"And in the cottage in the clearing there lived a wicked witch."
This quote, or one very much like it, can be found in hundreds of places. A lot of those places are Fairy Tales. When confronting a fairy tale witch you can, via the magic of Beauty Equals Goodness often tell the good from the bad. The Wicked Witch check list is as follows (have more than about four of these and you have yourself a bad one):
- Very old, verging on the ancient.
- Wrinkled skin.
- Unhealthily colored skin, sometimes going past a sickly greenish tinge to a biologically impossible straight-out green.
- Missing teeth.
- Dresses in black.
- Wears a pointed black hat.
- Speaks to animals, often her cat.
- Flies around on a broom (bit of a give away on its own really).
- Lives in a strange or simply just isolated cottage.
- Makes potions.
- Eats children
- Curses people.
Which is odd really seeing as, apart from 10, 12, 14 and 15 these may just as well describe someone's granny in a pre-industrial society. 12 could work too, if you interpret preparing folk remedies the right way (this sadly contributed to the large number of women burnt as witches over the centuries) 15 could also work depending on how you define "cursing". Good witches tend to be young and pretty or at least have aged gracefully. If your subject is nice to look at but evil you may well have a Vain Sorceress instead.
Perhaps because most bards were male back then, wizards get better press, seeming to get more "good" and sage-like with age. But then again, there was a time when "witch" literally meant "person who received magical power from the devil", which would make a non-evil witch an oxymoron. If a non-evil female magic user appeared in folklore, she'd be referred to with a term like "sorceress" or "fairy godmother" instead.
She's an "earthy" version of the Evil Sorcerer (but obviously not Closer to Earth), and might also come in Hollywood Voodoo flavor. It's likely that every witch in existence will be this trope in a setting where Magic Is Evil. There might also be some overlap with the Wicked Stepmother and the Evil Matriarch; however, royalty tends to be beautiful.
In settings tending more towards Magic Realism than typical fantasy worlds, their magical powers will be downplayed, but their prophecies will have a bad habit of coming horribly true, especially if they get insulted or snubbed.
Anime and Manga
- Yubaba from Spirited Away, but not her sister, who just looks like one
- Sailor Moon had Beryl, Zoisite, Emerald, Nehellenia, Badiane, Kaguya... just to name a few.
- Not to mention the Witches 5...
- GoLion, known as Voltron in America has Honerva/Haggar, an alien witch complete with cat.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena intentionally subverts the Wicked Witch archetype with Anthy, who is a witch who acts like a princess. She is victimized by her brother, a prince who acts like a witch, and she eventually falls in love with Utena, a princess who acts like a prince.
- Smile Pretty Cure has Majorina, one of the enemy commanders.
- Soul Eater portrays witches in general as Exclusively Evil, but Medusa and Arachne in particular are the Big Bads of various points of the story.
- Frau Totenkinder in Fables is any unnamed Wicked Witch in fairy tales. She's been shown specifically to have been the Wicked Witch in "Rapunzel", "Beauty and The Beast", "The Frog Prince", and "Hansel and Gretel", but she got better after the oven incident.
- Totenkinder is actually a bit of a subversion because she's not actually evil, just self-servingly neutral, and only looks the way she does by choice.
- Another partial monkeywrench is the Prarie Witch, a forties-era villain created by James Robinson in Starman. She's leggy and sexy and doesn't actually practice magic, but she's got the green skin, hat, and flying broom.
- Most of the stories that Little Lulu tells to Alvin feature an evil witch named Witch Hazel (No, not that Witch Hazel), and her niece (also a witch) named Little Itch.
- Baba Yaga.
- In "The Wonderful Birch", a Wicked Witch turns the heroine's mother into a sheep and uses shapeshifting to take her place; she has the sheep killed and feeds it to the woman's husband, although the daughter does not eat and manages to bury the bones. Then she does everything in Cinderella and then, after the wedding, enchants her stepdaughter into the form of a reindeer after the wedding and puts her own daughter in her place.
