- "There was no garret at all, and no cellar--except a small hole dug in the ground, called a cyclone cellar, where the family could go in case one of those great whirlwinds arose, mighty enough to crush any building in its path. It was reached by a trap door in the middle of the floor, from which a ladder led down into the small, dark hole."
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
A cellar, or basement, is one or more floors of a building that are partially or completely below the ground floor. It is generally used for storage or for utility space for a boiler, breaker panel, fuse box, etc. In areas with wet climates, basements in homes are rare due to flooding concerns. But in places like Kansas where tornadoes are common, it is not uncommon for a house to have at least a small storm cellar, since underground is the safest place to be in the event of a tornado.
Dorothy Gale, Uncle Henry, and Aunt Em lived in a small one-room house that did not have a garrett, or small attic,and did not have a cellar, with the exception of a small hole dug in the ground to serve as a storm cellar, or "cyclone cellar", for shelter from a tornado. The storm cellar, was accesssible via a trap door in the middle of the floor, from which a ladder led down into the small dark hole.
When the cyclone that carried Dorothy to Oz approached, Uncle Henry ran to the shed to look after the livestock. Aunt Em instructed Dorothy to go down the cellar, and went down herself, but Toto jumped out of Dorothy's arms and hid under the bed. Dorothy tried to get him out so she could take him down to the cellar with her, but was unable to get herself and Toto into the cellar before the cyclone picked up the house.
While the house was in the eye of the tornado, Toto accidentally fell down the trap door that originally led to the cellar. Dorothy feared she had lost her dog, but then she saw Toto's ear near the trap door and realized the wind of the tornado was holding him up. She pulled him by the ear back onto the floor of the house. She decided to close the trap door to prevent any more accidents like that
- "We can't look for her now. Come on, get in the cellar! Hurry up!"
- ―Uncle Henry
In the 1939 film, the storm cellar is just outside the back door of the house, and is accessible by a wooden door and stairway.
Aunt Em tries to find Dorothy and is worried that she's somewhere out in the storm. Uncle Henry says it's too dangerous to look for her during the storm, and pushes her into the cellar. Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke also enter the cellar and force the door closed.
Then Dorothy arrives at the house, after Professor Marvel convinced Dorothy that Aunt Em is brokenhearted and she shouldn't have run away from home.
She searches the house for Aunt Em, but she is not in the house. She then checks the cellar, assuming everyone must have gone in there already. She tries to open it, but she can't, as it is locked down from inside, and she almost loses her balance when the wind gets stronger as the tornado gets dangerously close.
She stomps on the cellar door, and cups her hand to her mouth, and shouts, "Uncle Henry! Auntie Em!" hoping they will open the door for her. But she is not heard because the wind is loud enough to drown her out. Having no other option, she retreats inside the house, where she is knocked unconscious by a falling window frame, and wakes up as the house is inside the tornado.
The celler of the 1982 anime movie is similar if not identical to the original novel.
When Dorothy sees the twister coming for the house, she takes Toto inside and closes the storm shutters on the windows. When objects start hitting the house, Dorothy decides it's not safe so they should go into the cellar. She opens the trap door to the cellar. Toto hides under the bed, and Dorothy tries to look for him. But before she can find him,
Dorothy gets knocked on the floor and faints near the trap door. A chair is also teetering on the edge of the trap door.
As the house is carried to Oz, the chair falls through the trap door at some point between Kansas and Oz. When the house lands, Toto comes out from under the bed and licks Dorothy's face until she wakes up. Dorothy can see grass through the trap door, so she knows the house is on the ground.
- "They're patients who've been damaged, locked in the cellar."
- ―Mystery Girl (Ozma)
Dr. Worley was a psychiatrist who performed electroshock therapy on his patients, which he claimed could control the brain's excess currents that cause strange dreams and delusions. His electric healing sanitarium had a cellar, which was used to lock up and hide those who had been damaged and driven insane by his machine used for the therapy. Since the cellar is not shown in the movie, only mentioned, it is unknown where in the clinic it was or how big or small it was. Aunt Em sent Dorothy there because she had trouble sleeping and because she talked about Oz, which she and Uncle Henry dismissed as a myth and bad dreams. As Dorothy is about to undergo the therapy, she is tied to a bed and brought into the room with Dr. Worley's machine. Just as he's about to start, the power goes out, and Dr. Worley and Nurse Wilson leave to check the generator.
The mystery girl who earlier entered Dorothy's room without a sound comes in and rescues Dorothy. Dorothy asks about the screaming, and the girl answers that the people screaming are patients who have been damaged and locked in the cellar. The mysterious girl helps Dorothy escape, but apparently drowns, and Dorothy floats off to Oz. The mysterious girl appears later in Oz as Ozma.
When Dorothy returns from Oz, Aunt Em tells her that clinic was hit by lightning and burned to the ground. Everyone was rescued except Dr. Worley, who ran in to salvage his machines. Since Nurse Wilson is seen carried off to jail in a police cart, it can be presumed that the insane patients locked in the cellar were also rescued and the truth behind Worley's criminal operation was discovered.
- "Dorothy, come here, dear. Now, if ever a twister hits, I want you to scoot down here into the storm cellar as fast as your legs will carry you, you hear me? And don't come out, 'cause underground's the only safe place to be."
- ―Uncle Henry
The cellar in the anime TV series is also similar, if not identical, to the original novel, but is drawn with more detail.
Aunt Em asks Dorothy to check if Uncle Henry, who is out in the fields, needs anything. But Uncle Henry is about to quit for the day so he can put his horse in the barn because there's supposed to be bad weather coming. Sur enough, they see dark clouds up ahead and head for the house. Uncle Henry tells Aunt Em that the sky looks bad, and it's the season for twisters. Aunt Em suggests they should make sure Dorothy knows what to do in the event of a twister, so Uncle Henry calls for Dorothy and shows her the storm cellar and explains what a twister, or tornado, is. But this time it turns out to be just a "plain old country storm", as Aunt Em described it, and it passes, leaving a rainbow which fades away.
Two days, later, though, as Uncle Henry and Aunt Em go into town for a town council meeting, and Dorothy and Toto are playing outside, the sky suddenly turns dark to Dorothy's surprise, and that surprise turns to fright when she sees a twister in the distance, so she takes Toto to the house.
She remembers to go into the cellar, and she opens the trap door and starts down, calling for Toto. When he doesn't come, she gets back up and looks for him, finding him hiding under the bed. She tries to coax him out, but no luck. She reaches for him, but he inches back. Dorothy is not able to get herself and Toto into the cellar in time. As the tornado picks up the house, it tips over, causing Toto to slide into Dorothy's arms. Dorothy tries to go for the cellar, but sees the inside of the tornado through the trap door, realizing that the house is flying.
She goes to the window for a better look, seeing all the debris that the tornado has picked up along with the house. She hears Toto barking frantically and sees that he has fallen into the trap door, but is holding on by his front paws. Toto falls, but Dorothy manages to grab his front leg and catch him just in time, and pulls him up. The shot of this happening is remarkably similar to the illustration in the novel, except Dorothy grabs Toto by the front leg instead of the ear. Dorothy does not close the trap door like in the novel, but holds on to Toto. The trap door is still open when the house lands, but nothing is seen under it.
Just as Dorothy and Toto reached to the Cellar, in front of her old house, while running from a giant moving rainbow, she ended up falling into it, breaking the cellar door, just before the Rainbow grabbed her. In the Climax, she found herself back int he Cellar after defeating The Jester from conquering the Land of Oz, where she was reunited with Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, before attempting to stop the Appraiser from driving the people out of town, and having them sell their houses.