The 30 Greatest Harry Potter (And Fantastic Beasts) Characters

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by Willow Green |
Published on

Across ten films – now including Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald – the Wizarding World saga, comprising J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series, has hit the big screen with considerable filmmaking magic. From their outstanding production design, to their heartfelt good-vs-evil storytelling, Rowling’s enduring, generation-defining blockbusters are populated with vibrant and loveable witches, wizards, muggles and magical creatures, brought to life by a stack of acting legends. Here are the 30 Greatest Harry Potter (And Fantastic Beasts) Characters:

30. Jacob Kowalski

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Books: None

Films: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

Played by: Dan Fogler

While Harry Potter was always reluctant to return to the Muggle world (mainly due to his awful treatment at the hands of the Dursleys), one of Fantastic Beasts’ central foursome is a straight-up No-Maj who just wants to spend all day baking. Relatable, huh? Kowalski is drawn into Newt’s beast quest by sheer accident when the pair unknowingly swap suitcases, and he’s an ideal audience surrogate who greets his induction into the Wizarding World with wide-eyed wonder and joyous surprise. He shows that some Muggles can be just as entertaining as magical folk, and marks a winningly broad foil to Newt’s bashful protagonist.

Trivia: If Jacob wasn’t a Muggle, Rowling reckons he’d have been sorted into Wampus house at Ilvermorny, the American magic school.

Memorable Quote: “I wanna be a wizard.”

29. The Niffler

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Books: Goblet Of Fire, Order Of The Phoenix

Films: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Played by: N/A

Does it have lines? No. Does it have a proper name? No. But Newt Scamander’s Niffler in Fantastic Beasts is the star of the show – an adorably fluffy, mischievous beast with a brilliant sense of comic timing and an addiction to all things shiny and valuable. Part platypus, part mole, and with a pouch that extends to hold as much gold as possible, it’s the Wizarding World character you’d most want to embark on a ‘what happens on tour, stays on tour’ road trip with. Tickle it, and money comes out! What’s not to love? Bonus points: in the Potter books, one attacks Dolores Umbridge. Give that Niffler a medal.

Trivia: The Crimes Of Grindelwald introduces a trio of baby Nifflers. Baby Nifflers!

Memorable Quote: Jingle, jingle, jingle

28. Gilderoy Lockhart

Gilderoy Lockhart

Books: Chamber Of Secrets, Order Of The Phoenix

Films: Chamber Of Secrets

Played by: Kenneth Branagh

You know, we'd really like to read the job adverts that Hogwarts publishes for the Defence Against The Dark Arts teaching post. Do they actually say, “Must keep secrets. Big, dark, dangerous secrets preferred; treachery an advantage”? Because that would explain a lot. It would explain, for instance, how this vain, empty-headed blowhard managed to get what is – presumably – a prestigious post. All preening arrogance, fancy threads and far-fetched claims, Lockhart is a comic wonder and a rotten little sneak at the same time, especially as wonderfully brought to life by Kenneth Branagh, vaulting neatly over the top and swishing his hair as he goes. He provides, on our count, a good 75% of the humour in the film – not least because you can't help laughing as soon as you look at him. One question though: why on Earth did the usually-wise, usually-insightful Dumbledore hire him in the first place? Apparently Lockhart was the only applicant – but that hardly seems like sufficient excuse.

Trivia: Lockhart never recovered from the backfiring memory charm he suffered, and never regained his former personality. Probably just as well really.

Memorable Quote: "Harry, Harry, Harry. Can you possibly imagine a better way to serve detention, than by helping me to answer my fan mail?"

27. Hedwig

Hedwig Harry Potter

Books: All seven

Films: Potter films 1 – 7

Played by: Gizmo, Kasper, Oops, Swoops, Oh Oh, Elmo and Bandit

Hedwig is a female snowy owl, given to Harry by Hagrid as a birthday gift on Harry's first visit to Diagon Alley. Thereafter, she appears in the books acting as a messenger and friend to Harry, even at times when all his other friends seem to have deserted him. Her home in Hogwarts’ "owlery" acts as a refuge from the other students, and her death, in Deathly Hallows: Part 1, was a real loss to Harry. JK Rowling said in a webchat with The Leaky Cauldron: “The loss of Hedwig represented a loss of innocence and security. She has been almost like a cuddly toy to Harry at times. Voldemort killing her marked the end of childhood. I'm sorry... I know that death upset a LOT of people!” Fun fact: even though Hedwing's a 'she', all the owls to play her were male, because the males have whiter plumage. Appalling! Owl racism and sexism!

