As we spiral ever further towards certain catastrophe on this interminable mortal coil, there are some lights of hope that pass fleetingly by. Most often: the crones or otherwise eternal baddies found in all of our favorite escapist media — for surely the crone, who has survived so much, will know how to survive our present hellscape. And so we present our top ten 2022 Crones of the Year.
Before we wade much farther in, quick head’s up: this piece includes major spoilers for Andor, Dragon Age: Absolution, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Sandman, and Nona the Ninth.
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 2022?
- 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 2022
10. Barbara Howard & Melissa Schemmenti (Abbott Elementary)
Barbara and Melissa, long-time teachers at Abbott Elementary, are perhaps a little more maternal than your standard crones. But the mother and the crone are not mutually exclusive—one gives way to the other, sure, but are we not all the sum of our experiences? And so is every crone not still also a little bit mother, a little bit maiden? Part of why we love crones is because they lead by example. They are vaguely disdainful beacons, lighting the way for anyone else who hopes to be competent, reliable, and also a little mean. They have seen empires rise and fall (they have seen principals come and go), but still the crones remain.
And this is why we love Barbara and Melissa — they are so full of knowledge but also they are actually (begrudgingly) willing to share that knowledge! I too would like Melissa to teach me how to meal prep while also yelling at me the whole time. I too would be eternally grateful to Barbara for setting aside any amount of time for me to ask her questions about how to solve the problems in my life while she also judges me for not being able to figure it out myself. These two strike that perfect balance between Mommy and Step On Me that signals the successful transition from Mother to Crone.
Age: late 50s-early 60s
Wizenedness: graceful aging
Cackling: more like judgmental eyebrow work
Likelihood of actual magical powers: low, but honestly corralling children is a magic all its own
9. Ancient Red Dragon (Dragon Age: Absolution)
You know how ever since
2020 2016 the fall of the Berlin Wall, every year has felt like the exact same toxic stew of misery, but somehow worse? Imagine this continuing for literal millenia while your lizard brain lives on within a monstrous body encased in ensorcelled stone, and you get the unnamed red dragon from this year’s surprise BioWare drop, Dragon Age: Absolution.
Our Dragon Crone of the year ticks a lot of the boxes. Unspeakably old? Check. Strikes fear in the hearts of all who behold her? Check. Ostracized and imprisoned in order to control her volatile power? Check. Woefully misunderstood by everyone except a fellow outsider to “civilized” society? Big ol’ check.
When she is finally accidentally released from her prison, our dragon instantly flies into a murderous rage the likes of which we besieged and downtrodden earthly millennials can only dream. But it is in her final appearance that she truly embodies the spirit of the crone. Having been sated not by human blood, but by an iota of respect and consideration from the Youth, she gathers up her tired, cramped old bones in search of her one and only remaining desire: to go the fuck home.
Age: somewhere in the 1000s
Likelihood of actual magical powers: 100% (is dragon)
8. Commander T’Ana (Star Trek: Lower Decks)
Commander T’Ana, the USS Cerritos’s doctor, contains multitudes. T’Ana is a mean cat who only tolerates a few people at a time, but she’s also (begrudgingly) an excellent and thoughtful mentor who gives honest feedback — and if you’re genuinely not fishing for it, she might even give you a pep talk when you need it most. She takes her work seriously, but she also enjoys sharing gristly medical stories to freak out the ensigns. She hates sharing anything about her life with her coworkers beyond what is absolutely necessary (relatable), but she’ll occasionally deign to trounce the entire crew at poker.
While Lower Decks’ senior officers rarely take center stage, each season has introduced a completely bonkers piece of Dr. T’Ana lore and Season 3 was no exception. In Season 1, we learned that T’Ana is in many ways secretly just a big actual meow meow who loves to hang out in a cozy box. In Season 2, we learned that she loves rock climbing. And in Season 3, it turns out that the good doc loves climbing an entirely different landmass during corny heist-themed holosuite programs. Who knows what the Lower Decks team will share with us in Season 4 but honestly we can’t wait to find out.
