winkies and taking their uniforms; they aren't so fortunate in the book since the Scarecrow is left with his stuffing scattered all over and the Tin Man is equally helpless since he was left for dead and badly beaten into a dented wreck by the Flying Monkeys, and they aren't restored until after the Witch is defeated.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Dorothy gets knocked out during the tornado, but recovers after the house lands in Oz. It seems she was really lucky. Tap on the Head doesn't apply in Kansas; she wakes up in bed with the doctor applying a cool cloth to her head, and her family seriously worried that she wouldn't rouse. They assume that her talking about Oz was the "dream" she had, and are relieved that Dorothy is alive.
- 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.
- Standard Snippet:
- The opening music for the movie (just before the instrumental of "It Really Was No Miracle") uses a snippet of the overture of Tannhäuser.
- When Dorothy is running home after her encounter with Miss Gulch, the music is a sped-up version of Schumann's Happy Farmer. (If Dorothy is taking piano lessons, that's probably one of her pieces; also, at the moment she is a rather UN-happy farmer!)
- When Toto escapes from Miss Gulch's basket the German song "Der Deitcher's Dog", better known in English as "O Where O Where Has My Little Dog Gone?" can be heard.
- When Dorothy and the Scarecrow first approach the apple trees, the 19th century song "In the Shade of an Old Apple Tree" plays.
- During the escape sequence at the Witch's castle, between the breaking of the door and the Witch's arrival with the hourglass, the soundtrack uses some of Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain.
- When the Wizard hands the Scarecrow his diploma, "Gaudeamus Igitur", an anthem often indicative of higher education, plays.
- During the "There's no place like home..." ending, the old parlor song "Home Sweet Home" (aka "Be it ever so humble...") plays, somewhat of a reference to a line from the original Baum novel when Dorothy says, "Be it ever so beautiful, there's no place like home."
- Sugar Bowl: The Munchkin Country is the single safest place in the film, with a cheerful population.
- Tap on the Head: A Mind Screw version. Stray tornado debris knocks Dorothy out while she's trapped in the house with Toto, but she seems to wake up with no visible injuries or head trauma. She wakes up in bed in Kansas, with a doctor tending to her and the whole farm holding an Unbroken Vigil, including her relatives and the farmhands. In a seeming subversion, they say that she was badly knocked out and they all were worried she wouldn't make it.
- Tempting Fate: The Tin Man ridicules the Scarecrow's haunted suggestion of spooks in the Haunted Forest:Tin Man: "Spooks, that's ridiculous! Spooks, that's silly! Ohohohoooooo!" (Picked up and dropped twenty yards away.)
- Terms of Endangerment: The Wicked Witch tends to refer to Dorothy as "my pretty", "my dear", and "my fine lady".
- Thin Chin of Sin: The Wicked Witch of the West has a prominently pointy chin to emphasize her nearly inhuman appearance.
- Think of the Children!: The only real demand made by the Hays Office after reviewing the screenplay was to not make the Wicked Witch too scary for children. Funny enough, this was more for economical rather than moral reasons, claiming that it would likely discourage parents from taking their children to see the movie. This "less-scary" Wicked Witch is, even today, still considered one of the more terrifying villains in a kid-appropriate movie.
- Third-Person Flashback: Despite the story being revealed as being a dream Dorothy had, several times during the Oz sequence we leave Dorothy's point of view to focus on what the Wicked Witch and Dorothy's friends are doing elsewhere.
- Timmy in a Well: Toto escapes from the Wicked Witch's castle, finds the other members of the group and starts barking at them. The Scarecrow says "Why, don't you see? He's come to take us to Dorothy!" Toto then does just that, arriving just in time to save Dorothy from death.
- The Trees Have Faces: Dorothy and the Scarecrow encounter some apple trees that are intelligent, can talk and move their branches, and have human faces. The Wicked Witch of the West is shown nearby before this happens, implying that she animated the trees.
- Trapped in Another World: Dorothy is whisked to Oz after her house is swept up by a twister.
- Troll: Uncle Henry is in full troll mode dealing with Miss Gulch, which is why he's barely able to hold back a grin as he engages in a Who's on First? with her.Miss Gulch: I want to see you and your wife right away about Dorothy.
Henry: Dorothy? Well, what has Dorothy done?
Miss Gulch: What's she done? I'm all but lame from the bite on my leg.
Henry: You mean she bit ya?
Miss Gulch: No, her dog.
Henry: Oh, she bit her dog, eh?
