Witch Species

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search

This is the Wizards and Witches subtrope of Our Monsters Are Different.

The historical Judeo-Christian view of a "witch" was a person who literally makes a Deal with the Devil in exchange for magic powers, often defined as becoming Satan's concubine. On the other hand, adherents of modern Neo-Pagan religions such as Wicca naturally take an opposing viewpoint on the practice of witchcraft.

In the modern day, though, either the positive or negative connotations of magic-as-divinely-attained would result in controversy (perhaps due to the ease with which either one may be confused with the other). So, in much fiction, witchcraft has become more of a matter of Superpowerful Genetics. Either "witch" is merely a particular race of humanity, or a different species altogether. (The distinction is usually a matter of the author's semantics than using an actual biological definition of "species", such as the absence of interbreeding). This is a bit closer to a belief among the Azande of Africa, that an inherited organ (often located near the liver) allows potential unconscious use of magic.

A Witch Species is also mentioned in very early Christian writings describing a belief that witches were tiny creatures that cause sickness in plants, animals and people. In other words, germs. But these writings also dismissed this idea as a superstitious delusion.

The witch's powers are merely a physical trait which you either have or you don't, although those lucky enough to be born into a Witch Species may still have to work hard for their abilities to reach their full potential.

Note that these characters were originally almost Always Female, unless male relatives are introduced, and male magic-users generally use learned skills for their magic. In some cases, male witches (frequently called "warlocks") are exclusively evil. The popularity of Harry Potter, however, has brought in some Witch Species boys, although they're sometimes referred to as wizards or warlocks. Complicating the issue of inheritance of witch powers is that Muggle parents may produce witch children (and witch parents Muggle children) because the Witch Species traits manifest in Randomly-Gifted individuals.

Most protagonist Witches tend to be rookies, but the older and powerful ones are depicted as Physical Gods.

In Japan, the popularity of Magical Girls has considerably softened the idea and one is just as likely to see magic powers that are either genetic or learned.

May be the targets of Super Human Trafficking. See also Cute Witch. For cases where every member of the witch species is a Wicked Witch (which is probably true if all Magic Is Evil), see Exclusively Evil. When members of a witch species produce a child with no powers, it's a Muggle Born of Mages.

Examples of Witch Species include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Mahou Sensei Negima indicates that Mages live in pocket dimensions apart from most of humanity, though they interact enough to require a Masquerade.
  • In Galaxy Angel (though, as with every trope in the series, it's better explained and executed in the games), the planet Magiic, home of Kahlua, is populated by a Witch Species.
  • Each of the four elements of magic in Kaze no Stigma is inheritable, resulting in famous clans dedicated to an element. Magic can also be obtained in rare cases by making a contract with the lord of that element and then having that element be inherited by their descendants, which is how at least the Kannagi family became a fire clan. Specialties also exist within each element, such as focusing on curses, barriers, summoning, or just fighting power.
  • Witchcraft is an inherited talent in Kiki's Delivery Service.
  • Mahou Shoujo Tai Alice (aka Tweeny Witches, bleah) witches (female) and warlocks (male) are a human-like magic-using species in a magical dimension; witches who can't use magic get exiled to the human world.
  • The primary antagonists of Soul Eater are witches who appear to be a race of their own. This is indicated by the fact that at least one is a small child with no parents to teach her magic and that certain witch characters appear to have no desire to be part of the witch culture, but in both cases, these still count as 'witches'.
  • Witches in Rosario + Vampire were first born of a monster and a human getting it on. They're considered a mongrel species (among those who even know of their beginnings) and tend to be seen as unwanted in both worlds.
  • In El Cazador, witches are a nearly extinct subspecies of humans who mostly lost their powers in modern times. Ellis is an artificial witch, created in an attempt to restore the magical bloodline. Jodie, on the other hand, is a pure-blood witch but has about as much magical potential as any baseline human. It is also suggested that there were further artificial witches besides Ellis (possibly including L.A.) but they all died/were killed off.
  • If you want to be a mage in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, you will first need to be born with a Linker Core organ, the source of a mage's magical power. Having mage parents greatly increases your chances, but there have been known cases of powerful mages being born from non-mages.
    • The titular character herself is one of said powerful mages with non-mage parents. Though, this may or may not count considering that her father is a former assassin/bodyguard, while her mother was a baker. Despite her brother and sister being chi-users, she was left out of most of the family business except for baking. It probably wasn't due to her age, because there were martial artists studying in the family school who weren't much older.
  • The witches in Umineko no Naku Koro ni work something like this, although we don't have enough information to say for sure and it's confusing as hell. At any rate, magical talent appears to be a hereditary trait that manifests itself in different ways, and it's shown that Beatrice was once (well, actually twice) a normal human, and several members of the Ushiromiya family have (or gain) witch powers. Another way to interpret it is that witches are Anthropomorphic Personifications of such things as greed, a time loop or even a murder plot. Also, witches seem to exist independently of the human, so after one gains magical powers, a "Mage" version of the person is created and exists in parallel to the original. The concepts of magic and witches somehow manage not to be the most complicated concepts because it's one of those stories.
  • In Sugar Sugar Rune, witches (both male and female) come from the 'magical world', and they feed off of the emotions of humans. Love between witches and humans is taboo, IIRC.
  • There Beyond the Beyond has the flowers from the Beyond, who wield supreme magical powers, although other human and Talking Animal magicians exist.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, witches are the monsters that the Magical Girls have to fight. They can look anything from monsters to cute little critters. Witches are born from their familiars breaking off and maturing by killing some humans on their own. Ultimately Zig Zagged, as Magical Girls mature into witches once their soul gem is sufficiently tainted, which not only happens as a result of using their abilities, but also whenever they give into despair. Even worse, it's implied soul gems taint over time, and thus soul gems must be purified by using the grief seeds from defeated witches.
  • Sasami: Magical Girls Club has a species of witches that live in an alternate dimension. The Magical Girls are stated to be the product of interbreeding between the witches and the humans, and are almost regarded as a separate race with powers different from normal witches. The show also plays around with the Always Female aspect of the trope by stating that there are Magical Boys but that they are very rare.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Wizards and Witches live amongst "normal" people. Supernatural powers and psychic abilities are passed along family lines; some families (like the Li family) are very aware of this and pay great attention to lineage, other families (like the Kinomoto family) less so. Sakura falls into the category of Cute Witch; CLAMP wanted to put a twist on the typical Magical Girl genre.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In The DCU, Zatanna's mother was revealed to have been a member of the "Homo Magi" race. However, her father used learned magical skills (Depends on the writer; sometimes he's described as having H. Magi blood or innate magic). Zatanna herself uses learned magical skills (ie, speaking backwards) to tighten her control over her inherent abilities.
  • Also in the DCU, Klarion the Witch Boy belongs either to a race of extradimensional aliens who have magical powers, or a subset of humanity that lives in the caves beneath New York City and is descended from Puritans who had "relations" with time-traveling fairies.
  • In an interesting variant, in the Starkweather comic, it turned out that Witches were the living descendants of Christ, making the Church's attempts to wipe them out somewhat ironic.


