Literature / The Worst Witch

Suppose you're a kid attending wizard school, with classes in Potions and Broom Flying, in a medieval castle surrounded by dark forests. It's hard for you, since you weren't raised by a magical family, but you make two best friends pretty quickly, and then spend the rest of the series getting into adventures with them—usually of the out-of-bounds kind. Your chief rival, meanwhile, is the stuck-up scion of an old magical family... who, to make things worse, is blatantly the favourite of one of your most-hated professors, the sour-faced potions teacher. At least the kindly old head teacher is on your side...

Harry Potter? Whoever said anything about him? We're talking about The Worst Witch. The first book predates Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by 23 years.

The Worst Witch is a book series by Jill Murphy about the trials and tribulations of a clumsy witch trying to survive her years at Miss Cackle's Academy For Witches. It has been adapted into both a movie and a TV series, with the latter going on to produce two Spin-Off series.

The series follows the adventures of Mildred Hubble, a Book Dumb student at the aforementioned school, and her friends Maud Moonshine (changed to Maud Spellbody for the US release, and Maud Warlock for the movie) and Enid Nightshade, as they get into all sorts of mischief, while being tormented by nasty Ethel Hallow. Meanwhile, they are always under the watchful eyes of school principal Amelia Cackle, the extremely strict Miss Constance Hardbroom and her polar opposite, Miss Bat (the books state that there are more teachers). The Movie adds broomstick trainer Madame Spellbinder, while the television series added Miss Crotchet as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Miss Bat in the third season, a caretaker named Mr. Blossom and made P.E. teacher Miss Drill an Ascended Extra.

Incidentally, the movie features a young Fairuza Balk as Mildred, with Diana Rigg as Miss Hardbroom, Charlotte Rae as Miss Cackle and her Evil Twin, and Tim Curry as a positively-creepy Grand Wizard.

There are currently seven books:
  1. The Worst Witch
  2. The Worst Witch Strikes Again
  3. A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch
  4. The Worst Witch All at Seanote 
  5. The Worst Witch Saves the Day
  6. The Worst Witch to the Rescue
  7. The Worst Witch and the Wishing Star

The television series's two Spin Offs are:
  • Weirdsister College: The Further Adventures of the Worst Witch: Set at college in Cambridge, featuring Mildred settling into college life with Ethel for a roommate.
  • The New Worst Witch: Chronicles the adventures of Mildred's cousin Henrietta 'Hettie' Hubble and her friends; Mona Hallow, who happens to be Ethel's youngest sister, and Crescentmoon 'Cressie' Winterchild, all of whom are tormented by evil witch Belladonna Bindweed.

This book series and its adaptations provides examples of:

  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Ethel Hallow, described as "one of those lucky people for whom everything goes right". The TV series upgrades her to a Rich Bitch, whose family has attended Cackle's for generations.
  • Accentuate the Negative: Used in the last episode of series 2 by the girls to prevent the school from being sold where they claim it's not just small, it's miniscule.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Maud is frequently described as chubby in the books, to the degree that her parents put her on a diet during the holidays. In the TV series she's played by the slender Emma Brown.
    • Miss Drill is a hard-faced Brawn Hilda in the books, but played by the young and kinder looking Claire Porter.
    • Algernon Rowan Webb is considerably less old and haggard in the TV series than he was in the books.
    • The TV movie changes the Grand Wizard from a Professor Dumbledore type of very old man with long white hair and beard to, well..., Tim Curry and Miss Hardbroom, who is supposed to be plain, is Diana Rigg.
  • Adaptational Badass: Miss Hardbroom gets shown doing a lot of incredibly powerful magic in the TV series. She's even referred to by Agatha as "the really dangerous one". Miss Cackle herself also gets to immobilise Agatha instantly without needing words.
  • Adaptational Heroism: A lot of cases:
    • Miss Drill and Miss Bat were just strict teachers in the books but become the friendlier teachers the girls can go to in the TV series.
    • Miss Hardbroom got a couple of Pet the Dog moments in the books but is greatly expanded into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
    • Drucilla was just a croney of Ethel's but becomes an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain and pulls off a Heel–Face Turn eventually.
    • Ethel herself mellows out in Weirdsister College.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Enid Nightshade went from being blonde in the books to having brown hair in the tv series. In the earlier television movie, Mildred (black hair) and Maud (blonde) both turned brunette.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The series has gone through this several times over. The TV movie padded itself with sequences including a "scaring contest" and an early sequence with Punk Charlotte Rae, and the later series would pad the same adaptation by using the "Ethel's a pig" sequence as the basis for an entire episode (introducing a whole new character in Mr Blossom's nephew Charlie), while adding in a climactic chase through the school grounds. It's otherwise managed to incorporate adaptations of the next three books pretty much as-is (although The Worst Witch Strikes Again was made into two separate episodes).
