[[quoteright:320:[[TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/witch-hunter-omnibus_125.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:320:[[ChurchMilitant The knight]] [[TorchesAndPitchforks of torch and]] [[HandCannon flintlock.]]]]

->''Send for the General, there's witches to burn\\
The day of your judgment draws nigh\\
In torment and torture, the bringer of pain\\
Disciples of Satan will die''
-->-- '''Saxon''', "Witchfinder General"

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

WhoYouGonnaCall

The witch hunter!

The grim, broody, [[BadassLongcoat badass-longcoated]], and [[NiceHat nice-hatted]] guy who's always prepared to lead a WitchHunt. But beware, for this guy, as much as he is [[WellIntentionedExtremist well intentioned]] and [[SoulsavingCrusader soul-saving]], often [[KnightTemplar leaves that pesky sort-them-out trade to the Lord]]. And he tends to be [[PrinciplesZealot a bit creepy]] about [[LawfulStupid his principles]]. He can be seen handing out the TorchesAndPitchforks, "BurnTheWitch" is a solution he is eager for indeed. Due to these traits, a witch hunter is usually the one to commit VanHelsingHateCrimes.

While we're at it, the TropeNamer for the latter trope hunted vampires instead of witches, but even the standard ones are rarely above an occasional hunt after [[VampireHunter a vicious vampire]] or [[DemonSlaying demon]].

A witch hunter may receive [[SupernaturalAid supernatural help]], whether from angelic or divine patrons or from being some sort of HalfHumanHybrid -- this often takes the form of ReligionIsMagic or HolyBurnsEvil. However, most of them are plain, baseline humans, which in stories where magic is real and their foes really are magic users, makes them BadassNormal. Having said that, for a witch hunter to operate, magic isn't really needed -- its appearance just makes the difference between being [[IDidWhatIHadToDo a harsh]], but possibly (depending on [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism the story's cynicism]]) needed protection from supernatural threats, and a fanatic with few redeeming features (if any at all).

An AntiMagicalFaction is often filled with these.

A whole religion made of these guys is a ChurchMilitant, but they don't actually have to be [[BadassPreacher ordained]], or even a part of church structure. When they are, it's usually ChurchPolice. While some of them were specifically trained to perform their duties, they tend to be freelancers, working alone or within a small team (institutionalized witch-hunting is a slightly different matter in trope terms). Since they often face the need to investigate the nature of the threat before [[BurnTheWitch dealing with it]], many are more than a bit of an OccultDetective. And, of course, a Witch Hunter is quite a case of TheHunter. If a witch hunter is also adept at using magic, and lives in a more modern or contemporary setting, he may be a BlueCollarWarlock.

Subtly differs from MageKiller: a Mage Killer is empowered to be resistant to magic and/or especially [[TacticalRockPaperScissors powerful against magic-users]], while a Witch Hunter is ideologically opposed to their very existence ([[WindmillCrusader whether they really exist or not]]). The two can overlap -- maybe a Mage Killer chose that path because of a grudge against mages, or maybe a Witch Hunter stocks up on DepletedPhlebotinumShells and AntiMagic wards as a professional necessity. They may even exist independently of each other, depending on the setting's treatment of UnequalRites.