Fairy Tales[edit | hide]


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • The Harry Potter Fan Fiction Paradigm of Uncertainty plays with wizard genetics by introducing a rare incompletely dominant allele that's responsible for wizards having a great inborn talent. Wizards who are heterozygous in this trait exhibit a high level of natural magic, and should two of them have a child there's a one-in-four chance of yielding offspring with what basically amount to superpowers. Three guesses as to which character turns out to be one of the latter.
    • Rule 34 suggests that the most obvious way the gene could promote its own propagation will be or have been exhaustively explored by Fanfic writers.
  • In the Mega Crossover fancomic Roommates Witch Species basically means any Half-Human Hybrid or Heinz Hybrid produced by the Interspecies Romance practiced by The Fair Folk who doesn't have enough fae blood / have too much humanity to qualify as The Fair Folk themselves. So magical talent = Fae ancestry.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Power with the Force is hereditary in a great many cases. Given the prohibition against Jedi marrying, the only examples we see of hereditary Force power in the movies are Luke and Leia, but the Expanded Universe increases this (especially with non-Jedi traditions that don't preclude marriage, and the fact that many thousands of years of Jedi history didn't include that prohibition). This is not a guarantee, however, as Jedi Master Ki Adi Mundi's background indicates he had 8 children (male Cerean Jedi are exempt from the restrictions against marriage given the 20 to 1 female to male ratio), but Wookiepedia doesn't indicate any of them were Force Sensitive.
  • The Covenant has five families in the beginning, anyways, where the boys inherit the magic powers. A daughter from one of these families is never seen, so it's unknown if girls A) inherit the power, B) don't inherit it, but can pass it on to their sons, C) are completely normal, or D) can't be born to these families.
    • Also, only firstborn males in a given generation receives the Power.
    • All There in the Manual: Only the firstborn son gains the Power, and only his firstborn son, and so on. Daughters, if they exist, have no magic.


Mythology[edit | hide]