    • Sybil Hallow likewise only made one appearance in the books, but got her entire character expanded. In the TV series she's viewed as Ethel's Annoying Younger Sibling and deeply resents her older sister's bullying ways - looking up to Mildred instead. She's also portrayed as more like Mildred; nervous and accident prone, further putting her in contrast to her confident older sister.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
    • Miss Gimlett from season 2. In the books we didn't see all the teachers or all the classes but the TV series makes it clear there are only four in the school. So everyone referencing a Miss Gimlett who just left becomes a plot hole.
    • The plot from the finale of the first book is kept intact for the episode "Double Double Toil and Trouble" - particularly the part where Miss Cackle and Miss Hardbroom initially don't believe Mildred's story about Agatha. It becomes a Plot Hole because this time Miss Drill has been involved, rescuing Mildred from Agatha. Miss Drill vouches for Mildred's story but the other two still don't believe her...which leads us to Plot Hole number 2. In the book Mildred turned Agatha and her cronies into snails and so couldn't prove to the teachers that they were really witches. Here she just blasts them with a shrinking potion. It's not until Mildred talks about a woman that looked like Miss Cackle that the latter believes her in both versions. However here all Mildred had to do was open the box and show them the shrunken witches - leading viewers to question why she doesn't do that before telling her story, to make sure the teachers know she's telling the truth.
    • The plot from A Bad Spell For The Worst Witch appears in season 2 of the show. Chief Wizard Hellibore says to Mildred "are you not the girl who ruined the Halloween celebrations last year!" at the climax. Except season 1 added an original story where Hellibore visited the school with his wizard students. In that episode he didn't question Mildred's identity and ended up being impressed by her at the end - so logically he shouldn't want to exclude her from his master class in season 2.
    • Otherwise averted within the same plot. Griselda Blackwood's only appearance in the books is Mildred kidnapping her and tying her up so she can go to the Halloween celebrations in her place. Since the TV series makes Griselda one of Mildred's friends, this role is given to Drucilla instead. It also gives Ethel more motivation to expose Mildred, since she attacked her best friend.
    • Another close subversion is when Mildred casts the spell on Agatha and her cronies. Previously the spell to turn Ethel into a pig was in a big book in the library - that first and second years are said not to be allowed to read. A spell for snails was in the book too (what Mildred uses in the novel). So Mildred instead casts a spell to trap the witches in the ground - as such an advanced spell like snails likely wouldn't be in her beginner spellbook (where she gets the spell from).
    • Inverted in one case where the books had a Plot Hole that the TV series fixed. In the book when Mildred turns Ethel into a pig, Ethel can still talk - and rats her out to Miss Hardbroom. This becomes odd when two books later, Mildred gets turned into a frog and can't communicate with her classmates. In the TV series, Ethel can't talk either when she gets turned into a pig.
    • In the second book Mildred gets blamed for a spell Enid cast going awry - and is put on probation. In the book, Enid enchants a pole in the vaulting competition - and Millie ends up flying into Miss Cackle's office. In the TV show, they're on a marathon and Enid tries to teleport Millie to the end of the trek. She goofs and poofs her into Cackle's office and then into the music room. Except here it should be obvious that Mildred isn't the culprit because Cackle and Hardbroom are there and Mildred disappears without using an incantation - making it clear that she isn't the one casting the spell.
    • Another minor one caused from adapting the second book. Maud gets jealous of Mildred having to show Enid around and ends their friendship temporarily. She ends up hanging around with Ethel because she doesn't have any other friends of her own. Except the TV series adds Ruby and Jadu, making Maud's line "well I've got no one else, have I?" rather odd. Indeed for the episodes in question, Jadu and Ruby are inexplicably in the background as if they don't hang out with Maud and Mildred.
  • Adorkable:
    • Miss Drill dancing at the end of the season 3 premiere.
    • Deidre Swoop in The New Worst Witch. Just having been made a teacher, she's overeager and anxious to make a good impression on everyone, though she suffers quite a bit from foot-in-mouth syndrome.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: In the original books Miss Bat appears only in the second book and appears to be your average strict teacher. The TV series has her as a Cloud Cuckoo Lander and much more emphatic to the students. Miss Drill is also written as a tough Drill Sergeant Nasty type of PE teacher in the books but is much more friendly in the TV series, as well as being rewritten to be mortal (she is implied to be a witch in the books).
