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Theatre / Wicked

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Oz Citizen: Glinda, why does Wickedness happen?
Glinda: That's a good question, one that many find confusifying. Are people born Wicked? Or do they have Wickedness thrust upon them?

The Musical adaptation of Gregory Maguire's novel, based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film adaptation.

Wicked tells the story of Elphaba, a girl who was born with green skin as the result of an affair between her mother and a traveling stranger with his bottle of green Elixiir. Soon after, her mother died giving birth to her wheelchair-using sister, Nessarose, and Elphaba grows up as The Un-Favourite and full of Survivor Guilt.

Once she and Nessarose attend Shiz University, Elphaba accidentally becomes roommates with the pretty, popular and entirely insufferable Galinda Upland. The two girls instantly fall in loathing, but through a series of misunderstandings involving the rather shallow Fiyero Tigelaar, they come to appreciate each other's perspectives. Slowly but surely, the two girls find common ground and end up becoming best friends.

Things change, however, when Doctor Dillamond, their Talking Animal professor, is suddenly dismissed from his profession. Trying to discover where the nation's sudden bouts of racism stem from, Elphaba and Galinda — now going by Glinda — make the trip to Emerald City, to meet the Wizard. However, thanks to a Love Dodecahedron involving Elphaba, Glinda, Fiyero, Nessarose, and a timid young Munchkin man named Boq, things become a lot more complicated than they had counted on. And as the two girls find themselves sucked into the plot of The Wizard of Oz, it becomes inevitable that one becomes Glinda the Good — and the other, the Wicked Witch of the West.

After going through a long period of Development Hell including multiple dropped release dates, a two-part film adaptation is in the works. Due to the importance of most songs to the narrative, it was decided to not cut anything, with Adaptation Expansion expected with book elements involved. It is set to be directed by Jon M. Chu, with Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, Ariana Grande as Glinda, Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero, Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, and Jeff Goldblum as the Wizard. Wicked: Part One is slated for release on Thanksgiving 2024, with Part Two set for Thanksgiving 2025.

The Musical contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: A small gag in "Popular" to fit a deliberately awkward rhyme:
    Galinda: And with an assist from me,
    To be who you'll be,
    Instead of dreary who-you-were (well, are)!
    There's nothing that can stop you,
    From becoming populer!... lar!
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • Galinda can't remember Boq's name, so she calls him "Bick."
    Boq: Well, maybe, I could invite her!
    Galinda: Oh, Bick, really, you would do that for me?
    Boq: I would do anything for you, Miss Galinda.
    • Also, Elphaba misremembers the name of Dorothy's unclenote  and Glinda calls her dog "Dodo".
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Elphaba is younger and more beautiful than the wicked witch that we're used to. When compared to the original Frank L. Baum books, Nessarose/The Wicked Witch of the East certainly qualifies as well.
  • Adaptational Friendship: In the original novel and movie, the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good are enemies and there is no hint that they were once friends. In this play, despite starting out as rivals, the two are best friends before the war and reconcile before Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) fakes her death at the end of the play.
  • Adaptational Protagonist: This musical adaptation of Gregory Maguire's Wicked elevates G(a)linda to co-protagonist when she was just a supporting character in the novel and the original Oz books. The story is still about Elphaba's journey but her interactions with Glinda matter as much. Glinda even gets her own Character Arc.
  • Adaptational Sympathy: The play provides an example in the form of The Wicked Witch of the West, showing that she spent years struggling as an outcast due to her unnatural skin color, and no matter what she tried, she could never get it quite right. Thus, her descent into villainy occurs after one too many tragedies.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Just like in the novel, the Wizard is a major antagonist, quite different from his portrayal in the original stories, wherein he was a conman who used clever sleight of hand to gain prestige. He is, however, presented in a slightly more sympathetic fashion here than in the novel.
  • Adaptation Distillation: This play takes the basics of the book of Wicked and removes most of the Darker and Edgier stuff to focus on the development of Elphaba and Glinda's bond.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • Nessarose starts school at the same time as Elphaba and Glinda.
    • Elphaba gets The Grimmerie and meets Chistery the first time she meets The Wizard. In the book she finds the monkey on the way to Kiamo KO and the book when she gets there.
  • Adapted Out: Liir (Elphaba's son with Fiyero), Sarima, Nor (and the rest of the family), Nanny, and Yackle (and the rest of the nuns), as well as less important characters like Sir Chuffrey (Glinda's husband) and Shell (Elphaba's brother), were removed in the musical. The play also removes the Unnamed God and Lurline elements of the book, leading to a huge change in Nessarose's characterization.
  • Affably Evil: The Wizard. He never once directly says a single harsh word to either Elphaba or Glinda. Earlier performances of "Wonderful" even have him and Elphaba share a dance before it all goes to hell. All he ever wanted was to give people what they wanted and keep them happy.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Nessarose's father, older sister, and friends address and refer to her as "Nessa".
    • Once G(a)linda and Elphaba become friends, she frequently calls her "Elphie".
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Nessarose loves Boq. Boq loves Glinda. Glinda loves Fiyero, but can tell he's not fully invested in the relationship. Fiyero loves Elphaba but is stuck in a relationship with Glinda. Elphaba loves Fiyero but doesn't think she stands a chance against Glinda. This has some disastrous results, especially for Nessa and Boq.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: Of a popular alternate history prequel novel to one of the most beloved fairy tales in American Literature.
  • Alpha Bitch: Young Galinda, prior to befriending Elphaba. Once they bond, she becomes kinder. There has been a researcher that considered Popular a deconstruction of this trope; the Alpha Bitch is declawed here and becomes less threatening.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The opening song of the musical, "No One Mourns the Wicked," where the citizens of Oz rejoice that the Wicked Witch of the West is finally dead. The entire story that follows is essentially a flashback of what happened prior to that.
  • And I Must Scream: Dillamond's fear regarding the Animals in Oz, and his ultimate fate.
  • Angry Mob Song: "March of the Witch Hunters".
  • Anti-Love Song: "What Is This Feeling" is a cheery tune sung by the two protagonists in which they profess their "unadulterated loathing" for each other.
  • Anti-Villain: G(a)linda. She starts off as a Lovable Alpha Bitch in the first act and becomes the least 'bad' member of the Wizard's regime in the second. Played With the Wizard: he is much more outwardly villainous but still has a softer side. Averted by the irredeemably evil Madam Morrible.
  • Arc Words:
    • Replete with them. "I'm/We're (un)limited" stands out. "You/We deserve each other" is also used quite frequently. "A celebration throughout Oz, that's all to do with Me/You".
    • The words "wicked" and "good" themselves.
      • "Thank Goodness!"
      • "No one mourns the wicked."
  • Ars Goetia: The Grimmerie tie-in book says that the titular Spell Book is called The Lesser Key of Solomon on Earth.
  • Bastard Angst: The reason for Elphaba's terrible home life: her father favors her younger sister because he's pretty sure she isn't his daughter.
  • Beautiful All Along: Elphaba, once she lets her hair down and takes off her glasses.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: During "The Wizard and I", Elphaba mentions "a celebration throughout Oz that's all to do with me" once she meets the Wizard. She ends up getting one. Just not quite in the way she meant.
  • Beta Couple: A very unhappy version with Boq and Nessarose.
  • Betty and Veronica: Fiyero inbetween Elphaba (Betty) and Glinda (Veronica). Boq is with Nessa (Betty) but is in love with Glinda (Veronica), although Nessa and Glinda's roles switch once Nessa goes off the deep end.
  • Big "NO!": Madame Morrible gets one once Glinda announces she is being arrested and gets hauled off to prison.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Elphaba for Nessarose, big time. Glinda, in a fit of rage over losing Fiyero to Elphaba, tells Madame Morrible how to exploit that instinct to lure the green-skinned witch out of hiding: "Use her sister."
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Madame Morrible, at least until the second act, where she just becomes a bitch.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Elphaba is forever remembered as a villain and the Wizard as a hero. However, Madame Morrible and The Wizard are disposed of, leaving Glinda in charge, who is actively working to right the wrongs in Oz and carry on Elphaba's cause. After successfully faking their deaths, Elphaba and Fiyero can live out their days happily, but they can never return to Oz or let the despairing Glinda know her best friends are actually still alive yet.
