- "We Wish to welcome you to Munchkinland..."
- ―Munchkins (1939)
Munchkins are a fictional race created by L. Frank Baum, author and creator of the Oz legacy. They first appeared in Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. They are the first Ozians to be introduced in Baum's story, making an introduction in the second chapter. Unlike the iconic movie musical adaptation of 1939, The Wizard of Oz, in the original story Baum states that Munchkins strictly wear only shades of blue clothing as blue is their favorite color and the mascot color that represents their native homeland which is the eastern quadrant in Oz called Munchkin Country.
The majority of these folks are usually rather short in height, being no bigger than three or four feet high. They are the shortest tribe in all the land of Oz. They are mostly high spirited despite their size, and are content with their lives. The Munchkins are the wealthiest and healthiest race of Ozians in all of Oz. But while the first book does state that the Munchkins were scarcely taller than Dorothy, in later books they are mainly depicted to be as tall as anyone else in Oz; one tall Munchkin of note is The Soldier With The Green Whiskers (aka Omby Amby/Wantowin Battles). It is also worth remembering that Nick Chopper, the Tin Woodman, usually depicted as the hight of a normal adult, is a Munchkin himself.
Like the 1939 movie, some Munchkins do indeed speak in rather high pitched mousy voices and some speak in deep low voices. Despite their vocal differences the Munchkins in general are not at all harmful but infact gentle people who are not violent but are easily intimidated when challenged by anything bigger than them. Because of this the Munchkins usually keep to themselves, not bothering anyone else outside their own country or causing other Ozians trouble. They are naturally very humble, happy little people who work hard to make a profitable, honest and decent living in Oz and love the simpler things in life such as the great out back of the Munchkin Country. A good majority of the Munchkin people are all gifted farmers who have large families. The Munchkins all live side by side with their neighbors, and treat eachother like family, always being loyal to thy neighbor and are glad to help one another if ever in need. The Munchkins mainly raise richly abundant crops and successful vegetable gardens and are known as some of the most talented people in Oz when it comes to growing crops as farming runs in their Munchkin blood. Therefore the Munchkins are naturally born with "green thumbs". Most of them own their own land which they turn into large fields of stocks that strech out for many miles across the land.
The Munchkins are known for their happiness, gentleness and hospitality, welcoming anyone who visits the land in the east, where they live in peace and harmony. When Dorothy Gale was on the Yellow Brick Road while passing through the Munchkin Country to see the Wizard, the Munchkins invited her and Toto to join them in a great celebration to rejoice over the Wicked Witch of the East's death.
Baum's Munchkins in the Land of Oz
In the original book, Glinda the Good does not visit the land of the Munchkins to greet a newly arrived Dorothy Gale and Toto in the beginning like it was portrayed in the 1939 movie. The original Witch who Dorothy first encounters is the non-Munchkin Witch known as the Good Witch of the North; named Locasta Tattypoo who is from the neighboring Gillikin Country in Oz. She accompanied the Munchkin people when Dorothy arrives in Oz via Kansas cyclone, not Glinda. They, along with Locasta Tattypoo are described as being Dorothy's height who was a well grown child for her age; no older than twelve. Yet, as far as looks went they appeared to be significantly many years older, possibly as old as Dorothy's Aunt Em and Uncle Henry.
Baum apparently did not exactly mean that only Munchkins are short (as depicted in the iconic 1939 film), but that this is 50% of the norm for all of the adult humans of Oz. If you read an original copy of the 1900 book, you'll notice W. W. Denslow's illustrations of the characters (which were approved by Baum), Dorothy, who's no older than twelve, is about the same height as most of the adults in Oz. Even the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman are seen as being only a few inches taller than Dorothy. And later in the book, the Guardian of the Gates, (the first inhabitant of the Emerald City met by Dorothy and apparently representative of its citizens), is "a little man about the same size as the Munchkins."
And later, the Quadlings of the southern quadrant in Oz called Quadling Country are described as "short and fat." In W. W. Denslow's illustrations the only Ozians depicted as remarkably taller than Dorothy are the Soldier with the Green Whiskers and Glinda the Good Witch. Overall, you will notice that everyone on Oz treats Dorothy as an equal adult and not as a child. The short stature of Oz's residents is rarely mentioned in the later sequel books of the Oz series written by Baum, but most illustrations of the grown-ups still appear only as tall as Dorothy and treat her as an adult and respected individual.
