We decided to do something a little different this time. Grace and I have compiled our favorite witches from movies and tv and why we love them so much. Without further ado, here are our favorite magical badass witches:
Number 5:Kiki, Kiki’s Delivery Service
I don’t think I remember the first time I saw this movie, or how many times I’ve seen it, but it’s just always been with me. Maybe that’s the real movie magic. The familiarity of film that’s so easy to slip into. Thanks to that overwhelming sense of nostalgia we have our number five ranking.
Kiki, a young witch, leaves her home on the night of her thirteenth birthday; as per the prevailing norms of witch society. She, along with her trusty witch familiar, Jiji, the cat, settle in a beautiful seaside town. There she starts, I’m sure you can guess, her delivery service. Utilizing her skills on her broom, Kiki delivers everything by air mail. Truly what I love about Kiki’s Delivery Service is the lessons it teaches young children. Two lessons in particular really resonate with me: confidence and community.
Yes, Kiki left home at thirteen to create a new life for herself. And yes, the intention here is that she would be completely on her own; but she realized quickly that you can’t do it all alone. As soon as she arrives in the town she has a job and a place to live thanks to the local baker. From there she adds on to the list of friends and acquaintances that contribute to her business, thus allowing her to make a living and survive. And as for confidence, Kiki describes herself as a fair flyer. She sells her magic and abilities short. It wasn’t until a live or death situation is she able to unlock her full potential. Trust in yourself. You’re stronger than you think.
Number 4:Elvira, Elvira Mistress of the Dark
“Mirror mirror, on the wall, who’s the most drop dead gorgeous one of all?” Why, that buxom beauty of the big screen, Elvira, of course! For those of you tragically unfamiliar with our Mistress of the Dark, allow me to shine the light. Elvira got her start showing terrible horror movies on cable, Elvira’s Movie Macabre. She’d present these films with terrible jokes and campy bits during the commercial breaks. It’s hard to say what made her so popular. I’ll give you three guesses, but it’ll only take two.
After a few years of hosting someone else’s movies, she decided to make her debut on the big screen. Elvia, Mistress of the Dark follows Elvira as she learns of her witchy origins. When her great-aunt passes away Elvira travels to the small town, full of even smaller minds, of Fallwell, Massachusetts. There she inherits the family home, a book of magic spells, and a final warning; don’t let the book fall into the wrong hands. Elvira learns of her magical heritage, and takes it in stride. If it had been me, I would have been jumping up and down shouting “I knew it! I knew it!”. But she has more grace and poise than I do. It’s up to Elvira to stop the evil warlock Vincent from unleashing hell. With the help of her friends and her own self confidence, Elvira banishes him to the underworld; saving the town and the world! And what better way to celebrate than by finally booking that show in Las Vegas! Elvira channel all the poise, self confidence, and sex appeal it takes to save the world!
Number 3: Sally and Gillian Owens, Practical Magic
Practical Magic worked its way into my heart. I came for the campy, sisterly hi-jinx (ha), but stayed for the poignant story about moving on from relationships. And these relationships, whether good or bad effect us differently, and no amount of magic can make it easier.
We open on an unwed woman with child, exiled over her crimes. The woman, a witch named Maria Owens, waits patiently for her lover to rescue her from exile. He never comes. Out of her pain and frustration, Maria casts a spell on herself, so that she will never fall in love, the spell over time becomes a curse, plaguing all the women in the Owens family.
The Owens family curse: any man who loves an Owens woman is ultimately doomed to die. Thanks to the family curse, the girls form a very warped view of love. Sally decides that she’ll never love a man, at least not completely, not truly; so that she would never have to know heartbreak. Gillian decides on a more indulgent lifestyle where her connections with men while passionate, are more fleeting than her sister’s. Neither sister plans on wholly giving themselves over to a man. Their fear of heartbreak in the wake of a lost love eventually separates them. Sally, ironically, becomes a mother, and Gillian lives a life of parties and abusive men. When the sisters reunite, they find that love is the most powerful magic, and not necessarily romantic love, but familial love, specifically the love between two sisters. Coping with loss seems to be a major theme throughout the film. Loss of a loved one, loss of oneself, loss of direction, confidence, purpose and meaning are all tangled together in such a neat two hours. Practical Magic seems to be in conversation with itself, it asks the question, “how do cope with loss?” the answer “love”. But then again, what caused the loss? Why do we hurt so much after any sort of loss? Because, we loved in the first place. Sally and Gillian have each other through it all. Love and hate, light and dark magic, and midnight margaritas; this movie has it all. Stockard Channing and Dianne West play the coolest and most stylish aunts I have ever seen.
