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The Scarecrow is a fictional character invented by L. Frank Baum, author and creator of the Oz legacy. His first appearance was in Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. He makes his debut appearance in the third chapter of the novel titled How Dorothy Saved the Scarecrow. He is a being from the magical Land of Oz, and is the first companion and loyal comrade that Dorothy Gale and her little pet dog, Toto discovered on their journey down the Yellow Brick Road while traveling to see the great and powerful Wizard. Dorothy encouraged the Scarecrow to join her and to ask the Wizard for a set of brains, which he thought he lacked. In the end of the story, he eventually did receive what he desired, and in Baum's subsequent Oz books; becomes known as one of the cleverest figures in all of Oz. He is nicknamed Spooky in the Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz cartoon series.

Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow 1939.

Scarecrow of Oz

"There was a great cornfield beyond the fence, and not far away Dorothy saw a Scarecrow, placed high on a pole to keep the birds away from the ripe corn."
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

"To Oz? To Oz!"

Baum never wrote how the Scarecrow was given life, (in contrast to his Oz companion the Tin Woodman, who was a real man with a body of flesh and blood whose soul transferred to its current form). One possibility could be that the magic substance called "Powder of Life" (mentioned in a later book) changed the scarecrow to a living being. We may speculate that a Munchkin farmer, who made him added the powder hoping to more effectively scare the crows away. They were not. The Powder of Life is an element that Baum introduces in his second Oz book which serves as a sequel to the first story titled The Marvelous Land of Oz, published in 1904. In this story, the Powder of Life is a special potion invented by a mysterious Magician and brings three Oz characters to life: Jack Pumpkinhead, Sawhorse, and Gump. In Baum's seventh Oz book titled the The Patchwork Girl of Oz, published in 1913, the Patchwork Girl named Scraps, who later served as the Scarecrow's love interest is brought to life with this same powder by a young Munchkin boy named Ojo


Baum's Description

Dorothy meets the Scarecrow by W.W. Denslow 1900.

"Dorothy leaned her chin upon her hand and gazed thoughtfully at the Scarecrow. Its head was a small sack stuffed with straw, with eyes, nose, and mouth painted on it to represent a face. An old, pointed blue hat, that had belonged to some Munchkin, was perched on his head, and the rest of the figure was a blue suit of clothes, worn and faded, which had also been stuffed with straw. On the feet were some old boots with blue tops, such as every man wore in this country, and the figure was raised above the stalks of corn by means of the pole stuck up its back. "

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

The Scarecrow is being made by two Munchkins. Illustration by W.W. Denslow circa 1900.

Somewhere in the middle of the Munchkin Country of Oz, he was introduced as being placed high up on a wooden pole in the cornfields of the Munchkin farming community. He is described as having an overstuffed sack filled with straw for a head with a mouth, nose, ears, and eyes painted on with blue paint, (one of his eyes is said to be larger than the other) and has two big blue buttons for pupils. On his stuffed body he wears worn-out and faded hand-me down Munchkin clothing of blue, with an old wrinkled and pointed hat that stands a foot above his head. Around his waist is an old leather belt and on his stuffed feet are old and scuffed farm-boots of navy blue. Because he is wearing Munchkin clothing the original Scarecrow is actually quite short in height like the majority of the Munchkin race in Oz. In the very first Oz illustrations by W. W. Denslow, he is only as tall as Dorothy who is a mere child said to be no older than twelve. So the Scarecrow would only stand about four or five feet high.

Dorothy & Scarecrow...

Scarecrow with Dorothy and Toto.

"While looking earnestly into the queer, painted face of the Scarecrow, she was surprised to see one of the eyes slowly wink at her. She thought she must have been mistaken at first, for none of the scarecrows in Kansas ever wink; but presently the figure nodded its head to her in a friendly way. Then she climbed down from the fence and walked up to it, while Toto ran around the pole and barked. "Good day," said the Scarecrow, in a rather cheerful husky voice. "Did you speak?" asked the girl, in wonder."

