Follow TV Tropes

Following

Series / Motherland: Fort Salem

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/154712_ff_mld_s1_keyart_hr_xtag_scaled_e1579331388638_7.jpg
Answer the Call.
Motherland: Fort Salem is an Alternate History TV series that began airing on Freeform in March 2020.

327 years ago, the witches of Salem made a pact with the Massachusetts Colony - in exchange for being spared further persecution, they and all their descendants would fight against their enemies. Later this carried over to the nascent US. Over three centuries later, Raelle, Tally, and Abigail are the latest members in the dwindling call up. If they survive Basic, and then War College, they'll be sent out to fight terrorist witches called the Spree. But first they have to get through Basic at Fort Salem.

Season 2 premiered in June 2021. At the end of the second season, the series was renewed for a third and final season, premiering June 21, 2022.


This series contains examples of:

  • A Lighter Shade of Black: The Spree are a dogmatic terrorist group fighting for the freedom of witchkind but are unafraid of civilian casualities, doing whatever they have to if it means furthering the cause. They're still far better than the Camarilla, a group of witch hunters obsessed with the genocide of witches by any means necessary, and will go after defenseless children and even their own families if they are even remotely hinted to be witches in some way. So it comes at no surprise that when Season 2 ends with the main trio forced on the run due to a Camarilla-orchestrated plot from within the government, that their best ally is Nicte Batan, the founder of the Spree, even if they don't exactly agree with her methods.
  • All Gays are Promiscuous: Inverted: the heterosexual characters, Abigail in particular, are significantly more promiscuous than the openly lesbian Raelle, who has a single romance in the series (which doesn't go smoothly). She even ends up spending Beltane platonically hanging out with a gay male witch on the periphery of an orgy, neither one of them having anyone better to do.
  • Alternate History:
    • The series has Salem witches being real, who made a pact with Massachusetts Colony to fight on their behalf in exchange for ending persecution of them. It carried over into the US, until in modern times the Army has witch soldiers fighting the country's battles.
    • Promotional materials seem to suggest that in the Motherland universe, the American Civil War was different or never happened, as Sarah Alder's likeness occupies the universe's equivalent of the Lincoln Memorial. She also seems to have displaced George Washington in the Revolutionary War, as her visage occupies his place on Mount Rushmore, and she is depicted in his place in Emanuel Leutze's "Crossing the Delaware" painting.
    • Fleshed out with a timeline shown on a chalkboard in a classroom during a training exercise, which shows that history radically changed in the 20th century to the point where there was no equivalent to World War II.
    • The Chippewa Cession (or simply "the Cession") was created in the 1830s when lands were ceded back to indigenous tribal federations in exchange for help, including the Work that has allowed Alder to live for centuries. It replaces Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana (although real-life Oklahoma is called Louisiana instead).
  • Amazon Brigade: The US Army has as its core witch soldiers (largely female, though some male ones exist too), making up their elite forces.
  • Anti-Magic: In Season 3, the Camarilla are equipped with armor that can stop offensive spells and scanners which detect witches even when invisible, making their troops formidable opponents.
  • Anti-Magical Faction: In Season 2, a movement has arisen among Muggles that is vocally anti-witch, due to the Spree's terrorist attacks (despite there being witches on the opposite side too). One is even wearing a Nazi-like armband too. Both the Army and Spree know this bodes ill. Scylla (a Spree member) and Anacostia (from the Army) team up to investigate them, believing the Camarilla are behind it (a pre-existing example).
  • Antiquated Linguistics: High Atlantic folks like Abigail and Libba tend to use some really old-fashioned slang, like when Abigail calls Libba a "noodle-headed nay-nay horse".
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • In High Atlantic society, it is common for witches to make five-year marriage contracts between the major families in order to mix witch bloodlines.
    • Later, due to falling witch birth rates and the increasing deaths among them, the Imperatrix or Matriarch of the Imperative gets introduced. She's the head of the organization which arranges marriages, and doesn't answer even to General Alder. She tells young witches it's their duty to marry and have children (only with other witches-no Muggles), including Raelle, a lesbian, who's naturally uninterested and flatly refuses (it doesn't help that she's an "outcross", the child of such a marriage herself, with the Imperatrix telling her to make a "better choice" then her mother had done).
  • Assassination Attempt:
    • Twice on Alder's life thanks to Nicte Batan and the Spree. Both unsuccessful attempts involve a volunteer who agrees to be killed in order to kill Alder.
    • The S3 episode "Oh Elayne..." ends with a bomb going off as President Wade is about to go on TV. The bombing turns out to be a Faux Assassination: Wade's death was faked.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Raelle quotes a verse from the Book of Matthew as an incantation to heal people. The witch-hating Christian fundamentalist Camarilla also quote the Bible naturally, and the injunction to not "suffer a witch to live" from Exodus naturally is popular.