Number 2: The Wicked Witch of the West,The Wizard of Oz
The OG bitch. I used to be so scared of her when I was little, all my dad had to do was hum her little theme and I would start crying. She truly has the range. Even just the thought of her would make a small child burst into tears. In our more modern society we have the Broadway smash hit Wicked, providing us with Elphaba’s (the Wicked Witch) tragic backstory. Honestly, fuck that. We don’t need it. Why is everything always about humanizing the villain? Why can’t the villain just be the villain? Let her scare kids, and hate dogs. Let her employ thousands of otherwise unemployable flying monkeys!
Of course, witches have been in pop culture for decades before this film. However, the Wicked Witch gives us the most enduring image of a witch. Green skin, black gown and hat, hook nose, warts, and of course, her trusty broom. What’s not to love?
Number 1: Annie Graham, Hereditary
As we reach the end of my list, I wonder what is so compelling about witches. Aside from the obvious style, what is so enchanting? It’s the power. The sheer power and control these women possess. I also think that’s why witches are so attractive to Nia and I. As woman so much in our life is out of our control, and having these characters, these images of power is so exhilarating. That could be us, if only. Which is why I decided to end my list with one of the most powerful witches I’ve seen in recent years.
Annie Graham, wife, mother of two, and artist extraordinaire. When the matriarch of the family passes away, Annie grapples with grief and her relationship to her mother, all while trying to keep her family together. At least, that’s what I thought I was going to see. When I walked into this movie, I had no idea what to expect. I thought to myself, how could this be a horror movie. I was so naive. The moment Charlie, Annie’s daughter, saw a vision of granny, naked surrounded by a ring of fire, I just knew. I knew we had some honest to Paimen witches. I still think about this movie at least once a day, and twice if I go to bed late. I stand and stare at the shapes in my corner hoping that pile of clothes is nothing more sinister.
Here more than just depression and mental illness is hereditarily passed down. It seems as though magic can be passed down genetically as well. Try as Annie might, she can’t ignore her genes.
The Hex Girls, Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost
As gorgeous and iconic as the Hex Girls are, they just didn’t make the list. Probably because they’re wiccans, and not witches. Well, Thorn is one sixteenth witch on her mother’s side, so I guess that counts. Also who could ever forget about what a fashion hodge-podge the Hex Girls were? They’re eco-goth vampire witches and we can’t get enough of them.
Number 5: The Sanderson Sisters, Hocus Pocus
Let’s be honest. These three crazy binches encapsulated a whole generation’s idea of Halloween. The movie they hail from is yes, made for children, and yes, there is a character named Thackery but no one under the age of 50 will say that Hocus Pocus is not a lot of spooky fun. Winifred, Sarah and Mary are classic witches. Somehow they are funny enough to come across as kooky old aunts even though they are literally trying to suck the souls out of the main character and kill numerous children. The would be mastermind, the airhead, and the random ass silly one. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy are the larger than life characters that have entertained us for generations. We just love them for the warm nostalgia and silly fun they bring to us, even after the 50th time we watch Hocus Pocus.
Number 4: Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Of course I’m talking about the original here. The Netflix redux has NO place on this list. The story of Melissa Joan Hart is the story of us. She’s a regular girl facing normal teen problems. Well, not exactly regular, but the way the show intertwines magic with coming of age is seamless and amazing to watch. She is not a full human, not full witch. She’s trying to find her place in the world, all magic aside. She is also by no means a master of her magical arts, and struggles just as much with her spells as I used to struggle with my algebra homework. Sabrina the Teenage Witch explores the everyday hassle of just being a teenager going through the mystifying journey that is becoming an adult.
Not to mention, her boss ass aunts that help her navigate the twists and turns of growing up a half-witch in the human world. They are perfect matriarchs for Sabrina and provide us comic relief and a shoulder to cry on. And of course…Salem. Sabrina the Teenage Witch is my #4 because I love camp witches and I don’t care who knows it!
Number 3: The Wonderful Witches of Harry Potter
Okay, where do we even start. There’s Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Lily Potter, Luna Lovegood, Bellatrix Lestrange, Nymphadora Tonks, Ginny Weasley, and MANY more. Hot damn y’all, for as crazy as J.K Rowling has been lately with her backtracking of character descriptions, the things she got right were the powerful lady witches of this incredible universe. There’s too many to choose just one.
