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The Archmage

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The High Elves were reduced to fighting a guerrilla war in their own land while the servants of Darkness reigned everywhere. But now a new rumour filled all ears: a sorcerer was abroad and no-one could stand against him. He was a pale youth who wore the War Crown of Saphery. Where he walked, the Dark Elves trembled, for he commanded the powers of magic as if born to them. His words summoned lightning. He cast down monsters and destroyed Chaos warriors with a word. The Slaaneshi Champion Alberecht Numan challenged him to a duel, but he and all his followers were in an instant reduced to dust. He intervened at the battle of Hathar Ford and slew Ferik Kasterman's Coven of Ten — the most feared Tzeentchian sorcerers of the day.
Warhammer: High Elves Army Book (4th Edition)

Be it a Wizard Classic, Eccentric Mentor, Evil Sorcerer, even a bratty Child Mage, the Archmage is the apex of magical learning and/or power. This comes to the point of being practically a demigod (or more) in the world they are portrayed in, able to create miracles as if a minor but annoying chore, discover a world-shaking truth, or even brawl with The Devil himself.

The term "Archmage" (with or without hyphen) is a neologism formed from the prefix "arch-" or "archi-" (as in archbishop). It originates from the name of the character Archimago in the renaissance poem The Faerie Queene. "Archimage" was occasionally used as an alternate spelling for the character's name, and Percy Bysshe Shelley later used this form as a synonym for "wizard" in his own poems. The modern form of the word, both in spelling and meaning, was coined a few centuries later by Ursula K. Le Guin in her novel A Wizard of Earthsea, where it referred to the leader of a college of magicians. As an analogy, the Archmage is to a normal wizard what the Surgeon General is to a resident physician.


An Archmage character, in the grand scheme of most stories, is either given their title via their country, becoming the head of that region's magical study and schooling (in which case he may also be the Court Mage for the ruler), or even by the majority of magicians in the world, to the point of being the ruler of a Magocracy. Sometimes it's even a divinely given title. If the local god of magic says you're the best and/or the chosen one, you're practically set to become an Archmage without being threatened by the same church that said-god rules over. More than likely that same church will become an avid supporter and bring its new leader to a highly sought-after position of power.

Granted, not all Archmages are centered within society, and certainly not all are good. An Archmage could very well become isolated from the world within a massive tower fortress in hope of quiet study in creating the flux capacitor they need for a time machine. Neither is the Archmage restricted to being human, or even the dominant race of the society in question; in fantasy, the Archmage could be a freakin' owl that can cast Meteor and Doom spells.


Most Archmages are depicted as old and wise wizards, but sometimes characters become Archmages without even being called one, simply by being the only magician (or one of the only magicians) in the world, maybe even because said-world doesn't have such a title as Archmage. Nevertheless, the Archmage is intelligent and worldly in knowledge and wisdom, and is considered an epic power within the grand scheme of things.

A character need not actually bear the title "Archmage" to qualify for this trope, though many do. The defining trait is that they are recognized in-universe as representing the pinnacle of magical power.

Note: Arguably an Archmage can also be merely the leader in a specific form of magic, but this may or may not change the title to reflect the school of magic in question (e.g. Archevoker, Archabjurer, etc, etc). Also, in some cases an Archmage that becomes a sentient undead is considered an Archlich.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Celica in Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor is the only seventh-ranked magician on the continent. As an example of her magical prowess, she can simultaneously cast three different high-ranking spells while using shortened incantations that have nothing to do with the spells. She's famous (and feared) for singlehandedly taking on armies and defeating the apostle of an evil god.
  • Black Clover has the title of Wizard King, held by the strongest Magic Knight of the Clover Kingdom who leads the Order of the Magic Knights. The current Wizard King in the beginning of the story is Julius Novachrono. Despite having no magic himself, Asta and Yuno compete to become the next Wizard King.
  • Clow Reed. Though we get some hints of his power in Cardcaptor Sakura, it really gets hammered home in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- (it's the same character in both series), where we learn that he caused the entire, extremely convoluted plot to happen because he accidentally lost control of his powers for a moment. To his credit, he spent the rest of his life undoing that mistake and setting things up so that everything would be fixed. The guy has multiverse-spanning Reality Warper levels of power and his clairvoyance is so powerful he almost seems omniscient. Indeed, he also set up the entire plot of Cardcaptor Sakura to ensure that his reincarnation did not have the same insane level of power, as it had left him unable to ever live a normal life.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • A Majin (Magic God) is a magician who has reached a level where they can do practically anything with magic. The few known Majins are among the most powerful beings in the setting. However, 'pure' Majins have a problem — due to encompassing all possibilities, they have an equal chance of success and failure — something which Majin Othinus is trying to fix. 'Impure' Majins stopped their growth before this point and lack the 50/50 downside but are weaker as a result, though they are still powerful enough to easily take out Level 5 espers, as Ollerus has shown. The true GREMLIN is an entire organization of Majins from all of the world's religions.
    • Aleister Crowley is known as the best magician in existence. He literally invented the modern system of magic and can counter any magic used against him (so long as it follows his system). He devised a spell that can strip the aforementioned Majins of most of their power and can also kill them, while he himself is able to fight them on their own turf in combat and walk away alive when most would be erased without a struggle. Which makes sense given one of his spells has the power of the Big Bang, which he can multiple by a factor of 10x. He even mentions that he could have reached the rank of Majin if he desired it, but deliberately altered his own body to keep that from happening. The other members of the Golden cabal are all on his level.
  • In Fairy Tail, most wizards specialize in one or two types of magic at most. There are a few exceptions, and they are some of the strongest mages in the series:
    • The title of "Wizard Saint" is given by the Magic Council to the ten wizards of Ishgal who are considered publicly the strongest on the continent. While there are powerful wizards not recognized by such titles whose strength surpasses even them, each one has earned their title.
      • Fairy Tail guild master Makarov can turn himself into a giant and wields powerful white magic. His most powerful spell, Fairy Law, immediately destroys anyone he considers an enemy while leaving allies unharmed.
      • Phantom Lord guild master Jose Porla can create an almost-unstoppable army of Living Shadows with his Shade Magic, and his control darkness is such that Makarov praised his abilities during their battle and noted he could have been an incredible role model for the young.
      • Jellal Fernandes is a master of at least fire, water, wind, earth and darkness elemental magic, in addition to Heavenly Body Magic, self-destruction magic circles capable of obliterating mountains, rune magic he learned in only three days for a cover, and a spell capable of dropping meteors from the sky. He was so strong that he earned the title of Wizard Saint at only half power, using a body double he passed off as a twin named "Siegrain" that he gave half his magical energy to in order to play into his plans. Should it be mentioned he's an Expy of Sieg Hart?
      • Even the weakest pre-Time Skip, "Iron Rock" Jura, was a master of Earth Magic to the point he defeated the leader of one of the most powerful dark guilds of Ishgal on his own without a scratch, and his power only improves until he becomes the 5th-ranked Wizard Saint post-Time Skip above even Makarov.
      • Warrod Sequen also counts. In-universe, he's part of Ishgal's Four Gods, who are the four strongest members of the Wizard Saints and considered to be the true pinnacle of magic, even beyond the likes of Makarov. His Green Magic, though self-admittedly not combat-oriented, is such that he can create a massive forest with ease.
    • Makarov's predecessor, Precht Gaebolg, taught Makarov a lot of what he knows about magic. He later expanded his knowledge to include various "Lost Magics" and spells from the Book of Zeref. Demon summoning, shadow magic, light magic in the forms of chains and his own variant of Fairy Law, are all his to command.
    • Precht's predecessor, Mavis Verimillion, was Fairy Tail's first guildmaster. Fairy Tail Zero reveals that she originally only knew how to conjure illusions. Though she is long dead now (and a ghost) except not quite either, the incredibly powerful spells she left behind prove that she had become a true master wizard.
    • Black Wizard Zeref, the most powerful and feared wizard who ever lived. The books he left behind contain spells that contain knowledge of, among other things, demon summoning and time travel. He was also a master of Living Magic and Death Magic. He was also the one who trained Mavis, Precht, and Warrod into mages.
    • Ishgal's rival nation the Alveraz Empire has the Spriggan 12. The Praetorian Guard of Emperor Spriggan, these elite wizards are all on par with the strongest of Ishgal's Four Gods, God Serena, who left Ishgal to join their ranks. They were all handpicked by Emperor Spriggan aka Zeref, someone who would obviously be a good judge of magical ability.
      • One of the Spriggan 12 is "Wizard King" August, who is said to have mastered all forms of magic, surpassing even the aforementioned Black Wizard Zeref in terms of versatility. Specifically, his magic is the ability to copy any Caster-type magic used against him and nullify it. This includes magic on the level of Gildarts' Crush magic and Cana's Fairy Glitter, one of the strongest magic spells in the series. It makes sense, however, since he is Zeref and Mavis's biological son.
      • God Serena himself, in addition to his credentials as The Archmage of Ishgal, can also be considered The Archmage amongst Dragon Slayers due to possessing eight Dragon Lacrima in his body to give him eight different elements, of which include Earth, Fire, Water, Wind and Lightning Dragon Slayer Magic, with which he can stomp his fellow Gods of Ishgal.
      • Irene Belserion is considered a mage on equal footing with August, who by all rights, is an absolute monster that has Makarov regard him with sheer awe and terror. Among her two major feats include shrinking the entire landmass of Fiore to 1/20th of its size, and randomly teleporting all of Fiore's citizens and Alvarez soldiers all across the land (except for Zeref, where he was teleported right to Fairy Tail's doorstep). It is for these feats of hers that she is all but outright stated as the strongest woman in the entire setting. It also turns out she's the one who invented Dragon Slayer Magic on account of being four hundred years old.
    • The most powerful existing (not necessarily human) wizard in the entire setting would be Acnologia, the Black Dragon of the Apocalypse. A Dragon Slayer from over 400 years ago who became a dragon from bathing the blood of hundreds, he is all but stated to be the reason dragons, the most powerful race in existence, are no longer around in the present and is so powerful thanks to his immunity to Magic itself and ability to eat it to get stronger even Zeref fears him. He also puts down God Serena in one of the shortest "fights" in the series's history.
  • In the Lyrical Nanoha series, there are only two characters in the entire series to have attained an SS mage rank, and Hayate only has that kind of power because she had her head plugged into a sentient magical tome that downloaded its entire store of centuries worth of accumulated spell knowledge directly into her mind. Precia, on the other hand, earned her rank the hard way, and was a brilliant magical researcher in her prime. By the time of the series, she's lost most of her sanity and is practically on her deathbed, but she's still capable of spells powerful enough to disable a spaceship from another dimension, effortlessly incapacitate an entire squad of TSAB mages, and summon up an army of Mecha-Mooks. On the historical scale, the greatest combat mage of all times is believed to be Olivie Sägebrecht, the Last Sankt Kaiser of the Belkan Empire, who secured that title shortly before her death by defeating her lifelong rival Claus Ingvalt (himself a One-Man Army) in the final battle of the Belkan wars.
  • Shouta's father in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is mentioned to have the highest possible mage qualifications and is the appointed guardian of the region (exactly how big said region is isn't specified).
  • The Lifemaker in Negima! Magister Negi Magi, who is not only immortal and at least 2,600 years old, but has created an entire world and nearly a billion living beings to inhabit it (hence his title). He has also been shown as capable of effortlessly Curb Stomping even the most powerful combat mages in the setting, with only the most powerful mage alive able to successfully stand against him in battle.
    • In sequel series UQ Holder!, Fate Averruncus is recognized as the single most powerful mage in the Solar System.
    • From the same series Negi Springfield qualifies as well, every time he appears everybody shits their pants in utter terror helps that he is fused with the Lifemaker
  • Overlord:
    • Momonga: Most magic casters are able to learn 300 spells, which is already a huge amount. But because of a skill he has known as Dark Wisdom that allows him to steal spells from corpses, he has at least 700 spells to choose from, and he's memorized them all. The character chart for him even lists his mana level as exceeding the limits of the scale! He may not have the most offensive power, but he has the versatility to deal with nearly anything.
    • Ulbert Alain Odle is an even better example. He was a member of a special class that very few could attain known as World Disaster, which granted the strongest offensive capabilities in Yggdrasil.
    • Fluder Paradyne is the Archmage for the new world: humans are able to cast magic up to the third tier, with other races able to cast fourth tier magic, with fifth-tier and above being the realm of legendary heroes. Fluder is able to cast sixth-tier magic... and the minute he meets someone capable of casting tenth-tier and beyond (aka Momonga), he instantly begs to serve them. It's honestly kind of sad to see a man of his age and position geek out over finding someone better at magic than he is, but it's par for the course for the series.
  • In Rave Master, Sieg Hart has the title of being an archmage. He is also an elemental master because he is not aligned to any single element and can use them all, even time! But the funny thing is, Sieg ranks as third strongest mage in the series, right behind Haja the Infinite, a sorcerer with a never ending supply of mana. And even higher is Haja's master, Shakuma.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins has Merlin, but unlike the typical old man form, this one takes the form of a Lady of Black Magic in very revealing clothes. Known also as the Crimson Boar, she is one of the titular sins, bearing the Sin of Gluttony for her insatiable appetite for knowledge. Her magical powers include Absolute Cancel which can end any spell, mastery of teleportation magic to the point she will send her enemies on teleporting from one unfortunate situation to another in seconds, creating powerful fire and ice magic which will last for all time or until she ends the spell, and lastly she has halted her own body from moving forward in time. Even her own allies, when hearing just how powerful she is, lampshade the game breaking nature of her powers.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime:
    • High Wizard Razen of the Kingdom of Falmuth is considered by many as the pinnacle of what a human mage can achieve. His mastery of magic includes various Summon Magic, Nuclear Cannon, Teleportation, powerful defensive spells, soul-destroying attacks, and Possession. These latter two in particular he's used in combination to extend his lifespan into the centuries by constantly moving to younger bodies when his current one gets too old, and he retains some of the Skills of those he possesses. His most recent body, that of the Otherworlder Shougo Taguchi, makes him a Kung-Fu Wizard thanks to combining its powerful physical abilities with his own magical knowledge and skill. He's spoken of with respect by those who know him and even Demon Lord Carrion's Three Beastketeers admit that while they could beat him in a physical fight, actually reaching him against all his magical prowness would be a worthy challenge they'd relish. Then along comes Primordial Noir, who No Sells everything Razen at his best throws at him and makes Razen go unconscious in fright when he realizes he's fighting basically a demon god.
    • Razen's Old Master Gadra is an even greater example. Razen is on record at living for at least a few centuries. Gadra is at least over a thousand years old. Everything Razen can do, Gadra can do just as well if not better, and unlike Razen who needs to rely on stealing bodies to stay alive Gadra mastered the Secret Art of Reincarnation, allowing him to rewind his age back to infancy with all his knowledge and abilities intact. Though he never actually fights him, however, he still admits Noir, now going by Diablo, is still his superior, and indeed eventually makes a deal with him that in exchange for mutual servitude under Rimuru Tempest, Gadra's next incarnation will revive as a Black Colors Demon. The deal is struck, and when Gadra seemingly perishes during the war with the Empire, he returns as a demon possessing a Golem with far greater physical and magical power than ever before.
    • Primordials have some of the greatest knowledge of magic known in the world since they're the first demons and among the first beings in existence. Primordial Noir/Diablo especially fits this, as he decisively proves his mastery of magic time and time again even over human masters of the arts, calling Razen a weakling with a bit of skill, and even defeats a fellow Primordial Bleu/Rain in a magical battle.
    • Rimuru Tempest transitions to this level thanks to Analysis, Power Copying, and Great Sage/Raphael constantly adding and expanding upon his magical knowledge. Even before he became a True Demon Lord, he could cast Meggido, a spell that relies on manipulating water droplets in the air to focus sunlight into concentrated lasers that slaughter entire armies at literal lightspeed. He develops an improved mass Teleportation spell that allows for safe passage of living beings, when before specially-designed gates were needed for such travel since mass teleportation otherwise would kill most organic beings due to fatal exposure to magicules in transit.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City has had several so far.
    • Simon Magus was a European magician who came to Astro City in The '70s because he foresaw a time of great strife centered on the city. He helped exorcise the spirit of vengeance known as the Blue Knight and warned about The Continuum's judgement of Earth. After a great spell, he was transformed into the Green Man.
    • Magus' assistant, Grimoire, became a sorceress in The '80s after Magus disappeared. She appeared during the Rise of Kerresh the Devastator, and wrote a tell-all book about her relationship with Magus.
    • Currently, the Silver Adept is considered the most powerful magician of the forces of light in the Astro City cosmology. However, this means there are a lot of mystical matters that need her attention, keeping her busy enough to require a personal assistant.
  • Black Moon Chronicles:
    • Methraton is the "ultimate archmage" who approaches the level of power of a Physical God, though he specifically denies being one.
    • Haazheel Thorn is the leader of a whole army of dark mages, and is the most powerful one of them all.
  • In The DC Universe, The Archmage was a being of magic imprisoned at the heart of Zerox, the Sorcerer's World.
    • The title of "Sorcerer Supreme" also exists in the DC Universe, though it's not brought up nearly as often for obvious reasons. It denotes the strongest known magic user in the world. Zatanna Zatara has been indicated to be the "Sorceress Supreme" of Earth, and Kent Nelson as Doctor Fate has been acknowledged to be the most powerful sorcerer of the modern age. The most powerful wizard, however, is destined to be Timothy Hunter.
  • Italian Disney Ducks Comic Universe stories sometimes feature magic users that powerful (some even bearing the actual title), the most notable (and only recurring ones) being the three members of the Witches' Council.
  • Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe, is more or less the designated Archmage of Earth (the title comes with a power boost but a lot of responsibility). The Ancient One, his tutor, was an Old Master at their first meeting (after six hundred years of being the former Archmage).
  • Illyana Rasputin is the Sorcerer Supreme of Limbo and once managed to defeat Doctor Strange there.
  • Dakhim the Enchanter in Man-Thing.
  • These things vary in comic books with the tendency for characters to gain or lose power through plot or depending on the writer, but the wizard Shazam! prior to his death at the hands of The Spectre was the most powerful magician in the DC universe. Feats include chaining the seven deadly sins and bestowing godlike powers on a succession of champions.

