Tarot Readings in Movies & TV, Ranked by Accuracy


Tarot cards are a quick and easy way for a story to foreshadow future events, dig deeper into a character’s psyche, or just to spook the audience. Reading cards can be a fun and revealing exercise, but movie and TV readings are often just plain off the mark. The most common example of this is the Death card: it’s usually pulled to freak a character out, and interpreted as a bad omen. But Death in a Tarot deck really indicates big, transformational change. (A genuinely foreboding Tarot reading might include The Tower, which forecasts destruction.)

Below, we rank some TV and movies’ most prominent Tarot readings, from least to most accurate.

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Nancy Drew

Image via The CW

Depending on how you view it, Nancy Drew season 3 either had the best or worst use of Tarot cards on television. The reading in question happened at the beginning of the season via Nancy’s (Kennedy McMann) sinister ancestor, Temperance Hudson (Bo Martynowska). Her predictions turned out to be fairly accurate forecasts for the Drew Crew, but here’s the twist: Temperance didn’t use Tarot cards at all, which is why Nancy is at the bottom of the rankings. There are plenty of non-Tarot fortune-telling decks out there, but these (with names like “The Pact,” “The Widow,” and “The Griffin”) appear to be made up for the show. Hey, if you create your own cards, it’s much easier to tailor your plot lines around them. Clever move, Nancy Drew.


Penny Dreadful

Image via Showtime

On Penny Dreadful, Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) is a genuine psychic. She tends to use the cards as a conduit for her visions, so her readings aren’t always what we might expect based on the cards. In the words of her mentor, the Cut-Wife (Patti LuPone), the cards aren’t always literal.

For instance, in the season 1 episode “What Death Can Join Together,” she pulls the Five of Cups and The Moon in connection to her search for Mina (Olivia Llewellyn) and recent showdown with some vampires. The Five is a card of loss, grief and regret, while The Moon indicates the subconscious. Somehow, Vanessa’s reading triggers visions of a boat. While those cards may have some bearing on the situation, they definitely wouldn’t have pointed towards the harbor without Vanessa’s unique ability.

My So-Called Life

Image via ABC

On My So-Called Life, Rayanne’s (A.J. Langer) mom Amber (Patti D’Arbanville) establishes herself as “the cool mom” with a familial tarot reading. She certainly takes a lot of liberties based on what she already knows of Angela’s (Claire Danes) home life. But she’s working with a Jungian Tarot deck, so maybe it’s a given that her reading would be a bit more psychological.

Amber interprets The World to indicate both Angela and her mom, “the daughter who hides her feelings behind, like, a mask.” She also connects The Moon (the card that’s “covering” Angela) to motherhood, calling it “the deadly mother” and “the wicked witch.” Even taking a Jungian approach, this is a stretch — The World is a card of closure and completion. That said, the show does earn our first Tarot Bingo free space for clearly stating that Death doesn’t have to mean Death, ‘It’s like, one door opens, another closes.”


Image via WB

Here’s what happens when some real witches get their hands on a deck. The Charmed sisters consult the Tarot a few times, but perhaps the most notable is Paige’s (Rose McGowan) reading shortly before Phoebe’s (Alyssa Milano) wedding to (secretly evil) Cole (Julian McMahon) in “Marry-Go-Round.” When Phoebe gives her a new deck as a bridesmaid gift, Paige does a three-card reading and gets The Lovers, Despair, and Death. She tries again later and gets the same three cards, which is how you know it’s serious.

First red flag: there is no “Despair” card in the Tarot deck, although the design looks a lot like the Three of Swords, which indicates heartbreak. Second red flag: the show leans into the Death card cliché, as Paige considers it a “bad omen” Though Piper (Holly Marie Combs) does counsel her that this is “not necessarily” true. Big change is definitely coming for Phoebe, but sadly, none of our witches really see it coming.

Wine Country

Image via Netflix

Who wouldn’t want their cards read by Cherry Jones? And her character in Wine Country is pretty legit. All of her individual readings are fairly accurate — bonus points for not misrepresenting Death (calling it “a metamorphosis”). But things get a little dicey when she does the group reading. She lays out a three card spread, which can mean a lot of things (the most common being Past, Present, Future). The cards are the Seven of Cups, Four of Wands, and Temperance. She interprets them based on the images depicted on the cards, including “fighting snakes” that indicate “you all surround yourself with battles” and “secrets,” as well as “river stones” that have been “worn over time” and are now “smooth and dull.”

This is a pretty rough reading for some mostly inoffensive cards. The Seven is about opportunities and illusion; the Four is a card of celebration; and Temperance is about balance and moderation. None of those cards typically indicate secrets or eternal duels. And while Temperance might not be the most “dynamic” card, “smooth and dull” is an uncharitable interpretation. It definitely got the Wine Country gals riled up, though!

Pretty Little Liars

Image via Freeform

In the Pretty Little Liars season 1 episode, “There’s No Place Like Homecoming,” Spencer (Troian Bellisario) helps throw a super swanky carnival-themed homecoming, but she can’t really enjoy it because of “A”-related paranoia. Attempting to spy on her friend Emily (Shay Mitchell) and her own future boyfriend, the still-suspicious Toby (Keegan Allen), she ducks into the fortune teller’s (Rose Abdoo) booth.