Trivia: The most recognisable piece of music in the Harry Potter soundtrack is officially known as 'Hedwig's Theme'.

Memorable Quote: "Twhooo"

26. Nymphadora Tonks

Nymphadora Tonks

Books: Order Of The Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows

Films: Order Of The Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Played by: Natalia Tena

While Natalia Tena makes for a likeable Tonks onscreen, the character’s popularity is more for her role in the books. After all, she's barely in the movies, whereas on the page we learn a little more about her family (excised from the Black family and targeted by Bellatrix!), her romance (Tonks and Remus, sitting in a tree...) and her personality, acting like a cool older sister to Harry and the gang. Amid a forest of tweed-enthusiasts and robe-wearers, Tonks' colour-changing hair, ripped jeans and T-shirts (she's a fan of popular wizarding band Weird Sisters) give the series a rare edge, and that can only be a good thing. After all, even wizards have to rock out sometimes, right? And if that comes inbetween being a Metamorphmagus and taking on Death Eaters, so much the better.

Trivia: “Tonk” can mean ‘fool” or “idiot” but can also mean “a powerful blow”. So that nicely covers both Tonks’ clumsiness and comic side, and the fact that she's a fairly kick-ass witch.

Memorable Quote: "Don't call me Nymphadora!"

25. Gellert Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Books: Mentioned in Philosopher’s Stone, Deathly Hallows

Films: Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

Played by: Jamie Campbell Bower, Johnny Depp, Michael Byrne, Colin Farrell

Questionable casting aside, the Elder Wand-wielding Gellert Grindelwald is a formidable foe for the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Even though we already know that Albus Dumbledore is fated to ultimately defeat him in a 1945 duel (which we learn right from the Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry reads it on a Chocolate Frog card), he’s a dark wizard with a different energy to Voldemort. Where Riddle is fire and fury, Grindelwald – a wizarding Hitler analogue – is more sly and manipulative, using his powers of persuasion and dangerous doctrine about the suppression of non-magic people to tempt misguided ordinary wizards to his side. Then there are his early years – back when Albus Dumbledore was his naïve ally, and the pair had designs on seeking out the Deathly Hallows together, before coming to blows. His development in future instalments should be fascinating to see.

Trivia: His bleach-blonde look in the Fantastic Beasts films is inspired by the Aryan ideal that Hitler and the Nazis strove for.

Memorable Quote: “Do you think you can hold me?”

24. Molly Weasley

Molly Weasley

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film, except Goblet Of Fire

Played by: Julie Walters

For most of the Potter series, Molly Weasley has two simple functions: providing maternal love and support to, well, just about everyone, and worrying about, well, just about everyone. While Harry has several surrogate fathers – Hagrid, Dumbledore, Sirius, Lupin and Mr Weasley – he has only one surrogate mother, and that's Molly. But she also stands in that stead to seven children of her own, and Hermione, to some degree, and Tonks. Still, she's not just a mummy figure. In the final book, we get an emphatic reminder that Mrs Weasley is a considerable witch in her own right, and more than capable of bringing the hurt when called upon to do so. Just because someone is red-haired, a bit dumpy or fond of cardigans, it doesn't mean they can't kick ass. There's a valuable lesson there for us all.

Trivia: Julie Walters claimed at the premiere of the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 that regular Weasley family reunions would be on the cards, at which they’d all don their red hair and go out. We really hope that happened.

Memorable Quote: "Not my daughter you BITCH!"