  • Badass Native: In the Motherland universe, the Ojibwe rule over the Cession and strictly enforce their sovereignty through the use of the Cession Marshals, magic-wielding tribesmen who can trace suspected criminals for miles. Even Nicte quickly finds herself outmatched when trying to go up against one of them.
  • Band of Brothers: The Bellweather unit are all friends, who became closer due to the struggles they faced together. Later, they add Scylla, Adil, and Khalida to their number.
  • Bedroom Adultery Scene: When Tally is caught with Gerit by his wife Hilary, it seems like this, but then gets subverted. It turns out Hilary not only knew about their affair, but set this up for her to find them. As a compromise, Hilary allowed Gerit to have sex with Tally so long as she could join them. However, Tally isn't interested in that idea.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: On one side, you have the US Army, a profoundly jingoistic organization that condemns thousands of young women to lives of forced military service so that a handful of very old witches can continue to live in power and prosperity, and which is so thoroughly awash in propaganda and indoctrination that even someone as sweet and kind as Tally Craven is prepared to do violence on its behalf. On the other side, you have the Spree, a truly vile terrorist organization that mass-murders civilians in cold blood using horrifying magic. The Camarilla, an ancient organization that once attacked witches has also been reactivated and wants to restart the old persecutions thought to be forever gone.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three main characters: Raelle (blonde), Abigail (brunette), and Tally (redhead).
  • Body Horror: How Raelle describes the effects of the Witchbomb when she threatens the officer interrogating Scylla:
    "The mushrooms don't just start on the skin. They form deeper. In the muscle. In the bone. You're alive as each individual nerve is consumed. You're essentially being eaten from the inside out. Hurts so badly, I've seen a man claw his own belly open to try and rip out the infection. Didn't work, but I think it did kill him faster, right?"
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: The Spree is a magical version, witches who are committing terrible atrocities while fighting the US government and described as anarchists.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents:
    • Raelle and Scylla are able to understand each others' grief due to Raelle's mom and both of Scylla's parents having died due to the military.
    • Alder insinuates that Anacostia feels sympathy for Scylla due to them both being orphans.
    • The Bellweather unit has a ceremony at the start of basic training to honor their fallen relatives.
    • Khalida and Alder (who is Back from the Dead) share their stories of their parents being murdered and having to leave everything behind.
  • Burn the Witch!:
    • A reenactment of Sarah Adler being condemned to death at Salem is portrayed through an In-Universe play (more accurately, they're shown hanging accused witches, not burning them). She saves herself using magic however.
    • Later on, Scylla mentions over 600 witches were burned in Germany in 1761. She also says just last year a witch was also burned, so it still hasn't gone away entirely (however, this was likely a lynching, not a legal penalty).
    • In the first season finale, the Camarilla burn several captured witches at the stake.
  • Cast from Hit Points:
    • Raelle's healing magic exacts a toll on her own body in proportion to the wounds that she heals.
    • Nicte's Spree cell makes two assassination attempts on Alder by sacrificing one of their own as a living Voodoo Doll.
  • Cast from Lifespan: The biddies provide Alder with immortality by gifting her decades of their own livespans.
  • Child Mage: We can assume that witches have powers from a young age. Khalida of the Tarim is the only child we see in Season 1 with powers and she's able work a spell that affects Alder who is the leader of all American witches.
  • Conscription: Due to the Salem Accord, a pact whereby witches agreed on military service with Massachusetts Colony and then the US, they're conscripted for it into the modern day. "Conscription Day" is even a national holiday. However, some families that have lost many members in combat are exempted. Tally's is one, but she volunteered to serve in the Army anyway. Raelle feels this is slavery by another name on the other hand. A witch terrorist group called the Spree also believes this.
  • Contagious Cassandra Truth: When Tally realizes that the Spree are disguising innocent civilians in a bomb-equipped Spree truck, she warns Anacostia, who believes her, but is ordered by Alder to kill them all anyway. When Tally tells Abigail and Raelle this later, they also instantly believe her.
  • The Coup: In "Coup" Adler takes over the President's mind by magic, making her do as she wishes.
  • Cyanide Pill: The Spree really Camarilla terrorists who attack Abigail kill themselves rather than be captured (in fact, they do it by self-immolation, a particularly painful method of death - in order make the death look like they were Spree.
  • Death Seeker: When she first enlists, Raelle has no goal beyond going off and dying in a war somewhere. After learning about how her mother died because of the supposed incompetence of Petra Bellweather, Raelle finds a new purpose - to ruin Petra's daughter Abigail, but she quickly abandons this plan after realizing that it would also hurt Tally. Additionally she grows to be friends with Abigail as well, and likely doesn't want to do this anymore later.
