The Hecate Sisters

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Waxing, full and waning

Sub-trope of the Power Trio and cousin to The Three Faces of Eve. The three aspects of a triune goddess or trinity of goddesses appear as sisters. They are the maiden (often blonde and beautiful, and either a naive ditz or a budding seductress), the mother (often plump and rather eccentric, or pregnant, as the page image shows) and the crone (often sharp-witted, sharp-tongued, bitter and unsentimental). In terms of a Freudian Trio, the maiden is the Id, the crone is the Superego, and the mother is the Ego. Even though they are the same being, they seem to know and think different things, so they bicker. In fantasy stories, these characters may be exactly what they appear, or they may be a trio of witches or wise women who reflect the aspects of the goddess.

This trope has the unusual distinction of being either Older Than Feudalism, or Newer Than They Think: Most of what we know about triple-goddess mythology comes from the author and mythologist Robert Graves, who, like many of his early 20th-century contemporaries, tended to add his own ideas wherever he felt they were needed.

In Greek mythology and religion, the three Moirae presided to birth, destiny, and death of all human beings: Clotho (the Maiden) spins a person's life thread, Lachesis (the Mother) measures the thread, and finally, Atropos (the Crone) cuts the thread, thus ending the person's life.

Compare The Three Faces of Eve and Same Sex Triplets.

