Created By: PapercutChainsaw on July 28, 2012 Last Edited By: StarSword on October 15, 2012
Nuked

Great Redheaded Sorcerer

Red hair as a sign of powerful magical ability.

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Trope
Belief that redheads are witches is a folk belief in Germanic culture, the same culture that brought us the witches being burned at the stake. The people feared the each one was an Evil Redhead. Remnants of this superstition still persist in modern media, with red hair being used as a sign that a character possesses strong magical abilities.

This sorcerer, or more likely, sorceress, is not so much good or evil, but concerned with exerting her magical ability for the sake of the power it gives her to do what she wants. Her power is so great that people are often afraid of her. They're generally too afraid to burn her at the stake and if they tried she would easily cast a spell to stop herself from being burned.

Please note that this trope can still apply even if other, non-redheaded characters can use magic, however, in these instances, the red-haired character must be explicitly shown to be more powerful than her peers, perhaps the most powerful sorcerer in the world.

If the redhead's power isn't magic or the redheads are all at the same level but the red hair is a sign of having inhuman qualities, then the example falls under Mystical Redhead (still in YKTTW).

Might be a Fiery Redhead who likes Playing with Fire or she might have a cold personality that sharply contrasts with her hair and the destruction she can cause. For other "magical" minorities, see Magical Negro, Heroic Albino, Disability Superpower. Compare the witches in Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Youko of The Twelve Kingdoms has red hair which she dyes darker to blend in, and it soon proves that she was conceived on another world and born in this one by accident. She's not inherently magical, but as the destined queen of one kingdom in that world, she has authority over various magical forces, including her Kirin and her sword.
  • In Tsukihime, Aoko Aozaki is one of these, recognized as one of a handful of users of sorcery (Magic that is literally borderline miracles) she's a mage of extremely destructive power, which earned her the nickname of "Magic Gunner Blue" she is said to be capable of destroying entire cities in minutes and to be capable of fighting on par with servants, some of the most powerful entities on the whole Nasuverse.
  • Lina Inverse from Slayers. The only human sorceress that successfully mastered the spells of the Lord of Nightmares. Red, flat and shameless. Actually started out as more of a brunette; got more orange-y as the anime went on.

Film
  • In Gorillas in the Mist the African natives think because Dian Fossey's hair is color of fire that she is a witch. She uses that belief to scare them into staying away from the gorillas.

Literature
  • Thom of Trebond in the Song Of The Lioness book series is an arrogant sorcerer who's pride leads him to raise the evil Duke Roger back to life after Delia, a beautiful cohort of Roger, goads him with the taunt that only the most powerful magicians can raise the dead.
  • In the A Song of Ice and Fire series, the red-headed fire priestess Melisandre is the most powerful magic user depicted--she is one of the very few characters who can use magic for something more than parlor tricks in a controlled and intentional way.
  • Oleg, one of the eponymous heroes from the Russian Heroic Fantasy cycle The Three from the Forest by Yuri Nikitin, was born (under rather unusual circumstances) with red hair, which is why he was put under the clan shaman's tutelage from early years. Interestingly enough, he never shows any talent during his training... but becomes an excessively powerful magician during years of his subsequent exile.
  • In Pat Rothfuss' The Kingkiller Chronicle, pretty much anyone can learn magic, but main character Kvothe, a redhead (so bright, he says, that if he'd been born a couple of centuries earlier he'd have been burned as a demon), is particularly talented. He's the youngest student the University has ever seen but can still best most of his classmates when it comes to magic.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Rand Al'Thor, easily the most powerful channeler of his generation, has distinctive red hair. It's not uncommon for the race from which he is descended, but definitely stands out in the region where he was raised. As such, his hair color, in combination with his heigth, is one of the main ways people identify him.

Live-Action TV

Video Games
  • Qara from Neverwinter Nights 2 is a sociopathic redheaded sorceress who specializes in fire magic. Her pyrotechnics are so powerful, in fact, as to be counterproductive: she has an annoying tendency to destroy loot chests by accident.