  • The Strigoi from Romanian mythology is said to work on the same basic principle. Instead of biting humans to infect them with The Virus, a Strigoi can become human again, marry, and bear children—who will all go on to also become vampires after death. Basically, a Monster Progenitor who proliferates the species by getting to know someone in the biblical sense.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Kelley Armstrong's The Otherworld books feature both an all-female witch phenotype and an all-male sorcerer one. The genes for the two are in some way incompatible, as well as sex-linked and so both witches and sorcerers only reproduce with mundanes, who know nothing of this according to the Masquerade. However, witch and sorcerer magics have some overlap. A witch can perform sorcerer magic, but she is less capable with it than she is with witch magic, and vice versa for sorcerers. There are hints in Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic that witches and sorcerers may be more alike than they think, particularly the revelation that neophyte witch Savannah Levine is the daughter of a witch and a sorcerer, supposedly impossible.
  • Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' books have a genetic, female-only species of witches. These witches can breed with normal humans, but their powers are genetic, so there are a few very specific witch lines. These can work magic, and each line has a different specialty, but witch society as a whole tends to spend most of its time hunting the vampires that run rampant in these books. One witch line carries a vampiric taint. While a witch can be turned into a vampire, turning one into a blood bond (which effectively makes a human immortal but not a vampire) is usually disastrous.
    • Then there are the Tristes, immortal witches who are quite like the vampires they so often hunt. They have their own "sires" after a fashion, in which specific trainers and their initiates have varying levels of powers. Also like vampires, Tristes "feed" on energy rather than blood. Their blood is poisonous to vampires, unless the triste consents under specific conditions.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz introduced this trope, according to Martin Gardner. Apparently L. Frank Baum wanted to avoid religious objections from parents on the grounds that witches are the result of a Deal with the Devil and thus there cannot be good witches, so he made witchcraft an inherent trait and classified witches as good or evil based on how they used their magic, not the magic's origin.
  • Jim Butcher's series, Codex Alera, has humans as its version of this. All humans can use elemental magic, and while other races have some degree of magic among them, humans have the greatest and most common access to it. Interestingly, this works as a disadvantage as much as an advantage, since they tend to have trouble thinking about non-magical methods of accomplishing things (meaning, for example, that there exists literally no technology, beyond maybe ships which, even then, can be made from wood magic.)
    • Similarly, though to a lesser degree, the Canim have a whole caste who are just magic users, though seeing as the ritualists are a rather secretive and elitist bunch its unclear whether their powers are hereditary, or just an art they keep to themselves. (We do know it involves blood. Fresh blood. And a lot of it...
  • Katherine Kurtz's Deryni are frequently referred to as a separate race of humans, especially by their enemies. They are both male and female, and can and do interbreed with ordinary humans. The word is both singular and plural, both noun and adjective.
    • The author even gives an appendix about the genetics: Deryni-ness is a dominant X-chromosome variant, and Haldane "can have powers given to me" is a Y-chromosome variant. This may or may not match depictions throughout the series.
  • In Roald Dahl's The Witches, the title characters are a sort of demonic One-Gender Race, and are Exclusively Evil at least far as children are concerned - Witches want to eradicate all children. They're uninterested in killing adults, but aren't bothered about accidentally killing them. These demon women are hairless, toeless and have long claws all of which they must conceal from the general public along with some other traits.
  • The Young Wizards series combines this trope with an inversion of Deal with the Devil: one third of humans have the genetics necessary for being a wizard, but God grants magic to only 1% of those with the genetic potential.
    • And there are ways to gain wizardry in which your genes aren't relevant. Wizards exist to help the Powers that Be keep the universe running; where there is a wizard, it generally means there's some specific problem that person, as a wizard, can choose to become an optimal solution to. Which takes as much work to arrange for as you'd think. Some species are universally wizards; some only need one at a time. For humans, the genetic potential thing basically serves to simplify administrative work.
  • This is the source of dispute within the Harry Potter universe. The villains take being "pureblood" very seriously, and state that having children with non-magical "Muggles" pollutes the gene-pool and decreases magic. While non-magical children have been born to purebloods (called "Squibs") and magical children have been born to Muggles (called "Muggle-borns" or, as a slur, "mudbloods") the exact genetic nature of magic hasn't been elaborated on significantly. Rowling has, however, stated that magic is "a dominant and resilient gene"; the exact meaning of "resilience" here is unknown and we have know idea if Rowling is speaking of dominance in the Mendelian sense to begin with, but it's been suggested that it magically ensures its own propagation. One Mugglenet editorialist hypothesizes that magic is codified in a pair of dominant phenotypes, each defunct without the other - which reconciles the dominant gene and the existence of Muggle-borns. Most geneticists who have better things to do just assume that magical ability is a complex trait, the result of polygenic inheritance and a bit on non-Mendelian genetics and mutations thrown in for good measure, and call it a day.
    • Many of the most powerful wizards (including Lord Voldemort himself) are half-Muggle. And Hermione Granger, arguably the most talented witch of her generation, has no known wizarding ancestors.
      • Lily Potter, also a Muggle-born, was the most talented witch of her generation according to Slughorn. In fact, a conversation between him and Harry implies that a number of Muggle-borns discusses how Muggle-borns are just as skilled or more so than their full-blood counterparts, contrary to expectations of them.
        • Not brought up in the books, but suggested by various things: it's possible, and accepted in some parts of the fandom, that the efficacy of magic depends a lot on personal will/emotions/putting in the effort to do the work, etc.. Everyone who has the ability to use it can, but there are different rates of success to consider — Hermione is ridiculously intelligent and talented, but as we learn from her boggart (Professor McGonagall telling her she failed everything), she's deathly afraid of failing and, thus, has a considerable motivation to be the best (and to know so much that it puts the Ravenclaws in awe of her).
          • Harry has a few cases of this to examine: he can produce a Patronus, which even adult wizards find taxing, but he doesn't manage to produce a fully corporeal one until he knows/truly believes that he can; similarly, he has massive difficulty with summoning charms while markedly stressed from personal concerns (Ron refusing to talk to him, most of the school thinking he put his own name in the Goblet of Fire for attention and hating him, being a Triwizard Champion against his will, having nightmares where he gets inside Voldemort's head, etc.), but when learning them has the potential of winning him points in a Triwizard task (or getting him killed by a dragon), he pulls an all-nighter with Hermione and gets them down; on the contrary, he's shown having difficulty with Occlumency most directly because he doesn't do the reading, which he skives off on because he resents being forced to deal with Snape.