Examples of The Hecate Sisters include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The goddesses of the Anime Ah! My Goddess are the Norns—maiden Skuld, motherly Belldandy (the Japanese transliteration of the original Verthandi), and the eldest sister Urd, who, while not crone-like at all, has white hair and is to a very evident degree bitter about a lot of things that have happened to her.
    • The goddesses themselves have remarked on the fact that Skuld represents the future, Bell the present and Urd the past: when their power is running down, Skuld accelerates to adulthood, Urd reverts to childhood, and Bell... gets really sleepy. And Skuld's speciality is with machines and science, indicative of her role as a representative of the future, while Urd works with potions and spells, representing the past. And where does Belldandy's housework fit in? Why, day-to-day life, of course.
  • In the anime movie Kiki's Delivery Service, Kiki the Witch (Hecate is the Goddess of Witches) is befriended by three women - Osono (a pregnant woman - "Mother"), the college-student/artist Ursula (young woman in her late teens/early 20's - "Maiden") and "Madame", a sweet old lady (quite elderly - "Crone"). Whether or not the authors intended it, there it is.
  • The Magi computers from Neon Genesis Evangelion are built upon these aspects of Ritsuko's mother Naoko Akagi: her as a scientist, a mother, and a woman. In End of Evangelion, Ritsuko tries to self-destruct NERV to stop Gendo's plan; the Scientist and Mother sides agree, but the Woman side (who was in love with Gendo) refuses, causing a deadlock. Rei herself embodies all three aspects at once and each specific Rei personifies them, Rei I being the Maiden, Rei II is the mostly motherly toward Shinji, and Rei III the Crone harvests all souls back to herself and completes the circle.
  • The Five Star Stories has the three "Fatima Fates", Artificial Human sisters named after the Greek Fates, though otherwise they don't fit the pattern very well. They're all only a few years apart in age & personality-wise they're probably closer to The Three Faces of Eve: Atropos is an angry, sad wreck, Lachesis is The Ditz (most of the time) & Clotho is a nervous moeblob. They also have three older sisters named after the Furies, but since those threee were subjected to the same programming (read: brainwashing) as most Fatimas they have little personality to speak of.
  • Some have argued that the Theatre of Shadows in Revolutionary Girl Utena represents something like this. It features three apparently omniscient girls who impart their mysterious wisdom mixed with nonsense to the viewers in every episode. Alan Harnum's fanfic Jaquemart plays with the idea, as the girls try to impress Anthy by claiming to be Fates, Norns and all the aspects of the Triple Goddess. Then Anthy points out that there's only two of them left. They sheepishly back down and admit that the claim was as nonsensical as much of the rest of their ramblings.
  • Inverted in the anime of Trapeze: Irabu is male, and his youngest incarnation is a Deadpan Snarker, with his oldest incarnation being an adolescent manchild.
  • The Marui triplets in Mitsudomoe slot nicely into the roles. Futaba is the maiden, Mitsuba is the mother, and Hitoha is the crone.
    • Which goes to show that age doesn't have anything to do with the roles: setting aside that they are triplets, Futaba is the middle, Mitsuba is the oldest, and Hitoha is the youngest. Again, though, they were all born within the same day, so it's mostly superficial.
  • In the third Tenchi Muyo! OVA it is revealed that there are three all-powerful sister goddesses who created the Universe to try and find the unknowable entity that created them. These godesses are revealed to be Lady Tokimi, the Man Behind the Man of seasons two and three, Tsunami, the personification of the Jurai Royal Tree who used her powers in order to save Sasami's life, and now the two are merging into one being, and finally Washu, who sealed her own powers and memories into three gems, which she later gave to Ryoko, and became mortal to analyze the mysteries of the universe.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! (the Toei series), one episode revolved about three identical twins trying to steal Yugi's "Violet Hecate" Card. Later, in a duel, the other two Hecate sisters appeared.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In The Sandman universe they exist in a variety of overlapping forms, as the Fates (Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos), as the faces of Hecate, as three witches, the Furies and three normal women. They seem also to acknowledge that they are in some way The Three Faces of Eve and will not harm Eve, even in their aspect as the Furies. In some of the issues in which they appear, each of the three seems to shift between the three roles.
    • The Sandman Hecateae (or at least one aspect of them) were previously host of a horror comic, The Witching Hour, under the names Mordred (crone), Mildred (mother), and Cynthia (maiden). In their first appearance in The Sandman, Mordred complains that her name doesn't make sense, and Mildred explains she got Mordred and Morgause confused.
    • The spin-off series Witchcraft was divided into three parts, Maiden, Mother and Crone, each overseen by a different face of Hecate and each featuring a different incarnation of a martyred witch at a different stage in her life.