Age: Indeterminate but has the soul of a crone
Wizenedness: As wizened as a giant cat lady can get
Cackling: Constantly. Literally, all the time
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Star Trek medical science is pretty much magic so yeah, totally
7. Gong Gong / Alpha Gong Gong (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Gong Gong, in both his iterations, might be an unconventional choice for our Crones of the Year list — Gong Gong is a demanding and critical paternal figure in the Wang family, and it’s easy to see how his treatment of Evelyn throughout her life perpetuated some real generational trauma that she is passing on to her own daughter. Alpha Gong Gong is in some ways even more brutal than his home universe counterpart — his ruthless assessment of Evelyn’s “failings” leads him to decide that she’s more of a risk to the multiverse than an asset, and she must be eliminated.
But it’s this ruthless obstinacy, this (misplaced) belief in his own ability to make the “hard decisions,” that makes Gong Gong and Alpha Gong Gong excellent crone-types. If a crone hasn’t earned the right to be wrong and to be wrong in a very big way, whomst amongst us has??
Cackling: None, that’s a different James Hong movie
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Alpha Gong Gong can use science to cast his mind into the multiverse!! That’s magic in my book
6. Shasta (The Midnight Club)
One of the most curious and compelling enigmas of Mike Flanagan’s Netflix series The Midnight Club was embodied in Shasta: a very white, very woo Oregonian settler with a massive coastal estate and distinctly uncanny vibes. The series’s main character, Ilonka, a 90s teenager with a terminal illness and an fierce unwillingness to accept her early death, first comes across Shasta while collecting water from a supposedly medicinal stream adjacent to the picturesque, isolated hospice for terminal minors where she lives. From the moment Shasta explains that her name is “Sanskrit for Teacher” while praising the dying teenager’s exceptionally intelligent aura, the wily crone senses begin tingling: is this simply an average middle-aged hippie with delusions of faith healing, or is there something even shiftier going on?
Over the course of the season, Shasta continues to teach Ilonka the ways of attaining cures unknown to science through herbal brews, the balancing of humors, and occasional blood sacrifice. Though she definitely sits on the younger side of our typical range of crones, she earns her place on this list due to her many precocious cronely achievements: running a cultish naturopathic commune / lucrative health tonic business; hard-won knowledge of Anciente and Forbidden Rite; a rivalry with the more nurturing, motherly figure who owns the property adjacent to hers; and ultimately, vicious and selfish betrayal.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: unresolved, kinda 50/50
5. Lucienne (Sandman)
Every few years, a single piece of media floods the market with top-shelf crones — more than we can rightly pay tribute to in a single top 10 list. Netflix’s Sandman was that series in 2022 with not one, not two, but at least three to five notable oldies we love to live in fear of. As a publication as dedicated to elevating crones as POMEmag is, you’d think that we’d be contractually obligated to name the Three-in-One as our top Sandman crone but after much deliberation we must give this spot to Lucienne instead.
Lucienne carries the entire first season of Sandman on her Hot Bilbo Baggins-suited shoulders. She steps up to protect the Dreaming in all kinds of calamities, like Morpheus’s captivity by 1920s swingers, or Morpheus’s innate and self destructive bitchiness. And despite the Dream King’s penchant for punishing people for contradicting him, Lucienne never fails to patiently, wisely call him out. Plus: immortal magical librarian. What could be more crone than that?
Age: Immortal but not endless
Wizenedness: Distinguished but not wizened
Cackling: None but has earned a solid 500 years of cackling after all of that being right without gloating about it.
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Again — magical librarian (we know where our bread is buttered)
4. Pearl (X)
Pearl is a horny old murderer, and so I can only say that Representation Matters! The slasher genre is rife with horny old murderers, but so many of them are men. The actual world is rife with men who murder women for rejecting their sexual advances, so why not give women a turn? This is equality, people! Feminism! Let women be horny and old! Let women murder people who don’t want to have sex with them! This is the future liberals want!