23. Credence Barebone

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Books: None

Films: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Played by: Ezra Miller

He’s not leading the franchise, but Credence Barebone might be Fantastic Beasts’ most important character. He’s certainly the most thematically relevant – just as Harry Potter and Tom Riddle were orphans who grew up with too little love, later to find that they had magical abilities, Credence has been raised in an abusive household by fearsome anti-magic protestor Mary Lou Barebone, and has suppressed his magic so intensely and for so long that he’s become a dangerous Obscurial, whose power bursts out uncontrollably. Despite his violent eruptions, he’s an entirely sympathetic character who’s been constantly hurt and manipulated by others – including Grindelwald, who clearly has designs for the boy’s future. Credence also has the dodgiest haircut in the entire saga, making it impossible not to feel sorry for him.

Trivia: Credence is the Wizarding World’s first ‘Obscurial’ – though it’s since been theorised that Albus Dumbledore’s troubled sister Ariana, who couldn’t control her magic and passed away in her early teens, might also have been one.

Memorable Quote: “I’m sorry, Ma…”

22. George Weasley

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film

Played by: Oliver Phelps

When you think about it, George Weasley is pretty much the Van Gogh of the Harry Potter universe. He's something of an artist in his chosen field (making mischief) and he has only one ear, after being hit by a stray curse in Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Admittedly, the comparison somewhat falls down after that, since George does rather well financially (with his shop, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes) rather than languishing in some French attic, and because Van Gogh was never great with Puking Pastilles. Ahem. Along with his twin, Fred, George provides the funny bone of the Weasley family and indeed the series, puncturing pomposity as needed and always handy with a gag. He's also a heck of a Quidditch player and a good enough wizard (outside the academic environment, at least) that he can even discomfit the unshakeable Dolores Umbridge.

Trivia: Appropriately enough, Fred and George Weasley were born on April 1.

Memorable Quote: "He's not Fred, I am!"

21. Fred Weasley

Fred Weasley

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film

Played by: James Phelps

Why does Fred place higher than his brother George? Mostly due to the emotional weight of his tragic demise in Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The two were, after all, largely inseparable throughout their time at Hogwarts (and afterwards), and if Fred was slightly meaner than his big-hearted brother it was only by a (red) hair. Fred gets slightly more love because he’s a little more flash than George, swanning about in a dragonskin coat after his business takes off, or because he reveals so much concern for his brother when George loses an ear in Deathly Hallows: Part 1. One of the cooler characters in the Potter universe, Fred's generally pretty much at ease, whatever life throws at him, whether that's asking a girl to the Yuletide Ball or making a spectacular exit from the Umbridge-controlled school – and there's always something appealing about a character who keeps it light.

Trivia: Fred is the reason that Ron Weasley is scared of spiders. After young Ron broke Fred's toy broomstick when they were very young, Fred turned Ron's favourite teddy bear into a large spider.

Memorable Quote: "You know, George, I've always felt out futures lay outside the world of academic achievement."

20. Newt Scamander

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Books: Mentioned in Philosopher’s Stone

Films: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

Played by: Eddie Redmayne, Joshua Shea

The Harry Potter prequel saga has a very different hero at its centre – one who’s quiet, introverted, and unable to look pretty much anyone in the eye. But Newt Scamander, the magizoologist who wrote one of Potter’s eventual school textbooks, is a purposefully offbeat protagonist – one without ego or bravado, who cares deeply for magical creatures (arguably more than for other people) and has endless empathy for all things four-legged or heavily-tentacled. Think Hagrid, but more shy and with boyband hair. Newt isn’t even the ‘chosen one’ of his own family, overshadowed by his Auror brother Theseus. As the Fantastic Beasts films continue Newt is becoming a more active hero, but he remains proof that you don’t need to be ‘special’ to be, well, special. Oh, and he’s a Hufflepuff too – the poster-boy that Hogwarts’ least-celebrated house has long been looking for.

Trivia: A portrait of Newt Scamander can be seen in Dumbledore’s office in Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, suggesting he later becomes a Hogwarts Headmaster – though it remains to be seen if the Fantastic Beasts films will take him that way.

Memorable Quote: “For the last time, you pilfering pest, paws off what doesn't belong to you!”

19. Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody

Mad Eye Moody

Books: Goblet Of Fire, Order Of The Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows

Films: Goblet Of Fire, Order Of The Phoenix, Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Played by: Brendan Gleeson

He limps, he's only got one eye, he's a fully-functional paranoid and he could kindly be described as curmudgeonly. The fact that he's also one of the most powerful Aurors out there, and that even someone doing an impression of Mad-Eye is still one of the best Defence Against The Dark Arts teachers Hogwarts has ever had arguably says a lot about the competition. Says actor Brendan Gleeson, “I see him as a formidable warrior who is somewhat past his best, but who is battle-hardened and can still be effective. He has learned the hard way that life can be unforgiving and is impatient of namby-pamby half-measures, particularly among the kids. He knows they must be at their best to survive. He's Mr. Tough Love with a vengeance. I don't think he was without genuine affection for them, though, He'd never admit it, of course.”

Trivia: At one point Moody advised Harry against carrying his wand in his back pocket, saying that, "Better wizards than him have lost buttocks". Hey, it amused us.

Memorable Quote: "Stay in formation, everyone. Don't break ranks if one of us is killed."

18. Professor Minerva McGonagall

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film, except Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Played by: Maggie Smith

Second only to Dumbledore in providing a sense of security and refuge at Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall may appear the strict disciplinarian and dry old stick, but there's life in the old girl yet. Consider, if you will, how excited she gets when she realises that Harry is a born Seeker and just what Gryffindor's Quidditch team needs, in the very first film. She's clearly enough of a sports fan to let him get away with unauthorised flying, which may not be morally sound but is certainly good news for Harry. And for her protective side, consider her confrontation with the odious Professor Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix – and she really gets to let loose in Deathly Hallows: Part 2. In Hogwarts’ darkest hour, she's the one rallying the troops and planning the war effort, and there isn't a Cuban cigar or a bulldog in sight.

Trivia: Professor McGonagall was appointed Headmistress of Hogwarts after Dumbledore's death, but was ousted by Snape when Voldemort took over the Ministry of Magic.

Memorable Quote: “Hogwarts is threatened! Man the boundaries, protect us! Do your duty to your school!”

17. Ginny Weasley

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film

Played by: Bonnie Wright

Ginny sort of sneaks up on you – which is pretty much the same effect she has on Harry. Initially, she's your typical younger sister, clamouring for attention but then fading shyly away when anyone actually gives it. She goes through hell in the Chamber of Secrets, and emerges a more formidable woman than ever. Probably in self-defence (imagine living with her older brothers for a moment) she's already a heck of a witch before she ever gets to Hogwarts, impressing even Fred and George with her "bat-bogey hexes". So she's certainly a worthy match for the Boy Who Lived, even if it does take him forever to figure that out. In the films, she has to make the first move, with Harry forever dithering about whether to hit on his best mate's sister. While she isn't onscreen much, Bonnie Wright gives Ginny just enough gumption to make an impact even among the sprawling Weasley brood.

Trivia: According to JK Rowling, after leaving Hogwarts Ginny spent several years as a professional Quidditch player for the Holyhead Harpies, and retired to raise a family and become senior Quidditch correspondent for the Daily Prophet.

Memorable Quote: "He's covered in blood again. Why is it he's always covered in blood?"

16. Dolores Umbridge

Books: Order Of The Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Films: Order Of The Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince (voice), Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Played by: Imelda Staunton

Voldemort's pretty evil and all, but he's a mere rapscallion compared to the thoroughly grotesque Dolores Umbridge. Party apparatchik, twin-set wearer and cat person, she's unquestionably the nastiest woman ever to wear pink tweed and a nightmare teacher in every way. Sent to Hogwarts by the Ministry of Magic to counter Dumbledore and Harry's claims that Voldemort has returned, she soon tightens her grip on the school and turns it into a totalitarian state. The terrifying thing about her is the strength of her conviction in her own righteousness and her total lack of self-doubt. It's that certainty that leads her to use unforgiveable curses at will – sure that she knows better than the law – and that certainty that justifies torture in pursuit of the elusive order she's pursuing. There has never been a woman more in need of being terrorised by centaurs or imprisoned for life in Azkaban, if you ask us.

Trivia: Stephen King called Umbridge "the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter".

Memorable Quote: "You know, I really hate children."