The Munchkins were once ruled for many years by the tyrannical and cruel Witch known as the Wicked Witch of the East. This Witch conquered the entire Munchkin Country and then she eventually enslaved all of the land's native people to work for her night and day. However, one day, a little girl by the name of Dorothy Gale unexpectedly came to Oz accompanied by her little dog Toto. Both had been swept away in a big Kansas cyclone while aloft in their prairie farmhouse.
When the storm dropped the house it fell out of the sky and crash-landed right on top of the Wicked Witch and accidentally killed her. Resulting in all the Munchkins being liberated and freed from her bondage forever. And as a sincere thank you reward, the Munchkins, and the Good Witch of the North gave Dorothy the Wicked Witch's charmed Silver Shoes, (Ruby Slippers in the 1939 movie.)
Dorothy was glad she was of help to these strange little people, but all she really wanted was to go back home to her guardians; Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. The only one who would truly be able to send her back to her homeland was Oz's most dominant ruler known as the great and powerful Wizard who lived as a recluse in Oz's imperial capital aka the Emerald City. Dorothy was advised to follow the Yellow Brick Road that would lead her to this city which stood in the exact center of the land.
When Dorothy set out amoung this road while passing through the Munchkin Country, she came across an evening party that was being held by the wealthiest Munchkin man in Oz named Boq. Dorothy was invited to attend this event as an honored guest and passed the night there. The next morning Dorothy set out on her journey again and soon met a talking Scarecrow in a nearby cornfield. The Scarecrow told Dorothy he wanted a set of brains to become a great thnker, so the girl invited the stuffed man to join her and her dog on her task to see the Wizard. While on their way she also encouraged a Cowardly Lion and a Tin Woodman to also accompany them in hopes of having their problems and troubles fixed by the Wizard as well. Throughout the group's journey in the Munchkin Country, they encountered and esaped the flesh eating wild beast called Kalidahs, met a female mother Stork, fell victim to the field of deadly Poppies and met the Queen of the Field Mice who lived in a grassy meadow at the Munchkin Country's border.
A long time Later, after Dorothy successfully found a way back home, a pretty young Munchkin girl named Jinjur who was a self proclaimed Genral came to the Emerald City to conquer it with her all female Army of Revolt and to dispose the Scarecrow who was King of Oz in the Wizard's absence. Luckily General Jinjur was defeated when the long lost Princess Ozma of Oz was found by the Good Witch of the South named Glinda, who put Ozma on the throne as the official ruler with the help of many Ozians.
In this spin off and more adult and mature take on Baum's classic story, the Munchkins are not as innocent as they are seen in other adaptations and versions. The Munchkins are not all small or short and some are regular sized humans in height. They drink, smoke, attend sex-clubs where Ozians participate in drug induced orgies and have sex whenever they please. They also use foul language and are violent when they feel threatened. The Munchkins also are very morally political when it comes to the government or law, and have a mob mentality and the Munchkin county is usually always on the verge of cival war with other countries within the land of Oz.
- Kiki Aru
- Bini Aru
- Boq-one of the most wealthiest Munchkins of Oz.
- King Cheeriobed
- Mopsi Aru
- Nick Chopper (The Tin Woodsman)
- Nimmie Amee
- Number Nine
- Ojo the Lucky
- Dr. Pipt
- Real Bad (Ree Alla Bad)
- Sister Six
- Soldier with the Green Whiskers - aka Wantowin Battles, a rare tall Munchkin
- Unc Nunkie (Stephen)
The most memorable take on the Munchkin people are in the 1939 film. The Singer Midgets portrayed the Munchkins in MGM's The Wizard of Oz including the Mayor, the Coroner, the Lollypop Kid, the Lullaby Girl, and the Sleepy-Head, the Violin Man, and the Munchkin Soilder. Jerry Marren played one of the iconic Munchkins from the Lollypop guild that welcomed Dorothy to Munchkinland. The 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, also depicted Munchkins as being much shorter than other residents of Oz; they are played by adult proportional dwarfs, dressed in brightly multicolored outfits, and their land is called Munchkinland. Sometimes it is also referred to as Munchkin county.
In stage production of The Wiz, the munchkins are these small overweight people with possibly tiny legs.After Dorothy's house landed on Evamene (the Wicked Witch of the East) they were overwhelmed with joy know that now they were free. In the film production the munchkins were played by a bunch of children and teenagers. These munchkins were turned into graffiti as a punishment for painting on Evamene's playground wall. But after Dorothy flattened her by the giant Z after crashing through the Oz sign, the curse was broken, they were free from their wall prison, and were able to play again.
