2021 was god-awful and 2022 is not shaping up to be much better. But the hopelessness we may feel towards humanity’s survival has been tempered, at least slightly, by the powerful eternal baddies we’ve found in our escapist media this year. In the hopes of channeling some of that good good crone energy into the new year, we present our top ten 2021 Crones of the Year.
Before we wade much farther in, quick head’s up: this piece includes (potential) (light) spoilers for WandaVision, The Witcher Season 2, and The Matrix Resurrections.
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 2021?
- 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 2021
10. Mae (Ted Lasso)
Ted Lasso is a charming show about being kind just for the heck of it, atop the basic conceit of an American football coach coaching an English football (soccer) team. And while Mae is not a central character, as the owner/operator of the sports bar where the games are aired and the fans congregate, Mae is the matriarch of the team’s fanbase.
Now, we do love a matriarch, but what gives Mae true crone status is that she does not take shit from anyone. She is the Real Iron Lady (fuck Maggie Thatcher, obvs), and she knows a good thing when she sees it. Without her wisdom and discernment, perhaps Ted would never have been given the chance to charm his way into the hearts and minds of these cynical Englishmen/us jaded crones watching at home.
Age: late 60s
Cackling: more wry looks than outright cackling
Likelihood of actual magical powers: low, but isn’t being able to effectively cajole drunk soccer fans into doing what you want its own kind of magic?
9. Agatha Harkness (WandaVision)
Remember WandaVision?? That came out this year!! Gods but it’s been an eternity. And no one knows eternity more than Eternal Crone Agatha Harkness. When you’re immortal, you figure out how to make your own entertainment, and if that means tricking an even more powerful witch into playing out make-believe sitcoms, then so be it! And WHY NOT throw in a kicky musical number?? You’re just living your best life, Agatha, and who are we to tell you no
Plus, Disney certainly knows when to say yes, and that’s why we can look forward to a potential repeat in next year’s Crone of the Year! Agatha: House of Harkness is a WandaVision spin-off series coming “soon”.
Age: At LEAST 350 years old (witch from Salem)
Wizenedness: minimal; drop that skincare routine, Aggie! Oh, what’s that? You’re saying it’s energy you’ve harvested from children? Oh, OK. Good to know.
Cackling: Indulgent and Earned
Likelihood of actual magical powers: 100% confirmed real magic
8. Voleth Meir, The Deathless Mother (The Witcher)
You ever have one of those
days years entire adulthoods where you’re just like, “toxic positivity is out, negative vibes only?” Well, you actually have Voleth Meir to thank for that! The Deathless Mother feeds off of the pain and suffering of mortal humanoids, and with so much to go around these days, we can only imagine how much energy she has to achieve all of her New Millenium’s resolutions.
The thing that made us point and cackle at our televisions, though, was her very obvious connection to Baba Yaga, the archetypal Slavic crone. Hardcore fans of The Witcher franchise may have balked at this divergence from canon, but we are simpler folk here. We simply can’t resist the pleasures of being completely unreachable except by a little incantation that ends every line in “hut, hut.” And in the end, all she really wants is to cause some mischief on the prime material plane, then go back home to her void and crack open a cold one with the hounds of hell. Whomst among us has not lusted after this lifestyle? Voleth Meir embodies #croneculture pretty much to a T—almost a little too perfectly.
Age: Bold of you to assume we have this strong a grasp on Witcher lore.
Wizenedness: Perfectly pruney in every way.
Cackling: She invented it.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Confirmed soul-sucking, wish-granting-but-only-in-fucked-up-way magic!
7. Laudna (Critical Role)
She’s creepy and she’s kooky, she’s gay as hell, and she won’t let undeath stop her from having a good time! Laudna, played on Critical Role by Marisha Ray, is truly a horror to behold, especially in her sticky, literally unhinged and aptly-named Form of Dread. But really owns her weirdness in a way that helped her rise in this year’s rankings. Laudna is kind of like if you put a sweet, funny weirdo with Anna Faris energy in a cage for a hundred years, but she’s doing just fine once you let her out of it. Laudna is like if your much older gay goth cousin was dating your normie best friend, but everyone either genuinely likes her or is too scared to say anything. She has a dead rat named after a royal and voices in her head. She must be experienced to be understood, but you will leave with more questions than you started with.
Wizenedness: Fresh of face, gnarled of fingies.
Cackling: Many-voiced and surprisingly endearing.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: A spooky combo of sorcery, warlock pact and…?
6. Hecate, Goddess of Crossroads and Witchcraft (Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons)
We just checked our copies of Encarta 98, and found this portrait of Hecate next to the entry for “metal AF.”
While much of the Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons centers on the ambitions of Hera, queen of the gods, and the human women those ambitions depend on, the daring deed that gives birth to the legacy of the Amazons is actually carried out by six other goddesses, including our feared and adored Hecate. We love everything that the creator dream team of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Jimenez nightmared up for this absolute vision of the crone in her “DO NOT FUCK WITH ME” aspect: draped in threats and the ashes of the forgotten dead, serving girlboss human centipede. We would follow her anywhere, especially through the dark depths of hell and back, for just a glimpse of the power and mystery she safeguards.
All adulation aside, this book could not have come at a better time: telling an epic story of rebellion and creation in a dark era, Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons and all of its goddesses and mortals brought us not just a feast for our pandemic-deadened senses, but a deep feeling of much-needed catharsis. We can’t wait to hear more of the deeds of the Tribe of Hecate, and hopefully be introduced to an entire lineage of crones to induct into our coven.
Age: Don’t know, however old “as old as creation” is?
