Witches are more than just gingerbread-loving, black hat-wearing, broomstick-flying creatures of chaos and evil. While there are plenty of on-screen witches that still have questionable morals, there are just as many with a more nuanced backstory. But just because there are more “good” witches out there, doesn’t mean that these magic wielders are any less formidable. Witches have always been a force to be reckoned with on screen, and if anything, their desire to help others, make up for past mistakes, or protect their family makes them even more powerful and intimidating.
The following witches from TV and movies come from a wide variety of worlds and backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common – they are complete and total badasses. Every single witch on this list would make a worthy and powerful ally, but good luck to anyone who dares to cross them.
Yennefer of Vengerberg – The Witcher
The Witcher features many powerful mages, but Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra) is arguably the most formidable. Her childhood wasn’t easy – she was bullied by the children in her village and sold by her step-father to Aretuza after her magical abilities were discovered. She then had to give up her ability to have children in order to reach her full potential at Aretuza. Even though she may seem selfish at times – she leaves her position in court, she tried to tame a Djinn for her own needs, and she uses Ciri (Freya Allan) to try and get her magic back – Yennefer ultimately does the right thing for The Continent and her friends.
She reunites with the mages of Aretuza to aid their fight against Nilfgaard and her ability to control chaos magic gives the mages the upper hand. She destroys their army in a blaze of fire, even though unleashing so much magic at once leaves her temporarily powerless. Yennefer sacrifices herself to save Ciri from Voleth Meir, feeling guilty for using her and betraying Geralt’s (Henry Cavill) trust. After regaining her powers, she agrees to teach Ciri how to control the chaos magic within her.
Yennefer has proven that she will do whatever it takes to get what she wants, but she is also willing to give that up if the cost puts someone she cares about in danger. She may come across as harsh and cold at times, but who can blame her after what she’s been through? She shows up when it matters though, and I pity anyone who wrongs her.
Wanda Maximoff a.k.a The Scarlet Witch – WandaVision/MCU
Aside from Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) is one of the most powerful Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ve seen her destroy an infinity stone with one hand while holding back Thanos with the other in Avengers: Infinity War. In Avengers: Endgame Thanos had to have his fleet of ships fire non-stop upon the Earth in order to stop Wanda from killing him. But WandaVision is where we really get to see her powers grow. In a moment of pure grief, Wanda accidentally takes over the town of Westview, NJ, reshaping reality and controlling the will of the people there.
Even though Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) is revealed to be one of the true villains of the series, she introduces Wanda to the Darkhold and ultimately sets her on the path to becoming the Scarlet Witch we see in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. While this movie does a disservice to the emotionally compelling arc that Wanda goes through as she processes her grief in WandaVision, even I can’t deny that Wanda looks badass fighting against the Illuminati single-handed. She’s controlling another version of herself through the multiverse and yet she still turns Reed Richards (John Krasinski) into spaghetti with a flick of her wrist.
No matter what ‘side’ you think Wanda is on now, she is definitely someone you don’t want to mess with. Even without the Darkhold, she is an incredibly powerful witch who will do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves.
Margo Hanson – The Magicians
While Margo Hanson (Summer Bishil) proudly embraces her role as the Queen Bitch of Fillory, she is also so much more than the stereotypical “mean girl” of The Magicians. She may have a harsh exterior, but she is a skilled magician who is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her friends, Brakebills, and Fillory from any threat they may face.
Margo has held her own against the menacing Fairy Queen (Candis Cayne), helped Eliot (Hale Appleman) stop an apocalypse while stuck in a time loop, and formulated a successful plan to break into a high-security magic vault. Margo is one of the smartest magicians in the series, and whether she uses her wit or her magic, she will destroy you both physically and emotionally if you cross her.
Regina Mills – Once Upon a Time
We first see Regina Mills (Lana Parilla) as the Evil Queen and primary antagonist of Once Upon a Time, but it doesn’t take long for her to become so much more than that in the series. In an effort to stop Snow White’s (Gennifer Goodwin) happily ever after once and for all, the Evil Queen transports Snow White, herself, and the other denizens of their fairytale realm to our world, specifically Maine. For a while, only Regina remembers her past life in the fairytale world and uses that to her advantage to create the life she felt was stolen from her.
Even as Regina learns that revenge isn’t always the best use of her abilities, she is still a formidable magic-wielder. She realizes that she doesn’t have to hurt others to get what she wants, but also isn’t afraid to take action against true adversaries that want to harm the people she cares about. Just because Regina learns how to love and trust again doesn’t mean she’s gone soft though. If anything, her transformation from the Evil Queen to the hero we see in later seasons proves how powerful love can be.
Hermione Granger – Harry Potter
Hermione Granger as played by Emma Watson (I make this distinction to give J.K. Rowling as little credit as possible for the on-screen version of this character) is one of the few smart and powerful female characters I had to look up to growing up. Even though a certain author has made it almost impossible to continue to be a Harry Potter fan as an adult, the way that Emma Watson brought the character to life on screen is important to acknowledge.
