WARNING: The following contains spoilers for those who have not scene the musical live.
The story of Wicked opens with the end, the Munchkins of the Wizard of Oz celebrating Dorothy’s slaying of the Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda the Good descends from the sky in her bubble and attests that the Wicked Witch has in fact been slain, melted by a bucket of water thrown by Dorothy, the girl from Kansas.
Glinda laments and the musical shifts from the celebration to the past. Elphaba Thropp’s life is difficult, green and misunderstood. Her father raises her and her sister, Nessarose, alone due to the death of her mother during childbirth with Nessarose. That life appears to be destined to remain the same as she and her crippled sister arrive at Shiz University in Munchkinland.The students empathy for her sister, but watch the green skinned student with a blatant sense of hesitation and shock.
It is there that Elphaba discovers that she will be sharing a room with Galinda, or Glinda long before she is granted the title of Good Witch. Then she is spoiled, manipulative, and popular. Elphaba and Galinda immediate take a dislike to each other.
The first day of class finds the two in Doctor Dillamond’s history class. He is the only Animal professor left at the university and is startled to turn his blackboard over to read the anti-Animal slogan “Animals should be see not heard” written in blood. He, flustered, ends class, but Elphaba stays behind. He confides in her that many Animals around Oz are mysteriously losing the power of speech.
The disturbance is put in the back of the students minds when Prince Fiyero arrives. The prince has just arrived after being expelled from another school. His careless lifestyle has made him a pest for administrators, but his charm and his handsome appearance enthralls the students at Shiz. One of his first orders of business, upon arrival is to throw a party.
Galinda seeks nothing but to be matched with her apparent male popular equivalent and in the process of getting ready for the party she convinces Elphaba to wear a pointed black she has found and convinces Boq, a student with a crush on her, that she would personally appreciate it if he took Nessarose, who coincidently has a crush on him.
Nessarose is overcome with gratitude and begs her sister to do something nice for Galinda. Elphaba knows that Galinda has been unable to earn a training wand, but she has impressed the headmistress, Madame Morrible, with her obvious potential. Elphaba forces Morrible to let Galinda in the class. Meanwhile on the dance floor at the party Elphaba has withstood ridicule for her hat and is now dancing by herself.
The prince is impressed believing her dancing solo proves she does not care what others think, but Galinda, feeling guilty, can tell that is not true. In her own act of kindness she joins Elphaba on the dance floor.
Elphaba and Galinda talk afterward in their room. Elphaba confides in Galinda her difficult past, including the knowledge that her father was so disturbed by her green skin that he forced his mother to eat milk flowers when she was pregnant with Nessarose. The practice crippled his daughter and took the life of his wife. He has blamed Elphaba ever since.
Galinda feels sympathy and gives Elphaba a make over and plots to make her popular. The next day however Dr. Dillamond is taken away by Ozian officials and a new history teacher who shows the class that by raising the Animals in cages hey lose the power of speech. Disgusted, Elphaba enchants the entire class but Fiyero and they free the lion in the cage the history teacher has brought as an example.
The rebellious act, although unknown to the class, also reveals the chemistry between Fiyero and Elphaba. Elphaba knowing that Galinda, her new found friend has feelings for the prince, hides under a bridge as it begins to rain, embarrassed and sure that he would be unable to truly love her because of her skin.
Elphaba has received some good news though. She has been recruited by Madame Morrible to go to the Emerald City and visit with the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. At the train station she is surprised by the appearance of Fiyero, who has come to see her off with flowers. This comes after Galinda has confided in Elphaba that Fiyero’s interest in her seems to be abating. Galinda after seeing him arrive with flowers for her roommate announces that she will change her name to Glinda in honor of Dr. Dillamond’s constant mispronunciation of her name, an obvious ploy to bring Fiyero’s attention back to her. Elphaba feels guilty and decides to invite Glinda along for the trip to the Emerald City.
While in the Emerald City the two sightsee until Elphaba is summoned to see the Wizard. The Wizard presents her with a test, using an ancient spell book, the Grimmerie, to give his monkey wings. She is successful and the Wizard moves a large curtain to show that she has given all the monkeys wings. He also remarks that the monkeys will be used as spies to watch the Animals for activity.
Elphaba now knows that the Wizard has no true power and that she has aided the cause she despises. She runs away with the flying monkeys. Glinda joins her in the escape and they hear Madame Morrible announce to all Oz that Elphaba is a Wicked Witch that is not to be trusted. Flying off on a broomstick, she tries to talk Glinda into coming along, but the friend, no matter how changed, still cannot turn down the potential popularity. Elphaba announces that she will use her vast powers to fight the Wizard and his anti-Animal campaign.
Some time has passed since the incident and Elphaba has become the Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda has become engaged to Fiyero and Nessorosa has taken as governor of Mutchkinland following her father’s suicide. Elphaba needs some place to stay and goes to her sister for help. Still selfish after all those years, she convinces Elphaba to help her walk, a feat she achieves by enchanting Nessarose’s jeweled shoes.
Boq, who is now her servant enters and tells Nessarose that his affections lie with Glinda and not with her. Heart broken, the obsessed takes the Grimmerie and tries to perform a spell that will make his heart hers. The spell goes wrong and his heart begins to shrink instead. Elphaba tries to save him, but can only turn him into a Tin Man, a creature that needs no heart to survive.
Horrified Nessarose and Boq begin to rally a mob to hunt her down. Elphaba has gone to the Wizard’s palace and to free the winged monkeys from their cages. There she encounters the Wizard who offers to set them all free, but upon discovering her favorite professor Dr. Dillamond caged and speechless she rejects his offer and tries to escape with the animals running into Fiyero, now a high level guard. Together they flee. Madame Morrible has created a tornado that heads toward her sister to stop her. Elphaba arrives too late to save her sister and discovers Dorothy’s house lying on top of her sister. Fiyero again helps her escape but is captured by the guards in process. About to be subjugated to a beating, she turns Fiyero into the Scarecrow to spare him pain.
The mob now assembled even includes the lion cub Elphaba rescued at university. Boq, or the Tin Woodman explains that the lion has become cowardly because he was never allowed to fight his own fight. The characters from the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Meanwhile Glinda has found out that the tornado and Elphaba’s death were no accident. She meets the Wicked Witch and Fiyero at his castle and persuades Elphaba to let Dorothy who she has captured, go. The friendship is renewed.
Elphaba realizes that her name cannot be cleared without leading Oz astray and concocts a plan by which Glinda takes over as ruler of Oz, Madame Morrible is put in prison, and Elphaba’s life is apparently ended by a bucket of water. It is also revealed that the Wizard is in fact Elphaba’s father by the revelation of a canister of green serum that her mother was addicted to. The Wizard leaves in his balloon and Fiyero and Elphaba are reunited after a trap door reveals her safe. Elphaba wants to tell Glinda that she is ok, but Fiyero convinces her that nobody can ever know. Meanwhile, back in Mutchkinland, Glinda announces she would like to be known as Glinda the Good and wants to reform the government.