Wizenedness: Actually really tough to judge behind all the SPIKES.
Cackling: I’m not really sure if cackling is coming from Hecate, our money is on more of like, an earth-shattering banshee keen heard across several planes of existence.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Goddess! Of Witchcraft!
5. The Green Knight (The Green Knight)
The Green Knight, titular namesake of the Summer 2021 Dev Patel Thirst Trap Vehicle of the same name, is a magical, messy bitch who lives for drama. The Knight blazes a trail by inventing Maleficent-ing in actual medieval times, crashing a Christmas party with one elaborate prank just to serve as the lead-in for an even more elaborate one that requires a full-ass year of setup. If any of us had legitimate magical powers we’d probably use them to punk the rich and powerful into learning humility and frankly what higher calling is there.
Age: Unspecified but seemingly mythologically ancient.
Wizenedness: Literal and demonstrated
Cackling: If not outright shown cackling, his commitment to a bit should serve as a strong cackling-adjacent substitute.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Shapeshifting! Curses! Reattaching a severed limb! He has it all, really.
4. Cid (Bad Batch)
Along with our favorite batch of modified clones, Cid made a splash in the ever-extending Star Wars universe as a swindling lady Trandoshan cantina owner with a heart of gold — or, err, of credits, at least. And even though procuring credits through sketchy means is her primary MO, underneath it all, Cid has a soft spot for bb Omega and her clone dads. Sometimes that’s what a family is — a clone, her 4 clone dads, and her Trandoshan grandma.
Age: The average Trandoshan lifespan is around 60 years, so we’ll guess Cid is in her early 50s
Wizenedness: Somewhat wizened, but will still kick your ass
Cackling: Prone to a good cackle as she takes all your cash over a game of dejarik
Likelihood of actual magical powers: None, unless you count being sneaky
3. Gaius Helen Mohiam (Dune)
Dune emerged from the sands and burrowed into our brains this year, bringing us more of Timothée Chalamet’s cheekbones and some very big worms. Even scarier than the worms, (in this author’s opinion), is the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother, Gaius Helen Mohiam. She asks Paul to stick his hand in a box or she will literally kill him, a 15-year-old boy, with the gom jabbar she holds to his throat. Is Paul her protegée’s son? Yes. Could he be the Kwisatz Haderach? Yes!!! Does she give any fucks? Absolutely not. She will murder this boy. (She doesn’t.)
Age: Unknown, but guessing 70s?
Wizenedness: Wizened but in like, a cool graceful way
Cackling: No cackling, only savage truths
Likelihood of actual magical powers: High!! She can use the voice!!!
2. Queen Nehelenia (Sailor Moon Eternal)
Longtime Sailor Moon fans may remember Queen Nehelenia (also known as Queen Nehelennia in the original anime) as the series’ number one antagonist. Nehelenia combines a next-level ageless dark magic bitch queen aesthetic with her own complex fears and motivations — her terror at aging, her desire to preserve her kingdom and the fatal pride that seals her fate more than anything the White Moon Kingdom could have thrown at her. Original Nehelenia provides the perfect contrast to Usagi’s future as Neo Queen Serenity — cool and capable where Usagi is learning things as she goes, ruthless and single minded where Usagi is empathetic and generous.
Sailor Moon Eternal’s Nehelenia draws from the character’s original appearance in the Sailor Moon manga and loses some of the complexity that her original anime depiction fleshed out, but 2021 Nehelenia is 150% vibes and we’re here for it. Plus, her lackeys are smarter, her entrances are grander, and she finally gifts the Sailor Moon Crystal generation with a villain worthy of their fear and admiration — so, overall, we stan a true queen.
Age: Eternal, naturally
Wizenedness: All wizendness sealed behind a crushed mirror, which we see as an absolute win.
Cackling: Demonstrated 100% guaranteed cackling
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Actual aesthetic dark magic that she uses to curse people with roses, transform princes into unicorns and summon hotties from mirrors and/or inanimate objects.
1. Niobe (The Matrix Resurrections)
Whatever your stance on The Matrix franchise’s latest installment—for the record, we are enthusiastically pro—it was a delight to watch Jada Pinkett Smith revise her role as humanity’s hardest hardass. If a crone can truly have it all, Niobe has it: clarity of purpose, a sharp tongue, a sharper mind, an iron will, and some sick scars to scare / inspire awe in young folks with. She’s a leader capable of overcoming militant thinking to secure a hopeful future for her people, making her a role model we truly yearn for in real life. She can (justly!) dress a whippersnapper down in one moment, and simply vibe with them the next, exuding an unflappable self-actualization we strive daily to obtain. Best of all? She chooses sapphism late in life, an act of radical self-care after a lifetime dealing with charismatic but fanatical men. Niobe has seen the worst of both her enemies and her own people, and not only survived it, did not simply rise above it, but blazed a path right through it. Inimitable, unstoppable, Queen Crone of 2021!
Age: 80s – 90s
Wizenedness: 5 hours’ worth of work to transform MILF Jada Pinkett Smith into GILF Niobe.
Cackling: Doubtful – a Niobe smile, alone, is as rare as hen’s teeth.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Niobe would scoff at the very notion of magic, but we think successful statecraft with Artificial Intelligence bringing about a scientific renaissance to grow food without sunlight is pretty damn magical!
Happy New Year, POMEs! Maybe 2022 will see the world at least a little less actively in peril and supply a wide selection of increasingly wizened role models to inspire you through the days ahead (we can dream).
Interested in our previous Crone of the Year offerings?
- 2020 Crones of the Year
- 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 2021, 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.