  • Black-and-White Morality: The Wizard points out that this moral system is the one most people prefer to believe when given the opportunity.
    There are precious few at ease
    With moral ambiguities
    So we act as though they don't exist
  • Body Horror: Aside from the in-universe assumption that Elphaba's green skin gets this reaction from other Ozians, there are a surprising number of moments in the show that can be considered squick-inducing:
    • One of Elphaba's magic outbursts makes her classmates writhe their bodies against their wills, as if in a collective seizure.
    • The Flat-heads from "Wizomania" are bulbous, dead-eyed, armless creatures whose heads unexpectedly pop off of their shoulders like accordions. According to the original Baum story, the 'accordion' is their actual neck skin.
    • The spell from the Grimmerie that gives the monkeys wings does so by ripping the skin out of their backs (hence the bat wings instead of the classic feathered wings), and as Chistery demonstrates, it is a painful process.
    • The monkeys themselves can be freaky to look at, since their costumes look like a skinless muscle system.
    • Based on the design of the costumes, all the Animals seen in the show are creepy human and animal hybrids.
    • To a lesser degree, the big and very loud Oz Head with its exaggerated facial features has disturbed many an audience member.
    • Boq's reaction to his new body is one of horror.
    • The clumsy and mangled Scarecrow is the less graphic result of someone who was tortured and likely painfully mutilated to near-death.
  • Bookends: The celebration of the death of the Wicked Witch of the West opens and closes the show, from new angles and with slightly different moods each time.
  • Brainless Beauty: Both Glinda and Fiyero start out as this, and retain some aspects of it even after a good bit of Character Development.
  • Bread and Circuses: At the beginning of the second act, the population of Oz is in terror of attacks from Elphaba, whom they know as the Wicked Witch. So, what else to do... but have a party to celebrate the engagement of Glinda and Fiyero. "Fellow Ozians, as terrifying as terror is, let us put aside our panic for this one day, and celebrate." In addition to this, the folks of the Emerald City are regularly distracted by productions such as Wiz-O-Mania! and various other things to hide the trickery of the Wizard and his corrupt government. He himself says that he's ruling because the people of Oz need someone to believe in and that he is wonderful because they call him wonderful.
  • Break the Cutie: Elphaba starts off as a wide-eyed, idealistic believer in the plans and abilities of The Wizard. The climax of Act I shows how the revelations of his fraudulent character cause Elphaba to start opposing him.
    • Also for "No Good Deed", in which Elphaba decides to embrace her wickedness after she believes she was unable to save Fiyero.
    • Glinda starts off as a wide-eyed idealist, thinking she's going to be the star of the academy, get the boy, and be loved by all. She proceeds to get humiliated by Morrible for being ordinary, loses both the love of her life and her best friend through a series of horrible encounters and decisions, and while she is loved by all, she is unable to properly mourn, as the entire world sings about how glad they are that her best friend is dead.
  • BSoD Song: "No Good Deed". Eden Espinosa's rendition of Elphaba in particular has Elphaba going off the rails, shouting rather than singing in parts.
  • Burn the Witch!: "March of the Witch Hunters."
  • The Caligula: What Nessarose becomes after she inherits the position of Governess of Munchkinland, by enslaving their entire race out of Mad Love for Boq. It's heavily implied absolutely no one in Munchkinland likes her, if it wasn't obvious enough in the source material that they celebrate after she gets smashed by a house.
  • Call-and-Response Song: Certain segments of "What Is This Feeling?"
  • The Caretaker: Elphaba dutifully plays this role for her disabled sister during much of the first act. In fact, her father only allowed her to come to Shiz University so she could assist Nessarose. Boq later replaces her, if unwillingly.
  • Catfight: Elphaba and Glinda get into one after arguing over Fiyero. When guards come to arrest Elphaba, they break the two apart, and Glinda complains that she almost had her.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • We get a good look at the green bottle the Wizard offers Glinda a drink from, which observant viewers will recognize as the same one the man who seduced Elphaba's mother had.
    • The jewelled shoes which Frex gives to Nessarose as a first-day-of-school gift while he pointedly ignores Elphaba completely. They later become the famous Ruby Slippers after Elphaba casts a spell on them in Act II, which puts her obsession with regaining them from Dorothy in a new light.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Madame Morrible casually mentions at some point that weather spells are her speciality, and later she uses this ability to create a cyclone that brings Dorothy to Oz and kills Nessarose.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Elphaba Thropp is word-for-word called this near the end of the show when it's discovered that while she was born in Oz to an Ozian mother, her biological father is the Wizard, who is from earth, which is why she has great magical powers (her skin color was because of the green elixir her mom drank during the affair).
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Dr. Dillamond seems to believe that the Animals losing their powers of speech is the logical conclusion of the government keeping Animals from speaking out.
  • Climactic Music: Near the end of "Defying Gravity," when the guards come in to take Glinda away, the music starts to swell as Elphaba reveals herself as the actual rebel, then bursts into the final verse of the song as she flies into the air, cementing her transformation into a liberated pariah.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl:
    • Galinda is a toned down version. She did decide to get married to Fiyero on the day she met him and refused to give up on their broken relationship with a 'surprise' engagement.
    • Nessa is a much more alarming version, using the position she inherits from her father to constrain Boq (and incidentally the rest of the Munchkins).
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Wizard's guards try to get Fiyero to give up Elphaba's location by taking him out to a field to be tortured. However, Elphaba tries to save him by casting a spell from the Grimmerie that ultimately turns him into the Scarecrow so it's unclear exactly how much/long Fiyero suffers from this attempt.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Galinda doesn't get why her history teacher keeps mis-pronouncing her name.
    • After Nessarose dies by Morrible dropping Dorothy's house on her, Elphaba holds a major grudge against Dorothy, for obvious reasons. She constantly tries to get her shoes (as in the film). When G(a)linda shows up to confront Elphaba again, she yells "They're just shoes!" This made a bit more sense in the novel; the shoes were actually magical, and carried major emotional baggage to boot.
  • Composite Character:
    • The musical makes it so that Fiyero is also The Scarecrow, and Boq becomes The Tin Man. Boq was actually a character from the original Wizard of Oz book by L. Frank Baum, and all four are distinct characters in Maguire's novel.
    • Fiyero's initial characterisation as an Upper-Class Twit is actually far closer to the novel's characterisation of Avaric, Fiyero's roommate and best friend, than it is of Fiyero himself - who, in Maguire's original, was always quiet and thoughtful (not to mention covered in tribal tattoos). Avaric himself, always a minor character, is relegated in the musical to Fiyero's servant who appears only in his first scene and has barely any lines, not to mention a completely different role and personality from his book counterpart.
    • Since he doesn't become a major character until later books, Elphaba and Nessarose's younger brother Shell gets Adapted Out and their mother's Death by Childbirth occurs at Nessa's birth instead.
  • Costume Porn: Galinda gets the fanciest dresses, but a majority of the costumes overall are highly detailed. Even Elphaba's dress in the second act is highly detailed, to give the appearance of being patchwork.
  • Counterpoint Duet: The latter half of "What Is This Feeling," though there's more than two voices involved. The final chorus of "For Good", although it's the same melody, just sung at different times.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Oz, especially the Emerald City. The whimsical fantasy sets fail to distract from the fact that all talking animals and other segments of the population are being oppressed by a manipulative government. Compare "Something Bad" to "One Short Day".
  • Cross-Cultural Kerfluffle: The German production changed the name of the city Shiz to "Glizz", since it sounds similar to the word "Schiss", which is a form of the German word "Scheiße", meaning "shit". Similarly, Boq became "Moq", since "Bock" is German for "billy goat."
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Elphaba, who never truly does become a villain.
  • Dark Magical Girl: Elphaba.
  • Dark Reprise:
    • "No One Mourns the Wicked" and the finale.
    • "I'm Not That Girl", in which Elphaba mourns that she doesn't have a chance with Fiyero, gets a reprise from Glinda after Fiyero chooses Elphaba, though the reprise is not that much darker since the song wasn't very cheery to begin with.