          • And then there's Neville: he clearly has the desire to do well at things ... but just rarely gets it. Reason why, under this reading: he has the self-esteem of a hole in the ground. And based on the revelations we get about him, this makes sense: his parents were famous Aurors, he's their only son, and when he was a magical late bloomer, his entire family took to physically and emotionally tormenting him to try and force him to display accidental magic. (And his grandmother, who primarily raised him, is a pretty terrifying lady with rigid expectations of things, which more than explains his nervous demeanor.) And then he gets to school ... where a defining trait of his classmates is how often they pick on him for being "stupid." He displays a great deal of desire to learn magic, but due to various outside circumstances, he doesn't believe that he'll ever amount to much, so his progress is rather slow. He eventually develops a passionate love of herbology and a knack for charms that's notable enough for McGonagall to praise it — and then he Takes a Level In Badass when Dumbledore's Army and fighting against the oppressive reign of Snape and the Carrows makes him go, "What Would Harry Do" and end up as the leader of the Hogwarts underground resistance in Harry's stead.
          • Thus, the implications that Muggleborns have a magical leg up on Purebloods could be read less as a statement that being Pureblooded isn't all it's cracked up to be, and more as one that, because they're so convinced of their own superiority, they overwhelmingly don't see a reason to work that hard at magic, and thus they don't make as much of it as the Muggleborns do. (Exception to the rule: Draco has the motivation of Lucius looming over his shoulder and publicly berating him for letting Hermione beat him. Then Draco has the motivation of, "my father is in prison, I've been drafted into the Death Eaters, and if I don't kill Dumbledore, the Dark Lord will kill my family." Which, regardless of Draco's other traits, is motivation enough for most everybody to buckle down and make the magic freaking work. And, notably? He didn't have the desire to kill Dumbledore. Inferring from Bellatrix's reprimand of Harry's attempted use of the Cruciatus in OoTP — "You have to feel it, Potter!" — Dumbledore's, "You're not a killer, Draco," and Draco's hesitance and overly defensive "you're wrong"-ing of old Dumbles, we can guess that, even if Draco had tried to cast the Killing Curse, it probably wouldn't have worked.)
    • What's interesting about the obsession with pure blood is that at one point it's explicitly stated that all pureblooded families are, to a greater or lesser degree, related. The character who says so probably just meant "in Britain" since it's a big world and for all pureblooded families everywhere to be related would be a hell of a trick, but nonetheless, it's not going to be long before even the pureblood enthusiasts have to start marrying Muggles lest their children turn out like innumerable rulers throughout history, some of whom couldn't chew their own food. It's explicitly stated in The Half-Blood Prince that one notable blood-purity-obsessed family had gone down the route of insanity due to inbreeding.
      • It is also notable that most pureblood families seem to have very low fertility in spite of the generally longer lifespans and better physical health of the wizarding population. The Weasley family is seen as a noteworthy exception, with the majority of other pureblood families only having one or two children. Without the addition of half-bloods and muggle-borns this trend would have resulted in the virtual extinction of wizards and witches.
    • For the record, that despite the vocabulary used by many journalists who only know the Potter Verse through cultural absorption (and many Moral Guardians itching to prove that the books are Satanist), "Muggle" does not equal "human" and "wizarding/magic(al)" does not equal "witch." They're all human, and only girls or women are called witches. Boys and men are wizards, or very occasionally warlocks (a word originally used to mean wizards particularly skilled in duel magic, now often meaning one with a fearsome appearance). Magic occurs with equal frequency in both genders.
      • Pedant note: "Warlock" was originally an Anglo-Saxon word for a witch of any gender, meaning something like "faith-breaker" for the association with pacts with the Devil.
    • There's also a Witch Species within the Witch Species: Metamorphmagi, who can change their appearance at will, are born with the skill, and those who aren't, can't learn it.
      • That's not the only one: Another rare gift among witches and wizard is Parseltongue. Presumably there are other rare traits as well.
      • Then there are True Seers. It doesn't seem to be a learned ability and Professor Trelawney one of the few confirmed true seers in the the series only made two true seer predictions.
    • Funnily enough, J.K has said that despite magic apparantly being dominant and resilant, it still won't survive contact with Dursley genes.
      • That statement may have been a joke.
  • The witches in Philip Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials, are a species in themselves. All female. They breed with human men; their daughters are witches, their sons mere humans.
    • A witch species that also has male witches is briefly mentioned, but they are from another universe and never actually show up.
  • The Wheel of Time series has female users of the One Power known as Aes Sedai, and their male counterparts who, during the series, take on the name Asha'man; the ability to channel the One Power is passed on by a recessive allele. Because of an event centuries ago, male channelers are doomed to go insane and die horribly unless they are cut off from the True Source, and so Aes Sedai have a programme of 'gentling' and/or killing them. As a result of this, coupled with the fact that Aes Sedai rarely marry, the ability to channel in general has weakened drastically by the time the series is set.
  • Christopher Stasheff's The Warlock In Spite Of Himself series has "witches" (female) and "warlocks" (male), both with a different sex-linked power set—all really genetically inherited Psychic Powers mistaken for magic. Naturally, the protagonist and his family are major exceptions to those rules, due to partial fake-Faerie blood and magic borrowed from another universe (way too complex to go into here).
    • Plus a possible different variant of the effect - Stasheff's witches and warlocks have their powers due to massive inbreeding from a limited source. Rod, though not from Gramarye, was also the product of a massive inbreeding on his own homeworld, and we know at least one of the original settlers there, (who happened to be in Rod's family tree) was descended from someone (Whitey) who may have had similar internal abilities. At the very least, he had strong personal talents and an affinity for the lifestyle chosen by the settlers of Gramarye.
  • In the Sword of Truth series, there are people born with "the gift" who can become wizards (and usually have to be taught to at least control it so they don't die from the strain), while others wanting to become wizards can have magic sort of installed into them. There's only a tiny fraction of people (called "pristinely ungifted" among other things) who cannot have or use magic, and also can't be affected by magic either. It's unclear exactly how everything works, but it's implied gifted parents have a higher likelihood of having gifted children, and the pristinely ungifted are the result of a balancing act of a spell that would ensure a certain family would always have at least one gifted male heir. Additionally, any children of even one parent who's pristinely ungifted will have children who are as well.
  • The Comyn in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series have hereditary psychic power, largely (though not entirely) due to being descended from the result of a mating between a chieri and a human woman that took place soon after humans arrived on the planet (see Darkover Landfall). The powers require training to be used safely and effectively.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones' Witch Week, witches can be male or female—but either way they're illegal and likely to be executed by burning.
  • The witches of Andre Norton's Witch World books. Originally all female, and with their magic powers linked to their virginity, that changes when Simon Tregarth is sent to the witch world from our world. He not only has his own powers, but when he marries, his wife doesn't lose her powers and their children are more powerful than either parent.
    • This is clarified later in Three Against the Witch World. Originally - before the Old Race migrated from westward - people of either gender might have magical ability. In fact this is still the case, at least for men who are not members of the Old Race (e.g. Riwal in The Crystal Gryphon), but it is rare for a man to be correctly identified as a potential magic user and given appropriate training.