    Fan Works 
  • The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan: At the end, Nova Shine begins training to become Equestria's new archmage. Come the sequel, he properly assumes the position, though he has more than a few internal qualms about his own competency at it.
  • Child of the Storm has quite a few wizards who are powerful and skilled enough to be among the greatest practitioners on the planet — Wanda Maximoff (who's considered to be arguably the strongest human practitioner alive), Victor von Doom, Gravemoss (who's a Loki-level necromancer), Loki himself, Dumbledore (who goes toe to toe with a Reality Warper in the sequel and wins), and the Merlin of the White Council — but as Wanda explains in Chapter 62 of Ghosts of the Past, there are two candidates:
    • The single strongest is the original Merlin himself, who is still around and kicking, according to Wanda — knocking her back into at least second place.
    • However, in terms of pure skill, however, it's universally agreed to be Strange, who routinely bullies gods, taught Wanda and Doom's teacher, crushed Gravemoss in a duel, and once challenged the entire White Council to a duel. The only reason he hasn't forgotten more magic than literally anyone else has ever learned is that no one's sure if he ever actually forgets anything.
  • In Codex Equus, there are many individuals, both divine and mortal, who can wield incredible arcane power. In the case of divines, some of them are this by virtue of embodying concepts relating to magic and sorcery.
    • Noble Grace is an incredibly powerful unicorn sorceress, mostly due to her wealthy background giving her access to higher education, and her voracious childhood desire to learn everything that she could. In addition to age manipulation magic, which is described as being a highly-coveted yet extremely difficult magic to master among unicorns, she knows a variety of elemental spells such as fire, water, earth, and air. This, along with her Affably Evil behavior, is what makes her a truly dangerous person, since she wouldn't hesitate to attack and destroy anyone who opposes her and her beliefs despite her nice, encouraging, and friendly personality. Notably, one of her former students, a then-young Scarlet Bell, understandably feared getting injured or killed by her during a confrontation, but still did it anyway because her desire to save her classmates was stronger than her fear.
    • Kúzelník is a Deer god of Sorcery, Transformation, and Duality, which along with his intelligence and aptitude makes him a powerful sorcerer. He can use both White Magic and Black Magic, as well as elemental magic and other forms of sorcery like ritual magic, druidism, and potion-making. His Transformation domain makes him an expert in Voluntary Shapeshifting, so much that the Alvslog Deer Herds call him "The Sorcerer/Prince of a Thousand Faces". He also possesses strong Psychic Powers, but he sees Prince Crimson Star as the better psychic due to embodying Psionics. His great power made his parents fear his potential of becoming an Evil Sorcerer like Grogar, so they tried restricting him to only 'good' magic... but it not only made him magically weaker, it also gave him insecurities over his identity once he discovered the extent of his parents' hypocrisy via what happened to his unborn brother. Only after saving a non-Deer kingdom from a tyrannical cabal of sorcerers with 'evil' magic did he accept both aspects of his Sorcery domain.
    • Prince Varázsló, one of Kúzelník's infernal grandnephews, is an Alicorn-Deer Draconequus god of Magic, Knowledge, Fate, and Hope. Because he was thrown into the 'Well of Eternity' as a young foal, he was given a massive power boost, turning him into one of the most powerful sorcerers of the Bogolenya Deer Pantheon. While his powers and capabilities are the same as Kúzelník's, he leans towards psionic magic and was tutored in Malrègnarian dark magic by Vicearch Iniquitous. And through his other domains, he can do things like mess with people's memories, perceive multiple futures and alternate timelines/dimensions, bind people to fates (or make them immune to fate), and warp reality. However, because he was never able to properly grow into his power, he's Unskilled, but Strong, which both Kúzelník and Golden Scepter are helping him overcome.
    • Much like Magnus the Red, his character inspiration, Prince Crimson Star is currently one of the most powerful psychics in Equus, being surpassed only by his father, Golden Scepter, which is rather fitting since they both embody Psionics. This stemmed from absorbing a huge amount of magic while protecting a group of students from a dangerous ritual they cast to give themselves more knowledge. However, it is believed that Crimson Star has the potential to equal or even surpass Golden Scepter himself one day. According to Princess Twilight, meeting Kúzelník, an older Deer god of Sorcery and a fellow psychic, caused him to "Squee!", and the feeling was mutual.
    • As a deity of Sorcery, Princep Indicum Occento an incredibly powerful sorcerer. Their domain grants them access to various branches of magic like Black Magic, White Magic, Psionics, Alchemy, and Druidism. They can sense the presence of magic and strip someone of their magic indefinitely. They can also reverse-engineer any spell, whether 'good' or 'evil', which makes them a nightmare against Evil Sorcerers like Hydianites. However, their domain functions similarly to Queen Aoide's domain of Musical Magic - they channel their spells through music and song. This comes from them being the Fusion Dance between Princess Winter Opera and her former mentor, Blue Suede Heartstrings,
    • While not academically smart (he dropped out of high school as a teenager three Ages ago), Moon Ray Vaughoof (now Prince Canticum Lunae Cahaya) is pretty intelligent and perceptive everywhere else. He also has incredibly strong Psychic Powers and is believed by many In-Universe to be one of the most powerful psychics of his generation. While Moon Ray/Canticum's most famous ability is precognition, he learned water-based psychic attacks under Emperor Golden Scepter's tutelage. Re-Ascending as an eldritch deity strengthened his psychic powers to the point where he could bend reality on a whim. He also drove the Nemesis Crown into insanity by showing it every single vision he had as Caelum Filum, an impressive feat since the Nemesis Crown was crafted during the heyday of the Alicorn Civilization. As an Alicorn Prince and a member of the Church of the Stars, he serves as one of many spiritual leaders and mentor figures alongside others like him.
    • Twilight Sparkle (now Princess Amicitia Sparkle Equestria) is presently one of the most intelligent and powerful mages alive, and even before Ascending to godhood, she had so much potential that it led to her becoming the student of Celestia herself. She can quickly learn and utilize a vast library's worth of spells on a whim, strip others of their magic indefinitely, and, notably, finished a spell that even Starswirl the Bearded, a Pillar of Equestria and powerful mage himself, had difficulty with. And despite fighting Tirek with the combined powers of all Equestrian Alicorn Princesses at once, most of her power belonged to herself and Cadence while Tirek was partially empowered with Discord's stolen power, meaning that on her own, she has the power to surpass even Discord himself. What helps her is her status as a 'prodigy deity', giving her greater magic reserves on top of accelerated growth rates. Luminiferous, himself a prodigy, has noted both her magical potential and overall potential as a deity rivals his own at his age, which is saying a lot. Her becoming the official reincarnation of Mana Equus all but effectively formalized her status as this for all of Equidkind.
  • The Life and Times of a Winning Pony:
    • The Lunar Rebellion: Together with acting as Celestia's vizier, this is Sunbeam's official position as the Archmagus of Canterlot, tasked with overseeing Canterlot's magical academy and overseeing the magic users in and around the city. There are also four other Archmagi overseeing the western, northern, eastern and southern portions of Unicornia, and while all five are technically equals the Archmagus of Canterlot is far and away the most influential, and the de facto leader of Unicornia's magic orders. As the magi are noted to be one of the few organizations in Unicornia to care about one's skill over what family and rank you were born into, this comes with a dose of Asskicking Equals Authority, and the archmagi are some of the, if not the, most powerful magic-users among ponykind.
    • The institution continues into the story's present day, and Twilight's mother Twilight Velvet is mentioned to have held the position of Archmage of Canterlot in her youth, something she's still quite proud of.
  • Pony POV Series: Queen Majesty is the most powerful unicorn to have ever lived, and repeatedly acknowledged as such. She was so incredibly powerful that she was known as a Titan, a mortal with power on par with a god.
  • Queen of All Oni: It's revealed that Daolon Wong was the Darkest Mage, the most powerful Evil Sorcerer in the world. His loss of power in canon and death in-story has created an Evil Power Vacuum. Several minor plot threads in the story focus on the various villains who are now trying gain enough power to take up Wong's mantle.