    • "A Sentimental Man", in which the Wizard talks about what he wants for himself and his subjects, has a dark reprise after he realizes the outcome of his actions.
    • A variant: The "I Hope You're Happy" passage at the beginning of "Defying Gravity" starts darkly, as Elphaba and Glinda are sniping at each other. When they sing it again toward the end of the same song, it becomes a Sad Reprise, as the two friends genuinely wish each other happiness, no matter the roads they take in life.
    • In "Dancing Through Life" and "The Wicked Witch of the East", where Boq sings to Nessa. The first one is him trying to confess that he's only asked her out because he wants to impress Glinda. The reprise is when he tells her that he's leaving her, which makes her so mad she tries to remove his heart.
      Listen, Nessa - Uh, Nessa
      I've got something to confess
      A reason why, well,
      Why I asked you here tonight
      Now, I know it isn't fair...
      And then in "The Wicked Witch of the East"
      Nessa - Uh Nessa
      Surely now I'll matter less to you
      And you won't mind my leaving here tonight
      The ball that's being staged
      Announcing Glinda is engaged...
    • The same songs used in the one above are used for Nessa's last part in the song. In the original bit, Nessa sings about being happy about being able to have a fun night with Boq at the Ozdust party. The second one is her singing about never wanting Boq to leave her and for Elphaba to save him so it won't happen.
    • "March of the Witch Hunters" is an inversion - it's more light (musically) than its original, "March of the Winkies" (straight from the film and its various adaptations), but the lyrics graphically talk about killing.
    • "March of the Witch Hunters" is also an even darker reprise for the already fairly dark "No Good Deed".
      No good deed goes unpunished
      No act of charity goes unresented!
      No good deed goes unpunished
      That's my new creed!
      • The latter is an Angry Mob Song about graphically hunting down and killing Elphaba:
      Wickedness must be punished
      Evil effectively eliminated!
      Wickedness must be punished
      Kill the witch!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Elphaba is this right from the start, and gets even moreso as the story progresses.
  • Death by Childbirth: Elphaba and Nessarose's mother died giving birth to Nessarose, as a result of the milkflowers her husband forced her to chew to prevent Nessa from being born green like Elphaba. This also caused Nessa's inability to walk.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: G(a)linda and Madame Morrible (and, to a lesser extent, most Ozians).
    Oh hallowed halls and vine-draped walls/the proudliest sight there is...
    • During "What is This Feeling"
    Poor Galinda, forced to reside
    With someone so disgusticified
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Something has changed within me, something is not the same."
  • Disney Death: Both Elphaba and Fiyero.
  • Disneyfication: The musical is much more kid friendly than its source novel. You can't have the heroine of a musical (at least, not a Stephen Schwartz one) be a homicidal terrorist — or dying at the end. Gone are the heavy religious, political, moral, and sexual themes of the book.
  • Distant Duet: Elphaba and Glinda's final brief reprise of "For Good" at the end.
  • Doting Parent: Frex to Nessarose and definitely not to Elphaba. It's hinted that Galinda's parents are this to her.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • "I'd be so happy I could melt" from "The Wizard and I". And "When people see me, they will scream..." More poignant: "Someday there'll be a celebration throughout Oz that's all to do... with me!" There is, but it's celebrating her death. Although, on this last one, she does admit that "True, the vision's hazy."
    • Subverted by Fiyero's incredulous, "Did you hear that? Water will melt her? People are so empty-headed they'll believe anything." The audience thinks this is Dramatic Irony and that he's wrong, but at the end it turns out it really is just nonsense; if anything, it's the existence of the rumor that leads to Elphaba using it to fake her death, hence its apparent fulfillment. (Morrible's earlier line "Careful, my dear, you mustn't get wet (in the rain)!" to a lone Elphaba in the rain doesn't help matters.)
    • The show has a lot of this for itself. Watching it a second time can be a very different experience from watching it the first time. Mainly, "As Long As You're Mine", many of Fiyero's lines about being brainless, since he turns into the Scarecrow and every interaction between Elphaba and the Wizard, once it's revealed he's her father.
  • Dropped A House On Her: Nessarose.
  • Dumb Blonde:
    • At first played straight with Glinda, but then downplayed significantly when she turns out to have Hidden Depths.
    • Discussed by Elphaba in "What Is This Feeling." While Galinda gives a lengthy explanation of why she hates Elphaba in her own letter home, Elphaba sums up her loathing for Galinda in one word: Blonde.
  • Dying Alone: Said as much in the opening ("And Goodness knows, the wicked's lives are lonely/ Goodness knows, the wicked die alone...") about Elphaba.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: Discussed. Elphaba offers to share her lunch with her teacher, Dr. Dillamond, ostracized for being a Goat. She eats her sandwich; he eats the paper bag it came in.
  • Eleven O'Clock Number: "No Good Deed" in which an enraged Elphaba finally gives in to public opinion around Oz, after everything that has happened and declares herself the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Emergency Transformation: Turns Boq into the Tin Man, and Fiyero into The Scarecrow.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Implied, more than stated, that the Ozian's thinking that pure water could melt Elphaba gives Fyero the idea to use water to fake her death.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Glinda even lampshades this in Act 2.
  • Evil Laugh: Depending on the production, Elphaba has either always had her distinctive cackle, only develops it after becoming Wicked, or never uses it. In most cases, it comes right after G(a)linda slaps her after Dorothy's arrival in Oz.
  • Exact Words:
    • During the last conversation between Elphaba and Glinda, Elphaba receives news of Fiyero's fate, and tells Glinda that "we've seen his face for the last time". It is subsequently revealed that Fiyero is not dead, but was dramatically transformed by the spell Elphaba used to save him.
    • In the opening of the musical, Glinda sings about how "goodness could subdue / the wicked workings of you-know-who," going on to remark that "good will conquer evil." But note that she never actually names who she's talking about; the Emerald Citizens just assume that she's referring to Elphaba. Glinda is actually telling them about Madame Morrible and the Wizard, who she's just exposed as manipulative crooks and either arrested (Morrible) or forced into exile (the Wizard).
  • Extreme Omni-Goat: When she's trying to cheer up Dr. Dillamond, Elphaba offers to share her lunch with him. She eats the sandwich; he eats the paper it was wrapped in.
  • The Faceless: Dorothy never fully appears onstage. She is only referred to offstage, heard crying when trapped in Elphaba's castle, and finally, in a Shadow Discretion Shot behind a curtain when melting Elphaba.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The persecution of talking Animals.
    • People disliking Elphaba for her green skin.
  • Fake Weakness: Fiyero (and, unwittingly, Morrible) propagates the idea that Elphaba's vulnerable to water in order to fake her death. Elphaba is clever enough to play along.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: The guiding principle for the costumes of the ensemble in the musical production, which eventually won a Tony Award in this department.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • If you're familiar with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at all, many lines stand out.
      "I'd be so happy I could...melt!"
    • At one point in Act II, the Wizard offers Glinda a drink of his elixir. It's the same elixir that he enticed Elphaba's mother with before the two conceived her.
    • Fiyero's introduction song has "Life is painless, for the brainless"—he eventually becomes literally brainless as the Scarecrow.
  • Freudian Excuse: Why does the Wicked Witch of the West stop at nothing to take her sister's ruby slippers back from Dorothy? Because they were a gift from their father, who never loved her and always favoured her sister instead.
  • Friendless Background: Elphaba.
    Dr. Dillamond: Miss Elphaba, don't worry about me, go and join your friends.
    Elphaba: Oh, that's all right, I have no friends.
  • Genghis Gambit: When Elphaba meets the architects of the oppression of the Animals, they explain that they're motivated by a belief that Oz needs something or someone to unite against. When Elphaba tries to go public with the truth, they arrange for Oz to unite against her.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Doubly subverted: When Galinda takes it upon herself to give Elphaba a makeover (in "Popular"), the first thing she does is remove Elphaba's glasses. The second thing she does is put them back on. All the same, Elphaba stops wearing glasses after that song.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Anything Elphaba does to do good.
    • She saves the lion, but he grows up being a coward.
