7 Wizards... or are they all the same guy?

We like our wizards to fit a certain mold. They seem to have the same characteristics in many of our classic adventure tales. A wizard trains or mentors the young protagonist (to whom he is not related), has knowledge unavailable to the general public which was passed down from long ago, uses supernatural powers, sports a white beard (mainly to show his advanced age), and despite his age, he's still good in a fight.


Merlin the Magician is the oldest of the archetype. The character dates back centuries, from the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth. The version we know best was taken from T.H. White's book The Once and Future King, which was the source material for Camelot and The Sword in the Stone. The other wizards follow in Merlin's footsteps.
Mentors: Arthur, who became King of Britain.
Knowledge: More educated than anyone around him.
Supernatural powers: Engineered Arthur's conception by sorcery, can see remotely, prophesied the outcome of various battles and Arthur's actions.
White beard: Yes.
Fights: Usually by magic only, although in some movie versions he can swing a sword with the best of them.

Obi-Wan Kenobi


Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) was a Jedi Master who became a hermit on the planet Tattooine in order to hide from the Empire and keep an eye on Luke Skywalker. He trained the young hero in the use of The Force when they were brought together by the droid R2D2. His role in training Luke was passed to the much older Yoda upon Obi-Wan's death.
Mentors: Anakin and Luke Skywalker. He was more successful the second time around, which goes to show that older wizards are better.
Knowledge: Jedi training.
Supernatural powers: Skillful use of The Force ("These are not the droids you're looking for.")
White beard: Yes, in episode four.
Fights: He was a master with the lightsaber, but could not bring himself to kill Darth Vader.



Gandalf the Gray (Sir Ian McKellen) made it his life's mission to rid Middle Earth of the evil influence of Sauron and the Rings of Power. Along the way, he advised various entities and brought them together to reclaim their lands.
Mentors: Frodo, Aragorn, and their comrades.
Knowledge: The entire history of Middle Earth, plus a limited ability to see the future.
Supernatural powers: Plenty, including returning from the dead.
White beard: Yes, although it was gray early in the saga.
Fights: Fearlessly, on horseback or on foot.



Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Mentors: Harry Potter and other students at Hogwarts School.
Knowledge: Was educated at Hogwarts himself.
Supernatural powers: Producing fire, invisibility, various spells.
White beard: Yes.
Fights: He spent years battling Grindelwald and Voldemort by various magical means, most often with conjured fire.



Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) trained The Karate Kid by getting his household chores done ("Wax on; wax off"). He's a master at what he knows, and bluffs his way convincingly through anything he doesn't know.
Mentors: Daniel Larusso.
Knowledge: Ancient martial arts techniques, zen philosophy, and a trained poker face.
Supernatural powers: Only a magical healing touch, which was enough to save the day.
White beard: Just the minimum requirement.
Fights: Whipped five teenage black belts in 30 seconds.



You don't have to be human to be a wizard. Rafiki the monkey shaman kept an eye on the pride in The Lion King.
Mentors: He wasn't a long-term teacher, but he set Simba straight on how to live his life. Afterward, he became an advisor to the lion king.
Knowledge: He is the philosopher of the animal kingdom.
Supernatural powers: Could see remotely by gazing at feathers.
White beard: Yes.
Fights: The hyenas with his staff.

Santa Claus


The word wizard isn't normally applied to Santa, but he fits the profile, with the exception of mentoring the protagonist. No one upstages Santa Claus!
Mentors: Nobody in particular, but he won't bring you toys unless you are a good girl or boy. That's a powerful incentive to behave.
Knowledge: He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you're awake.
Supernatural powers: Drives flying reindeer, packs amazing amounts of gifts, rises up chimneys, and eats tons of cookies.
White beard: In abundance.
Fights: He prefers not to, but was arrested for assault in Miracle on 34th Street, and saved the day in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

Curiously, the character who actually uses the title Wizard (in The Wizard of Oz) doesn't display any of these characteristics! There are no doubt other characters who do fit this same profile. Can you add more to the list?

Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images
David Lynch's Amazon T-Shirt Shop is as Surreal as His Movies
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images

David Lynch, the celebrated director behind baffling-but-brilliant films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks, is now selling his equally surreal T-shirts on Amazon.

As IndieWire reports, each shirt bears an image of one of Lynch’s paintings or photographs with an accompanying title. Some of his designs are more straightforward (the shirts labeled “House” and “Whale” feature, respectively, drawings of a house and a whale), while others are obscure (the shirt called “Chicken Head Tears” features a disturbing sculpture of a semi-human face).

This isn’t the first time Lynch has ventured into pursuits outside of filmmaking. Previously, he has sold coffee, designed furniture, produced music, hosted daily weather reports, and published a book about his experience with transcendental meditation. Art, in fact, falls a little closer to Lynch’s roots; the filmmaker trained for years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before making his mark in Hollywood.

Lynch’s Amazon store currently sells 57 T-shirts, ranging in size from small to triple XL, all for $26 each. As for our own feelings on the collection, we think they’re best reflected by this T-shirt named “Honestly, I’m Sort of Confused.”

Check out some of our favorites below:

T-shirt that says "Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"
"Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a sleeping bird on it
"Sleeping Bird"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt that says Peace on Earth over and over again. The caption is pretty on the nose.
"Peace on Earth"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a screaming face made out of turkey with ants in its mouth
"Turkey Cheese Head"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an odd sculpted clay face asking if you know who it is. You get the idea.
"I Was Wondering If You Know Who I Am?"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a sculpted head that is not a chicken. It is blue, though.
"Chicken Head Blue"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a lobster on it. Below the drawing, the lobster is labeled with the word lobster. Shocking, I know.

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an abstract drawing of what is by David Lynch's account, at least, a cowboy

Buy it on Amazon

[h/t IndieWire]

S-Town Podcast Is Being Turned Into a Movie

S-Town, a seven-part podcast from Serial and This American Life, has all the trappings of a binge-worthy story. It all started when a man from the tiny town of Woodstock, Alabama asked a reporter to investigate a local man from a wealthy family who allegedly boasted he had gotten away with murder.

As for what happens next, “someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man's life,” reads the 2017 podcast’s synopsis, without giving too much away.

Now, that riveting story is being turned into a movie with This American Life’s participation, IndieWire reports. Participant Media acquired the rights to the S-Town podcast, and negotiations are underway to get playwright Samuel Hunter and director Tom McCarthy on board. McCarthy is perhaps best known for directing and co-writing 2015's Oscar-winning Spotlight; he also co-wrote Up and was an executive producer and director for the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.

S-Town was downloaded over 10 million times over a period of four days after its release, and it received a Peabody Award for the radio/podcast category, according to IndieWire. Just last month, HBO and Sky announced they would be releasing a documentary series about Adnan Syed, the focus of the first season of the Serial podcast, which is developed by This American Life.

In case you missed S-Town when it premiered, you can go back and listen to it here.

[h/t IndieWire]


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