    Film — Animated 
  • Aladdin: Jafar uses his second wish to become the world's most powerful sorcerer, but after Aladdin taunts him that genies are more powerful, he uses his last wish to become the genie and ends up trapped in a lamp.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Beastmaster: The villain, Maax. Maax is the High Priest of Aruk and a cruel fanatic who has no qualms about sacrificing others to further his insidious goals.
  • Dungeons & Dragons (2000): Profion. He holds this as his title in the Empire of Izmir. As such, he heads up their Council of Mages. He is hands down the most powerful magic user in the film.
  • Star Wars: Yoda and Palpatine are the respective heads of the Jedi and Sith Orders, two opposed philosophies for harnessing the mystical power of the Force, and are quite easily the two most powerful Force-users alive by the time of the movies.

  • Bessarias in The Arts of Dark and Light is an archimage emeritus who has sworn off magic after certain traumatic events, though his theoretical knowledge of it is still second to none. His colleagues Galamiras and Gilthalas are straight examples, and Amitlya is a female one.
  • In The Balanced Sword, Archmage Idinus, the most powerful wizard ever to live, who has ruled the second-largest nation in the world as an iron-clad theocracy for thousands of years.
  • The Belgariad: The Disciples of Aldur and Torak all count, notably Belgarath, Beldin, and Polgara (Aldur) and Ctuchik and Zedar (Torak). Torak's third Disciple, Urvon, was a somewhat powerful sorcerer — and implied to be a significant enough force that a powerful Demon Lord needs to stay by his side to keep him under his thumb — but doesn't get the chance to show much strength and seems to have been more of an arch-butt kisser. Among the lot, Belgarath is the best candidate for a specific archmage, as he was the first disciple of Aldur, and the first disciple of any god, since Torak only started taking disciples as a copycat move. This gives him seniority over the other disciples of Aldur; however, he's not necessarily wiser or more powerful than any of them - though he is hinted to be the strongest sorcerer on the planet, bar Belgarion. If he has an advantage, it's twofol: first, he is by far the most experienced sorcerer on the planet, with even the next oldest disciples being centuries younger than he is, and given the opportunity, he uses his powers for everything (though he's fine doing things the mundane way). Second, he possesses a mix of pragmatism and determination that enables him to face any specific task, no matter how difficult or morally abhorrent.
  • Chrestomanci, in the Diana Wynne Jones series of that name, is a title equivalent to Archmage. It's technically a government job title, but is only given to one of the most powerful enchanters in the multiverse, chosen and trained by the previous Chrestomanci.
  • Dworkin clearly holds that position in The Chronicles of Amber. He created the Pattern and is clearly the ultimate authority about the nature of Shadows, the Jewel of Judgement, the Trumps, the Pattern, and all Pattern-related powers. He is also more than a bit mad.
  • The Crimson Shadow: Brind'Amour and Greensparrow are the most powerful mages left alive in the Avonsea region. Eventually the two do battle.
  • In Barbara Hambly's writings, the fantasy worlds of both the Darwath series and The Windrose Chronicles feature archmages, the leaders of the wizards of those worlds. In the Windrose Chronicles, the archmage's authority magically moves to another wizard on the death of the archmage.
  • The Death Gate Cycle: Samah and Lord Xar are the archmage rulers of the Sartan and Patryn races (both examples of a Witch Species) respectively. Alfred probably counts too, since his magic rates him the title of "Serpent Mage", a high honorific among the Sartan, though he's very uncomfortable with his power and has no desire to lord it over lesser mages. There are also the mysteriarchs, who are archmages compared to other human wizards, but are far less powerful than any of the above—the most powerful mysteriarch is said to be about even with a very weak Sartan, and Patryn Anti-Hero Haplo is completely confident in his ability to take the man in a duel if it comes to that (it doesn't).
  • Discworld: The Archchancellor of Unseen University is the head of all organized magic and in theory the most powerful wizard on the Disc. In practice, given wizards' penchant for killing their immediate superiors, the Archchancellor was mostly just the wizard best at murdering and not getting murdered. This stopped with the stubbornly unkillable Archchancellor Ridcully, and while he seems to be powerful whether or not he's the most powerful wizard is a moot point, since the point of organized magic is to not use it as much as possible. Discworld also had a Sourceror, a source of raw magic. He was able to, with much effort, literally imprison all of the gods on the Disc in a pearl. Plus his mere presence dramatically boosted the powers of every other wizard.
  • Dragaera:
    • Sethra Lavode is considered the most powerful sorcerer in the Empire and is known for performing miracles that have shaped history; according to Vlad she's forgotten more about sorcery in her 200,000-year lifespan than anyone else will ever learn. She's also sort of an arch-vampire who turned down an offer of godhood.
    • Tazendra, a former apprentice of Sethra, is a Lady of Black Magic and warrior of legendary reputation. In her Dying Moment of Awesome, she defeated a Jenoine, one of the Eldritch Abominations feared even by the gods, while mortally wounded.
    • In-universe, the title of Wizard is awarded to those who can synthesize elements of Eastern witchcraft, Imperial Sorcery, and Elder Sorcery to do things that would be impossible for an individual discipline. Such people tend to be recruited when the gods need a heavy hitter.
  • Dragonlance: There are several characters, good and evil, throughout the history of the setting who could rightly bear this title:
    • Far and away the most notable (and infamous) are Fistandantilus and his student/victim/killer/reincarnation (it's complicated) Raistlin Majere.
    • Par-Salian, as the head of the council of wizards and master of the Tower of High Sorcery at Wayreth would probably also merit this title, although he was certainly not as powerful as Fistandantilus.
  • Dragon Raja: Handrake is described as an Archmage who successfully defeated Dragon Lord in the War of the Glorious Seven Weeks. Regarded by all who live in the world of Dragon Raja as the most powerful wizard of all time, he is reputed to be the only wizard who mastered Class Nine of magic.
  • There are a number of mages running around the world of the Dread Empire, and a few of them stand head-and-shoulders above the rest in power:
    • Generally agreed to be the most powerful are the Princes Thaumaturge, twin brothers Yo Hsi (the Demon Prince) and Nu Li Hsi (the Dragon Prince) who have jointly ruled the titular empire for centuries (because they're so evenly-matched power-wise that neither could defeat the other - this seems to run in the family, as Yo Hsi's daughter Mist is no slouch herself). They're The Dreaded to everyone who's ever heard of them and are so powerful they're apparently worshiped as gods in some places. So naturally, the power vacuum caused by their death at the end of the first book sets the rest of the series in motion. And they're both very, very evil.
    • Varthlokkur, aka "the Empire Destroyer" made his name when he single-handedly brought down the Empire of Ilkazar five centuries ago and is generally considered the most powerful wizard in the western kingdoms. Not exactly evil (mostly these days he just wants to be left alone to woo his prophesied bride), but not someone who's bad side you want to get on, either. Used to be the student of the Princes Thaumaturge way back when and is the one who ended up bringing them down, albeit by guile rather than force.
    • Magden Norath is a high-ranking member of the Pracchia and a magical Evilutionary Biologist who specializes in creating horrific monsters and unleashing them on his enemies. Once the Princes Thaumaturge are out of the way it's generally considered a toss-up whether he or Varthlokkur is the world's greatest living wizard. Obviously, quite evil and a major antagonist in the later parts of the series.
  • In the Dragonrealm series, both Nathan Bedlam and his grandson Cabe fit this trope. They are acknowledged to be the most powerful and skillful magic users in the Dragonrealm by most practitioners. Shade also fits, as he is even more powerful in his own way, but greatly limited by his curse.
  • In The Dresden Files any Wizard of the White Council is already considered to have a high level of both raw power (applicants need to be part of 1% power-wise) and magical ability, with the latter playing an important part. Any wizard who has reached a "respectable" age of several centuries might simply make this trope a logical progression. Specific examples include:
    • The Senior Council, the seven wizards who form the leadership of the Council. Standing together they are equivalent to an army. Individual members are no slouches either: causing a Colony Drop and initiating volcanic events and earthquakes (Krakatoa was on the list), more than once; holding off an army of Eldritch Abominations and Vampires with a single off-the-cuff ward; beating a shapeshifting millennia old Skinwalker at its own game. That sort of thing.
    • Being the Merlin, the head of the council, is not a position one acquires by collecting bottlecaps. Arthur Langtry, the current one, specializes in defensive magic. He, along with the Gatekeeper, once, on the spot, crafted a ward capable of standing off an entire court of powerful vampires and Outsiders in the NeverNever, meaning he had no threshold to bind the ward to, making it a lot weaker. He later creates a ward to contain a malicious non-corporeal entity from outside reality, formulates a battle-plan, adds 3D visual aids and telepathically communicates it to the 200 or so other wizards in the room. In three seconds. In pitch dark. Without losing his cool for an instant.
    • Merlin, the original. Described as a "wizard Superman" and a folkloric hero that achieved feats other wizards consider impossible. While it's uncertain how much is true he is known to have travelled through time to create the island of Demonreach, at the same time at multiple points in time. Somehow. A feat, by the way, which stumped even Bob, who was explicitly designed to study magic, being fundamentally sensitive to how it changes and works, takes several levels of dumbing down to get it - and then takes several more for Harry to get it. Oh, and Demonreach is a prison built to contain beings of literally godly power so massive that it generates one of the most powerful dark ley lines in the Western hemisphere just by their sheer existence there, and it's better to blow up the Midwest just to slow them down in escaping. One of his workings is described as being an internal combustion engine to Harry's wooden axles, and in reference to it, it's noted that we can take that reputation as pretty on point - indeed, if anything, it's a drastic underestimate...
    • The Archive, a little girl who knows absolutely everything that the human race has ever written down, or currently typed. She's been shown as powerful enough to hold off half a dozen fallen angels, using only the latent magic present in her 12 year-old body. It's explicitly stated that if she hadn't been confined to her own latent magic and that of an area around her sealed off from the magic of the world, and gas designed to knock her out being circulated through the vents, she'd have eaten them alive.
    • Heinrich Kemmler is a dangerous warlock and necromancer who had to be hunted by the White Council. The entire Council. He was killed seven times over the years, with the final one being the one to finally stick. His most well known infamy was no less than World War I, though it took him several decades to get things up and running. When they killed him for good, it took the Senior Council neutralizing his magical powers and other wizards attacking him with more mundane things like flamethrowers. He also created a means to turn a mortal into an immortal being, and is implied to be the source of Bob's knowledge of how to kill an immortal — for good.
  • The Elminster Series: Elminster is a wizard so absurdly powerful that he is frequently accused of being a Mary Sue, though the setting also contains several wizards with even more power than him. The Simbul is quoted as having more raw power (albeit not experience), Larloch and Ioulaum vastly outclass him (noted below under Tabletop Games), and Telamont Tanthul of Shade is also around (one of the last living Netherese Archwizards), among others. Elminster is more dangerous because of the networks of allies and helpers that he's managed to construct over the years rather than just his sheer power, including the Seven Sisters, the Harpers and various other organisations that he had a hand in creating and manipulating (while many evil archmages are busy manipulating right back at him in what frequently seems to result in a Gambit Pileup), potentially qualifying him as a Big Good.
  • The Faerie Queene: The evil sorcerer is named Archimago. His name was a combination of the Latin words arch (meaning "first") and imago (meaning "finalized form"), thus literally "first and final form", a subtle reference to Alpha and Omega, one of the titles of the Judeo-Christian God. Many scholars agree that, this being an allegory, the name is a clever tip-off to the fact that the character embodies religious hypocrisy. The term "archmage" is a later bastardization of the name, first by Shelley, and eventually by Le Guin who gave the name its present day spelling and connotations.
  • Fighting Fantasy have it's share of villainous Arch-mages as the Big Bad of their respective adventures, including the Archmage of Mampang from Sorcery! (envisioned as the powerful ruler of his own empire, who wants to use a powerful artifact called the Crown of Kings to make himself permanent king of four kingdoms) and the villainous Archmage Globus from Spectral Stalkers (a Dimension Lord who rules supreme in his own citadel filled with glass-based elemental monsters).