    • The sequel La Terreur featured three women, one young and beautiful, one middle-aged and plump, one old and wizened, working magic at the time of the French Revolution.
    • Eve herself explains that "Adam had three wives": Lilith, who was created as part of the original human being, a hermaphrodite ("Male and female created He them", Genesis 1:27); an unnamed second wife, whom Adam rejected because he saw her during construction and got Squicked, as described in medieval Rabbinic lore; and Eve, who grew old but never died. (Genesis 5:5 says, "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died", but Eve doesn't get an obituary.) In order, these are Mother, Maiden and Crone.
    • Women in Sandman often fall into sets of three. In the issue in which Dr. Destiny psionically tortures to death the hapless people in a diner, the hostess and two patrons become Crone, Mother and Maiden; when Dr. Destiny has them tell his fortune, they become the Wyrd Sisters. Later, in A Game of You, we meet Foxglove (Maiden), Hazel (Mother, thanks to a drunken one-night stand), and Thessaly (Crone). The climax of the Sandman Myth Arc in The Kindly Ones has Morpheus facing off against the Furies, whom the ancient Greeks tried to placate by calling them "kindly", but the ones who end up doing Morpheus a kindness are Nuala (Maiden), Lyta (Mother) and Thessaly (Crone, again).
      • Dream calls Foxglove and Hazel "Little Maiden" and "Little Mother" respectively. For the Game of You example, Thessaly even states it almost explicitly: they need menstrual blood, and they have to get it from Foxglove, since Hazel is pregnant and Thessaly hasn't menstruated in a looong time. Later Nuala, Lyta and Thessaly aren't aware of it, but they are connected by each making a separate contribution to Dream's death. Lyta was the one who gave the Furies the order to kill him; Thessaly protected her from getting killed by outside interference at the Ladies' request; and Nuala called him away at a critical moment, indirectly causing his death.
      • Moreover the lovers of Dream who show up as such in the course of the main series fall into the pattern: Nada (maiden, that being a plot point), Calliope (Mother, specifically as the mother of Dream's son, Orpheus), and Thessaly (Crone, yet again).
      • Somewhat lampshaded in the Sandman, as Lyta's friend is working on a book about the appearance of the triple goddess in TV sitcoms.
  • Done in Fables. Frau Totenkinder is the Crone of course. Snow White serves as the Mother, and Beauty or Rose Red are the Maiden, depending on what point the story's at).
    • A more specifically magical trio are the witches of the 13th floor, with Frau Totenkinder (still as Crone), Mother Birdie (the Mother), and Ozma of Oz as the Child.
  • Team Jinx, consisting of Magica De Spell (mother), Neraja (maiden) and Garma (crone), serve this role in Wizards of Mickey.
  • The new rulers of Asgardia in Thor- Freyja the Crone, Gaea the Mother, and Idunn the Maiden. Together, they're the All-Mother.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • In the Drunkard's Walk series, "The Three" are all of these sets of triune goddesses. In a Shout-Out to Mercedes Lackey's works (see the entry in Literature, below), it turns out there's also a Fourth, but she's Fallen and "broken", unable to take her place with her sisters. This is corrected in Drunkard's Walk V.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Disney's Hocus Pocus has the Sanderson sisters, a coven of three witches along these lines: Sarah is a ditzy young blond, Mary is a fat goofball, and Winifred is the scheming leader of the group who takes herself too seriously.
  • In the movie Running With Scissors, The Psychiatrist's wife, and two daughters make up this threesome perfectly. The youngest is dressed as a slut, and blonde. The older, Gywneth Paltrow's character, is quirky and unsentimental (though she does dig up her dead cat, but not for sentimental reasons exactly), and the mother is well, not initially motherly, but eventually motherly.
  • In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, we have Jen as the maiden, who is young and beautiful. Shu Lien is the mother, trying to guide Jen to the right path. And Jade Fox as the crone, elderly and certainly bitter.
  • Dario Argento's Three Mothers Trilogy, which consists of 1977's Suspiria, 1980's Inferno and 2007's Mother of Tears, takes its inspiration from De Quincey's poem (see Literature below), with each film featuring one of the titular women as an evil witch. Controlling the world from their bastion-like homes, the three include a crone (Mater Suspirioum/Helena Markos), a middle aged woman (Mater Tenebrarum, though she's technically supposed to be the youngest), and a maiden (Mater Lachrymarum).
  • The three Drag Queens from To Wong Fu have this dynamic. First there's Vida Boheme who's the Team Mom, then we have bitchy Noxeema Jackson for that and last but not the least there's Chi-Chi Rodriguez who's the Drag Princess rather than full grown Queen.
  • The 1998 Merlin series, though it isn't really seen in detail except in the novelizations, where it is explicitly stated that Queen Mab was once a triple goddess who consisted of Maiden (Titania), Mother (Melusine), and Warrior (Mab-Morrigan). Merlin unwittingly tries to contact her Maiden aspect in his adolescence after seeing a statue of her in a pond, and only gets through to Nimue (before meeting her).