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)


When he befriended Dorothy, at first he did not understand why the little girl wanted to leave the magical Land of Oz and go back to Kansas as the majority of Oz is such a beautiful place when Dorothy described Kansas to be colorless and dull. It is then when Dorothy tried to explain to her new stuffed friend that he can't understand because he has no brains. Therefore, he simply cannot grasp the concept of the way people who are made of flesh and blood think, and the desire of returning to where one belongs no matter how beautiful or appealing any other place may be, for home is where the heart is. Thus, concluding that there is "No Place Like Home".


Scarecrow of Oz by Eric Shanower.

"Dorothy helped the Scarecrow over the cornfield fence, and they started along the path of yellow brick for the Emerald City. Toto did not like this new addition to the party at first. He smelled around and sniffed the stuffed man as if he suspected there might be a nest of rats in the straw, and he often growled in an unfriendly way at the Scarecrow. "Don't mind Toto," said Dorothy to her new friend. "He never bites, he just has never seen a straw man walk before." "Oh, I'm not afraid," replied the Scarecrow. "Even if he did bite me, I wouldn't feel it. Do let me carry that basket for you. I shall not mind it, for I can't get tired. I'll tell you a secret," he continued, as he walked along. "There is only one thing in the world I am afraid of." "What is that?" asked Dorothy; "the Munchkin farmer who made you?" "No," answered the Scarecrow; "it's a lighted match! "

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

The Scarecrow is a extremely gentle character, his disposition is so kind and considerate, obliging, and honest that all who know him love him.

The Scarecrow is a very clumsy and uncoordinated figure in his mannerisms because he is stuffed with straw. Therefore Scarecrow can never get hurt, though he is awkward in his movements as he literally weighs less than five to ten pounds. He never tires, and never needs to sleep or eat. He also sees very well in the dark. The only thing he fears is the burning flame of hot fire!

Despite claiming to not have a brain, the Scarecrow questioned Dorothy for wanting to return to Kansas as Oz is far more colorful and pleasant compared to Kansas, which is boring and colorless. He also comes up with some quick-thinking and clever plans on his first journey with Dorothy, saving the party from the kalidahs among other things. After the Wizard gives him some "brains", the placebo effect turns his lack of confidence in himself into near-overconfidence, and he becomes very proud of his intellect. However, he is neither very wise, nor is he stupid. 

Despite being a man made of straw, he still finds himself enamoured with the beauty of Scraps, the Patchwork Girl, in The Patchwork Girl of Oz, due to their many similarities, neither of them being "meat people". She becomes his love interest in subsequent books, though their romance isn't fully explored much in the series.

History of the Scarecrow

The Scarecrow doesn't have a significant history. He was only two days old when he met Dorothy Gale. Unlike animated non-humans from later in the series such as Jack Pumpkinhead and the Patchwork Girl, who were both brought to life using the Powder of Life, L. Frank Baum never adequately explained how or why the Scarecrow came to life.

Ruth Plumly Thompson offered an explanation in her first book of the Land of Oz series, The Royal Book of Oz. In this book it is revealed that the soul of the deceased emperor of the Silver Islands, a kingdom on the other side of the world from Oz, traveled through a bean pole through the Earth to Oz and then inhabited the body of the Scarecrow once he was placed on the pole. The Scarecrow, however, has no memories of this past life, and prefers living in Oz and being himself. This explanation is somewhat contentious for fans, and is also open to interpretation; it's never definitively proven in-story that Scarecrow is the reincarnation of the emperor, this is just the assumption of the Silver Islanders, who end up convincing the Scarecrow. Also, the first book makes it clear that the Scarecrow was already alive before he was placed on the pole by the Munchkin farmers that made him, throwing Thompson's explanation into question.

The King of Straw & Brains

"Now, let's go and see if we can find ourselves some breakfast. Then, we can go to the Emerald City to visit my friend the Scarecrow, he's the king of Oz, Billina. "
Dorothy Gale in Return to Oz (1985)

King Scarecrow, a wise ruler.