  • Discworld takes a strange and sometimes contradictory view on this. It's stated outright that magic has a genetic component: it runs strong in the Weatherwax, Ogg, and Aching families, for instance. However, anyone is capable of performing certain feats of magic. It may be that being the granddaughter of a witch (Tiffany Aching) or the eighth son of an eighth son (most wizards) simply gives the child the right mindset to become a witch or wizard, or increases the magic potential the child has, or causes the all powerful Discworld force of Narrative Convention to have things happen to them that will cause the magic to happen all on its own. Then again, it's more than likely just the fact that it's magic, and that's what magic does.
    • It is one of the few cases where the traditional differences between what wizardry and witch magic is like is acknowledged and built into the story, for example, in Equal Rites.
    • Then there are Sourcerers - the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son, or 'wizard cubed', who is inevitably a Person of Mass Destruction. This is the reason wizards are supposed to be celibate. Sourcerers, on the other hand, tend not to survive long enough to breed.
  • Wizards and elves of Lord of the Rings are the beings that employ magic most frequently. The Dúnedain exhibit some form of quasi-supernatural powers of insight and will, and occasionally Men of their descendant civilizations are described as having some form of spellcraft. Dwarves appear to have a form of magic.
    • A distinction, however, must be made. The powers of the Elves, at least, are not explicitly described as "magic" per se; if anything it comes from understanding and love for the world, whereas the powers of the Enemy are a deliberate attempt to go against the world in making it what you want. Very few Men seem able to use magic mostly because it takes so long to nurture those powers all sapient spirits have that most of them tend to die before they master it.
    • Also, in his later view, Melkor, the ultimate evil power, had spent much of his initially vast cosmic strength to incorporate some of his own essence into almost everything. This could be manipulated to produce certain effects, but it was generally a bad idea (after all, it's the power of Melkor you're using).
    • It's also worth noting that Elves do not think of what they do as magic, which makes it rather harder to determine whether their magic really has something to do with their nature, or is just due to their knowledge of the world.
    • It's also stated that hobbits have a "magic" of sorts, but only the type which allows them to continue living unseen and unnoticed by humans, who rarely deign to notice them.
    • It's all, like most of Tolkien, a linguistic joke, that the newer languages lump all of this supernatural power under the single heading of "magic," when the older languages had multiple distinctions for various types, which leads to confusion and muddling of things which is what transforms mytho-history into local folktale.
  • Witches in The Hollows novels are entire race capable of using enzymes in their blood activate magical potions and charms. Slightly subverted in that other forms of magic can be used by other races as well.
    • Later in the series it is revealed that witches descended from the cursed and stunted offspring of demons and this is the source of their abilities.
  • In the Night World series, witches are a race within humanity, though you might not want to point that out. Perfectly ordinary-seeming humans may have enough witch in their background to be able to cast spells, and if they do not learn to control it, they may go mad, or they may find the titular Night World. Ones that have not found it are interesting, as they are the only people who do not know about the Night World that its inhabitants are ever allowed to tell. Not that most do.
  • The Dresden Files has magical rituals that can be used by anyone, but there's a form of innate magic that's passed down via salic law (inherited from the mother). The divide usually comes down between wizards (capable of throwing about truly powerful magic) and practitioners (have an inner reserve of power, but usually capable of only minor workings). Such a law is at the heart of White Night, as it turns out members of the White Court are trying to wipe out female practitioners so that inherited magic goes extinct within a few generations.
    • In Blood Rites, the villain turns out to be using a third kind that Harry describes as a sort of cosmic vending machine, that even the most pathetic of practitioners can perform (and possibly even people with no magical talent whatsoever)-you put in your quarters (perform the correct rite) and a spell comes out. The White Council usually solves this problem by making the book from which the spell comes widely available-since it works by contacting a specific magical creature with a predetermined message to accomplish it's goal, if a lot of people try to use the spell the amount of power behind each use will be incrementally less because of the strain being put on the creature.
  • Back in 1948, Jack Williamson published Darker than You Think," featuring a witch species that evolved due to prehistoric environmental reasons. However, their abilities mainly deal with shape-changing, making them were-wolves, were-pythons, were-saber-toothed-tigers, and more. In very rare cases, a witch becomes powerful enough to transform into a vampire. (That's a lot of tropes blended together.)
    • A TAINT IN THE BLOOD by S.M. Stirling pays homage to Williamson with a similar witch-shapeshifter-vampire species, the Shadowspawn, updating the scientific rationale for their powers. As in Williamson, the genes are scattered throughout the population, ranging from slight traces to terrifyingly powerful concentrations. People with a small degree of Shadowspawn heritage might have psychic powers. Those who have a high percentage but not enough to be true Shadowspawn tend to turn into bloodthirsty serial killers.
  • Two from The Death Gate Cycle, the Sartan and the Patryns. Because they were created by the cosmic balance as a means of maintaining itself, their powers tend to be complimentary opposites- Patryn magic is quick, physical, and good for combat, while Sartan magic is more involved and spiritual. Both races are continually at each others throats. Humans and elves from the same setting can learn magic, and it's implied the ability is hereditary, but even an incredibly talented "mensch" wizard will reach only the equivalent of the lowest tiers or Sartan or Patryn power.
  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles features Fire Witches, people born with an inherent control over fire. These people are invariably redheaded, short-fused, and touchy to boot. Shiara from Talking to Dragons kind of breaks this mold, though-when she expresses a wish that she had better control over her fire magic and Daystar wishes she had better control over her temper, Daystar's magic sword compromises by granting both wishes; Shiara has perfect control of her fire magic, but can only use it when she's being polite. The books also feature regular witches, who are just regular human women who learned to do magic.
  • The Last Apprentice features Lamia Witches, an Always Female species that usually look like reptilian humanoids. But if they socialize with humans for long enough they turn into beautiful women who are almost indistinguishable from ordinary humans. There are also regular witches, who are women who get magical power, usually from The Devil The Fiend.
  • James Reese's Herculine trilogy has a hereditary witch species whose powers appear to be related to both gender and a unique blood type. They interbreed with humans, but daughters are always witches and sons are human men who may have some slight psychic sensitivity. It is stated that "every witch is born of a witch, and every witch dies a witch's death." They have psychic abilities, and are able to cast spells. Some practice paganism or some other religion related to magic such as vodoun, while others prefer nonreligious magic. Many witches are untrained and are not aware that they are anything other than human, and so are not able to teach their daughters how to use their powers either. However, untrained witches can still display psychic abilities such as telekinesis in moments of anger. It is stated that their powers are related to their blood, and that at some point, they will all succumb to death by massive hemorrhage, which usually happens in old age but can strike some unlucky witches in their twenties. However, their unusual blood type gives them immunity to infectious diseases and a slight healing factor. All witches have the ability to display "the mark of the toad" to identify themselves to other witches, by causing their pupils to change shape and become irregular, and this can also be reversed at will. Unusually, old witches lose their powers with age, while witches new to magic tend to be much stronger. The protagonist is a hermaphrodite child of a witch, and has the abilities of a witch but also has the physical equipment needed to father children on a human woman, producing normal witch daughters and human sons.