    • She grants her sister Nessa the ability to walk, but Boq dumps her as soon as he realizes that she doesn't need him anymore, and she becomes the Wicked Witch of the East as a result.
    • She saves Boq from dying, but he automatically hates her for giving him his tin form.
      • Granted, part of this is Nessa blatantly throwing Elphaba under the bus, as when she's fleeing the scene, Nessa is screaming that it's all her fault in some crazed attempt to push Boc's loathing off of her and onto Elphaba.
    • She saves Fiyero before the guards end up tourturing him to near death, but he's now at risk of burning up more easily.
  • Gorgeous Garment Generation: Galinda tries to do this for Elphaba with her wand, but nothing happens (this was well before she learned any magic).
    "And now I shall transform your frock into a magnificent ballgown!"
  • Hair Flip: "This is how you toss your hair." (Beat) "Toss-toss!"
    • When Elphaba attempts it with her hip-length waves, it's even funnier. Long hair cannot be flipped easily.
    • Mark Seibert’s Fiyero going for a full body fling and a very high-pitched “TOSS TOSS!” to mock Elphaba’s Galindafication.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: The catfight between Glinda and Elphaba in Munchkinland.
  • Hard Truth Aesop:
    • Galinda tries to teach Elphaba that "it's not about attitude, it's the way you're viewed". Ironically, she has a point; in politics especially, your aptitude isn't worth anything if you can't get things done, and unfortunately, getting things done often means needing to be — guess what? — popular.
    • Whole songs in this musical could be considered this: "Popular" is about how appearances often matter more than intelligence or integrity. "No Good Deed" exemplifies how some people will never find acceptance no matter how hard they try. "Wonderful" describes how ambiguous history really is compared to the way people prefer to remember it.
  • Hate at First Sight: There's a song dedicated to the idea: Elphaba and Galinda get a song that almost sounds, and starts, like a love ballad, except they hate each other.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: In replicated productions, Dorothy, who is only present offstage twice and onstage in silhouette once, and the Cowardly Lion (as an adult), the only part of whom we see is his tail. According to the companion book The Grimmerie, Dorothy and the Lion were originally both in the opening, but were written out when the writers decided that having the two most memorable characters would conflict with the idea of the show.
  • Heel Realization: Galinda gives Elphaba the trademark black hat and invites her to the Ozdust Ballroom with the gang specifically to set her up as a target of ridicule (and to pawn off a horrendous hat on her despised roommate). But when Elphaba arrives and gets ridiculed as expected, Galinda realizes how awful she's been and stops the laughing by going up and dancing with her. They evolve into friends after that.
    • More significantly, Elphaba had just fought for Galinda to be allowed in her coveted sorcery class as an expression of genuine thanks for Galinda's phony "kindness" to her and Nessarose. That seems to initiate the realization, which is then finalized when her original plan comes to fruition and Elphaba is mocked.
  • Heroic BSoD: "All right, enough! So be it!... so be it then." Elphaba loses it after Fiyero dies. In the musical, we have the emotional collapsement failure reflection of a ballad that is "No Good Deed".
  • Heroic Bastard: Elphaba's birth was the result of an affair between the Wizard (her biological father) and her mother - her green skin came from the green elixir the Wizard used to seduce her mother.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: All Elphaba wanted to do was help save the Animals (and these are animals of human-level sentience). But by the end of the musical, she's considered a monster by most Ozians and has come to be known by them as the "Wicked Witch of the West" depicted in The Wizard of Oz.
  • Homosocial Heterosexuality: A rare female version between Elphaba and Glinda. The two are fighting over Fiyero but the situation is much more about their friendship than their love for him.
  • How We Got Here: The musical opens with the citizens of Oz celebrating the Wicked Witch's demise, then jumps back to the start of Elpheba's life to show how she ended up identified as wicked.
  • Hidden Depths: The show has An Aesop that you shouldn't immediately judge another person. A ditzy, popular, girly girl like Glinda might turn out to be a good, loyal friend, not a complete bitch, and a Soapbox Sadie like Elphaba might not be a pretentious hipster, but instead a brave woman who is actually willing to go out and fight for what she believes in. Elphaba and Glinda both eventually realize they judged each other too quickly and become close friends.
  • Hypocritical Humor: there's some irony in "March Of the Witch Hunters" when the Tin Man accuses of Elphaba of making the Lion cowardly because she didn't let him fight his own battles - the Lion is only heard from offstage and the Tin Man has to explain his vendetta to the audience for him.
    Tin Man: Come on! Tell them what she did to you in class that day! (pulls tail) How you were just a cub, and she cub-napped you! (pulls again)
    Lion: (off stage) No!!
  • "I Am Becoming" Song:
    • "Defying Gravity". An I Am What I Am song, as Elphaba finally embraces her true nature as a witch.
    • "No Good Deed" is this as well as a Sanity Slippage Song, and a Villain Song, as it is Elphaba's Villainous Breakdown because she believes Fiyero is dead and that she'll only ever cause harm to anything and everyone she even dares to care about.
  • "I Am" Song: "Popular" and later "I'm Not that Girl" for G(a)linda, "Dancing Through Life" for Fiyero (before his Character Development), and "I'm Not That Girl" for Elphaba before Fiyero gets his Character Development and is Promoted to Love Interest.
  • I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me:
    Elphaba: My wildest dreaming could not forsee
    Lying beside you... with you wanting me...
  • Iconic Attribute Adoption Moment: She slowly acquires each of the pieces of her iconic outfit (pointy black hat, a flying broom, and a long billowing cape) through the course of the musical.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Nessarose decides that if Boq won't give her his heart, he might as well not have a heart to give, and reads a spell from the Grimmerie to do just that. Say "hello" to our Tin Man.
  • "I Hate" Song: In "What is This Feeling?" Elphaba and Galinda passionately declare their loathing for each other, in a manner parodying a love song.
  • Incoming Ham: Galinda's high notes at the end of "Dear Old Shiz", as she is rolled onstage seated atop her piles of luggage, no less.
  • Informed Deformity: Any character seeing Elphaba for the first time tends to recoil in shock at her supposed ugliness, simply because she's green. Even her best friend only calls her beautiful after a gaudy "makeover", and her lover calls her beautiful because he's "looking at things another way". In actual fact, Elphaba is a young and beautiful woman (with none of the uglyness of the Wicked Witch of the West from the movie or the novel the musical adapted from, no crooked nose or warts) who only looks unattractive at the beginning of the musical because she wears her hair in a boring braid, glasses, and conservative clothes (which is clearly not what people find ugly about her).
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Invoked (cynically) by Galinda, in the number "Dancing Through Life." To get Boq out of her hair, she points him in Nessa's direction. He's eager to play the hero and impress Galinda, so he asks her out.
    "See that tragically beautiful girl? The one in the chair? It seems so unfair, we should go on a spree, and not she..."
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "I hope you prove me wrong! I doubt you will!"
    • "Ev'ryone deserves a/the chance to fly!"
    • "You/We deserve each other!" used many times:
      • Used by Galinda in Dancing Through Life as she gives Elphaba her iconic hat, but also when she finds out Elphie's in love with Fiyero, and vice versa.
      • Used by Nessa, in a song cut from the Cast Recording. "Alone and loveless here, with just the girl in the mirror. Just her and me, the Wicked Witch of the East...and we deserve each other."
      • Nessa also uses this in Dancing through Life when she tells her about her feelings for Boq: Elphaba see?/We deserve each other.
    • "I hope you're happy", used first in an argument that separates Elphaba and Galinda for years over their disapproval of each other's actions, and then as they wish each other well in the finale, knowing they will never see each other again.
  • It Has Been an Honor: "For Good" is mostly this in its lyrics.
  • It's Personal: Boq, or the Tin Man, states outright in "March of the Witch Hunters" that he's part of the group hunting the Wicked Witch because he has a score to settle with her.
    Tin Man: And this is more than just a service to the Wizard. I have a personal score to settle with El... with the Witch! It's due to her I'm made of tin / Her spell made this occur / So for once I'm glad I'm heartless / I'll be heartless killing her!