Web Comics
  • Nanase of El Goonish Shive was shown to be one of the most powerful magic users in the cast when she was first introduced. To drive the point home, her red hair turns black when her magic gets "burned out".
Community Feedback Replies: 52
  • July 28, 2012
    HawkofBattle
  • July 28, 2012
    lexicon
    I think this is more an old European superstition then something often used in fiction. Black is also thought to be a common color on magical users and a number of stories have given their magic users blonde hair as on the old Blondes Are Witches page.
  • July 28, 2012
    Generality
    This seems to crop up occasionally in Japanese media, perhaps because red hair is extremely rare but not unknown among the Japanese.

    • Ichigo of Bleach has bright orange hair; he's often accused of dying it, which contributes to his reputation as a delinquent. He also has an abnormal power level and affinity with Soul Reaper powers.
    • Youko of The Twelve Kingdoms has red hair which she dyes darker to blend in, and it soon proves that she was conceived on another world and born in this one by accident. She's not inherently magical, but as the destined queen of one kingdom in that world, she has authority over various magical forces, including her Kirin and her sword.
  • July 28, 2012
    raven2785
    • Tsukihime - Aoko Aozaki is one of these, recognized as one of a handful of users of sorcery (Magic that is literally borderline miracles) she's a mage of extremely destructive power, which earned her the nickname of "Magic Gunner Blue" she is said to be capable of destroying entire cities in minutes and to be capable of fighting on par with servants, some of the most powerful entities on the whole Nasuverse.
  • July 29, 2012
    Koveras
    To clarify: is this about any magic users that happen to have red hair, or is this about stories where a red hair is inevitably accompanied by magic powers?

    • Oleg, one of the eponymous heroes from the Russian Heroic Fantasy cycle The Three from the Forest by Yuri Nikitin, was born (under rather unusual circumstances) with red hair, which is why he was put under the clan shaman's tutelage from early years. Double Subverted in that he never shows any talent during his training... but becomes an excessively powerful magician during years of his subsequent exile.
  • July 29, 2012
    MattStriker
    Sorry about directly editing rather than adding it here, still very new to this whole business.

    Here's my example:

    • The Jester (magically-gifted children raised by fairies) character archetype from The Dark Eye usually has red hair, and it is quite common for witches as well. Both are good reasons why many consider red haired people to be bad news.

    TDE is pretty much unknown outside of german-speaking countries, but it's a pretty big thing over here so it might be considered relevant.
  • July 29, 2012
    lexicon
    I think it should be called Magically Superior Redhead so it doesn't get confused with every person who does magic and has red hair because magic users can have any hair color.

    • Thom of Trebond in the Song Of The Lioness book series is an arrogant sorcerer who's pride leads him to raise the evil Duke Roger back to life after Delia, a beautiful cohort of Roger, goads him with the taunt that only the most powerful magicians can raise the dead.
  • July 29, 2012
    Nitzy
    Angela Strraughend from Rusty Hearts is a witch who signed a deal with the demon in a sword for its power, turning her hair a spikey red
  • July 30, 2012
    Arivne
    If this is expanded to any kind of power/ability, not just magic:

    Literature
    • In Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover stories, laran (psionic) abilities are genetically tied to red hair, which is widespread in the Comyn (ruling) families.
  • October 1, 2012
    lexicon
    It's been two months without the OP touching this so it's Up For Grabs. I'm grabbing it so please add comments and I'll edit the page.

    A Zero Context Example isn't good enough.
  • October 1, 2012
    aurora369
    Lina Inverse from The Slayers. The only human sorceress that sucessfully mastered the spells of the Lord of Nightmares. Red, flat and shameless.
  • October 1, 2012
    WolfgangAmadeusPenis
  • October 1, 2012
    sournote103
    Averted in Order Of The Stick with Haley in that she can't cast magic. Averted with Pompey in that he's not considered attractive.
  • October 1, 2012
    diazisoldmate
    • In A Song of Ice & Fire series, Melisandre is the Trope Codifier.
  • October 2, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That is not what Trope Codifier means. And if you mean "I think this character is the best example", that's an opinion, and not appropriate for an example. Give context to Melisandre.
  • October 2, 2012
    Rotpar
    Melisandre is hardly the Trope Codifier.

    In Slayers, did we ever find out what Luna Inverse looks like? She's vastly more powerful than Lina and as her older sister she would probably have red hair as well.