The reader lays out a (partial) Celtic cross with a worn Visconti Sforza deck, telling Spencer “There’s a lot of anxiety in these cards.” Fair enough — it’s a pretty intense reading so far: The Lovers, crossed by Judgment with Devil (reversed) above, The Hanged Man below, and The Moon (reversed) in the “past” position. Her interpretation of The Lovers paired with Judgment could possibly mean “there’s something wrong with this couple.” And while The Devil reversed often means breaking free of negative patterns, in a love reading, it could mean leaving a bad relationship (though “violence or vengeance” may be a stretch.)

Her other readings are less accurate. The prediction of “a journey” and “taking care of someone” who “could be hurt” might fit Spencer’s story, but they don’t necessarily suit any of those cards. (The Moon reversed can indicate repression, so that might possibly fit her observation that Spencer is “running away” from something.) But things really fall apart when the reader flips over the card in the “future” position. It’s Death, with a message from A written on it: “KISS BYE BYE TO YOUR BFF.” Who knows how A (aka Mona, played by Janel Parrish) managed to rig that one, but in this case, we’ll excuse the cheap “Death is a bad card” cliché because it ultimately boils down to one teenager trying to scare another.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Image via Netflix

It’s all the more painful when witchy shows misrepresent the Tarot. In the Season 2 episode “Dreams in a Witch House” of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Madame Satan (Michelle Gomez) disguises herself as a nondescript reader and gives Sabrina (Kieran Shipka) and the gang some ominous predictions. Given that Madame Satan is trying to sow some discord, we’ll allow that the predictions are somewhat rigged, but regardless, the accuracy of the reading is a mixed bag.

Theo (Lachlan Watson) and Zelda (Miranda Otto) readings are fine, but Sabrina’s and Roz’s (Jaz Sinclair) are a bit too surface level (The Magician to indicate Sabrina’s warlock boyfriend, and blind Justice connected to Roz’s actual eyesight problems). Harvey’s (Ross Lynch) is way more extreme, with The Hanged Man predicting the death of a future roommate (this card usually means personal sacrifice). Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) gets some accurate cards, with The Hierophant and The Devil both pointing to his relationship with Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle). But unfortunately, he then pulls Death to indicate his boyfriend’s peril. Say it with us now… Death does not mean Death!

Live & Let Die

Image via United Artist

Roger Moore’s first outing as James Bond takes the easy way out, Tarot-wise, but sometimes simple is best. When Bond meets the mysterious psychic Solitaire (Jane Seymour), she already knows a lot about him based on her cards. When she does a reading for their first meeting, he pulls The Fool, vaguely telling him, “You have found yourself.” (The Fool usually indicates the beginning of a journey, which makes sense for him at this point of the film and for Moore in his 007 journey.) He then pulls The Lovers, suggesting it predicts their future together — pretty straightforward, but accurate nevertheless.

Bond later ferrets out a mole by a message delivered in the form of the Queen of Cups reversed, which he identifies as “a deceitful, perverse woman, a liar, a cheat.” The card can indeed be a disloyal woman, so he gets a point there. Unfortunately, we have to subtract a thousand points for tricking Solitaire into sleeping with him with a stacked Lovers deck. Even if she’d already seen it in her own cards, it was a pretty slimy move.

House of Gucci

Image via United Artists Releasing

Somehow, it just makes sense for Lady Gaga’s Patrizia Reggiani to get her cards read. Pina (Salma Hayek), a fortune teller, turns out to be a sinister influence on the House of Gucci bride, and her reading helps inspire Patrizia’s scheming. She says she sees, “An abuse of trust. An attempt to deceive you in your own house,” in the cards. While the Ten of Wands can mean a heavy burden, none of the cards necessarily indicate abuse of trust. (The Seven of Swords would have been a good one for this, but no swords in this reading.)

On the more accurate side, Pina indicates The Star to tell her she has “a great love in [her] life.” The Star isn’t necessarily romantic, but it is a card of great hope, and Patrizia has pinned all her hopes to Maurizio (Adam Driver). She says that “together, you can conquer the world” and that Patrizia “will be the queen,” which is a reasonable interpretation of the King and Queen of Pentacles in this reading (particularly with the Queen in the “future” position).

Mad Men

Image via AMC

In “The Mountain King,” Anna Draper (Melinda Page Hamilton) — the original Don Draper’s wife — gives the new Don (Jon Hamm) a very spiritual reading. She says the cards indicate he’s “definitely in a strange place,” though she could also have gotten that from his running away and hiding out from his life with the wife of the man whose identity he stole. She’s pleased to see the reversed Sun as the first card, but Don is put off by Judgment. He calls it “the end of the world”) but she, not inaccurately, calls it “the resurrection.”

She accurately explains the “self” position in her Celtic Cross spread, telling him it describes “what you are bringing to the reading.” His card is The World, which Anna takes to mean he’s “part of the world” and connected to all things. She adds that “the only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone,” which might have more to do with her knowledge of Don than the card itself. But The World is a card of closure, so maybe she’s seeing his path to fulfillment in the card.

Sagely, she tells him: “I think she stands for wisdom. Once you live, you learn things.” It’s absolutely one of the better Tarot readings on television — especially because Don’s path to fulfillment ends up manifesting in a spiritual California retreat, a full circle moment for the character that definitely calls back to The World.

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