- In "Brother and Sister" the Wicked Stepmother not only drives off the title characters with her cruelty, but, being a witch, tries to enchant them into animal forms (and succeeds with Brother). She also murders Sister after her marriage and replace her with her own daughter.
- In "The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh", the stepmother, out of jealousy at her beauty, turns her stepdaughter into a dragon; she is disenchanted by her brother. Similarly in the Child ballads "Kemp Owyne", where the title character must kiss the dragon to restore her.
- In the Child ballad "The Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea", the stepmother transforms both her stepchildren.
- In "Katie Crackernuts", the envious Wicked Stepmother has a Wicked Witch turn her stepdaughter's head into a sheep's head.
- In "Esben and the Witch", when Esben and his brothers stay at the witch's, she tries to murder them in their sleep. Fortunately, Esben shifted around the nightcaps so she murdered her own daughters instead; then, when they go to the king, he proceeds to rob her of her treasures one by one.
- "Rapunzel" is held captive by a witch, who demanded her in return for her father's life, because he had stolen rampion from her for his pregnant wife. As are Petrosinella and The Fair Angiola, whose mothers had robbed the witch and had to pay the same price.
- In "The Old Witch", the two girls go into service for the old witch; one, by being friendly to things she meets on the way, succeeds in tricking her out of gold, but the other fails.
- A witch kidnaps "Buttercup" in order to eat him.
- In "The Witch", the Wicked Stepmother intentionally sends her children to a Wicked Witch, who tries to set them Impossible Tasks; through the advice of their grandmother and kindness to the objects about her house, they escape.
- "The Witch In The Stone Boat" kidnapped a princess, taking her form and place, and sending her to her brother as a bride, but the princess's son knew she was not his mother, and the true princess came back three times, and the third time, the prince managed to free her.
- In "The White Dove", a Wicked Witch gets two brothers to promise her their younger brother for their safety; then she kidnaps the younger brother and tries to destroy him with Impossible Tasks.
- In "Puddocky", when the girl steals parsley from the witch, the witch has her come work for her, and eat all the parsley she likes, but when young men start to quarrel because of her beauty, she turns the girl into a toad.
- In "The Nine Pea-hens and the Golden Apples", a witch prevents the prince and his love from meeting a second time.
- In "Prunella", Prunella is a Wicked Witch's prisoner, because she had taken fruit from the witch's tree, and she assigns Impossible Tasks; only with the help of the witch's son does she survive.
- The eponymous characters in "Hansel and Gretel", end up lost in the woods, and find their way to a house (made of cake and bread), which is owned by a wicked witch, who's also a cannibal.
- The Disney Animated Canon likes this trope:
- Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty is technically an evil fairy, but still invokes the look and feel.
- Well, it's actually sort of questionable what she is; the word fairy is never applied to her within the movie itself, and she seems to be closer to a demon than a fairy (fairies don't tend to invoke the powers of hell, as they come from a different mythology entirely).
- Mad Madam Mim appeared as Merlin's adversary in The Sword in the Stone, and had all the generic traits of a Wicked Witch. Interestingly her subsequent appearances in the various Disney comics turned her into Chaotic Neutral verging on Chaotic Good.
- Ursula from The Little Mermaid (also a member of a fairy race, but is considered a wicked witch to merfolk)
- Queen Grimhilde from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs counts too, although interestingly she was originally a Hot Witch Vain Sorceress who put on the whole 'hook-nosed woman' look as a disguise.
- Mother Gothel from Tangled might count - we're not entirely sure she's a witch.
- Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty is technically an evil fairy, but still invokes the look and feel.
- Voodoo fortuneteller Elzora from Eve's Bayou. The movie taking place in relatively recent times, she's aware of the imagery and seems to enjoy playing it up as part of her fortuneteller act, and gets cheap laughs from scaring children.
- The Big Bad of Suspiria Helena Markos, the Witch of Sighs. She's very old, has wrinkled skin, cackles, and eats people.
- Hydia and her two daughters Reeka and Draggle from My Little Pony the Movie, although Reeka and Draggle are rather incompetent at it.