Hermione made it cool to be smart, saving her friends Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron (Rupert Grint) on many occasions with her wisdom. Harry is touted as the hero of this franchise, but without Hermione, he and Ron likely wouldn’t have survived past their first couple of years at Hogwarts. She’s the one who knows how to escape the Devil’s Snare, it’s her research that prepares Harry to fight the Basilisk, and she’s the one who knows all of the protection spells that keep them hidden while they’re out hunting Horcruxes.
But it isn’t just her knowledge that makes her a powerful witch. She is a skilled dueler and isn’t afraid to punch Malfoy (Tom Felton) in the face when he says something cruel. As much as she loves to spend her time in the library, she also isn’t afraid of being in the middle of the action either.
Bonnie Bennett – The Vampire Diaries
Even though Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) is often thought of as the main character of The Vampire Diaries, her best friend Bonnie Bennett (Kat Graham) is the true hero of the series. Her magic has saved Mystic Falls, and the world, many times from a variety of supernatural foes including vampire-werewolf hybrids, Katherine Pierce (also Nina Dobrev) and her various evil schemes, sadistic witches, sirens, and, of course, vampires.
Bonnie goes from newbie spellcaster to badass witch within one season, and after the death of her grandmother is mostly self-taught. From locator spells to magical barriers to banishing an entire hell dimension from existence, Bonnie is a knowledgeable and powerful witch who almost always finds a way to save the day. Without her, Mystic Falls would have been destroyed and/or overrun by supernatural forces several times over.
Sabrina Spellman – Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Riverdale
Even though Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) is half-mortal – a weakness in the eyes of her coven – she is also the daughter of Lucifer Morningstar (Luke Cook) a.k.a the devil himself. This gives her access to powers that her peers at the Academy of Unseen Arts could only dream of. Even before she became the Herald of Hell and the most powerful witch in Greendale, Sabrina was able to summon hellfire to save her town, a feat only achieved by three other witches before her.
Sabrina’s abilities aren’t the only thing that makes her a powerful witch though. Her relationships with the mortals of Greendale and her dedication to ridding her coven of its archaic, patriarchal traditions prove that she has a strong moral compass that isn’t easily swayed. She cares deeply about her family and friends, but her compassion and morality isn’t a weakness despite what others in her coven think. It means that she’ll defend those she loves with everything she has.
Tally Craven, Abigail Bellweather, Raelle Collar – Motherland: Fort Salem
Motherland: Fort Salem takes place in a world where the Salem witches escaped persecution by signing a treaty with the American government and helping them win the Revolutionary War. In this treaty, witches were able to form their own branch of the U.S. military where they train young witches how to fight against threats to the U.S. and threats to their own kind.
Raelle Collar (Taylor Hickson), Tally Craven (Jessica Sutton), and Abigail Bellweather (Ashley Nicole Williams) were all conscripted to the same unit at Fort Salem. This entry features all three witches rather than choosing one because they all make each other stronger. They are all powerful on their own, but these witches train and deploy in units for a reason. While all witches are able to perform most acts of magic just fine on their own, there are some who possess a greater natural talent in certain skills than others. Raelle is an exceptional healer, which means that she is able to form magical links with people. This helps her read minds and form a psychic connection with the coven’s ancient source of power. Tally can see beyond our physical realm, giving her the ability to detect magic residue left behind by other witches as well as look into the future. Thanks to her heritage and resilience, Abigail has learned weather manipulation magic that puts most in her class to shame. She can conjure a strong enough wind to peel off her enemy’s face, razor-sharp hail, and tornados at will. When they work together and combine their skills, these three witches are a force to be reckoned with.
Melisandre – Game of Thrones
The night is dark and full of terrors, and one of those terrors is definitely Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) from Game of Thrones. Melisandre is a priestess for R’hllor, the Lord of Light and considers herself to be a vessel for his will. She uses her abilities in his name, maintaining that nothing she does is for personal gain, but if anyone tries to come between her and her mission, she will burn them alive as a tribute to the Lord of Light.
As a servant for the Lord of Light, a lot of Melisandre’s powers include fire. She can see visions of the future through flames, she can perform blood magic that includes throwing leeches into fire, and she has the ability to conjure fire at will. Her other powers include shadow manipulation, resurrection, and the ability to maintain her youth despite being several hundred years old. Even though Melisandre’s motives aren’t always clear, she comes through for Westeros in the end. Without her, “The Long Night” likely would have been a lot shorter as her fire powers were instrumental in keeping the Army of the Dead at bay in this climactic season 8 battle.
Cordelia Goode – AHS: Coven, AHS: Apocalypse
Cordelia Goode’s (Sarah Paulson) journey to becoming the Supreme (the leader/most powerful witch) of her coven was not an easy one. Her mother was the Supreme before her, but was more concerned with keeping her power for as long as possible than raising Cordelia to take her place one day. Cordelia was sent to Miss Robichaux’s Academy at a young age and left to learn from the other witches in her coven. Her mother Fiona’s (Jessica Lange) quest for power left them estranged and Cordelia was forced to deal with her fertility issues and her husband’s infidelity on her own.
Even though she grew up without love from her mother, Cordelia is incredibly compassionate. Don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t take shit from anyone, especially her mother, but she also cares fiercely for her fellow witches. She doesn’t leave her role as headmaster of Miss Robichaux’s, even after becoming the Supreme, instead using her powers to help the next generation of witches reach their full potential.