15. Lucius Malfoy

Lucius Malfoy

Books: Chamber Of Secrets, Goblet Of Fire, Order Of The Phoenix, Deathly Hallows

Films: Chamber Of Secrets, Goblet Of Fire, Order Of The Phoenix, Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Played by: Jason Isaacs

Some bad guys have more fun than others. While Voldemort's busy securing himself eternal life and Umbridge spends her time buying more plates with kittens on, Lucius Malfoy gets to slink around being arch and snide and generally amusing. He gets the best house, the best outfits and of course the silkiest, shiniest, most thoroughly-Timotei'ed hair. Sadly for him, it all goes a bit pear-shaped as the series goes on. He is arrested after the Battle of the Department Of Mysteries and sent to Azkaban, from which he emerges a broken man and a shadow of his former self. Soon Voldemort's kicking him, Bellatrix is ignoring him and even his bullied son Draco is finally standing up to Daddy. From then, it's snivelling all the way. We can only hope he appreciates that his wife, Narcissa, has the balls to step up and lead the family while he whimpers.

Trivia: Jason Isaacs asked for his character to have long hair so he'd look different from Draco. "I wanted to look like Caprice, but in the end I looked a lot more like Vanessa Feltz."

Memorable Quote: "Let us hope that Mr Potter will always be around to save the day."

14. Draco Malfoy

Draco Malfoy

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film

Played by: Tom Felton

Here's a walking argument for nurture vs. nature. Draco, it slowly emerges through the Potter series, is not all bad. Sure, he's an obnoxious, racist, twisted little creep with all the personal magnetism of a Boggart, but it's more the result of having the worst influences money can buy. While his mother is at least (over) protective, his father is a dreadful role-model – but even he is better than Auntie Bellatrix and the Death Eaters that his father hangs out with. It's no wonder that Draco grows into a bullying little twit; the real surprise is that underneath there's a spark of decency. It feels like Draco's attracted to the whole Death Eater / "pure blood" philosophy, but doesn't quite have the stomach for the brutality that goes with it – which is, we suppose, as much as one can hope for in this case. There is, incidentally, a faint argument that Draco ultimately saves the day, and certainly he plays an unwitting role in Voldemort's downfall – but we'd still give him a wedgie if we ever got the chance.

Trivia: In JK Rowling's early drafts, Draco's surname was "Spungen" or "Spinks".

Memorable Quote: "Nice face, Potter!"

13. Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix Lestrange

Books: Goblet Of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows

Films: Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows 1, Deathly Hallows 2

Played by: Helena Bonham Carter

In the books, Bellatrix is stern, nasty and seriously scary. On screen, as brought to life by an off-the-leash Helena Bonham-Carter, she's as good a baddie as you could ever wish to see. Sadistic, borderline demented and hopelessly devoted to Voldemort, she is as charmingly childish as she is terrifyingly unrestrained. Revelling in torture and death, one can't help but feel that she follows Voldemort largely because he lets her indulge in her favourite hobbies. This is, let's not forget, a woman who tortured Neville Longbottom's parents into insanity, as well as torturing Neville himself and Hermione, and who killed Sirius Black and later Tonks out of some twisted sense of family loyalty. She's utterly, utterly evil and somehow we love her for it. "She's just like this mad child, and she's very high-octane, just utterly anarchic," says Bonham-Carter of her take on the character. "Now she's so unhinged she's just lost.”

Trivia: Helen McCrory was originally set to play Bellatrix, but had to drop out when she became pregnant. She was cast as Narcissa Malfoy instead.

Memorable Quote: "I killed Sirius Black! I killed Sirius Black!"

12. Luna Lovegood

Luna Lovegood

Books: Order Of The Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows

Films: Order Of The Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Played by: Evanna Lynch

Life would be so boring if everyone was on the same page. You need the weirdos, the kooks and the borderline barmy to spice things up – and by that measure Luna Lovegood is a veritable spice girl, bringing a touch of much-needed unconventionality to Hogwarts' halls. Merely casting spells or flying about on broomsticks is never going to get you noticed there, but wear a few pairs of radish earrings or talk about Nargles a bit and suddenly everyone thinks you're odd. Still, we're glad of Luna. She's a deeply smart and caring character, even if she does tend to show it by wafting about in silly glasses, and she has both the guts and the gall to stand beside Harry even in his darkest hours. That's to be commended – even if there's a part of us that wishes she'd worn her gigantic papier-mache lion headdress to do so.