  • Guardians of the Flame: The two most powerful wizards in the series are Arta Myrdhyn and his foe Lucius of Pandathaway, who laid waste to an entire region long ago during a magical battle. Among clerics, the Matriarch of the Healing Hand is the greatest, a healer so powerful she can even raise the dead.
  • Harry Potter has several characters who may be considered archmagi:
    • Lord Voldemort/Tom Riddle: an acknowledged master of magic who was eventually foiled by ignoring certain magic he deemed unimportant. He was also able to control people through magical and mundane means.
    • Albus Dumbledore, the latter bearing the title of, among others, Grand Sorcerer, Supreme Mugwump, and Chief Warlock. He is also said to be the only person Voldemort fears and even as a teenager was using magic in a way people had never seen before.
    • Historically Gellert Grindelwald was one, at least prior to his defeat by Dumbledore, as were the Four Founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
    • The Minister for Magic could be considered one as the head of the wizard government, although in practice he's usually chosen for political reasons rather than supreme magical knowledge.
    • By the end of the Saga, Harry himself. While not obvious, he is rather accomplished Academically and he has mastered every spell and discipline put in front of him.
  • From the Heralds of Valdemar series, the most prominent example is Vanyel Ashkevron, the eponymous Last Herald Mage. In the ages-ago prequels, Urtho and Ma'ar also qualify.
  • N. K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy: Deka becomes by far the world's greatest Scrivener, to the extent that a Physical God calls his power almost divine in scope. He can intuitively use the gods' Language of Magic that most scriveners can only access through laborious written formulae, covers his body with Power Tattoos in a writing system of his own invention, and boosts his tremendous technical knowledge of magic through the stratosphere with his innate magical gifts from being a Demon.
  • The wise Archmage Ignacius Cooper in Nick Perumov's so far English translation-lacking Keeper of the Swords series. Subverted in the end when instead of a wise patron he is shown to be spiteful, manipulative and just evil. The Prisoner who had spent centuries in a room under the temple of the Cold Flame is even more qualified. He turns out to be Merlin, head of the Council of True Magi generation, creator and ruler of the Avalon island. He has been imprisoned by Chaos.
  • In the Krondor series, Macros the Black is the archmage at the beginning of the books. His function eventually gets taken over by Pug / Milamber.
  • Land of Oz: Ozians use "Witch" or "Wizard" to describe these. When King Pastorius died, leaving infant Ozma as the heir, the four most powerful (Glinda of the South, Locasta/Tattypoo of the North, and the East and West witches) were fighting for control. A Con Artist Magnificent Bastard named Oscar Diggs lands in the middle of this, and bluffs his way into becoming the titular Wizard of Oz, forcing the four into an Enforced Cold War. The scam works great for about fifteen years, and then some tornado drops a house on the East Witch and the unwitting occupant seeks out the "Wizard's" help to get home.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Saruman is never referred to by that title but, as the White Wizard at the head of the order of wizards, he plays the role of an archmage for Middle-earth.
    • Gandalf eventually supplants him after being brought back to life with a power boost and beating Saruman in a battle of wills. Before the confrontation he had been fulfilling much of the role anyway; advising rulers, shepherding the heroes and watching the Big Bad while Samuran was off playing The Starscream to his new master.
  • Night Watch (Series) has a magical ranking system from 7 (lowest) to 1 (strongest). There is, however, an Up to Eleven level called Mage Beyond Classification/Categorization (i.e. stronger than level 1). These mages are usually centuries (if not millennia) old and spend their time playing Gambit Roulettes, as engaging in open combat is strictly forbidden by the Treaty. The most prominent examples are Geser, the head of the Moscow Night Watch, and Zabulon, the head of the Moscow Day Watch. In Last Watch, Merlin is revealed to have been a mage with unlimited potential, called an Absolute or Zero-level Other. There's also Olga, Geser's lover and faithful companion, who is a Great enchantress at least a few centuries old, and Arina, a Great witch who doesn't ally with either Watch. Several others are shown in different novels, such as Thomas/Foma Lermont, a good friend of Geser's from Scotland, and Taviscaron, a good friend of Zabulon's from Kiev. Svetlana and Anton are nominally Beyond Classification in terms of pure power and potential but are too young and inexperienced to be considered true to this trope. However, Svetlana is able to defeat Arina in a duel, although she was in her Mama Bear mode.
  • In Mo Dao Zu Shi Wei Wuxian the Yiling Patriarch invented Demonic Cultivation before even turning twenty years old. He was the main reason the Sunshot Campaign was even won. Following the war he went on to invent and revolutionize talisman making and cultivation procedures. Unfortunately his accomplishments drew envy and bitterness from the status and bloodline obsessed Cultivation Sects who banded together to destroy him after a successful smear campaign.
  • In Noob, General Helkazard, the leader of the magic side of The Magic Versus Technology War and a Magic Knight himself, is mentioned to be the most powerful human character of the Fictional Video Game in which the story is set, being overshadowed only by the world's Physical Gods.
  • Retired Witches Mysteries: These make up the ruling Grand Council of Witches, who are in charge of running witch society.
  • Schooled in Magic
    • Void is a Lone Power who first discovered and rescued Emily. While the books haven't come out and said it, the implication is that a Lone Power is a mage who's decided not to take any position with the Great Families, the White Council or other organs of magical society, and has the magical strength to make that stick.
    • The Grandmaster of Whitehall and the MageMaster of Mountaintop are the heads of the most important Wizarding Schools in the world, and Grandmaster Hasdrubal, the MageMaster, and the MageMaster's probable successor Aurelius all have the magical knowledge and power to fit this trope. Grandmaster Gordian and MageMaster Zed are much less powerful than their predecessors, and Gordian in particular has to play a delicate political game to keep his position.
  • Septimus Heap: The leader of the Citadel's wizards is known as the ExtraOrdinary Wizard; Marcia Overstand is the holder of the title at the beginning of the series. It's worth noting that while her political power is unparalleled, her actual magical power may be in question.
  • In Terry Brooks' Shannara series, the title of Ard Rhys, or High Druid, is given to the leader of the Druid Order. Typically the person who holds this position is one of the oldest, wisest, and most powerful members of the Order. Grianne Ohmsford, Khyber Elessedil, and Aphenglow Elessedil are all former protagonists who have held the post at one point or another, usually graduating to Big Good status in the process. One could make a case that, prior to High Druid of Shannara (when the order was reestablished) both Allanon and Walker Boh held this position, as they were the both the only Druids around, and the most powerful magic users on the planet at the time.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin:
    • Archmaester Marwyn can be considered to be the archmage of Westeros since he's the only person really knowledgeable about magic on the whole continent. Since real, working magic is seen as a thing of the past and has not been witnessed by anyone for centuries, he is viewed as an eccentric and almost crazy man.
    • As of A Dance With Dragons, the Three-Eyed Crow, aka Bloodraven, also qualifies. He's the last (human) Greenseer, with powers that make an "ordinary" warg look like a toddler on a tricycle next to an Ace Pilot in an F-15.
  • Sword of Truth:
    • Zeddicus Z'ull Zorrander and Darken Rahl both count, though Darken Rahl had a significant leg up on Zedd because he sold his soul to the Keeper for Subtractive Magic. Notably, Zedd wouldn't have had much standing at all in the presence of the wizards 3000 years before, and Rahl would've been just second-rate. Much later in the series, Richard becomes this, in addition to the Seeker, a Mud Man, Lord Rahl, a wizard, and many other impossible jobs that he asks not to have in the first book.
    • Nathan and Ann from the Palace of the Prophets. Which is saying something, since most of its inhabitants have been there for hundreds of years. Nicci is even stronger, and about as powerful as Darken Rahl (unusual, as sorceresses are almost invariably only a shadow of wizards). That said, she and the other Sisters of the Dark have been stealing wizards' Han and making deals with the Keeper.
    • War Wizards were this 3000 years ago. Special mention goes to Alric Rahl, Joseph Ander, and several others.
  • Tales Of Einarinn: Archmage is the title given to the leader of the Magocracy. However, the Archmage openly admits that actual wizardry is the least important part of the job compared to politics or being a Manipulative Bastard in general, is rarely shown using magic, and is described as a remarkably ordinary magic user with several other characters being shown to be much more powerful than him, some of whom were passed up for the position.
  • Brian Lumley has stories set in the mythical land of Theem'dra, a land so prehistoric that it preceded the Pangaea and the Age of Reptiles. The mightiest wizard of all time (only the Elder Gods and Great Old Ones are mightier than him), the benign sorcerer Mylakhrion the Immortal lived in this epoch. Another archmage-type is Mylakhrion's student, the not so benign Exior K'mool who would be important far in the future in the Titus Crow story Elysia.
  • Tortall Universe: Numair Salmalin is often referred to as the "most-powerful mage in Tortall" and is likely the most powerful mage in the world. What's more, he does not fit the old-guy archetype — he's in his late twenties/early thirties and is extremely handsome.
  • In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, summoners who perform great deeds receive Awards (essentially marks carved into their souls by one of the setting's major gods). A high number of Awards brings prestige, and those with a thousand or more are seen as superhuman monsters. Examples include:
    • Elvast Toydream (Award 1000), who never loses a single fight on-screen, and is only killed by a surprise attack.
    • Humanism (Award 2799), who's all the more amazing due to being around ten years old.
    • Madam Professor (Award 3000), who manages to stall the White Queen, the most powerful being in the setting, singlehandedly.
  • Villains by Necessity: Mizzamir, who even has this as his title. He is the most powerful wizard in the world left, and the only surviving Hero left from the Victory of Good against Evil (at least before Sir Pryse is revealed as still alive).
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • The Amyrlin Seat is the political head of the Aes Sedai, the most powerful association of magic-users in the world as of the time of the books. She (and it's always a she, as male magic use comes with a heaping helping of madness) is nearly always an incredibly accomplished and powerful magic-user in her own right as well, since Aes Sedai authority derives from strength with the Power.
    • Rand is this in title as early as his founding of the Black Tower; he becomes it in fact after merging with the memories of his 400-year-old past self, becoming easily the most powerful and knowledgeable magic-user in the world and not far from a Physical God, bordering — in the finale — on an outright Reality Warper.
    • Moridin is the evil equivalent (primarily of Rand), being at least as accomplished in the One Power as any other magic-user good or evil, and far more accomplished in the True Power, which is so addicting and destructive that even the most evil of practitioners will use it only if they have absolutely no other option.
  • A Wizard of Earthsea: The Trope Namer is the Archmage Nemmerle. In this instance, the term is used to describe the head of a college of wizards, a primus inter pares or "first among peers." The first book also notes that Ged will one day become Archmage, and he achieves this by the third book in the series, The Farthest Shore.
  • Worlds of Shadow: Shadow is the last of these, a matrix wizard, having killed all the others. Pel is taught how to be one as well later.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko and Nick Perumov's Wrong Time for Dragons, the leaders of the four Elemental clans are the most experienced practitioners of their respective Elemental magic. While they're not the only mages of the first rank, they combine strength, power, experience, and intelligence to fit this trope. Ritor is the leader of the Air Clan and is widely considered to be the most powerful mage in the Middle World. He is also a former Dragonslayer, responsible for throwing off the tyrannical rule of the Winged Masters. His counterpart in the Water Clan is Torn, a ruthless, scheming mage, who, nevertheless, also wants to protect the Middle World. The leader of the Earth Clan, Anjey, is powerful and smart but also lazy (and a pedophile). The former leader of the Fire Clan, Navajo, also fits this trope, but he is slain by an ambush set up by Torn along with many other experienced Fire mages, leaving the Fire Clan in a severely weakened position. A special mention goes to Loy Iver, the leader of the Cat Clan. While Totem clans are considerably weaker than Elemental clans, Loy Iver is still considered to be a first rank mage. She is a Femme Fatale Spy who uses her considerable political and seductive skills, augmented by magic, to keep her clan on an equal footing with the four Elemental clans. She is also a master of Stealth Hi/Bye and several powerful cat-like combat spells.

