It’s hard to think of a more impactful movie franchise than Harry Potter, in literature as well as on screen, and like us, you probably still remember every character as if you grew up with them (which you kind of did).
There’s the most obvious – Harry, Ron and Hermione – but in fact, many would say that the characters they remember and love the most were secondary. So without further ado, here is a ranking of the top 30 Harry Potter characters from worst to best.
Buckle up, wizards! Or shall we say, hop on your broomsticks!
30. Dolores Umbridge
Actress: Imelda Staunton
Most characters that are absolutely despicable are always the most delightful. But in the case of Dolores Umbridge, her cruelty as the temporary professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts in The Order of the Phoenix is almost unbearable – so much so that she’s officially the worst Harry Potter character. Although the series has a slew of horrible villains to choose from, Umbridge’s torturing methods and pink aesthetics are so creepy, we’re glad she didn’t come back for another movie.
Actor: Julian Glover
Yes, this is the giant spider from The Chamber of Secrets that we’re talking about here. The fact that Hagrid loved this terrifying beast as if it were his own child is enough for it to deserve a place in this list. Like Harry says himself when the enormous spider gets a funeral in The Half-Blood Prince, maybe the pincers didn’t exactly make it look approachable, but hey – whoever is a friend of Hagrid is our friend too.
28. Rita Skeeter
Actress: Miranda Richardson
That annoying Daily Prophet journalist in The Goblet of Fire is difficult to forget as she managed to irritate the living hell out of almost every single character she spoke with. From the indiscreet questions she asked the students, to the downright false information she would jot down with her magic quill…we can’t say this character will be fondly remembered. In fact, let’s try and not remember her at all.
If it had had more scenes, Buckbeak would definitely have ranked higher in our list. The friendly, majestic hippogriff that Harry sort of tames and turns into a loyal steed in The Prisoner of Azkaban is such a breathtaking CGI bird that it’s difficult not to include it somewhere in our ranking. So here it goes, thank you for existing, Buckbeak.
26. Moaning Myrtle
Actress: Shirley Henderson
You probably remember her for the toilet crying scenes she is best known for in The Chamber of Secrets. It’s also difficult to forget that incredibly uncomfortable scene where she gets in the bath with Harry in The Goblet of Fire. But as strange and moany as this character can be, we still like her. At least enough for her to not be placed 30th.
25. Argus Filch
Actor: David Bradley
It’s easy to forget Hogwarts’ grumpy caretaker, as he only appears in a handful of scenes. It’s not like we’d fancy having a cup of tea with him either, but Filch’s presence in almost every movie of the franchise makes him an essential part of the Potter universe. In fact, he was so memorable, we couldn’t help but refer to him as “Filch” even when he starred in Game of Thrones!
24. Sybill Trelawney
Actress: Emma Thompson
No one likes to have their fortune read only to learn that they might die in a few days. If that kind of premonition also terrifies you, it’s understandable if Sybill Trelawney, professor of Divination at Hogwarts, freaks you out just a bit. But when someone is played by Emma Thompson and looks like your lovable weird aunt who only wants the best for you, it’s hard not to like her at least a little.
23. Horace Slughorn
Actor: Jim Broadbent
The Potions professor we meet in The Half-Blood Prince, is altogether eccentric and gentle. Perhaps he was too gentle though, as his faith in Tom Riddle, aka Voldemort, blinded him from spotting his fascist-y ambition. That being said, as tiresome as his naivety can be, dear Horace still helped Harry gather enough information to continue his quest against Voldy, so we’re not going to hold a grudge. Kind of.
22. Cho Chang
Actress: Katie Leung
Harry’s first love must and will be in this list, because who doesn’t remember the whole cinema swooning when Harry and Cho finally kissed in The Order of the Phoenix? Cho Chang is unfortunately one of those mysterious characters that we don’t get to see much of in the movies (especially since Harry eventually falls in love with Ginny Weasley), but we’ll still thank her for showing Harry that life isn’t just about spells and evil wizards.
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21. Remus Lupin
Actor: David Thewlis
Of all the father figures Harry gets in this franchise, Remus is one of the most charismatic and impactful in Harry’s journey. A former bestie of his father James, Lupin is a werewolf who struggles with his curse, while also being part of the badass ‘Order of the Phoenix’ – a resume we’d all like to have.
