It’s been 20 years since the first Harry Potter book, the Philosopher’s Stone, hit bookshelves and changed the lives of many, many children. Not since perhaps Star Wars in 1977 had a science fiction story captivated the minds of a generation like Harry Potter and his friends did. Much like Star Wars, it seems like we’re only at the beginning of an ever expanding Potter-verse. One of the main reasons that the books/films were so successful is that author JK Rowling spent a ton of time building her universe before she even penned the first chapter of Philospher’s Stone and it’s because of that deep, well-thought out universe that people became so entrenched in something that felt so real. So, with that in mind, we here at BabbleTop wanted to rank our favorite characters from the Harry Potter universe!
15. Professor Trelawney
Professor Sybil Trelawney is a witch and a professor of Divination at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Outside of Voldemort himself, she is probably most responsible for the fall of Voldemort and the beginning of the Harry Potter story as the “Boy Who Lived”. Of course, that depends on how much responsibility you place on someone who has visions. It was Trelawney’s prophecy about Voldemort and the one who would eventually vanquish him that lead Voldemort to Godric’s Hollow the fateful night that he killed both James and Lily Potter before attempting to cast a killing curse on the then one year old Harry Potter, only for it to backfire and strike him down at the height of his power. While that was her most famous prophecy she also had other major visions, such as the escape of Peter Pettigrew and the return of Voldemort in 1993/94. She gained a lot of readers love when she was fired by the just plain awful Dolores Umbridge, who like many, didn’t consider Divination to be a legitimate form of magic. She also participated in the Battle of Hogwarts, in which she dropped crystal balls on Death Eater’s heads and helped tend to the injured and dead.
Dobby was a House/Free Elf for the much hated Malfoy house, but despite the abuse that he endured by the Malfoy’s (which was bad even by House Elf standards) he seemed to go against the wishes of his masters more than a typical house-elf otherwise could/would. That’s what ended up endearing him to Harry Potter and readers of the books. Because of the information he was privy to as the house-elf of the Malfoy’s (and their interactions with Lord Voldemort) he was able to warn Harry Potter of his impending doom on more than one occasion, beginning with the events of the second book The Chamber of Secrets. It was because of his assistance in that book that Potter tricked Lucius Malfoy into freeing Dobby and after that he was one of Potter’s main allies up until his death in the Deathly Hallows. While he died young for a house-elf, he was buried a free elf, an honor few elves ever received and without his help Harry Potter would have never stood a chance against Voldemort and his death-eaters.
13. Dolores Umbridge
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is an amazing author but if there is one thing she knows how to write better than anything else it’s villains. Few are as loathsome as Dolores Umbridge, who first came into Hogwarts thanks to her work with the then Minister of Magic and her role as Madam Undersecretary. It was her underhanded and busybody ways that made her an immediately hated character but it was her treatment of Professor Trelawney that really pushed people over the edge. She would later follow Voldemort, after spending much of her time in her first appearance denying he had returned at all because, of course she would. So, while there are werewolves and literal dark lords walking around the Potter-verse, leave it to JK Rowling to make the most irredeemable character a petite older woman who loves the color pink and clearing her throat over and over, and over and over again.
12. James/Lily Potter
Considering their roles as Harry Potter’s parents, it made sense to combine both James and Lily Potter into the same spot on our list. While they were the parents of the “Chosen One” they were definitely two different people. James Potter came from one of the most prestigious Wizarding families in the world and because of that perhaps was a bit of a bully when he was younger, especially to one Severus Snape. Lily Potter was a Muggle-born witch who was the one that was actually responsible for Voldemort’s downfall. She utilized a form of ancient, sacrificial magic around her infant son and refused to step-aside when Lord Voldemort gave her the option to (as he had promised Severus Snape he wouldn’t harm her unless she “Got in the way”). As one of two sets of new parents that had thrice denied the advances of Voldemort, the thought is that either the Potters or the Longbottom’s could’ve been the parents of the “Chosen one”, especially considering the fact that the infant was “Chosen” by Voldemort and thus the prophecy of his downfall came true. There is a lot more to learn about both Lily and James and that’s why people have been clamoring for books about their generation at Hogwarts since the end of the seventh Potter book, with the Marauders (James, Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin) being a great idea for a story… Or seven.
11. Professor McGonagall
Outside of Dumbledore and perhaps Hagrid, there isn’t a Professor/staff member at Hogwarts as important at Professor McGonagall. After Dumbledore’s death and Severus Snape’s brief role as Headmaster, McGonigall actually ended up running the school that she loved for many years after the events of the eighth book. As the head of the Gryffindor house, she was basically omni-present during the books and was often left asking Harry, Ron and Hermoine: “Why is it always YOU THREE?”. An amazingly kind character with a backstory JK Rowling wrote but never included in the books, she’s been much more fleshed out thanks to the official website/community known as Pottermore. It’s in those short stories that you learn of her (almost) marriage to a muggle, which adds some much needed sadness to her backstory (as it wouldn’t be Harry Potter without a sad backstory!). Her role during the Battle of Hogwarts can’t be overstated, nor can her duel with Severus Snape. Man, McGonagall was a bad ass!
