Severus Snape was a complicated man who could be seen in both a good and a bad light.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

He could be caustic, he could be mean, but he could also be scarily on point. Here are some of the times we think Snape was right on the nose…

When he disliked Umbridge as much as we did…

We might not always have seen eye-to-eye with Snape, but on this point we definitely have to bow to his good judgement. Dolores Umbridge was just dreadful. The mere thought of her little dry cough or simpering smile is enough to bring on a rage headache and it seemed that Severus felt exactly the same.

When Umbridge caught Harry in her office and demanded that Snape bring her Veritaserum, we were surprised by his complete lack of co-operation. Smoothly informing her that she’d actually already used his entire stash (and we like to believe this wasn’t actually true either), he offered her no other assistance. Definitely one of Snape’s finer moments.

When one of his Half-Blood Prince shortcuts saved Ron’s life

Harry’s obsession with an old tatty textbook drove Hermione mad, especially as it turned him into a Potions expert overnight. The scribbled note: ‘Just shove a bezoar down their throats’ proved to be rather helpful on two counts.

Not only did it get Harry an extra ten points for Gryffindor for ‘sheer cheek’, it also saved Ron’s life when he swigged a cup of poisoned mead intended for Dumbledore. Without the Prince’s advice, Ron may well have died.

Ron in the Hospital Wing from the Half-Blood Prince.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

When he completely destroyed Lockhart during Duelling Club

One of the highlights of Gilderoy Lockhart’s short tenure at Hogwarts had to have been his Duelling Club. It’s probably fair to say that this was the point when we all realised just how foolish Lockhart could be. Firstly, he enlisted Professor Snape as his ‘assistant’ and then proceeded to partner with him in a demonstration duel, apparently blind to the fact that Snape was looking more murderous than usual, baring his teeth and making no effort to hide his irritation.

One ‘Expelliarmus!’ later and Lockhart was blasted off his feet and into the wall. Come on, admit it, you cheered Snape on too, didn’t you?

Lochart attempts to curse the snake that Snape has conjured.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

When he saved Harry’s life on the Quidditch pitch

Right from the moment Professor Snape first laid eyes on him, Harry was convinced he hated him. It didn’t get much better when he attended his first Potions lesson either. When Harry’s broomstick bucked out of control during a Quidditch match and Hermione spotted Snape muttering a ‘jinx’ under his breath, she put two and two together and quickly set his robes on fire.

Unusually for Hermione, she actually got it wrong – despite Snape’s complicated feelings towards Harry, he was actually trying to save him and counteract Quirrell’s jinx. Despite her best intentions, Hermione was actually putting Harry’s life in further danger by interrupting Snape! Who would have thought it?

Snape Atomhawk illustration

When he refused to injure or torture Harry after killing Dumbledore

Dumbledore’s death was one of those heart-stopping moments that we’ll never, ever forget. It doesn’t matter how many times we read the books or watch the films, our reaction is always the same: horror, disbelief, tears. So we completely understood Harry’s blind rage when he chased after Snape and the Death Eaters.

What was really interesting was Snape’s reaction to Harry in the aftermath. Initially he deflected every spell and didn’t return fire, rather than jinxing Harry or putting him out of action, which would have been a lot easier. Snape only returned fire when Harry persisted in chasing him while taunting him, and even then he used spells to keep Harry down rather than actually injuring him significantly. It must have taken a surprising amount of skill and control to keep Harry at arm’s length and out of harm’s way.

Dumbledore falls from Hogwarts' top tower after he is killed
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When he made Wolfsbane Potion for Lupin despite their history

It wasn’t only Harry who didn’t make it onto Snape’s Christmas card list: he wasn’t too fond of James Potter, either. In some rather distasteful memories, James – along with his gang of friends Sirius, Peter and Remus – was revealed to be a bit of a bully. And Snape seemed to be their main target.

So when Remus Lupin appeared at Hogwarts to teach the job that Professor Snape so desperately wanted himself, we can imagine Snape was none too pleased. Yet he still prepared the Wolfsbane Potion that Remus needed to ease his lycanthropy – Lupin himself complimented Snape’s particular skill in crafting the concoction when he told Harry how grateful he was. Of course, Snape did also plant clues to Lupin’s condition when he took over his class, but we’re not saying he was perfect.

Snape calling Lupin into his fire
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

When he reacted with disgust to Dumbledore’s plan for Harry

Snape was Dumbledore’s man from the moment Lily was murdered. Over the years he did whatever he could to try to make up for his past as a Death Eater, and he followed Dumbledore – for the most part – without question.

But when the headmaster of Hogwarts revealed Harry’s true fate, Snape’s reaction was not unlike ours. Describing it as ‘raising him like a pig for slaughter’, Snape had never seemed so human. The dawning realisation and his unguarded response showed just how complicated Snape was.

Dumbledore and Snape talking from the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

When he gave Harry his memories as he was dying

Right up until the last, Severus tried to make up for the mistakes in his past. He gave Harry his memories in his final moments and Harry went head-first into the Pensieve, witnessing Snape’s history and the motivations for everything he had done first-hand.

Snape’s love for Lily kept him going through everything that was asked of him – he effectively gave up his life to act as a double-agent in the battle against her murderer. One of the most touching things about his memories was how vehement he was that Harry must never know everything he had done – including all the good.

Snape is bitten by Nagini in the Shrieking Shack.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.