Remember back when we ranked Sword Dads? The Witcher‘s Geralt won that grand tourney thanks to lovely voters on Twitter, and now we turn our attention to that other most beloved archetype: Witch Moms. Yes, this is clearly a beloved archetype, present throughout history, and not something we largely made up because we like magical women. Stop looking at us like that.
As with our last tournament of champions, the definitive ranking of witch moms is somewhat subjective. We play fast and loose with the words “witch” (no pointy hats needed!) and “mom” (a mother hen figure is just as valid as a literal mother), instead relying on the spirit of witches and motherhood to make our decisions.
If you have thoughts and opinions on our nominations for witch moms, great news—not only do we accept comments and questions right here, but our Patreon supporters will actually be able to vote for their favorite witch mom of the bunch. We’ll be compiling the votes and creating a definitive ranking for a future edition of our quarterly zine, so if you want to get in on that action, now’s a great time to become a supporter!
Without further ado, we bring you Sidequest’s favorite witch moms. Spoiler warnings are in order for each of the games mentioned.
2009.Morrigan from the Dragon Age Series
🎸 She is a witch. She’s also a mom. Can I make it anymore obvious? 🎸
Okay, but really, Morrigan starts off Dragon Age: Origins as a badass spooky bog lady. She’s the quintessential witch—she perfectly treads the line between creepy and captivating, and as you get to know her and progress her storyline she becomes much more complex, especially as you get into later games.
Depending on your choices in the first game, Morrigan has a child—it may be yours, it may be Alistair’s, it may be Loghain’s, or it may be somebody else’s. At first meeting, it’s clear that she’s still Morrigan through and through; she’s commanding, distant, but still intriguing. As the game’s events unravel, you see an older Morrigan, one not softened by being a mother (she still has the sharpest tongue in the series), but one who has grown to be even more multifaceted than her previous appearance.
And when you see her assert herself as not only a mother, but a mother who has learned to be different, who will not make the choices her own mother makes (despite her difficult upbringing and longtime social ostracization), it’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer. Get that woman a ‘Mom of the Age’ mug.
– Melissa Brinks
Flemeth from the Dragon Age Series
Flemeth begins her Dragon Age career fulfilling the old crone trope. Depending on your relationship with Morrigan, you can choose whether or not to believe that she is actually a crazy old witch who breeds children so that she can steal their bodies when she needs them. But, while I love Morrigan, I have to side-eye her concerns because hey, your mom can turn into a dragon. I feel like she’s okay with the body she’s got. Yavana, another of Flemeth’s daughters, also calls Morrigan’s views into question in the Dark Horse Comics series. And then Flemeth herself proves that she ain’t need nobody’s body in Dragon Age II when she levels up into that outfit that my Hawke strove to earn during her career as a badass mage.
Prior to the revelations in Dragon Age: Inquisition, we get to see Flemeth through the eyes of others who revere her, where Morrigan fears her. The elves call her Asha’bellanar, which means “woman of many years” in Elvish. At face value, that could simply be taken as “old lady,” but like I said, the elves revere her, and in Inquisition, we come to understand that may have something to do with the fact that she bears the soul of one of their own.
That Morrigan believed her to be an abomination and feared for her life affirms that their mother/daughter relationship wasn’t exactly a great one. There’s no real depth given to the trauma that Morrigan must have experienced to come to this conclusion, but we can see in the way Morrigan fights to be a mother who is very much different from her own that Flemeth probably wasn’t the greatest example of motherhood. For what it’s worth, when the soul-taking option comes to fruition, Flemeth harms neither Morrigan nor her child, saying, “a soul cannot be forced upon the unwilling, you were never in danger from me.”
And Flemeth is playing for the long haul here. As someone who has had a hand in the fate of many for so long, nudging and shoving as needed, it’s still left to be seen what Flemeth’s intentions truly are for the daughter she seems to have the most attention for.
– Wendy Browne
Yennefer of Vengerberg from the Witcher series
I’m nominating Yennefer for the same reason I nominated Geralt during Sidequest’s Definitive Ranking of Sword Dads (which Geralt won, I might add). The reason is this: She’s one of the people who most cares for Ciri and will go through hell to protect her, and she’s a powerful sorceress to boot. The Witcher 3 begins with a message from Yennefer, which kicks off the interdimensional search for her and Geralt’s surrogate daughter, Ciri. Finding Ciri would be utterly impossible without Yennefer’s assistance, and the game implies her search began long before Geralt’s did. While Geralt handles the manual tracking, Yennefer does the magical legwork, performing spells and rituals that will net them any sort of clue.
Ciri isn’t close to her biological family, and Yen and Geralt essentially raised her, taking responsibility for her education in magic and swordsmanship. Upon Ciri’s hard-won return, their reunion is joyful and emotional, and afterward, we get to see Geralt and Yen’s co-parenting relationship in full swing. Though the game doesn’t end there, the reunion is a charming and well-deserved conclusion for Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri, each of whom has undergone considerable hardships. Am I a sucker for a found family? Yes. Do I still think Yennefer deserves at least one personalized craft on Mother’s Day? Also yes.
– Madison Butler
Amaterasu from Ōkami
Being a deity, Amaterasu perhaps isn’t exactly a witch, but she definitely does magic and she’s absolutely a mom. In fact, she’s the kind of mom everyone would like to have: kind, gentle, quietly supportive, and full of the wisdom of the ages. When other characters have problems that Ammy could just fix herself, she instead makes subtle moves to restore their confidence and faith so they’re empowered to fix their problems themselves. She knows what her children need.