Trivia: Evanna Lynch won the part after a huge casting call, but was already penpals with JK Rowling, who called her casting "perfect".

Memorable Quote: "I've never been to this part of the castle. Well, not awake. I sleepwalk, you see. That's why I wear shoes to bed."

11. Rubeus Hagrid


Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film

Played by: Robbie Coltrane

He's big, he's tough, and he has the soft heart of a 10 year-old girl. Only instead of being soppy about ponies or puppies or the colour pink, Hagrid's a rollover for dragons, giant spiders, three-headed monster dogs and giant meat-eating death-horses. Hagrid is not, it's fair to say, the most discrete character, leaking secrets like a rusty sieve, nor the wisest, failing to foresee the problems that cropped up during his early tenure as Hogwarts' Professor for Care of Magical Creatures. However, he is perhaps the warmest, making no effort to hide how much he cares for his friends (and pets) and with that big sentimental streak always just under the surface.

Trivia: While Hagrid's very fond of animals. JK Rowling says that he is allergic to cats, which may explain why he dislikes Mrs Norris.

Memorable Quote: "You're a wizard, Harry!"

10. Lord Voldemort


Books: All of them (sort of) except Prisoner Of Azkaban

Films: Every Potter film (sort of) except Prisoner Of Azkaban

Played by: Ralph Fiennes, Richard Bremmer, Ian Hart (voice), Christian Coulson, Frank Dillane, Hero Fiennes

It would be hard to argue that Voldemort is anyone's favourite character – except maybe Bellatrix’s – but he's certainly one of the best. Through flashbacks and memories, we see him grow from lonely orphan to the monster he becomes, psychotic and loveless. Voldemort's obsessed with living forever – and ensuring that whatever steps he takes to do are invulnerable to interference from outside – but it's hard to see what he has to live for, since his existence seems to be either miserable or fixated on the aforementioned mission. If he'd focused his life on keeping his nose and hair, and maybe not sparking two Wizarding Wars, he might've been happier. Then again, if he had done that, we would have been deprived of one of the great villains, who announced his rebirth by ordering the death of Him From Twilight and went on to terrorise a nation.

Trivia: JK Rowling wrote much of the early Potter books in the Elephant Café in Edinburgh, near Greyfriars churchyard, where there is a tombstone with the name Tom Riddle. Rowling has acknowledged that this may have inspired Voldemort's name.

Memorable Quote: "Only I can live forever."

9. Dobby


Books: Chamber Of Secrets, Goblet Of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows

Films: Chamber Of Secrets, Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Played by: Toby Jones

Dobby is basically the worm that turned, the little guy who finds the courage and the opportunity to stand up to his oppressors and win himself a place in the world. His life under the Malfoys must have been brutal (as he says to Harry, “Dobby is used to death threats, sir. Dobby gets them five times a day at home”) but it's a crucible that transforms him into a radical elf, one who becomes a veritable hero and a credit to his kind. He may look like E.T.'s scrawnier brother, and sound like Yoda on helium, but in his heart he's a giant. Without him, Harry would have died ten times over – maybe the series should have a different title. Dobby's death at the end of Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is one of the most sob-inducing moment of the series, a valiant farewell fitting for a tiny, tattered warrior.

Trivia: In the Goblet Of Fire and Order Of The Phoenix films, everything important that Dobby did in the books was done by Neville Longbottom instead. Funnily enough, Neville actor Matthew Lewis was born on Dobby's fictional birthday.

Memorable Quote: “You shall not harm Harry Potter.”