    It's going to drive me crazy, I'm positive I've seen a big, bushy redhead sorcerer somewhere. Can't remember if it was Magic The Gathering", or Harry Potter', or some anime.
  • October 2, 2012
    Chabal2
    The sorceress from the first Thorgal book has red hair.
  • October 2, 2012
    CobraPrime
    Triss Merigold of The Witcher.
  • October 2, 2012
    phoenixy
    Here's some context for Melisandre:

    In the A Song of Ice and Fire series, the red-headed fire priestess Melisandre is the most powerful magic user depicted--she is one of the very few characters who can use magic for something more than parlor tricks in a controlled and intentional way.
  • October 2, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Subverted (I think) in Harry Potter, the Weasleys are a large family of ginger wizards, some good but others... not so much.
  • October 2, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ At best, that's an Aversion.
  • October 2, 2012
    lexicon
    I'm going to change the "always considered very attractive," part. The character might often be considered attractive but I see no connection to power and attractiveness.
  • October 2, 2012
    aurora369
    2 Rotpar: Yes we have some shots of Luna Inverse. She isn't a redhead, however she's a warrior (and waitress), not a wizard.
  • October 3, 2012
    Koveras
    Triss in Witcher is just a junior sorceress, actually. There are other, more powerful sorceresses and most of them aren't redheads.
  • October 4, 2012
    lexicon
    The Triss and Luna examples is why I don't add an example if it's a Zero Context Example. If you want to suggest an example please tell me how the character is known to have powerful magical ability.
  • October 5, 2012
    Rotpar
    The Luna Inverse example I gave isn't Zero Context, she's just not an example. If she had red hair like her sister she would have counted given that she's a demigoddess/avatar of a god. So far as I recall, she's simply never made an actual appearance aside from a couple of single, tinted frames from the opening. I just wanted confirmation from somebody who had seen the new seasons if she finally appeared after a decade or so.

    Still trying to find who exactly was Big Bushy Redhead from I Cant Bloody Remember What Hes From.
  • October 5, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^ Yet you haven't included my example, despite it being written-out...
  • October 6, 2012
    lexicon
    If there's anyone that I haven't added who has red hair and superior magic ability please remind me.

    I don't think that Ginny from Harry Potter should count even though she's quite the accomplished witch. In Harry Potter the redhead would have to be or be compared to Dumbledore who is possibly the greatest wizard of all time.
  • October 6, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ I meant Oleg from The Three from the Forest. See my first comment under this YKTTW.
  • October 6, 2012
    MiinU
    Since when is Ichigo a sorceror? The guy can't even use kido.
  • October 7, 2012
    Dawnwing
    Literature:
    • In Pat Rothfuss' The Kingkiller Chronicle, pretty much anyone can learn magic, but main character Kvothe, a redhead (so bright, he says, that if he'd been born a couple of centuries earlier he'd have been burned as a demon), is particularly talented. He's the youngest student the University has ever seen but can still best most of his classmates when it comes to magic.
  • October 8, 2012
    NeuroticGood
    In the series of novels by [[Tanith Lee]] that starts with Black Unicorn, Jaive and her daughter Tanaquil are both red-haired sorceresses, and the world superstition holds that anyone with red hair has magical abilities.
  • October 8, 2012
    MiinU
    The Bleach example doesn't fit the trope.

    • Ichigo is a carrot-top, not a redhead.

    • Secondly, he can't/doesn't use magic (kido), all he does is spam Getsuga Tenshou; which is his zanpakuto's special ability.

    • Beyond that, all he knows is basic swordsmanship which is why he's been criticized as a One Trick Pony by the fandom.
  • October 8, 2012
    Generality
    ^ However, he does fit the trope in that he has unnatural spirit energy. His hair color seems to be related to his instinctive command of Soul Reaper powers. (Or, he inherited it from his father, but symbolically, the point stands)

    • In The Wheel Of Time, Rand Al'Thor, easily the most powerful channeler of his generation, has distinctive red hair. It's not uncommon for the race from which he is descended, but definitely stands out in the region where he was raised. As such, his hair color, in combination with his heigth, is one of the main ways people identify him.
  • October 8, 2012
    MiinU
    ^@Generality - then the Trope Name is misleading, if a character doesn't need to be a redhead, much less, a sorceror to qualify as an example.

