The 50 Greatest Harry Potter Characters - #10-1 5 years ago

The 50 Greatest Harry Potter Characters - #10-1

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”

The Harry Potter series changed the world. The best-selling series of books ever committed to paper encouraged a generation that reading could be fun, taught countless people life lessons and inspired a sensational film series that became a force of nature.

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This week, the book series turn twenty with the Philosopher's Stone having been released on June 26, 1997. We ranked the top fifty Potter characters, and finally, we have the top 10. Who do you think deserves the top spot?

You can read 50-41 here, 40-31 here, 30-21 here and 20-11 here.

Do you agree with out list? Let us know what changes you'd make (if any).

10. Draco Malfoy

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Malfoy became a more layered character as the series progressed, but he drew reader interest from the start – much to J.K. Rowling’s dismay, who saw him as a cruel, immoral bully, based on the worst of the bullies she had encountered at school.

Accompanied by his two idiot friends Crabbe and Goyle (who deserve an honourable mention on this list), he facilitated Dumbledore’s death and nearly died during the Battle of Hogwarts. His tortured roles in the final books made him a pitiful tool to do Voldemort’s bidding. In the end, we are almost as interested in his fate as Harry’s - Malfoy was such a presence in the earlier books, and gets a justified nod in the epilogue.

P.S. – That onscreen hug with Voldemort surely goes down as the most cringeworthy moment in the entire film franchise.

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9. Neville Longbottom

You again, Longbottom? Neville’s transformation from the terrified child in pyjamas to handsome Leodensian serpent-slayer is particularly profound in the films, but in the books, he blossoms gradually, gaining confidence as a member of D.A. and taking part in the Battle of the Astronomy Tower.

Neville is a fan favourite, not only as a champion of the effects of puberty but also for his story – the boy raised by his grandmother who overcame social awkwardness and a lack of magical talent to become a key player in the takedown of the Dark Lord. Magnifique.

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8. Harry Potter

Harry is a superb hero for a number of reasons – he is immensely brave, driven by morality, loyal, clever and resourceful. He is a fighter that we grow up with and admire. By the end of the series, he has become an icon in both book and real life.

However, Harry is far from perfect – few would count him as their favourite character. He is often overshadowed by stronger characters like Dumbledore, rarely owning the scene and always shirking the limelight. His very presence causes hundreds of deaths, and he is irritatingly ignorant of his own fame, always seeming bewildered when people are in awe of him. He neglected Hagrid, Ron and Hermione at times.

And if he’s so magical, why didn’t he correct his eyesight?

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7. Hermione Granger

A top student, feminist icon and Muggle-born, Hermione was seen as a role model for many readers and critics alike. She set the moral standard throughout the series, religiously sticking to rules, working hard and never giving up on Harry.

She had remarkable mental resilience, especially in the Deathly Hallows - when the other two crumbled, Hermione stood strong. She even wiped her own parents' memories just to protect them, removing all memory of her from their lives. Despite these traits, for many of the early books, Hermione wasn't really interesting. She also suffered from nerd pigeonholing (using time travel to attend extra classes… REALLY?)

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6. Ron Weasley

Ron was a bastion of loyalty throughout the books, which made his fight with Harry in the woods even more shocking. His humour, immaturity and good-natured personality made him a perfect foil for The Boy Who Lived and he was a favourite from the beginning, but he came of age in the end. His big family and lack of wealth were the polar opposite of Harry, but the pair’s bond from the off is what made the series tick.

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5. Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix’s charisma and terrifying magical power make her a force to be reckoned with, and every scene with her is dripping with lethal tension.

Her complete devotion to Voldemort and lack of any moral compass make her the most dangerous character apart from You-Know-Who himself. Her torture of a person as pure as Hermione copper-fastened her reputation as the malefactor-in-chief.

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4. Voldemort

He didn’t have a nose but good god, he had presence. Voldemort is one of the greatest villains in history - a mix of the worst 20th century dictators, legends of old and horrible nightmares.

Voldemort's most terrifying characteristic is his pervasiveness. Even when he is not physically there, he can hurt Harry by extending dark tendrils into his mind, reading his thoughts and poisoning his dreams.

The Horcruxes gave him near-invincibility for the whole series so that when he was finally vanquished, the readers had gone on an arduous journey, almost feeling a sense of accomplishment themselves. The architect of misery in the Potter world, Voldemort will also go down as one of the scariest villains ever to grace the screen due to the superb performances of Ralph Fiennes.

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3. Dolores Umbridge

What? A villain above Voldemort? Oh, wait… it’s Umbridge.

The Hogwarts High Inquisitor was terrifying in a number of ways. She dominated the entirety of the fifth book and film – dressed in pink, with a horrifyingly calm tolerance for torturing students. Her punishment for Harry – the “I must not tell lies” lines that carved words into his hands – was a gruesome highlight.

The scariest part of Umbridge was her conviction – she went about her job with utter certainty that she was in the right, even if she was causing children harm. She inspired genuine hate in Harry Potter readers, with Stephen King calling her “the greatest make-believe villain since Hannibal Lecter.”

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2. Albus Dumbledore

Dumbledore’s wisdom, kindly nature and charisma made him a favourite for readers and a talisman for good in the Harry Potter books.

His death came slowly and painfully for the readers – we had to watch him wither away and writhe in pain in pursuit of the Horcruxes before Snape cast him to his death.

Perhaps the most interesting facet of Dumbledore was the revelation that he had plenty of Machiavellian characteristics – in the final book it transpired he had been pulling strings behind the scenes since Harry’s infancy, using him as a pawn in the grand scheme to take down Voldemort. Finding out that Dumbledore had so many flaws (The whole planning to enslave Muggles with Grindelwald wasn’t very sound of him) made him a fascinating character, adding to his aura even after his death.

Throughout the saga, he was always keen to persuade Harry that Voldemort was incapable of the most powerful form of magic ever invented – love. Love is what kept Harry alive, and it is what keeps Voldemort from reigning supreme. That is a noble message. Dumbledore has also become a gay icon after Rowling revealed his sexuality in 2007 – hinting at Dumbledore having feelings for his ex-friend, the dark wizard Grindelwald.

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1. Severus Snape

The greatest character in the Harry Potter series is the product of the most fascinating character revelation in modern fiction.

Snape spent six and three-quarter books as a villain, dripping with condescension as he looked down his beaky nose at Potter & Co. His bat-like entrance to the books – cape billowing behind his gaunt figure – convinced us that he was the teacher we all loved to hate. He killed Dumbledore and betrayed everyone’s trust, fleeing in cowardice from McGonagall and eventually met his end at the jaws of Nagini.

But of course, that isn’t the full story.

The revelation that Snape was a double agent the whole time, a man in love with Lily Potter, is earth-shattering. The man we thought to be a wan sycophant is actually an antihero struggling with a huge burden. For years, every move Snape makes is a calculated play, to protect Harry, avenge Lily and defeat Voldemort. His clandestine heroism in the face of the most dangerous wizard of all time make him the greatest character in the series, and his death all the more poignant.

Snape was played perfectly in the films by Alan Rickman, and beautifully made chronological video detailing the life of his character can be seen here

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