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YMMV / The Wicked Years

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For the musical, see here.


  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: To this day, Gregory Maguire's message board is filled with people trying to understand just what the hell was up with the philosophy club scene.
  • Designated Hero: Elphaba is considered important by pretty much everyone she meets and everyone who hears of her, yet accomplishes nothing of note the entire book. Promising student turned dropout; domestic terrorist who doesn't get her target; nun being a nurse; and recluse living in a castle in a remote village. When the Wizard stations an army detachment to watch her and brings a hostage to "protect himself from her", the main thing that comes to mind is "Why would he even know who she is?"
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  • Die for Our Ship: Besides the hate she gets for her actual horrifying actions, Candle also is a target of Liir/Trism fans for shipping reasons.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: At one point in the book, Elphaba walks onto the water and it freezes beneath her feet so that she doesn't fall in and melt. That should remind you that Idina Menzel was the first Elphaba in the Broadway musical adaption, and that Queen Elsa can do the same thing.
  • Narm:
    • It's difficult not to roll your eyes at the name of Elphaba's mother when you realize that melena is the medical term for bloody feces.
    • All the sex and some of the darker material can also come off this way, considering how many people view the Wizard of Oz film and books that inspired it.
  • Older Than They Think: Gregory Maguire is sometimes erroneously credited with inventing some of the characters and plot points in the novels who were actually drawn from L. Frank Baum's books (but didn't make it into the famous movie). Among other things: Boq, Mombi, Tip, and the Tiktok robots are all from earlier works. There's also the idea that the Wicked Witch of the East was responsible for the Tin Woodman losing his body parts and getting tin replacements; it might seem like an example of Adaptation Origin Connection, but it was a plot point in the very first Oz book.
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  • Replacement Scrappy: Liir gets a lot of flak for not being as compelling a character as Elphaba.
  • Schizo Continuity: Maguire's novel is set in an Oz that mixes and matches elements from Baum's books and the MGM movie. While it's mostly its own thing, most recognizable elements are either taken from the books or a twisted, distorted version of elements from the books... but when it comes to Elphaba herself, she's clearly based on the green-skinned movie version of the Wicked Witch of the West, rather than the one-eyed crone of the book. The first chapter of the first book mentions her losing sight in one eye, but then it never comes up again.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Those who like Liir are almost guaranteed not to like his ex-girlfriend Candle, partly because they think she gets in the way of his relationship with Trism and partly because she raped him while he was unconscious and dumped him with the baby conceived from said rape.
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    • Toto is an in-universe one. For some reason, everyone except Dorothy hates the dog and will go on long rants on how much he sucks the moment he is mentioned.
  • Stoic Woobie: Elphaba. Due to water reacting to her skin like acid, she can't even allow herself to cry. This is especially notable during the Doctor Dillamond situation — all the other girls are beside themselves with grief, while Elphaba remains steely-eyed and in shock.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • The Nome King is mentioned very briefly in the first book as legend. Many were hoping he we would actually appear in person somewhere down the line. He never does.
    • The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman are very underused compared to the Cowardly Lion, despite being two of the most popular Oz characters. Their book roles as Ruler of the Emerald City and Emperor of the Winkies offered plenty of interesting possibilities as to how they could shape Oz, but the Scarecrow vanishes completely from the story replaced by an imposter and the Tin Woodman is only mentioned as having become a labor agitator of all things. Neither one get to reunite with Dorothy in the last book either.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: A serious risk with reading this series. Essentially, everything about Oz that can be made darker is made darker, everything that can be read in a unpleasant way is read so even if it makes no sense, massive amounts of gratuitous sex and gore are thrown about without a care, and everyone ends up worse off at the end.
  • The Woobie:
    • Elphaba obviously had a rotten childhood, but A Lion Among Men reveals that life hasn't exactly been a picnic for Dorothy either. Going from having your parents drowned in a freak storm at sea to being stuck in an orphanage to adopted by a farm couple who imply that she wasn't exactly what they wanted to having an aunt who suffers from sciatica and generally seems to be pretty bad-tempered would make anyone want to go over the rainbow after a while. In the last book, she is sentenced to death for the murder of Elphaba and Nessarose in a show trial in Munchkinland.
    • Nor, especially for what she goes through in the first book. The poor kid loses her whole family, her home, and not to mention her freedom all in a very short time span.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Anyone who thinks this is a kid's series should know better by a few paragraphs into the prologue. In Gregory Maguire's world, Everyone Is Bi until proven otherwise. To say nothing of the violence, occultism, and Elphaba being a domestic terrorist. And the sex. So much sex. Add Maguire's fascination for bodily waste on top of it (see Narm for one of many examples). It doesn't help that Wicked has been adapted into an incredibly popular musical which actually is kid-friendly for the most part.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: In the book Boq is fascinated that "Dorothy" means "gift of the gods" and the ruler (president) of her land at the time was named "Theodore", which means "God of gifts".

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