A cat with spectacle-shaped markings. Hair swept back in a severe bun. A sharp tongue that hides a warm personality. These are just some of the parts that make up the wonderful whole that is Professor McGonagall, and what better way to pay tribute to her brilliance than a list of her most memorable moments?

McGonagall confiscating Harry's new Firebolt
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

When Harry met the Dursleys

Professor McGonagall had been sat for hours stiffly on the brick wall when Dumbledore (and his sherbet lemons) arrived, followed shortly by a downcast Hagrid. In that moment when the three left Harry on the steps of number four, Privet Drive, we caught a glimpse of McGonagall’s soft heart:

For a full minute the three of them stood and looked at the little bundle; Hagrid’s shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall blinked furiously and the twinkling light that usually shone from Dumbledore’s eyes seemed to have gone out.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

When Harry received his Nimbus Two Thousand

Anyone unmoved by a complete paroxysm of jealousy when Harry received his first broom must be made of stone, and it was all thanks to Professor McGonagall. Just imagine that was you? The best broomstick for the best game. Too much.

DO NOT OPEN THE PARCEL AT THE TABLE. It contains your new Nimbus Two Thousand, but I don’t want everybody knowing you’ve got a broomstick or they’ll all want one. Oliver Wood will meet you tonight on the Quidditch pitch at seven o’clock for your first training session. Professor M. McGonagall
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

When Hagrid gave her a kiss

Who could forget when a tipsy Hagrid gave Professor McGonagall a smooch on the cheek? And her reaction was priceless.

Harry watched Hagrid getting redder and redder in the face as he called for more wine, finally kissing Professor McGonagall on the cheek, who, to Harry’s amazement, giggled and blushed, her top hat lop-sided.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

When she shed a tender tear

Harry and Ron were sneaking off to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom when they were caught by a steely-eyed McGonagall, but what happened next surprised everyone!

Professor McGonagall was still staring at him, and for a moment, Harry thought she was going to explode, but when she spoke, it was in a strangely croaky voice.
‘Of course,’ she said, and Harry, amazed, saw a tear glistening in her beady eye.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

McGonagall at her desk from the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

When she called Lockhart’s bluff

Lockhart has to be one of the funniest and most arrogant wizards in Harry Potter. When the moment came for him to prove his worth, McGonagall seized it with glee.

‘We’ll leave it to you, then, Gilderoy,’ said Professor McGonagall. ‘Tonight will be an excellent time to do it. We’ll make sure everyone’s out of your way. You’ll be able to tackle the monster all by yourself. A free rein at last.’
Lockhart gazed desperately around him, but nobody came to the rescue.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

When she really had no time for Divination

As straightforward as straightforward can be, Professor McGonagall was pretty scathing about Divination when the nervous class tottered in after their first lesson with Professor Trelawney:

‘Ah, of course,’ said Professor McGonagall, suddenly frowning. ‘There is no need to say any more, Miss Granger. Tell me, which of you will be dying this year?’
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

And yet she was the first to step up and comfort Sybill when Umbridge kicked her out of the school.

Professor McGonagall had broken away from the spectators, marched straight up to Professor Trelawney and was patting her firmly on the back while withdrawing a large handkerchief from within her robes.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

When she rescued a certain ferret from punishment…

The moment Malfoy was transformed into a ferret by an irate Moody will stay with us forever. Luckily for Draco, Professor McGonagall realised what was going on…

‘What – what are you doing?’ said Professor McGonagall, her eyes following the bouncing ferret’s progress through the air.
‘Teaching,’ said Moody.
‘Teach– Moody, is that a student?’ shrieked Professor McGonagall, the books spilling out of her arms.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

When she put Umbridge in her place

Professor Umbridge’s inspection of Professor McGonagall’s class was one of the best moments. So much shade.

‘Now, the Vanishing Spell –’
‘Hem, hem.’
‘I wonder,’ said Professor McGonagall in cold fury, turning on Professor Umbridge, ‘how you expect to gain an idea of my usual teaching methods if you continue to interrupt me? You see, I do not generally permit people to talk when I am talking.’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

When she was knocked out by Stunners

She stepped in to protect Hagrid from Umbridge, and was hit with four Stunners. Her collapse and the horror of the students are etched forever in memory. Not a great moment for McGonagall, but an important one all the same.

Halfway between cabin and castle the red beams collided with her; for a moment she looked luminous and glowed an eerie red, then she lifted right off her feet, landed hard on her back, and moved no more.
‘Galloping gargoyles!’ shouted Professor Tofty, who also seemed to have forgotten the exam completely. ‘Not so much as a warning! Outrageous behaviour!’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

When she totally got Neville

Neville’s grandmother was faintly terrifying, but Minerva didn’t put up with her nonsense, not when Neville had proven himself to be a superb wizard.

‘Humph,’ snorted Professor McGonagall. ‘It’s high time your grandmother learned to be proud of the grandson she’s got, rather than the one she thinks she ought to have – particularly after what happened at the Ministry.’
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

When she charged into battle

‘Get back!’ shouted Ron, and he, Harry and Hermione flattened themselves against a door as a herd of galloping desks thundered past, shepherded by a sprinting Professor McGonagall. She appeared not to notice them: her hair had come down and there was a gash on her cheek. As she turned the corner, they heard her scream: ‘CHARGE!’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

When she brought statues to life

Possibly the most spine-tingling Professor McGonagall moment was when she raised the statues and suits of armour in defence of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…

‘Hogwarts is threatened!’ shouted Professor McGonagall. ‘Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to our school!’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

McGonagall Smiling having a drink from the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone