The people of earth are the true Crones of the Year, for 2020 has made crones of us all. But honestly, a surprising amount of content came out this year — and a lot of it had crones! In the hopes of bringing that good good crone energy into the new year, we present our top ten 2020 Crones of the Year.
About Crones of the Year
Conventionally, the word “crone” is used in a pejorative context. But here at POMEmag, “crone” is the absolute highest compliment we could possibly pay anyone. Crones are badass oldies who don’t care what anybody thinks about them. Crones are fearless, dangerous, and have a style all their own. In a culture so fixated on youth, it’s rare to find examples of what you want your golden years to look like, especially if you are a young woman navigating this patriarchal pop culture hellscape.
Due to (obvious) representation issues, our definition of “crone” is pretty broad. In our book, anybody can be a crone, regardless of gender, age, or actual arcane knowledge and abilities. Basically, cronedom is a state of mind that anyone theoretically can achieve. So we asked ourselves the following questions when determining our crones of the year:
- Would we mind being this person when we reach their age? How amazing of an end game would that be?
- Did this person do something badass in 2020?
- Did this person make us feel more powerful? Did watching, playing as, or reading about this person impart a little of their magic onto us?
- Are we intimidated by and/or at least a little afraid of this person?
- How long can we describe this person before we JUST CAN’T HELP SHOUTING ABOUT THEM
We assigned extra points for:
- Age – the older, the better
- Likelihood of actual magical powers
The Top 10 Fictional Crones of 2020
10. Ichinoi Yuki (BL Metamorphosis)
Normally, Crones Of The Year are terrifying and seemingly omnipotent presences — so the warm, kindly Ichinoi might seem out of place on this list. But whether she’s actively cultivating her brand-new interest in BL manga, kicking back with a free beer in her cozy home, or even gently chiding comics artists into drawing faster (so that she might be able to read her favorite BL manga in its entirety within the years she has left), Ichinoi is a model for how we might all dream of spending our golden years.
Ichinoi brings out the best in those around her, and following the loss of her beloved husband, she works hard to make the most of opportunities that once passed her by, doing all the things she used to be too impatient or too busy for. Ichinoi is the honest, thoughtful friend who encourages us when we need it most — the kind of friend we all need, but also, the kind of friend we should all try to be for the people in our lives.
Age: 75 in Volume 1
Wizenedness: A normal amount, for her age
Cackling: Good-natured chuckling at most
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Only in as much as friendship is a magical power
9. Betsey Trotwood (David Copperfield)
Even for those of us who have never read the book, this was supposed to be the summer of Dev Patel and we were not going to let the David Copperfield movie pass us by. In addition to Dev Patel in period costume, we were extremely happy to see Tilda Swinton’s portrayal of Betsey Trotwood, David Copperfield’s great aunt. Here are the important things to know about Betsey Trotwood: she dislikes men and boys, she runs an independent household where she provides for her mentally unsound friend Mr. Dick and her great-nephew David, and she hates donkeys. She is the only woman in David Copperfield of independent means and thus the only one not suffering directly under a male yoke. Her wealth provides her the freedom to be eccentric and to provide safe harbor to those that have been abused by their society. Look, we just think she’s cool — seeing Tilda Swinton chasing donkeys out of her garden is like glimpsing into our own future and we love it.
Cackling: Less cackling, more yelling at donkeys
Likelihood of actual magical powers: None
8. Mercymorn the First, Saint of Joy, Second Saint to Serve the King Undying (Harrow the Ninth)
In all of the blessing and curses wrought by this year, perhaps none were so hotly anticipated and satisfying for the Terminally Online Gay community as Harrow The Ninth, sequel to 2019’s explosively popular Gideon the Ninth. This second book in the Locked Tomb trilogy — a series often and accurately summed up as “Lesbian necromancers… in space!” — introduces us to Mercymorn, the platonic ideal of the Murder Wife, a sort of inverse Rose Quartz with whom one may dream of, and quite likely succeed in, attacking and dethroning God.
Mercymorn embodies the crone as a terror in the hearts of all who behold her, but also embodies her aspirational no-bullshit aspect. In beatific crone-saint fashion, she looks upon her younger liches-in-arms with nothing but scorn, constantly gives lip to her boss (in more ways than one), and will suffer neither men nor children to contradict her in meetings, even if one of them is the Emperor Undying. Imagine, if you will, a pink-haired Saint Adamantine locked into permanent Resting Bitch Face, bored and irritated with anything younger than civilization, blowing cigarette smoke in your face and then magically scrubbing the nicotine from your lungs with only a withering glance, just to kill any hope you may have of fun. We long for even an ounce of her sacred, unwavering devotion to busting everyone’s chops.
