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.
ExamplesAnime 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Willow, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer has pretty much become the most powerful sorceress in the world by the end of season 6, though using too much power tends to bring out her Superpowered Evil Side.
- 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.
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