  • Many of the fairy races in Artemis Fowl are this.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born", as a result of a Deal with the Devil, a Curse on the royal house ensures that a witch will be born every century.
  • The War Gods by David Weber has no current version of this, but both the dwarves and elves were this before their cleaving was completed. When the Empire of Ottovar was found the Elves were created out of the Warlocks, people who naturally could perform magic similar to mages, but with no training needed. They weren't as powerful as wizards, but were quite dangerous and since they could pop up randomly, and tended to fall easily into dark magic. Ottovar rerouted the flow of magic in them as part of a deal that gave them immortality.
    • The Dwarves now have a decent number of baseline humans in their current genepool, but some of them still have the bloodline gift of stone manipulation that was the highlight of the early dwarves.
  • In Cliff Mc Nish's Doomspell Trilogy, there is a LITERAL Witch Species. They serve as the main villains in the books, including a secondary, more brutal race of witches bred for battle, called the Griddas.
  • In Mithgar, Mages are their own race, described as physically resembling a cross between elves and humans; the ability to cast spells in innate (and unique- all spellcasters in-series have at least some Mage blood) to them. Though they age (and use of magic accelerates the process), they can regain their youth by entering special trances, meaning that they're immortal as long as they're careful. Black Mages sidestep the issue by forcibly stealing other peoples' energy for their magic. Most Black Mages are also bald, though it's never explained why (and they're the same race as regular Mages, albeit the outcasts and criminals of their society, making it especially strange).
  • In Vadim Panov's Secret City series of novels the eponymous Secret City is divided into 4 major factions: The Great Houses of Nav', Chud', Lyud' and the humans (sometimes referred as the House of Chel). Each faction has a unique magic Source. Great Houses contain multiple races with different rules, which merits a detailed listing:
    • Great House of Nav', the Dark Court and the most diverse group:
      • Nav', main species, MagicKnights: all Navs are magic users and appear male. No reproduction details are known, and they likely obey the Immortal Procreation Clause, as their lifespan counts in millenia.
      • Shas', originally artificers, now also merchants and bankers of the Secret City: all members can use magic, but most will resort to artifacts. Shas naturally use the Nav's Source, but can craft artifacts for all Sources and races. Normal mammal reproduction, Shas half-bloods aren't known.
      • Ärli, dedicated medics of the Secret City, second only to Healers, but with less rigid moral compulsions. Exclusively male and living in a monastic order. No reproduction details given.
      • Masan, spies, assassins, shock troops of the Secret City. Their unique powers are fully inherited, but fueled by blood consumption, blood sacrifice and some cannibalistic rites. While vampire myths indeed come from Masan-related incidents, Masans reproduce as regular vertebrates.[1]
      • Os', the underground dwellers. Osy (Осы) hunt with domestic rat packs, and their partially telepathic control over the rats is their inherent magic. Os' were a Bee People, whose monogamist HiveQueens and Kings ruled the common Osy the same way those rule the rats. Navs are running a project to remove this link and render Os' a normal species, rendering their HiveQueens moot. Regular mammal reproduction, no cross-breeds known.
    • Great House of Chud', the Red Citadel:
      • Chud', the main species. Chuds reproduce as regular mammals and can produce fertile half-human hybrids. Most male Chuds and half-Chuds can use magic, while pure Chud females are almost incapable of it. Due to this power disbalance, Chuds are very patriarchal; Chud males are very likely to take mistresses from outside their Great House.
      • Khvan, mercenaries of the Secret City. Vassal allies of the Chud'. Khvans appear fully human, except for their four arms. Khvans prefer swords and artifacts. Regular mammal reproduction, patriarchal society. No cross-breeds known.
      • Daykini, incorporeal spirits who require female humanoid hosts. Technically capable of using Shas, Chud', Lyud' and human females and their respective magic energies, daykini prefer Chud magic energy. Chud and human muggle females will become capable mages after daykini takeover. Daykini have been exposed after a failed conspiracy and placed under a spell limiting them to volunteer hosts. A daykini will retain the host's memories. No reproduction details known.
    • Great House of Lyud', the Green Castle:
      • Lyud', the main species. Lyuds reproduce as regular mammals and can produce fertile half-human hybrids. Most female Lyuds and female human-Lyud descendants can use magic, while pure and cross-breed Lyud males are incapable of it. Due to this power disbalance, Lyuds are purely matriarchal; Lyud females are very likely to take lovers from outside their Great House or sometimes form lesbian couples.
      • Kontz, the entertainers and showmen of the Secret City. Exclusively male with an innate unique seduction magic, also capable of using common spells and artifacts. No reproduction details known.
      • Moryanas, an artificial all-female species created as Lyud' countermeasure to Masans and Khvans, also capable of telepathic links among themselves. Shape-shifters with a fully human appearance (slender middle-Asian or oriental young women) and a nightmarish battle form. Moryanas are impervious to most combat spells, but also limited to artifacts. Moryanas produce fertile offspring with Chuds, Lyuds and humans, but also possibly with Shas and Kontz males. All Moryana children are also Moryana girls.
      • Red Caps, originally Lyud ranged support troops, now petty criminals, cheap muscle and comic relief of the Secret City. Incapable of any own magic and restricted to artifacts, Red Caps possess supernatural accuracy with any thrown projectiles and an equally supernaturally horrible smell. Regular mammal reproduction, no known cross-breeds.
    • The House of Chel, a.k.a regular humans. The only species in the setting with Randomly-Gifted individuals. Mentioned here for the possible variants: regular humans, regular mages, Chud' and Lyud' cross-breeds, monks (mages using belief), Healers (mages capable of healing magic only, but up to panacea spells), Geomancers, metamorphs, Tat' hybrids (descendants of former Great House that fully assimilated with humans to prevent extinction), Reapers (fear-triggered berserkers), Inquisitors (innate belief-fueled wide-range Anti-Magic effect), Azathoth adepts (modified humans) and Kitano School adepts (acquired one-person Anti-Magic users).
    • Galla's adepts are a notable inversion, as accepting Galla and his Anti-Magic doctrine not only removes the person's magic, but will also render their children exempts from their respective Witch Species.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The titular witch is a half breed, which on several occasions has proven to make her less powerful than a full witch. However, it does mean that if she ever sees her mortal mother, her mother will turn into a ball of wax. Also, they're immortal, living thousands of years, though the point where they stop aging seems to be completely arbitrary. We've seen witches and warlocks with apparent ages anywhere from pre-teens, to teenagers, twenty/thirty somethings, and even up into their fifties or sixties.
    • There are a few episodes where the issue of witches dying comes up. It implies that they may not be truly immortal, but that they may simply age very slowly. This would explain the discrepancies in the apparent ages.
  • A literal Witch Species, the Carrionites, appeared in the Doctor Who episode "The Shakespeare Code".
  • Charmed specifically differentiates between "magical witches," who are part of the witch species and born with their power, and "witch practitioners" who aren't born with powers but can study witchcraft to limited effect.
  • Bewitched. The witches seem to combine this with attributes of The Fair Folk. Tabitha definitely inherited the gene while Adam was more dubious until an episode that showed he was a warlock but had been suppressing his powers. In the Tabitha sequel series Adam was a mundane however, but what do we expect from a series that RetConned their ages.
  • The Secret Circle.


