[[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''
-->-- '''Music/{{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 [[TheMentor 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 This guy.

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, and "BurnTheWitch" is a solution he is eager for indeed. Due to these traits, a witch hunter is usually the one to commit VanHelsingHateCrimes either out of racism or mere cruelty and profit.

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 protector 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 HunterOfMonsters. 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''.



[[folder: Anime And Manga ]]
* ''Anime/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 ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'' 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. [[WidgetSeries Umineko]] [[MindScrew is pretty weird]].

[[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 and the Imperator, two of Comicbook/DoctorStrange's foes. The former is a genuine witch hunter, whereas the latter is more of a MageKiller.
* ComicBook/JohnConstantine from the ''ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}}''. He is a modern day sorcerer (or occultist) and fights other occultists 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.
* ''Magazine/DoctorWhoMagazine'': In "Witch Hunt", Clara is dressed as a witch for Halloween when she is transported through time to TheCavalierYears where she runs afoul of the Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins.
* In ''ComicBook/BlackMagick'', Aira is a witch hunting organization which kills those guilty of abusing magical powers. Unlike most examples of the trope, they explicitly state that magic itself is not evil and it is not their goal to kill all magic users, rather it is their duty to kill those who have succumbed to BlackMagic and used their powers to corrupt the minds of others.

[[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: 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.
* Vincent Price plays another evil witch hunter in the 1970 ''Film/CryOfTheBanshee''. Lord Edward Whitman is just as much a bastard as Price's portrayal of Hopkins, and his crimes are horrific enough that the title sidhe is called upon to destroy him and his family, most of whom are just as vicious as him.
* Literature/HanselAndGretel grew up to be ''Film/HanselAndGretelWitchHunters''. They are heroic slayers of evil witches, though it is eventually revealed that [[spoiler:Hansel and Gretel's mother was a White Witch, a trait which she passed on to Gretel]].
* ''Film/{{Warlock}}'': Giles Redferne is a witch hunter [[FishOutOfTemporalWater transported from the 17th century]] to kill the evil Warlock who [[YouKilledMyFather murdered his wife]]. He's actually a pretty nice guy, going out of his way to save as many innocent bystanders who fall prey to the Warlock as possible. He only has his salt-coated whip, knives, and some limited knowledge of the Warlock's weaknesses to defeat him.
* In ''Film/TheLastWitchHunter'', this is, as you may guess from the title, Kaulder's job, although he's a far cry from the KnightTemplar that his kind is stereotyped to be.

[[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. (Granny Weatherwax's view is that they hunted old women who didn't know what was going on -- if they'd tried burning ''actual'' witches, they wouldn't have done so for long, as the Cunning Man found out.)
** 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.
* Within the ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', wizards and witches view the [[MagicKnight Wardens]] somewhere between cops, witch hunters, and the bogeyman. Even Harry Dresden, a magical heavyweight as wizards reckon these things, has nightmares about them.
** In one of Harry's cases, the crime scenes are magically tagged with the quote "Suffer not a witch to live."
** Harry famously looks the part, even though he's the sort of person a witch hunter would hunt.
** In one of the short stories Karrin Murphy, Harry's sometimes-sidekick and cop chick, explains how Harry's moments of power are so viscerally terrifying that she understands how people could start hunting witches.
** Over the course of the series, Harry develops a reputation in the supernatural community as a thug who [[spoiler:occasionally murders gods and talks flippantly to angels]], and because they don't know most of the details of the cases or [[BlueAndOrangeMorality have the ability to understand his motivation]], they default to a view of him much like this trope.
** In a moment of desperation, [[spoiler: the Wardens recruited Harry. He gets to experience the trope from the other side.]]
* Played with in ''Literature/GoodOmens''. While played straight in Agnes Nutter's case, Witchfinder Sergeant 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.
* "The [=McCarthy=] Witch Hunts" by Creator/KimNewman is set in an AlternateUniverse where magic is real and fears of witchcraft ([[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything not totally dissimilar]] to more modern "Satanic Panic") has replaced the RedScare. The story centres on two agents who are harassing a housewife named [[Series/{{Bewitched}} Samantha Stevens]].
* One of these guys, referred to as simply "The Witchfinder," plays a small but important role in the [[TheDungAges DungAges]] prologue of ''Literature/TheFestering''. He's less interested in actually finding witches (assuming any exist) and more interested in just having a lot of political and religious clout in the English town of Garth, accusing and executing people on a whim in order to instill fear in the locals. His main role in the story is having PatientZero for ThePlague executed and buried without treatment and study, thereby ensuring the disease will return to threaten future generations in Garth.
* The Hell-bards of ''Literature/TheWitchlands'' are an elite unit whose job is hunting down witches who didn't register with the government or committed a crime.

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* The Witchsmeller Pursuviant from ''Series/{{Blackadder}}'', who finds the title character guilty of witchcraft via an over-the-top KangarooCourt.
* 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.
* Subverted in ''{{Series/Kaamelott}}'': The local Witch Hunter (Repurgateur, the term used in the French translation of ''TabletopGame/WarhammerFantasy'') is a complete and utter dumbass and the epitome of ActivistFundamentalistAntics who tries to set fire to anyone he disagrees with (pagans, magic users, heretics, women, KingArthur...). In the pilot, he suffers a minor brain freeze when Arthur points out that his sword is magical (and thus heretical) before trying to have Arthur burned, and ends up tied at his own stake. His final appearance has him declare he's become a paladin, demand Arthur's sword, and prove himself incapable of defeating the village idiot in a swordfight.