  • Heroic Trio has Thief Catcher as the maiden (the youngest and a bit of a ditz), Wonder Woman as the mother (she's the moral guardian of the team and is an actual mother by the end of the movie), and Invisible Girl as the crone (bitter and pretty evil at first). Averted in that they are all beautiful.
  • Black Swan: Nina is the (possibly literally) virginal maiden; her mom is obviously the mother, and Beth the retiring prima ballerina is the very bitter "crone" (by ballet standards she's old—she's like in her thirties).
  • Practical Magic has Sally Owens, widow and mother of two, her free spirited sister Gillian Owens, and their aunts Frances and Jet together each make a part of the crone.
  • Halloweentown has the witchy generations of the daughter Marnie Piper, main character and interested in witchcraft, the mother Gwen Piper who tries to proctect her children from witchcraft, and the grandmother Aggie Cromwell, a skilled witch.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, the Mother, Maiden, and Crone are worshipped as three of The Seven.
  • Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles features a pseudo-Celtic version of the Fates, named Orwen, Orddu and Orgoch. They weave a tapestry rather than spinning a thread. Oddly they all appear either as young beauties (at night) or old crones (in daylight). They do not seem to have a 'Mother' face. However, in The Film of the Book, they were middle-aged redheads all the time, and clearly marked as ugly. Stranger still, they seem to take turns at being each 'sister' ("No, it's my turn to be Orwen now, you've been her long enough!"). Orgoch appears to be the Atropos of the group. She never shows her face, wearing a deep hood in both beauty and hag forms and she is strongly implied to be a cannibal. However, the sisters seem to enjoy nothing more than to confuse, befuddle and unnerve their mortal visitors, so it is hard to take anything they say or do at face value.
  • In Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Fate is like this; three individuals who take on the roles of Clotho (maiden), Lachesis (mother), and Atropos (crone). One character actually gets to be both Clotho and Lachesis at different times. In the seventh book of the series, And Eternity, Fate needs a new Atropos, and circumstances combine to make a male candidate the best choice. Even the remaining Aspects, Clotho and Lachesis, comment that this is highly unusual.
    • Also, in A Spell For Chameleon, the first book in the Xanth series, he manages to put all three into one woman—the titular Chameleon changes from Wynne [Very pretty, but dumb, either child or whore of the trio] to Dee [average looks and intelligence, mostly fitting the mother category] to Fanchon [ugly and intelligent, highly crone-ish].
  • Despite its Crystal Dragon Jesus setup, the Faith of the Seven in A Song of Ice and Fire include the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone.
  • The Dresden Files had one of these for the Winter and Summer Courts of fairies—Each court is ruled by three Queens—Queen Mother (The Queen Who Was), Queen (The Queen Who Is), and Lady (The Queen Who Is To Come) who are also grandmother, mother, and daughter.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series features a fourfold goddess, who adds the Warrior to the standard trio of Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The three sister goddesses Agnetha, Agnira, and Agnoma, as mentioned in By the Sword, may also fit the trope with Agnira as Maiden and Agnetha as Mother, but it's never really made clear whether or not Agnoma fills the Crone slot to complete the trope.
    • Interestingly, to complement the fourfold Goddess there is a Fourfold male deity, with faces matching that of the Goddess: the Rover, to match the Maiden, for East; the Guardian to match the Warrior, in the South; the Hunter, to match the Mother, in the West; and lastly the Guide, to complement the Crone, for North.
  • In Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked, the birth of Elphaba (who will become the Wicked Witch of the West) is attended by a maiden, a mother, and a crone. To add to the "Fates" theme (remember, Elphaba is Doomed by Canon), she's born inside a puppet theater.
  • The witch families in Anne Bishop's Tir Alainn trilogy appear as this. Usually a grandmother, mother and daughter living together. None ever seem to be able to keep the men around. Well, at least not at the start of the story anyway.
  • Pamela L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins books, describes Mary Poppins herself this way, as a mixture of a vain young lady, a wise mother, and a sharp-tongued old lady. This was probably deliberate.
  • In Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, the last three people who come into the Room of Requirement to fight are Ginny (maiden), Tonks (mother) and Augusta Longbottom (crone). Again, this was probably deliberate.
  • It's stated repeatedly in the Discworld novels that it's "only right" for a coven to have three witches -- "the maiden, the mother, and the... other one." The coven begins as Magrat Garlick (maiden), Nanny Ogg (mother), and Granny Weatherwax ("other one"). When Magrat gets married and takes up being a queen, Agnes Nitt joins up as the maiden. When Granny gets incapacitated by a vampire attack, Magrat rejoins the coven temporarily, making the order Agnes (maiden), Magrat (mother of Princess Esmeralda Margaret Note Spelling of Lancre), and Nanny, who's not too happy about being the "other one". ("I can’t start being a hag at my time of life,’ she muttered. ‘None of my bras’ll fit.’")

