The first witch I ever loved was Elphaba (then known only to me as “The Wicked Witch of the West”), she of the green skin and flying monkey minions. I still remember curling up with grilled cheese and tomato soup to watch The Wizard of Oz over and over (yes, I was that child). There was something endlessly fascinating about this villain. She was cruel and callous, true, but she was also self-reliant and seemed content in her solitude. She wielded fear and magic, and there was no one in all the land that failed to respect her power. Heady stuff for a seven year old!
In no particular order are a list of other witches in fiction I’ve loved over the years, some for their personal strength and others for their sense of style or wit. I’ve been careful to give these powerful folks the individual attention they deserve, so you won’t find groupings such as “The Weird Sisters”. Likewise, you won’t find this to be a list of simply the most popular or wholesome of fictitious witches (Sarah was the villain in The Craft and I will die on this hill).
Did I miss your favorite? Make a case for them in the comments below!
- Rochelle (The Craft)
I’ll tell you right now I’m mixing in a healthy dose of my love for the actress, Rachel True, here. Like Rochelle, she is frequently omitted from things because of her blackness (seriously, look up how often Rachel True isn’t credited for The Craft OR invited to signings at conventions!), and like Rochelle, she is fierce and resilient.
Rochelle is also a loyal friend, willing to stick up for you if others are attempting to hurt you and help you get some much-needed revenge. All she asks is a little loyalty in return and for you to withhold your judgement. Doesn’t seem so much to ask, really (Sarah, why did you have to be such a milquetoast?).
2. Polgara the Sorceress (The Belgariad Novels)
Polgara wasn’t just tasked with watching over a community, she was entrusted with watching over an entire bloodline across multiple generations. Talk about dedication! But that doesn’t mean that she put her own desires entirely on the back-burner…she also fostered a city, inspired knights, and waded through her own complicated family matters with, if not poise and grace, a good deal of strength.
3. Bonnie Bennett (The Vampire Diaries)
She is the only person I want to hear the words “hereditary witch” coming from, ya’ll. Seriously, Bonnie had a good deal of oomph in her ancestors, but she was also willing to establish herself and stand on her own two feet, even when it meant helping those who could have rightfully been called her enemies.
4. Jadis, the White Witch (Narnia)
Find me a witch who looked better dressed in icicles. I’ll wait.
Was she evil? Most assuredly. But she was also intelligent, enduring, strong in battle and fierce in her determination. Maybe don’t leave her with your children or accept candy from her, but isn’t that wise advice to follow with all strangers?
5. Angelique Bouchard Collins (Dark Shadows)
Good gods, was this woman unlucky in love. First she falls for a dandy heir to an American fortune, then she falls out of love with him, then back in, then out…mix in a few passing monsters that caught her fancy…
Angelique was a fool for love, true, and had quite the obsession with revenge and punishment, but we stan a woman that works her way up from the bottom and reaches for what she deserves.
6. Fiona Goode, the Supreme (American Horror Story)
She wasn’t a good wife, and she wasn’t a good mother, and arguably she wasn’t even a good Supreme…but she was a hell of a badass.
Fiona, for all her flaws, took a stand against racism, had no tolerance for ostracizing others for their differences, and was ready to wipe the floor with you if you were a crap person (pot calling kettle, I know). I’d hate to stand against her in a fight, but I know who I’d want on my side if there were folks determined to tie me to the stake.
7. Eva Ernst, the Grand High Witch (The Witches)
She had style, she had grace, she could also peel her face…right off.
Eva was the ultimate in two-faced, running a children’s charity while also planning to severely harm all the children of England. That said, Eva did not suffer fools, and she had very little patience for married men that threw themselves at her in front of their wives. Eva made her own money (quite literally, she had a printing machine) and she refused to be a kept woman!
8. Yubaba (Spirited Away)
Her head for business (teehee!) was impressive. Yubaba was a shrewd businesswoman who knew the value of things, even if she had trouble understanding the value of people. Still, she was a devoted mother and talented practitioner of her arts, applying them more towards the practical side of keeping her business running than she did for show or fame.
9. Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz)
I’m blending the Wizard of Oz and Wicked versions, here, but I think both told two sides of the same woman, depending on who was looking at her. Elphaba had a tough life, but she knew the value of posturing and maintaining a (sometimes necessary) facade to fight for the important things in life. And even if she did get taken out by an accident in the end (as do so many of us), her iron will ensured that she led a strong and productive life until then.
10. Winnifred Sanderson (Hocus Pocus)
Yes, I’m leaving her sisters out of this list. Yes, I am aware of the hate I’m going to get. But at the end of the day, it was Winnie’s brains that carried she and her sisters through things (even if it was usually her ego that let them all down). Winnie was passionate, wanted loyalty from her partners, and knew that she had a mission in life that ultimately wasn’t compatible with having kids of her own (now, other people’s kids…).