  • "I Want" Song: "The Wizard and I".
  • Jerkass Realization: Galinda has hers towards the end of "Dancing Through Life," when she finds out Elphaba is the reason she'll be taught magic like she always wanted... the same girl she's gone out of her way to antagonize and humiliate. And then Elphaba walks in, looking absurd in the hat Galinda gave her, and starts dancing awkwardly, entirely by herself. It's then that Galinda realizes that Elphaba isn't just some weirdo who exists to be mocked; she's a good person, and she has feelings, just like everyone else. This motivates her to befriend Elphaba and make up for her past behavior.
    Fiyero: [watching Elphaba dance] Well, I'll say this much for her. She doesn't give a twig what anyone else thinks.
    Galinda: Of course she does. She just pretends not to.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Fiyero tries to remain aloof and entirely self-centered and succeeds for a little while, but ultimately when the chips are down he fails. Fiyero is also the first person we see in the musical who doesn’t scream/flinch/run away/etc when he first sees Elphaba. He is utterly unfazed. Already we start seeing that her being green doesn’t matter in the slightest to him. Even his joke about her being green is one of the tamest in the show. He doesn’t call her an artichoke like Glinda does or any other sort of rude name meant to demean her for being green. He just says “Maybe the driver saw green and thought it meant go”. Even if he doesn’t see anything WRONG with her being green, being green is still unusual. We INTERPRET that moment as a joke because that’s the expectation, but all we all know his intent is simply “Averic was surprised, give the guy a break”. After that point he doesn’t mention her being green again.
    • Glinda comes across as an airheaded bitch at first, but she gradually becomes a better person, and eventually drops the "Jerk" aspect entirely.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Elphaba's personal Villain Song, called No Good Deed plays this very straight before it becomes subverted.
    Let all Oz be agreed
    I'm Wicked through and through
    Since I can not succeed
    Fiyero, saving you
    I promise no good deed
    Will I attempt to do again
    Ever again
    No good deed
    Will I do again!
    • The argument can also be made for the Wizard. After being portrayed as misguided but with ultimately noble intentions for bulk of the second act, his moment comes after Elphaba is "melted", or so everyone thinks, presumably on either his orders or orders he allowed Madame Morrible to make.
    • Nessarose goes from sweet, doting girl concerned about her sister to the Wicked Witch of the East who is responsible for turning Boq into the Tin Man out of murderous jealousy and heartbreak.
    • Boq goes from an adorable, if slightly confused and naive, young Munchkin to the Tin Man, who's murderously vengeful and borderline psychotic.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: The moment the Wizard feels remorse for helping to (allegedly) kill his daughter Elphaba, Glinda uses this to push him out of office and overtake Oz, as well as send Madame Morrible to jail.
  • Large Ham: Every Glinda seems to be required to try and top the previous actress in zaniness. Kristin Chenoweth was goofy, but relatively downplayed compared to, say, Natalie Daradich's or Alli Mauzey's. Kendra Kessenbaum turns "Popular" into borderline acrobatics at some points.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In "March of the Witch Hunters," Boq, or the Tin Man, starts to refer to Elphaba by name, but then thinks better of it, possibly because it gives away that he knew her from before and possibly because he no longer considers her the girl he knew when he was in school.
    Tin Man: And this is more than just a service to the Wizard. I have a personal score to settle with Elph... with the Witch!
  • Laughing Mad: Depending on the actress playing her (as well as the one playing Glinda), Elphaba can have shades of this when she cackles after Glinda slaps her. Bonus points if it's the exact same cackle from the film.
  • Lighter and Softer: While it would be hard to get away with putting many of the book's events in a Broadway musical, these events are also important enough that omitting them would cause Adaptation Induced Plothole. The musical, rather than being an actual direct adaption of the book, takes the basic general premise and characters of the book and completely reworks the plot. This has the unfortunate consequence of making adults think the book is for kids, too.
  • Liminal Being: Elphaba herself links earth and sky. At first, she simply doesn't fit in anywhere. After she unlocks the ability to fly and comes into her own, her Act II dress brims with fossil-and-geode patterns (see Susan Hilferty's notes in The Grimmerie). And late in the play, we learn that she is literally the child of two worlds, which accounts for her uncanny power.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Most of the Animals in Oz interact with the human Ozians in a fairly normal way. That is, until the plot progresses and the Animals are rounded up and lose the ability to speak due to Fantastic Racism and Malicious Slander.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: G(a)linda, after a dose of character development.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Nessarose loves Boq who loves Glinda who loves Fiyero who loves Elphaba who loves him back. To put it in perspective: The Wicked Witch of the East loves the Tin Man who loves Glinda the Good who loves the Scarecrow who loves (and eventually runs off with) the Wicked Witch of the West. Made ever so slightly more complicated by the fact that Elphaba and Fiyero both also platonically care about Glinda, and Elphaba and Nessarose are sisters.
  • Love Triangle: Elphaba/Fiyero/Glinda and Glinda/Boq/Nessarose.
  • Love Makes You Crazy/Love Makes You Evil: Nessarose.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Somewhat inverted, only the father ever finds out (but he gets a good shock at the news).
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "What is This Feeling?" is a happy, bouncy, upbeat song all about how much Galinda and Elphaba hate each other.
      Loathing! Unadulterated loathing!
      For your face; your voice; your clothing!
    • The reprise of "No One Mourns the Wicked", whose lyrics once again emphasize how happy Oz is about Elphaba's death, has a slow and sad melody because the audience isn't meant to be happy about it, and we can see how sad Glinda is.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: You can't reverse one of the Grimmerie's spells once it's cast, you'll have to use a different spell that MIGHT get what you're initialy after.
  • Magical Gesture: Madame Morrible's weather magic appears to operate via these.
  • Magical Incantation: The spells of the Grimmerie.
  • Magic Misfire: Nearly every spell from the Grimmerie. This is mostly because the Grimmerie tells you what the results of the spell is, but you don't know how it achieves it until you cast it.
    • When Nessa tries to cast a love spell, or something like it, on the object of her affections... But unfortunately, she absolutely mangles the pronunciation. It certainly changed his heart alright, and almost killed him!
    • Elphaba does this in No Good Deed when casting an invulnerability spell on Fiyero, messing up the last part of the incantation and transforming him into The Scarecrow. The spell did exactly what she asked, but not quite the way she meant...
      Let his flesh not be torn, let his blood leave no stain
      Though they beat him, let him feel no pain
      Let his bones never break, and however they try to destroy him
      Let him never die, let him never die!
    • Also, when she casts the Levitation spell on Chistery, it grants him wings, but in an extremely painful manner.
    • Turning Boq into the Tinman is a borderline case. She had no intention of turning him into a man made of tin, but her only real concern was making sure he could live without his heart before he died from it, so from that point of view, she succeeded.
    • Averted with the spells on both the Ruby Slippers and the flying broom, which work perfectly, arguably better than perfectly with the Ruby Slippers. Apparently it works better on inanimate objects.
  • The Makeover: Glinda tries to give Elphaba one in "Popular", with mixed results.
  • Malicious Slander: Both Elphaba and the Animals becomes victim to this thanks to the Wizard's Propaganda Machine.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Glinda, in her schoolgirl days; Elphaba describes it in detail with "I'm Not That Girl." Gets deconstructed a bit in Act Two, as Glinda starts to realize there's more to life than sparkles.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child!: In the musical. Elphaba's Mother dies giving birth to Nessarose. Her Father blames Elphaba, because if she hadn't been green, he wouldn't have had his wife consume a ton of stuff he superstitiously thought would make Nessarose white, but in reality it caused childbirth complications that left Nessa disabled as well as killing the mother.
  • Meaningful Echo: "It's not lying, it's looking at things... another way."
  • Meaningful Name: Blur the pronunciation a bit, and there's not much difference between "Madame Morrible" and "Madame Horrible".
    • The German translation gives her the name "Madame Akaber" which sounds like "Madame Makaber", where 'makaber' is German for 'macabre' which means ghoulish or ghastly.
  • Melancholy Musical Number: After almost killing Boq, Nessarose sings about how she deserves to be alone with nobody but herself and her reflection, which she refers to as "The Wicked Witch of the East".