Compare with DemonSlayer and VampireHunter. Don't confuse with ''Manhwa/WitchHunter'' or ''Anime/ElCazadorDeLaBruja''.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime And Manga ]]
* ''WitchHunterRobin''. Pretty much ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin. And [[BadassLongcoat resembles the]] [[TheMenInBlack description]] [[BurnTheWitch pretty well]].
* ''Manga/SoulEater'': There's an academy dedicated to training them ([[EquippableAlly and their weapons]]) to slay witches and corrupted humans. Maka, TheHero, even has a special technique called "Witch Hunter". As of chapter 98, [[spoiler: they've actually made attempts to make peace and team up with the witches (the witches are considered evil because they, [[TokenHeroicOrc mostly]], have an inherent urge to destroy...but right now, they ''really'' need [[EldritchAbomination something]] destroyed).]]
* The [[MagicalGirl Puella Magi]] of ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' exist to fight {{Eldritch Abomination}}s which are called "witches". Of course, there is a dark twist. [[spoiler: Which is that because of the way [[TheCorruption magic works]] in the Puella Magi universe, every Puella Magi is doomed to [[AndThenJohnWasAZombie become a Witch]].]]
* Several associations in ''UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'' do this, but given the rules of the setting, they are [[TalkingTheMonsterToDeath Arguing The Witches To Death]] with logic-fueled swords, and thanks to them, {{Fair Play Whodunnit}}s exist. [[MindScrew Umineko is pretty weird]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* Hansel from ''Comicbook/{{Fables}}''. However, he is a vile and sadistic man who knows full well that the women he targets and executes are innocent. He's venting his frustration that he can't do anything to real witches.
* Silver Dagger, one of Comicbook/DoctorStrange's foes.
* John Constantine the ''ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}}'', he is a modern day sorcerer (or an occultist) and fights other occultist for various reasons, either he just wants to save the day, for his personal gain, or just to show off who is the best sorcerer there is.
* In ''[[Comicbook/GrantMorrisonsBatman The Return of Bruce Wayne]]'', when Bruce Wayne was stranded in Puritan times, he got a job as a witch hunter, mostly using his forensic knowledge to help clear the names of innocent women accused of being witches. Ironically, the only real witch in the story is the girlfriend he meets there, Annie, who isn't evil. Unfortunately, Bruce's ancestor Nathaniel Wayne is the traditional religious zealot who targets any woman for being unusual. He hangs Annie before Bruce can get there.
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[[folder: FanFic ]]
* [[FanFic/ThePrayerWarriors The Prayer Warriors]] are an ''extremely'' aggressive and fundamentalist version. They hunt ''[[RougeAnglesOfSatin Stan]][[HollywoodSatanism ists]], who, due to the [[DesignatedHero intolerance, general stupidity, and serious villainous tendencies]] of the heroes, come off as [[DesignatedVillain better than the protagonists]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]
* Creator/VincentPrice plays one in Creator/TigonBritishFilmProductions' ''Film/WitchfinderGeneral'', which is based on the exploits of Matthew Hopkins, who is mentioned in the Real Life section of this page.
* HanselAndGretel grew up to be ''Film/HanselAndGretelWitchHunters''. How fitting!
* The 17th century Giles Redferne in ''Film/{{Warlock}}'' is a fairly benevolent example, contrasting strongly with the immensely evil Warlock. He ostensibly became one after the Warlock murdered his wife, and tries to save as many lives as possible from his enemy's magical malice. He only has his salt-coated whip, knives, and some limited knowledge of the Warlock's weaknesses to defeat him.
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[[folder: Literature ]]
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''
** The Cunning Man from ''Discworld/IShallWearMidnight'' is practically an AnthropomorphicPersonification of Witch Hunters.
** The Omnian Church ([=Pre-=]''Discworld/SmallGods'') 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.
** Parodied in ''Discworld/AHatFullOfSky'' by giving Miss Tick the title "witchfinder". She's a witch who finds young girls with the talent and helps them deal with it.
* Played with in ''Literature/GoodOmens''. While played straight in Agnes Nutter's case, Shadwell, a modern professional witch hunter, doesn't get much work these days.
* SolomonKane is a quite unambiguously good case and likely the TropeCodifier. Even the slouch hat, worn by Kane, wound up on many characters who followed his legacy when GorgeousPeriodDress would be out of place.
* Both the Spook and the Quisitor in ''Literature/TheWardstoneChronicles''. 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.
* Mathias Thulmann, main protagonist of the short stories by C.L. Werner set in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' universe (and the guy portrayed on the trope image above) certainly qualifies.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* The Witchsmeller Pusuviant from ''Series/{{Blackadder}}''.
* The Witchfinder in ''Series/{{Merlin}}''. However, he [[spoiler: was actually fabricating all of his evidence.]]
* The Witchfinder in ''Series/MaddigansQuest''. Atypically for this trope, she's a woman.
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[[folder: Manhwa ]]
* ''Manhwa/WitchHunter''. People with special powers unite in a battle against genuine witches.
