Friday, April 6, 2012

Which Witch is Best (and Why)

NOTE: This post is completely free of TVD spoilers!

So it's never been a secret that, as far back as the pilot, I have found it pretty much impossible to stop myself from comparing Bonnie Bennett of The Vampire Diaries to Willow Rosenberg of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Today I'd like to talk about why I think Willow is a better witch -- although, honestly, I suppose I could just say something like

Willow is not only my favorite witch in all of fiction, she's pretty much my favorite fictional character of all time. Bonnie is neither of those things.

The end.

. . . But that wouldn't be very much fun to read, would it?


To break the whole thing down in a way that's as simple as it is uncomplicated, it seems to me that Willow is a better witch for two reasons, which I will discuss "at length" (a phrase which, in this context, can be read as "until I get bored"):

1. She is occasionally given storylines that have little or nothing to do with being a witch, and that makes her a stronger character.

Which may be somewhat unfair to Bonnie, whose first line in her first scene in the first episode was, "So, Grams is telling me I'm psychic -- our ancestors were from Salem; witches and all that" (note that I am quoting from memory, so the line may not be exactly verbatim) . . . but that just reinforces the point, don'tcha think? I mean, we are almost done with season three, and what do we know about her? She's Elena's best friend in the world; they're so close that they consider each other sisters. She's a witch who comes from a family of witches. She . . . oh, wait, THAT'S IT. There is absolutely nothing else to her character: anything that we've found out about her in nearly three years has had something to do with witchcraft (example: we finally got to meet her mother, and, well, yeah).

In stark contrast, we know plenty about Willow that has absolutely NOTHING to do with witchraft. Her crush on Xander, her friendship with Buffy, her Jewish background, her status as the smartest student in school, her romance with Oz, her strained relationship with her parents. All of this was established very early on in the series, and it made her a remarkably strong character, and that made her a better witch.

2. She made her own rules about magic.

To compare each of them to other witches from different works, whereas Willow greatly resembles Granny Weatherwax (widely regarded as the most powerful witch alive; doesn't know the meaning of the word "impossible"), Bonnie is more akin to Hermione Granger (very intelligent, very powerful, but rarely uses magic for anything she hasn't read about in a book).

I mean, just think about how much Willow has accomplished with magic. She restored Angel's soul (twice!). She saved her own life by floating a pencil. She attracted the attention of D'Hoffryn, even though she had never done any vengeance. She saved Buffy from the astral realm. She hurt Glory, who was a GOD (again, twice!). She brought Buffy back to life. She broke that whole "one girl in all the world" rule.

To hammer the point home: In the final season, the Big Bad is (kind of sort of) Satan By Another Name. One of the first things he does when he comes to town? He tries to convince Willow to kill herself because his plan would be so much easier without her around to muck things up.

Now, then. Bonnie. To be clear, I don't think her by-the-book approach to magic is necessarily a bad thing. She's obviously performed some pretty extraordinary feats, and she is one of only two humans Klaus views as a threat (note that the other is also a witch). Both of which are all the more remarkable when you consider that she's known about her powers for less than TWO YEARS.

But . . . seriously, it's like she forgets how powerful she is sometimes. Most of the time. I get that Klaus is a Big Damn Deal, and without him the show wouldn't be nearly as dramatic, but she's the one character who can really hurt him without some silly Deus Ex Machina one-of-a-kind super-special weapon, and she seems to spend all her time either worrying about who he's going to hurt next or sitting on the sidelines while the rest of the heroes try to take him out. Or, worse yet, letting him manipulate her into helping him!

So I guess what I'm saying is, I'd like to see her put down her books and start using her power. Stop fretting about what magic "can" or "can't" do, and make it work for her.

Just a thought.


  1. i mostly agree with your statements about willow, as being incredibly powerful and accomplishing new feats all the time. concerning bonnie however, her powers always seem to be limited to what the spirits of nature will allow, because remember when she channeled the power of 100 dead witches, they never wanted her to use the entirety of the power or she would die, but you would think that if nature wanted esther to right the wrong she did by creating vampires, they would have let bonnie use enough power to kill him all the way

  2. I've had the same realization. Bonnie and Willow parallel each other in more ways than one. I agree that Willow is arguably more powerful than Bonnie. Having followed Willow's evolution, especially through the comics, allowed me to see that Willow is indeed the most powerful witch in the Buffy universe, having done extremely powerful feats of magic that no ordinary witch can do. Although, I must admit that Bonnie has grown so much since the last season. Her powers are near unparalleled in the TVD universe and she has developed into a stronger person as well. Though her character is painfully underdeveloped compared to Willow, her impact in the series over-all should be taken under consideration. In spite of all that, however, Bonnie has a long way to go before she can go head-to-head with Willow.

  3. Willow is the wonder-witch! I'm a little surprised you didn't even go into the sexuality and addiction storylines, I thought they meant a lot (and damn do I love Tara). I enjoyed the Pratchettian comparison in there.