But in seriousness, Pearl is peak “evil hag who lives in the woods” vibes. Is she going to force you into servitude for a year and a day in exchange for your heart’s desire, or is she going to kill and eat you? Who’s to say! She’s a woman of mystery and I for one respect her for it.
Age: late 70s or early 80s, I think? But also it’s set in a time before people knew about sunscreen, so could be younger
Wizenedness: off the charts
Cackling: raspy but distinct
Likelihood of actual magical powers: no textual evidence to support actual magical powers
3. Buttons (Our Flag Means Death)
Nathaniel Buttons is the perfect first mate for a spineless, feckless, and flamboyant pirate captain. He can spot ships in the distance without the use of a spyglass, he dons nasty metal fangs in battle, and he even has a familiar, (Karl the Seagull). He is quick to suggest cannibalism as a solution to problems that, frankly, it is not an appropriate solution for. He literally hexes people and basks naked in the light of the moon glow! Big crone energy!!
Age: Honestly, who knows??? It was a rough time, this guy could be 25 and I would believe it
Wizenedness: Moderate, but more so with the fangs in
Cackling: Less cackling, more alternating staring and howling
Likelihood of actual magical powers: He successfully curses Captain Jack, so I say very!
2. Maarva Carassi (Andor)
SPOILER ALERT: This entry includes spoilers for the final episodes of Andor Season 1 in between these two photos of a very large Star Wars marching band. Please proceed at your own risk! There’s a lot to parse out in Andor — among other things, how sincerely can we read a piece of anticapitalist, antifascist media produced by a nefarious media empire and set within one of its biggest cash cow franchises? We’re working on mulling that one over, to be honest with y’all. But long after the credits rolled on Andor’s first season, we’re still haunted by Maarva Carassi and her dedication to her home.
In life, Maarva was an icon: a life-long union leader and anti-Empire smuggler with a kind heart and the bravery to do whatever it took to spite Ferrix’s occupiers. But in death, Maarva became a legend, using her funeral to orchestrate a massive antifascist riot. She gives her own fierce, defiant eulogy, and as her hologram urges the people of Ferrix to rise up, they do — and not just because they were moved by her words. Maarva dedicates her life to Ferrix, to her community and her neighbors. Maarva refuses to flee to safety and as her health declines, she spends her final days trying to sneak into the sewer system to mess with the Empire even one more time. Even after her death, her funerary stone is used as a literal blunt force weapon against a Storm Trooper during the Star Wars Battle of Blair Mountain — what an incredible legacy.
Age: Late 70s / early 80s
Wizenedness: Every wrinkle very well earned
Cackling: At the expense of the Empire, certainly
Likelihood of actual magical powers: The magic of solidarity with her fellow workers am I right
1. Pyrrha Dve (Nona the Ninth)
(Yes, this is Noodle and not Pyrrha, we know.)
Pyrrha, cavalier primary to Gideon the First, Commander of the Second House, is canonically the hottest of the cavaliers in the Lord Undying’s service. She has been described as “an absolute bombshell” and “a stone cold fox.” Even living within the body of her Lyctor, Prryha continues to be hot. Despite this perceived lack of wizenedness, Prryha is at the top of our Crone of the Year list because she:
- Is literally thousands of years old
- Secretly took over the body of her necromancer without his knowledge or the knowledge of God or the other Lyctors
- Had an affair with her Lyctor’s lover, a rebel wishing to destroy God and the Nine Houses, without either Gideon’s or Wake’s knowledge
- Loves and protects Nona, who is good
- Is an absolute monster with a sword (lesbian)
- Tells dirty jokes
If these, cumulatively, don’t spell out “crone goals,” then literally nothing can. At least, not until Alecto comes out!!
Wizenedness: None, extremely hot
Cackling: More of a sultry chuckle
Likelihood of actual magical powers: Even though Pyrrha is not a necromancer, living in her Lyctor’s immortal body definitely counts as magic
Happy New Year, POMEs! Maybe 2023 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 offerings? Check out all of our Crones of the Year lists here.
And Ko-Fi subscribers: head on over to our Ko-Fi for a few bonus honorary mentions that didn’t quite make the top 10 cut.