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[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'': There is some deviation from the norm, in that some Witch Hunters are merely petty tyrants who only signed up for the opportunity to bully people around, and do very little in the way of actually killing witches. They often worship Solkan, the god of order and revenge, which further separates them from organised structures.
** Later versions of the game[[note]]when gods like Solkan seemed to be {{retconned}} out of existence[[/note]] had the witch hunters belong to the Holy Order of the Templars of Sigmar (or Order of Sigmar for short).
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'': [[Characters/Warhammer40000Inquisition The Holy Orders of the Emperor's Inquisition]] have three branches devoted to hunting daemons (Ordo Malleus), heretics (Ordo Hereticus), and aliens (Ordo Xenos), each of which has a militant arm: the Grey Knights (an entire chapter of psychic SpaceMarines), the Sisters of Battle (an AmazonBrigade that [[KillItWithFire loves burning witches and heretics]]), and the Deathwatch (a corps of expert Space Marines from various chapters). The Inquisition in general is closest to the traditional "witch hunter".
** Despite the clear descent of Inquisitors from Solomon Kane, both Warhammers likely popularized the image of the Witch Hunter enough that some fans [[OlderThanTheyThink think it was Games Workshop's creation.]]
* Many Hunters of ''TabletopGame/HunterTheVigil'' would fit the description quite well, too, but perhaps the closest types are the Malleus Maleficarum and the Knights of the Order of St. George. The Malleus are basically the Inquisition with machine guns, bearing both holy rituals and a "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" policy. The Knights are a division of the Anglican Church that pursue sorcerers almost exclusively and use "divine magic" ([[spoiler:really rituals learned from an EldritchAbomination]]) to sabotage magic.
* Following in the steps of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' and Robert E. Howard, Paizo Publishing's ''TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}}'' now [[http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/base-classes/inquisitor features an Inquisitor class]]. The iconic Inquisitor, could not fit this trope better without a burning heretic at her feet. The Inquistor class even has an archetype (class variant) ''called'' Witch Hunter, who drops some of the Inquisitor's abilities to counter beasts and discerning lies and alignments for abilities aimed at arcane spellcasters.
* Inquisitors in ''AnimaBeyondFantasy'' are far more this than a ChurchPolice, and extending their work to hunt super-natural/non-human entities too[[note]]Paradoxically even if they hunt super-natural stuff they have super-natural capacities, being considered them by the Church as a gift from God[[/note]]. [[BurntheWitch Burning at the stake]], sometimes after [[ColdBloodedTorture torture to extract information from them]], is the usual fate for those who they capture and don't kill in the spot.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* The immortal protagonist of ''VideoGame/KnightsContract'' was originally this trope. After WhoWantsToLiveForever set in, he ended up joining forces with the witch who cursed him in hopes of a [[DeathSeeker way to die]].
* In ''VideoGame/{{Disciples}}'' games, the Empire unit Squire can be upgraded to be a Witch Hunter, which is resistant against magical attacks.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* On one "Rita and Runt" segment of ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'' set in colonial Salem, Massachusetts, a witch hunter is after Rita, claiming she's a witch's familiar.
* Tim the Witch-Smeller from ''WesternAnimation/SabrinaTheAnimatedSeries'' has the distinct honor of being one of the [[BewareTheSillyOnes silliest]], [[NotSoHarmlessVillain scariest]], [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy and most dangerous]] villains the show has ever produced.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]
* [[UrExample A notorious example from real history:]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Hopkins Matthew Hopkins]], the original "Witchfinder General". During the EnglishCivilWar, Hopkins travelled through eastern England at the head of a team of self-styled witch-hunters; within two years -- from 1645 to 1647 -- he and his accomplice John Stearne caused the death of about 300 women (who were executed by hanging). Though he claimed to have a mandate from the Parliament, this was probably a lie (the title "Witchfinder General" was his own invention) -- however, the Parliament obviously tolerated his actions. As if that wasn't enough, Hopkin's book ''The Discovery of Witches'', which he published shortly before his death in 1647, helped to spread the witch-craze to the New England colonies, where it immediately sparked a wave of {{witch hunt}}s. The Salem witch trials of the 1690s still used Hopkins's methods.
* Heinrich Kramer, a Dominican monk and Inquisitor and the author of ''Literature/MalleusMaleficarum'' (i.e. ''Hammer of the Witches'', 1486), a treatise on witches and a tutorial on how to conduct witch trials. Kramer was also responsible for the so called Hexenbulle, a papal bull, which he used to prompt several witch trials. He claimed to have led 200 witches to execution. Then again, there is little reason to believe his empty boasts. Kramer and reality weren't always on speaking terms and he was regarded by many people who knew him as a paranoid loon even in his own lifetime.
* Witch Smellers were found in some African tribes, and the hunts they kicked off could be devastating in their effects. But they didn't always have it there way. According to legend some Zulu witch hunters tried this on ShakaZulu. He outsmarted them and it ended [[KillEmAll badly for them]].
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