The Winkies are native Ozian residents from the western quadrant known as the Winkie Country in the magical Land of Oz. The Winkies are good, friendly people who happen to prefer the color yellow in their surroundings, clothing and landscaping as yellow is the official mascot color that represents the west land. They are also said to be some of the most crafted tin-smiths in the world.
- "The Winkies were not at all a brave people, but they had to do as the Wicked Witch pleased. So they marched away until they came near to Dorothy and Toto. But seeing them approach, the Cowardly Lion gave a great roar and sprang towards the group, and the poor Winkies were so frightened that they ran back as fast as they could. When they returned to the castle the Wicked Witch beat them well with a strap, and sent them back to their work. "
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
- "There was great rejoicing among the yellow Winkies, for they had been made to work hard during many years for the Wicked Witch, who had always treated them with great cruelty. They kept this day as a Holiday, then and ever after, and spent the time in feasting and dancing and playing loud music. "
The Winkies of Oz lived a humble and happy existence as tinsmiths until the Wicked Witch of the West came. With the power of the charmed Golden Cap the Wicked Witch owned, she used its magic to summon the creatures called Winged Monkeys who were slaves to the cap's incantation. And with the help of the Monkeys she had them do her dirty work and successfully conquer the entire western country and enslave the majority of the people who resided there to work for her night and day. When the Wizard finally came to Oz unexpectedly via hot-air balloon, he tried to claim the west as his own, but the Wicked Witch had the Winged Monkeys run him out of her territory. After that no one ever dared to try and overthrow the Wicked Witch who officially ruled the west for a very long time enslaving anyone who crossed her path. However, she met her fate when a little girl named Dorothy Gale and her pet dog Toto were sent by the Wizard himself to kill her in exchange to be sent back home again after being swept away to Oz via Kansas cyclone. The girl and her dog were also accompanied by a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion. Once she knew they were coming, the Wicked Witch immediately used the cap one last time to order the Winged Monkeys to seize the girl, her dog, as well as the Lion and to destroy the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman. When Dorothy and the Lion were both imprisoned by the Wicked old Witch in her yellow castle, Dorothy killed and melted her away with a bucket of water after she tried to steal one of the girl's magic Silver Shoes she'd been wearing since her arrival in Oz, in hopes to enhance her own evil powers. Once she was gone, there was great rejoicing, and the day was set aside as an annual Holiday within the western quadrant. To thank Dorothy for being their Hero, the Winkies gladly restored the Scarecrow and gave him a golden cane to walk with and they polished and mended the tin body of the Tin Woodman until he was good as new. They also gave Dorothy a golden bracelet encrusted with diamonds and gave Toto a golden collar also decorated with diamonds.
Since the Winkies were crafted tinsmiths, they asked the Tin Woodman to be their new official Emperor since the Wicked Witch was gone. He gladly accepted the offer, but only after he helped Dorothy and Toto find a way safely home again. Later, when Glinda, the Good told Dorothy about the charm of the Silver Shoes, Dorothy used them to be teleported out of Oz and back to Kansas. Afterwards, the Tin Woodman finally returned to the west and has happily ruled over them ever since. He now lives in a "Tin Castle" that was built by the Winkies as a gift in his honor. (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
In the classic musical MGM film, the Winkies did not strictly wear the color yellow as described in Baum's book. Instead they wore gray outfits with orange designs and black boots. They wore dark furred armor with tall furry hats. They also had green skin with unattractive facial features just like the Wicked Witch had, making it likely that they are of the same species. This was possibly done due to the rise of dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini at the time, meaning that audiences would more likely recognize a tyrant whom enslaves their own people rather than an outside conqueror.
They seemingly guarded the Witch's territory and carried elaborately designed halberds. They all chanted a "Oh-Ee-Yah, Ee-Yo-Ah" type chorus and loyally obeyed the Wicked Witch, but only because they apparently were scared of her. After the Witch was melted by Dorothy Gale and her companions, the guards immediately hailed Dorothy for setting them free from the Witch's bondage, and gave the broomstick to her to give the Wizard as a token of their appreciation.
The Wiz 1974-2015
In the 1978 film version, the Winkies were funny looking people who had very small eyes and mis-shaped faces, distorted in stitched leather and ugly cloth. They were clumsy at times (slipping or dropping things) and were so terrified of Evillene that even her walking passed had them trembling in fear. They were forced to work in Evillene's sweatshop with no breaks, until Dorothy finally destroyed Evillene. Once Evillene was gone, they shredded their current forms and break out into a joyous dance. (Many debate on whether they were normal looking people enslaved in costumes the whole time or they were shedding their old skins.)
In 2015 The Wiz Live! the Winkies appeared to be a merger of both the Broadway and Film versions. While having a slight resemblance to the 1975 versions, they had similar mannerisms to the movie Winkies. After Evillene is destroyed, they remove their old uniforms to reveal bright and colorful clothing a the celebrate the Witches death.