- The Trope Codifier was ETA Hoffmann's story The Golden Pot, which was quite popular in an English translation during the early 19th century. The very wicked witch in this tale is a wrinkly old woman with the missing teeth that make her pointed nose almost meet her pointed chin, wearing a tall black hat, has a spooky black cat that she talks to, lives in a small cottage full of taxidermied animals and such, and cooks up a potion in a cauldron as a "love" charm for the young woman who comes to see her.
- In John Barnes's One for the Morning Glory, witches, with the rarest of exceptions, fully look the part.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, where the witches are actually named "Wicked Witch" (of the East and West).
- Countless reviews and analyses of The Film of the Book have said that, pound-for-pound, The Wicked Witch of the West is overall the hands-down most evil character to have ever been portrayed in film.
- The sequel The Marvelous Land of Oz introduced Mombi, the mildly wicked witch who brought Jack Pumpkinhead to life with her Powder of Life. Later in the series, in the Thompson novels, Mombi becomes a full-fledged Wicked Witch, the former Wicked Witch of the North.
- Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked is a revisionist look at the characters and the land of Oz. The story centers on a green girl named Elphaba who grows up to be the Wicked Witch of the West. Over the course of the book, Elphaba gradually acquires the stereotypical attributes of this trope (except the ugliness).
- The Other Mother in Coraline.
- Stephen King's The Dark Tower offers us Rhea, in Wizard and Glass
- Discworld witches are a monkeywrench, they deliberately look the part but are generally benevolent acting as doctor, judge, defence against supernatural threats and generally keeping the community in order. However, that doesn't always mean they're nice.
- In fact, Granny Weatherwax is rather disappointed that she has perfect teeth and an unblemished, rosy complexion. However, she refuses to admit that she ever cackles.
- We also get the occasion played straight (Black Allis, a frequently mentioned example of what happens when witches go bad) and Inverted Trope (Lilly Weatherwax, an evil fairy godmother)
- The unfortunate results of using the traits of old women to "identify" witches is also deconstructed from time to time, especially in the Tiffany Aching novels (where an old women's death because of this inspires Tiffany to become a witch).
- Completely averted by Morwen in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. She is a witch, and still practices magic, owns a dozen or so cats, and wears black robes, but is also very practical, sensible, friendly, and attractive in a motherly way.
- Also parodied with her colleague Archaniz, who looks and acts the part down to the poisonous garden... because she's the Chairwitch of the Deadly Nightshade Gardening Club. She also grows ordinary daisies in the garden and worries about witches getting a reputation for being too kind and helpful and thus getting swamped by people asking for assistance.
- Roald Dahl's novel The Witches.
- The utterly psychotic Witch Sisters, Morag and Mallenroh of Terry Brooks' The Elfstones of Shannara. Beautiful, cold, and utterly evil, they've turned the Wilderun into a disaster, and spent several thousand years warring with one another and kidnapping/murdering anyone who gets in between them. The Ilse Witch of The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara is a more sympathetic version who was, coincidentally, raised by Morag and Mallenroh's brother, The Morgawr.
- In The Witcher series women with talent for magic but no money for sorceress' training tend to end up getting the reputation, if not always the personality of a Wicked Witch.
- The White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia.
- Although most witches in the Dorrie the Witch books are good, some are this trope, and end up the antagonists of some books.
Live Action TV
- The fact that old spinster Doña Clotilde presents almost all the characteristics listed above except the obvious magic powers becomes a Running Gag in El Chavo del Ocho.
- Bandora from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, as well as her American counterpart, Rita Repulsa from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
- There were about six of these in Are You Afraid of the Dark?.
- Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf.
- Another Krofft example (as well as a male example) is Hoodoo from Lidsville, who is an evil magician who rides a flying hat.
- Which is lampshaded in one episode where the two end up meeting through a dating service. It was up to the heroes to break up the relationship.
- Another Krofft example (as well as a male example) is Hoodoo from Lidsville, who is an evil magician who rides a flying hat.