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: The first spin-off, Weirdsister College, gives us recurring male characters, one of whom is the dark and mysterious Nick Hobbes, who both Millie and Ethel both get a crush on. In Millie's case, this turns to Single Woman Seeks Good Man as she does end up going for that nice boy at the cafe, Ben.
  • All Witches Have Cats: The girls at Cackle's Academy receive their kittens in the first year. But it's played with since the rival academy Pentangle's have owls instead. Miss Bat claims that her school had hedgehogs.
  • Alliterative Name: Maud Moonshine; Fenella Feverfew; Clarice Crow; Gary Grailquest; Bryony Besomsworth; Gabrielle Gribble; Lynne Lamplighter.
  • Alma Mater Song: "Onward Ever Striving Onward", the school song, which serves as the opening (and closing) credits theme for the series. It is also sung on multiple occasions by the characters (and actresses) themselves, though the version done for the credits was performed by the choir of the Wispers School for Girls.
  • Alpha Bitch: Ethel in the television adaptation, Belladonna in The New Worst Witch. Enid could also count for this, except that she was one of Millie's friends.
  • Ascended Extra: Miss Drill, Drucilla, Fenella, Griselda, Sybil and Clarice all of whom made a grand total of one appearance in the books (although Drucilla got a larger role in the books after the television series) all of whom are expanded into recurring characters in the television series. Also, the character of Deidre Swoop, who made an appearance in one episode of The Worst Witch and became a recurring character in the two spin-offs. Likewise Pentangle's Academy was only mentioned offhand in one book. Season 3 of the TV series expands Pentangle's into being one of Cackle's biggest rivals.
  • Banging for Help: In the episode where Miss Cackle gets tied up, gagged and left in the storage closet, when she sees Mildred and Enid flying in through the passage at the top of the closet, she starts making noise
  • Bewitched Amphibians: Among many other transformations. Turning someone into a frog seems to be the most popular.
  • Boarding School: Magical boarding school, two decades before Hogwarts, even!
  • Brother Chuck: No explanation is given (on-screen) as to where Miss Bat went after season 2 of the television series, although apparently CITV explained she went to live in Inner Mongolia
    • Arguably the students featured in The New Worst Witch, which introduced a whole new cast of characters - including a previously unmentioned cousin of Mildred, and another sister for Ethel and Sybil - for no purpose other than returning to the magic (high) school format.
  • Bungling Inventor: Ruby, who seems to view herself as a genuine Gadgeteer Genius, but whose inventions go wrong more often than not.
  • Canis Latinicus: The show was using this to make spells sound cool before Harry Potter was a gleam in JK's eye. In the books, the spells' words were never actually mentioned.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Happens in-show in season one, episode 11, Let Them Eat Cake:
    Miss Cackle: Now come along Miss Hardbroom, I've declared this an afternoon out, and you know what that means.
    Miss Hardbroom: A holiday?
    Miss Cackle: More than that. Tomorrow, we will forget that we were here together. An afternoon that never happened!
  • Canon Foreigner: The TV show adds a lot of characters who weren't in the books. Among the most important are Ruby, Jadu, Mr Blossom (both of them), Charlie, Miss Crotchet and both Ethel's younger sisters (Sybill from the second season onwards and Mona in The New Worst Witch).
  • Cat Stereotype: Tabby is the only non-black cat at Cackle's, and the only one not specifically bred as a witch's cat, and it's clear that he's not the ideal familiar for a young witch. It's more apparent in the books than in the TV show (probably because it's easier writing a cat behaving a certain way than it is directing a real cat to do what the script demands), but he's a klutz who can't stay on a broomstick to save his life, and (pretty par-the-course for fictional tabbies) also a dimwitted coward. He is, however (another classic trait for fictional tabbies) very friendly and affectionate, and remains Mildred's faithful companion throughout.
  • Christmas Special: The final filmed episode. It featured a School Pantomime.
  • Clark Kenting: Agatha in the final episode of season 1 who swaps places with Amelia by switching glasses. Justified as they are identical twins. It also doesn't completely work, as the girls notice the sudden odd squint Miss Cackle has suddenly picked up - and she bumps into things.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Miss Bat, as inclined by the name is a rather "batty" old woman.