I said she’s the kind of mom everyone would love to have, but good news! Again, being a deity, Amaterasu really is a mom to everyone. She cares about everybody, in that way that gods do. Yes, Ōkami is a game about fighting and vanquishing monsters and demons… but honestly, it mostly feels like a game about wandering around the world, helping people, using your magic to restore nature (as a mom to the whole earth!) and being kind to even the smallest creatures you encounter. (One of the main ways you earn XP while playing as Ameterasu is by feeding animals, and she sits patiently and watches them eat in a motherly way.) If it’s not enough to convince you, also consider: she was based on the real Shinto goddess Amaterasu, who the Japanese imperial family claims to be descended from. That’s truly some powerful mom energy!
– Jameson Hampton
Lulu from Final Fantasy X and X-2
Lulu is like… textbook. Dresses in black, casts spells, is pregnant with an actual child as of the second game! I love Lulu a lot, and not just because she’s the big tiddy goth girlfriend of my bisexual heart, but because behind that exterior she’s a perfect mix of strength and gentleness. Well before she becomes an actual mother, she’s mother to Yuna and the rest of the Guardians (Auron is the dad, Kimahri is the weird uncle who’s way too good at murder for anyone to ever feel comfortable), providing at different points compassionate pep talks and stern lectures, and even occasionally leaving other members of the party to flail and figure things out for themselves. Lulu does not abide laziness or carelessness in the other Guardians, and she’s not shy about showing it. She knows the gravity of Yuna’s duties, and by the time of the first game, she’s already known the pain of loss, too. She never lets these things weigh her or any of the others down, though; she’s a take-charge kind of woman who is a natural in a position of leadership. It’s telling that the few moments when Yuna has to be that kind of woman herself, she tends to adopt some of Lulu’s mannerisms; being a smart girl, Yuna is taking lessons from the best teacher she’s got. The Guardians aren’t the only ones who believe this either, which is why Lulu ends up Mayor of Besaid!
– Nola Pfau
Raine Sage from Tales of Symphonia
Despite the fact that she is now, due to the incomprehensible and unstoppable march of time, younger than me, Raine Sage is my mom. She is also basically mom to her little brother, his terrible best friend, the teenage chosen one, a large man who kicks good, and (spoilers) a fallen angel with emotional problems.
When she and Genis, the brother in question, were young, Tales of Symphonia’s fucked-up genocidal worldbuilding left them without parents and without a home. On strength of will alone, Raine found them a place in a human village, established herself as schoolteacher, and became de facto substitute parent to every single kid she’s ever taught. Raine maybe isn’t the most naturally nurturing or gushing person, but her eye for pragmatic goals and beefy roster of healing spells make her the perfect mom in a crisis.
Assuming, of course, there aren’t any ancient ruins nearby.
– Zora Gilbert
Bayonetta from Bayonetta
Motherly love is self-care, and in Bayonetta’s case, I mean that literally. Yes, I’ve made this point before, but it bears repeating.
Bayonetta is a dumpster fire living in the body of a drag queen. A drag queen with magic hair, whose eyes control the whole of reality, and whose feet can fire high-caliber pistols. She looks like a French fashion illustration even while she’s carrying her daughter/self in one hand and killing angels with the other. To her, motherhood is just like everything else: a performance. And damn if she isn’t a great performer.
Now, as a living weapon in a war between heaven and hell, tenderness doesn’t come easily to Bayo. In fact, until a child enters her life, she doesn’t seem to have the capacity to love anyone but herself. What makes her the absolute best witch mom is that she grows beyond that and learns to love another. Another Bayonetta, in that she, too, was forced to grow up far too young in this interdimensional war, but also literally Bayonetta from the past, because time travel and the aforementioned reality-bending eyeballs.
In folklore, the witch and the mother are often two sides of the spectrum. A witch is selfish, a mother selfless. It is only Bayonetta who takes those two identities and makes them one and the same. She cares for the her that will become the her that she is now. If that’s not the definition of a witch mom, I don’t know what is.
– Joesph Langdon
Terra from Final Fantasy VI
The focus of the first half of Final Fantasy VI, Terra is a strong contender right away because of her witch half, with her natural command of magic (one of the few in the world with her power). These powers include being one of the few party members who naturally learns spells by leveling up, and transformation into a supernatural esper form. Witch half. However, in the early part of the story, the mom part isn’t very apparent. Terra, in the early game, is a lost young woman, relying on the other party members for guidance both on defeating the evil Empire and how to properly be a human. And then (spoiler alert), the end of the world happens and Terra is left on her own for the next year.
When the party meets Terra again, she has literally become a mom, being the guardian and stand-in adult for a village of orphaned children. Motherhood initially causes Terra to reject the party’s request to join them, as the children need her. However, it is also motherhood, as well as seeing a child born to one of the teenage survivors, that inspires her to take up the fight again. And ultimately, it is that motherhood that gives the half-esper, half-human woman her humanity and allows her to forge her own ending.
– Tia Kalla
Celes from Final Fantasy VI
Celes is Terra’s opposite in almost every way, right down to their earth/sky inspired names. Terra has magic naturally; Celes is artificially infused with it. Terra learns fire magic, Celes gains ice. Terra is open and confused; Celes is aloof but confident. (Terra hooks up with a king, Celes dates a thief treasure hunter….) And unlike Terra, Celes only becomes a mom metaphorically, not literally. But like Terra, we don’t get to see the mom-ness fully spring forward until the second half of the game, when Celes becomes the main protagonist.
After being in a coma for a year, Celes wakes up to a post-apocalyptic world and makes the decision to do what she can to make things right. She becomes the mom to the party, reuniting them, fixing their emotional hangups, and inspiring them to also do what they can. And if that isn’t enough mom-ness for you, there’s also a touching scene where she becomes one of Gau’s surrogate parents, cleaning him up and teaching him etiquette in preparation to meet his birth father.
– Tia Kalla
Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.