8. Neville Longbottom

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film

Played by: Matthew Lewis

The whole Harry Potter saga was kicked off because of a prophecy that Voldemort would be done in by a newborn wizarding infant. Ol' Dark Lord picked on one of the two infants that was "mixed blood" and went after Harry Potter – and the rest, as they say, is massively bestselling fiction. He could as easily have chosen to target the “pure blood” Neville Longbottom, son of two powerful Aurors and future gosh-darn hero. Overshadowed by Potter, Neville had a rocky, bullied start in life, suffering clumsiness and a spotty magical ability crippled by his own insecurities. However, he blossoms during his time at Hogwarts, winning Gryffindor the House cup in his first year, joining (and eventually leading) Dumbledore's Army, and becoming a rebel leader against the school authorities. Also, he grows up well handsome, so well done him. Frankly, there's a small part of us that would almost like to have read an entire series named after this guy instead of Potter.

Trivia: Apparently Neville's family were worried that he was a "Squib" (a non-magical member of a wizarding family) but were proved wrong when his uncle dropped him out a window and he miraculously bounced. Which is one way to find out, we suppose.

Memorable Quote: "Why is it always me?"

7. Albus Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald

Played by: Richard Harris, Michael Gambon, Toby Regbo, Jude Law

Like Gandalf with a sweet tooth, Albus Dumbledore is wise but also not above helping out short-arses. In his case that's 11 year-olds rather than hobbits, but the object – defeating a great and looming evil – remains the same. As wise as he is bearded, as eccentric as he is powerful and as fond of sherbet lemons as any man who ever lived, Dumbledore is a father figure and mentor to Harry – but one who isn't slow about sending him into mortal peril when the occasion calls for it. He has made a few errors of judgment in his time – his record on hiring Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers is, shall we say, patchy – but he did foresee much of what transpired. And while he may not be able to choose a Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean without going wrong, we can hope that his faith in people will be borne out.

Trivia: 'Dumbledore' is an 18th century word for a bumblebee.

Memorable Quote: “You will find that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”

6. Remus Lupin

Remus Lupin

Books: Prisoner Of Azkaban, Order Of The Phoenix, Half Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows

Films: Prisoner Of Azkaban, Order Of The Phoenix, Half Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Played by: David Thewlis

Almost the first thing that Professor Lupin does onscreen is to hand out squares of chocolate, so it's really very little wonder that he's popular. Oh sure, the chocolate's medicinal and he's just gotten rid of a terrifying Dementor, which is nice too, but our affections can always be bought with confectionary. It's really just a bonus that he turns out to be one of the most sensible and stalwart characters in the series, an ideal sort of teacher whose Defence Against The Dark Arts lessons are a rare example of that class not being a total waste of time and who brings out the best in all his students. In his later appearances, he's an upstanding member of the Order of the Phoenix, who defeats Lucius Malfoy in the Department of Mysteries and helps Harry escape to safety in Deathly Hallows: Part 1. As werewolves go, he's definitely at the loveable end of the scale, between Jacob Black and Teen Wolf, rather than down with the Howling gang and Fenrir Greyback.

Trivia: David Thewlis originally auditioned to play Professor Quirrell in the first film. He lost out – but we reckon that, given he got to hang on for lots more films instead of wearing a turban and then getting done in by an 11 year-old, he's probably over it now.

Memorable Quote: "I've looked worse, believe me."

5. Sirius Black

Sirius Black

Books: Prisoner Of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order Of The Phoenix, Deathly Hallows

Films: Prisoner Of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order Of The Phoenix, Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Played by: Gary Oldman, James Walters, Rohan Gotobed

In the absence of an actual father, Sirius Black is Harry's next best thing. Like a member of the A-Team, he's a crack wizard sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit. 12 years later, he escaped a maximum security, Dementor-guarded stockade to the wizarding world underground. After that, still wanted by the Ministry of Magic and Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters, he survived as a wizard of fortune. If you're an orphaned wizard boy, if no other godfather / dogfather can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire... Sirius Black. Er, that got away from us a little there. The point is, Sirius is a wonderfully flawed character, combining an entitled arrogance and tendency to recklessness with an immense capacity for affection – all of which he lavishes on Harry, who badly needs it.

Trivia: Sirius is the name of the Dog Star, in the constellation Canis Major, 'the Great Dog', so his name is kind of a pun on the animal he can transform into, a dog.

Memorable Quote: "What's life without a little risk?"

