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Playing With / Witch Hunt

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Basic Trope: A search (usually misguided) for hidden enemies of the community.

  • Straight: The cattle around Dinkytown have been getting sick. Parson Bob believes this to be the work of witches hexing the cows, and urges the townsfolk to find out who the witches are. Since witches don't really exist, innocent people are accused, and some are even executed after torture makes them falsely confess.
  • Exaggerated: Eagleland's economy is tanking, so President Bob, desperate to draw blame away from his own policies, declares that it happened because of hidden witches who "hate Eagleland" and are no doubt in the pay of a certain foreign government. He orders a nationwide crackdown on witches, with broad new powers granted to government agencies to carry out seek and destroy missions. A media blitz warns that "anyone" could be a witch, though those who refuse to swear loyalty to President Bob and his party are singled out as likely witches. Children are encouraged to report "unusual" behavior in their parents and neighbors.
  • Downplayed:
    • Someone's been stealing lunches out of the Tropeco break room's refrigerator. Manager Bob goes around the office accusing people with suspicious crumbs near their desks of being the culprit.
    • Witches are indeed a problem in society, with many witches casting deadly spells to cause great harm. Many of these witches are rooted out during these witch hunts, but many harmless spellcasters and other innocent people are also targeted.
  • Justified:
    • Parson Bob and his followers sincerely believe that witches exist, can do what is claimed, and are Always Chaotic Evil. Thus it's perfectly sensible to search them out no matter what it takes. Also, the germ theory of disease hasn't been invented yet.
    • Witches and magic do exist, but they aren't what people think. The magic they use is different from the accused power that is making everybody's life worse. They might even use magic that counters the problem.
  • Inverted:
    • A group of hidden witches secretly hunt and kill members of the Dinkytown community.
    • Witches run around casting curses and hexes on random people in broad daylight, yet no one ever considers the fact that witches might be a problem.
  • Subverted: It turns out there really are witches, and they really did hex the cattle.
  • Double Subverted: ...but only to protect the cattle from Parson Bob, who is a werewolf who wanted to get rid of the one group of people who could stop him.
  • Parodied: The people of Dinkytown haul various people accused of being witches before the magistrate, somehow not noticing that the magistrate is an old woman in a black dress and pointy hat with a wart on her nose, who calls for order by pounding her broomstick on the ground and swears by Hecate.
  • Zig Zagged: Parson Bob blames supposed witches for the cattle sickness, but there are real witches, but Parson Bob was just siccing the community on them for his own advancement, but the people of Dinkytown just add werewolves to the list of people they're hunting....
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  • Averted: The people of Dinkytown don't blame their problems on hidden enemies, instead seeking out rational explanations.
  • Enforced: The government passes laws requiring communities to search for witches on a regular basis.
  • Lampshaded: "Aren't we getting a bit carried away? How do we know for sure if witches even exist?" "Are you doubting Parson Bob, Goodwife Alice? That sounds like something a witch would say!"
  • Invoked: The High Witch Council cast spells on certain people to drive public opinion against witches. Those witches will be forced to obey the orders of the Council if they want to live.
  • Exploited:
    • Goodwife Alice, once the witch hunt is in full swing, accuses her elderly aunt of witchcraft in hopes of getting the old lady executed and inheriting her land.
    • Magistrate Charles is secretly a witch (in the original, gender neutral sense), and is using his formal authority and easy access to the ear of Parson Bob to whip the muggles into a witch hunting frenzy so he can eliminate his rivals in the coven.
  • Defied: "Are we all idiots? There's a perfectly rational explanation for these events, and we don't have to come up with some wacky conspiracy theory about hidden witches to figure it out! Now everyone calm down, and let's approach this thing logically."
  • Discussed: "We'll probably want to skip the sky-clad ritual down in Dinkytown this solstice. Parson Bob got the locals all riled up about 'witches' and we don't want to get caught up in that hunt."
  • Conversed: "This movie set during the Colonial period is really pushing the notion that our ancestors were superstitious idiots. Now they're having that preacher claim that witches are responsible for the cattle sickness, I bet you they'll have a Burn the Witch! scene soon."
  • Deconstructed: The Witch Hunt trope itself is a deconstruction of mob mentality and the desire to scapegoat unpopular members of the community for its problems.
  • Reconstructed: Witches are dangerous demon-worshippers and the witch hunters hold fair trials that fairly determine whether or not a person is a witch.
  • Played For Laughs: The Chew Toy is accused of being a witch.
  • Played For Drama: Dinkytown suffers a bad harvest. Parson Bob believes this to be the work of witches hexing the fields, and urges the townsfolk to find out who the witches are. Innocent people are accused, and some are even executed after torture makes them falsely confess. Then they uncover a real witch, who uses her demonic powers to decimate Dinkytown in the process of escaping justice. In the aftermath, the surviving townsfolk have to deal not only with whatever lingering Curses the witch left behind, but the burning question, "Why didn't any of those other witches do that?"
  • Plotted A Good Waste: There is a church sect in charge of hunting witches that not only employs witches, but as a rule sends out two-man teams of witch and Witch Hunter to complete operations. This strict professionalism prevents mob rule, covers the weaknesses of either individual, and (hopefully) puts a damper on bigotry from either side as they're meant to work together.

What, the server is down again? It must be the work of Internet-hating witches! Back to Witch Hunt!

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