"Oh, you can have more than three witches in a coven. Anywhere up to five or six, really." "What happens after that?" "Great bloody row, usually."

    • Also of note is Nanny Ogg once mentioning a witch who is still the "maiden" of her own trio, despite being a mother of four. Similarly, Nanny herself was "never a maiden ment'ly".
    • Pratchett has commented that people ask him where he got the idea. He's not sure how to answer, except by providing a reading list.
  • The three Webster sisters of the Wyrd Museum are this—but then, they are the Nornir.
  • Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which in Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. Although, in this case, the youngest one is about two BILLION.
  • The Wheel of Time: Aviendha (Maiden, in a uniquely literal fashion at first), Elayne (Mother), and Min (Crone, older than most of the main characters, including her lover, and with a darker view of the world to match). Min is also "gifted" with the ability to sometimes see the future, and was raised by three spinster aunts (assumed to represent the Moirae).
  • In the book series Night World, witches' rank is described as mother, maiden, or crone. The heads of the witch clan are also split up into this, with each being described as head of their third of the group.
  • The mythological figure of Hecate is used in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, where she starts each morning as the maiden and progressively ages throughout the day. The motif appears later in the series when Sophie, Perenelle, and Tsagaglalal are trying to revive Nicholas—Sophie is the maiden, Perenelle is the matron, and Tsagaglalal is the crone.
  • In Thomas De Quincey's prose poem, Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow, the narrator describes three women, who, like the Fates, Graces and Muses, are personifications of human abstraction, in this case sorrow. Here, the mother theme is dominant, with Mater Suspiriorum (the Mother of Sighs, representing despair), Mater Tenebrarum (the Mother of Darkness, representing insanity), and Mater Lachrymarum (the Mother of Tears, representing grief). In terms of age, Lachrymarum is described as the eldest (crone), and Tenebrarum the youngest (maiden).
  • Diane Duane's The Tale of Five plays this completely straight down the line for the common Neopagan/Wiccan form.
  • The three main characters of The Princess Series fit this trope:
    • Snow - maiden (though she's really not a maiden anymore)
    • Danielle - mother
    • Talia - crone
  • The Big Bad Immacolata and her ghost sisters the Magdalene and the Hag qualify as this in Clive Barker's Weaveworld. Immacolata - maiden (due to her belief in Virgin Power), Magdalene - Mother of a Thousand Young, Hag - crone (duh).
  • The goddess Lillinara in David Weber's War God series is one individual, but her temples include separate towers for her Maiden, Mother and Crone aspects.
  • Heart of Darkness features two women at the Company who represent two of the three Fates (the spinster and the allotter).
  • Symbolized in White as Snow in particular by gowns Arpazia wears over the course of the story, one white, one russet and one black. Arpazia is forced out of her maidenhood too soon because of Coira's birth, and she rejects motherhood, leaving her to become a crone at all of thirty-three. Most notably, when Coira appears in a white gown, Arpazia is wearing a black one.
    • Demeter and Persephone are also re-imagined as this trio. Coira (Kore) the maiden, Demetra (Demeter) the mother and Persapheh (Persephone) the crone.
  • In Tales of Kolmar, humans worship the Lady Shia, the Goddess called Mother Of Us All who has three aspects. The Old One is associated with the sky and the moon, the Mother with the ground, and the Laughing Girl Of The Waters... well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. When the Goddess speaks to a character sitting on the ground under a full moon with a stream nearby, said character feels "lines of light" from each aspect, but hears the Goddess as a single entity.
  • Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane has the three women of the Hempstock family, the youngest of whom develops a connection with the narrator. Whether they're goddesses or "merely" supernatural females is purposefully left unclear.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Xena: Warrior Princess features numerous appearances by The Three Fates, (classically known as the Moirae), who are responsible for determining the course of all mortal's lives. In appearance, they are three women in various stages of life; Clotho (the Maiden) spins a person's life thread, Lachesis (the Mother) measures the thread, and finally, Atropos (the Crone) cuts the thread, thus ending the person's life.
  • Intentional or not, the Opera House visions in Battlestar Galactica are experienced by Caprica-Six (maiden), Athena (mother) and Laura Roslin (crone).
  • Bill's three wives in Big Love: Barb (the matriarch), Nicki (the brooding manipulator) and Margene (the naive young beauty).
  • The witch version appears in new Doctor Who, although it's more like maiden, crone, crone. The episode is "The Shakespeare Code", so it's a Shout-Out (see under 'theater' below).
  • Jules (mother), Ellie (crone) and Laurie (maiden) on Cougar Town.
  • Supernatural had one of the Fates show up. With a minor case of Did Not Do the Research, the one that showed up was Atropos, and she claimed that "her two sisters are bigger and badder than [Atropos] in every way."
    • Well, Lahkesis IS the one who decides how life takes its course, and considering how Castiel's life was going at that point, pissing her off might be a bad idea and a horrible, literal case of Tempting Fate. On Clotho's case, well, just play God of War and see for yourself...
  • Charmed really deserves a mention here as the three sisters filled the roles without much of an age difference - however, Prue was always the responsible leader (Crone), Piper the cautious caretaker (Mother) and Phoebe, tellingly enough named after one of Artemis's epithets, was the 'wild child' Maiden. After Prue's departure, Piper and Phoebe 'moved up one' role and half-sister Paige filled the Maiden's position. On a larger generational scale, the three sister were all Maidens to their more magically experienced ghostly Mother and living Grandmother-Crone.
  • The West Wing: Mrs. Landingham is the Old Retainer and Servile Snarker (Crone), C.J. is a Cool Big Sis type (Mother), and Donna is a youthful energetic Girl Next Door (Maiden).
  • There are the three generations of women in season one of 7th Heaven, the lively daughter Lucy who's just become a women, the proud mother Annie, and cold grandmother Ruth.