    And when has Ichigo's hair color ever been associated with his reiatsu?
  • October 9, 2012
    lexicon
    I'm not sure what the difference is between carrot-top and redhead, but to qualify for this trope one needs to have superior magical ability. If a redhead is just associated with the supernatural that would be it's own trope (maybe Errie Redhead) and would need to be created. (It would have Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus and Scully from X Files).
  • October 9, 2012
    MiinU
    ^@lexicon - a carrot-top's hair is closer to orange, whereas a redhead's hair (in fiction) is red. Some good examples of redheads would be: Gene Starwind, Shayla Shayla, and Jean Grey.

    Ichigo's hair, is light orange, bordering on blonde.

    Further, kido is the Bleach equivalent of magic, and Ichigo has no talent for kido whatsoever. Getsuga Tenshou is the only ranged attack he knows, which is why he spams it.

    He does not qualify as an example of the trope, because he doesn't meet any of the criteria.
  • October 9, 2012
    wesnprogamat
    Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles has all fire witches have red hair, but I don't recall them having an extraordinary amount of power.
  • October 9, 2012
    electronshock
    in the Book Of Amber, all the red haired siblings were the sorcerers: Brand, Bleys, and Fiona.
  • October 9, 2012
    StarSword
    Video Games
    • Qara from Neverwinter Nights 2 is a sociopathic redheaded sorceress who specializes in fire magic. Her pyrotechnics are so powerful, in fact, as to be counterproductive: she has an annoying tendency to destroy loot chests by accident.
  • October 9, 2012
    lexicon
    As this is more narrow than the original Magical Redhead, I've created another YKTTW to include what the old one used to have: Mystical Redhead
  • October 11, 2012
    lexicon
    This has quite a few examples now. Is there anything else it needs?
  • October 12, 2012
    Generality
  • October 12, 2012
    lexicon
    I'd really like more context then "X is a powerful sorcerer." That can be said about every one of these examples. Please say how we know that he is powerful. What can he do? How is he different from the magic users around him?
  • October 14, 2012
    lexicon
    Would anyone mind if I launch it now?
  • October 14, 2012
    StarSword
    Namespace fixes.
  • October 14, 2012
    lexicon
    Thank you for all the hats! Should I wait until Mystical Redhead is ready to launch before launching this?
  • October 15, 2012
    Lyendith
    You can add Mystical Redhead to the related tropes later at worst. Good trope, I never really noticed it...

    I shall add an extra examples while I'm at it.

    • In Umineko No Naku Koro Ni, Battler would be an inversion, as he has a very strong anti-magical power by his stubborn denial of witches (see the trope image of Readings Are Off The Scale). After Episode 5 though, he plays the trope straight, succeeding Beatrice as the Golden Sorcerer. His sister Ange is a straight example in Episode 4, as well as his cousin Maria. And in Episode 3 there is Eva-Beatrice.
    • In Dreamland, Terrence is pretty bad at using his fire powers but it is shown several times that when he does learn to use them properly, he will become an extremely fearsome Traveller (with apparently the help of a Superpowered Evil Side).
  • October 15, 2012
    lexicon
    I don't know what anti-magical power is and "His sister Ange is a straight example in Episode 4, as well as his cousin Maria" is a Zero Context Example. Please say how we know that he is powerful. What can he do? How is he different from the magic users around him?
  • October 15, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Ooh! In Doctor Who episode, The Fires Of Pompeii, the most powerful of the Soothsayers and the messenger to their pumice leader is portrayed by red-headed Karen Gillan (who returns in the next three series as the Doctor's companion).

    Yes, with magic. And is the most powerful of these 'witches'.
  • October 15, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    And could you say that some people thought red-head Queen Elizabeth I was a witch (Real Life, guys!)?
  • October 15, 2012
    shimaspawn
    <Mod Hat>

    This trope can currently not be launched as written as you have no actual examples of the trope. There are magic users of all hair colours in fiction. It's just random coincidence and as such, it's not a trope. I can find just as many if not more blonde, brunette, and black haired magic users.

    As this is not a trope, it will be discarded.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=7x6qwlnezn0qmrccifk212u5&trope=DiscardedYKTTW