- True Blue Femininity: Dorothy wears a blue and white gingham dress while traveling through Oz.
- Tyrannicide: Once the Wicked Witch has been liquidated, the captain of the witch's guards cheers Dorothy and company, and gladly presents them with the witch's broom in gratitude. Presumably, the flying monkeys also bear the protagonists no ill will, since the monkeys nevermore impede Dorothy's progress.
- Unexplained Accent: Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke live in rural Kansas but sound like they are from the East Coast. (Bert Lahr was born in New York City, while Jack Haley was born in Boston, and Ray Bolger hailed from the Dorchester section of Boston). While it is possible 3 guys from the East Coast could have been travelling together and ended up becoming farmhands, there is no excuse for a talking lion in a magical land having such an over-the-top "Brooklyn" accent (other than the fact that the Lion is a dream version of a real person).
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: In this version of the story the Land of Oz is portrayed as a Sugar Bowl, but the Wicked Witch of the West remains just as mean (if not meaner) than her literary counterpart. As kid-friendly as this movie is, it's not uncommon to meet serious film buffs who consider the Wicked Witch one of the scariest cinematic characters of all time.
- Villain Has a Point: Miss Gulch is understandably annoyed that Dorothy continually walks home past her house, with Toto "once or twice a week" running into her yard and chasing her beloved pet cat. Miss Gulch is also right to be angry about Toto biting her. Where Miss Gulch goes wrong, forever earning the enmity of generations of children, is demanding Toto be destroyed. Probably the best-known case of Disproportionate Retribution in film.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" is one of the most famous in movie history. The Munchkins stage an entire spontaneously choreographed song number in celebration of Dorothy unwittingly killing the Wicked Witch of the East!
- Villain Teleportation: The Witch can appear and disappear via puffs of red smoke, sometimes with flashes of fire for the hell of it.
- Villainous Breakdown: The Witch has a meltdown somewhat when she notices that Dorothy and the others are escaping from her clutches. She then has a literal meltdown when she gets hit in the face with a bucket of water.
- Weather Saves the Day: Invoked. The Wicked Witch of the West uses a field of poppies to put Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion to sleep. When all seems lost, Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, sends a snowfall to wake them up.
- We Do the Impossible: The Wizard's reputation, entirely undeserved. Arguably, Dorothy gains this reputation through her adventures.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Wicked Witch of the West is brought down by a simple bucket of water.
- Welcoming Song: After the Munchkins have finished singing about how happy they are that Dorothy has killed the Witch, they sing "We Welcome You to Munchkin Land".
- Wham Shot: The "Wizard" getting exposed by Toto and revealed to be a Stage Magician.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite kicking off the events of the plot, Miss Gulch's plan to have Toto put down is never even mentioned again when Dorothy gets back to Kansas. It's possible that the tornado simply gave Miss Gulch more important things to worry about, but this is never stated; another theory is that when we saw Miss Gulch swept up in the tornado (before she became the Wicked Witch), that actually happened and she died in the aftermath.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
- The Scarecrow says he isn't afraid of anything—except a lighted match. (Of course, being made of straw, he's got a good reason to be.)
- In the Haunted Forest, when asked if he's afraid of spooks, the Tin Woodman claims he doesn't believe in them; the Lion is more honest — after the Tin Woodman is lifted aloft and dropped by something invisible.
- Wicked Witch: To be fair, the movie (and the books) are early examples that good witches can exist too; as opposed to Always Chaotic Evil.
- Witch with a Capital "B": Extremely subtle. Auntie Em says she wants to call Miss Gulch something she can't say out loud as a Christian woman — you can guess what that is. Guess what role Dorothy's dream casts her as?
- Writers Cannot Do Math: As pointed out on The Simpsons, the Scarecrow gets the Pythagorean theorem wrong after he gets his brain: "The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side." Correctly, the theorem states that the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides.note Two sides of an isosceles triangle are always equal to one another, so what Scarecrow says is never correct. (Since the joke of the scene is that the Scarecrow hasn't really been given a brain at all, this actually works quite well; he's saying something that he thinks sounds intelligent, but he has no more knowledge of geometry than he did before.)
- You Have No Chance to Survive: The Wicked Witch of the West, when pointing at Death's Hourglass to Dorothy: "Do you see that? That's how much longer you've got to be alive! And it isn't long, my pretty! It isn't long!"
- Your Little Dismissive Diminutive:Wicked Witch of the West: I'll get you, my pretty! And Your Little Dog, Too!!
(near the end) Wicked Witch of the West: ... and her mangy little dog, too.