Music[edit | hide]

  • The Sword song "Maiden, Mother and Crone" has the narrator seeking out the Fates to learn his future. The Maiden (found by a reflecting pool) and Mother (working in a field) both refuse to help him ("Walk on down that road, I cannot tell you where it goes/Ask me no more questions, some things you aren't meant to know"), but the Crone (found in a forest) tells him to swear himself to the goddess of which they are facets, with the promise that if he is worthy he'll learn what he seeks.
  • The Pretenders song Hymn to Her from their 1986 album Get Close references the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone.


Myth, Religion and Legend[edit | hide]

  • In Real Life, while there have since been several triple-goddesses, the idea of Maiden, Mother and Crone is almost certainly modern, invented in the 20th century. In ancient times, goddess triplets were depicted as equally old. The trope's widespread application to numerous goddesses from multiple pantheons is certainly entirely modern.
  • There is one ancient Greek example that might be this concept: Pausanias wrote in the 2nd century C.E. that the Stymphalians worshipped Hera under three names: Girl, Grown-up, and Widow. Hera is a single goddess, however, not three.
  • The Celtic goddess of war known as the Morrigan was often (but not always) depicted as a triple entity; the most common combination is the Badb, Macha and Nemain, but other accounts name Fea, Anann, and even Erinn (literally Ireland). They can be shown as Mother, Maiden and Crone, or all one facet.
  • The Arthurian romances have the perfect example of the triad in the three 'Damosels' encountered by Sirs Gawain, Ywain and Marhaus. One is a maiden of fifteen; one a woman of thirty or so; and the final 'Damosel' is a an old woman of sixty years.
  • Wicca (or some forms of it) centers around the triple goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. There is also a variation of this this concept with four goddesses or forms of the Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Matriarch/Priestess, or Crone.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • On the Fastrack The company Fastrack,Inc. is run by the CEO Rose Trellis (crone), her executive assistant Wendy Welding (the working mom) and (the maiden) Dethany Dendrobia.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Of course, Shakespeare's Macbeth features three witches referred to as the Weird (or Wyrd) Sisters, a name given to the Norns (the Norse version of the Fates) and who worship Hecate. Usually, however, they are all represented as crones.
    • Roman Polanski's film adaptation there was a maiden witch. That version also gave the witches an extended role, in the form of a Twist Ending where Donalbain is seen to visit them, implying that he will go down the same path as Macbeth.
    • In the 2006 present-day version, the three witches are played by teenage girls.
  • The Norns in Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung, the last of the four operas in the Ring cycle.
  • Vanities: The three characters somewhat fit these archetypes. Mary=maiden, Joanne=mother, Kathy=crone.
  • The three women in the cast of Fools. Sophia the Maiden, Lenya the mother and Yenchna the crone.
  • As an exploration of themes regarding femininity, it is fitting that the women of On the Verge form this trinity: Alex (Maiden), Fanny (Mother), and Mary (Crone).


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Shadow Sirens from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Vivian is the "maiden" except when it comes to gender (but only in the Japanese version), Marilyn roughly fits the "mother" archetype as an extremely obese physical powerhouse who rarely says anything but the word "Guh", and Beldam epitomizes the "crone" to such an extent that she's named after it. Really. Go look up "Beldam" in the dictionary.
  • The Fates in God of War 2: Inasmuch as you can call a six-foot tall warrior valkyrie with one breast visible, a giant, grotesquely fat woman with many arms and breasts and a stick-thin woman that seems to be partially made of darkness a mother, maiden, and crone respectively.
    • Being that they're The Fates, their identity is based less on their positions as stages in a woman's life and more on their function - the bloated, spider-like Clotho weaves/spins the threads of fate, the warrior Lachesis measures the thread with her staff, and the taloned Atropos cuts the thread when the life is finished.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei games include the Fates - Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos - as separate demons that can be recruited. In some games, the three can be fused together in a special process to produce Norn, which is depicted as three goddesses united around a clock. Hecate is also present in several games as a triple headed goddess.
