23 of the most iconic fictional witches of all time

Meghan Cook
·10 min read
hocus pocus
Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Middler, and Kathy Najimy as the iconic Sanderson sisters in "Hocus Pocus." Buena Vista Pictures
  • Several iconic movies, TV shows, and musicals showcase frightening and interesting witches. 

  • TV shows like "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and "Charmed" that star witches have gotten modern reboots. 

  • Disney Channel original movies like "Twitches" and "Halloweentown" are still Halloween classics. 

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

With Halloween on the horizon, it's the perfect time to watch classic shows like "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" or play iconic Disney Channel movies like "Twitches" (2005) and "Halloweentown" (1998). 

Beyond the talking cats and spooky spells, these popular witches gave noteworthy performances we still remember today. 

Read on for 23 of the most iconic witches in pop culture who cast charms, fight evil, and, occasionally, fly by broomstick.

"Twitches" introduced two iconic witches.

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Tia and Tamera Mowry in "Twitches." Disney Channel

Real-life twins Tia and Tamera Mowry played twin witches in the Disney Channel original movie. The witches learn to hone their powers just in time to save their home in another dimension. 

After the sequel aired in 2007, there have been rumors of a third installment — which according to E! News, Tamera said in a 2020 Instagram live may not be far off.

"What y'all didn't know, my sister and I were already kind of like working on a 'Twitches 3,' kind of, a situation," she said. "The thing is, I'm busy. She's busy. But I promise we're going to do something together."

The Halliwell sisters fought forces of evil on "Charmed."

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"Charmed" originally debuted in 1999. CBS Television Distribution

The WB's long-running drama "Charmed" follows sisters Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs), and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) Halliwell as they juggle learning about their powers and killing demons (when they aren't falling in love with them). 

"They were definitely created from my own life, although we're not witches," creator Constance Burge told In Touch Weekly in 2018. " ... the idea that the oldest sibling is always very focused and driven and successful. The middle sibling becomes the negotiator and the middle-man. And the youngest is always either in trouble or getting in trouble ... That was me."

The CW also debuted a "Charmed" reboot in 2018.

Also created by Burge, the remake features a new, younger set of witches but the strong themes of sisterhood prevail. The show has since been renewed for a third season, which has been delayed.

Sally and Gillian Owens from "Practical Magic" were cursed in love.

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Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock in "Practical Magic." Warner Bros.

The 1990s classic "Practical Magic" starred Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as two witches forced to live without love. By leaning on each other and their magical aunts, the sisters master their powers to defeat their childhood curse.

In a red-carpet interview with ABC at the 2018 Oscars, Kidman and Bullock ran into each other and reminisced about the film.

"When we shot ['Practical Magic'] together, I asked her to get some tequila," Bullock said. "She came back with her own tequila but we drank it anyway."

"I love that movie, I showed that movie to my kids," Kidman added. "It's a little above them, we were really good sisters!"

"I think we are," Bullock replied. "And we're really good drinkers, too."

Sabrina from "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" was raised in a household of witches.

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Caroline Rhea, Melissa Joan Hart, and Beth Broderick on "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." Randy Holmes/Getty Images

The ABC sitcom revolves around Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart) struggling to hide her powers and survive high school with the help of her eccentric aunts Hilda (Caroline Rhea) and Zelda (Beth Broderick), and, of course, her talking cat, Salem.

In 2016, Hart spoke to Nutrisystem (via ABC News) about the show's 20th anniversary 

"I honestly can't believe it's been 20 years," Hart said. "I feel old! Sabrina was such a fun character. She was always full of surprises. It looks like I still have the magic touch after all these years."

The series got new life in 2018 when Netflix dropped the series "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina." Kiernan Shipka played the titular witch — and the fourth and final season is set to air on December 31.

Hermione Granger was "The Brightest Witch of Her Age."

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Emma Watson played Hermione in all eight "Harry Potter" movies. Warner Bros.

Although Harry Potter may have been "The Chosen One," he likely wouldn't have gotten far without his Hogwarts classmate and friend Hermione Granger (played by Emma Watson in the films).

Throughout the seven books and eight movies, the book-smart witch saves her friends time and again with her quick thinking.

According to HuffPost, in a 2016 conversation with Gloria Steinem at an event hosted by the How to Academy, Watson said she had a lot more in common with her character than she originally wanted to admit. 

"I feel as though I spent a long time trying to pretend I was not like Hermione," she said. "And, of course, I was rather like Hermione."

Samantha could summon magic with a wiggle of her nose on "Bewitched."

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Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens in "Bewitched." ABC

The ABC sitcom follows Samantha Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery) as she tries (and fails) to fulfill her promise of stopping her witching ways after marrying a mortal man.

Samantha's signature magic move, wiggling her nose, actually arose from a nervous tic Montgomery herself had.