    Live Action TV 
  • American Horror Story: Coven: Witches and warlocks are ruled by a Supreme — the most powerful witch born to each generation.
  • Kingdom Adventure: The Prince has shades of this, being both royalty and wielding powerful magic, sometimes even carrying a gold staff.
  • Legend of the Seeker: Zeddicus Z'ul Zorrander, Wizard of the First Order, the most powerful type which exists. By the second season, he's the Last of His Kind.
  • In the BBC Merlin (2008), Nimueh was one, as the High Priestess of the Old Religion. At least until Merlin fried her. Apparently Morgause became the next High Priestess, and now apparently Morgana's filled the role, based on events in Season 4. She and Merlin are neck and neck for 'most powerful magical person in the world'. As of the Grand Finale, Merlin has taken his traditional place as the undisputed greatest sorcerer of all time.

  • Merlin from Arthurian Legend can be considered an Archmage, depending on the version of the tale in question.
  • Abe no Semei is pretty much the Merlin of the East and could be considered an Archmage, not only was he regarded by all other Onmyōdō as the pinnacle of magic, but also by his ruler.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 13th Age has the Archmage as one of its Icons — a major player in the defence of the Dragon Empire, who has among other things set up protective wards around the Empire to detect powerful threats. His chief problem is that all the tasks he's assumed responsibility for have him badly overworked, forcing him to get adventurers to solve certain issues for him.
  • Semyon Nikolaev from Age of Aquarius. In the first edition, he was described as simply a mysterious Voice with an Internet Connection; the second edition elaborates on him more, estabilishing him firmly as The Archmage and possibly the Big Good.
  • Ars Magica: The title of "archimagus" is awarded to distinguished members of the Order of Hermes. The particulars vary, but as a baseline, a mage needs to complete a major service to the Order as a whole, invent an entirely new high-level spell, and defeat a sitting archmage at a challenge of the archmage's choosing. Archimagi in the Order enjoy high status, extra voting authority, and possibly membership in an Ancient Conspiracy...
  • In the Champions roleplaying setting, often described as "Silver Age Marvel with the serial numbers filed off (not that that's a bad thing)", the Archmage functions much like Marvel's sorcerer supreme. However, the position of Archmage has been vacant since The Tunguska Event, which killed the last one (yes, it was deliberate), and the subculture of wizardry is a little paranoid, keeping a sharp eye out for anyone who fulfills even one of the requirements for Archmagery. This has arguably not been to the planet's benefit, as the Archmage is intended to be the online line of defense against magical threats the planet needs.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition game, "Archmage" was a remnant of a time when specific levels in a character class had a name associated with them. In this case an "Archmage" was a member of the Magic-User class who had reached 18th level and could potentially cast 9th level spells (the highest available at the time). Other classes had similar naming systems (e.g. "Patriarch", "Lord", "Hierophant", etc.). Although the level names did not carry over into 2nd Edition generally, the tradition of wizards of 18th level or higher being called "Archmages" stuck. Then, from Third Edition and onward it became the name of a prestige class (documented in the 3rd edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting). This prestige class was updated in 3.5 and included as a stock PrC in the Dungeon Master's Guide from the core rulebooks. Their powers allow them to perform feats of magic available to few others (imagine being able to cast the spell fireball without having to worry about friendly fire ever again), but at the cost of some of their spells. The class was updated again in 4th Edition, as an epic destiny available to characters over 20th level. Now focused on reusing spells and using them more often, archmages can also exist as an arcane spirit. At 30th level, they are said to retreat into seclusion to study magic, eventually merging with the singular Demispell.
    • In Forgotten Realms "archmage" is an old honorific for people who are obviously better at arcane arts than the majority of wizards. Elminster Aumar, Sage of Shadowdale, and Chosen of Mystra (the goddess of magic) definitely is an archmage.
      • Sometimes, it's used as a formal title: e.g. Gromphe Beanre is "the Archmage of Menzoberranzan", effectively the most powerful arcane caster and headmaster of the mage school in the largest city of drow. In Halruaa it's synonymous with "Elder"—a high-ranked wizard who gets to own a skyship (not all "Elders" are old). Netherese arcanists earned the title of "archwizard" by creating a floating island, to found a city on top and rule it.
      • Szass Tam is the leader of the Red Wizards and in terms of his game stats is definitely more powerful than Elminster. Halaster Blackcloak is another example.
      • Larloch, described by Word of God as a 46th level lich who has had over a thousand years to construct personal defense spells, cannot be touched by a spell unless he chooses to be, and personally commands a hive mind of sixty (at least) other liches, all of whom are bound with him as their directing agent.
      • Ioulaum has perhaps slightly less magic than Larloch, but makes up for it by having transformed himself into an undead Elder Brain commanding a city of mind flayer liches.
      • The Simbul (aka Witch-Queen of Aglarond), also one of the Chosen of Mystra, is one of Elminster's allies and occasionally lover, and as far as game stats go, even more powerful than he is. Other powerful wizards of note in the Realms include Manshoon, the founder of the Zhentarim, Laeral Silverhand of Waterdeep, and the Seven Sisters (of which the Simbul is a member). (In short, powerful wizards seem to be everywhere in the Realms.)
    • Greyhawk: Mordenkainen is probably the straightest example, being the second strongest mortal wizard in the setting and typically serving as a wise, inscrutable Big Good (well, Big Neutral, but whatever). There's also his buddies, notably Bigby, Tenser, Otiluke, his former friend, Rary, the last generation's big archmage, Zagyg, and the strongest mortal wizard, Iggwilv the Witch-Queen. Bar Robilar, pretty much every epic-level mortal in Greyhawk is a wizard of some stripe.
    • Dragonlance: Wizards like this aren't as common as in other settings, but Raistlin Majere, one of the Heroes of the Lance (who later tried to slay Takhisis to obtain godhood, and managed to kill all three pantheons before timeline was changed) counts at the height of his power.
    • Archlich generally fit this trope due to the reason they (despite being almost entirely identical in abilities and appearance) are described separately from normal liches: the normal lich ritual includes lots of evil shortcuts that makes it much easier to use and discover, so the archlich ritual requires much more magical power and much more knowledge. As a result, archliches tends to on average be more powerful and learned mages than the average lich, and neutral or even good (since evil mages had no real reason not to use the evil shortcuts of normal liches), but also much rarer.
  • Exalted has the various tiers of Sorcery, but only Solars and Infernals can learn the upper limits of Solar Circle Sorcery. In history, the two most likely to be recognized as archmages are Brigid (who first discovered the secrets of Sorcery) and Salina (who created a secret working that effectively rewrote the source code of Creation so that anyone, not just a Solar, could initiate themselves into at least the first circle).
    • Brigid holds the place of honour as the Mother of Sorcery, but later on Devon, Salina and Silur would found the three principal methods of learning, studying and practising sorcery — naturally, all of them were Solars. In the Age of Sorrows, the most well-known Sorcerers would be the missing Dragonblooded Empress and her daughter Mnemon, but the most powerful would most likely be the Lunar Raksi, Queen of Fangs, who rules over the ruin-city of Mahalanka — formerly known as Sperimin, the greatest seat of sorcerous learning in all of Creation.
    • Necromancy is more specialised than Sorcery, matching its power but lacking its full scope, with only Abyssals able to learn the upper limits of Void Circle Necromancy.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Kairos Fateweaver from Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 is amongst the most powerful of all magically gifted daemons Tzeentch the Chaos God of magic, and his rules make him one of the most powerful and versatile spellcasters in all three game systems.
    • Warhammer:
      • The term is used specifically to refer to the most powerful High Elf mages, but other races (except the dwarfs) have a similar rank, such as Wizard Lord, Supreme Sorcererss or Sorcerer Lord, that fulfill the same role.
      • The Slann spend most of their time in contemplation of the heavens and the nature of magic, tweaking things to stay on the Old Ones' plannote , and are probably the most powerful wizards in the game. In sixth and seventh edition Slann could take unique upgrades or bought in different generations that could put them miles above any other mage in the game, though generations were replaced and the upgrades were heavily nerfed by eight edition.
      • The named characters Teclis of the High Elves (the page quote is about him) and Arkhan the Black of the Tomb Kings are the only two level five wizards in-game (all other wizards are levels one through four). Both of them need magic items for it in the form of Teclis' Cool Crown and Arkhan's Tome of Eldritch Lore.
      • Arkhan's boss, Nagash, was the most powerful mortal wizard of his time. Unfortunately for everyone else, he then gave himself a huge power upgrade and transformed into a terrifying lich demigod with magical power to match.
    • In Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, the nine Gaunt Summoners are some of the most powerful followers of Tzeentch, the God of Magic, and are the most accomplished magic uses in all the Mortal Realms, able to easily summon daemons from the Realm of Chaos or burn their enemies to ashes with infernal flame.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • Many people in-universe believe that Varro Tigurius, Chief Librarian of the Ultramarines Chapter of Adeptus Astartes, is the strongest psyker within the Imperium, his power only surpassed by the Emperor himself. Whether this is the case or not, the current Chief Librarian is certainly the most powerful psyker to hold position since the Chapter's founding.
      • Magnus the Red was one of the greatest psykers and arcane scholars in the galaxy even before he ascended into daemonhood, and once presided over the Imperium's only true and open Magocracy (which exists now only as a fractious, brutal Magical Society). In the 8th Edition of the game this is represented by Magnus receiving bonuses when he manifests psychic powers.
      • Ahzek Ahriman, former First Captain and Chief Librarian of the Thousand Sons, an Astartes Legion full of powerful psykers, and his powers have only grown greater in the centuries since then. In the 8th Edition of the game he knows more psychic powers than any other Thousand Sons character except his daemonic gene-sire Magnus and receives bonuses to his casting. Meanwhile, in the first book of his novel series Ahriman is still powerful enough to take on seven other opponents killing them all in the span of five heartbeats.
      • Any Exalted Sorcerer who leads one of the Sects of the Thousand Sons, known as an Arch Magister, is said to be dark exemplar of arcane might, able to bend the forces of the warp to his will with a mere thought. The 8th Edition rules represent this with the 'High Magister' Warlord Trait that gives the Thousand Sons Warlord a bonus when casting Psychic Powers.
      • Aldrik Voldus is the most powerful psyker to have served with the daemon hunting Grey Knights for centuries, able to harness the energies of the Warp to destroy his foes or banish the most powerful of daemons with ease. In game terms Grand Master Voldus is able to manifest more Psychic Powers than any other Grey Knight character.
  • Geaticus the Chaldean from GURPS: Fantasy is an archmage with no magical abilities at all. Instead he has become so familiar with magic that he can track down places where anyone can cast spells and then wait until the astrological signs enhance the right sort of magic.
  • Mutant Chronicles: The Revered Teacher Chang Dang-Vu, most revered of the Keepers of the Art. Master Dang-Vu is a small, apple-cheeked, perpetually smiling man, whose mastery of the Art is such that he can heal the sick, raise the recently deceased, predict the future with infallible accuracy centuries in advance, create illusions so life-like they can fool people who know they are illusions, extract memories from the minds of others that their owners had forgotten, make lightning strike from a clear sky, and make himself fast enough to be invisible and strong enough to rip tanks to shreds with his bare hands. He can't teleport, but that's only because he thinks teleportation is "vulgar".
  • Adrian Eldrich is the latest "Master Mage" in the Freedom City setting of Mutants & Masterminds. He's also the Doctor Strange Expy of the setting.
  • New World of Darkness portrays being an archmage in Mage: The Awakening as a desire for any specialist of a specific arcanum, the title meaning one has reached the height of excellence within that field (in gameplay terms, by transcending the 5-dot limit in a particular Arcanum, like in the Mage: The Ascension example) and become capable of godlike feats; to be an archmage within more than one arcanum is the stuff of legends (though they are presented in the books). However, each side has their own archmages (be they Oracles or Exarchs) who really aren't happy with a force of cosmic destruction on the other guy's side. Hence, both the Pentacle Mages and the Seers of the Throne are sworn to an ancient pact that prevents each side's archmages from exerting direct influence upon the world. The pact says nothing about indirect influence, however...Also, it doesn't apply to rewriting the universe from the Supernal Realms.
  • Old World of Darkness: In Mage: The Ascension, Archmage refers to a mage who mastered a sphere of magic to the point of surpassing the 5 dot limit. Though in the same region of power there are also Exemplars who were archmages but became focused on one sphere to the point where they started becoming extensions of that sphere, Gods who put aside regular magery and instead became powerful spirits manifesting various concepts, and the rare Oracles who actually succeeded at following the path of personal ascension to its end, then at the last moment chose to turn back and help the rest of the universe ascend instead of just ascending themselves. Normally, at least.
  • Pathfinder doesn't really use the actual term "Archmage" much, but there are many characters who fit the definition. Most prominent would be the seven Runelords of ancient Thassilon, all of whom were high-level wizards and many of whom had mythic ranks to make them even more badass. When they foresaw the world-shaking calamity of Earthfall, they sealed themselves away to wait it out, except they underestimated the scale of Earthfall and ended up staying locked away for roughly 10,000 years. The "Rise of the Runelords" and "Return of the Runelords" adventure paths deal with what happens when they start to escape their cans.
    • There are others fitting the title peppered throughout the setting, notably Geb (ghostly founder of the eponymous Necrocracy), Baba Yaga (who after conquering Irrisen usually only returns once a century to switch out the ruling queen), and the mightiest lich to ever walk Golarion, Tar-Baphon The Whispering Tyrant (back in business after centuries being a Sealed Evil in a Can and causing a massive political upheaval in the lands surrounding his lair as everyone scrambles to prepare for his next onslaught).