We can’t really sum up Harrow the Ninth without giving too much away or sounding like we accidentally ate three entire weed brownies for breakfast an hour ago, so we can only encourage you to experience the gospel of the Saint of Joy who cries tears of blood for yourself. (Or put in a Twitter search for “Mercymorn,” if you love cryptic memes and don’t fear spoilers.) We’ll just be over here in the meantime, anxiously awaiting 202???’s hopeful release of Tasmyn Muir’s “lesbian cyberpunk under the sea” novel, which is almost certain to deliver howdy-flavored wives and crones galore.
Wizenedness: None, necromantically preserved in pristine (middle?) age
Cackling: Minimal, more prone to bitter sarcasm
Likelihood of actual magical powers: 100% confirmed lich powers
7. The Duchess (Fallout 76)
Introduced along with all of the other human NPCs through Fallout 76’s Wastelanders expansion this spring, The Duchess is simply a woman who watched nuclear war destroy her home and then resolved to Be Better. The Duchess serves as the proprietress of The Wayward, the post-apocalyptic West Virginian wasteland’s premiere (and maybe only) quality drinking establishment. If The Duchess had another name, she lost it long before the bombs fell. Back then, The Duchess was a chem kingpin who supplied desperate miners with the drugs they needed to survive another day in the ravages of a rapidly automated Appalachian capitalist hellscape — and if those miners didn’t pay her back in full or on time, they’d face the consequences.
These days, though, The Duchess welcomes new players to Fallout 76 and shelters not one but two murder robots and one dumb kid in her bar. She just wants peace and quiet, and to make what’s left of her home a little better than the way she left it before the war. If she flirts with the spry young Vault Dwellers that patronize her bar or strikes up a doomed romantic dalliance with a roguish treasure hunter along the way, so much the better.
But also, that voice. Almost heaven indeed.
Age: There is no way she’s any younger than mid 50s — most likely a decade older at the very least
Wizenedness: Extremely & surprisingly unwizened tbh
Cackling: No confirmed cackling but absolutely would cackle in the right circumstances
Likelihood of actual magical powers: None unless that beautifully unblemished skin can be chalked up to the magic of ambient radiation
6. Mrs. Basil E (Dash & Lily)
While Dash & Lily itself is a relatively unremarkable teen Christmas romance, we must remark upon its shining light: Mrs. Basil E. Truly one could want nothing more than to drink tea in her ornate library, in her beautiful brownstone, and be regaled with tales of her youthful exploits. But of course she would never have time to do this, because she’s too busy jet-setting towards new exploits!
Granted that while much of Mrs. Basil E’s aspirational lifestyle requires more money than could ethically belong to one person, some amount of that aspiration is for her attitude — one that says that anything is possible if you put yourself out there. And of course other people will love you, because you are fabulous, actually. There’s something inspiring about the confidence of knowing your own worth and forcing other people to know it too, through the sheer strength of your will and expectation. When confronted with your greatness, what choice do others have but to acknowledge and revere it??
Age: mid-60s, maybe?
Wizenedness: elegant and tasteful
Cackling: very real, but conveyed almost entirely through eyebrow work
Likelihood of actual magical powers: unlikely but not impossible
5. The Mudang (Lovecraft Country)
Full disclosure — there is only so much we can say about The Mudang for three reasons: 1) she only appears in a single episode of Lovecraft Country, 2) we’re hesitant to spoil anything about this amazing show, and 3) we fully admit to lacking potentially important cultural context about the mythology she is drawn from. But, that said: the Mudang lives in a difficult-to-reach mountain home, navigates the delicate and exacting natural forces that allow her to draw upon powerful magic, and unleashes a demon on 100 mediocre-to-terrible men. She grants boons to those who can pay the price. Truly some quintessential A++ crone work here, folks.
Age: Seemingly timeless and eternal
Cackling: Genuinely no idea; she seems Above Cackling but we’d hope she gets to indulge in a good cackle from time to time
Likelihood of actual magical powers: 100% verified magical powers
4. Mireille Dudley (Final Fantasy VII: Remake)
We can’t thank the Final Fantasy VII Remake for introducing not one but two amazing crones into the FFVII mythos — Marle, the Only Good Landlady, and Mireille, a stern grandmotherly phantom thief who redistributes the stolen wealth of Midgar to her neighbors in the slums. While we love Marle (please see our Patreon for more on this amazing crone), Mireille literally stole our hearts as the Angel of the Slums. We assume she’s been continuously on this beat for decades, stealing from Don Cornero and finding new ways to mess with Shinra propagandists throughout the course of the game.
Mireille also tells someone to “learn to wipe your own ass before you start rooting around in other people’s shit,” which is just generally pretty good advice.