Tabletop RPGs[edit | hide]

  • The Sorcerer class in the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons is an inborn mage, as opposed to the Wizard, who has to nose through his spellbook in order to prepare spells. Many Sorcerers claim to have a dragon or other powerful being as an ancestor, though the truth of such claims depends on the player and the Game Master.
    • The Warlock class has it a bit more concrete: In 3rd edition, they gain fey-like powers, to match their implied origin of fey ancestry (or some kind of pact), or can instead select fiendish attributes for much the same reason. In 4th edition, this is illustrated via selecting a fey, infernal, or star pact.
    • The various types of Hags in the game are quite literally species that have the attributes of fairy tale and mythological witches.
      • Like the sorcerer, many types of Half Human Hybrids gain some forms of magic from their magical ancestors. Half-Celestial, Half-Fiendish, Aasimars, Tieflings & Half-Dragons are just some of the most common types.
    • The Kalashtar of the Eberron setting can also be considered an example of this trope, although their powers are psionic rather than magical. Their links to extraplanar entities are what makes them other than human, and such connections, while not genetic, are passed down from father to son or from mother to daughter.
    • In Pathfinder, all Sorcerers have a "bloodline," which usually implies some kind of supernatural ancestry.
      • Although there's the bloodline Arcane, for those of us who don't want to picture what happens when a mommy human and a daddy demon (or elemental, or dragon...) love each other very very much. It's sort of the "my family are all sorcerers, so I am too!" bloodline.
  • Eldar in Warhammer 40,000 are all psychic, the 40k 'verse's equivalent of magic.
    • The increased potential for mutations among human psykers (caused by drawing their power from the twisting and corrupting Warp) means that a fair number could be considered a separate species. A few psyker sub-groups, such as Navigators, actually do constitute a separate branch of humanity.
      • Though it varies from edition to edition the suggestion has often been made that 40K humans are on the dege of evolving into a Witch Species, hence all the psykers.
    • Psychic ability itself seems to be genetic. People who use psychic powers are born that way, altho it is possible for a non-psyker to draw power from the warp with the right (obviously heretical) rituals and incantations.
    • Ork psykers are a sub-sub-caste in the Ork society, called Weirdboys or Wyrdboys, but they have a really short life expectancy (even by Ork standards) because the concentration of Ork psychic energy (the same energy that makes the red ones go fasta) makes their heads explode if it builds up in great amounts.
  • The ability for magic is a genetic trait in Shadowrun. How that magic expresses (Shamanic, hermetic or whatever) however doesn't seem to be.
    • The genetic inheritance of magic seems to be something that varies from Author to Author. The tradition is chosen by the individual, so that it matches his beliefs and personality. Things get more complex when you throw the different kind of practitioners in the mix (Physical Adepts, Mystic Adepts & Magicians). Magicians are your classic spell-slinger & summoner. Adepts are people who use magic to gain physical abilities mundane people don't have, like superhuman strength, wall running, the ability to alter their facial features, the ability to understand foreign language or reflexes that border on precognition. A magician could have an adept as a child, yet that adept might have stronger magic than his magician progenitor.
      • Things get more complex when you consider how many variants of Awakened their are. The vast majority of Awakened can cast one spell, summon one spirit, or perceive astrally. There are awakened strains of entire non-metahuman species. Anyone with The Virus is awakened, as are Drakes. Then you have Technomancers, who take the basic rules of being a magician and apply them to the Matrix instead of the Astral.
  • Witch Girls Adventures is all about this trope. Witches are similar to humans, but they are specifically not human. They are kind of like humans, only better. That means they are naturally more beautiful, smarter, more athletic, stop aging after a certain point if they don't want to, and of course, they can use magic. Only females can be witches, but there are Immortals, legendary warriors and heroes who are apparently the male version.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Confusingly enough, Touhou features both a type of Youkai called "magicians" in the form of Patchouli Knowledge and Alice Margatroid, and a human Cute Witch Marisa Kirisame who merely has it as her job description.
    • The reason for this is based in Japanese mythology and is explained in some of the supplemental materials and Word of God. The major difference between human and Youkai witches lies in youkai being extremely long-lived, capable of generating their magic from themselves naturally, and in potentially being maneaters. (However, unlike most youkai, only the darkest and edgiest of Fan Fiction ever portray Patchouli or Alice as actually hunting humans for food, even when Alice is being portrayed as an Ax Crazy Stalker with a Crush.) Marisa, as the only human with no inherent superpowers in the series, however, has to rely upon finding magically-charged mushrooms to power her magic, ages as a human, and is fine sticking to rice and tea, thanks.
      • Also worth noting is that humans may transform from a human witch to a youkai witch through research, dedication, and special rites (example: Byakuren Hijiri). Patchouli was born a youkai witch (presumably of youkai witch parents), while Alice is formerly human (though fans speculate she has a connection to demons).
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, sorceresses are women who bear (according to legend) a piece of the ancient god Hyne's powers, and are the only people in the setting who can use magic naturally. While artificial methods of using magic exist, they are less powerful than sorceress magic. Sorceresses are not born with their powers, but they are instead born with the potential to inherit the power of other sorceresses, and pass their powers on before their death - only a woman born with the potential to become a sorceress can inherit a dying sorceress's power.
  • The Black Mages from Final Fantasy IX were manufactured in Alexandria as weapons, and are said many times to look just like humans, though we never actually get to see one's face.
  • The witches of Umineko no Naku Koro ni have a feel similar to The Fair Folk, namely the way they use their powers to play chess-like games killing whatever humans happen to be around. ...All right, maybe that's not quite the way to describe it, but it's not very far off, either.
  • In the Luminous Arc games, Witches are considered separate from humans or monsters. Of course, in the second one, the "engagement system" (read: kissing/putting the girl in a wedding dress) implies that humans and witches can interbreed.
    • Understandable, as it's stated in Luminous Arc 2 that both humans and Witches/Wizards descended from the Navillians.
