In Victorian times, a young woman named Agnes Leeford is pregnant and walks all the way to a workhouse in an unnamed city in England. She enters the workhouse and then has her baby - a boy. She dies before she can name him. Sally, an old woman who worked at the workhouse, takes care of the baby. Mr Bumble, the head of the workhouse, surnames the new workhouse children by alphabetical order. He comes to 'T' and names him Oliver Twist.
Nine years later, Oliver is a workhouse-boy. In his room, the boys have a dare and Oliver got the shortest straw. Because of this, he has to ask the dining hall master for more Gruel. This angers The Parish Board and they sell Oliver for £5, wanting to get rid of him. A man named Mr Sowerberry buys him. When Oliver is at his house, a teenager named Noah Claypole bullies Oliver about his mother. Oliver punches Noah, but only gets himself into trouble with Mr Bumble, who Noah tells to come round. Oliver is let out of the cellar and is whipped by Mr Sowerberry. He escapes and walks for seven days to London. When he is there, a boy named Jack Dawkins (who is better known as the "Artful Dodger") takes Oliver to the loft where he lives with other boys. Oliver meets Fagin; an old man; Nancy, a woman who grows to care a lot about Oliver, and Bill Sikes, Nancy's boyfriend who is a murderer. Fagin, Dodger, and a boy named Charley Bates teach Oliver how to steal. Oliver doesn't realise they are thieves. The next day Oliver, Dodger and Charley go out to steal. Dodger and Charley steal a handkerchief from an old man called Mr Brownlow. Oliver is frightened and runs off, which causes Mr. Brownlow to think he’s the thief. After a chase where Oliver is hurt, he is taken to court, faints and is almost carried off as guilty, but the bookkeeper tells everyone he saw the real thieves (Dodger and Charley). Mr. Brownlow rushes him to his house and cares for him while he recovers from a fever.
Oliver faints and the next thing he knows, he is on a bed. He sees two women. Rose (his Aunt) and Mrs Bedwin (the housekeeper). He is cared for better than he ever has been, and everyone likes and trusts him. Meanwhile, Fagin and Bill get really angry with Dodger. Bill tells Nancy to look for Oliver and bring him back. Oliver is told to go to return some books to the bookkeeper, but Nancy catches him. Oliver screams saying he doesn't know them, but nobody believes him. When he returns, the other boys bully him for his fancy clothes. Meanwhile, Edward Brownlow (known as Monks), Oliver's half-brother, wants Oliver dead. They had the same father. Monks secretly tells Fagin if he wants a few coins, he'll have to murder Oliver, and if not then Monks will do it himself. Nancy hears all this so she tells Mr Brownlow at the old bridge at midnight. Dodger hears this, and tells Fagin that Nancy has betrayed everyone. Sykes secretly hears and murders Nancy. He takes Oliver for a long walk with his dog Bullseye. When Bill is trying to escape, he accidentally hangs himself. Oliver is reunited with Mr Brownlow and Rose. Monks is ultimately arrested.