10. Draco Malfoy
Draco Malfoy begins the books as a pretty black and white character, he mostly exists to be the bully at Hogwarts and while that’s compelling, it’s his role in the later books that places him on this list. He’s still a child that is torn between duty and family and while he seems like the perfect fit to kill Dumbledore after he is chosen by Voldemort for the task, it’s his fear and indecision that almost makes you feel for the guy. While he and Harry eventually do bury the hatchet, after Harry uses Sectumsempra to slash him wide open, he always seems like the type of guy you can’t trust. His and Harry’s sons play a large role in the Cursed Child play but considering the reception that that play received, it’s probably best that we focus on other things. It’s the fact that even someone as awful as Malfoy can redeem themselves shows that JK Rowling is a master at creating characters and because of his eventual complexity he ends up on this list.
9. Bellatrix Lestrange
If there is a purely one dimensional character in the Harry Potter books it’s Bellatrix Lestrange. She’s pretty much just crazy and evil and willing to do whatever the Dark Lord asks of her in order to help achieve his goals. After the release of the Cursed Child play/script, it was realized that she was literally willing to do anything. Apparently at some point she and Voldemort conceived a child together. While even the most ardent fans of Harry Potter had a hard time with the fan-fiction-y aspects of that play, that revelation helped bring some much needed complexity to her character. But, that’s not to say that she’s a bad character by any strech of the imagination, she wouldn’t be on this list otherwise. The books needed a character like her, as not everyone is super complex and considering the family she grew up in it made sense that she was a pure blood fanatic. Her duel with Molly Weasley during the Battle of Hogwarts was a highlight of the books, as well, and that’s saying something.
8. Sirius Black
Sirius Black perhaps personifies better than anyone, author JK Rowling’s ability to write complex characters. Especially considering that many write the Potter books off as children’s books. It’s perhaps her ability to blend adult themes and complexity with children’s stories that made her the billionaire she is today. Sirius Black, like a few others, is introduced in the books as a villain. In the Prisoner of Azkaban, it is thought that he was the one that betrayed James and Lily Potter to Voldemort and gave him their location as they hid with their one year old son. It’s at the end of that book that it’s realized that Black wasn’t the one after all but it was Ron’s rat, Scabbers, that was in fact the one who betrayed one of his best friends in James Potter. Scabbers was of course Peter Petigrew in his Animagus form, as each member of the Mauraders could turn into an animal as the group of best friends wanted to make sure that their friend Remus Lupin wouldn’t be alone when he transformed into a werewolf once a month. It’s that amazing friendship that makes Petigrew’s betrayal all the more terrible, and when Black is vindicated and finally is able to act as the god-father he was to Harry, it warmed everyone’s hearts. That is, of course, until his cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange killed him during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, which was one of the more heart wrenching parts of the books. Can’t Harry ever have anything nice?
If there was one member of the staff at Hogwart’s that more than anyone acted as a friend to Harry, Ron and Hermoine it’s Rubeus Hagrid. Like many people in the books, Hagrid had a sad back-story as a student at Hogwarts. He was framed by the then Tom Riddle for the death of Moaning Myrtle herself, after Riddle opened the Chamber of Secrets. Because of that, Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts and his wand was broken, despite that, then teacher Albus Dumbledore saw something in the young half-giant and decided to keep him on as Gameskeeper. He had a huge role in the books as he was the one to deliver Harry to the Dursley’s at the beginning of the Philosopher’s Stone and was also responsible for bringing him to Hogwart’s before his first year. At one point Dumbledore went as far to say that he would trust Hagrid with his life, which makes you think that he had to believe that Hagrid had nothing to do with Myrtle’s demise. Either way, if the main trio of the books ever needed help of any kind they could always rely on Hagrid and despite his inability to do most magic by that point, it made him a completely integral character nonetheless.
6. Ron Weasley
Poor Ron. The youngest of the Weasley boys, he was essentially clothed in nothing but hand me down’s from his older brothers, most of whom had reputations that were impossible for him to live up to. It’s because of that, perhaps, that he didn’t really try, but considering his parents didn’t even buy him his own wand, it’s hard not to see why. Considering the fact that magic done with another’s wand is a fraction as powerful as magic done by one’s own wand and you have to think that maybe his parents were telling him something. However, outside of a lapse in character in the Goblet of Fire (where he showed jealously towards Harry) and again in the Deathly Hallows (where he was being manipulated by the locket around his neck) he was always there for his best friend and it was that support that helped Harry through a lot of the hard times. If Hermoine was the go to in times of danger, Ron was the go to every other time, for moral support or when Harry needed someone to step in as his second in a duel. That’s true friendship and Harry couldn’t have found a better friend than Ron.