We’re hoping that whenever the next installment of the Final Fantasy VII Remake finally arrives (in 2025 or however long it takes to expand the game beyond Midgar’s city limits), Mireille too reappears to show Cloud & co how it’s done.
Age: Unspecified, but as she has an adult granddaughter we’re thinking in her early 60s?
Wizenedness: Medium / a normal amount
Cackling: Oh, absolutely
Likelihood of actual magical powers: magical redistribution of wealth skills at the very least
3. Lady Danbury (Bridgerton)
In the much-anticipated Regency Gossip Girl show Bridgerton, there were a number of crones from whom to choose. However, more than any other fabulous widow — indeed more than the Queen herself — Lady Danbury best combined the sharp-tongued and fearsome outside with the loving and fiercely supportive inside which characterizes many a crone.
The crone is the third and final aspect of the triple goddess for a reason — she combines all she has learned through maidenhood and motherhood, then apotheosizes it. Lady Danbury’s relationship with her godson is somewhat maternal, but she has armored that love in so much amassed knowledge and power that none dare question it or even dare to really challenge her will and her schemes for his happiness. She is the most terrifying thing in every room she enters. She is someone who knows what is best and will make it happen. She is someone you want on your side.
Age: late 50s, early 60s maybe
Wizenedness: an elegant strand of gray
Cackling: clear and self-satisfied
Likelihood of actual magical powers: it’s not a magic kind of show, but if anyone had powers, it would be her
2. Edalyn Clawthorne (The Owl House)
This entire show is a head-to-toe delight for a multitude of reasons, not least of which is Edalyn Clawthorne. Eda, also known as The Owl Lady, is the greatest witch on the Boiling Isles and resident bad girl. She is a terrible influence and plays by nobody’s rules but her own, and yet she is also loyal and caring and just.
Part of what makes Eda such an exemplary crone is that, even though she is (as most crones are) in a supporting role, the writers have taken the time and attention to fully flesh out her character — her backstory, her motivations, and overall who she is and how her brain works. And because of this, we get to watch Eda continue to fail and learn and grow.
As much as we love an all-knowing mistress of the universe, it has been so gratifying to see (especially now, especially this year) someone who is capable and powerful but still makes mistakes and still has the capacity to become a better version of herself. And that process of growth shows a continued delight in life — the idea that, even if you are the greatest witch in the whole kingdom (be it a skeletal archipelago or the apartment that you cannot leave), there is always something new to try and fail at and learn from. There are still delights to be found.
Age: mid-to-late 40s apparently, but spiritually about 300
Wizenedness: gray, wrinkled, but unbowed and unbent
Cackling: frequent and smug
Likelihood of actual magical powers: 100% confirmed magical powers
1. Demeter (Hades)
We’re not sure why but it feels like Greek mythology is having a resurgence of a sort right now. We’re not complaining! (Two of the POME crones have spent far, far too many hours escaping hell in Hades to complain.) But because of this, we had a certain idea of what to expect by another depiction of Demeter in popular media. Hades’s Demeter, though, is more crone than we anticipated anyone to go and it absolutely slaps.
In Hades, young Zagreus meets several of the Olympians during his escape attempts from Tartarus, including (who is later revealed to be) his grandmother, Demeter herself. Demeter is the goddess of seasons, but over the course of your many escape attempts, the game slowly reveals that she is still lamenting the loss of her daughter, Persephone, and has decided to really let the mortals have it as a result. Not knowing that Persephone eloped with Hades, Demeter decided to express her emotions the only way a crone of the seasons can — by summoning an everlasting winter to the mortal realm and constantly dragging her foster brothers (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades) at every opportunity.
It’s a tall order to top the list for Crones of the Year, but the sheer flex of freezing Greece indefinitely is both a) very Olympian and b) very crone. May we all manifest our feelings in ways that decimate our enemies in the new year.
Age: Eons, presumably
Wizenedness: Glam blizzard wizenedness
Cackling: Almost none, replaced instead by narrowed eyes and stinging insults
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Extremely
Happy New Year, POMEs! May 2021 be a year of fulfilling basic human rights and a wide selection of increasingly wizened role models to inspire you through the days ahead.
Interested in our previous Crone of the Year offerings?
- 2019 Crones of the Year
- 2018 Crones of the Year
- 2017 Crones of the Year
- 2016 Crones of the Year
- 2015 Crones of the Year
While the list above honors our favorite crones from 2020, we had a tough time whittling down to just 10. If you’d like to see even more of the powerful crones that inspired us this year, head on over to our Patreon for a full assortment of wizened heroes you can hitch your star to in the days ahead.