Witches and wizards in pop culture: A definitive ranking
Evil sorcerers, lovable goofs, and dead-raising magicians — witches and wizards of pop culture come in all shapes and sizes (including the Jedi variety, which we’ve controversially decided to include). We have selected the top wizards and witches across film, television, video games, comics, and books and ranked them according to powers + power in pop culture. Without further ado…
99. The Wizard (Frank Morgan), The Wizard of Oz
“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” — he’s not even actually a wizard.
98. Tabitha Stephens (Lisa Hartman), Tabitha
The daughter of Bewitched‘s Samantha Stephens received her own spin-off a decade later — but it was spectacularly bad and barely worth a mention.
97. Katrina Crane (Katia Winter), Sleepy Hollow
Worst witch ever. People are supposed to love to hate witches, not hate to hate them or mobbing to burn her at the stake.
96. Gruntilda, Banjo Kazooie
She was repulsive even before you consider Nintendo 64’s graphics standards of 1998.
95. Devon Buckley (Chandra West), The Gates
94. Justin Russo (David Henrie), Wizards of Waverly Place
93. Samantha Stephens (Nicole Kidman), Bewitched
The Nicole Kidman motion picture version of Samantha Stephens was missing all the magic.
92. Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery), Salem
91. Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthorne), The Dresden Files
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90. Kamek, Super Mario Bros.
89. Eliot Waugh, The Magician
88. Doctor Fate, DC Comics
87. Freya Beauchamp (Jenna Dewan Tatum), Witches of East End
86. Roxie Torcoletti (Rebecca Romijn), Eastwick
85. Julia Wicker, The Magician
Anyone who can teach herself magic is a badass in our book.
84. Cedric the Sensational (Jess Harnell), Sofia the First
83. Tabitha Lenox (Juliet Mills), Passions
82. Qui-gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), Star Wars
Before Liam Neeson developed a particular set of skills, he helped develop one of Star Wars’ wisest Jedi, and one of its most feared foes.
81. Bayonetta, Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2
80. Max Russo (Jake T. Austin), Wizards of Waverly Place
79. Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), Harry Potter
Don’t remember much about Draco’s wizarding skills, but we do remember him getting punched in the face by Hermoine. Sectumsucks to be you!
78. Melisandre (Carice van Houten), Game of Thrones
Unlike Stannis, we don’t expect The Red Woman to go down too easily.
77. Diana Meade (Shelley Hennig), The Secret Circle
76. Faye Chamberlain (Phoebe Tonkin), The Secret Circle
Rebel witches always beat goody-two-shoes witches (sorry, Diana).
75. Asa Vadja (Barbara Steele), Black Sunday
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74. Dahlia (Claudia Black), The Originals
73. Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), Stardust
Using powers to stay youthful is just smart…
72. Sukie Ridgemont (Michelle Pfeiffer), The Witches of Eastwick
…but creating a coven without even knowing it is pretty cool, too.
71. Rochelle (Rachel True), The Craft
70. Zatanna, DC Comics
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69. Davina Claire (Danielle Campbell), The Originals
68. Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), Star Wars
Looks can be deceiving, and the seemingly frail puppet master pulling the Sith strings is not to be trifled with.
67. Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), AHS: Coven
You can’t keep a bad witch down.
66. Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan), Charmed
65. Bonnie (Neve Campbell), The Craft
64. Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson), Star Wars
63. Donald Duck, Kingdom Hearts
Donald Duck’s temper may often get in the way, but he’s a good enough magician — and even better friend to Sora and Goofy — that Kingdom Hearts wouldn’t be the same without him.
62. Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson), The Secret Circle
Never forget: Before she went to Tomorrowland, Britt Robertson was doing semi-dark magic with a group of attractive teens on The CW.
61. Gillian Owens (Nicole Kidman), Practical Magic
Nicole Kidman doesn’t have the best luck with portraying witches.
60. Rowena (Ruth Connell), Supernatural
Her son might be the King of Hell, but Rowena has enough power to spell an angel, so we wouldn’t mess with her.
59. Antonia Gavilán de Logroño (Paola Turbay), True Blood
Magic is one thing. Possessing another witch’s body (and surviving being burned at the stake) is another.
58. Alex Russo (Selena Gomez), Wizards of Waverly Place
We can’t get enough of Revival, but before that, we couldn’t get enough of Selena Gomez on the Disney Channel.
57. Alice Quinn, The Magicians
56. Angelique Bouchard (Lara Parker), Dark Shadows
Let’s not even talk about the Eva Green iteration.
55. Jane Spofford (Susan Sarandon), The Witches of Eastwick
54. Sheila Bennett (Jasmine Guy), The Vampire Diaries
Grams didn’t like to show off, but when her magic was needed, she did what she had to do.
53. Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney), The Craft
52. Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), AHS: Coven
51. Sally Owens (Sandra Bullock), Practical Magic
Remember when Sandra Bullock was in rom-coms?
50. Miracle Max (Billy Crystal), Princess Bride
“There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.” Miracle Max is skilled just enough to know that difference.
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49. Hilda Spellman (Caroline Rhea) and Zelda Spellman (Beth Broderick), Sabrina: The Teenage Witch
Sabrina learned everything from her aunts, who were always more powerful than they let on — and inseparable.
48. Prue Halliwell (Shannen Doherty), Charmed
47. Mary Sanderson (Kathy Najimy), Hocus Pocus
“I smell scrod.” Maybe not the right witch power to be as mighty as your sisters, Mary.
46. Saruman (Christopher Lee), Lord of the Rings
45. Glinda the Good Witch of the North (Billie Burke), The Wizard of Oz
Witches are rarely without some sort of inner evil, but Glinda? She’s as good as they come, leading the way for Dorothy to make it back home — and even gain some wisdom along the way.
44. Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson), AHS: Coven
She’s the SUPREME.
43. Morgana Pendragon (Katie McGrath), Merlin
Morgana’s transformation from Arthur Pendragon’s kind-hearted and empathetic sister to a totally evil sorceress is drastic and totally compelling. Plus, you’ve gotta love those cheekbones.
42. Quentin Coldwater, The Magicians
Known well by book readers, Quentin will rank higher as a pop culture wizard soon, thanks to Syfy’s serialization of his journey to Brakebills.
41. Tara Maclay (Amber Benson), Buffy
Tara’s greatest power was her heart. She loved Willow completely, was there for Buffy at times when her other friends weren’t, cared for Dawn like she was her own sister, and was always willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good. That’s why it hurt so much more when she left us all too soon.
40. Louisa Miller (Robyn Lively), Teen Witch
The coolest and most fashionable teen witch of the ‘80s uses her magic to get by during the toughest time of one’s life: high school.
39. Ganondorf, The Legend of Zelda
Link’s foe has appeared in many forms over the years, but nearly every iteration of the Hyrulian foe has been a memorable one.
38. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), Star Wars
If you’re in a pinch, or looking to be trained in the ways of the Force, Obi-Wan is definitely the Jedi you’re looking for.
37. Sara Sanderson (Sarah Jessica Parker), Hocus Pocus
Boy-crazy Sarah might not be the smartest witch of her age, but her seduction skills (and that voice!) would put her toward the top of any list when it comes to powerful beings.
36. Merlin (Elliot Knight), Once Upon a Time
He’s the most powerful witch of his age, but he’s also spent most of his time stuck in a tree. But he’s still the only one who can save Emma from becoming The Dark Swan, so he’s definitely a force to be reckoned with.
35. Merlin (Karl Swenson), The Sword in the Stone
34. Merlin (Colin Morgan), Merlin
Merlin‘s version of Merlin starts as a bumbling and lovable young warlock who has to hide his powers (and doesn’t always know how to use them) — but over the course of five seasons we see him embrace his powers and work alongside Arthur Pendragon (Bradley James) to bring peace to Albion and become a legendary and powerful sorcerer.
33. Stephen Strange, Dr. Strange
If you haven’t heard of Dr. Strange, don’t worry — you’ll recognize this name soon, when he’s portrayed by the one and only Benedict Cumberbatch.
32. Phoebe Halliwell (Alyssa Milano), Charmed
31. Glinda (Kristin Chenoweth), Wicked
We can’t all come and go by bubble, but LOL some of us can.
30. Esther Mikaelson (Alice Evans), The Originals
Also known as the Original Witch, Esther is responsible for creating vampirism. So she’s got some pretty awesome skills.
29. Endora (Agnes Moorehead), Bewitched
Twenty-nine here, but no. 1 in the Wackiest Witches ranking.
28. Scarlet Witch, X-Men
Don’t let Wanda Maximoff near your mind — you might never get her out. And while she might look innocent on the surface, never mess with the woman who became so powerful she eventually altered reality enough to create entire armies out of thin air.
27. Alexandra Medford (Cher), The Witches of Eastwick
Is Cher as a witch that much different from Cher every day?
26. Jafar (Jonathan Freeman), Aladdin
Jafar was the sorcerer, but Iago was the real brains of the operation.
25. Bonnie Bennett (Kat Graham), The Vampire Diaries
Being a Bennett witch is no easy task, but Bonnie has proven that she can handle it. After all, she’s probably brought more people back from the dead than anyone else on this list.