  • Deus Sex Machina: Sexual energy (whether from desire or acting on it) is able to fuel spells. Thus when the male witches are at Fort Salem, their counterparts are told to utilize this.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: After the murder of her cousin Charvel, Abigail is very obviously suffering from PTSD, but she gets angry when Tally and Raelle try to talk to her about it.
  • Draft Dodging: Witches who do not answer the enlistment call are hunted down by the military and are either killed or imprisoned, the former of which happened to Scylla's parents.
  • Elite Mooks: Witch soldiers seem to be this for the US government, since it's mentioned the military still has conventional (presumably Muggle) forces as well.
  • Enemy Mine: Scylla and Anacostia team up reluctantly to investigate the Camarilla, a witch-hunting group who hate both their sides equally for being witches.
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: The fictional witch culture at least in the US has polyandry (marriage between a woman and multiple men) as a common feature. In fact it's standard among High Atlantic witches, an elite upper class group, with three husbands being common. This is explained as a way to have a larger source of positive genetics in child conception (which they all contribute to simultaneously, probably by magic).
  • Eyepatch of Power: Abigail's bodyguard Bridey has an eyepatch, a reminder of her failure to save her sister.
  • Eye Scream: One of the unfortunate Fixers who tries to heal Khalida ends up with her eyes bleeding out of her head due to her glasses shattering in the ensuing sonic scream.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Despite their position in society as members of the Military and often receiving the same courtesies given to real-world soldiers (such as a man giving up his airplane seat for Tally), witches still face bigotry from civilians. A man refuses to listen to Tally's orders and insults her, stating that since the Spree are witches all witches are the problem. Later the Witchfather tells General Alder that one of his men was assaulted by a police officer with "no reason given". The very continued existence of the draft is also a form of discrimination too as Muggles are not conscripted into the conventional military (which still exists). The disparity is so large that the term "civilian" is even synonymous with "non-witch".
    • Conversely, witches often view civilians as inferior, with many advocating that mixed marriages between the two are bad, because it supposedly leads to weaker magic the more witch bloodlines are diluted. Raelle, the child of such a marriage, also faces bigotry as a result.
  • Fantastic Terrorists: The Spree are terrorist witches who use magic to cause chaos.
  • Feminist Fantasy: The series revolves around four young women at the titular Fort Salem, a training academy for military witches. In their world, as a result of most witches being female the US seems largely female dominated (or at least has many leading women, including the President and head of the Army), while the story focuses on female characters even in minor roles (male characters so far have been secondary and in a decided minority), with them filling positions that been traditionally occupied solely by men and having great prestige.
  • Feuding Families: The Bellweathers and Swythes have been feuding over whose ancestor was the real Heroine of Juarez for over a century. Abigail and Libba carry it on into the present, becoming instant rivals at Fort Salem.
  • Final Solution: The Camarilla witch hunters openly declare that their goal is killing all the witches on Earth.
  • First-Name Basis: Frequently seen in the Army in this universe. The cadets frequently call their training instructor, Anacostia, by her first name.
  • Forced Sleep: In "Mother Mycelium", Raelle accidentally casts a sleeping spell on her entire class. Later, Anacostia uses one on her in order to sneak her into the prison and back without her being able to recall where the prison is.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Abigail (the Realist), Tally (the Optimist), Raelle (the Apathetic), and Scylla (the Cynic).
  • Gaslighting: Anacostia and Izadora both know Scylla is alive and imprisoned at Fort Salem, but both of them insist to Raelle that Scylla is dead. It gets worse when Anacostia uses Raelle to break Scylla during interrogation, but uses a sleeping spell on Raelle to make Raelle think it was all a dream.
  • Gender Is No Object: There are no visible restrictions on women in this society, with most witch soldiers being female (including the Army chief Alder, who founded them) and the US President, while not a witch, is a woman as well. If anything they seem matriarchal.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The first season finale reveals that the real culprit behind the murder of the Bellweathers and the slaughter of the Tarim is the Camarilla, an ancient witch-hunting sect that has figured out how to replicate witches' vocal abilities.
  • Guy on Guy Is Hot: Abigail stops the two men she has a threeway with and watches them kiss for a moment. It's possible she also watches them have sex.
  • Hate Plague: One of the spells Nicte casts in "Delusional" affects Raelle, Abigail and Scylla by turning them aggressive toward each other, which starts with simply insults then escalates to physical combat until Tally breaks it.
  • Healing Hands: Some witches, like Raelle, specialize with healing magic. Laying hands on the patient is part of that.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Tally is the Maiden (bright-eyed, naïve, virginal), Abigail is the Mother (deeply concerned with lineage and family), and Raelle is the Crone (carrying scars from her old magic).