4. Hermione Granger

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film

Played by: Emma Watson

Hermione may start the Harry Potter films as an insufferable know-it-all, but she finishes them as an entirely sufferable, even loveable, know-it-all, someone who doesn't hide her smarts but also gives the people around her credit for intelligence as well. Her friendship with Harry and Ron rubs off Hermione's rougher edges, while age and suffering transform her into someone tactful. And, lest we forget, they wouldn't get far without her problem-solving and research abilities, not to mention her quick responses to danger (consider that hex she throws at Harry when they're chased by Snatchers in Deathly Hallows: Part 1). JK Rowling apparently gave her character an unusual name because she was afraid that children would get teased if they shared a moniker with Hogwarts' school swot. By this time, however, we're pretty sure that the name Hermione is a badge of honour rather than a cause of ridicule, because it turns out that the girl in the gang is maybe the most capable of the lot.

Trivia: Hermione is based on JK Rowling herself at that age, and was screenwriter Steve Kloves' favourite character to write.

Memorable Quote: "I'm going to bed before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed – or worse, expelled."

3. Harry Potter

Harry Potter

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film

Played by: Daniel Radcliffe, Saunders Triplets, Toby Papworth

If Harry were a more self-centred person he'd probably object to placing third on his own list, but since the Boy Who Lived tends to err on the side of modesty, we're guessing he'd simply confine himself to horror that he placed above so many valued friends and teachers. That's perhaps the most likeable thing about Harry: despite the attention lavished on him by the entire wizarding world, he remains more conscious of his failings than his successes, and doesn't let it all go to his head. In Daniel Radcliffe's hands, the boy wizard grows up smart, reserved and quietly, fiercely loyal to his friends and ideals. Despite carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and a sense of incipient doom in his heart, he stays determined throughout the series. For that steadfastness and courage, he'll always be our hero.

Trivia: Harry shares JK Rowling's birthday, July 31.

Memorable Quote: “EXPECTO PATRONUM!”

2. Ron Weasley

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film

Played by: Rupert Grint

The heart and funny bone of the central trio, Ron provides the lion's share of laughs over the course of the Potter books – and we love him for it. But there's more to him than that. His relationship with Harry is not simply one of best friends, but a complex mix of love and envy. After all, while Harry envies Ron his large, loving family, Ron has to contend with his middle-child syndrome, and must contrast his own threadbare lifestyle with Harry's wealth. There's even a time when they seem to be rivals for Hermione's affection (at least in Ron's mind), and it's no wonder that there's tension there. But we love Ron because he always comes right in the end, abandoning resentment for affection and standing by both his blood family and surrogate family.

Trivia: Ron's name never changed from the earliest drafts of JK Rowling's books.

Memorable Quote: "Why spiders? Why couldn't it be 'Follow the butterflies'?"

1. Severus Snape

Severus Snape

Books: All of them

Films: Every Potter film

Played by: Alan Rickman, Alec Hopkins, Ben Sharpe, Benedict Clarke

Alan Rickman was the only person other than JK Rowling to know, from the start, where Severus Snape’s story was going. He had to, because Snape is a puzzle-box of a character, layering secrets and riddles over a heart that remains hidden until the very end. Let's face it: even the sneering, supercilious outermost layer is a delight to behold, Rickman's distinctive delivery squeezing malice out of every word. Then there's his shocking turn in Half-Blood Prince lashing out at Dumbledore, the one man who always had faith in him – and his ultimate redemption in Deathly Hallows Part 2, revealing his tragic backstory and lifelong commitment to Harry, Dumbledore, and, most importantly, Lily Potter. It's this slow revelation of unguessed-at complexity that has put the school's most bullying teacher in the top spot on this list, in a testament both to Rowling's writing and Rickman's endless capacity for snark. We can only stand in wonder, and salute their efforts.

Trivia: JK Rowling said that Dumbledore allowed Snape to bully pupils because Dumbledore believes that, "There are all sorts of lessons in life ... horrible teachers like Snape are one of them!"

Memorable Quote: “How extraordinarily like your father you are, Potter. He too was exceedingly arrogant, strutting about the castle.”

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