11. Sally Owens (Practical Magic)
Grief can destroy us, even when we have so much to live for. The loss of her husband nearly destroyed Sally, who thought that she had found her one and only love. But Sally was a strong woman who had built up a good support network for herself, and knew that she owed it to her children to pull through. Sally was generous with her love, even if she was afraid to share it with some people, and you couldn’t help but love and respect the time and beauty she poured into her loved ones and goals.
12. Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
Driven to succeed on her own terms, Kiki is an amazing role model for young witches to look up to. Sure, running a delivery service may be beyond them (especially as most of us rely on cars, not brooms), but the fact that she started a business and was able to work so hard towards her goals is admirable.
13. Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins)
While not outright identified as a witch, tell me, what else would you call a woman who can soar through the air, enchant household objects, and basically has a magical bag of holding? That’s right, a witch.
Mary might have come across as a strict, no-nonsense sort, but she was the first to see the value in fun and making games out of even the most difficult tasks.
14. Regina Mills (Once Upon a Time)
Regina is the picture of how hate and a desire for revenge can absolutely ruin a person. She is on this list, however, because she is also an excellent example of how putting love for a dependent over your personal ego can be a strong catalyst towards a personal redemption arc. Regina doesn’t run away from the awful things she’s done, but importantly, she’s willing to put in the work towards mending what she’s broken, without expecting a happy ending in return (though I hope she gets one).
15. Tituba (Salem)
Tituba is often run over in narratives in favor of letting little white girls have the spotlight. Here, I’ll just post her own words, as delivered via the powerful character in the show:
“Save your pity. You understand nothing. It is not revenge I seek any more than a surgeon seeks revenge on the carcinoma he removes. You people are the carcinoma. You cannot hate the Puritans more than I. Were it only a matter of Puritans. They are but one tiny tribe of you criminals, murderers, and hypocrites. You set out from your lands to discover the world… as if the world wasn’t known to the people who lived there. Every place you people set foot on this earth is a crime! And then you have the audacity to complain when others would dare to treat you with the same cold, calculating slaughter that you have dealt every other people in this world. Believe it or not, I am truly sorry that you must be lost in the storm… but I know you, Mary. You are too smart not to see that what is coming is no crime, but justice. Cruel perhaps, but justice.“
16. Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Can I get a little more love for the fat women out there? Ursula didn’t cater to the standards of beauty others imposed on her, except when she temporarily used them as a weapon. Ursula was secure in her power and beauty, flaunting her curves and relishing in the power she had taken for herself. You go, sea witch!
17. Piper Halliwell (Charmed)
Run on “Pagan Standard Time”? Leave you to clean and organize the ritual space by yourself? Ghost the festival planning committee during crunch time? Piper Halliwell would never. She is the pinnacle of responsibility and the very picture of a friend you can rely on when the going gets tough, and no amount of woo will distract her.
18. Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Ah, another woman not afraid to sneer at standards of beauty and embrace her own values and tastes!
Madam Mim had a playful side to her dark arts, and one which was deeply appreciated by me growing up (she made being bad look so fun!). Also, can we take a moment to appreciate her purple hair and color coordination? Top notch!
19. Sabrina Spellman (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
I’m admittedly of the generation that grew up with Sabrina: The Teenage Witch, a la Melissa, but there’s something to be said about a girl who’s willing to throw away family tradition to stay true to herself and stick close to her friends.
Sabrina is a hell of a social justice warrior (take pride in that title, folks!), fighting for what she believes in and always punching up at oppressors. We could all take a page out of her (spell)book.
20. Flemeth, the Witch of the Wilds (Dragon Age)
Flemeth gets a bad reputation as being a vain, cruel, devourer of men, but let’s be fair … she’s a witty, resourceful, enduring devourer of men.
Flemeth has seen the worst this world has to offer over the years, and though she might be a bit bitter about how things have turned out, that doesn’t mean that she isn’t willing to lend a hand where needed to try to get things back on the right track.
21. Endora (Bewitched)
Endora always had a flare for the dramatic, and while she was never very good at remembering her son-in-law’s name (and let’s be honest, many of us didn’t even notice when a different actor began playing him, so can we blame her?), she was fiercely devoted to her daughter and was always ready to give a bit of motherly advice when needed, like it or not.
22. Lamia (Stardust)
Lamia looked every inch the queen, but that didn’t mean that she was too finicky about getting her hands dirty in a fight. She knew what she wanted and went after it, and while she could be cruel, she also wasn’t unnecessarily so, as she could have killed half a dozen people at any time in her pursuit of what she wanted, but (mercifully or just out of disinterest) refrained from doing so.
Also, can we all agree that more witches need to drive goat-chariots?
23. Lafayette Reynolds (True Blood)
Lafayette had quite the mouth on him (and was willing to prove it), but he was also loyal, supportive of his friends, and appreciative of his loved ones.