  • The Immodest Orgasm: The couples having sex in the woods during Beltane get very loud, which Raelle and Byron (her a lesbian, him gay, and chilling off to the side for lack of anyone better to do) joke about, adding some fake sounds themselves in response.
  • Improbably Female Cast: The series has the unusual premise of being set in an alternate US where witches exist and most are female, serving in the Army. Due to its focus on the witches, nearly all the characters are women, with only a handful of men (in more minor roles). This is quite unusual, both in fantasy and military fiction.
  • Inappropriately Close Comrades: Inverted. The witches are not only allowed to get into relationships and/or have sex together, it's actually encouraged as male trainees visit Fort Salem. For same-sex relationships no one seems to care either, since Raelle and Scylla make no secret of being involved. Sex and attraction can be used as an energy source for spells so it makes sense that the military would allow these relationships to happen as it would result in stronger soldiers.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Raelle thinks Byron is hitting on her at first when he approaches, and says she's only into girls. Then he tells her that he's gay, so they're mutually incompatible.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Witches are real. Due to their making a long-ago pact, the US Army has witch soldiers. Women seem to be overall more prominent in US culture as a result, including having a black female President, Kelly Wade. However, everything else in the US looks just like reality, with the same fashions, modern technology etc (only the military uniforms are different; though we have only seen the uniforms for the witch branches of the military and conventional forces do exist).
  • Interfaith Smoothie: The witches seem to practice some kind of paganism, judging by their Beltane orgy and other references. Raelle is mocked by another cadet for using a Bible quote in her spells, though, described as "Christo-pagan".
  • Internal Reveal: It's clear to the audience from the start that Scylla was responsible for the terrorist attack at the mall and that she is Spree. It's only revealed to the other characters later in the season.
  • Interrogating the Dead: A spell is capable of making the recently dead speak and relate their last moments. This is used to get intel or find information about how someone died. The necromancers do this to Porter, to see if he truly committed suicide. The Spree interfere with the ritual to protect Scylla, who actually killed him.
  • Intimate Marks: Abigail, Raelle, and Tally exposit on the fact that witches' marks go from black to glittery after a witch loses her virginity. Abigail's and Tally's are in easy-to-show places, but Raelle (who is confirmed later to be a lesbian) comments they'd have to get a lot friendlier for her to show them hers, as it's right next to her vagina.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Scylla is psychologically tortured while in Army custody so she'll break down and her mind can be scanned with magic.
  • Just in Time: Abigail's mom comes into the room where The Spree are only seconds away from cutting her throat, and thus saves her.
  • Kangaroo Court: The main four are put on trial in "But I Don't Even Have a Dress", with President Silver and his cronies meeting in secret with the judge beforehand where it's made clear the jury verdict's predetermined. During the trial itself the prosecutor repeatedly cuts off Tally and later Abigail while they attempt to explain themselves. Raelle then denounces this in a statement, making clear what is going on. They're only saved when President Wade returns to blow the lid on the whole conspiracy, getting them released while Silver and the judge (among others) are arrested for their crimes.
  • Keeping the Handicap: Bridey lost an eye in a battle that killed one of her sisters under her command. Even though replacing the eye would be easy for a witch, she elected to keep the injury as a reminder of her inability to save her sister.
  • Lady Land: The matrifocal commune Tally is from doesn't allow men at all. Due to this, she is still a virgin at nineteen. It's unclear how the children are produced. Tally later relates how even her mom's male lawyer almost got attacked for setting foot there (even though he was invited by her to hand legal business).
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Abigail uses magic to make her boyfriend forget her in the first episode, since enlisted witches can't consort with civilian men.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: Inverted. Due to only women passing down magical ability, witches measure ancestry through their mothers, which they call the "matriline".
  • Lodged Blade Removal: Abigail is ambushed by a pair of assassins from the Spree but actually from the Camarilla. Petra arrives just before they kill Abigail, and takes on one of them. The other one manages to sink her knife in Abigail's shoulder, but Abigail pulls it out.
  • Magical Incantation: To cast some spells, certain phrases are chanted or spoken.
  • Magically-Binding Contract: The specifics have not been explained, but the Salem Accord that among other things binds U.S. witches to be conscripted to serve as the army for the U.S. government is more than mere legal words on paper. Sarah Alder is said to have defied certain terms of it only at great personal cost.
  • Magical Native American: In the Motherland universe, there are magic-wielding Ojibwe tribesmen. In the backstory, they played a role in both establishing the modern United States and in keeping Sarah Alder alive, and for that, the Ojibwe were granted sovereignty over the region called the Chippewa Cession. The Marshal is one. He has long gray hair, wearing tribal style ornamentation on his clothing with a cowboy hat and dark leather jacket fitting how many modern Native men dress. As a Scarily Competent Tracker, he manages to find Nicte and Scylla, undoing their disguises using a spell he activates by whistling. Of course, given this show has a nearly all witch cast, Native American witches are only to be expected. He is the first Native American depicted on the show, however.