  • In Mass Effect, some asari (including squad member Liara T'Soni) worship the goddess Athame, who cycles between maiden, matron, and matriarch stages. This was once the most popular religion among asari, but it has been supplanted by Buddhism siari.
  • The three female party members in Dragon Age: Origins are Leliana (maiden), Wynne (mother), and Morrigan (crone). With Shale, they become a Four-Girl Ensemble.
    • If anything, it seems a warping of the typical traits. Leliana seems the maiden, but is far more worldly and experienced than her light-hearted nature would suggest. Morrigan, for all her sarcasm and antisocial nature, falls quite squarely into the mother role and takes care of the party whether she likes it or not, not to mention her potentially getting deliberately knocked up towards the end. And Wynne, the old lady of the group, is quite the optimist and stronger than she seems.
  • In a coincidence similar to the Kiki's Delivery Service example above, in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the Stock Pot Inn contains three women in its drama - Anju, the young lady whose fiance is missing, her stern and overpowering mother, and the doddering grandmother who tells Link stories (who may be more cunning than she lets on...)
    • Interestingly enough, while everything else is as normal, the characterization of the crone and mother are switched (during at least the three days that we see Anju's mother, after Kafei turns up missing).
      • The three goddesses of the setting. While their ages may not match the descriptions, Nayru can very well be the mother, Din the maiden, and Farore the crone, judging from their roles in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Seasons.
      • In Skyward Sword, Zelda is the maiden, Impa is the mother, and Impa the old woman the crone.
  • In The Witcher, the Goddess Melitele is represented as a young maiden, a pregnant mother, and an old woman.
  • In Loom, the three elders are named Atropos, Lachesis and Clothos (sic) but do not appear to fit the roles, or indeed to be female.
  • In King's Quest VII, Valanice summons herself into a pocket dimension in Etheria, and finds the Three Fates generally minding their own business and doing their cosmic work. Atropos is an enthusiastic, spiky-haired teenager (who happily severs the fates of women and men), Clotho is an elegant, mysterious and soft-spoken woman (who spins the thread of fate), and Lachesis (the only one of the three with significant dialogue, and who measures the length of the thread) is a matter-of-fact, somewhat harsh older lady.
  • The NORNs of Too Human.
  • The 7th Guest has the young(ish) chanteuse Martine, the pudgy, motherly Elinor, and the old, acerbic Julia competing against one another.
  • The yuri Visual Novel Akai Ito mixes this with the Three Faces of Eve. As seen from the viewpoint of the protagonist, Kei:
  • In Planescape: Torment, bringing both Annah and Fall-From-Grace with you when you visit Ravel Puzzlewell causes her to lampshade this trope in a mixture with The Three Faces of Eve. Fiery, yet naive, Annah is the maiden/child, calm and nurturing Fall-From-Grace is the mother/wife (in a figurative sense, she is the Team Mom), and Ravel is the (very obvious) crone, and also plays the role of the seductress once it becomes obvious she is in love with The Nameless One. Ravel uses her shapeshifting ability to appear in front of you in all three guises.
  • Lusternia directly references the Moirae of Greek mythology: Clotho, the maid (who spins the threads of life), Lachesis, the mother (who measures the threads) and Atropos, the crone (who cuts the thread upon death). They govern the destinies of all mortals who are marked by the Portal of Fate - namely, every player character.
  • Alma in FEAR: Project Origin has three appearances she manifests in: Her child form, representing last memory of herself before she was locked in the psychic insulator and her need for help and contact with others (the maiden), an emaciated, pale and haggard woman representing how her body actually looked when she died and her desire for vengeance on those who did it to her (the crone), and an idealised, healthy-looking woman who turns out to represent Alma's desire to have a 'real' family by seducing the main character (the mother).