  • Completely Different Title: The series is known in France as Amandine Malabul (which is Mildred Hubble's name in French). All of the books were prefixed with her name, and a subtitle. For instance, the fourth book, The Worst Witch All at Sea became Amandine Malabul: La Sorciere a Peur de l'eau ("Mildred Hubble: The Witch with a Fear of Water").
    • Weirdsister College became known as Eine Lausige Hexe in Cambridge ("The Worst Witch in Cambrige.")
  • Continuity Drift: "Up In The Air" suggests that Charlie is related to Frank through his sister. The Christmas Episode says that Frank's brother Ted is Charlie's father.
  • Continuity Nod: Miss Cackle's love of cheese is a joke in the second episode. In the finale the secret password in her office is Cauliflower Cheese.
  • Cool Old Lady: The school founder Hermione Cackle, contrary to what Miss Hardbroom would like the students to believe. Miss Cackle and Miss Bat are examples too.
  • Cool Teacher: Miss Drill, especially in season 3. Miss Cackle is this too, doubling as a Cool Headmistress. Notably in one episode where the girls are fighting, she assigns them a creative project to help take their minds off the heat.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Caspian Bloom, the wizard librarian in The New Worst Witch. He's an absent-minded and ineffectual bumbler more likely to be found asleep over his desk or eating doughnuts than doing anything useful... but on a rare occasion, when he actually has the motivation, he shows that he's actually a pretty damn powerful wizard.
  • Cultural Translation: Mildred is American in the movie even though it was a British production, filmed in Britain with a mostly British cast.
  • Cute Witch: Mildred is an extremely clumsy one.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Happened twice in the television series where the story would focus on Sybil's class whilst the main cast were away. "The Unfairground" is one for Jadu - the only plot where she has a proper role. "Sorcery & Chips" and "Which Witch Is Which?" act as these for Ruby too.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Miss Hardbroom, big time.
    • Drusilla's grumpy personality makes her a prime example. Ethel also has her moments, but is generally more of a Smug Snake.
    • Enid is perhaps the most sarcastic and snarky of Mildred's group of friends.
  • Death Glare: Miss Hardbroom is an expert at this.
  • Decomposite Character: In the books it's mentioned that Miss Cackle doesn't believe in "any new-fangled nonsense" and prides herself on tradition. In the TV series this trait is given to Miss Hardbroom. While Miss Cackle is traditional, she's a lot more open to newer ideas and change.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: In the tv movie, Miss Cackle sends Mildred straight to bed without supper after wrecking the broomstick display. She isn't sadistic though, in fact earlier in the film when Mildred is sent to her office she doesn't act nasty at all.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Tim Curry, Halloween Song
  • Dramatic Irony: A small case but the episode "A Pig in a Poke" where Charlie steals a hat and cloak and pretends to be one of the girls. Just as his uncle asks Miss Drill where he is, she suggests he's probably in the library...right as she is directing Charlie unknowingly into the hall with the rest of the girls.
  • Drama Queen: Miss Bat has traces of this; for the most minor insult or hurtful remark she'll dramatically stride away to go lock herself in the stationary cupboard.
  • Dub Name Change: Plently in the Dutch dub.
    • Mildred Hubble to Merel Hobbel
    • Ethel Hallow to Edith Huigel
    • Fenella Feverfew to Vanella Wiggelkoe
    • Griselda Blackwood to Griselda Breekhout
    • Sybil to Sara
    • Hellibore to Hellerook
    • Algernon Rowan-Webb to Evertjan Dromenster
    • Cas to Tes
    • Hobbes to Hops
    • Miss Hardbroom to Heks Hakblok
    • Miss Drill to Juf Kim
      • Plenty too in french traduction and dub.
      • Mildred Hubble to Amandine Malabul
      • Maud Moonshine to Maud Moucheté (TV)/Pamela (book)
      • Enid Nightshade to Isabelle Tromplamor
      • Tabby to Petipas
      • Miss Cackle to Melle Caquet (TV)/Melle Jolidodue (book)
      • Ethel Hallow to Edith Aigreur (TV)/Octavie Pâtafiel(book)
      • Fenella Feverfew to Fenella Folavoine
      • Griselda Blackwood to Griselda Bravoure
      • Miss Hardbroom to Melle Harebours(TV)/Melle Bâtonsec (book)
    • While not as drastic, the Latin American dub would usually change the last names of the characters for direct or semi-direct translations of them or one of the words composing them. Mildred's became "Embrollo" (Hubble), Maud's was "Luna" (Moon), Enid's was "Sombra" (Shade), Drucilla's was "Del Corral" (Of the Paddock), etc. Some characters, like Ethel Hallow or Miss Cackle, kept their names unchanged.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Drusilla has a number of moments when she disagrees with Ethel over her nasty tricks. These include expressing doubts about cheating in the summer drink project and being downright shocked at the idea of Ethel turning Mildred into a statue for no less than a few weeks, all for the purpose of winning an art competition.