  • Magic by Any Other Name: Although the word "witches" is used, the word "witchcraft" isn't. Magic and spells are never referred to as "magic" and "spells" in the show, only as "Work" and "workings", and treated in a fashion that's almost scientific. The adjective "magical" or "mystical" is never used either.
  • Magic Is Feminine: Male witches exist but are mostly relegated to building weapons while female witches do front-line work, and men are clearly the second sex in witch society. Some do get into War College but are outnumbered by the women. It's mentioned by Alder in the beginning of Season 2 that being a witch is transmitted along female lines of descent only: a male witch and female civilian will produce Muggle offspring and a female witch and male civilian will have children who are witches, although it's preferred for female witches to choose male witches as husbands as otherwise it's feared their children's abilities will be diluted.
  • Magic Mirror: In "Homo Cantus", the Season 3 premiere, Abigail enchants a gas station restroom's mirror to speak with her mom, as her image then shows up on another mirror inside her mom's office. This is a Spree work, and the Army witches don't know the spell - Scylla teaches it to her.
  • Magic Music: The most powerful magic witches can call requires the witches to sing in harmony.
  • Magitek: The first season finale reveals that Camarilla, an ancient witch-hunting sect, has figured out how to combine the vocal chords harvested from witches with tech to replicate witches' vocal abilities. They can also use tech to detect Work, like at the shipping center.
  • Make It Look Like a Struggle: In "Witchbomb," when Anacostia frees Scylla to keep her from being sent off to a maximum security prison and virtually certain death, she tells her they're going to need to make it look good. They stage a scene in which she leaves everything shattered and Anacostia knocked out on the ground.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: It's mentioned that Raelle's mother was punished for marrying her father, because he was a Muggle and civilian. Her father later relates that he was denounced to his face for fathering her, since this would make his daughter "weak". The military pressures witches to marry each other, so powerful bloodlines will continue, and thus their arranged marriages for this end are standard.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: Every witch possesses a mark somewhere on their body, which looks like a black, symbol-shaped birthmark though it changes, becoming shiny, after the person's had sex. Tally and Abigail get theirs on places easy to show, but when Raelle's asked by Tally to see hers, she replies that they'll need to know each other better for that, since it's by her vagina.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Raelle is a short-haired, taciturn tomboy. Scylla is long-haired, having a more average feminine appearance. They become lovers at Fort Salem during basic training.
  • Master of Illusion: The Spree are able to take on a different appearance via magic. Reversing this spell requires them to set their fake faces on fire.
  • Matriarchy: The alternate US seems to be dominated by women, as female witches occupy the top military positions and President Wade, although she and the other government officials are not witches, is also a woman. However, it doesn't exactly reverse social hierarchy in the US either, and there's no sign of explicit misandry. It seems to be a result of the fact that most witches we've seen are female, and so by association women in general obtained more power, thus falling into the Original Matriarchy category. It's also notable that black and Latina women are visibly equal with white ones. Nor does anyone care if a person is LGBT. The matrifocal commune Tally is from would be one by default as well, since no men live there. Except for this, it's not depicted as really too different from the modern US regarding fashion, government, technology etc. In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, an in-universe rendition of "America the Beautiful" also replaces "brotherhood" with "sisterhood". The Cession is also run by a mostly female council, with representatives from different native tribes (Salish, Shoshone, Lakota, Ojibwe, Muscogee, Iroquois and Cherokee).
  • Mildly Military: Despite Fort Salem serving as a training ground for the US Army, with the witches themselves being conscripts who will be deployed into combat once their training finishes, there are very few trappings of military life present. The presentation is more as a Wizarding School with an emphasis on combat magic, as opposed to an actual army. One of the more obvious examples of this trope is that they frequently call each other by their first names.
  • Military Mage: The witches of Salem agreed to serve with the Massachusetts Colony militia in return for ending persecution of them. Later, this carried over into the US. In the modern day the US Army has witch soldiers.
  • Mind Rape: While tracking down Nicte in "Delusional", Abigail and Raelle experience magical hallucinations as a result of a spell that are horrifying. Raelle has to experience her mother killing her father and then her, while Abigail's involves her conjuring a storm that goes out of control to kill her mother along with other people. Worse, they start to harm others and themselves as a result of these hallucinations until they escape it. The other soldiers with them didn't manage to, and killed themselves unwittingly. Scylla admits this was the same spell she used to cause a mass suicide in the first episode, which indicates the people hallucinated something innocuous that made them walk off ledges.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Multiple times Raelle and Scylla are shown in bed together after having sex offscreen with the covers around one or both of their chests.
  • The Mole:
    • Scylla is secretly a member of The Spree infiltrating the US Army.
