Disney's 2004 magical girl series W.I.T.C.H. centers on five element-wielding teenage girls — Will, Irma, Taranee, Cornelia and Hay Lin — who are appointed the new Guardians of the Veil, a magical barrier that separates Earth from the war-torn realm of Meridian. Based on the first two arcs of the long-running Italian comic of the same name, the two-season show is chock-full of humor, action and adventure, complete with the usual magical girl trappings, from flashy transformations to monster-of-the-week encounters to the trademarked double life.
While the show hasn't come to Disney+ yet, Yen Press is currently re-releasing the original comics in omnibus form, with most arcs officially appearing for American audiences for the very first time — meaning there's hope for a series revival in the (possibly) near future. But it wouldn't exactly be a one-to-one adaptation. While both comic and show are wonderful stories, they aren't the same story. The comic puts more focus on interpersonal relationships and realistically depicting how the girls come to terms with their newfound duties and friendship, while the show focuses more on the action, adventure and laughs to be had along the way, even going so far as to transform a recurring character, Caleb, into a mainstay of the series to appeal to a male audience.
Season 1 follows two different plot threads: the search for the lost Queen of Meridian, and the need to close the portals that keep allowing monsters from Meridian through to Earth. The lost Queen is eventually revealed to be none other than Cornelia's childhood friend Elyon, whose been turned against her friends by the beast-man Cedric, her evil older brother Prince Phobos' right hand man. After learning the depths of their villainy, Elyon turns against Phobos, and helps the Guardians and Rebellion remove him from power, taking her rightful seat as Queen.
Season 2 gets remarkably more complicated, with new powers surfacing in the girls and a new villainess. Nerissa, a fallen former Guardian, brainwashes Will's boyfriend and Guardian confidant Matt to use against the girls. While the Guardians struggle to fend her off, she kidnaps Elyon, steals her powers and recruits her former teammates (also through brainwashing) so she can take over as many worlds as possible. Once she has her team assembled, she de-powers Matt, freeing him from her curse, and magically returns youth to her and her team.
Unfortunately, in order to defeat Nerissa, the girls are forced to turn to Phobos for help — this goes about as well as expected. First chance he gets he betrays the girls, jumps across the veil to Meridian, conquers it and then heads to Candracar itself — only to get eaten by Cedric just as the Guardian's plan to de-power him is finally in motion. Cedric immediately targets Earth, and the girls pull out their last resort, becoming the embodiment of their respective elements and losing their humanity in the process. Fortunately, the newly freed Elyon, former Guardians, and Matt are able to call them back from the brink — and all's well that ends well.
The show focuses on the standard magical girl themes of perseverance, friendship and love, along with the not-often-seen "how to handle loss." The Guardians often find themselves at a disadvantage with their enemies, and are forced to make difficult decisions, like purposely losing a battle, so they can win the (all-too literal) war. But, as action-heavy as W.I.T.C.H. the series can be, it also strikes that slice-of-life sweet spot to remind you that these were once normal girls whose lives were thrown into chaos, and enough action, comedy and drama to keep even the most passive viewer engaged. A real gem of the '00s, the show definitely deserves a second chance, and a spot, on Disney+ — hopefully sooner, rather than later.