Oscar is a selfish and greedy con artist who aspires to be great. He uses his charm, wit, and ingenuity to deceive others, typically acts only upon his best interest, and does not think of himself as a kind person. Despite this, he has a surprising amount of empathy, and has proven to have a good heart. Glinda describes him as being "...weak, selfish, slightly egotistical, and a fibber." His personal hero is Thomas Edison.
Oz the Great and Powerful
In 1905 Kansas, Oscar (nicknamed Oz) is a small-time circus magician and con artist in a traveling circus. He is early revealed to be a womanizer who tricks women by giving them a music box which he claims to have belonged to his dead grandmother, though in reality, he has plenty of them. With his assistant, Frank, Oscar runs a magic show where he mesmerizes the audience, but he is revealed to be a fraud when he is unable to heal a young girl who is unable to walk. Annie Gale, a woman he is revealed to genuinely be in love with, visits Oscar at the circus to tell him another man, John Gale, proposed to her. Oscar, caring deeply for her and realizing he is a bad man, tells her she should accept. As a storm approaches the circus, the circus strongman attacks Oscar after finding one of the music boxes he had given to his girlfriend. Oscar escapes in a hot air balloon with his top hat and a sack of supplies but is sucked into a cyclone. As it breaks apart, Oscar promises God that if he survives this he will become a good man.
Oscar finds himself in the Land of Oz. The witch Theodora finds him and explains she believes he is the focus of a prophecy after seeing him perform a few simple magic tricks, which she believes are real magic. She tells him that Glinda the Good Witch of the South killed her father, the wizard, and king of Oz, but upon his death bed, it was predicted that a great and powerful wizard by the name of Oz would descend from the sky, save the land, and become their new king. They follow the Yellow Brick Road to the capital, the Emerald City. Along the way, Oscar follows his womanizing ways and gives Theodora a music box; she clearly falls in love with him whereas he rebuffs such commitment. They encounter Finley (a reference to Frank, who he called his monkey), a flying monkey, and Oscar saves him from a lion with magical illusion. Finley pledges a life debt to Oscar.
In the Emerald City, Evanora, Theodora's sister, guards the throne until the prophecy wizard arrives. She is skeptical of Oscar being the wizard but claims he can have all the power and wealth of the king if he kills Glinda by stealing and destroying her wand, the source of her power. Oscar and Finley travel to the Dark Forest, but along the way, they see smoke coming from "China Town", where the inhabitants are all made of porcelain. Everyone is dead except for a young, un-named girl whose legs are broken. Oscar fixes her legs with glue, and she explains that the wicked witch destroyed the city with her flying monkeys because they celebrated Oscar's arrival to the Land of Oz.
They travel to the Dark Forest and find Glinda, who resembles Annie in appearance and actions. However, just as they are about to destroy the wand, it is revealed that she is, in fact, the good witch and that Evanora is the true wicked witch and the one who killed the previous king. The army of the Emerald City and the flying monkeys then arrive and attack Glinda, Oscar, Finley, and the China Girl. Glinda's magic allows the team to escape, first hiding them in a fog, then having them fly to her castle, with a barrier strong enough to prevent Evanora from reaching it.
At her castle, Glinda reveals she knows that Oscar isn't truly a wizard but tells him he might be what they need. He tells the land he is the wizard here to save them, and he meets his "army": tinkers who can build anything, farmers who can grow anything, and Munchkins that can create any clothing, all of whom are forbidden to kill. Theodora, now the Wicked Witch of the West, breaks the barrier and attacks the town, using her magic to manipulate Oscar's body like a puppet, telling Oscar that he is the cause of her wickedness. Glinda fights her off, but she says that she'll come back with the armies of the Emerald City. Oscar realizes he can't win against such an army with what is available and decides to leave, but he has a change of heart when the China Girl tells him that the old king used to grant wishes; she wishes to have her family back, but Oscar sadly realizes he can't help with this. He tells Glinda while they can't win in a straight-out battle against the Emerald City, they might be able to win through illusion. The city creates various objects for the upcoming battle.
Oscar and a few others sneak into the Emerald City in a magician's wagon with the help of the Emerald City's grumpy herald Nook, a secret ally of Glinda, during the attack, Glinda is captured. While this goes on, Oscar steals a large amount of gold from the Emerald City vaults and seemingly flies away with it in a hot air balloon. Theodora shows this to the town and then destroys the balloon to destroy the city's hopes. This is simply an illusion by Oscar to make the town think he was dead so that he can be reincarnated as the Great and Powerful Oz, a wizard with no human form, which is really just a face projected onto smoke in the center of the city thanks to the wagon sneaked into the city earlier. The guards and witches attack, which of course has no effect.