- Amy's mom in an early Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, "The Witch" may not physically resemble the classic witch archetype, but she was certainly wicked (bodyswapping with Amy to relive her youth). Later seasons proved that Amy was also leaning toward the wicked side. Then there's Willow at the end of Season Six...
- Also spoofed with Willow being annoyed over witch stereotypes. There's also the Played for Laughs scene in "Once More With Feeling" when Xander says that evil witches might be responsible, only to shut up when Willow and Tara give him the hairy eyeball.
- Subverted and lampshaded in the Charmed episode "All Halliwell's Eve", when Prue, Piper, and Phoebe prepare for a Halloween party dressed as a wicked witch, Glinda, and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark respectively, and Phoebe comments on Prue's costume;
Phoebe: Hook-nosed hags riding broomsticks - that's what we're celebrating. Personally I am offended by the representation of witches in popular culture
- The plotline for that episode involves the Halliwell sisters being sent to 17th century Salem to protect one of their ancestors. To ward off a mob, Phoebe uses her levitation powers to fly toward them while seemingly riding a broomstick. As she told her sisters, "I'm embracing the cliche."
- In Witch Girls Adventures, there's a condition called Hag's Syndrome that makes the setting's Hot Witches and Cute Witches look as close to the part as they can—when their powers first manifest, their skin and hair turn green and their eyes red—and, in a Shout-Out to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, water melts their skin. Actually a subversion, as a witch that has this isn't necessarily wicked—their spells are more powerful than other witches, but it's entirely possible for a good witch to have the condition.
- The Witch class in Pathfinder can be this sort of witch, if they want.
- The "Hag" monster type in both Pathfinder and D&D is basically a Wicked Witch as a monster type - an evil, magic-using, Always Female man-eating monster that resembles a hideous old woman.
- Likewise Heroes of the Feywild introduces a Witch class to 4th Edition. While they can be as good or evil as any class, they were the first true magic users, and the gods still have a vendetta against them. As such they tend to be viewed as this trope and act in secret.
- The Witch in Into the Woods is a subversion of sorts: her evil deeds happened in the backstory and during the story itself she does more to help the protagonists than hinder them. They blame her nevertheless.
- Elphaba, the witch in Wicked, is... well, exactly what you'd expect. Except not.
- Mother Hare in The Golden Apple is treated as this at least symbolically. (At one point, another character mockingly tells her, "Go home and ride your broomstick!") She's an Affably Evil old clairvoyant who avows that Good Is Dumb and creates the titular Apple of Discord.
- The witches of Macbeth are, if not necessarily wicked, still suspiciously close to this trope.
- Gruntilda from Banjo-Kazooie.
- Plus her sisters in the sequel.
- Partially monkeywrenched in newer Castlevania games. Some of the most annoying generic enemies are witches, but they're all rather attractive and young looking. They still dress the part though, and fly around on brooms. Subverted entirely by the Belnades family, a clan of witches who have assisted the Belmont clan in destroying Dracula many times.
- The closest example to a Wicked Witch in the series is Actrise from Castlevania 64, and even she retains her youthful beauty. Of course, she had to slaughter her children in exchange for it...
- Circle of the Moon plays this straight as opposed to the cute/hot witches in later games.
- And then played completely straight with Baba Yaga herself, in Lords of Shadow. Sure, she's helping you, but she quite clearly put Gabriel in a Death Trap music box for her own amusement, and is responsible for driving Malphas to insanity. She would have become young and presumably beautiful (the Death Trap contained a blue rose she needed for a youth potion), had Zobek not killed her offscreen (when he realized she was working for Satan).
- The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time has Koume and Kotake. Their combined form, Twinrova, is young and pretty, though.
- Subverted in Majora's Mask—unlike their counterparts in the main Zelda universe, Termina's Koume and Kotake are kindly and helpful (though still hideous) crones, rather than wicked witches.
- Probably Cackletta in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.
- Kammy Koopa in the Paper Mario games.