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Weird Sisters of Gargoyles all take the same form at the same time, appearing as a trio of creepy little girls, old crones, aged female gargoyles, or voluptuous young 20-somethings, as befits who they are speaking to at the time.
    • You can still tell them apart, however, by hair color (blonde, black, white).
    • This is an interesting example as it is made clear that different people see them differently. The little girls are seen by the Manhattan clan, the old crones are seen by Macbeth, and the old gargoyle hags are seen by Demona. Meanwhile the 20-somethings are their preferred form, seen by the audience and other Children of Oberon as well as any characters not implied to see them differently (although humans will see them in period/job appropriate attire). Word of God has stated that only the Third Race and the audience ever see them for what they truly are.
  • The Fates appear in Disney's |Hercules, though they are depicted as the Graiae. In one episode of the TV series, when Hercules and Phil travel north and meet the Norse pantheon (with a bizarre/brilliant appearance by Garrison Keillor as Odin), it is revealed that they also fill in as the Norns.

Phil: I'm tellin' ya, they're double dipping!

  • Although they are all roughly the same age, Ozai's Angels in Avatar: The Last Airbender fit this to a T. Ty Lee is the maiden, innocent, optimistic and bubbly. Azula is the mother - the more controlling and manipulative aspects of the mother archetype, since she's clearly the leader; not so much the gentle, caring aspects. Mai is the crone, the eldest, the most apathetic and cynical, the least emotional, and a real Deadpan Snarker.
  • In the original My Little Pony, the witch Hydia and her daughters inverted this trope. Reeka has aspects of all three types, Hydia is The Crone and the more manipulating aspects of The Mother, and Draggle is The Maiden.