  • Melismatic Vocals: "Defying Gravity" features melisma on words like "fly" and "down" (the latter providing the famous riff at the end of the song).
  • Midword Rhyme:
    • In "A Sentimental Man":
      And helping you with your ascent al-
      -lows me to feel so parental
    • Frequently in "Defying Gravity":
      It's time to try
      ing gravity.
      • Unfortunately, with the rhyming of things with "defy" also comes the ungrammatical "with you and I defy-ing gravity," giving a generation of theater nerds the wrong idea about the difference between "I" and "me".
    • And the mid-sentence rhyme:
      Can't I make you understand? You're
      having delusions of grandeur.
    • In "Popular":
      Don't be offended by my frank analysis
      Think of it as personality dialysis
      Now that I've chosen to become a pal a sis-
      ter and adviser, there's nobody wiser
    • "Thank Goodness"
    Then with a jealous squeal
    The Wicked Witch burst from conceal-
    -ment where she had been lurking surreptitially
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The beginning of Act II. The people are singing about the terror spread by the Wicked Witch, and then Glinda distracts them with news of her (very public) engagement. It's a stellar propaganda job. Still, conversation keeps turning back to the Witch and Glinda is starting to have her own doubts, which creep into the song.
    • The entire post-cyclone scene constantly bounds between hilarious and heartbreaking.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: Elphaba (who later becomes the Wicked Witch) is a Well-Intentioned Extremist and Tragic Hero who is trying to destroy the Wizard's apartheid regime; the Wizard himself is a sad and lonely old man and Windmill Political who desperately wants to be loved and uses Oz's talking animal population as an "other" to unite the Ozians against an enemy and in adoration of him; while Glinda is a Stepford Smiler and Attention Whore who becomes the Wizard's propaganda tool, which she rationalises as giving people hope and someone to look up to. All of them are fairly sympathetic and none of them are evil, but they all make bad choices and all have their regrets.
  • Morphic Resonance: The Tin Man's body is a metal version of Boq's livery uniform, right down to the (ironic) heart insignias on his sides. He retains his coiffed hair and his skull cap, which functions as the Tin Man's spout. Likewise, the Scarecrow's body is a distressed version of Fiyero's Captain of the Guard uniform.
  • The Musical Musical: When Glinda and Elphaba visit the Emerald City in "One Short Day", they go to watch (and somewhat participate in) Wizomania.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Not within the show itself, but several to The Wizard of Oz.
      Nessa: What's in the punch?
      Boq: Lemons and melons and pears—
      Nessa: Oh my!
    • Another notable: Elphaba pays Nessa a visit.
      Nessa: What are you doing here?
      Elphaba: Well, there's no place like home.
    • Stephen Schwartz has stated that the whole joy of the show is these nods that allow us to see how the Oz we know and love came to be. Hence in Act 1, Elphaba gradually acquires her famous witch's outfit; and in Act 2, we learn the origin of the cyclone, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.
    • The first seven notes of the repeated "Unlimited" motif are the same (though their rhythm is very different) as those of "Over the Rainbow".
    • The Flat Heads at the Wizomania show are identical to the Hammerheads in Baum's original book, though here they appear to be caricatures of the Wizard himself.
    • Another nod to the original Baum novels: during "One Short Day", at one point, a street peddler gives Elphaba and Glinda glasses with green tinted lenses, which they wear briefly during the remainder of the number. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Wizard made everyone in the Emerald City (which wasn't actually all that green) wear green-tinted glasses so that everything would appear to be green.
    • In Act 2, when the Wizard agrees to free the winged monkeys from his servitude, Elphaba gleefully shouts, "Fly, fly!"
    • The absolutely idiotic idea that Elphaba would melt if splashed with water. They invoke this rumour a few times. Good thing, too.
    • Nessarose's jewled shoes, which start out silver (as they are in Baum's book) and turn bright red after Elphaba casts her spell on them.
    • Glinda once asks someone else to "excuse (her and Fiyero) for just a tick-tock"; Tik-Tok is a clockwork character who first appeared in Ozma of Oz (and makes an appearance in Return to Oz).
    • The Wizard at one point tells Elphaba, "Where I came from we believe all sorts of things that aren't true... we call it history." The Wizard made similar comments to the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion in the MGM movie.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Elphaba and Nessa are nameless in Baum's book and the MGM movie. They got their names in Maguire's book, which the musical adapted. Fiyero could count too, as the Scarecrow had no name in the original book and movie. And since the source novel doesn't actually portray Fiyero and the Scarecrow as the same person, the Scarecrow isn't named in the book either, only in the musical.
  • Never Say "Die": When Elphaba tells Glinda the story of Nessarose's birth, she can't bring herself to say that their mother died, just that she "never woke up."
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: This is an ongoing feature of Elphaba's life story. So much so that the Villain Song accompanying her Heroic BSoD is called "No Good Deed."
    One question haunts and hurts -
    too much, too much to mention.
    Was I really seeking good?
    Or just seeking attention?
    Is that all good deeds are
    when looked at with an ice-cold eye?
    If that's all good deeds are,
    maybe that's the reason why -
    no good deed goes unpunished!
  • No Sense of Direction: By her own admission, Glinda.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: The Wicked Witch of the West was pretty damn misunderstood. The Wicked Witch of the East, on the other hand, was not pretty damn misunderstood.
  • Once More, with Clarity: An interesting example where the scene is already clearly important the first time the audience sees it, but becomes even more significant the second time. At the very beginning of the musical, Elphaba's mom cheats on her husband Frex, dancing with her lover as he encourages her to drink a "green elixir". This explains why Elphaba was subsequently born with green skin, and why Frex hates her (especially because he suspects she's not really his daughter). At the very end of the play, we briefly see this moment again of the two of them dancing together after the Wizard sees the bottle of green elixir that Elphaba left behind when she "melted", revealing that he was her mother's paramour as he remembers his affair with her and realizes that Elphaba was his daughter.
  • Pair the Spares: Galinda attempts to do this, with disastrous results.
  • Parental Favoritism: Nessarose is clearly preferred over Elphaba by their father.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Madame Morrible is fond of these.
    • The companion book The Grimmerie includes a list of every Perfectly Cromulent Word used in the play, complete with definitions and obviously wrong origin words (such as "clandestinedly" coming from "clan" and "destiny").
  • Politically Motivated Teacher: Doctor Dillamond is extremely passionate about his beliefs about the prejudice against talking animals in the school system and his fears about what is happening to them, fears which turn out to be correct.
  • Prejudice Aesop: The show is mainly about the discrimination Elphaba suffers for her green skin and how stupid and wrong that is. The show takes the moral about how unjust racial discrimination is by including a whole plotline about how Talking Animals are imprisoned, silenced, and mistreated, eventually including the likes of beloved characters like the Cowardly Lion.
  • Primp of Contempt: At the beginning of the song "What Is This Feeling", where Elphaba and Glinda express their irritation for one another, Glinda pulls out her mirror compact mid-song and checks her hair, which Elphaba mocks in an exaggerated fashion.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Subverted. Elphaba just becomes a Hero with Bad Publicity.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Fiyero for Glinda, Boq for Nessarose. Jarring considering in the books none of these characters seemed to even speak to each other that often if at all.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Some fans are of the opinion that a direct translation of the book to the stage wouldn't have done nearly as well as the Lighter and Softer version.
    • Nessarose's disability is changed from lacking arms to being paralyzed and wheelchair bound. This is easier to portray on stage with able-bodied actresses, and it also makes one particular scene (involving the silver slippers, enchanted so that Nessarose can walk) a great deal more dramatic.
    • The Wicked Witch of the West's portrayal as a well-meaning but ineffective rebel against the speciesist policies of the Wizard who is her illegitimate father stands in stark contrast to the version in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, who was unrepentantly evil and outright conquered "The West" years before Dorothy's arrival. Also, she didn't have green skin; that was made up for the movie and carried over to Maguire's novel on which the musical based on.
  • Propaganda Machine: First used by the Wizard and his mooks against the animals of Oz to convince the human citizens that the animals were causing trouble and were better kept caged up, where they would lose the ability to speak. Later used by both the Wizard and Madame Morrible in a smear campaign against Elphaba.
