The Wizard of Oz remains a cinematic classic decades after its 1939 release, no small feat for a film made during the burgeoning years of Hollywood. As everyone knows, the Wicked Witches of the East and West are evil, while Glinda the "Good Witch" of the North is, well, good. Right? Maybe not, as some fans think viewers watch the movie all wrong, and Glinda isn't as wholesome as she appears. In fact, these Wizard of Oz fan theories claim she's secretly the real villain of the story.
L. Frank Baum's book series is a lot darker and more complex than the sugarcoated, Technicolor production Hollywood presents, so the idea that such a two-dimensional character carries a lot more grit and depth underneath the surface makes sense. This is something that's also been explored more recently in the Oz prequels Wicked, the novel by Gregory Maguire that was adapted into the hit musical of the same name, and the 2013 Disney movie Oz the Great and Powerful. Regardless of how you view them, these Glinda fan theories certainly burst her big, pink bubble.
While one may interpret the land of Oz as a fantasy dreamed up by a stressed-out teenager - as Dorothy does - if taken literally, Oz could actually be an alternate universe. Rather than interpretations of the people Dorothy knows on Earth, the resemblance between Dorothy's friends and family and the quirky characters she meets in Oz might signify that the magical land exists as a parallel universe filled with inter-dimensional doppelgängers.
Dorothy stands as the only exception to this parallel. Many mistakenly believe Glinda acts as the doppelgänger of Dorothy's Auntie Em, just as her mean neighbor is the doppelgänger of the Wicked Witch of the West. But Auntie Em and Glinda are played by two different people, which makes Glinda stand out for all the wrong reasons. If she boasts no real-life parallel, how does Glinda insert herself into this narrative?
When the tornado carrying Dorothy and her entire house drops her right on the spot where the Wicked Witch of the East happens to be standing, she unwittingly becomes a slayer upon her arrival in Oz. Is it a case of "wrong place, wrong time," or is it more than bad luck at work?
As some theorists note, it looks somewhat suspicious that Glinda just so happens to be in the neighborhood at the same time, ready to send Dorothy off on her quest. After all, you know what they say about offenders returning to the scene of the crime.
The "Evil Glinda" theory makes comparisons to other secret villains in children's literature, like the Beldam in Coraline, who purposefully withholds important information from the hero to manipulate them. In the case of Glinda, that information is the knowledge that the ruby slippers Dorothy acquires when she first arrives in Oz are her ticket home.
If Glinda really happens to be the "Good Witch" acting in Dorothy's best interest, why does she fail to relay this to the frightened child straight away? Glinda plays dumb when it comes to their power, telling Dorothy "they must be very powerful, or she [the Wicked Witch] wouldn't want them so badly."
Glinda then sends Dorothy on a series of questionable errands, only revealing the true power of the shoes towards the end of the story. Dorothy, ecstatic at the thought of returning home, never questions why Glinda reveals this information at the last minute.
Why does Glinda force Dorothy to undertake such a risky mission for her? You'd think a powerful witch would be a better match against another powerful witch than an inexperienced, powerless kid. Doesn't it seem weird, too, that a mentor and "good" figure in the story would advocate for the hero to straight-up slay someone?
The "Evil Glinda" theory presents a simple answer: Glinda wants to create a power vacuum in Oz. With her sisters and the Wizard out of the way, she becomes the most powerful figure left in the land. No one would be able to stop her becoming Oz's natural ruler. But to maintain her "good" image so she may rule unchallenged, she enlists a neutral party from the outside - Dorothy - to become an unwitting accomplice for her.