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The main distinction from The Mentor is the Witch Doctor is not given respect. He's arcane, mysterious, and downright creepy even by the standards of his environment; That's why he lives well away from everyone else and doesn't wash much. His hut is filled with dried and pickled remains of unpleasant and unidentifiable critters. If he doesn't have explicitly magical powers, often the Witch Doctor is just a wetware version of the Mad Scientist.

You go to him because he might have a better plan or advice than other rubes, but no one wants to actually talk to him. If he's smart, he knows it and will remind you frequently. Unlike the Mentor, he's concerned with your quest and possibly be a little fond of you, but perhaps not your particular survival. He is usually completely frank and your success is all he really seems to be rooting for.

Even in recent times, most Witch Doctors have a semi-obvious ethnic derivation; the most tolerated currently is Jamaican/Caribbean (normally Haitian) and most will have a Voudoun slant. Interesting enough, the "surly wizard" stereotype may be the European equivalent to the Witch Doctor.

A Witch Doctor can also be a villainous character, what with voodoo getting the treatment it usually gets in Hollywood. If that's the case, expect his general griminess to be played for creeps rather than laughs. Other times, they may be an example that Dark Is Not Evil.

This is a Cyclic Trope, as it sometimes become unpopular to depict female European-style witches this way. One way around this is to have an updated, "modern" witch around as the main character, so old-fashioned witches comes off as cranky traditionalists. Then again, sometimes the "modern" witch turns out to be a poseur spouting the New Age equivalent of Techno Babble, and it's the traditionalist witches who know their stuff.

Examples of Witch Doctor include:

Anime and Manga

  • If you run into one in any anime or manga story, they will either be wise Chinese scholars, priests of some extraction (usually Shinto), or skin-wearing shamans.
  • Kururu from Keroro Gunsou may be considered a Mad Scientist version of the Witch Doctor. He's a creepy, sneaky Insufferable Genius who spends most of his time in his lab. And whenever he helps someone (even one of his squadmates), there's almost always a catch.

Film — Animated

Film — Live-Action

  • The Wizard from Conan the Barbarian is a perfect example of this: he is Asian rather than the usual Jamaican/Caribbean, but he wears clothes made of seaweed and he seems quite mad. He turns out to know his stuff, however.
  • Tia Dalma, first seen in Pirates of the Caribbean : Dead Man's Chest seems to be the living incarnation of this trope — her little hut has the fixings for everything, from rum to music boxes to human souls.
  • Azura, the creepy old witch in Eve's Bayou. She has some bad blood with Mozelle (herself a more personable version of this trope), though it's never revealed why.


  • The Discworld novels play with this. Many traditional witches and wizards deliberately cultivate an intimidatingly occult image because it's what people expect. Thus, witches wear pointy hats and black dresses and work with exotic herbs and improvised tools of magic, while wizards wear pointy hats and colorful robes, wield staves, and have a lab with occult books, dribbly candles mounted on old human skulls, and a stuffed alligator hanging from the ceiling. Much to the chagrin of many younger witches (who act more like stereotypical neo-pagans) and younger wizards (who act more like quantum physics students), the older wizards and witches do get respect.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Nation, Mrs. Gurgle (real name unpronounceable by the English Daphne), who does get respect, and also help chewing her food.
  • Professor Trelawney, the Divination teacher from Harry Potter, desperately wants to cultivate this appearance.
  • In the Rowan of Rin series, a visit to their local example of this occurs in every book.

Live Action TV

  • Charmed had once had a witch doctor who is neutral who specializes in exorcising angry spirits.
    • He's also Genre Savvy enough to lampshade the fact that he appears to be a normal guy in a suit: "You were expecting a guy with a bone through his nose, right?"
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent featured a woman who claims herself to be a healer and uses tricks and chemicals to scare and scam the sick. This episode also featured a good voodoo healer who explains that all religions have good and bad people who practice it and claim that the scam artist just uses tricks and no magic.


Real Life

  • In 1974, during a World Cup qualifier in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), the Australian soccer team got a local witch-doctor to curse the opposition, but couldn't produce the money when he demanded payment, causing him to switch the curse to the Australian team. The curse was used as ann "explanation" for Australia's failure to qualify for subsequent World Cups, most notably 1998, when Australia was leading Iran 2-0 late in the final qualifying game (after tying the first game 1-1), only for Iran to score two late goals and qualify on away goals. In 2003, Australian television personality John Safran paid another witch doctor to remove the curse, and Australia then qualified for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

Video Games

  • Mumbo Jumbo and Humba Wumba from Banjo-Kazooie. The former (current page image) handled transforming the main characters into various creatures such as termites, alligators and even pumpkins in the first game. In the sequel, he was actually playable and used different spells to interact with the overworld, while Humba Wumba took over the transformation business.
  • The Voodoo Lady from Monkey Island.
  • The Trolls of the Warcraft games have plenty of Voodoo Witch Doctors, complete with Jamaican accent, mon. They run the gamut from Dark Is Not Evil good guy types like Sen'jin, and Complete Monsters like Zalazane.
  • Houngan, from the Clayfighter series.
  • One of the new classes in Diablo III is the Witch Doctor, which appears to be quite similar to the Necromancer in Diablo II, who also have many similarities to witch doctors.
  • Defense of the Ancients All Stars and its remake has a hero called Witch doctor.
  • The first boss in Maximo is a Witch Doctor who shrinks the hero down to a few inches and then tries to step on him!
  • Momma Aimee, in Mystery Case Files: The 13th Skull, is quite willing to help the player character (in exchange for the completion of a fairly easy Fetch Quest). Among other things, she provides a sleeping potion that comes in handy, and teaches the difference between voodoo and hoodoo.

Western Animation