- All witches in Aveyond. Except once where two feuding witches repeatedly curse each other and one "curses" the other with unending beauty. She's still quite evil, though.
- Many of the King's Quest games featured evil witches. Hagatha in King's Quest II Romancing the Throne, Lolotte in King's Quest IV the Perils of Rosella, and Malicia in King's Quest VII the Princeless Bride were their respective games' main antagonists. Unnamed witches caused lesser mischief in King's Quest I Quest for The Crown and King's Quest V Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder.
- Baba Yaga in Quest for Glory I and IV.
- The Pumpkin Zone boss in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins.
- Witches appear as enemies in Skyrim, but Hagravens fit the typical description better and pack deadly explosive fire magic. Hagravens are frequently seen leading covens of Witches, and most Witches ultimately plan to become Hagravens.
- Both Red and Clare are called witches in No Rest for The Wicked. There is a real witch as well, but she's as tragic as she is scary.
- In Sluggy Freelance, Lady Noga is a classic Wicked Witch (while also being a Space Pirate captain). She is very reminiscent of Baba Yaga in both her appearance, Slavic accent, and her love for eating children.
- In Endstone, Colindra says she has to take care of her looks or be taken for a witch.
- In Homestuck, "witch" is one of the titles that stays with the Troll Empress, even in other universes. This is in direct contrast with Feferi, her descendant, and Jade, her great-granddaughter by adoption, both of whom are Cute Witches.
- A Wicked Witch called Witch Hazel appeared in the Classic Disney Shorts Trick or Treat where she helps Huey, Dewey, and Louie get candy from Donald Duck. She later appeared in a variety of Disney Comics.
- A different Witch Hazel appears in a number of Looney Tunes shorts, starting with Bewitched Bunny.
- Marge and her sisters appear as Wicked Witches in The Simpsons in the "Easy-Bake Coven" segment of "Treehouse of Horror VIII".
- The winner of the costume contest in "Treehouse of Horror XVI" is a hideous witch. She is disqualified for not wearing a costume as she is a real witch. Angered, she turns everyone into their costumes.
- Hama from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Her waterbending powers aren't unusual in the Avatar universe, though, it's how she uses them...
- Shadow Weaver from She-Ra: Princess of Power (moreover, we never see her face...)
- The little-known cartoon, The New Misadventures of Ichabod Crane featured a witch named Velma Van Damme, who was apparently responsible for the headless horseman that terrorized the folks of Sleepy Hollow.
- The unnamed Witch in the 1948 Mighty Mouse cartoon "The Witch's Cat", a Halloween Episode; despite the name, the cat is her accomplice.
- The Smurfs had a few:
- Hogatha, a short, dumpy hag who is bald (but wears a wig), snorts when she talks (which is how she got her name), rides a vulture, and can cast evil spells. Most of her schemes either involve trying to find ways to make herself beautiful or force handsome princes to marry her; naturally, the Smurfs always get caught in the middle of these plans.
- Far worse than Hogatha was Chlorhydris, who was so full of hate that she wanted to make the entire world feel the same way, eradicating everyone's ability to feel happiness and love. While such goals are not uncommon for villains in a series like this, Chlorhydris did some downright sadistic things in pursuit of it, like kidnapping the wood elf Laconia and using her wand to kill the flowing plants in the forest - not caring in the least that doing so was causing Laconia to die an agonizingly slow death as she felt their pain. Unlike most villains in the series, Chlorhydris was given a backstory; apparently, she was once in love with a wizard who left her at the altar, and apparently, the heartbreak not only caused her to fit this Trope well, it was enough for her to want to deny all of creation what she had once had.
- The Witch of Barcelona, Enriqueta Marti, who kidnapped, killed, and ate children in pre-WW1 Spain.
- Leonarda Cianciulli, who killed three women, turned their body fat into soap (in one case giving it to her neighbours) and used their blood as an ingredient for cakes, which were eaten by her friends, her son, and herself. Not only was she a firm believer in divination and magic, but she admitted her victims were human sacrifices offered for the protection of her son.