20. Luna Lovegood
Actress: Evanna Lynch
Luna Lovegood is one of those characters that your friends either rolled their eyes at or adored with all their hearts. In true Ravenclaw fashion, she is quirky and knows a lot of things, but beyond being a breath of fresh air for Harry’s grim world, she is also a loyal and helpful friend. Other than Dobby, Luna is certainly the cutest character of the bunch!
19. Minerva McGonagall
Actress: Maggie Smith
If one thing is certain, it’s that the image of a cat turning into a pointy hat-wearing lady will always be remembered. From her first appearance in The Philosopher’s Stone to her last in The Deathly Hallows: Part II, Minera McGonagall is a quiet albeit crucial pillar of Harry’s world who makes us want to do our homework and behave even if we don’t want to.
Hedwig, in true howl fashion, cannot speak and she’s probably the most underrated in the Wizarding World. But that doesn’t make her any less important in Harry’s long quest against evil. Though she’s easy to ignore, Hedwig is always by his side from the first movie to the last, all the way to her heartbreaking sacrifice. In fact, her departure truly marks the end of Harry’s childhood and the beginning of a new era. We salute you, Hedwig.
17. Harry Potter
Actor: Daniel Radcliffe
Let’s be honest, Harry might have a few funny lines here and there in the movies, but the-boy-who-lived is one of those lead characters whose friends are actually the best part of the story. Though it’s not to say that he isn’t likable! In fact, it’s obvious Harry has a kind heart and is loyal to those he loves, but the movie (and the books) make him purposefully passive enough for the other characters to truly shine.
16. Albus Dumbledore
Actor: Michael Gambon
Albus Dumbledore is a mysterious character whose motives and secrets remain well-hidden for the majority of the franchise – which is partly what makes his charm. Still, even if Harry’s caring headmaster isn’t always as talkative as we’d like him to be, his ultimate sacrifice shows that everything he’s always done was for the right reasons. Okay, we’re sobbing.
15. Ginny Weasley
Actress: Bonnie Wright
Ginny had it better than Cho Chang, in that she isn’t just remembered as being Harry’s love interest. From the little we see of her in the movies, she starts off as a shy, but kind young girl who evolves into a badass, confident witch. Shout out to Ginny for getting out of the ‘best friend’s little sister’ zone in less time than it takes to say ‘Quidditch’. Applause, please for one of the best female characters of the series.
14. Mrs. Weasley
Actress: Julie Walters
The Weasley family are national treasures, and anyone who says otherwise is a fool. A bit tough on her children, Molly Weasley still has a heart of gold and cares for her kids so deeply that she eventually kills one of the most powerful, cruelest witches, Bellatrix Lestrange, to protect them. Mother of the century, indeed.
Actor: Toby Jones
We’re still sad about Dobby, you’re still sad about Dobby, everyone is still sad about Dobby. The loyal house elf who helped Harry and his friends from the moment he was freed from servitude until the end of the franchise is one of the most lovable fantastic creatures in the Wizarding World. Although his death was incredibly sad, it was the heroic departure this tiny, weird-looking warrior deserved.
12. Lucius Malfoy
Actor: Jason Isaacs
Draco’s father is basically an adult, but more confident version of himself. We’re pretty sure there’s no redemption for this guy – he was so frightening and charismatic that he made us all hide behind our couches as children. We guess that’s what gives him a pass to the twelfth place in our ranking.
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11. Draco Malfoy
Actor: Tom Felton
Whoever said that evil characters are often the best characters…weren’t so wrong. Draco Malfoy is especially compelling because he could be doing some good if he hadn’t been brainwashed to bully everyone from birth. Although we still dislike him for being a pretentious brat, there’s no denying that Tom Felton brought to life a character who was complex enough to make us feel sympathy for him in the worst of times.
10. Cedric Diggory
Actor: Robert Pattinson
Robert Pattinson’s brief stay in the Harry Potter world had such an impact that many people consider him to be one of the best characters of the franchise, and rightfully so. Although he first appears as a golden boy you would love to hate because of how popular and gifted he is, Cedric proves to Harry during the Triwizard Tournament that he can be a great friend too… until he is killed by Voldemort in a graveyard. And here we go crying again.
