It’s taken four seasons for True Blood to delve into the realm of witchcraft — we got werewolves, shape shifters, maenads, fairies, and even freaking werepanthers first. But the Wiccans have arrived, and as of Sunday’s episode, they’re poised to cause far more trouble than you’d imagine from a bunch of hippie types in the back room of a magic shop. In honor of the Bon Temps coven — and the distinct possibility that witches will be the new vampires of the 2011-12 TV season — we’ve put together a top ten list of the coolest (not “best” or “scariest”) witches in pop culture. Find out where True Blood‘s Lafayette rates after the jump and tell us who we missed in the comments.
10. Sabrina Spellman, Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch dates back to 1962, when she debuted in Archie comics before going on to get her own series, which ran from 1971-1983. The Sabrina ’90s kids grew up with was, of course, Melissa Joan Hart, who starred in a TV movie of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch that led to the popular ABC (and then WB) series. A sort of witch-next-door character, Hart’s Sabrina was cool because she was relatable — a normal teenage girl who just happened to be born into a family of witches, own a talking cat, and have the power to unleash untold stores of magic in her little finger.
9. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter series
J.K. Rowling admits that she crafted girl-witch Hermione in her own image — which means she must have a pretty high opinion of herself. Principled and loyal, she has more than just magic on her side; Hermione is known for her superior intelligence and laudable fighting skills. She may be a touch socially awkward, but she’ll always be cool to us.
8. Alexandra Spofford, The Witches of Eastwick
Yes, there is something disconcertingly misogynist about John Updike’s portrayal of three divorced women as witches who are sexually manipulated by a mysterious, charismatic newcomer in his 1984 novel The Witches of Eastwick. But we can’t help but love brassy Alexandra Spofford, played by Cher (with a slight character-name change) in the delightfully silly 1987 film adaptation.
7. Gillian Holroyd, Bell, Book and Candle
Kim Novak’s Gillian Holroyd is cinema’s original bohemian witch — a Greenwich Village-dwelling, art gallery-owning cat lady who spites a rival by a casting a spell to steal her fiancé. Romantic comedy ensues. One objection: We don’t think witches should have to choose between love and magic. But what did we expect? It was 1958, after all.
6. Endora, Bewitched
That hair! That eye shadow! Those vaguely psychedelic get-ups! Samantha is pretty and sweet and all, but does anyone doubt that Agnes Moorehead’s Endora made the show? From her bossiness to her name-calling to the fact that she pretty much despises all humans, Endora is a firecracker. You may not want to cross her patch, but you have to admit that she’s awesome.
5. The Wicked Witch of the West
Sure, she might have been cursed with that terrible green face — but anyone with the power to command an army of flying monkeys is pretty freaking cool. L. Frank Baum’s villain has appeared in many forms, in his books, multiple film adaptations, cartoons, and more recently Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, which seeks to introduce some moral ambiguity into her story. Us? We prefer our wicked witches to be truly evil, so we’re going to stick with Margaret Hamilton’s 1939 portrayal as the ultimate Wicked Witch of the West in any form of media.
4. The White Witch, Chronicles of Narnia
If we had to be captured by a witch, we hope it would be Jadis — the worldly ice queen who’s holding Narnia hostage in an eternal winter and plies her marks with Turkish Delight. We’ve thought of her as glamorous ever since reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a kid, but Tilda Swinton’s dreadlocked, fur-draped, ice-crowned turn in the 2005 series may have bumped the White Witch a few spots higher on our list.
3. Lafayette Reynolds, True Blood
Charlaine Harris may have killed off Lafayette early in her Southern Vampire Mysteries series, but we’re grateful to HBO for keeping our favorite character around. This season, he’s reluctantly exploring his powers as a witch, all while maintaining the street-smart skepticism that makes flamboyant Lafayette such a great character. We don’t love this coven, though — Lafayette is going to make a fantastic witch, but we think he’d be better off on his own.
2. Nancy Downs, The Craft
Fairuza Balk was so chillingly believable as the scarred, out-of-control Nancy Downs in 1996’s The Craft that, as an impressionable junior-high student, we were fairly convinced she was a witch in real life. As it turns out, Balk is still into the occult, 15 years later. Meanwhile, teenage punks and goths have spent the past decade and a half biting her style. How many other witches do you know with that kind of style cred?
1. Willow Rosenberg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
With all due respect to the other pop-culture witches on this list, none of them even begins to compete with Buffy’s beloved best friend, Willow. She’s a whip-smart hacker with a heart of gold — and a nerd who grows so powerful that a heartbreaking loss nearly leads her to (literally) destroy the world. Like the other characters on Buffy (even the ones who aren’t all human), Willow is cool because, for all her supernatural misadventures, she’s a regular, flawed person who you could imagine as one of your own pals.