  • Prophecy Twist:
    • In-story, anyway. Elphaba sees that everyone in Oz will have a celebration "that's all to do...with me!" Everyone celebrates that the Wicked Witch is dead.
    • From the same song, "I'd be so happy, I could melt!" and "When people see me, they will scream for half of Oz's favorite team! The the Wizard and I!".
    • Fiyero's "Maybe I'm brainless, maybe I'm wise" in As Long As You're Mine as well.
    • "Life's more painless/For the brainless."
  • Pseudo-Romantic Friendship: While Fiyero is the official Love Interest, Glinda and Elphaba's friendship is the central love story of the show. While they clash at first, they eventually become best friends in record time, and when Elphaba offers Glinda a chance to go with her and fight the Wizard together, Glinda is seriously tempted before realizing she's not cut out for that sort of life. While they're forced apart for years and clash when they meet again, it's clear their love for each other never truly died, and in the end, Glinda picks up where Elphaba left off, instilling true social change in Oz in honor of her best friend's memory.
    Glinda and Elphaba: [holding hands with a Held Gaze] I hope you're happy in the end! I hope you're happy, my... friend. [they embrace]
  • Puppet King: It's heavily implied that the Wizard is to Madame Morrible who acts as The Man Behind the Man (well woman in this case).
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Nessarose, for Boq. Resulting in an If I Can't Have You… that ends... well... strangely.
  • Race Lift: Fiyero. He's described in the book as having dark skin, ochre colored skin, and said by another character "skin the color of shit." He's usually played by a white male in the musical, although there have been a few exceptions.
  • Renamed the Same: Galinda changes her name to Glinda.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Quite a bit. One of the musical's many strengths is that watching it a second time makes numerous different moments, lines, and interactions land quite differently than they did the first time. Probably the most notable examples are:
    • Pretty much all of Glinda's behavior in the opening scene after the rest of the story proceeds to show how close she and Elphaba actually became. When we return to this scene at the end, it's much more bittersweet, and made quite clear that Glinda is a Stepford Smiler who can only mourn her best friend's death in private.
    • Knowing that Elphaba and Fiyero actually fake their deaths and survive the musical; the latter becomes the Scarecrow by the end; and the Wizard is Elphaba's biological father.
  • Rich Bitch:
    • Galinda, prior to Character Development.
    • Nessarose, but only after Elphaba is declared the Wicked Witch. She has all of Munchkinland in bondage.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin:
    • An in-universe example with the "Congratulotions!" banner made by the Ozians to celebrate Glinda's engagement to Fiyero.
    • There is a backdrop that appears to label a clock face as "sideral time"; perhaps this is meant to be sidereal time. There's also the loose interpretation of grammatical case throughout the show...
  • Safety in Indifference: Fiyero uses a more positive version of this trope, cultivating his image as a Brainless Beauty as a way of avoiding commitment.
    Fiyero: "...Life is painless, for the brainless..." Dancing Through Life
  • Sarcastic Well Wishing: At the beginning of "Defying Gravity", Elphaba and Glinda are furious at each other, and this exchange goes down:
    Glinda: I hope you're happy! I hope you're happy how you hurt your cause forever. I hope you think you're clever!
    Elphaba: I hope you're happy! I hope you're happy, too! I hope you're proud how you would grovel in submission, to feed your own ambition.
    Both: So though I can't imagine how, I hope you're happy right now.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Subverted with Fiyero. He does play an active role in the plot, but it's mainly how he affects the two main characters of Elphaba and Glinda. Similarly, he actually does get Character Development and an arc as he outgrows his shallow prince persona and falls for Elphaba over Glinda. He also seems to have no bearing on what later becomes the wizard of Oz until it's clear he's the Scarecrow, which is a deviation from the novels.
  • Say My Name: Leading into the song, "No Good Deed," as Fiyero is dragged off to be tortured, Glinda and then Elphaba cries, "FIYEROOOOOOO!" And then, of course, there’s the big "FIYEROOOOOOO!!!" riff in the song proper as well.
    • In some productions, Glinda's cry for Fiyero fades perfectly in time with Elphaba's opening riff.
  • The Scapegoat: The Animals in Oz. Dr. Dillamond (who is a Goat) even points this out to Elphaba.
  • School Forced Us Together: The bookish Elphaba was supposed to have her disabled sister, Nessarose, as her college roommate so that she could take care of her. She was placed with preppy blonde G(a)linda instead. They start off hating each other, but gradually become friends.
  • Self-Empowerment Anthem: "Defying Gravity" has Elphaba loudly declare that she's embracing her power and is no longer bound to the whims of a corrupt society.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The stage is framed by a massive clockwork set, topped by a red-eyed animatronic dragon head that occasionally comes to life and writhes back and forth during important/dramatic moments. The popular theory is that this represents the Time Dragon Clock from the book.
    • In Act II, when Glinda has become the Wizard's propaganda mouthpiece, she's wearing a powder-blue business suit and speaking into a old-fashioned microphone, making her look very much like Eva Perón.
  • Show Stopper: "Defying Gravity" is the climactic finale of Act One, with some intense belting and the grand effect of Elphaba rising above the stage.
  • Show Within a Show: The "Wizomania" musical in the Emerald City.
  • Single-Palette Town: The Emerald City, carried over from The Wizard of Oz. "It's all grand / And it's all green!" Stealth subversion? In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it's revealed that the Emerald City is actually built of all white stone and people wear green shades so it all looks green. Guess what the Emerald City residents are wearing on stage.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Not nearly as cynical as the book.
  • Small Start, Big Finish: "Defying Gravity", Elphaba's "I Am Becoming" Song. She starts out a little small and hesitant but aware that she's undergoing something monumental, and becomes more sure of this throughout the song as she embraces her witch side. By the end she's belting about her newfound destiny and the orchestration backs her up.
  • Smurfing: The citizens of Oz sure do love to use the word 'Oz' in every aspect of their language — from exclamations like "Sweet Oz!", "Thank Oz!" and "What in Oz's name?", to using adjectives such as 'Ozmopolitan'. The Wizard's guards respond to his commands with "Yes, Your Ozness!"
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Elphaba and Fiyero only fake their deaths in the musical—they actually die in the novel.
    • Played with in regards to Madame Morrible; she doesn't die like she does in the novel, but she does get Laser-Guided Karma inflicted upon her by Glinda, who sends her to prison for all her misdeeds.
    • Dr. Dillamond also lives, but is driven to insanity from the Wizard's experiments.
  • Spoiled Brat: Galinda at the start, before Character Development. Nessarose, due to the Doting Parent Parental Favoritism of her father, straddles the line between this and Spoiled Sweet before firmly turning into a brat.
  • Start of Darkness: For both of the Wicked Witches.
  • Steampunk: The set design, with its rusty gears and cast-iron trusses.
    • Taken up to eleven in the Danish production, which vastly revamped the sets, and even the costumes, to contain even more steampunk elements than there already were.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion:
    • The opening song, "No One Mourns the Wicked," has this:
    Midwife and Father: I see a nose / I see a curl / It's a healthy, perfect, lovely, little...
    Father: (seeing that Elphaba is green) Sweet Oz!
    Mother: What is it? What's wrong?
    • Also, earlier in the song... (note that "for you and I" is not correct phrasing note , so either Glinda's being cut off from making a mistake or she's being stopped from saying something that doesn't rhyme)
    Glinda: Let us be glad, let us be grateful / Let us rejoicify that goodness could subdue / The wicked workings of you-know-who / Isn't it nice to know? / That good will conquer evil? / The truth we all believe'll by and by / Outlive a lie / For you and...
    Someone In Crowd: Glinda! Exactly how dead is she?
    Glinda: Because there has been so much rumour and speculation, innuendo, out-uendo, let me set the record straight: According to the Time Dragon Clock, The Melting occurred at the thirteenth hour, the direct result of a bucket of water thrown by a female child. Yes. The Wicked Witch of the West is dead.