They are instrumental characters that demonstrate time and time again the power of femininity. A mother’s love, a friend’s loyalty, a warrior’s strength. All are examples held high by these powerful witches. Let’s face it, it’s because of the aforementioned women that Harry Potter wasn’t dead a billion times over. They are well developed individuals who feel like people in the real world that we know. We care for them, we grieve if they die fighting the fight against Voldemort. The basis of what Harry Potter is about is love. Love triumphing hate. Loyalty to your friends, courage to do what’s right. Encompassing these things with strength and elegance is what makes these witches some of my all time favorites.
Number 2: The witches of The Magicians
If Harry Potter was wizard high school, The Magicians is wizard college. Seriously. Syfy has made some great shows in the past, but The Magicians is their best show by far. They’re in the middle of their 4th season right now, so it’s not too late to jump in. The women in this show are all as badass as you can possibly get. It starts with They kill demons, gods, smoke weed, and take no crap from no man. They also save the world a few times over. The cool thing about The Magicians is that most of the characters are queer or POC and they expect their audience to get with the times or get lost. You’ve never seen a gay satyr hook up with a river nymph and a lizard man at a bacchanal? Grow up, bigot.
The writing is fresh and hilarious and never, NEVER cliche. The women are badass and full of magic. The most powerful magicians in the show are, for all intents and purposes, the witches. The show takes the witch and turns her into a goddess, a high king, a brainiac, a lost soul, and more. Some of the characters are straight up assholes and I find myself not rooting for them until I realized what good writing that is. I am literally in love with every single witch in this show and I feel like they are some of the most well written and well represented characters I’ve seen on tv. Boom.
#1 Thomasin, The Witch
And finally, my favorite. I just rewatched this movie while writing this article so please excuse my deep dive. Let’s start with the movie. Filled with foreboding of sinister intent from start to gruesome finish, this movie is one of my favorites of all time. It’s eerie, deeply unnerving, and a downright mindf*ck. This is the classic Puritan nightmare; you and your family get exiled and things aren’t going quite right. Then your youngest baby sibling is taken by something in the woods, and your farm and surrounding land begins to feel…unnatural. Then, sh*t really hits the fan. We as the audience know that it was a witch, but the family holds out that maybe it was a wolf that took their baby, maybe God is trying to humble them with bad crops and strange feelings. Nope, you’ve got yourself a bonafide child eating witch on your hands. She lives in the woods, and everyone knows you can not escape once you’ve entered them.
Where the family goes wrong for me is thinking they can move into this wilderness and expect (beg) God to let them prosper. Bold of you to assume, William, that you wont be consumed by the sheer power of the woods and all the things the dwell in the shadows. As they lose more and more control of their homestead they realize that they are way out of their depth and vow to return home. The eeriness grows, the pure evil of the witch’s influence seeps into every pore of the family. The oldest daughter Thomasin is eventually all that remains after the witch and her Devilish influence is completely unleashed on the family. This is my favorite kind of witch. The ones that sign their name in the book of the Devil. The ones that laugh in the face of the Puritan god and do what they want. This is why it’s so interesting that Thomasin was chosen to join this life. She is the one that first notices the signs of corruption by Satan on the farm. She is the one who looks back towards the plantation when her family is exiled, which tells us she really wishes she wasn’t leaving. Every time her father says God will show them the right way and will save them if they are worthy, we can almost hear her thoughts saying we’re not worthy. She’s the only one who actually seems to be self aware of her impurity. She confesses to a multitude of sins and begs God for forgiveness. This leaves her wide open to be influenced by the big daddy himself, Satan. Think about it, her family pretty much sucks in the eyes of God. William, her father, confesses to the sin of pride and it’s this sin that stubbornly keeps his family in those god forsaken woods. Katherine her mother is a pretty tight laced sourpuss who admitted to being like Job’s wife and turning away from love. Her two youngest siblings are brats, and her middle brother Caleb can’t keep his eyes off of his sister’s cleavage for more than 30 seconds. Thomasin is different. Satan answers her call and in the end, she relishes the power and freedom she gets in return.
The classic whispering woods, extension-of-Satan type of witch is my favorite. All through history, the notion of this creature literally drove people mad with fear and worry for their souls. This depiction is so masterfully handled that I can’t help but love it. It’s beautifully directed, beautifully shot, and so intelligently written. Thomasin is a dynamic character whose motivations and feelings are not always clear. We as the viewer feel like we’re going crazy too. So cray. Thanks for reading!