  • Evil Twin: Miss Cackle's sister Agatha, memorably portrayed in the film by Charlotte Rae in a pink wig and a Texan accent.
  • Evolving Credits: The opening titles to the first episode did not feature Mildred and her friends. Instead we saw the shots we usually see of all of the other witches (as well as one of a witch descending in front of the gate which didn't end up in the proper opening). The school song (used as the show's opening theme) was also not played and instead an instrumental BGM was. It was from the second episode onward we saw Mildred and her friends (bar Enid, who wasn't added until after her debut episode) flying on broomsticks and the school song was used as the opening theme.
  • Expository Theme Song: "Growing Up Isn't Easy", sung by—of all people—Bonnie Langford. Yes, that Bonnie Langford.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Maud in "The Worst Witch Strikes Again". Carried over into the TV series in two episodes.
  • Fantastic Racism: Played up between Miss Hardbroom towards Miss Drill, who isn't a witch.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Much fuss is made over Mildred breaking Ethel's violin by accident. None of the teachers could have magically repaired it?
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Dyllis Mustardseed in The New Worst Witch is a sympathetic version of the trope. She's really just a lonely girl who just wants friends but remains the most unpopular student at Cackle's... perhaps because she keeps trying to get into Belladonna Bindweed's good grades and often follows her around like a lovesick puppy.
  • Genius Ditz: Mildred Hubble. Although clumsy and scatterbrained, she almost invariably has the ideas that save the day.
    • By contrast, her younger cousin Hettie from The New Worst Witch switches it around and is more of a Ditzy Genius.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A particularly blatant example from the final episode of The New Worst Witch, where thanks to a mishap rendering half the bedrooms unliveable, the girls have to share their rooms — leading to this exchange between Mona Hallow and Belladonna Bindweed:
    Mona: I'll show you what I'm making. *picks up a vial of pink liquid* It's a love potion!
    Belladonna: *freaking out* You want us to fall in love?! You're crazy! Look, I'm sharing a bed with you, but that's as far as it goes!
  • Girlish Pigtails: Mildred keeps these during The Worst Witch. At the end of the first episode of Weirdsister College she cuts them off after Nick and Ethel make fun of her. Maud is mentioned to have them in A Bad Spell For The Worst Witch.
    • In The New Worst Witch, Hettie also wears her hair in pigtails, though a different style than Mildred's.
  • Granola Girl: Crescentmoon "Cressie" Winterchild from The New Worst Witch. (With that name, it's no big surprise.)
  • Heel–Face Turn: Drucilla toward the end of season 3 of the television series
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Played straight and averted, all with Mildred. She's liked by at least four boys in the original series - Merlin Langstaff, Barry Dragonsbane, Garry Grailsquest, and Charlie Blossom - when she is a brunette. In the spin off, Weirdsister College this trope is played straight, with Ben Stemson and Nick Hobbes (though the latter isn't really a 'hero')
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Enid Nightshade in the book series was described as very large and shy, though really she had a secret evil (ish) spark that she used her size and relative newness to the school to disguise, much to Worst Witch Mildred's chagrin. In the live action series, however, Enid was played be a very small (and more visibly spunky) actress.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Miss Cackle catches Miss Drill and Miss Bat spying on Mr Hallow through the keyhole and sends them away to their classes. Once they're gone, she takes a good look herself.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Amelia and Agatha - distinguished in the film by Agatha's pink hair. In the TV series Agatha has round glasses with thicker lenses. It's used as a plot point in the season 1 finale - as a tell tale sign that Agatha is impersonating Amelia is that she's squinting a lot more and keeps bumping into things (due to not wearing her proper glasses). Averted in the book, where the glasses are the same.
  • Important Haircut: See Girlish Pigtails above. Lampshaded by Cass in the second episode, "do you really think cutting your hair is going to fix everything?"
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: In an episode, Mildred and Enid accidentally cast a spell that causes written down numbers to multiply and spread around the entire school. Ms Hardbroom stops the spell and remarks "as for these girls, I think their number's up". She allows herself a giggle before realising that nobody else is laughing.
  • Inept Mage: Mildred Hubble. Though it's worth noting that - while abysmal in the classroom - she does prove quite good at thinking on her feet with using magic in tight situations.