As the witches grow fearful, Oscar "attacks" them and the city with fireworks, which they have never seen. In the confusion, Evanora runs into the palace out of fear, and the China Girl brings Glinda her wand, allowing her to escape. Evanora and Glinda face-off, with Glinda winning by destroying Evanora's emerald necklace, hinted to be the source of her power as its destruction causes her to lose her power and physically age. Evanora is banished from the Emerald City by Glinda, and she escapes by way of the two flying monkeys. Theodora uses her broom to fly away in the ensuing confusion, and as she escapes, Oscar apologizes to her for what she has become and says she can come back if she ever regains her former self, but she declares that she will never go back. As she takes off, he expresses sadness that he could not get through to her who once believed in him.
Oscar creates a miniature version of his projection system, as he needs to make the citizens believe he died but that Oz lives on in order to keep them united against the wicked witches. In keeping with the previous king, but unable to grant wishes, he gives the main characters of the story gifts. He offers the Master Tinker a type of Swiss army knife he used in the film. Knuck is given a mask with a smiley face. Finley is given something Oscar never gave anyone, his friendship (and hat). He gives the China Girl a new family in the form of her friends. He gives Glinda some sort of unspecified romantic relationship.
In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, The Wizard is actually a former tour bus driver named Francis Cornfine from Hollywood who came to Oz and the residents assumed he was an all-powerful figure. His talent at manipulating his fingers impressed the populace, and feeling a need to "give the public what they want," he developed a number of devices and tricks to maintain the illusion of "Oz, the great and powerful." He uses special effects to take on various forms instead of just one.
The Wizard of Oz/Walsh is a recurring character during the second half of the third season of Once Upon a Time. He is played by Christopher Gorham.
Before First Curse
Originally, Walsh is from Kansas but finds himself in the Land of Oz. Giving himself the name "Oz the Great and Terrible", he masquerades as an all-knowing wizard. This hoax upsets Glinda the Good Witch of the South, as she knows he only gives false hope to those who seek out his help. From behind a curtain, Walsh projects a shadow image and speaks with a booming voice to anyone who approaches his palace to seek an audience with him. He also asks for genuine magical items in exchange for help which he uses to further his deception. A woman named Zelena wants his help in finding her birth family, so he gifts a pair of silver heels to take her anywhere she desires. Zelena leaves for the Enchanted Forest to seek out family and returns asking to go to the past so she can change her own fate of being abandoned by her mother. The wizard states that even with the most powerful magic, this is not possible. Angrily, she rips off the curtain and discovers his true persona is nothing but a simple man who likes orchestrating a false image to put on a good show. Deciding to make use of him, she turns him into a flying monkey as her loyal pet.
Sometime later, his transformation into a flying monkey alerts Glinda, the Witch of the South, to Zelena's presence. Glinda thanks Zelena for exposing him and believes time as her pet is a fitting punishment for his trickery. Zelena is welcomed into Glinda's sisterhood of witches as the Witch of the Wes but is "defeated" by a young girl named Dorothy Gale. Rather than become the new Witch of the West, Dorothy only wishes to go home; a desire Glinda grants by taking her back to see the Wizard, who is presumed to have reverted to his old form since Zelena's magic has been undone. From behind the green curtain, Zelena impersonates the Wizard's voice and gives Dorothy the silver slippers to send her home.
During Second Curse
Walsh meets Emma and they begin dating. Over the course of eight months, he gets to know her as well as her son, Henry. Walsh has dishonest motives in getting close to Emma, but the nature of it is not known. During one romantic evening dinner, Walsh surprises Emma by hiding a ring on the platter of an ice cream sundae and then proposes to her. She reacts in shock by walking out of the restaurant and stating that marriage is too soon for them. Walsh agrees to be patient, as she is the one he wants to spend his life with, and promises to give her all the time to think it over. The next day, he receives a text from Henry asking him to come over to the apartment to have dinner with Emma. Walsh promptly shows up, to which Emma leads him onto the rooftop where she rejects his marriage proposal. Emma reluctantly explains the necessity for herself to go home and leave him behind because "a ghost" from her past has shown up. Walsh does his best to convince her that the life she has now is worth staying for, but Emma cannot, though she wishes it could be so. Unable to sway her otherwise, Walsh's demeanor changes and he expresses knowledge of the potion Emma previously drank, which is what restored her past memories. After throwing aside a table, he charges at her, but she dodges, sending him hurling down the roof. He soars up in the form of a flying monkey to attack her, though Emma violently shoves him away with a metal pipe. Physically wounded, he falls from the building, nearly hitting the ground, before disappearing in a puff of smoke.
- His initials are spelled out like O.Z.P.I.N.H.E.A.D.. Because his initials partly spell "PINHEAD", his stage name is only the first two letters (O.Z.).
- Before James Franco was cast as the character, two actors Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp were both offered the role of Oz. Downey wasn't interested in the playing the character; Depp liked the role but was already committed to The Lone Ranger.