[[folder: Manhwa ]]
* ''Manhwa/WitchHunter''. People with special powers unite in a battle against genuine witches.

[[folder: Music ]]
* The page quote comes from Saxon's song, "Witchfinder General".

[[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", down to the longcoat and hat.
** 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 only look more like this trope with a burning heretic at her feet, though in personality and outlook she is a far cry from the stereotyped angry witch hunter and more of a kind-hearted scholar who happens to engage in the grim business of monster-hunting. 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 ''TabletopGame/AnimaBeyondFantasy'' are far more this than a ChurchPolice, and extending their work to hunt supernatural/non-human entities too[[note]]Paradoxically even if they hunt supernatural stuff, they have supernatural abilities, which are considered by the Church to be 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 they capture and don't kill on the spot.
* The game Witch Hunter: The Invisible World (now in its second edition) is a horror game set in an alternative earth that can best be called a SolomonKane story with less sexism, racism, and cultural superiority. Witch Hunters are individuals from any place that have learned secrets once woven into the Seal of Solomon. They use this to fight against supernatural terrors that serve the Adversary, a cosmic evil being (or group) whose identity is unknown (most Witch Hunters equate him the Adversary the BigBad of their religion, hence the name the Adversary). Since the core rulebook focuses on Europe and the Americas in the 17th century, most Witch Hunters will be a walking embodiment of this trope. The remainder are this trope only seen through the culture they come from. For example, imagine this trope, only the hunter happens to be from the Ottoman Empire. With a little work, your Witch Hunters are this trope in [[RecycledInSpace any pre-Industrial time and culture]].

[[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.
* In ''VideoGame/DemonsSouls'', [[DealWithTheDevil Mephistopheles]], along with his [[TheDragon Dragon]], [[ProfessionalKiller Yurt The Silent Chief]], are a group of assassins known as the [[MurderInc Soul Society]], they duty is to hunt down every single person who practices the [[SoulPower Soul Art]], although the later is more interested in [[BloodKnight killing every single existing human]].
* In ''Videogame/TheWitcher3WildHunt'', the Witch Hunters of the Eternal Flame are a fanatical faction bent on tracking down and exterminating anyone using magic or occult practices, as well as magical non-human creatures. The ones in the free city of Novigrad are responsible for the worst atrocities, but they tend to pop up all over the North, hunting down mages and other creatures deemed abhorrent by their faith - including those creatures and mages who are completely benign. They're unfriendly toward Geralt, the game's protagonist, because he's a mutant Witcher, but a combination of powerful friends and the fact that [[OneManArmy Geralt can butcher a dozen of them in less than a minute]] leads to them ''usually'' leaving him be.
* ''VideoGame/TheEndTimesVermintide'' features Viktor Saltzpyre, a classic Warhammer witch hunter. He captured one of the characters in the game and hired the other as a mercenary to help guard her, meaning his witch hunting is responsible for three of the five heroes being in town when the action in the game commences.
* Witch Hunter is a premade character class in both ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'' and ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion''. In their description, it's noted that their purpose is to combat cults and necromancers. In gameplay terms, their skills gravitate towards being a MageMarksman, taking elements from the archer and thief classes and the schools of destruction, conjuration and mysticism.

[[folder: Web Comics]]
* Despite the name, the protagonist of ''[[Creator/RalphHayesJr Witch Hunter]]'' is actually an {{Aversion}} of this trope. While he has the power to see people's sins, and therefore the power to identify the very evil, he is insistent that this doesn't give him the authority to dispense some kind of vigilante justice. The one time he directly attacks a group of evildoers, it's because they've just kidnapped a girl and are about to rape her. His more usual M.O. is to simply tip off the police, since he can generally spot when someone has just commited a crime, and the nature of his powers tells him a lot about what crime was committed (different sins have different appearances).

[[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]], and most dangerous villains the show has ever produced.

[[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 UsefulNotes/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 the ''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. That said, his work, like ''The Discovery of Witches'', caused great harm after it was taken up during the witch-hunting craze of the 1500s-1600s (the Pope had sanctioned witch trials after his book was released, but this wasn't acted on then).
* 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 their way. According to legend some Zulu witch hunters tried this on UsefulNotes/ShakaZulu. He outsmarted them and it ended [[KillEmAll badly for them]].
* [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurentius_Christophori_Hornaeus Laurentius Hornaeus]], AKA "The evil reverend from Torsåker", an extremely zealous witch hunter during the Great Swedish Witch Panic from 1668-75. Assisted by two "wiseboys", who claimed to be able to identify witches from otherwise invisible marks, and using methods such as forcing children to testify against their relatives by dunking them in freezing water, Hornaeus managed to get 71 people (a tenth of his congregation) convicted for witchcraft and executed.[[note]] For comparison, about 400 people were executed for witchcraft during all of Swedish history. [[/note]] He would probably have continued, if higher and more skeptical authorities had not intervened. His grandson Jöns Hornaeus later wrote that people were still afraid to go near the house where his grandfather had lived sixty years later.