  • Its Pronounced Tro Pay: Charlie pronounces the word 'duccio' in a reversal spell wrong. He pronounces it 'duck-ee-oh' (and Ethel is turned into a duck by accident) when it should be 'dooch-ee-oh'.
  • Jerkass: Ethel Hallow (except in rare moments), Gary Grailquest, Barry Dragonsbane, Mistress Hecate Broomhead.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Miss Hardbroom. Although a Stern, bordrerline Sadist Teacher, she does care for the well-being of her students, she just doesn't get why they can't simply be quiet and do as they're told.
    • Enid is an example as well, especially in her first few appearances. She became considerably less jerkish as the show/books went on, though she had a bit of a relapse when she made a guest appearance in Weirdsister College.
    • Drusilla, despite being a nasty bully for most of the series, has a compassionate side and teams up with Mildred and her friends several times during the series.
  • Karma Houdini: Belladonna Bindweed in The New Worst Witch, especially in the first series, where she plays Teacher's Pet for all it's worth. Especially noticeable in the series finale, where she is actively and willingly aiding the villains in their plans to take over Cackle's and bring chaos and misery to the world, and yet manages to get off without any form of retribution. At the end of the episode, she even lampshades her own Karma Houdini status, smugly stating that she gets away with most things.
    • By the second series, however, the teachers seem to have caught on, especially Miss Hardbroom, and so in this series Belladonna isn't nearly the Karma Houdini she once was.
    • Ethel isn't usually one, but she isn't seen to get into trouble for two of her worst deeds in the third series: causing chaos by magically transforming Mrs Cosie's cafe; and secretly transforming Mildred into a statue which she intended to pass off as her own work of art at a competition.
  • Large Ham:
    • Tim Curry as the Grand Wizard in the movie.
    • The Dragon Lord from the series as well.
    • Miss Drill when she gets witch powers to become Hilary Hemlock.
  • Letting Her Hair Down:
    • Tradition for the Halloween celebrations - all the girls and teachers have their hair down (Miss Cackle is the only one who wears it down normally since it's too short to tie up). It's the only time of year the girls spot Miss Hardbroom without her Prim and Proper Bun.
    • The girls also wear their hair down for bed.
  • Meaningful Name: Everyone's surname has something to do with witchcraft.
    • Miss Drill is an exception; her name relates to being a PE teacher.
    • Miss Bat is rather batty.
    • Miss Crotchet's refers to the fact she is a music teacher.
    • Mr. Blossom (both of them) refers to the fact he is a gardener.
    • Crescentmoon Winterchild from The New Worst Witch is a Granola Girl and has the name to match.
  • Meaningful Rename: When Miss Drill is given witch powers from a potion, she renames herself 'Hilary Hemlock'.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After Mildred proves her talents for art and drawing, Maud becomes jealous and feels overshadowed. She eventually tells Mildred that she feels stupid next to her, in response to which Mildred angrily destroys her own work, saying she wouldn't want Maud to feel like a fool for anything, and storms off to her room. In a likely TearJerker moment, Maud realises what a jerk she has been, and breaks down in tears for the first and only time in the series.
  • Named by the Adaptation:
    • In the books, Maud's last name wasn't revealed until The Worst Witch All at Sea where she is called Maud Spellbody. The TV series gave her the last name "Moonshine". Drucilla was also given the last name "Paddock", and that became her name in the books too. The teachers' first names weren't revealed in the books but the TV series says Miss Cackle is Amelia, Miss Hardbroom is Constance, Miss Bat is Davina and Miss Drill is Imogen.
    • Girls Dawn, Gloria and Harriet in the books were only featured extras in the TV series but got last names too. Dawn Raven, Gloria Newt, Harriet Goodcharm. Likewise Sybil's friend Clarice got 'Crow' as a last name.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Any evil or bad witches tend to have last names resembling some kind of plant or weed. 'Bindweed', 'Hogweed', 'Wormwood', 'Hemlock'.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Of course she likely wasn't a granny then, but the girls find this out about the school founder Granny Cackle; she was a magical version of Robin Hood that went by the name of "Cackle The Jackal" - and founded the school with money she had stolen from an evil warlock.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Books only. Clarice's name is pronounced 'clarris' rather than 'cla-reece'.
  • One Steve Limit: Belladonna Bindweed is the antagonist in The New Worst Witch. Bindweed was also the last name of one of Agatha Cackle's associates.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Miss Bat's only canonical appearance from the books in the TV series comes across as this. Yelling at Mildred and sending her out of class for laughing during chanting is incredibly out of character.
