What would Halloween be without our favorite witches? This is the season of classics and favorites, like Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, and Halloweentown—so we’re celebrating by counting down the 20 most badass fictional witches of all time, based on powers, struggles, and of course, style.
20. The Wicked Witch of the West, The Wizard of Oz
The Wicked Witch of the West is one of the original baddies; she invented the bad witch act, complete with the pointy hat and chilling cackle. When she’s not conspiring with her winged monkeys, she’s flying around on her broomstick and disappearing in a cloud of green smoke. And all in the name of a good pair of shoes. Too bad she isn’t waterproof.
Throughout the Halloweentown films (although only the first two really count), Marnie discovers that she is descended from witches and undergoes her witch education. She saves Halloweentown and its citizens more than once with the help of family and friends. Her resourcefulness makes her a witch to be reckoned with, but her powers are limited.
No matter which version you’re going with, the original Disney cartoon or the live-action Angelina Jolie sharpest-cheekbones-ever version, Maleficent is a badass witch contender. I mean, she curses a baby to teach its parents manners. Imagine what she’d do if someone actually spited her (oh wait, you don’t have to imagine: it’s pretty much the plot of the live-action flick). In both movies, she has insane powers (can any other witch turn into a dragon?) and the best costume. Really her only weakness is love, but can any of us resist that temptation?
Lamia and her sisters are bent on one thing: Eating the heart of a star (yes, a literal star) to obtain youth and beauty. On the pro side, their magic allows them to live potentially forever, casting curses and making inns appear out of thin air. On the con side, each star heart only fuels them for so long. Hence Lamia’s declining appearance throughout the film and her eventual destruction by the glow of the same star she’d been chasing. But who can forget that creepy voodoo poppet scene?
The reason Ursula earned this spot on the list is threefold. First, she has a kickass song. Second, we don’t really learn the full scope of her powers; the only thing that eventually kills her is her own brother’s supposedly magic trident. And third, because the woman is smart enough to put every magical exchange in writing. If you can learn one thing from the sea witch, it’s that contracts are important. Real witches don’t just take your word for it.
Sabrina deals with learning to be a witch on top of surviving high school and dating. The best part about being a witch for Sabrina is that there are no explicit rules against personal gain, though consequences aren’t unheard of. Wanna cook yourself a man or visit the Pleasure Dome for a weekend? Go ahead!
Morgana is based off the enchantress Morgan le Fay of Arthurian legend, though the BBC series took a few liberties. In the show, Morgana starts off as King Uther Pendragon’s ward and prince Arthur’s adopted sister. Eventually Morgana discovers her own magic and turns against Arthur and his squire Merlin, who of course is the greatest wizard of medieval times. Though her powers do increase greatly throughout the show, her attempts to usurp power are sometimes pathetic, and the ending of her story leaves something to be desired.
In a show extremely loosely based on the Salem Witch Trials, Mary Sibley is undeniably the most powerful witch, with abilities that range from reanimation to astral projection to casting unbreakable curses. She is one of the few witches on the list who wasn’t born with her powers, but rather gained them in return for selling her soul to the devil. And yet in the end, even she is defeated by love. If you want to see some really messed-up witchcraft, then Salem is the show for you.
Rowena is one of my personal favorites on this list. A Scottish red-head who just so happens to be the mother of the King of Hell and possibly the craftiest witch in the Supernatural universe, Rowena is also one of the longest-lasting female characters on the show. She holds her own when surrounded by hunters, demons, and angels, and her priority is always to look out for number one. Some of her accomplishments include releasing Lucifer from his cage, resurrecting herself, and casting from the Book of the Damned.
Sarah is a natural witch, and though at first she denies her abilities, she is extremely powerful. When her supposed friends turn on her, it is Sarah’s inner strength that saves her life and teaches the troubled Nancy a lesson she will never forget. Best ability: Glamour, for all of those hair-dyeing and appearance-changing needs you may have.
There’s no denying that Hermione is the cleverest witch of her age. Throughout the books and movies, Hermione grows from a somewhat insufferable know-it-all to a strong, independent witch who can solve puzzles and duel with the best of them. We all know that Harry and Ron would never have lasted without her.
The head of the Sanderson witches and the most rounded witch of the sisters. It’s Winnifred that possesses the Book, brews the potion, and makes the plan to live forever. Maybe if she didn’t have her clumsy sisters tagging along she wouldn’t have burst into dust, but then again the movie wouldn’t be the gem that it is.
The reigning Supreme at the start of the show and the only living witch to have passed the Seven Wonders, Fiona is known for only caring about herself. Despite her growing romance with the Axeman and her waning relationship with her daughter, Fiona’s humanity seems to have spoiled long ago. The season is colored by her attempts to improve her health and locate the next Supreme, which is ironic because…
Fiona’s daughter and, revealed at the end of the season, the new Supreme. Cordelia spends most of the season blinded, both literally and figuratively, to the true intentions of those closest to her, but the end of Coven sees her realizing her own power and taking her place as head of a new generation of witches.
Melisandre is the Red Priestess famously known for her love of burning people (including children) at the stake. Responsible for the death-by-shadow-demon of Renly Baratheon and the resurrection of Jon Snow, everyone in Westeros currently wants her dead, which of course is when a witch like Melisandre is the most dangerous.
Regina, aka the Evil Queen, is the one responsible for all of Storybrooke and the current predicaments of its fairy tale inhabitants, though she isn’t the only one to blame. Her origin story reveals a great betrayal, and Regina turns out to have more good in her than expected, though her attempts to prove this are often foiled. The one thing you can be sure of with Regina is her aptitude for poetic revenge.
Bonnie begins her path as a witch by discovering that her town is filled with vampires and that she and her friends are unavoidably involved. Her knowledge and powers grow throughout the series, culminating in multiple resurrections, soul transferences, and seal breakings. But Bonnie’s greatest ability is that of accepting her friends no matter what species they become.
Prue’s main ability is telekinesis, and as the eldest Charmed sister she juggles a stressful job with honing her powers, saving innocents, and spending time with her sisters. But this busy lifestyle results in complicated romantic relationships and eventually her own death, although we will never know how powerful Prue might have become if the actress that played her (and her diva reputation) hadn’t gotten herself written off the show.
Piper is originally the middle Halliwell sister but takes over the helm as eldest after Prue’s death and Paige’s discovery. With the power to freeze time and eventually blow things up with a wave of her hands, Piper is the only Halliwell to successfully grow as a witch while having kids and a husband. Though these things aren’t always easy, Piper manages it while also running a hot nightclub. She proves that a witch can have it all.
Willow gets the top spot mainly because of her three-episode arc as Dark Willow who, in response to the murder of her girlfriend, flays a man alive and almost destroys the entire world. But Willow also earned the title of Most Badass Witch because although she starts off as an innocent, bookish high school student, Willow grows into a well-rounded woman and loyal friend as well as an extremely powerful witch. When it comes time for Buffy to save the world (again), Willow is always at her side, and at the end of the series it is Willow who unlocks the power necessary to stop the end of the world.