Happy Halloween everyone! Here’s a list of the best witches in pop culture to read on this spooky day.
A woman bent on vengeance, the Wicked Witch of the West was out to kill Dorothy in order to get the ruby slippers for herself. She is one of the most iconic film villains of all time., notorious for the line “I’ll get you my pretty—and your little dog too.” She terrifies the inhabitants of Munchkinland, has a hoard of flying monkeys to do her bidding, and goes after a little girl and her dog for the accidental death of her sister. Glinda the Good Witch of the North acts as a foil the Wicked Witch of the West. She’s her polar opposite, appearing in a bubblegum pink bubble and a poofy princess gown. She protects Dorothy and her companions any way she can and ultimately tells Dorothy how she can find her way home. In the book and broadway musical Wicked, these two are portrayed as adversaries-turned-friends. Elphaba is a misfit due to her green skin and political beliefs, while Galinda is her popular, bubbly roommate.
2. URSULA THE SEA WITCH (The Little Mermaid)
Ursula is a master manipulator, making promises to desperately in love people in exchange for a difficult, if not impossible, task. She gets Ariel to sign away her voice to attempt to be with Prince Eric, then uses that voice to convince Eric that her human alterego Vanessa is the one he’s meant to be with. Due to these circumstances, Ariel fails to make good on their deal, allowing Ursula to use her as a bargaining chip to take the under the sea world over from her brother, King Triton. She’s a woman (octopus?) with a plan. Too bad everything is foiled by Ursula getting stabbed by a ship and struck by a whole lot of lightning.
3. HERMIONE GRANGER (The Harry Potter series)
Hermione is widely touted as the cleverest witch of her age throughout all seven Harry Potter books. She’s the helper of homework,, a social activist (the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare wouldn’t exist without her!), and the mastermind behind many of the plans she, Harry, and Ron concoct. Hermione is clever, tricky and downright badass when the occasion calls for it. Some of my favorite badass Hermione moments include her slapping Malfoy across the face in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and branding Marietta with the word “SNEAK” when the girl betrayed Dumbledore’s Army.
4. WILLOW ROSENBERG (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Before Willow was a badass witch with a black magic addiction, she was the shy wallflower friend of Buffy Summers and Xander Harris. She experimented with magic in trying to restore Angel’s soul, a successful venture that ends up being devastating anyway. She continues to dabble in magic throughout the third season, but really comes into her own in the fourth season with the help of fellow witch and girlfriend Tara. She goes off the deep end for a bit, using magic as a drug and you know, the whole skinning Warren alive thing. With Xander’s help, she comes back around, ultimately allowing Buffy and the rest to fight the final battle against the first evil and the ubervamps.
5. THE SANDERSON SISTERS (Hocus Pocus)
Hanged in 1693, the Sanderson sisters came back three hundred years later with the help of a spell and Max Dennison lighting the black flame candle. Winnie is the oldest, often cursing the idiocy of her sisters when things don’t go her way. Sarah is obsessed with boys, regardless of whether or not she and her sisters plan on killing them. Mary is just straight up weird, but seems to play more of a sidekick role for Winnie than Sarah does. The most awesome thing about these witches? After failing to suck the life out of a child (which would have extended their lifespan once more) these sisters explode into a shower of sparkles come dawn on November 1. Sorry, spoiler alert for anyone that’s been living under a rock for almost twenty years and hasn’t seen this. OH GOD, HOCUS POCUS CAME OUT ALMOST TWENTY YEARS AGO?! Excuse me as I go curl up on my bed and mourn the passing of my youth.
6. THE CHARMED ONES (Charmed)
Prue, Piper, Phoebe, and later Paige Haliwell were the culmination of a long line of good witches. Prue was telekinetic and had the ability to astral project. Piper could freeze time and make things explode, her powers tied to slowing down and speeding up molecules. Phoebe was the most varied of the four siblings—she had visions of the future, could levitate for a short time, and later became an empath with the ability to sense other people’s feelings. Since Paige was half-Whitelighter, she could orb herself and objects wherever she wanted. Their powers were tied to their relationships with one another—meaning united they were quite powerful, but divisions within the sisterhood could leave them without their abilities. These sisters had to balance their battle against evil with their normal lives, often having to decide whether or not their being witches was worth the cost.
7. SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH (Sabrina the Teenage Witch)
At the onset of the TV show, 16-year-old Sabrina Spellman was faced with moving to a new town and a new school—along with discovering that she was a witch. Sabrina spends the series trying to survive her witch training while fixing mistakes caused by her magical roots—everything from her first boyfriend turning into a frog to her mean girl enemy Libby turning into a children’s floor puzzle.
8. MALEFICENT (Sleeping Beauty)
Maleficent is one of the most (if not THE most) badass Disney villains ever. She might be slightly overdramatic, what with cursing a baby to die on her 16th birthday because her parents committed the faux pas of not inviting her to the party, but she’s clearly unparalleled in her devotion to manners. She’s an imposing figure, striking fear into the hearts of the kingdom with her presence. Also, she turns into a green fire-breathing dragon!
9. BONNIE BENNETT (The Vampire Diaries)
Bonnie starts out as protagonist Elena’s maybe-psychic friend, quickly developing into a full-fledged witch. She doesn’t always agree with the vampires, sometimes choosing to act on her own morality rather than the wishes of Stefan, Damon, or even Elena. More often than not, Bonnie is forced to cooperate with those she disagrees with (the most recent recurring example being Klaus) in order to preserve the lives of her remaining loved ones.
10. THE GRAND HIGH WITCH (The Witches by Roald Dahl)
Witches in this children’s story are considered a constant threat, out to kill every child in the world. The Grand High Witch, presiding over the annual meeting of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (the cover for the annual witches’ convention) orders the murders of the rest of England’s children to be accomplished by the end of a year. The idea of a mass-murdering high witch is terrifying for any child—and the fear can only be alleviated by reading about her defeat at the end of the novel.