Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.
There's something about witches that we just can't get enough of. They have captivated and fascinated us for centuries, and Hollywood's version of witches makes for some exciting entertainment. From Sabrina, the Teenage Witch to Disney's Ursula, the Wicked Witch of the West to Hermione Granger, witches are front and center in Tinseltown. Here are 18 of the greatest witches in TV & film.
Samantha Stephens (Bewitched)
America's favorite housewife (or is house witch more fitting?) fell in love and married a mortal man, Darrin Stephens. Trying to adjust to mortal life proves difficult for Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery), especially with the influence of her witch mother, Endora. She is kind and caring to all and when she wants to practice her magic, she does it with just the wiggle of her nose.
Sabrina Spellman (Sabrina the Teenage Witch)
On her sixteenth birthday, Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart) discovers that she is a witch and comes from a long line of witches. As she tries to master her magic, chaos and havoc often ensue. Eventually, Sabrina gains control over her powers and is able to do something as simple as changing her outfit with the point of her finger, or as grand as traveling to other dimensions. Struggling with being both a teenager and a witch made Sabrina Spellman a beloved character, and who could possibly forget her sassy cat sidekick, Salem?
Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) starts out the series as a plucky sidekick to Buffy and trusted member of the Scooby Gang. Eventually she found a better way to help the slayer, by learning and teaching herself magic. Her powers came in handy many times, but Willow also had the tendency to delve into the dark arts. Her dependence on magic becomes so consuming that she even becomes a villain in the sixth season, with her rage and grief propelling her deeper into darkness. However, Willow always comes back on top, proving just how great a witch she is.
Alex, Jane & Sukie (The Witches of Eastwick)
Alex (Cher), Jane (Susan Sarandon) and Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) are unhappy with their mundane lives in the picture-perfect town of Eastwick, Rhode Island. With the arrival of the mysterious Daryl Van Horne, the ladies realize that they are actually witches. They unknowingly form a coven when they have weekly get-togethers and discuss their fantasies, hopes and dreams. All three women gain power and confidence as the film progresses, truly coming into their own and embracing who they are.
The Wicked Witch of the West
Is there truly a more iconic witch than the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz? Her green skin, black cloak and matching pointed hat are an iconic ensemble and a classic Halloween costume. With revenge the only thing on her mind, the Wicked Witch (Margaret Hamilton) targets Dorothy and her loyal band of friends throughout the course of the film. Though she did not prevail, the Wicked Witch of the West has since become the standard for what witches resemble and remains absolutely iconic.
Nancy Downs (The Craft)
The Craft follows a group of four outcast teenage girls who pursue magic in order to gain power; naturally, chaos and mischief ensue. As the leader of the coven, Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk) becomes all consumed with taking on the powers of nature and her desire to change her life. This proves to be both her and the coven's undoing. The film serves as a warning about seeking out too much power, and has become a Halloween cult classic.
Fiona Goode (American Horror Story: Coven)
Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) was the Supreme witch of her generation and the New Orleans coven, gifted with immense powers like clairvoyance, telekinesis, divination and pyrokinesis. Initially Fiona has the intention to teach young witches how to fight and master their powers at an academy, but when threatened by the rising of a new Supreme her motives grow darker. She unapologetically embraces her power and status, making her rise and ultimate fall as head witch that much more exciting.
Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
Who is Harry Potter without his loyal and fierce sidekicks, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley? Hermione (Emma Watson) may be Muggle-born, but that fact does not derail her from mastering her magic skills and becoming one of the strongest witches at Hogwarts. Not only is her magical prowess impressive, but she is also extremely book smart and a fountain of knowledge. Her kindness and loyalty to her friends is truly endearing. Both Hermione's brains and magical brawn makes her one of the toughest and most beloved witches of all time.
Winnie Sanderson (Hocus Pocus)
The Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus are one of the most legendary and iconic trios of all time. Of the three devious sisters, Winnie (Bette Midler) is by far the most powerful and driven witch. Winifred, Mary and Sarah were put to death in 1600s Salem, but a little spell and black candle brings them back to life on Halloween, 3 centuries later. Winnie is truly the brains behind the Sanderson sisters, and it is her devious nature and determination that almost helps them best the young heroes. Though she was ultimately defeated in the end, Winnie had one heck of a night, giving the world an amazing rendition of, “I Put a Spell on You."
Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter)
The most faithful member of Voldemort's inner circle, Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) is paranoid, insane and sadistic in all that she does. Both a Death Eater and highly skilled and powerful witch, Bellatrix is her leader's right-hand man and often proves to be more fearsome than Voldemort himself. She is gifted in battles and has bested many of the other characters. Her cruelty and love of torture is perhaps best proven when she gleefully kills her own cousin, Sirius Black. Bellatrix is a horribly evil character, but she's also a seriously powerful witch.
Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Arguably one of the most iconic Disney witches of all time, The Little Mermaid's Ursula (Pat Carroll) was certainly one sassy and spooky witch. She only helps the "Poor Unfortunate Souls" when she's confident she can gain something in return. Case in point: Ursula temporarily granting Ariel's wish to be human. She literally steals Ariel's voice, and schemes to try and get the young girl to be her servant forever (thankfully she's ultimately unsuccessful). Not only is her attitude and bold personality on full display throughout the movie, but her evil laugh is truly the best.
Scarlet Witch (Avengers)
Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) is first introduced to the Marvel universe in Avengers: Age of Ultron alongside her twin brother Quicksilver. With impressive powers like hypnosis and telekinesis, she initially started out a conflicting force to the Avengers, but ended up becoming a critical part of the team. Her ability to manipulate minds makes Scarlet Witch a powerful and unstoppable force.
The Halliwell Sisters (Charmed)
The Power of Three certainly knew how to kick some major demon butt and look fabulous while doing it. Initially, the Halliwell sisters were comprised of the following: eldest sister Prue (Shannen Doherty), who had the power of telekinesis; Piper (Holly Marie Combs), who is able to freeze time and her environment; and youngest Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), who is gifted with premonition. The Halliwells used their powers to fight evil and keep the city of San Francisco safe (and also the whole world). With Prue's shocking death in the third season finale, half-sister Paige (Rose McGowan) was introduced, who is given the power of orbing. Once again the women unite to defeat the forces of darkness.
Maleficent is truly terrifying in both Disney adaptions, Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent. In the animated version, she is a dark enchantress with sinister and wicked intentions. She puts a spell on 16-year-old Aurora, proclaiming that she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. Her plans are thwarted by Flora, Fauna, Merryweather and Prince Phillip himself. In the live-action version, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is just as devious, but her side of the whole ordeal is highlighted. Regardless of which film you prefer, both show just how dark and powerful the titular character is.
The Grand High Witch (The Witches)
Upon first glance, the Grand High Witch looks beautiful and alluring, but beneath the disguise a disgusting creature lies. The Witches is a film based on the children's novel of the same name by Roald Dahl, and stars Angelica Huston in the lead role. The story follows evil witches who masquerade as ordinary women in order to kill children. The GHW (Grand High Witch) is the most powerful being in the world, but is challenged by a little boy and grandmother, a retired witch hunter. Her disturbing reveal is showcased in the film, when her beautiful mask is pulled away and her true nature is revealed.
Bonnie Bennett (The Vampire Diaries)
The Vampire Diaries' Bonnie Bennett (Kat Graham) is truly a character that does not get enough credit for all she does. She is the town's resident good witch, and she uses her exceptional powers to help others, not hurt them. Bonnie is constantly saving her friends and family, and facing foes of all kinds: vampires, werewolves, evil spirits and fellow witches. She is a selfish and giving person with strong powers given to her from the long list of witches she's descended from.
Professor Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter)
Professor Minerva McGonagall (Dame Maggie Smith) may at first seem reserved and uptight, but the Headmistress of Hogwarts proved to be the ultimate boss witch. She proves to be a true ally in the battle against Voldemort and evil forces. Professor McGonagall is never afraid to put her life on the line for Hogwarts and its students, and doesn't shy away from a battle against Death Eaters, Dolores Umbridge and the Dark Lord himself.
Regina Mills/Evil Queen (Once Upon a Time)
The story of Once Upon a Time heavily focuses on Regina Mills, (Lana Parrilla) who was taken under the wing of Rumpelstiltskin in order to learn magic and gain powers. As she grows in strength, she becomes the Evil Queen of the fairy tale legend. She is behind all the main characters being transported to Storybrooke and stripped of their memories and identities as fairy tale characters. Talk about some major power! Regina ultimately goes on a path of redemption, showing the human side to one of our favorite fairy tale villains.
© 2019 Rachel M Johnson