What is it about witches that we can't get enough of? Is it the feminist ideal of a woman owning her power? Is it that a coven is the ultimate #squadgoals? Or is it the cool hats?
Earlier this week, while watching a re-run of Charmed over cereal, I naively decided to list my top five favourite witches on Twitter. The backlash was surprising; everyone had their own opinions. This more comprehensive ranking is an attempt to placate my critics before they turn me into a frog.
But first, shout-outs to those who didn't make the cut: Sabrina Spellman, Samantha Stephens, Roald Dahl's Grand High Witch, and the Wicked Witch of the West.
10. Myrtle Snow (American Horror Story: Coven)
The most powerful witch at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies was arguably the reigning Supreme, Fiona Goode. But her long-term rival, Myrtle Snow, constantly stole the show with her high fashion ensembles and flawlessly delivered one-liners. She can also boast perhaps the finest exit line of any witch unfortunate enough to be burned at the stake: "BALENCIAGA!"
9. Alexandra Medford (The Witches of Eastwick)
There is an argument to be made for Susan Sarandon's cellist-turned-vamp in this 1987 adaptation of John Updike's novel, but Twitter has spoken and Cher is the clear high priestess of this particular New England coven. As a sculptor, it is Alex who creates the poppet (or voodoo doll if we're being politically incorrect) to thwart the devilish Daryl Van Horne.
8. Sarah Sanderson (Hocus Pocus)
Sure, Winifred is the leader of the coven, and Bette Midler's performance is part of what makes Hocus Pocus such a classic - but the eeriest moment of the film comes when Sarah, the youngest, minxiest Sanderson sister, takes to her broom to lure the children of Salem to their dooms. Forget Carrie Bradshaw; this was the role of Sarah Jessica Parker's career. (Fun fact; Sarah's song, Come Little Children, originated as a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.)
7. Granny Weatherwax
There are loveable witches aplenty in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, from the earthy Nanny Ogg to would-be opera diva Agnes and YA heroine Tiffany Aching. Esme Weatherwax is exceptional in that she is far from loveable, but will always do right by her village, even sitting down to play dice with the Grim Reaper on occasion it it means saving a life.
6. Piper Halliwell (Charmed)
In my original list, I selected Prue over her sisters. She had the coolest powers, I thought, and the least boy drama. But on reflection, Piper is the true MVP of the Charmed Ones; over eight years she stepped into the role of family matriarch and proved that witches really can have it all, becoming a wife, mother and successful businesswoman, but never forgetting that sisterhood is everything.
5. Nancy Downs (The Craft)
There's nothing quite as appealing as a bad girl. Neve Campbell, Rachel True and Robin Tunney all turn in great performances in The Craft, but Fairuza Balk (a real-life Wiccan) disappears into the role of Nancy, a power-hungry outcast whose occult dabbling leads to murder and madness.
4. Endora (Bewitched)
Samantha was the heroine of Bewitched, but far too often she would acquiesce to her husband's demands that she not perform any magic, essentially denying her heritage in order to become the perfect housewife. On many such occasions, however, she would receive a visit from her mother, the powerful sorceress Endora, who would remind her of all the possibilities her life might hold if she just embraced her powers instead of obeying a man.
3. Tara Maclay (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
"Where's Willow?" I hear you ask. And yes, Willow Rosenberg is undoubtedly the most powerful witch in the Buffyverse, with the most dramatic character growth. But deep down, we were always fonder of the softly spoken and nurturing Tara, who embodied the Wiccan rede; harm none.
2. Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
The status quo at the beginning of The Little Mermaid is "do as you are told, and everything will be fine." Ariel rebels against this and so too does the supposed villain of the piece, Ursula the Sea Witch. Banished years ago for refusing to play nice and accept Triton's claim to his underwater kingdom, Ursula is a symbol of rebellion against all forms of patriarchy - especially the sort rife in Disney movies.
1. Miss Eglantine Price (Bedknobs & Broomsticks)
Our love for Miss Price is near-indistinguishable from our love for Angela Lansbury. Not only does she welcome three wayward evacuee children into her home and take them on all kinds of adventures, Miss Price also inspires small-time crook Emelius Browne to change his ways. Oh, and she uses her magical powers to save England from a Nazi invasion.