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24. Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange), AHS: Coven
She’s the OG SUPREME.
23. Maleficent (Eleanor Audley), Sleeping Beauty
One of Disney’s most terrifying villains, Maleficent casts a spell that sends young Princess Aurora into 16 years of exile. But even a young lifetime in hiding isn’t enough: Maleficent still conjures a spinning wheel to send Aurora into a deathlike slumber. And when it looks like the valiant prince might come to her rescue? Then the claws really come out, with the sorceress calling in the powers of evil to help her take the shape of a ferocious dragon. Wicked indeed.
22. Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Harry Potter
Though not as magically skilled as Harry or Hermoine, Ron’s bravery and loyalty proved to be indispensable.
21. White Witch (Tilda Swinton), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
20. Sauron, Lord of the Rings
19. Mickey Mouse, Fantasia
Mickey Mouse’s first starring role in a feature-length film went on to also become one of his most notable. The blue galaxy-themed sorcerer’s hat he dons in the film is all over the Disney theme parks and was even the centerpiece of Disney’s Hollywood Studios until early 2015. Aside from the cultural impact, the character itself is admirably resourceful: Mickey uses magic to do his chores for him (which eventually ends in disaster — but it was fun while it lasted!).
18. Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), Harry Potter
A part of us hoped that the crazy Death Eater would last until the end.
17. Aggie Cromwell (Debbie Reynolds), Halloweentown
Some people might think their grandmas are witches, but Marnie’s actually is one — and a cool, caring one at that. The fact that she’s played by the irreplaceable Debbie Reynolds only adds to her charm, turning what could be a questionable character into a captivating one.
16. Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk), The Craft
15. Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), Harry Potter
You Know Who’s name became frightening to the wizarding world — and to readers — for a reason: whether on the page or on screen, Voldemort is one of the most fearsome wizards of all time.
14. Ursula (Pat Carroll), The Little Mermaid
If you’re the Sea Witch, you better believe people have a reason to be scared of you — reasons that might include stealing mermaid’s voices, a cunning personality, and a penchant of turning prisoners into a helpless polyps.
13. Piper Halliwell (Holly Marie Combs), Charmed
The power of three was unstoppable, and Piper was in the middle of it all, constantly holding her sisters together (and stopping time when necessary).
12. Winifred “Winnie” Sanderson (Bette Midler), Hocus Pocus
She sings. She dances. She has killer hair, a killer wardrobe, and she a turned a poor boy into a cat. Best witch ever? (Not quite, but close.)
11. Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart), Sabrina: The Teenage Witch
Everygirl Sabrina Spellman’s life was a generous helping of teenage wish fulfillment (who wouldn’t want to change outfits and humiliate her high school rivals with a swish of a finger?), topped with just as many consequences. But you can’t put a price on a talking cat.
10. Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris/Michael Gambon), Harry Potter
Few are wiser or more brilliant than Dumbledore, who as Headmaster of Hogwarts, could always be counted on to save the day (and the entire wizarding world).
9. Elphaba (Idina Menzel), Wicked
Sympathetic and misunderstood, Elphie proved to be a sorceress of unlimited renown (and vibrato).
8. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Harry Potter
Already more powerful than most as a baby, The Boy Who Lived continued to cheat death year after year. As if it weren’t bad enough to go through puberty, pass Defense Against the Dark Arts, and figure out how to ask a girl out, he had to avoid being killed by the greatest dark wizard in history.
7. Darth Vader (James Earl Jones), Star Wars
A father, a sith, and one of the most powerful forces on the dark side, Darth Vader’s story has been central to the Star Wars films, and even in death, he looks to be leaving us no time soon.
6. Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), Buffy
Willow’s rise as a witch mirrored the growth of her character and helped to make Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s best friend one of the show’s most endearing characters.
5. Samantha Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery), Bewitched
A spin on the ideal 1960s housewife, Samantha tried to trade her powers for a quiet life at home – but the twitchy nose wants what it wants.
4. The Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton), The Wizard of Oz
Not only is the Wicked Witch of the West insanely, well, wicked, she also delivered one of history’s most memorable movie lines when she cackled, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” to a terrified Dorothy.
3. Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Harry Potter
She’s the most gifted witch of her generation, but more importantly, she manages to keep Harry and Ron alive for seven years.
2. Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Lord of the Rings
No matter if he’s Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White, he’s the epitome of what a wizard should be.
1. Yoda (Frank Oz), Star Wars
In a battle between Yoda and anyone, win he will.
Now it’s your turn: Who is YOUR favorite witch or wizard? Sound off in the comments, or vote for one of our top 10 picks in the poll below.