The Witch Hunter


(permanent link) added: 2011-02-02 07:08:13 sponsor: lordGacek (last reply: 2011-02-11 06:08:12)

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Let's say you live in a fantasy setting. But no, you're not having it easy. That's no happy-singing-rainbows-and-fairies kind of fantasy you've got here. And there's a problem. Perhaps the resident wizard isn't too much into helping upstart heroes, or something has to be done with that "persecuted religious community" at the corner before you run out of virgins.

Who You Gonna Call??

Witch hunter!

The grim, broody, badass-longcoated and nice-hatted guy who's always prepared to lead a Witch Hunt and Burn the Witch!. But beware, for this guy, as much as he is well intentioned and soul-saving, often leaves that pesky sort-them-out trade to the Lord. And he tends to be a bit creepy about his principles. Due to these traits, a witch hunter is usually the one to commit Van Helsing Hate Crimes, too.

While we're at it, that trope's Trope Namer hunted vampires, not witches, but even the standard ones rarely are above an occasional hunt after a vicious vampire or a demon.

While a witch hunter may receive supernatural help, whether from angelic or divine patrons, or from being some sort of Half-Human Hybrid, most of them are plain, baseline (if a bit fanatic) humans. In stories where magic is real and their foes really are magic users, that makes them count as Badass Normal. Having said that, for a witch hunter to operate, magic isn't really needed -- its appearance just makes the difference between being a harsh, but possibly (depending on the story's cynicism) needed protection from supernatural threats, and a fanatic with barely any (if any at all) redeeming features.

A whole religion made of these guys is Church Militant, and if they're a subdivision of one, they're The Inquisition, but they actually don't have to be ordained -- laymen are welcome too. Some are freelancers, while others were specifically trained to perform their duties. Since they often face the need to investigate the nature of the threat before dealing with it, many are more than a bit of Occult Detective.

Compare Demon Slayer. Don't confuse with Witch Hunter.

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Examples:

Anime & Manga

Comic Books

Film

Literature
  • The Cunning Man from the Discworld novel I Shall Wear Midnight is practically an Anthropomorphic Personification of Witch Hunters.
    • Also from Disc World, The Omnian Church (Pre-Small Gods) used to hunt down and burn witches. But then again they used to burn just about everybody. Now they just give witches informational pamphlets, which isn't nearly as bad but YMMV.
  • Played with in Good Omens. While played straight in Agnes Nutter's case, Shadwell, a modern professional witch hunter, doesn't get much work these days.
  • Solomon Kane is a quite unambiguously good case.
  • Both the Spook and the Quisitor in The Last Apprentice. The major difference is that the Spook a) has some magical knowledge himself and b) cares whether the women accused of witchcraft are actually guilty.

Live-Action TV
  • The Witchsmeller Pusuviant (sp?) from The Black Adder.
  • The Witchhunter in Merlin. However, he actually was fabricating all of his evidence.

Tabletop Games
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40K:
    • The former provided the basic description of this trope.
    • In the latter, the Grey Knights are an entire chapter of psychic Space Marines devoted to hunting witchcraft and daemons. And they're only a part of the Witch Hunter forces, which includes the Sisters of Battle and the Inquisition. The Inquisition, meanwhile, is closest to this trope's idea of a witch hunter's method of operation.
  • Many Hunters of Hunter: the Vigil would fit the description quite well, too.
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