  • Hermione Granger has become this in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. She's Minister for Magic and was always the best witch in her year at Hogwarts, possibly the world now with Dumbeldore and Voldemort gone.

    Video Games 
  • Ancient Domains of Mystery: "Archmages" are players with a weird mix of this and Master of One Magic, by going through the massive effort to set up their character to be able to bookcast Wish at-will. Which grants wishes, doing nearly anything you'd need. This is complicated by the fact that Wish drains attributes, meaning you need to be able to cast it even after it's dropped most of your attribute scores to 1 to retain the title, and that bookcasting is a massive drain on power. But if you've done the necessary setup... infinite wishes.
  • A dozen or so characters in the Avernum (and Exile) games are archmages, way more skilled and powerful than the regular crop of high-level wizards. Erika and Rentar-Ihrno are basically arch-archmages.
  • In the first game in The Bard's Tale Trilogy, an Archmage is just someone who has mastered all 7 levels of all 4 schools of magic. It's really only something referred to in the game manual, there's no title or anything in the game, and nothing special happens if you get there. The sequels make the Archmage a specific class, with their own unique spells (along with the previous ones they've learned).
  • If you can use true magic in the BlazBlue world then you're already one of the Super Power Lottery's biggest winners. However, among the witches and mages that make up the Magic City of Ishana's Mage's Guild, there are none who can compare to the Ten Sages, magic users who are so powerful, each and every one of them could have qualified as an Archmage within their own area of expertice... Keywords being "could have". If it hadn't been for Konoe "Nine" Ayatsuki Mercury, the single most powerful witch in the world, whose sinister plan in the fourth game was to create a new capital-G God in order to force a "happily ever after" for herself and her little sister exclusively. Other spells in her arsenal include one that summons a localized black hole that she uses for alchemically smelting Artifacts of Doom, another that allows the one the spell is cast upon to observe the entire spacetime continuum (Alternate Timelines included) and a third spell that can only be described as "Armageddon."
  • Dark Souls: Seath the Scaleless is a more draconic take on this trope, described as Grandfather of Sorcery. On the other hand there is also Witch of Izalith, mother of Pyromancy. Finally, there is Gravelord Nito, the First of the Dead and thus the first of the necromancers. The DLC adds Manus, Father of the Abyss, who is both the inventor and undisputed master of Black Magic: though he's completely feral and insane by the time of the game, his magic spells are among the most potent ever seen. Each and every one of these archmages is also a boss. Lucky you.
    • As far as humans go, Big Hat Logan is a traveling magician the player can meet, and if they complete his quest line he reverse engineers some of Seathe's draconic magic and uses it himself.
  • Dark Souls II: Royal Sorceror Navlaan seems to fill this role: he's a master at combat magic and several of the most powerful spells in the game (encompassing the practices of Sorcery, Pyromancy, and Hexing) were all invented by him.
  • In Dota 2, there are two characters who could fit this trope.
    • The first is Invoker, who practices an ancient, long forgotten form of magic that was so cumbersome that even the most learned practitioners could only know four spells at most. Invoker has ten active spells that he can use in the game (potentially eleven if upgraded with Aghanim's Scepter) when other heroes are lucky to have four. He not only knows these ten spells, but also learned - and threw away - other magic over the course of his long lifespan, including an immortality spell he cast on himself.
    • The second is Rubick, who practices whatever magic you're using (even things that are essentially bodily functions or hitting people really hard... don't ask). He set a challenge to kill one of the ten existing Maguses (themselves essentially this trope), thereby becoming one himself. All ten came after him. Due to a combination of them thinking that Rubick's copied spells were their ally's (causing them to turn against each other) and Rubick being a badass, Rubick killed all of them and was given the title of Grand Magus.
  • The Dragon Age series has four groups of prime candidates:
    • The hierarchs of the Circle of Magi, i.e. the First Enchanters and the Grand Enchanter. The First Enchanters are experienced mages who have been elected by fellow mages and their Templar watchdogs to lead the Mage Tower of a particular region. The Grand Enchanter is nominally the leader of all Circle mages of Thedas, chosen from among the First Enchanters. Although these titles are more political roles than power levels, the two aspects tend to go hand-in-hand for mages. Two First Enchanters encountered in the games are Irving of Ferelden and Orsino of Kirkwall, though the latter gained his position mostly because nobody else could stand working under Meredith (plus, he experimented with dangerous Blood Magic and actively worked with a Serial Killer in his research). The incumbent Grand Enchanter by the time of Asunder is Fiona, who is also an example, having been a Grey Warden in her youth.
    • The second group are the Tevinter Magisters, the ruling class of The Magocracy in the north, which implements the whole Circle of Magi system slightly differently. The most powerful mage of Tevinter is usually also its sovereign, bearing the title of the Imperial Archon. Technically, the Magisterium is merely the upper-house of the Imperial senate, and in fact for centuries after Tevinter converted to Andrastianism most Magisters were muggles. Conversation with Dorian and codex entries reveal that the Magisterium remains a very nepotistic institution and that there aren't much opportunities for social advancement for mages born in poverty, unless they're patronaged by established Magisters, so not all Magisters embody the pinnacle of the Imperium's magical and political might, explaining why the Magisters featured in the series so far were often outmatched by southern mages.
    • The third group are the Dalish Keepers. The most powerful mages among the nomadic Dalish elves are carefully trained to lead their people and recover their lost history. Not only are they powerful, but they command magicks that are largely unknown to both the Chantry and Tevinter. The two Keepers seen thus far are Zathrian and Marathari, both of whom could give a First Enchanter pause.
    • And the fourth group are, of course, the Player Characters of the Mage Character Class. The Mage Warden from Dragon Age: Origins starts off as the star-pupil of First Enchanter Irving and is widely regarded as one of the most gifted individuals in the Circle Tower before they are recruited into the Grey Wardens. The achievement for reaching level 20 is actually titled "Archmage". The Mage Hawke from Dragon Age II, in the meantime, qualifies for the title as of the Legacy DLC, where they defeat Corypheus, an Ancient Tevinter Magister who entered the Black City and became one of the first Darkspawn, in a magical duel. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, a human mage was one of the most talented mages in the Ostwick Circle of Magi, an elven mage was the first to their clan's Keeper, and a Qunari mage trained outside of any magical tradition. Whichever one the player chooses, they end up taking on Corypheus at the height of his power.
    • And then there are some odd examples from among the recruitable party members. Wynne from DAO is a mere Senior Enchanter of the Circle in that game, but in the ten years between it and Asunder is granted the actual title "Archmage", which is never explicitly defined but approximates that of a First Enchanter minus being bound to a particular region—being one of the people who defeated the Archdemon and stopped the Fifth Blight definitely has its perks. Then, in Dragon Age: Inquisition, mage party member Vivienne was the First Enchanter of the Montsimmard Circle of Magi and was jockeying for the position of Grand Enchanter before the Circles rebelled across Thedas and another civil war started right in her home country, Dorian was expected to eventually take his father's place on the Magisterium, and both Velanna from Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening and Merril from Dragon Age II were both expected to be the Keepers of their respective Dalish clans. Despite a lack of political affiliations, some apostates can also be said to have this level of power, such as Morrigan, Anders, Solas, and Flemeth, though in the case of the latter two, it's more a matter of being Physical Gods.
    • The Elder One Corypheus, one of the Darkspawn Magisters uses a variety of magics in his schemes for godhood. Solas and Vivenne discuss this during one of their only civil conversations. Vivienne points out that he's been using demons, an elven artifact, his own knowledge as a former magister of Tevinter, Red Lyrium, and the Blight and compares him to someone drinking from multiple cups at once.
  • In the computer game Dungeon Siege, The Archmage is a being of unparalleled magical power, using his abilities to survive for thousands of years. He's also The Dragon.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Arch-Mage is the title given to the head of the Mages Guild (or regional equivalent organization) throughout the series. The Arch-Mage rules among the Mages Guild through councils and designating positions to his inferiors. In most of the games, with enough work you can make it to the rank of Arch-Mage. To note:
      • This is the case for both Daggerfall and Morrowind. Daggerfall is vague about what actual authority you have (Arch-Mage is only explicitly mentioned as a title you are granted by the regional leaders of the Guild). In Morrowind, the Arch-Mage is the regional head of the Mages Guild, with there implied to be superiors in the Imperial City who manage overall Guild affairs. These are also the only two cases where the Arch-Mage has any real certainty of actually being at the pinnacle of magical power, as these games have skill requirements to advance to the position. This means that the Arch-Mage has to be highly skilled in at least one school of magic to advance to that level. In Morrowind, the Guild is run by incompetent moron Trebonius (incompetent, that is, at being a leader. He is a genuinely powerful battlemage). He was given this position by the mainland guild leaders as a combination of Kicked Upstairs and Reassigned to Antarctica. The dialogue and letter involved in peacefully taking over suggests that as far as Morrowind is concerned, Arch-Mage may technically be a title rather than a position — Trebonius is also referred to as Guildmaster, and explicitly gets to keep the title of Arch-Mage after stepping down from leadership.
      • In Oblivion, the Arch-Mage is stated to be head of the entire Guild throughout Tamriel. Due to the removal of skill requirements, it is possible for someone barely capable of wielding magic to become Arch-Mage simply by completing the related quests. Hannibal Traven holds the position at the start of the game, and fractured the Guild prior to the events of the game by outlawing necromancy which had previously been tolerated (within the limits of local laws) by the Guild.