  • Loom has a guild of Weavers, who (for some reason) can use powerful magic by playing tunes (weaving also enters into it; they have a magic loom that reflects/is the fabric of the universe). It's not clear if anybody could learn to be a weaver, but it seems they're all born in the society. Also, they can do strange things like create new weavers by adding threads to the Loom; this throws the universe into chaos and ushers in the apocalypse, however. There is also a guild of wizards, as referred to in passing in the game, but what they do is never mentioned.
  • The Star Ocean series contains species that have a natural ability to use symbolism because the have the required symbols written into their DNA, circumventing the usual need to tattoo the symbols on their bodies.
  • In the Nasuverse, the ability to do magic is determined by the possession of genetically inherited Magic Circuits - for most forms of magic, at least.
  • On the planet Terra of Dark Cloud, there is nothing to prevent humans from learning magic: Seda was a skilled magic user even before his Deal with the Devil, and Monica uses magic armbands like Ruby's rings in addition to having command of some other magic which may or may not have anything to do with her Atlamillia. Witches in Dark Cloud are defined as definitely not human, which is what started the whole mess in the first place. Or did it? As the Dark Genie says itself, it would have been born without Seda's involvement at all.
  • Blood Elves would probably qualify in World of Warcraft. They lived so long in close proximity to the Sunwell that it infused all of them with a certain level of magical ability (they can all do Arcane Torrent, even the rogues) and skill over manipulating magic (the enchanting ability.) Lore-wise, they are very heavily into arcane magic and are supposed to mostly be caster types, although you wouldn't know it by looking at the men.
  • In the Dragon Age series, mages are born with the ability to use magic, which carries an inherent risk of The Dark Side and can be passed on to their children (even when the other parent is a muggle). When one such individual is detected, they must be brought to the Circle of Mages to live under the watchful eyes of the Templars, an order of knights who consume lyrium in order to increase their resistance against magic. Those who refuse are branded "Apostates", rogue mages who are ordered to be hunted down by the Templars in order to prevent them from using their talents for evil. The Circles also adopt a rather strict policy of celibacy for the mages, out of fear that they spawn more magical babies.
    • It's notable that this set of rules was created by a group of settlers who fled in fear from the magic-heavy Tevinter Imperium region. Dragon Age II explores the inherent problems in such a model: how the Templars have to assume an "guilty until proven innocent" stance for lack of a better option, how that oppression leads some mages to fall to The Dark Side in the first place, which then goes to to prove the need for constant surveillance and oppression by the Templars, creating a vicious circle.
  • Subverted with the Asari from Mass Effect, due to the fact that even though they all have the natural ability to use Biotics, not all are willing to learn to harness and manifest their inherent powers.
  • Though learning magic is the norm in Might and Magic, the eight game in the RPG series suggests that Dark Elves[2] can naturally learn elemental magic to a level almost, but not quite, as good as necromancers and sorcerors, and have some additional magical tricks up their sleeves. This may be partly a cultural trait, but it does at least indicate that a talent for magic is present in every single dark elf that goes adventuring, and there are still those magical tricks.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Being born a witch is simply luck of the draw in Serenity Rose. They can fly, have telekinesis, can control the elements, conjure up pretty much anything out of ectoplasm, and can shapeshift [1]. They also may be immortal, or at least can live for hundreds of years. Witches are extremely rare, and of the 50ish in the world some don't even use their powers; "good Christians simply don't do such things, you know."
  • While it isn't entirely clear what the cause of the Spark is in Girl Genius it is well-established that the Spark does run in families. It is also hinted that the style and preferences of the different Sparks tends to run in families, whether this is genetic or due to upbringing is unknown a matter for horrible and unethical research!
  • In Pumpkin Flower those born able to use magic are known as Mancers. Their abilities include dating artifacts and setting people on fire.
  • In one story arc of Scary Go Round, Ryan and Amy set out into the woods, because an explorer has offered Ryan ten grand for a new and undiscovered species. What they find is Witchus witchus, the common witch.
  • El Goonish Shive draws a distinction between "wizards," members of a Witch Species (of which no women have yet been seen), and "awakened," who have been given personal magic by wizards, other awakened, or Immortals. This is in addition to the inherent magic of Uryuoms and Seyunolus and the Magitek that anyone can use.
  • The Raccoonan people in Tales of the Questor have innate access to magic. Their interaction with humans has varied from trying to explain how it's just harnessing a natural force like magnetism, to deliberately playing up a reputation as "witch dogs" with frightening powers.
  • Enchanters in At Arms Length are a separate race from normal mortals with four arms and natural magic powers. Mortal witches can manipulate magic, but still require magic artifacts to channel their spells.
  • There appears to be a Witch Species in the world of Eerie Cuties and Magick Chicks - the cast in the former are all listed by species, and the witches are "witch". The rest of magic users not related to them aren't. The difference is in "cursed blood", and there's some test for this (which cannot be easily done in the field, thus more complex than comparing density to that of a duck).

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The Global Guardians PBEM Universe includes a subspecies of humanity called Homo magi. Every human user of magic, regardless of its form, is a member of this subspecies, including every mystic hero and villain.
  • In the Whateley Universe, witches can be male or female, mutant or baseline human (though the mutants may have a lot of internal power to use), and almost all of them require a lot of training first.
    • It's a bit different in Whateley, since there are also actual Wicca, and following that is seperate from being able to use magic. (And just about anybody can use a BIT of magic.)


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  1. Masans will be hurt by sunlight and paralyzed by a wooden stake through the heart, but will ignore mirrors, silver, garlic and religious symbols. They can neither turn humans (nor any other species) nor produce any half-vampires of mythology. Masan legend states that they came to Earth from a legendary homeworld where the sun didn't hurt and they didn't need blood.
  2. As they are in that game - the Continuity Reboot dark elves are an entirely different breed