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The most unjust moments from the Harry Potter books

There’s unfairness, then there’s wizarding world-level unfairness. Here are some key moments where Harry Potter characters were dealt a very raw deal.

There comes a time for everyone when you realise that life isn’t always fair. However, hopefully this realisation came from your sibling stealing your stuff and not getting into any trouble for it rather than, oh let’s see, being imprisoned in Azkaban for 12 years for a crime you didn’t commit.

In fact, the Harry Potter series had quite the impressive repertoire of outrageously unfair situations, and so to count our blessings and perhaps finally forgive that sibling, let’s take a look back at some of Harry Potter’s most unjust moments, starting chronologically with Rubeus Hagrid.

Hagrid vs Tom Riddle

Tom Riddle standing in the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Hagrid lived in a hut on the Hogwarts grounds, tended to all of the animals, used a nice pink umbrella to sneakily use magic, and seemed pretty content with his lot. However, this happy outcome doesn’t make the circumstances that led to it any less unfair. Hagrid was expelled in his third year after he was accused by Tom Riddle of opening the Chamber of Secrets, which led to the death of Moaning Myrtle.

Of course, Tom was the one who actually committed the crime, but Hagrid was suspected due to his love of monsters, and not even Dumbledore could save him from expulsion. What’s even more tragic about this situation is that Hagrid’s beloved father had passed away shortly before his expulsion. What a horrible year for poor Hagrid.

‘It’s all over,’ he said. ‘I’m going to have to turn you in, Rubeus. They’re talking about closing Hogwarts if the attacks don’t stop.’ ‘What d’yeh–’ ‘I don’t think you meant to kill anyone. But monsters don’t make good pets. I suppose you just let it out for exercise and –’
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Sirius Black’s prison sentence

Sirius trapped in the Top Tower from the Prisoner of Azakban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

If Sirius Black was ever guilty of anything, it was putting his trust in an unworthy friend. This lapse of judgement shouldn’t have meant 12 years in a soul-sucking prison surrounded by Dementors and Death Eaters, but such were the horrendously unfair circumstances a 21-year-old Sirius found himself trapped in. Not only did Sirius not commit the mass murder that he was imprisoned for, he was also sentenced to life without even having a trial thanks to Barty Crouch Sr. In hindsight, how on earth was this ever even allowed? No wonder he wanted to slash a few portraits to get to Peter Pettigrew after all of that!

‘Oh, I know Crouch all right,’ he said quietly. ‘He was the one who gave the order for me to be sent to Azkaban – without trial.’
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The careers of Lucius Malfoy and Arthur Weasley

Arthur Weasley was a good, loyal worker, but that didn’t seem to matter since Lucius had all of that family wealth to get what he wanted within the Ministry. As such, Lucius climbed up the Ministry ranks while Arthur struggled to make ends meet, and was constantly forced to play nice with a renounced Death Eater who clearly didn’t really regret his past actions.

Arthur’s day-to-day life was to be pleasant to a man who was more successful than him, and never missed an opportunity to speak down to him, and yet was unfairly much more successful. Of course, this miscarriage of justice was rectified when he finally received a much-deserved promotion, and Lucius (hopefully) was disgraced from the Ministry following the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. What goes around comes around!

Buckbeak’s hearing

Hagrid introduces his Care of Magical Creatures class to Buckbeak
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

What chance did poor Buckbeak have from the moment he attacked Draco? As Hagrid explained, Hippogriffs need to respect you for you to approach them, something Draco completely ignored and ended up being attacked. What wasn’t fair was what happened next. Not only was Buckbeak sentenced to death, the executioner even came along to the hearing! Seriously, was there no one upholding judicial proceedings at the Ministry of Magic back in the 1990s?

Of course, Buckbeak escaped his unjust execution thanks to Ron, Harry and Hermione, but he still had to live like a fugitive for a few years eating dead ferrets while cooped up in a house rather than hanging out with his friends in a nice paddock. Yes, Hagrid may have misjudged his students' safety with his choice of creatures sometimes, but to be fair... the other lessons can be a little dangerous too. Think of that time Crabbe's Swelling Solution exploded everywhere in Potions. Think of Gilderoy Lockhart's unruly pixie lesson. At least Hagrid tried to warn his students.

Harry Potter vs The Daily Prophet

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Oh yes, here we go. How could we have ever written about unjust moments in the wizarding world without a substantial chapter on poor old Harry’s utterly unfair misfortunes? Although Harry went through more than his fair share of trials, we think it’s fair to say that his most infuriatingly unjust year was during Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix or, as we like to think of it, The Year Everyone Was Out to Get Harry. It all began when Harry announced Voldemort’s return and, like a really intelligent individual who wanted to remain Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge decided to ignore him.

As such, the Daily Prophet started insinuating that he was a liar through many sarcastic one-liners, despite this essentially being fully grown wizard journalists taking down a 15-year-old boy who never actually wanted to be famous. As such, Harry’s peers began to treat him differently (we’re looking at you, Seamus), which drastically impacted his already rather terrible frame of mind following the events of, you know, being the sole witness of Voldemort’s resurrection which resulted in the murder of his fellow champion, Cedric Diggory.

‘Well, they’re writing about you as though you’re this deluded, attention-seeking person who thinks he’s a great tragic hero or something,’ Hermione said, very fast, as though it would be less unpleasant for Harry to hear these facts quickly. ‘They keep slipping in snide comments about you. If some far-fetched story appears, they say something like, “A tale worthy of Harry Potter”, and if anyone has a funny accident or anything it’s, “Let’s hope he hasn’t got a scar of his forehead or we’ll be asked to worship him next.”’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter vs Umbridge

Dolores Umbridge in her office
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Not only was the Daily Prophet out to get Harry in his fifth year, so was Dolores Jane Umbridge, and she very nearly succeeded. First of all, Harry was promptly expelled when he had to use magic to defend himself and Dudley Dursley against Dementors, who were sent there by Umbridge. After narrowly avoiding expulsion, he then carried on insisting on Voldemort’s resurrection at Hogwarts only to be punished for telling the truth by carving that he was a liar into his own skin. Can you imagine knowing you’re telling the truth while writing those words into your hand over and over again?

So, there you have it. In the wizarding world, even with magic, life can still be so deeply unfair. What unjust moments have we missed?