      • By Skyrim, the Mages Guild has dissolved, but they have a local equivalent in the College of Winterhold. Like Oblivion, the lack of skill requirements makes it is possible for a magically inept Player Character to advance to the position by completing the associated quests. The aloof Savos Aren holds the title at the start of the game, preferring a laissez faire approach to College leadership.
    • In the series' lore, the leader of the Psijic Order is referred to as the Ritemaster or Loremaster. Since the disappearance of the Dwemer, the Psijic Order has been the most advanced organization in Tamriel when it comes to the study of magic. They are a Renowned Selective Mentor, taking on very few students, while protecting the world from threats it isn't ready to deal with. To become a leader within the Order requires one to essentially master all forms of magic and capability to convene with both Aedric spirits and Daedric Princes
    • Magnus, the God of Magic who served as the architect for Mundus, the mortal plane, but abandoned it part way through creation, is sometimes referred to as "The Arch-Mage" as part of his divine title. He is highly regarded by several Witch Species, including the Altmer and Bretons.
    • The Archmagister of the Dunmeri Great House Telvanni is the leader of an organization that believes Might Makes Right and is heavily partisan to magical might. Gothren is the Archmagister in Morrowind, and you'll need to kill him if you want his title. Come Skyrim's Dragonborn expansion, it's unclear who the Archmagister of House Telvanni is, but Master Neloth is certainly the most powerful mage in Solstheim, and, if he is to be believed, one of the most powerful in all of Tamriel.
  • The Sorceresses in Final Fantasy VIII.
  • Fire Emblem: Usually the 11th-Hour Ranger is one of these, an ancient practitioner of magic older than the rest of the cast.
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light started the trend with Gotoh, a bishop that lived and fought the Dragon Medeus when he first appeared. Because he is a dragon himself but lost the power to transform.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, Athos, one of the Eight Legends and the greatest magic user alive, possesses the unique Archsage class, which is capable of using all types of magic. Also fitting the bill is Brammimond, the only other living of the Eight Legends. He keeps the seal on the Legends' weapons in check and in the finale revives Ninian, in a franchise where Death is very much not cheep. On the opposite side of morality is Nergal. An ancient Druid who learned the dark arts to harvest the quintessence of living beings. The plot hinges on making sure he doesn't enslave the might of dragons and like Athos has full ranks in all the magic types.
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has Sephiran. Much like Gotoh he is a living veteran of the last war with the gods who has lost his ability to transform. Actually recruiting him requires careful planning across multiple playthroughs but if he joins he is easily the most powerful mage you can recruit. There is also an Archsage class available to all mages, just get to the third tier which is extraordinarily difficult for most considering the nerf magic got.
  • In GrimGrimoire, the Archmage Calvaros serves as the Big Bad. The protagonist Lillet Blan becomes one in her efforts to stop Calvaros, she masters every magical discipline taught in the school during the Time Loop which lasts one week. So she defeats the Calvaros, the school had no choice but to graduate her despite only spending "a week" there.
  • The protagonist of Gyromancer, Rivel Arday, is a sufficiently powerful magic-user that the strategy of the opposition is to avoid him until they can harness a powerful source of magic for themselves — specifically, that of the magical forest in which the game takes place.
  • Kingdom Hearts III has a meta-example in Donald Duck of all characters, due to his ability to cast Zettaflare unassisted (a spell only used by god-like entities), making him the most powerful mage in the Kingdom Hearts series, though the spell does tire him out considerably. And by tire him out considerably it's ambigous if he is alive after casting it. Time gets reverted for the next fight so we don't get an answer for that.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Ganon, "Great King of Evil", in virtually all his appearances. Nobody else in the series (except the gods themselves) can even hope to compare to the sheer power he wields, which is significant enough to affect entire nations at a time. Only Zelda's holy magic has any real effect on him, and even then, it never actually works unless he's already to the point of near-death to begin with. To put his power in perspective, in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, he is confronted with the full might of a legendary dark power said to have the potential to end Hyrule on its own and would probably easily serve as the Final Boss in another game... and he crushes it. Effortlessly. After being greatly weakened in battle with Link. There is a reason Ganon was selected as the holder of the Triforce of Power. The revelation in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword that Ganon isn't so much a mortal human as an eternally reincarnating expression of the hatred of a Demon King makes his power more understandable.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: Agahnim's magic solved the plagues of Hyrule when no other magic could. He would go on to perform great feats of sorcery, such as mass brainwashing, transporting himself and others between dimensions and utilizing powerful offensive spells.
  • In Magicka 2, a prophecy says that the energy of wizards destroyed during the Wizard Wars will accumulate in a single child, bound to become master of magic unless destroyed by an evil presence aware of it. The game initially involves the Wizards trying to find that child and save it. For reasons that make more sense in context, eventually they switch to trying to stop the child, which is shown to indeed become an archmage.
  • Master of Magic has you play as this type of character, with one leading every faction.
  • Archibald Ironfist of Might and Magic and Heroes of Might and Magic ends up one by implication — Might and Magic VI reveals that he's knows some very rare magical knowledge, and VII's manual-found backstory reveals that he's better at necromancy than a fair number of the people who actually focus on necromancy as their field of study. In terms of the actual title, several Heroes games has it as the name for the Mage creature's upgrade, Heroes IV has it as an advanced class a hero gains by specializing in any three magic skills, and Might & Magic VI and VII has it as the final class promotion for (Light-aligned) Sorcerers.
  • Neverwinter Nights references Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun, a canon Forgotten Realms character and Archmage of Waterdeep; Master Drogan in Shadows of Undrentide and Halaster Blackcloak in Hordes of the Underdark also qualify.
  • In Nox, Archmage Horvath is the most powerful wizard of the Castle of Galava (and thus, in the entire land of Nox). Unfortunately, depending on the story route, he either serves as the Dead Mentor or a Sacrificial Lion, or doesn't appear at all (presumably for balancing reasons).
  • In Pillars of Eternity and its sequel Deadfire, the Circle of Archmagi are recognized as the greatest mages in Eora. One of the conditions a mage has to fulfill to even be considered a candidate is to invent spells of their own. Quite a few of the Wizard spells in-game are named after their creators, and you actually get to meet some of them in-game. This includes the "Wall" spells that were created by the archmage Fyonlecg. The reason they are unnamed is because Fyonlecg was made an Unperson courtesy of the Hand Occult that worships Wael.
  • Yukari Yakumo from Touhou Project is an Onmyōdō version of this trope. She is powerful enough to have shikigami with shikigami of their own, can construct immensely powerful and intricate barriers and has even managed to create a pocket dimension to serve as a Fantastic Nature Reserve. On top of all that she's also a millenia old Youkai with the innate ability to manipulate boundaries, a completely broken-tier ability which lends itself perfectly to her magic.
    • To a lesser extent, Patchouli Knowledge is an immensly talented witch who has mastered the seven elements of the Japanese week (Moon, Fire, Water, Wood, Metal, Earth and Sun) and many of her spells include using multiple elements simultaneously. This feat requires Patchouli to be able to chant several separate incantations at once... Not bad for a witch with asthma.
    • Eirin Yagokoro is known as the "Brain Of The Moon" for good reason. An interesting example in that she is a master of both magic and science, but the science itself borders on the magical. Among the fandom, the latter aspect is better known (especially since "creating any medicine imaginable" is her signature ability), but one should not forget that she considers creating an impenetrable magical barrier around the entire Earth to be "hardly" her most powerful spell, and may in fact be the creator deity of magic.
  • In Warcraft III, the Archmage is a hero type of the Human race. It is a title given to the most powerful members of the Kirin Tor, the ruling body of wizards (as compared to the elven sorceresses, a standard support casting unit) that run the nation of Dalaran's Magocracy. So magically powerful, they cause friendly units, not just themselves, to regenerate mana faster from being nearby. The most well-known of these include Antonidas (a veteran of the Second War) and his apprentice Jaina.
    • There's also [Mal]furion Stormrage, the Archdruid of the Night Elves. Although arcane and nature magic are two very different things in the universe, this is functionally the same thing.
    • Medivh and the other Guardians of Tirisfal were the most powerful mages Azeroth had ever known. Each Guardian (except Medivh, who instead inherited the power of Tirisfal from his mother Aegwynn the previous Guardian) was chosen by a council of archmages who would imbue the chosen champion with a portion of their own power.
    • Kel'thuzad started out as an Archmage within the ruling body of Dalaran's magocracy.. before he started experimenting with Necromancy. He was expelled for perverting the natural order, stripped of his rank, and contacted by The Lich King to spread a plague which would spread undeath to anyone who died from it. Kel'thuzad didn't really have a choice, note  but once he accepted the offer it did not take him long before he was slain, reanimated as a Lich, and became the primary agent of Necromancy in all its horror within the Warcraft universe — the Lich King might surpass him in necromantic power, but there's absolutely no doubt that it's Kel'thuzad the Archlich who continues to push the study of Necromancy well beyond the Moral Event Horizon.
    • As the expansions go on, player character Mages essentially become this in all but name. Legion finally made it official with the class hall's final quest giving the title proper.
  • In Warhammer Online: Age Of Reckoning, The Archmage is a healer/dps casting class. In the game only High Elves are seen as Archmages.
  • In Wizards And Warlords, every player wizard seeks to become this; while they start out with only a few masteries, it's possible to master most or even all fields of magic in the long run.
  • Nessiah in Yggdra Union.