    • In season 2, Nicte's Spree cell gets two assassination attempts on Alder through her airtight security by installing one of their own as a biddy.
  • Mother Goddess: The religion most witches follow is based on one, who is invoked much like God.
  • Muggle–Mage Romance: Raelle's parents (a witch and a civilian) had one, with her as the result. Marriages between them are stigmatized by most witches, as they believe it results in weaker witch children.
  • Muggle Power: In Season 2, an anti-witch movement among the civilian (non-witch) populace springs up, due to popular resentment after numerous attacks by witch terrorists. However, they're against all witches, and denounce the military conscripting young witches into their ranks, with a popular slogan being "Not Our Daughters". They turn out to be created by the Camarilla, bloodthirsty witch hunters with the goal of wiping out witches everywhere.
  • Muggles: In the alternate US, witch soldiers have resulted in such an association with the military that non-witches are usually just referred to as civilians. Most seem like normal people, sometimes disdained by witches, though usually left alone. However some are massacred by the Spree, a witch terrorist group. On the flip side, a fanatical group among them, the Camarilla, are murderous witch hunters intent on killing all the witches.
  • My Greatest Failure: Bridey is haunted by her inability to save her sister from a deadly attack.
  • Necromancer: Here necromancy is the magic used to reanimate the dead for use as remote spies or retrieving information from them. "Necros" like Scylla specialize in this.
  • The Needs of the Many: Scylla's flashback before the massacre shows her superior blithely dismiss it with the "can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs" idiom. Apparently the Spree feel their atrocities are justified to free the witches (though how murdering random civilians will do that in their minds is anyone's guess). On the other hand, the government also thinks the disasters that use of weather magic causes are justified to achieve a greater good too.
  • Neutrality Backlash: Scylla's parents were "dodgers" - witches who refused to join the US Army despite being required to by law resulting in her spending her childhood moving around to avoid detection. The authorities caught up to arrest them, but Scylla's parents died in the scuffle.
  • Never Found the Body:
    • Scylla goes missing after the attack on the Bellweather estate. Everyone else assumes that she died, but Raelle refuses to believe it because Scylla's body never turned up. Naturally, Raelle turns out to be right.
    • Raelle's mother. She's alive and she's high up in the Spree.
  • Non-Heteronormative Society: LGBT+ people in this world (or at least the US) are completely integrated and accepted. Raelle's relationship with Scylla is treated no differently than any opposite-gender couple, with them entirely open about it. The only exception is the Imperatrix, who's charged with arranging witches' marriages for continuing their bloodlines, given that Raelle flatly refuses to marry a man and have children like the Imperiatrix wants (while insulting her father-a Muggle-to boot).
  • Not Himself: Abigail and Raelle start up a violent argument that leads to a physical fight (Scylla gets involved as well) in "Delusional", which quickly indicates the effect of another spell, as it's completely against their usual dynamic.
  • Old Flame Fizzle: In "Homo Cantus" Scylla runs into an ex-girlfriend of hers, Vira, who's clearly still into her (she goes in for a kiss straightaway), unaware Scylla's now with Raelle. Once this is made clear though she silently accepts it and moves on.
  • One-Gender School: Fort Salem has only female cadets. Their male counterparts visit at Beltane, but are trained at a different facility.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Swedish actress Amalia Holm's American accent is usually flawless, but occasionally a bit of her native intonation will come through.
  • Persecution Flip: A mild example as when Raelle uses a quote from the Gospels as a healing spell on Pagan Abigail, Abigail reacts much the way an Evangelical might react to having a Wiccan bless them. One of Libba's girls is similarly disgusted when Raelle uses the Gospels on her during an exercise, disparagingly calling Raelle "Christo-Pagan" (as she also engages in Pagan rituals).
  • Power Nullifier: The Camarilla witch hunters use sonic weapons that interrupt witches' songs and thus prevent them from doing magic in most cases. They can also be used to "see" through magical coverups, whether a changed face or a wall.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide:
    • A member of the Spree (revealed to be Scylla) casts a spell at the beginning of the pilot that enchants people to walk off of balconies en masse, killing them. It's called a "suicide bombing" later in media reports.
    • Scylla later casts a spell on her ex-boyfriend, Porter, which makes him jump to his death off a building. It is later revealed that he knew what was going on but was powerless to stop himself.
    • In "Happy Yule!" Vira (Scylla's ex and member of the Spree) uses a spell to force Sterling Woodlot into stabbing himself with a knife.
  • Psychic Link: Tally gets one to Adler after briefly serving as her biddy. It lets her seen glimpses of Adler's past, including a woman Adler fought beside then who is being covered up for a mysterious reason.
  • Putting on the Reich: A man leading an anti-witch rally in "Of the Blood" (2.1) is seen wearing a Suspiciously Similar Substitute to a Nazi armband. The camera lingers on it for a few seconds for good measure.