5. Hermoine Granger
Hermoine Granger was a Muggle-born witch who was the best in her class at Hogwarts, which was saying a lot considering she was peers/friends with “The Chosen One” himself, Harry Potter. Author JK Rowling herself has often said that Granger was mirrored after herself, a sort of know-it-all while she was in school. It’s that personality, which was a total opposite of her eventual Husband Ron Weasley, that lead many (including Rolwing herself) to say that she probably should’ve ended up with Harry instead of Ron (Especially since Ron and Hermoine spent a lot of the early books constantly arguing with one another). The truth is, that without Hermoine, Ron and Harry would never have made it through any of the trials and adventures that they embarked/stumbled upon as her vast knowledge of all things magic (and nearly bottomless bag of supplies) helped them narrowly escape death on many occasions.
4. Severus Snape
There are several tragic figures in the Harry Potter books but none more so than Severus Snape. His character is perhaps the most amazingly written of all of the amazingly written characters and when his motivations finally come out during The Deathly Hallows, it would make even Lord Voldemort get all misty eyed. While he was often extremely hard on Harry, because of the hatred that Snape had for his father, James, he also protected him more often than not as he saw the love of his life, Lily, in his eyes. He was often viewed as an untrustworthy antagonist in the books, so when it was finally shown that he was actually a TRIPLE agent working for Dumbledore to protect Harry and avenge the death of Lily, it was one of the things that make these books new classics. The fact that his patronus mirrored Lily’s, even after over a decade, surprised even Dumbledore and his one word response solidified his role as the saddest character in the books. It’s because of this that many fans have theorized that he could’ve survived the attack by Negini, Voldemort’s snake, as he was a potions master and would’ve most likely had an anti-venom on his person (this is supported by the fact that he wasn’t present when Harry used the Resurrection Stone later in the books), the fact that he died to protect Harry gave him at least and ending like his love’s and one has to think that he couldn’t think of a better way to go out. Always, indeed.
3. Albus Dumbledore
Albus Dumbledore was one of the greatest wizards of his age (and/or ever) and while his story has yet to be completely fleshed out (it’s going to be a huge part of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sequels), he’s still one of the most intriguing characters in the Harry Potter-verse. Much of his backstory was explored in the books, especially in the Deathly Hallows and while it came as a surprise to many to learn that he initially started on a dark path not unlike Lord Voldemort himself, it was the error of his ways and the eventual death of his sister, Ariana, that helped explain why Dumbledore was such a tragic character who seemed entirely selfless in his later years. While brief, his duel with Voldemort in the atrium at the Ministry of Magic was probably the most amazing part of the films and it’s not even considered his most impressive duel. That title belongs to the duel he had with his former friend/lover/partner in crime Gellert Grindelwald, a duel that ended up giving Dumbledore control over the Elder Wand which will take place in the final Fantastic Beasts film. We can’t wait!
2. Lord Voldemort
There’s a reason that Tom Marvolo Riddle aka Lord Voldemort is considered one of the best villains in fiction, ever, despite being a relatively new entry to the category. While he’s evil for the sake of being evil, the reasoning behind it makes you almost feel bad for him. The son of one of the last heirs of Salazar Slytherin, Merope Gaunt and a wealthy muggle by the name of Tom Riddle Sr., he was conceived under the effects of a love potion and thus was unable to feel or understand love. It’s that lack of understanding that lead to Voldemort’s downfall (both times) as he didn’t understand how Lily Potter’s love would protect her son and in the Deathly Hallows, he didn’t understand that Narcissa Malfoy would betray him by lying about whether or not Harry Potter was dead because she loved her own son more than she feared/respected him. While he is attempting to infiltrate Harry Potter’s mind at the end of the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter gets a glimpse into Voldemort’s soul and realizes that he will never know love or friendship and tells him that he does in fact feel bad for him. You’re not alone, Harry. You’re not alone.
1. Harry Potter
There wouldn’t be a Harry Potter without… You guessed it, Harry Potter! While it has been theorized by fans of the books for awhile that perhaps either Potter or Neville Longbottom could’ve ended up being the “Chosen One”/”Boy Who Lived” depending on which child Voldemort decided to kill, the fact is that Voldemort did choose Harry and he became the child mentioned in Professor Trelawney’s prophecy. A lot of similar lists place Harry surprisingly low on their list of characters from the books as Harry is considered to be a pretty boring protagonist by more than a few. That couldn’t actually be further from the truth as he serves as the perfect jumping in point for readers as a child who was completely unaware of magic or his role in the Wizarding world until the summer before he left for Hogwarts. While one could argue (like author JK Rowling has) that he probably should’ve married Hermoine, he’s still great because he’s so relate-able and that’s what makes these books as good as they really are as Potter is the reader. It’s that plain-ness that allows every other character to be so unique and it’s because of that sacrifice (among the thousands he made in the books) that makes him the best character in the books that bear his name!