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The most divisive characters in the Harry Potter series

Some people love ‘em. Some people hate ‘em. Either way, you can’t deny these characters had a particularly strong impact on us.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Here are a few characters that have found themselves the subject of many fan debates over the years. So let’s stir them up all over again!

Severus Snape

Snape telling Harry to be quiet at the Tallest Tower
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Perhaps the ultimate divisive character of the lot – it must be Severus can’t-make-up-his-mind Snape. Even fellow characters were conflicted about how they felt about the surly Potions professor – with Harry going from hating him – to naming one of his children after him.

And you can’t blame us all for being conflicted about a character who was so internally conflicted himself. First presented to us as a villain who seemed overwhelmingly, and specifically, cruel to an 11-year-old Harry, we would soon learn that Snape had a troubled childhood, was in love with Harry’s mother, completely and utterly devastated by her death, was once a Death Eater (but changed allegiance to the Order of the Phoenix) and eventually was killed callously by Voldemort and Nagini. So, a complex character to say the least.

While some fans find that they can forgive Snape – based on his personal tragedies and the fact that he did become a valuable double-spy for Dumbledore, ultimately helping the cause to defeat Lord Voldemort, some just cannot reconcile the fact that Snape was an awful bully.

Sure, he had a tragic life and a lot of deep stuff going on – but did he really have to threaten to poison Neville’s toad, thus giving Neville such a complex about his teacher, that his Boggart was actually Snape? No.

So although Snape did take the path of redemption – was it enough to forgive him for his original allegiance to Lord Voldemort – or just being downright horrible to children? We’ll leave that up to you.

Draco Malfoy

Draco Malfoy in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Another Slytherin tormentor, but another complex character who showed redeeming qualities in later years: let’s discuss Draco Malfoy. Some hate him forever for being a terrible bully to Harry, some argue that his parents brought him up to be cruel-minded, and he did show remorse for his actions in later books.

So, yes, Draco was brought up on the pure-blood ideals of the Malfoy family – so he was never going to be an absolute sweetheart, was he? Especially with the much more unforgiveable Lucius Malfoy feeding him poisonous thoughts from a young age. On top of his inherited prejudice of Muggle-borns (as a second-year, he was already using terms like ‘Mudblood’) Draco was a wealthy snob, looked down on Ron for not having much money, and pretty much found a reason to bully anyone who wasn’t in his tight-knit friendship circle.

But just because Draco was brought up by his Death Eater father to think certain things about the wizarding world – this defence for Draco only goes so far. After all, Sirius Black was brought up by a pure-blood family with awful opinions too, yet he grew up to be completely different, defy his family, and run away from home.

But we did indeed see glimmers of remorse from Draco in his later Hogwarts years – such as when he was tasked by Voldemort to kill Albus Dumbledore. Although Draco seemed initially very boastful to be ‘chosen’ for such a task, we later found him crying in a Hogwarts bathroom, weighed down by the awful pressure of it all. In Deathly Hallows, we see another moment – when Harry is brought to the Malfoy family, but has had his face disguised, Draco is hesitant to identify him. So, despite it all, Draco does show that he is capable of being a better person.

But again, like Snape, could you ever forgive him for all those awful years of bullying?

Xenophillius Lovegood

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

Luna’s father Xenophillius seemed like an innocent eccentric when we first met him – as the earnest editor of The Quibbler. Then, all of a sudden, he was giving up Harry’s location to the Death Eaters in order to get back his daughter, when she was kidnapped in Deathly Hallows.

All of a sudden, this initially harmless character put Harry in serious danger – but for the simple reason of wanting to get Luna back. So, a protective father trying to do the right thing, or a coward for betraying Harry?

Read our defence of Xenophillius here, and see if it helps you reach a conclusion.

Horace Slughorn

Slughorn teaches his Potions class.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

We get a rather apt first impression of Horace Slughorn when we first meet him – he’s hiding from Dumbledore, disguised as a chair. This inner cowardice of Slughorn, who rejoins Hogwarts as Potions professor in the end, is prevalent throughout Half-Blood Prince – with Slughorn tampering with a memory of himself telling Tom Riddle about Horcruxes, and starting up the Slug Club – a secret society for his favourite students.

Although he seems jolly, Slughorn has a tendency to only look out for himself, such as when he attends Aragog’s funeral so he can extract some special venom – rather than show compassion to a grieving Hagrid. However, when he gets there, and the wine starts flowing, his compassionate side eventually comes out.

At the Battle of Hogwarts, Slughorn finally put his hesitations to one side to join the fight. But his shady nature throughout the Harry Potter stories have left fans divided on whether he was a good guy or not.

Marietta Edgecombe

Illustration of Marietta Edgecombe from the Dumbledore's Army infographic
Marietta Edgecombe. © JKR/Pottermore Ltd.™ Warner Bros.

Marietta, Cho Chang’s tattle-tale friend who gives up Dumbledore’s Army to Dolores Umbridge, may have made a whopping mistake – but has still been at the centre of many arguments upon the way she was punished.

If you need a refresher, the story goes that Marietta – a reluctant member of Dumbledore’s Army – gave up the whereabouts of the self-made Defence Against the Dark Arts club, putting Harry and co. in an incredibly dangerous position.

Upon doing this, Marietta unwittingly unlocked a curse Hermione had put on any DA member who may betray them, ending up with the scarred word ‘SNEAK’ across her face. Marietta immediately showed remorse for her actions (although was this because of the punishment?) and we learnt that her mother worked at the Ministry of Magic – meaning Marietta even being a member of Dumbledore’s Army, essentially a rebel alliance against Ministry member Dolores Umbridge, put her and her family in a pretty bad position.

So did Marietta deserved to be scarred so badly by Hermione for giving up the DA – or was she just a terrified student pushed too far to the edge?

We’ve actually delved deeper into the matter here – but have a ponder about it for yourself.


So, there you have it. Five characters, five long arguments to be had with your friends. Perhaps we should all just accept that all Harry Potter characters are so nuanced, we’ll never properly agree on anything. But it’s still fun to unpack it all, right?