When Oscar, the humbug Wizard finally left Oz in his hot air balloon, after decades of ruling the Emerald City, he announced that the Scarecrow was to officially substitute as the new King of Oz in his absence. And the Scarecrow ruled very wisely with his new brains, and was loved by all who knew him. Therefore he was highly respected by all of the Ozians who were happy to have him as their ruler. A long time later, the Scarecrow was deposed as king when the radical General Jinjur organized a all female Army of Revolt and took over the entire Emerald City. Luckily, the Scarecrow escaped being held a prisoner due to riding on the Sawhorse, with an orphan boy named Tip and his creation Jack Pumpkinhead, to the tin castle of his good friend the Tin Woodman who now ruled over the Winkie Country. On their way back to the Emerald City, they met the Queen of the Field Mice, who allowed a dozen of her subjects to accompany the Scarecrow, nestled inside his straw-filled breast. When they arrived back at the Royal Palace of Oz, the Scarecrow released the mice in the throne room, and frightened away Jinjur and her Army. He and his companions then went to Glinda the Good Witch of the South, to ask for her help in conquering Queen Jinjur. Glinda agreed to help them only if they helped her find the long-lost daughter of King Pastoria, the Princess Ozma, who was the true ruler of Oz. When Ozma was finally found at last and officially established on the throne in her rightful position, the Scarecrow happily resigned and went to live with his dear friend the Tin Woodman and the Winkies. (The Marvelous Land of Oz)

When Princess Ozma set out across the Deadly Desert to the neighboring Kingdom called Ev, Glinda the Good Witch of the South made a magical rug to safely cross over. Ozma had gone to Ev to save the Royal Family who had been sold to the wicked Nome King, and the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion joined her party. Along the way they found Dorothy Gale who by coincidence had washed up on the shores of Ev after being thrown overboard on a ship headed to Australia to see relatives. Dorothy was accompanied by Billina the Kansas hen and Tik-Tok the mechanical copper man. Dorothy and her friends had all been imprisoned by the vain Princess Langwidere who wanted Dorothy's head to add to her collection. Luckily the Scarecrow recognized his old friend and Ozma rescued Dorothy and her company just in time. After that the party soon arrived in the Nome Kingdom. The Nome King had transformed the Royal Family of Ev into ornaments for his decor collection, and in a rigged guessing game he tricked the Ozians and began transforming them as well. The Scarecrow was transformed into a golden ornament, but was eventually liberated along with everyone else by Billina the hen. At the conclusion of their successful mission the party had saved Ev's Royal Family and finally returned to the Emerald City and also brought Tik-Tok with them to serve as "Oz's Royal Army". (Ozma of Oz)

Scarecrow rides upon the Cowardly Lion. By John R. Neill.

After a few years of living in the Royal Palace of Oz in the Emerald City, the Scarecrow decided to return to his roots as a farmer. Ozma gave him some land in the Winkie Country and Jack Pumpkinhead designed a mansion for him. (The Emerald City of Oz) He also has a boat made from a hollowed corncob, decorated with brilliant jewels and with a purple silk sail. ("The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman")

Glinda sent the Scarecrow to Jinxland in the Quadling Country to rescue some visitors of Oz: Trot, Cap'n Bill, and Button-Bright. (The Scarecrow of Oz)

The Scarecrow traveled with the Tin Woodman and Woot the Wanderer to search for Nimmie Amee, the Tin Woodman's long-lost love. The Scarecrow gets turned into a bear by Mrs. Yoop, but then later gets changed back by Ozma. He also sacrifices his straw to feed a Hip-po-graf. (The Tin Woodman of Oz)

Book Appearances

The Famous Forty:

The Scarecrow of Oz. First Edition Cover.