  • Overtook the Series: The television series as at the time the books only went up to The Worst Witch All at Sea.
  • Playing Against Type: In-Universe example. Miss Hardbroom plays the Fairy Godmother in the school play of Cinderella.
    • When Mildred and Jadu were about to be expelled for creating a clandestine newspaper and organizing a secret student meeting instigating the rebelliousness of the whole school, Maud, Ruby, Enid and Drucilla tried to help their friends go back to Cackle's graces by invoking an unicorn that turns out to be Morgana, the evil witch from The Sleeping Beauty. The woman ends up mistaking Mildred for a princess and Miss Hardbroom for one of the Fairy Godmothers (The others being Miss Crotchet and Miss Drill).
  • Plot Hole: The Two-Teacher School element creates this sometimes. Notably in "The Great Outdoors", Ruby and other students are on a bird-watching trip for half term. It's implied that Miss Cackle and Miss Bat supervise them - as Miss Drill and Miss Hardbroom chaperone Mildred's trip. But in the next episode "The Heat Is On", Ruby and the other girls are still on their trip - but Miss Cackle and Miss Bat are at the school. So that begs the question of which teacher is supervising these girls.
  • Power Trio: Mildred, Maud and Enid. Later, Weirdsister College had Mildred, Cass, and Ethel, and The New Worst Witch had Hettie, Mona and Cressie.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The magic lamp Sybil creates. After she wishes for unlimited wishes, it draws energy from everything else in order to sustain all the wishes. Once it's run out of inanimate objects, it starts draining energy from the teachers and students.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Both the movie and the TV series add padding to the first story, with the TV series turning Ethel's little adventure into a separate episode, while the somewhat anticlimactic end to the original story instead gets turned into a large chase scene. The movie simply has to pad out several of its sequences, notably making Ethel's taunting a result of her cheating at a game of "Scare Tag" (in the book the teasing follows Mildred's lack of success with Tabby) and adding in the music video below. The second story (a Halfway Plot Switch) was simply adapted into two separate episodes, while the third and fourth became two-parters. Also, Madame Spellbinder, Miss Drill and Miss Swoop are unique to the adaptations.
  • Prince Charming: Mildred is able to conjure up one in the series finale. Amusingly he's implied to have to kiss every girl in the school who's been affected by the Wicked Witch's sleeping spell.
  • Race Lift: Mrs Tapioca in the TV series becomes Italian when she was presumably British in the books.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Miss Hardbroom keeps her hair tyed up in a really tight bun 24/7 except for the Halloween celebrations where the girls are amazed that it goes right down to her waist. Mildred remarks that she doesn't look half as frightening when her hair is down. Mildred herself is no slouch in the long hair department either; hers is at least hip length, though usually tied up in pigtails.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Most of the teachers at Cackle's are ultimately this, with the notable exception of Miss Hardbroom.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Pointed hats and robes are FANCY/Formal dress. The student wear variations on their school colors of black even grey in their off hours. Including their pyjamas.
  • School Play: There's two... nearly. One episode featured the girls rehearsing for a production of The Selfish Giant, only for Enid to drop the scenery on Ethel. The production is never mentioned in after that episode though other episodes imply Miss Drill does them regularly. The Christmas Special the following year featured the characters in a pantomime of Cinderella.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Mildred in her Cinderella ball gown in the school pantomime. Completely averted with Charlie in the prince costume - it was meant for Drucilla, after all.
  • Slipknot Ponytail: In "Alarms & Diversions" Miss Bat's hair gets blown loose in the tornado.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The character's name is confirmed to be spelled "Drucilla" in the credits and whenever it's written down. However it's misspelled by many fans, likely due to the popularity of another character who spells it with an S.
  • Stern Teacher: Miss Hardbroom is perhaps a cross between this and a Sadist Teacher.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Three staff members at Cackle's get them by the third season.
    • Miss Bat is replaced by Miss Crotchett to teach chanting. She's equally as odd and quirky (though calmer and less of a Drama Queen). They even have similar first names - Davina and Lavinia.
    • Frank Blossom is replaced as caretaker by another balding jovial man from Oop North. Somewhat justified since it's meant to be his brother Ted.
    • Mrs Tapioca gets replaced as cook by another Italian Mrs Semolina.
  • Teacher's Pet: Belladonna in The New Worst Witch often plays this role, especially in the first series, though unlike most examples of the trope she has no real respect or admiration for the teachers and is basically just sucking up to them in order to make herself look good and everyone else look bad.