Actor: Robbie Coltrane
Hagrid is with Harry from childhood to adulthood and a friend the trio can count on whenever they have questions that Dumbledore (unsurprisingly) refuses to answer. Him being the protector of creatures nobody wants, such as truck-sized spiders and gentle giants, it’s difficult to explain how big Hagrid’s heart is without tearing up a little bit. A real one, like the kids say.
8. Bellatrix Lestrange
Actress: Helena Bonham Carter
Bellatrix was barely on screen for a few minutes. But we already knew so many horrible things about her before she appeared, that it was enough to make us shiver in anticipation. If cruel, cold wizards are one type of terrifying; unhinged and downright torture-loving witches are on another level. Let’s say Bellatrix is the goth, unbridled version of Dolores Umbridge. We’re still scared even after she died.
7. Fred & George
Actors: James and Oliver Phelps
The facetious Weasley twins were by far some of the most hilarious characters in this franchise, and they almost deserve the crown. From throwing fireworks under Dolores Umbridge’s ruling to poking fun at Harry and his friends whenever the occasion arises, Ron’s brothers made us laugh for eight movies and we’ll always be grateful for them. And no, we won’t talk about Fred, we’re still in denial.
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6. Ron Weasley
Actor: Rupert Grint
He may be one of the most popular characters of the bunch, and we adore him, but Ron missed the top 5 mark in our ranking by a hair’s breadth. Ron is the comic relief we all need in a story where magical buffets coexist with magical murders. Being Harry’s best friend and the first wizard he truly connects with, there is no denying that young Weasley is a core part of what makes this whole franchise so great: friendship, humor, and loyalty.
5. Severus Snape
Actor: Alan Rickman
“Always”. The word everyone thinks of whenever the cold and mysterious Potions professor is mentioned. After being emotionally bullied by Snape for years and being certain that he worked for the bad guys, Harry learns that the wizard is actually someone a lot more significant – a double agent for Dumbledore who has been dedicated to protecting him in memory of his mother, his first and only love. So, if that’s not the most unexpected anti-hero of the goddamn millennium, we don’t know who is.
4. Sirius Black
Actor: Gary Oldman
Harry’s absent godfather played a huge role in his life, unfortunately, a little too late since he was imprisoned in Azkaban for years before he could finally tell his side of the story. Still, the loving wizard eventually created a deep bond with his godson and briefly became the paternal figure he was missing. Although he died in tragic circumstances and wasn’t on screen for long, Sirius is by far one of the most compelling characters because of how determined he was to make things right for those he loved.
3. Hermione Granger
Actress: Emma Watson
Ranked as the third top character of the Potter series is none other than Hermione Granger. She’s the type of friend you want on your side in all circumstances, whether it be a wand battle or a written exam. And she isn’t only the cleverest witch in Hogwarts, she also loves her friends and would do anything to save them whenever necessary. Let’s be honest – without her, Harry and Ron would have died long ago.
2. Lord Voldemort
Actor: Ralph Fiennes
Funnily enough, Voldemort is mentioned more than he appears on screen for all eight movies, which somehow makes him even more powerful. A threat to the Wizarding World’s peace and an immortal wizard who thinks he should rule them all, Voldy is one of the best villains ever. Why? Simply because the mere mention of his name makes you want to isolate in the mountains for the foreseeable future. Pointy hats off.
1. Neville Longbottom
Actor: Matthew Lewis
Not everyone will agree with this one, mostly because Neville was a background character and served as comic relief for much of the franchise. Still, he is ranked as the best Harry Potter character as his personality evolved tremendously from the first movie to the last. Going from a frightened kid who would tell on his own friends to the guy who helped take down the most powerful wizard in the world, Neville’s character development was better than anyone else’s.
While Harry courageously, but unsurprisingly did what was already expected of him, Neville bamboozled us, which is why he is number one in our hearts.
It’s difficult to imagine a world where Harry Potter wouldn’t have had any impact. Our children will know about this story and their own children probably will as well. And with characters as compelling, funny, caring, courageous, wickedly terrifying as these, this phenomenon will never be undeserved.
How would you rank the top Harry Potter characters? Let us know in the comments!
Want more from the Wizarding World? Have a look at our ranking of the best Harry Potter movies and tell us if you agree!