Other Works:


  • In the original book by L. Frank Baum, the Scarecrow never dances or sings, but does stumble a lot to the point of having to be picked up by Dorothy Gale on several occasions when on the Yellow Brick Road.
  • Upon meeting Dorothy, the Scarecrow was only made two days prior.
  • Unlike the movie, in the book, the Scarecrow lends his straw to cover the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, and Toto up, when the Wicked Witch of the West sends her killer bees to sting Dorothy and the group to death. He also twisted the necks of the Wicked Witch's 40 crows when she sends them to peck out their eyes.
  • In the movie, the Scarecrow's original paint was made out of oil.
  • In the book the Scarecrow's left eye is smaller than the right one and painted blue.
  • In the book, Baum said he is dressed in old hand me down Munchkin clothes the color of faded blue.
  • In the Oz books, just as his friend the Tin Woodman needs to be re-polished and properly lubricated and oiled, the Scarecrow needs to be re-stuffed with fresh straw and have his face repainted every once in a while.
  • When the Scarecrow was temporarily the King of Oz, ruling over the Emerald City, the crown he had worn upon his stuffed head was so dented and misshapen because it was always falling off and hitting the ground due to his uncoordinated movements.

The Wiz 1978

Michael Jackson as The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow in the movie adaptation of The Wiz, was a new take on the character. This version of the Scarecrow was made entirely of junk. He had a popcorn bucket for a hat, two trashbags for a torso and pants, stockings for arms, and old dirty boots. As well as an old sack for a head and a reese cup for a nose with a styrofoam afro. He was portrayed by musician Michael Jackson making this his first film role. The Scarecrow had a child-like innocence. Whenever he encountered something for the first time he would get close to it and examine it by mostly cocking his head left or right. When Dorothy found him, he was being bullied by talking crows by making fun of him and forcing him to sing songs. She scares the crows away and invites the Scarecrow on her journey to see The Wiz. Though he believed and was told by crows that he didn't have a brain, throughout the journey he was always the one to figure out ways to help his friends such as finding the Yellow Brick Road, saving Dorothy and the Lion from the Poppies and finding the solution to kill the Wicked Witch.

Return to Oz 1985

The Scarecrow in Walt Disney's 1985 film Return to Oz, was much more faithful to the Oz books. His head was cable operated and relied almost entirely on the movements of an agile and incredible performer named "Justin Case" for its realism.

Scarecrow in Return to Oz. 1985.

It was very photogenic and very powerful on screen. The Scarecrow in Return to Oz was nothing like his counterpart in the 1939 musical played by Ray Bolger. This one was much more animated and gave the actor more ways to speak visually with the body. The other Scarecrow was obviously much more verbal, singing to songs etc.


In Magic Land the Scarecrow is called Strasheela.

In The Great Wishy Woz he is Manny Kin.

Peter Schulenburg provides a treatment of the Scarecrow's unique home in The Corn Mansion of Oz.

In the graphic novel adaptation the Scarecrow was a stuffed man as in the original book.

The Scarecrow appears as Fiyero in Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and Son of a Witch as well as the Broadway musical adaptation, but he does not appear in the third book in the trilogy, A Lion Among Men.

In Treasury of Illustrated Classics The Wizard of Oz the Scarecrow wore the same blue sleeve shirt, sneakers, jeans, and black pointed hat as the Munchkins.

In L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz: The Graphic Novel, the Scarecrow wears an orange jacket, blue jeans, and brown hat instead of the usual Munchkin blue outfit.


"If I only had a Brain! "
―Scarecrow (1939)
"Hurray! We're off to see the Wizard! "
―Scarecrow (1939)
"I think I'll miss you most of all..."
―Dorothy Gale to the Scarecrow (1939)
"Success, fame, and fortune. There all illusions all there is that is real, is the friendship that two can share."
―Scarecrow from The Wiz (1978)
"Witch...? I'm not afraid of a Witch! I'm not afraid of anything... except a lighted match. But I'd face a whole box full of them for the chance of getting some brains! Look, I won't be any trouble, because I don't eat anything. And I won't try to manage things, because I can't think. Won't you please take me with you?"
―Scarecrow (1939)

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