    • Ethel attempts to be this in the original series. Sometimes it works, because she's genuinely the best student. However Miss Hardbroom won't hesitate to punish her too when she's caught causing mischief.
  • The Nth Doctor: In season 2, Ethel Hallow has a "witch over" to explain the actress change from Felicity Jones to Katie Allen.
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • Ethel, kind of, in Weirdsister College. She's still haughty and stuck-up, but has become less actively antagonistic towards Mildred.
    • Deidre Swoop, in her one appearance in the fist TV series, wasn't the nicest of witches — when she returns as a recurring character in Weirdsister College she's grown a lot friendlier, and as Cackle's newest teacher in The New Word Witch she's downright Adorkable.
  • Those Two Guys: There were at least three separate sets.
    • Fenella and Griselda
    • Baz and Gaz
    • Sybil and Clarice
    • Tim and Azmat in Weirdsister College
  • Token Minorities: Ruby, a Token Black, and Jadu, a Token Asian in the tv series. Azmat Madari in Weirdsister College would also count.
  • Tranquil Fury: Miss Hardbroom's response to Mildred accidentally emptying a bucket of water over her head in attempting to put out a non-existent fire. She barely even raises her voice when addressing her mortified pupil.
    Miss Hardbroom: IF you remember the drill, Mildred, pupils are expected to come into the yard from the main door; not, as you seem to imagine, through an upstairs window.
  • Triumphant Reprise: A variation in the season 3 premiere. The first scene has Miss Drill walking in on the girls dancing to a pop song - and they are then immediately reprimanded by Miss Hardbroom. At the end of the episode - when Miss Drill has agreed to be the president of Mildred's new club - the girls start dancing to the same song again. And this time Miss Drill joins in.
  • Troubled, but Cute:
    • Hobbes in Weirdsister College. There's no doubting that he isn't an entirely pleasant person, but as the last episode reveals, he was bullied some point prior to coming to the college, and it could be argued much of his behaviour stems from that.
    • Ethel could arguably be considered a female version of this trope. Yes, she's unpleasant, but there also seems to be an implication of having to live up to family standards - it's notable in Weirdsister College when asked why she came to the college she responds with simply "I'm a Hallow". This is shown with her interactions with Sybil during their time at Cackles; both have to live up to extreme family standards.
  • Tsundere: Miss Bat is a Type B. She's normally friendly and quirky - but will flip out if she's offended. This usually happens as a result of Miss Hardbroom's attitude.
  • Twin Switch: A sinister version occurs in the season one finale. Miss Cackle's evil twin, Agatha, locks her sister in a cupboard and proceeds to masquerade as her to launch her revenge against Cackle's Academy.
  • Two-Teacher School: Cackle's seems to survive on only having four teachers, and Weirdsister's runs with four lecturers as well.
  • Unnecessary Make Over: Mildred Hubble gives herself a radical makeover in the first episode of the spin-off Weirdsister College that involves cutting off her Girlish Pigtails. The other characters make a big fuss about how much better she looks except she gave herself an extremely frumpy hairstyle that made her look like she was in her 30s. She tidied herself up a bit towards the end of the series but most fans still preferred her with pigtails.
  • The Weird Sisters: In the Halloween Episode of the TV series, Mildred runs into a trio of true Wicked Witches.
  • Wicked Witch: Miss Hardbroom speaks against this trope in the Halloween Episode. "There are some genuinely wicked witches in this world - but they do not have long, warty green noses". Indeed when we meet Agatha and her cronies, they look like normal women - apart from looking a little rough from (presumably) living in the forest.
    • A true example appears in the series finale when the girls accidentally conjure up the Wicked Witch from Sleeping Beauty.
  • Wizarding School: Cackle's Academy. Well, Witching School, obviously, but it's the same principle. Also pre-dates Hogwarts by 23 years. Another (boys') school for wizards had been mentioned since the early season, and finally appears in the episode "Better Dead Than Co-Ed".
  • You Suck: Mildred Hubble is gangly, funny looking- and no bloody good at anything. Even her cat, the imaginatively named Tabby, is a misfit. She got into the school on a scholarship, because Miss Cackle liked a story she wrote, just in case people were wondering how she managed to pass the entrance exam to the Academy.
  • Zany Scheme: One of the most notable ways Hettie from The New Worst Witch differs from her cousin Mildred is that while Mildred was a well-meaning and untalented girl who just kept stumbling into trouble, Hettie is a quite talented but overeager witch who seldom lets an episode pass without trying to pull off some Zany Scheme or other — usually to have them backfire on her.