Never willing to sugar coat things if you needed a dose of hard reality, Lafayette also had very little patience for ignorance and hatred, and though he put himself in harm’s way numerous times to do so, was always willing to take a stand and dare anyone to try to put him in “his place”.
24. Granny Weatherwax (The Discworld Series)
Unconcerned with what did or did not choose her, Granny Weatherwax decided what she wanted for herself, went out, and got it, even when it came to the ability to practice magic.
She was a woman of great wisdom, little patience, and wise sayings. She also did a damn fine job of breaking down how witchcraft is ultimately about helping, as she puts it here:
“Now that’s what I call magic—seein’ all that, dealin’ with all that, and still goin’ on. It’s sittin’ up all night with some poor old man who’s leavin’ the world, taking away such pain as you can, comfortin’ their terror, seein’ ‘em safely on their way…and then cleanin’ ‘em up, layin’ ‘em out, making ‘em neat for the funeral, and helpin’ the weeping widow strip the bed and wash the sheets—which is, let me tell you, no errand for the fainthearted—and stayin’ up the next night to watch over the coffin before the funeral, and then going home and sitting down for five minutes before some shouting angry man comes bangin’ on your door ‘cuz his wife’s havin’ difficulty givin’ birth to their first child and the midwife’s at her wits’ end and then getting up and fetching your bag and going out again…We all do that, in our own way, and she does it better’n me, if I was to put my hand on my heart. That is the root and heart and soul and center of witchcraft, that is. The soul and center!”
25. Strega Nona (Strega Nona Series)
Known as “Grandma Witch” in broken Italian, Strega Nona was always on hand to help others. She could cure warts, help solve local troubles, even help you find a husband. But Strega Nona knew her limits and didn’t let her desire to help others wear her to exhaustion. She had the good sense to take on a helper, and that, knowing when to ask for help, is a valuable bit of wisdom for any of us.
26. Melisandre (A Song of Ice and Fire)
Dedicated to her god and unwilling to dishonor Him by giving up when things got difficult, I will always admire Melisandre for her piety, even if her methods left many things to be desired.
I also yearn for her hair and I, too, am willing to make a pact with a deity to achieve such lustrous tresses. Melisandre had a magical necklace, but I’ll probably have to settle with a wig.
27. Sabriel (The Abhorsen Series)
Sabriel found herself thrust into responsibility without warning, set on a dark and dangerous path to find and rescue her father. She was a good student, though, and when she wasn’t putting her prior learning to use, she was taking the time to learn new things and puzzle out complex situations. I admire her as much for her sword arm and magic as I do her considerable brain power.
28. Rowena (Supernatural)
Rowena wasn’t always a powerful witch, mother to the king of hell and eventual queen of said realm herself. No, for much of her life she was heartbroken and afraid, and she took her pain and misery out on her child and those around her.
That might have been the end of her, but Rowena went through one hell of a redemption arc (ironic, considering her eventual occupation). She put her power and knowledge to work helping others, learned to let love in, and still had the drive and focus necessary to better herself and leave the world better than she found it.
29. Alex Medford (The Witches of Eastwick)
While she’s often lumped in with her friends and talked about merely as one of three, Alex was a powerful and inspiring woman all on her own.
Though she lost her husband and became a single mother, Alex found solace in her sculptures and in her friends. When she found love, she dived deep into it, and it was a free and all-embracing love. But when that love soured, Alex respected herself enough to walk away from it and demand better for herself, and no amount of begging or threats would induce her to go back when she knew she deserved more.
30. Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Let’s give a nod to Willow and her struggles with addiction, here. Power, drugs, sex, and booze, among other things, all have the ability to make us feel more than ourselves. If we feel like we lack control in a part of our lives, addiction can sneak in and wrap its tendrils around us. Like Willow, we can lose the ones we love, our ethics, and ultimately ourselves. Willow ultimately accepted the help of her friends and therapists (of a sort), however, and while she knows she will always be an addict, she also knows that she is more than that.
31. Marie Laveau (American Horror Story)
Faced with every indignity and danger, Marie Laveau did the rare and difficult thing of standing up for herself and fighting back. More, she fought for her loved ones and her community, and while some may find fault with her actions, few can discount the results of her efforts.
Strong, cunning, but always full of love and compassion (however hard the lessons stemming from it came), Marie was a true queen who inspired those around her to greater heights.
You’ll note the conspicuous absence of any of the witches found in the Harry Potter series. Due to the TERF rantings of J.K. Rowling, I simply cannot support the series and risk lining her hateful pockets any further. Thus, the absence was deliberate. We at ev0ke support our trans brothers and sisters, and affirm that transmen are men, and transwomen are women.
[Ashley Nicole Hunter is a founding editor and regular contributor of ev0ke. She also serves on the board of directors of Bibliotheca Alexandrina.]