Return to Oz 1985
In Walt Disney's 1985 cult classic movie Return to Oz, some Munchkins appear in the background crowd of the coronation parade scene in the mirrored Royal Palace of Oz towards the end of the film. Their appearance is extremely faithful to Baum's Description and John R. Neill's Oz illustrations.
The Muppets Wizard of Oz 2005
In the Disney made for TV movie, the Munchkins are portrayed by the gang of the Muppet Rats. They live in tiny blue houses and wear all blue clothing that stays very close to the original 1900 illustrations by W. W. Denslow.
Dorothy and the Witches of Oz 2012
In the made for TV movie Dorothy and the Witches of Oz, a group of Munchkins dressed in blue and white silk with matching hats can be seen during the battle that takes place in Oz.
Oz the Great and Powerful 2013
In the 2013 Walt Disney Oz-prequel film, Oz the Great and Powerful, the Munchkin's appearance is very close, if not identical to the Munchkin people from the 1939 MGM Musical movie. They also sing and dance to greet a newly arrived Wizard like they one day will with Dorothy Gale. They, like many Ozians help Glinda and Oscar Diggs defeat the the Wicked Witches named Evanora and Theodora to successfully run them out of the Emerald City and off the Royal Throne.
Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2
Munchkins appear as a common enemy in Gran Pulse, one of the two worlds in the game. It's a member of the Goblin family, a short humanoid creature. Another form of Munchkin, the Munchkin Maestro, also appears.
See Also:Munchkin on the Final Fantasy Wiki.
Board & Card Games
Munchkinland is part of the board in this early board game.
A card game franchise known as Munchkin exists. The game is a humorous take on paper-and-pencil roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons; there, "Munchkin" is a pejorative term for players who play in an aggressively competitive manner.
The game does feature diminutive creatures, harkening back to the Ozian origins of the term. Many editions of the game have been published; some of which are crossovers with other properties. An Oz edition of the game was released in the late 2010s.
Munchkins have expanded beyond Oz, becoming a commonly used term. Parents often call their children "munchkin" as a term of endearment. There have also been a number of nods to them in popular culture.
Munchkins in Hollywood
On November 20, 2007, the Munchkins were offically given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Seven of the surviving Munchkins actors from the film were present. As a result of the popularity of the iconic 1939 musical film The Wizard of Oz, the word "munchkin" has entered the English language as a reference to small children, dwarfs, or anything cute of diminutive stature.
- "... As Dorothy stood, mesmerized by the lovely sights around her, she noticed coming down toward her from a grassy hill, a group of the Queerest people she had ever seen. They were not as big as the grown folk she had always been used to back home; but neither were they very small. In fact, they seemed about as tall as Dorothy, who was a well-grown child for her age, although they were, so far as looks go, many years older. They wore round funny looking hats in shades of blue, and that rose to a small point about a foot above their heads, with little dangling jingle bells all across the brims that tinkled ever so sweetly as they moved. Their clothes were also blue and of the same shade as their hats, and they all wore well-polished boots with a deep roll of blue at the tops. The men, Dorothy thought, were about as old as Uncle Henry, for two of them had long gray beards. "
- ― The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
- "The little people who live in this land-it's Munchkinland, and you are they're national heroine, my dear. It's all right - you may all come out and thank her..."
- ―Glinda the Good (1939)
- "Once in a while she would pass by a house and the Munchkin people would step out to look at her and once they saw she wore the Silver Shoes, they would bow low as she and Toto walked by, as they all knew she was the means of killing the Wicked Witch of the East and forever setting the people free from her bondage."
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
- "Toward evening, when Dorothy was tired with her long walk and began to wonder where she should pass the night, she came to a house rather larger than the rest. On the green lawn before it many men and women were dancing. Five little fiddlers played as loudly as possible, and the people were laughing and singing, while a big table near by was loaded with delicious fruits and nuts, pies and cakes and other good things to eat! "
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939): The Singer Midgets
- The Wiz (stage): Phylicia Ayers-Allen, Pi Douglass, Joni Palmer, Andy Torres, Carl Weaver
- The Wiz (movie): Ted Williams, Mabel Robinson,Damon Pearce, Donna Patric Ingram
- Funky Fables: Scott McNeil
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz: Muppet Rats
- "The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's" (VeggieTales) (2007): The French Peas as Munchies