The List: Top 10 Magic Users In Fiction

So, turns out this was a very popular category. This poll had more suggestions than any previous poll and beat our record for most votes on a List poll by a good 50 votes. Either people were enchanted by our wide array of options or people just like magic that much. But who is our wizarding winner?

Honourable Mentions: Twilight Sparkle (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), The Wicked Witch of The West (The Wizard Of Oz), Prospero (The Tempest)

10. Harry Dresden (The Dresden Files)

So we kick off this list with probably the least prototypical magic user you will find in our countdown. Coming from a series that blends fantasy with detective fiction, Harry Dresden is your classic hardboiled detective, a Private Investigator who has broken the rules in his time and isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, only this time, he's solving supernatural crimes and can use magic, in the form of spells and artefacts. Originating in print, in a series of 15 novels, he has also made the jump to TV for a single 12 episode season in 2007, as well as getting his own Graphic Novel and a role playing game.

9. Zatanna (DC comics)

Eht cissalc yxes naicigam kool, annataZ arataZ si sa lufrewop sa ehs si lufituaeb. Tsrif gniraeppa ni namkwaH eussi rouf ni ruof-ytxis-neetenin, ni a cra-yrots taht was reh tsilne eht dia fo ynam tnereffid seorehrepus ni reh tseuq ot dnif reh rehtaf, ehs sah neeb a yatsniam fo CD scimoC reve ecnis. Osla, ehs sesu cigam yb gniyas sdrow sdrawkcab. T'nod yrt ti, ti t'nseod krow. Yrros I dluow etirw erom, tub s'ti yllaer drah ot etirw ekil siht. I t'nod wonk who ehs seod ti.

8. Harry Potter (Harry Potter series)

So, Harry Potter. Dunno if you've heard of the series? It's not like the books have sold a combined total of 500 million copies worldwide, been translated into 73 different languages and become the best selling book series in history, as well as each of the last 4 books setting a new record for fasting selling new book release (with the final book selling 11 million copies within 24 hours of its release). Or that there have been 8 films made of those books, all of which are in the top 50 highest grossing films of all time. So yeah, don't know if you've heard of them. Anyway, here we have the title character, our gateway into the wizarding world. A character built on classic fantasy tropes, an orphan who is the chosen one, prophesied to save the world from an evil dark lord. And whilst this unfortunately does make him one of the least interesting major characters in his own series, it is testament to J.K Rowling's writing that she can take such a load of clichés and tropes and turn them into the driving force behind probably the biggest cultural phenomenon of the last quarter of a century.

7. Raistlin Majere (Dragonlance)

Ok guys, you're gonna have to bear with me on this one, because I haven't read a Dragonlance book in my life (sorry). Ok, to Wikipedia... (some time later), this guy actually sounds awesome. I see why he beat The Boy Who Lived in our poll now. So what we have here is a guy who is cursed to see the effects of time on all things, is physically weak to the point that he suffers regular bouts of coughing up blood, but has magic skill out the wazoo. He's ruthless, yet has a code of conduct that leads him to protect the disadvantaged. He goes from being a protagonist to an antagonist and in the animated movie he was voiced by Kiefer Sutherland. I like him already.

6. Morgan Le Fay (The Legend Of King Arthur)

One of the archetypes of fantasy, Morgan le Fay is one of the earliest examples of an evil enchantress, though her moral alignment differs from source to source. Often sited as Arthur's half-sister and adversary/ rival when both were under the tutelage of a certain wizard who may be making an appearance on this list later on, one thing that remains constant about her characterisation is her strength with magic. Possibly based on a goddess from Celtic mythology, her first name Morgan may be a corruption of Morrigan (the phantom queen of Irish mythology who foretells doom and death in battle) or Modron (the Welsh goddess of motherhood), with her surname literally translating as "the fairy", alluding to her magical powers. Due to the endurance of the King Arthur legend, Morgan Le Fay has become part of popular culture, the character having appearing in numerous literary series (books and comics), films and television series as either a supporting or primary character, and has inspired countless characters in all mediums of entertainment.

5. Doctor Fate (DC Comics)

Another of DC's master magicians, Doctor Fate has been around since 1940. The most powerful sorcerer in the DC universe, the original Fate was a founding member of the Justice Society and whilst the mantel has been passed on numerous times since, it is the original that has left the most lasting impression. One of the agents of the Lords of Order, Fate fights the forces of chaos armed with the Amulet Of Anubis, the Cloak of Destiny and the Helmet of Fate. And let's be honest, he probably looks the coolest out of any comic book magic user, right?

4. Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter series)

The first of our long white beard old men wizards, Dumbledore is another one of J.K Rowling's archetypal characters, this time quite obviously Merlin. Considered to be the most powerful wizard in the world, in a series that is all about magic and has more magic users than you could shake a broomstick at, Dumbledore is the headmaster of Hogwarts, the greatest and most well regarded wizarding school in the world. In his younger days he defeated the dark wizard Geralt Grindlewald (who was meant to be the wizarding version of Hitler) and was asked, twice I believe, to become Minster of Magic, though he turned the position down. Played to perfection in the film series by Richard Harris (and Michael Gambon, though I don't think his run counts as "perfection", because, well, it wasn't), Dumbledore is easily one of the most beloved characters from the series and is one of the most well-fleshed out and well written characters in modern fiction. Not bad for someone who gets most of their backstory work after they've died (spoiler alert, sorry)

3. Benedict Cumberbatch (Marvel Comics)

So, question. Who here thinks Doctor Strange would have beaten Albus Dumbledore in the poll if the Doctor Strange movie hadn't come out a few months ago? Not being flippant or anything, but I was expecting the big beard trio to take the top 3. Either way, no surprise to see Doctor Strange beating Doctor Fate, that's for sure. The sorcerer supreme of the Marvel Universe for over half a century, Stephan Strange is the most famous magic user in comics. Taught magic and humility by The Ancient One after his hands are crushed in a car accident, Strange would become one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe, defending the human realm from magical and extra-dimensional beings such as Nightmare and Dormammu, as well as other magic users like Baron Mordo. Though often keeping out of human affairs due to his ability to practically change reality on a whim, he has been known to fight alongside the Avengers on numerous occasions.

2. Gandalf (J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth)

The top 2 were separated by just 2 votes and every time I went to check the poll throughout the week, they would swap places. But in the end Gandalf just couldn't pass. Yet another of the long beard old men group of wizards, Gandalf is the best of the breed since the dawn of the 20th century. A wise mentor to not one but two Hobbit adventurers, he is one of the Istari, five wizards sent by the Valar to aid the people of Middle-Earth in their war against Sauron. Though he falls at the Bridge Of Khazad-dum, he returns as a White Wizard to see the end of the war, the downfall of Sauron, the crowning of a new King of Gondor and the completion of his quest. Also, has there ever been better casting for a role than Ian MacKellan as Gandalf? Just seeing Ian MacKellan as Gandalf makes me smile.

1. Merlin (The Legend Of King Arthur)

Alas, much like Highlanders, there can be only one greatest magic user in fiction. And of course it was going to be Merlin. He's the basis for practically every mentor figure in modern fiction. I mean, two of the top 5 characters on this list are modern versions of the character. Merlin is just too important and influential to the fantasy genre as a whole not to sit at the top spot on this list, he's literally the archetype, the cliché and the yardstick for all magic users to be measured against.

So, what do you guys think? I doubt anyone disagrees with the winner, but what about everyone else on the list? Anyone we missed? Anybody who you think has received incorrect placement? Let us know in the comments below.

And with that

JR out

JR19759

About JR19759

Email: jr19759@hotmail.co.uk Twitter: @jr19759 Deviantart: JR19759 Deviantart HM Group: Heromachine-Art

9 Responses to The List: Top 10 Magic Users In Fiction

  1. I’d have liked to see Prospero on the list proper and I agree with you that without the recent movie, Dumbledore would have probably taken number 3, otherwise pretty good.

  2. Peregrine Mors Peregrine Mors

    Honestly, when I saw the article title, I’m thinking: “Merlin ad Gandalf had better be the top two or I’m done.” I take things like this seriously – perhaps too serious at times.

  3. William A. Peterson

    uoY ymmuD! tI si WOH! WOH ehs seod ti, ton WHP ehs seod ti! dnA sey, ti si drah ot teirw ekil siht! 😉
    {And it only fails to work because we’re Homo Sapiens, and Zatanna is Homo Magi…}

  4. EES!!! S’ti gnikaef elbissopmi!!! Dna eht O dna P syek era thgir txen ot hcae rehto, os ti saw ylbaborp tsuj a kcilcsim.
    Ho dna sa er’ew gnitcerroc sdrawkcab sdrow uoy tleps etirw gnorw 😉

  5. The Atomic Punk

    Peregrine Mors:
    Honestly, when I saw the article title, I’m thinking: “Merlin ad Gandalf had better be the top two or I’m done.” I take things like this seriously – perhaps too serious at times.

    Ha! (I was actually thinking the same thing.) 😉

  6. William Peterson

    ‘gnikaerf’, not ‘gnikaef’, by the way (uoy togrof eht “R”), and I already said it was hard… 😉

  7. .gmo lol

    But seriously. I was surprised that Dr. Strange did so well without the Scarlet Witch making it at all.

  8. The Atomic Punk

    @Herr D: Scarlet Witch is a mutant who can manipulate mystic energy. I considered her; however, being a mutant not a discipline of the mystic arts was the caveat. Other voters probably thought same.

  9. Nick Hentschel

    That’s a profound, “Me three” with regards to Merlin and Gandalf: they really set the mold for most magicians that followed them, from Albus Dumbledore to Tim the Enchanter.

    The only thing that surprised me, was the inclusion of Raistlin. For if any wizard from D&D was going to be on a Top Ten list of popular favorites, I would have expected it to be Elminster.