For even more Top 25 lists, check out our picks for the 25 Best Disney Animated Movies, the Top 25 Marvel Villains, or the 25 Best Adult Cartoon TV Series!
It’s time to take another look at the wonderful Harry Potter series with our picks for the 25 best characters.
Before we reveal our choices, a quick word about the selection process… These are based on overall fan reaction, impact on the franchise (novels and films weighed equally), character relevance to the best moments in the series, and significance in the Potter mythos. If you’re surprised that your own faves didn’t make the list, that’s what the comments are for!
Now, join us in the Great Hall for this special assembly as we look at the top 25 Harry Potter characters…
“Such a beautiful place… to be with friends.” It’s difficult to not get a bit misty-eyed recalling the moment when Dobby the house-elf said those words in Deathly Hallows Part 1, which were among his last. When we met Dobby, admittedly, he was pretty annoying. He was a strange, little creature with a habit of hurting himself, who made things very difficult for Harry Potter as he began his second year at Hogwarts. But Dobby’s intentions were always noble, and his determination to help Harry, despite the short term consequences, was commendable.
Dobby’s role in the film series is far smaller than in the books, where he made frequent appearances in-between Chamber of Secrets and Deathly Hallows. In the books, we saw more of how kind-hearted and loyal Dobby was, particularly towards Harry Potter, to whom he was indebted for his freedom. But even those who only knew Dobby from The Chamber of Secrets film were probably affected by his sacrifice in The Deathly Hallows Part 1, where he proved crucial in freeing Harry and his friends from a horrific scenario, only to fall victim to Bellatrix Lestrange in the process. The fact that Dobby, in his dying moments, clearly had no regrets about literally giving his all for his friend Harry resulted in one of the most touching moments in the series.
His reputation may have eventually been overshadowed by Voldemort, but there was a time when Grindelwald was the most feared villain in all the wizarding world. He only has one brief appearance in the main Harry Potter series, though one where he manages to stymie even Voldemort himself.
It’s the Fantastic Beasts movies where Grindelwald is truly coming into his own as a villain. These prequels are showcasing Grindelwald’s reign of terror in the early 20th Century and his troubled relationship with close friend-turned-rival Albus Dumbledore. It’s not every villain that can manage to hide in plain sight for an entire movie before finally revealing himself.
On hand in Chamber of Secrets as a lovesick little girl/vessel for Tom Riddle’s madness (following her cameo in The Sorcerer’s Stone), Ginny and Harry’s eventual romance captivated us. It seemed to both spring up out of nowhere and feel like it was meant to be all along. It was only natural that Harry should wind up finding love in the same family where he found…well, family. It was refreshing to finally see someone in Hogwarts see Harry as the proud and pensive catch that he was.
While it wasn’t really captured in the films, Ginny becomes a true leader of rebel forces like no other. She’s a strong, determined and alluring young woman who is always there to fight the forces of evil as a member of Dumbledore’s Army. Ginny is the quintessential “girl who got her guy” – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Gilderoy Lockhart is a real charmer. It’s through sheer charisma (and the occasional memory charm) that he established himself in society as one of the most accomplished wizards of all time, without actually performing any of the heroic acts he claims to have done in numerous best-selling books.
The vain and self-aggrandizing Lockhart’s habit of exaggerating his own deeds would backfire when he was hired as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He would at first relish the position as yet another avenue of self-promotion, but his buffoonery and incompetence soon got the best of Lockhart. His false claims are revealed by Harry Potter and his friends after Lockhart cowardly attempted to flee the school upon being ordered to confront the monster in the Chamber of Secrets.
Albus Severus Potter
Harry Potter may have faced a difficult childhood being known as “The Boy Who Lived,” but that’s nothing compared to growing up with the biggest celebrity in the wizarding world for a father. Making matters worse is that Albus Severus is named after two of the other most important wizards in history. His central conflict is right there in his name. He feels the pull between fame and anonymity, good and evil, and Gryffindor and Slytherin.
To date, the Potter movies have only given us a small glimpse of Harry and Ginny’s troubled son. To get the full story behind Albus Severus’ time at Hogwarts and the adventures he faces, you have to be lucky enough to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on stage. But we’re hopeful that it’ll only be a matter of time before this young wizard gets his time in the cinematic spotlight.
Imagine the perfect, loving, giving mother – and then add magic. That’s Molly Weasley for you. We love her husband Arthur as well, but Molly’s treatment of Harry has always been a particularly wonderful part of the series. Harry is an orphan, treated horribly by his aunt and uncle – and his relationship with his godfather, Sirius, was tragically short. But since the day Harry met Molly, she’s treated him like another son and given him the love, support, and yes, Christmas presents, he’d been lacking in his life.
While we’re used to Molly as a lovably concerned (or amusingly chastising, if you’re Fred and George), classic mother figure, she also has her own courage and strength to call upon – willingly risking herself as a member of the Order of the Phoenix. And when her children are threatened, well… Let’s just say, Bellatrix learned her lesson the hard way.
Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody
Grizzled. If there’s one word that could describe Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody in a nutshell, it’s “grizzled.” One of the most renowned Aurors of all time, Moody was a fierce fighter for good in the First and Second Wizarding Wars. He’d lost an eye, which was replaced with a magical one, he has a wooden leg, and his face is covered with scars. His experiences in battle left him emotionally damaged as well — paranoid, bitter, and eccentric.
In spite of his seemingly fragile mental state, the veteran Moody was convinced to come out of retirement by Dumbledore to serve as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. But Moody was shortly attacked by Barty Crouch Jr., who would trap and subsequently impersonate him using polyjuice potion in service of Voldemort. The real Moody would go on to serve in the reformed Order of the Phoenix, faithfully protecting Harry Potter from Voldemort and his forces until he died in the line of duty in The Deathly Hallows Part 1.
As the head of Gryffindor house and Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall can be a strict disciplinarian. She is quick to kick misbehaving students out of her class, and deduct house points when the situation warrants. But she can also be kind of like that cool aunt of yours — the one who sometimes lets you get away with a bit of mischief. And that’s what’s so endearing about McGonagall.
She grew up attending Hogwarts and returned to the school as an adult to teach Transfiguration, under Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, who would later entrust her with the Deputy Headmistress position and serve with her in the Order of the Phoenix during the First Wizarding War. After the infant Harry Potter’s defeat of Voldemort, McGonagall was one of the members of the Order who traveled to Privet Drive to leave the child in the care of the Dursley family whom she viewed as the “worst kind” of Muggles. She would later take Potter into her own house at Hogwarts and watch over him throughout his time there.
Oh, how we hate this woman… which is why she belongs on this list. J.K. Rowling really outdid herself when she created Dolores Umbridge. Voldemort is a terrific villain to be sure – but it could be argued that he never got under our skin like Umbridge did. Perhaps it’s because Voldemort came in and out of Harry’s life. His threat was ongoing, but he wasn’t walking around the hallways of Hogwarts. But Umbridge? For one miserable year, she was a constant, miserable presence in Harry’s life.
This is a woman who thinks the appropriate way to punish a student involves making him perform a ritual which, thanks to magic, causes him to bleed over and over again – one of many despicable acts. The fact that she spoke in a blatantly forced sing-song voice and wore gaudy pink clothing only added to her hideousness. Imelda Staunton does a great job playing this character, but it should be noted that as nasty as Umbridge is in the film, in the book, she’s even worse – causing many a Harry Potter reader to feel true hate for this fictional character. Stephen King referred to Umbridge as “the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter.”
Draco Malfoy was trouble from the second we met him, so it was no shock to discover his dear old dad was cut from the same cloth. A man of power and influence in the wizarding world, Lucius hides behind a shield of wealth, while plotting some very dark things. A longtime supporter of Voldemort, it was his actions that set into motion the entire plotline of The Chamber of Secrets, as he slid Tom Riddle’s old diary into Ginny Weasley’s cauldron. His unwarranted, biting comments about the Weasley family are enough to make us hate him, but on top of that, Lucius has shown he is willing to do anything in support of his Dark Lord, including one-on-one confrontations with Harry.
Lucius is brought to life in the films by the great Jason Isaacs, who gives the character just the right arrogant, smug attitude – you can feel Lucius’ absolute conviction in his actions, and his anger that a boy like Potter would dare attempt to stop Voldemort and those, like Lucius, who follow his lead. Watching Lucius’ fall from grace in The Deathly Hallows Part 1, as he now had much more to prove to his Dark Lord, only added to our fascination with the character.
It wouldn’t do for a Harry Potter spinoff series to feature a Harry Potter clone in the lead role. Thankfully, Newt Scamander has quickly established himself as a very different sort of wizard hero. Nerdy, awkward and obsessed with his work, Newt is sort of like if Hermione had been the main protagonist of the Harry Potter movies.
Thanks to the Fantastic Beasts prequels, Newt has become our gateway into the weird and wonderful creatures of the Harry Potter universe. We do wish the first two movies had done more to truly flesh out Newt as a character and not just Dumbledore’s soft-spoken errand boy, but at least Newt still has several more movies in which to find himself. The character currently scores an N for “Needs Improvenewt.”
Harry Potter had good reason to distrust Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, given his experiences in his first two years. Lucky for him, Remus Lupin was cut from very different cloth than Quirrell or Lockhart. Lupin is a kind, caring presence in Harry’s life, and while Dumbledore certainly was already looking out for Harry, Lupin was a much more available source of comfort and support for the orphaned boy, during the single year he taught him – at least when it wasn’t a full moon. An old friend of Harry’s parents, he was able to give Harry personal, intimate insight into who they were that no one else had been able to provide.
All that, and he’s a werewolf! Lupin doesn’t see that as a plus of course, but it’s a very cool extra component to the character, as we see this thoughtful, warm man work to control the monster he turns into. And while Lupin’s role is lessened after The Prisoner of Azkaban, he remains a dependable figure in Harry’s life and a valiant member of the Order of the Phoenix – and eventually, for Tonks, something even more important.
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