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In many of the original myths and legends, spirits and monsters are not explicitly said to be good or evil. Often, they're just mischievous or powerful with a sense of "humor", and reasonable people give them lip service but otherwise leave them alone. After centuries of modifying, demonizing and adapting the stories, sometimes certain terms became associated with certain deeds. Sometimes this is a simplification to appeal to or educate young audiences, who supposedly require clear morality in characters.

A modern story can get some cred by reverting the depiction to the ambiguous original, although it's possible to annoy an audience who isn't familiar with that (or in some cases is too familiar with that). More commonly, the moral implications of the term are so indoctrinated that a story using it may invent a new piece of jargon or qualifier to imply "goodness" and "badness". For example, white witches and fairy godmothers are considered different from "bad" witches, even though they do the same things in a general sense. Mischievous creatures lumped under "elf" who are not cute tended to get eventually lumped into evil.

Naturally a fantasy story using Not So Different may use the same "race" for the hero and the villain, in an effort to be even-handed. Sometimes you have the weaker implication that the other group exists but the story simply doesn't follow them.

Friendly Neighborhood Vampires are different, taking a monolithically evil group from folklore and making certain members of it good. See also My Species Doth Protest Too Much.

Compare Dark Is Not Evil, The Dark Side and Fantastic Racism.

Examples of Good Witch Versus Bad Witch include:


  • Dark Elves are evil or require specific qualifers, especially because "Elf" tends to have a more specific meaning nowadays. Ironically, the "modern" Dwarf is probably more faithful to the original Norse idea, and don't need specific moral qualifiers; drow, often conflated with dark elves in modern fantasy, were originally a goblin-like fairy of Scottish folklore.
  • Most oni (a sort of Japanese ogre) who appear in Anime tend to be rather nasty creatures, even though this isn't part of the original mythos. "Good" oni tend to be just dumb brutish creatures.
  • Modern stories set in Wizarding School handily remove the need for moral qualifiers by making Wizarding academic. (You don't ban physics classes because it makes Mad Scientists, after all.)


  • In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, Aqua Regina sealed the entire Panthalassa race under the ocean for the ambiguous crimes of their Evil Overlord. The first main villain, Gackto (or Gakuto, or Gaito...), is the prince of the Panthalassa, escaped from the seal and seeking revenge... or that's what we're supposed to think. Actually, although he was miserable under the sea and glad to be free, his real motivation is revenge for someone else, someone who happens to be from the previously "all good" mermaid race. Around the time of this reveal, we also learn that there are good Panthalassa, too. Aqua Regina punishes those that went against her for the destruction that they caused, but she finally realizes after thousands of years that there are good and bad members of all races.
  • Arguably, Ange Ushiromiya is the only outright good witch in her series. (Of the other witches shown in a sympathetic light: Virgilia has more sympathetic moments than not, but never quite settles on a side; Beatrice is.... Beatrice; and Maria's innocent white magic quickly gives way to darker workings after Rosa's cruelest act of abuse. The end of the anime, however, and Ange's restoration of Sakutaro to her, implies that Maria will turn back to white magic.
  • Anthy Himemiya from Revolutionary Girl Utena keeps struggling between her "good witch" and "bad witches" roles. In the end, she decides to go "Good witch" and frees herself of her brother and manipulator Akio/Dios, leaving Ohtori Academy to search for the disappeared Utena.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima Magister Magi help people as his job, still most of them seem do it because of good will. By contrast Evangeline states, that when you ask an evil mage for help, you have to pay a price.


  • In the fanfic webcomic Cheshire Crossing, Dorothy had believed that Glinda was a Good Witch. Then she figures out that Glinda had actually manipulated her into killing the Wicked Witch for her. Overlaps with Gray and Grey Morality.


  • Fin Raziel (good witch) and Queen Bavmorda (bad witch) in Willow.
  • In The Adventures of Prince Achmed, the African Wizard is evil and the Witch of the Fiery Mountain is, well, at least an ally to any enemy of him.


  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has good witches (North and South) and bad witches (East and West). In The Film of the Book, the first thing Glinda says to Dorothy is "Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?"
    • Wicked goes one better and declares none of the witches bad. Despite the fact that the Witch of the West is already established (in the Oz books, at least) as a sadistic maniac. Of course, this comes with the added effect of none of the witches being good.
    • Not sure whether or if in the books (this was from a graphic novel, so may not be completely legit), but at least a couple of Oz stories have implied others - even the Compass Rose method above is worthless, as there was a Wicked Witch of the South in one, and another mentions two enchantresses who, though not officially given 'Good Witch' status, fill that slot for the East and West. (One appears to be isolationist, and the other's caught in some kind of time loop.)
  • Granny Weatherwax from Discworld is a Good Witch with some of the personality of a Bad one. Witches Abroad reveals that she was supposed to be the Bad Witch, until her "good" older sister Lili went evil and started calling herself Lilith. Granny has never forgiven her for it, and lives in fear of "turning to the bad" herself.
  • In the Dragaera series, while practicing magic is not in itself good or bad, there is a group known as the Left Hand of the Jhereg who are primarily female and fit evil witch stereotypes.
    • They're no more evil than the protagonist, really. The Left Hand deals in illegal and unlicensed magic, while the Organization deals in the more traditional mafia businesses (assassinations, loansharking, drugs, etc).
  • Brian Lumley's take on the works of H.P. Lovecraft gives Cthulhu a twin brother who is good.
  • In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf is a good wizard and Saruman is an evil wizard.
    • Actually Gandalf, Saruman, Sauron and the Balrog are all higher beings known as Maiar.
      • Which doesn't change the fact that Saruman, while a demigod who started out good, had become evil by the time of The Fellowship of the Ring.
  • Occasionally Dorrie the Witch or her mother would clash with evil witches.
  • Order of the Phoenix vs Death Eaters in Harry Potter.

Live Action TV

  • The two brothers in Vampire Diaries are a clear example. Stefan is a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire while his brother Damon is going around killing people.
  • In Smallville, most surviving Kryptonians that Clark Kent meets are evil or just plain arrogant, and don't understand why Clark is trying to stop them from hurting people or taking over the world, as they feel that they have the right to do whatever they feel like.
    • Also, the Wicked Witch, Isobel, mistakes Clark for a good sorcerer, as she is unaware of Kryptonians and other beings that have superpowers without magic.
  • Turned upside-down and inside-out with True Blood. Since the release of "New Blood", originally designed to be an easily-mass-produced synthetic blood for medical transfusion, the vampires of the world stop living in secret and much, MUCH publicity effort is made to separate the "myth" of the "bloodthirsty maniac" vampire with the "reality" of the "cultured, fully nuanced people who now can sate their unique metabolism with the fake stuff." There's even implicit invocation of this trope in the description of their subculture. Of course it's utter nonsense: while there are several "good" vampires, most of the ones trying to act saintly are just trying to fend off the vamp-hating masses and are at the core every bit the Complete Monster they're made out to be.
    • And that's not even getting into the vampire-blood-addicted werewolves that fight with the "clean" werewolves, the crystal-meth-producing werepanthers, the fairies (who are much closer to the classical idea of The Fair Folk than a "fairy godmother", having in fact INVENTED the later idea themselves), witches, voodoo priests, etc...

Video Games

  • This appears to be the plot for upcoming game The Witch And The Hundred Knights, with the swamp witch (evil) and the forest witch (good).
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