Author Herbie J. Pilato, who's written several books about "Bewitched," told Yahoo in 2014 that the show's crew was trying to land an iconic action beat for the witch, when director and then-husband William Asher asked her to do that thing "she did with her face when she gets nervous."

Elphaba from "Wicked" learned to accept herself even when others refused to.

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Although Idina Menzel originated the role, many actresses have played Elphaba in "Wicked." Steve Russell/Getty Images

In a twist on the original "Wizard of Oz," the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, is cast as the outcast hero in the musical "Wicked."

Idina Menzel, who voiced Elsa in "Frozen" and its sequel, originated the role on Broadway in 2003, wowing audiences with her performance of ballads like "Defying Gravity."

"There has to be a balance between power and vulnerability," Menzel told Elle in 2014. "That's something I feel I have in my own life, something I struggle with and — on a good day — like about myself."

Willow from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was a groundbreaking character.

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Alyson Hannigan (right) as Willow on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The WB

On The WB-UBN show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Alyson Hannigan played Willow, a witch who falls in love with her classmate Tara.

Willow was half of the iconic romance at a time when same-sex relationships weren't commonly shown on TV.

"I've never had anything but just such a positive reaction," Hannigan told Entertainment Weekly in 2017. "It's just been such a profound thing for people who were going through the same thing or just terrified of what they were going to have to go through and just to see somebody that they had been watching for so many years to get to not feel so alone, it's like it's such a gift to be able to be part of that."

Debbie Reynolds played a witch who led her grandchildren to another world in "Halloweentown."

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Debbie Reynolds was Grandma Aggie in "Halloweentown." Disney Channel

Debbie Reynolds stole hearts as Grandma Aggie —  a charming witch who takes her grandchildren to a world where every day is Halloween — in the Disney Channel original movie "Halloweentown."

"The immortal Debbie Reynolds is memorable as the wise benevolent grandmother Aggie," wrote Cinema Crazed critic Felix Vasquez in 2010. "Sharp performances, entertaining writing, and a gorgeous sense of whimsy, 'Halloweentown' is a great celebration of the holiday."

Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty" turned out to be a villainous witch with many layers.

This image released by Disney shows Angelina Jolie as Maleficent in a scene from "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil." (Disney via AP)
Angelina Jolie as Maleficent in "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil." Disney via AP

Angelina Jolie added depth to the classic Disney villain in the 2014 film "Maleficent" and its sequel. 

"Maleficent is trying her best. I think where she fails is that she doesn't believe in herself. She questions herself if she's good enough to be a mother," Jolie said at the 2019 film premiere, according to Vanity Fair. "I had questions when I first became a mother, and whether I was fit or not. That struck a chord with me."

Marie Laveau from "American Horror Story: Coven" was based on a real New Orleans icon.

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Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau on "American Horror Story." FX

Angela Bassett played Marie Laveau on the third season of FX's "American Horror Story," and the character was based on the late voodoo practitioner with the same name.

Although best known as a voodoo priestess, Laveau has also been referred to as a witch. 

This was not the first time Bassett portrayed a historical figure; and she made sure to do her research by spending time with a voodoo expert.

"She's lived a life where, she said, people have crossed the street to avoid her, or don't want to speak to her," Bassett said in a 2013 "AHS" panel, according to Nola.com. " ... It's that thing of how people see voodoo or how it's been laid out there as something evil and dark or whatever, but that's not necessarily how all people consider Marie. People went to her in hopefulness and great appreciation."

The witches of "The Craft" (1996) were intense but legendary.

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"The Craft" follows four teenage witches. Columbia Pictures/YouTube

The coming-of-age movie follows a new girl with telekinetic powers who befriends a group of wanna-be witches. Their powers combine with high-school politics to show how scary the supernatural can be. 

Though their witchcraft had some tragic ends, critics took note of what the film says about what it's like to be a teenage girl. 

"In 'The Craft,' the witches' collective powers are a way to silence those who demean and subjugate them — whether it's the men who threaten their safety, peers who judge them, or beauty ideals that restrict them," wrote Sinead Stubbins for the AV Club in 2016. "They don't want to escape their identities as teenage girls; they want to escape the idea that this should limit them in any way."

The Sanderson sisters from "Hocus Pocus" have become Halloween favorites.

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Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Middler, and Kathy Najimy as the iconic Sanderson sisters in "Hocus Pocus." Buena Vista Pictures/Disney

"Hocus Pocus" was released 27 years ago, and it's still an iconic October watch. Although the movie has the spirit of a coming-of-age film, the Sanderson Sisters are the stars.

Played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, these witches stole hearts with their quick wit and legendary costumes. 

"I don't think any of us who were making it at the time thought 'Hocus Pocus' would have such a long life," Parker said in a 2018 25-year anniversary special, according to Entertainment Weekly. "People tell me all the time they grew up watching it, and that they still watch it. I think it's wonderful."

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