  • Queer Romance: Raelle and Scylla's relationship (along with its struggles) is a major part of the series.
  • Rapid Aging: Alder owes her youth to her entourage of biddies, witches who age in dog years to prolong their general's lifespan.
  • Really Gets Around: The female witches are actively encouraged to have a lot of sex with their male counterparts while they visit Fort Salem for Beltane (while it wasn't said in so many words, the implications were clear). Abigail especially unabashedly loves sex and isn't afraid to show it, having a threesome with two guys that appears to be quite casual.
  • Restraining Bolt: Collar devices exist that block witches from casting spells while locked on through stifling the vocalizations they use. Witch prisoners are equipped with them.
  • Rivals Team Up: Abigail and Libba during Citydrop. Abigail's devastated when Libba gets killed, in spite of their previous dislike.
  • Salem Is Witch Country: In the show, there really were at least some witches in Salem. They made a pact with the Massachusetts Colony to end persecution, fighting with the militia. It then carried over with the USA, and now in modern times they serve with the US Army, their basic training being done at the titular Fort Salem.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: When Raelle goes AWOL, Abigail and Tally leave Fort Salem to find her, and then enlist Bridey to help them, despite Bridey being ordered to keep them on base.
  • Sex Magic: Energy can be gained by having sex which is used in fueling spells. As a result, the witch cadets are encouraged to have a lot of it.
  • Slashed Throat:
    • The Fixer in "Mother Mycelium" demonstrates how important their role is to the cadets by slashing one's throat as they watch in horror. She lets the young woman bleed for a while before healing it.
    • Abigail goes to check on her cousin Charvel after the latter goes to change into her wedding dress, to find Charvel dead in the bath with her throat cut wide open. Later several murders of witch byblows are discovered, and the chief Fixer discovers their larynxes have all been cut out, which she insists to a disbelieving Alder is a calling card of the witches' ancient enemy the Camarilla. She's right.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: Women in the alternate US seem to have higher status than men on average, given that most witches are female from what we see. They aren't disparaged though, and male witches do exist.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Raelle says as much to Byron when she mistakes his friendliness for him hitting on her.
    Raelle: Sorry, can you not sense my "I'm not interested in guys" vibes?
    Byron: Oh, I sensed it. You can't sense my "I'm not interested in girls" vibes?
    Raelle: Okay, fair game.
  • Special Occasions Are Magic: In this universe, traditional pagan holidays like Beltane, Samhain, and Yule grant witches more power than usual, allowing them to perform feats beyond their usual power level.
    • In the episode "Hail Beltane", for example, the witch cadets hold an orgy on the titular holiday in order to generate power that the Necromancy cadets then use to interrogate Porter Tippet about his death.
    • In "Happy Yule!", Scylla tries to take advantage of her increased power during the holiday season to try and communicate with Raelle, who's been trapped in the Mycelium.
    • "Brianna's Favorite Pencil" takes place during Samhain, when each coven must defend their hearth until midnight from the ghosts of the Lost Regiment. If they win, they get to talk to one dead witch of their choosing.
  • Speculative Fiction LGBT: The story is set in a Non-Heteronormative Society where witches exist. Nearly all of the cast are witches, with magic as the main focus. LGBT+ people or relationships are viewed no differently here than heterosexuals and opposite-gender pairings by most people. Raelle and Scylla, two of the four protagonists, are lovers whose dynamic is a continuing theme.
  • Super Breeding Program: Witches are encouraged to have children together through arranged marriages in hopes of them having stronger magic. It is suggested that mixing the bloodline with civilian blood can result in "faint" witches' marks and Raelle mentions that it is generally looked down on to have a civilian father (like hers). Husbands are selected for good genetic material, with multiple ones simultaneously contributing to the child's conception in polygamous marriages (standard eugenics taken into fantastic territory). This even gets compared with horse breeding.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Magic is a hereditary ability, and most of the witch characters at Fort Salem mention having ancestors who were also witches. In fact most of them come from old witch families. At one point it's mentioned that a group of Bellweather-descended women who were targeted had "faint" witches' marks likely due to being born from intermarriage with civilians and that the women possibly didn't even know they were witches. Same for Vice President Silver's daughter Penelope when she turns out to be a witch; Alder says that Penelope's late mother must have been a witch from a line that went into hiding or lost contact with their heritage.
  • Super-Scream: The witches' vocalizations can knock enemies off their feet, and even call up storms.
  • Synchronization:
    • Alder and her biddies are somehow linked by magic. Thus, when Alder suffers an attempt on her life, the injuries are shared between them, sparing all their lives.
    • Played with, as Raelle has a magical link to Scylla that allows Scylla to transmit messages to her via their palms. They don't share sensations otherwise.