  • Suit Up of Destiny: Elphaba gradually accumulates the elements of her Iconic Outfit over the course of the first act, with them all finally coming together just in time for the Act One finale, "Defying Gravity", when she foresakes her old life and commits to the course that will make her (in)famous.
  • Take That!: Some of the lyrics in "Popular" are: "When I see depressing creatures with unprepossessing features/I remind them on their own behalf/to think of celebrated heads of state or specially great communicators/Did they have brains or knowledge? Don't make me laugh!" Ronald Reagan was known as The Great Communicator.
  • Take Up My Sword: Elphaba passes the Grimmerie on to Glinda, and begs her to do what she couldn't do: change the world for the better. And she does.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: "What is This Feeling?" has Galinda and Elphaba first identify and then sing about the fact they loathe each other. Then, later comes the song "Thank Goodness" in which Galinda, now Glinda, sings about how happy she is, though as the song progresses, her words sound more and more hollow.
    Glinda: So I couldn't be happier / Because happy is what happens / When all your dreams come true / Well, isn't it?
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Elphaba declares this during "No Good Deed".
  • The Power of Legacy: Inverted. Elphaba implores Glinda not to clear her name and instead let Oz remember her as the Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda acquiesces.
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: Elphaba's father undisguisedly loathes her with a passion and dotes on her younger sister Nessa merely because Elphaba is green. The moment she's born he screams "TAKE IT AWAY!" at the Midwife before angrily storming off. Although, he isn't Elphaba's real father anyway.
  • The Three Faces of Adam: The major male characters are Fiyero (The Lord), Boq (The Hunter), and the Wizard (The Prophet).
  • Title Drop: Often at the beginning and end of the first act, and even more so in the second act. Could also be considered a Title Theme Tune with "No One Mourns the Wicked."
  • Token Minority: The Goat professor Doctor Dillamond is clearly this in-universe; it's even Lampshaded by him when he tells his class he's the "only Animal on the (Shiz University) faculty...the "Token Goat" as it were."
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Elphaba and Glinda.
  • Too Important to Walk: The Winkie Prince Fiyero makes his first entrance carted onto the stage in a rickshaw pulled by Averic (or in the Broadway version, the Saw-Horse).
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Nessarose goes from shy girl who appreciates her sister to selfish dictator of Munchkinland.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: During "March of the Witch Hunters".
  • Torch Song: "I'm Not That Girl" is sung twice, once when Elphaba has a Love Realization with Fiyero in Act One, and then Glinda reprises it in Act Two when Fiyero leaves to be with Elphaba.
  • Transformation Trauma:
    • Boq (in the musical) becoming the Tin Man. The way it's played once he realizes what he's been turned into is not too far from how Elizabeth reacts to awakening as a monster in the 1994 version of Frankenstein, minus the suicide.
    • Chistery and the other monkeys growing wings looked pretty painful as well.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "What is This Feeling?" has one in the middle of the final chorus.
  • Unanthropomorphic Transformation: A major threat in the show is the Fantastic Racism against Animals and the efforts to remove their anthropomorphic traits, particularly their ability to talk. Most heartbreaking to Elphaba, this happens to her goat mentor Dr. Dillamond, who she finds hidden in the Wizard's room terrified and walking on all fours, unable to say anything except "Baaaaa."
  • Unexpected Kindness: A tragic version. Nessarose is on cloud nine when Boq, who has previously never shown interest in her, asks her to be his date to a party, since she is wheelchair-bound and never expected to get noticed at all. However, Boq has never really loved her and only asks her out to impress his real crush Galinda, and he comes to regret it as Nessarose becomes a very Clingy Jealous Girl.
  • The Un-Favourite: The only reason Elphaba was brought to Shiz in the musical was so that she can care for Nessarose.
  • Unnecessary Makeover: In-Universe, after Fiyero sees Elphaba's been "Galinda-fied." His comments imply he thought she was just fine the way she was.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: While she never truly does become an outright villain, the musical follows Elphaba's beginnings as a friendly, sensitive girl, and how she came to be known as the notorious Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Villain Song: "Wonderful" for The Wizard, and "No Good Deed" for Elphaba. Not on the soundtrack "The Wicked Witch of the East" for Nessarose. As detailed on the trope page, none of them are straight examples.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Elphaba's breaking point in "No Good Deed", thinking that her attempt to save Fiyero was in vain.
    • The Wizard gets a very quiet, understated version—combined with Villainous BSoD—when he discovers from Glinda that Elphaba—whom he vilified and rallied Oz against, apparently resulting in her death—was his daughter (and thus, the family he had always wanted) all along. He's clearly heartbroken by this realization, and when Glinda tells him to leave Oz, he does so without protesting it.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Wizard is adored by the citizens of Oz despite his role in the oppression of the perfectly innocent Animals and the lies he spread about himself and Elphaba.
  • We Can Rule Together:
    • "Wonderful" has the Wizard try to enlist Elphaba to work with him, even quoting her "I Want" Song. It almost succeeds, as they dance together until she discovers the captured, forcibly-silence Dillamond and refuses to go along with the Wizard's plans.
    • Elphaba offers Glinda a much less sinister version of this in the middle of "Defying Gravity" by asking her to come fly off with her. Glinda respectfully declines, not wanting to take the risk.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Subverted. Although the Wizard claims to be this,it becomes clear that he is actually manipulating the citizens to stay in power by giving them a "really good enemy" to elevate himself.
  • Wham Line: Two of them, after the Scarecrow comes onstage following Elphaba's "death".
    Scarecrow (knocking on the floor where Elphaba melted): It worked!
    (He opens a hidden trap door, and out pops Elphaba)
    Elphaba: Fiyero? Oh Fiyero! I thought you'd never get here!
  • Wham Shot: At the end, Glinda shows the Wizard and Madame Morrible the bottle of green elixir that Elphaba left behind when she was seemingly killed. When it dawns on the Wizard what this is, the audience sees a brief repeat of the moment from the very beginning of the musical where Elphaba's mother dances with her paramour ("Have another drink, my dark-eyed beauty"), revealing that said lover was the Wizard himself, and is Elphaba's real father.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A major plot point is that Animals are forced to stop speaking. At the end it is never mentioned if this Fantastic Racism has been wiped out or not. It doesn't look too good considering the cowardly Lion is the only Animal to speak in the movie.
    • However, the good part of the Bittersweet Ending is that Glinda is now in power and will most likely help the Animals regain their rights.
    • Elphaba helps Doctor Dillamond escape in Act 2, followed by Fiyero and the guards entering. The scene continues and by the end of the show we never find out what became of Dillamond.
  • What the Hell, Hero??
    • At the start of "Defying Gravity," Elphaba and Glinda call out on their own respective ambitions but ultimately try to come to an understanding.
    • Glinda briefly calls out on Elphaba, who's gone mad trying to get back her late sister's shoes, for subjecting Dorothy and Toto to her wrath.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The whole musical is a flashback, from Glinda's perspective, to her and Elphaba's relationship. The first and last scenes, however, take place after the events of the original story.
  • Wicked Witch: No straight examples; there's at least one very wicked witch — perhaps more, depending how one judges Glinda's and Nessarose's actions — none of whom have any of the stereotypical trappings, and Elphaba of course has all the trappings without being wicked. As part of this, it's made clear that none of the trappings actually signify wicked witchiness in-story: the black dress and cloak are just a dress and a cloak, the worst anyone has to say about the pointy hat is that it's an unfashionable style and color, and the only reason she has a flying broom is that she needed something to levitate in a hurry and the broom happened to be the only thing that was lying around.
  • Wizarding School: To some extent, Shiz University-although sorcery is only one of the many subjects Shiz University students can pursue.
  • Written by the Winners: The Wizard all but quotes this trope directly in "Wonderful", instead he says "Where I'm from we believe all sorts of things that aren't true... we call it history."
    A man's called a traitor
    Or liberator
    A rich man's a thief or philanthropist
    Is one a crusader
    Or ruthless invader?
    It's all in which label
    Is able to persist


Video Example(s):


Olive Shows Off

Olive is played by renowned stage actress Kristin Chenoweth, so "Pushing Daisies" gave her a solo number.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheCastShowoff

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