    Visual Novels 
  • From the Nasuverse:
    • Introduced in Tsukihime, Kishur Zelretch Schweinorg. He is a centuries-old vampire mage with the ability to travel between realities, and he is far and away the most powerful (currently living) mage in the series. At the height of his power, he punched out Brunestud of the Crimson Moon by transporting him onto an alternate, uninhabited Earth, and then dropped the moon on him. He's also one of only five practitioners of "True Magic", or magic that breaks all laws of magecraft because it's just that powerful. The Second Magic (aforementioned jumping between realities) is his domain.
    • Fate/Grand Order introduces several of these:
      • The powerful mage in history being King Solomon of Israel, who invented the entire practice of magecraft when he realized that True Magic was dying out along with the Age of Gods, forcing him to come up with an alternative if humanity was to continue wielding any magic at all. He is famous for having controlled the 72 demons of the Ars Goetia as familiars, noted to have been the most powerful familiars a human has ever commanded. As a Servant, he's naturally summoned as a Caster, and is in fact the Grand Caster, meaning he's the most powerful Caster class Heroic Spirit in existence.
      • Unsurprisingly, Merlin also qualifies as a Grand Caster and is a Half-Incubi with Complete Immortality and clairvoyance capable of bending time and space to his will, though in fights he tends to prefer swinging Excalibur as well as using his powers to mess with others, such as pretending to be a Virtual Celebrity to mess with King Solomon's human incarnation Romani Archaman.
      • Circe of Colchis was the teacher of Medea and taught her everything she knows, and is still able to pull a fast one on her at her pleasure. She proudly calls herself the "Queen Witch" and demands everyone acknowledge her as such. Alongside The Queen of Sheba below, she helped restrain an Eldritch Abomination long enough for Chaldea to defeat its host.
      • The Queen of Sheba is a mage in the same league as Circe and Medea as shown by when she worked with Circe to fight an Eldritch Abomination as well as an intellectual equal of King Solomon and his God-given wisdom (in fact, that's exactly what attracted him to her). She could even cast a spell that allowed her return from the dead after being turned into a monstrous ghoul.
      • Morgan le Fae is an Evil Sorceror considered an equal to Merlin, and her Alternate Timeline self as a Lostbelt King is so powerful she can launch attacks into other Lostbelts without leaving her own, which basically means she can attack across dimensions and space-time. The Crypter Beryl Gut outright calls Lostbelt Morgan the strongest Lostbelt King, and this is knowing of the power of the likes of God Arjuna (a fusion of the Hindu pantheon who could destroy and remake the world many times over) and personally witnessing Lostbelt Zeus (who possesses the powers of all the Olympian gods and can unleash planet to solar-system destroying attacks). More impressively is that Morgan isn't even of the Caster class: She's a Berserker.
      • Among human mages, Kirschtaria Wodime is introduced as both one of the most powerful mages of the modern world and the most powerful mage in Chaldea before his Face–Heel Turn. However, he didn't truly become this until he was able to maximize his Animusphere magecraft within his Lostbelt, which takes place during the time of the Greek Age of Gods and allows him to align the planets and stars into a Magic Circuit. This allows him to unleash feats on a scale that absolutely dwarfs any mage in Pan-Human History, including those of the Age of Gods, and lets him unleash spells powerful enough to dominate Servants and actual gods, including a Colony Drop of asteroids that is considered on par with a Noble Phantasm.
    • Medea of Colchis is said to be one of the greatest mages of the setting, described as being "infinitely close to Magicians" without actually using True Magic thanks to her tutelage under Circe and her High-Speed Divine Words. In an all-out battle of magecraft no modern magi should be able to match her, not even the likes of Zelretch and Aoko Aozaki. And it should be noted that ringing endorsement of her abilities comes from King Solomon himself. Unfortunately for her, she finds herself in a war where most every single combatant has some form of Magic Resistance, she herself is crippled by possessing a Muggle Master (when everyone else has at least an Inept Mage), and her physical abilities are so pathetic Rin beat her bloody once she closed the distance on Medea before she could get out a spell, meaning she has to rely less on magical might and more on fighting dirty.

  • 4 Cut Hero: Gathell Phrodine, real name Kal Toven, alternate version of protagonist Zeed Toven, is an extremely powerful mage and possibly the strongest character in the entire setting. His feats include destroying an entire country single-handedly, warding a mountain so that no magic can be used on it and creating a separate dimension at the top, easily killing a lord dragon with the power to cross alternate dimensions, smacking an evil apocalyptic god around like an uppity child, and terrifying the top god of the setting with the mere mention of his name. Oh, and he's also a Kung-Fu Wizard possessing sword skills and martial arts to boot.
  • Sarda from 8-Bit Theater is, in his own words, the Wizard that did it. Exaggerated—he's literally older than the universe and omnipotent, and uses his ridiculous Reality Warper powers solely to screw with, torture, and/or murder people for his own amusement. But even he's no match for Chaos, who takes over his body when he overloads on magical power.
  • Daughter of the Lilies: Wizards are supposed to be the "gold standard" when it comes to magic, and what we've seen of Wu so far supports this — he can transform into a nigh-invulnerable dragon and heal devastating physical and spiritual wounds with a handwave, which are far beyond an ordinary mage's capabilities. Wizards' extra power is implied to be granted by the setting's Crystal Dragon Jesus.
  • Miranda Deegan from Dominic Deegan. "Archmage" in this series seems to be a title given to the most powerful mage in an entire plane of reality, and there is a council of such beings across the multiverse; the council's meeting place normalizes the size and speech of the members, so they can better communicate. Miranda's predecessor King David (who retired to pursue politics, hence the "King" title) was powerful enough to convince the rest of the council to accept him in their ranks, when in the past they had dismissed humans as not being magical enough. David is apparently still powerful enough to give even Miranda pause. The Circle Archmages initially intended Miranda to be their first human archmage, but David used subtle suggestion magic on them to take the position. When he left the role of human archmage to Miranda, David also made her to restrain her own power via a suggestion spell. Later, David's plot lead to the non-human Archmagi being possessed and killed as scapegoats, but one of them manages to publicly declare they are being controlled by David, before dying. At the end of the story, Miranda retired as archmage, leaving Milov as the new leader of the Circle, with Luna as his apprentice before she took the position years later.
  • The Archmage from Looking for Group is one of these in both practice and name.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Dorukan, a Posthumous Character who dedicated his life to creating the most powerful set of spells possible in order to guard his Gate.
    • Vaarsuvius's master, Aarindarius. Very little has been revealed about them, but a what-if scenario shows them effortlessly taking down a dragon that defeated Vaarsuvius, who is quite a powerful and experienced wizard. Their lack of role in the story makes them a bit of an All-Powerful Bystander.
    • A less scholarly examples is Xykon, who, as a sorcerer, makes up for a relative lack of magical flexibility with a considerable helping of raw power. Upon becoming a lich he grew so powerful he defeated the aforementioned Dorukan in a magical duel.
  • Our Little Adventure: Brian and Angelo are the leaders of the Souballo Empire and widely considered to be the most powerful spellcasters in Manjulias. Both are "Epic"-leveled beyond the usual Character Level cap in the RPG-Mechanics Verse: Brian is a wizard and preeminent magic researcher, while Angelo controls both arcane and divine magic, overcoming the usual limitations of The Red Mage through pure overwhelming force.
  • Unknown Lands: Inara is the most powerful mage of a people who are born with strong magic and easily kills swaths of elves, a race with similar inborn magic and more time to practice it, without even really trying. She is by far the most powerful magic user yet known in the setting which is why she is the Champion.
  • Zebra Girl: Jack turns into one after many years of studying magic.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Dragon Prince:
    • The Startouch elf Aaravos is explictly described as such by Harrow. He is apparently powerful enough to have mastered magic in all six primal sources, despite logic dictating he should be only capable of using star magic. Aaravos can also cast spells just by drawing a rune without a verbal incantation. He even seems to have some ability with dark magic, and has tutored Lord Viren, he himself an expert in the craft, in its use.
    • Viren himself qualifies, especially in the political sense as the "high mage" of Katolis. He's clearly regarded as an expert in the field and shows great ingenuity. He also has considerable skill in primal magic, or at least Sky magic, that he could use with a primal stone.
  • In Gargoyles, the Archmage was a 10th century foe of the gargoyles who returned in modern times to lay siege to the island of Avalon. He was so mystically wise (or insane...) that he could actually speak to time-traveling incarnations of himself, hold a civil conversation, and work with them to complete their goals. Although you wouldn't know it from his first appearance.note 
  • Masters of the Universe;
    • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): Orko is an Inept Mage whose never-ending failed spells make him the resident Butt-Monkey of Eternia. However, this is only because magic on Eternia works completely differently to magic on his native Trolla. His companions are therefore stunned to learn that Trolla views Orko as one of their greatest archmages and call him "Orko the Great". When given the chance to go home, Orko has no trouble protecting Prince Adam and saving his entire planet from an evil plot by one of Skeletor's most powerful servants. Single-handed.
    • There was a cancelled prequel series that would have focused on He-Man's ancestor, He-Ro who could transform into the most powerful wizard in the universe.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Star Swirl the Bearded, natch. He lived centuries ago, but his name is still widely known, due to making many ground-breaking discoveries and inventions in the field of magic. Twilight, a student of magic herself, quite naturally idolizes him. When freed from Limbo where he and the rest of his allies sent themselves to seal away the Pony of Shadows for over a thousand years, the villain after taking a magic blast straight from alicorn Twilight states she's almost as strong as Starswirl is.
    • In the Season 3 finale Magical Mystery Cure, Twilight Sparkle writes her own magic, fixes a spell Star Swirl himself had failed to get right, and becomes the Alicorn Princess of Magic. It is pretty much safe to say that Twilight herself has become an Archmage, and she only gets better as the seasons keep going. By the beginning of Season 9, she's strong enough once properly motivated to match King Sombra's magic.
      • In general, any unicorn whose specialization is "magic" has the potential to become one, as most unicorns are confined to a few spells related to their domain of expertise, while a unicorn with the talent of magic as a whole can learn a plethora of different spells for every occasion. However, even among those privileged unicorns, there are different levels of aptitude and Twilight Sparkle seems to be at the very top or somewhere close to it, mastering in minutes spells that other unicorns take months if not years to learn. Even as a "mere" student, and despite occasionally falling into the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" Plot (not due to any Inept Mage tendencies, but rather because Twilight is focused more on learning as many spells as possible over actually practicing any of them), even by the time the series starts, Twilight already has the trappings of an Archmage, as demonstrated in Boast Busters where her telekinesis - normally the most basic of unicorn powers, used primarily to handle objects - allows her to nonviolently defeat and dispose of a small Kaiju.
    • King Sombra of the Crystal Kingdom is a villainous example, being a terrifying One-Man Army and an expert at various curses and traps that repeatedly stump even the Princesses.


Video Example(s):


The Ancient One

The centuries-old Sorcerer Supreme, the Ancient One is the most learned and powerful of all the Masters of the Mystic Arts - as the Zealots discover when they try to steal from her.

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Example of:

Main / TheArchmage

Media sources:

Main / TheArchmage