    • Petra Bellweather taps her pen on her desk, seemingly innocently. She actually syncs an enemy officer's heartbeat to the tapping. The faster she taps, the higher his heart rate. She continues until his heart gives out and he drops dead.
  • Synthetic Plague: Witchplague is a bioengineered infection that only affects people who have witch DNA. It was made by the Camarilla to destroy them all.
  • Their First Time: Tally loses her virginity through hooking up with Garit during the Beltane festival. She's ecstatic about it later.
  • A Threesome Is Hot:
    • During the festival of Beltane the witches participate in a dance ritual (the Reel) which matches them up with someone or someones compatible for an evening of pleasure (whatever that means to you). While it's not always sexual, it typically is. Several threesome and moresome groups walk off together at the end, most notably Abigail and her two male witch suitors. It starts of as an MFM threesome, but at Abigail's request, the guys engage in a heavy make-out session and she has to divert the attention back to her, making it an MMF example.
    • When Tally and Gerit are caught in bed together by his wife she suggests this, but Tally is not interested, though this might have more to do with how it was suggested to her rather than the idea itself (to start, they just sprung this on her). Overall it seems like there's no taboo about threesomes in witch culture.
  • Took the Wife's Name: This is standard in witch society, as one might expect given the importance of matrilines. Female witches pass their surnames on to their children and it's their husbands who change their name after marriage, even in the case of Raelle's father Edwin Collar, a civilian, who took his witch wife Willa Collar's name. Outside of witch society, it appears to still be the norm for the father's surname to be passed on among civilians.
  • Tragic Keepsake:
    • Raelle has a few: her mother's war protection totem, her mother's conscription medal, the bird skull corsage she gifted Scylla, and Porter Tippet's scourge.
    • Bridey chooses to keep wearing her eyepatch instead of getting her missing eye Fixed, as a reminder of her failure to save her sister during a Spree attack.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer for Season 3 shows a young and healthy Alder sprouting from the earth.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: Magic is a largely hereditary and inherent ability. However, it requires training to be used properly. In the US, that's a military issue, with witches conscripted and trained at Fort Salem.
  • True Companions: By Season Two Raelle, Abigail and Tally establish themselves as this, going beyond close friendship to declare each other sisters, who would stop at nothing for one another.
  • Virginity Flag: Literally. All witches have a birthmark-esque mark on them that turns shiny once they've had sex.
  • Was It All a Lie?: This is almost word for word what Raelle asks Scylla after finding out she's a part of the Spree, and had seduced her to get close. Scylla insists that she really does love Raelle. Raelle doesn't believe it though. However later on she realizes it's true and they reconcile, starting their relationship again.
  • Weather Manipulation: The witches are capable of "singing up a storm". In the opening sequence, we're shown a painting with a witch in a Continental Army uniform before a tornado. The present day witches learn how to do this as part of training while at Fort Salem.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • The songs that call down storms and tornadoes cause environmental disaster in other places around the world; droughts, famines, disease and other similar catastrophes. The world governments are completely aware of this, they simply don't care. They think the good their power does in war makes the resulting deaths from their consequences worth it.
    • The Spree oppose witches being mass conscripted into the military, which they condemn as a kind of slavery, with a high death toll as witch soldiers fight Muggles' wars. However, they fight this by massacring Muggles with their spells, including children, which apart from anything else, only inflames public opinion against witches.
  • Western Terrorists: The Spree is a witch terrorist group that has committed atrocities in the US, such as a mass suicide caused by magic that opens the show, and they're described as being anarchists.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In season 1, the last we see of President Wade is her being puppeted by Alder as her staff looks on in horror as she's going visibly and wildly off-script. There's no follow-up to cover what happened next: is she aware of what happened to her? If those are now her implanted beliefs, how does she explain to everyone else around her who knew what she was originally planning to do?
  • Witch Hunt: The real Salem Witch Trials make up the point of divergence from our history in the show, since actual witches existed that made a pact with Massachusetts Colony in exchange for ending the persecution. It was then carried over into the US, until in present times American witches serve in the military.
  • The Witch Hunter: The Camarilla, an ancient group of them thought destroyed by Alder, return in the season one finale, proving deadlier than before as they managed to duplicate witches' powers using technology.
  • Wizarding School: Fort Salem is where the witches learn how to use their powers. It is officially a training ground after their conscription into the US Army, but there are few trappings of the military present.
  • World of Action Girls: Most of the cast are female, and being soldiers or cadets they frequently engage in combat or at least training for it.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • The Spree kill children among the other Muggles in their attacks.
    • The Camarilla have no compunction about killing witch children.
  • Younger Than They Look: The biddies have the appearance and remaining life expectancy of elderly women, as they've willingly transferred their youth to General Alder.

Top