The Wizarding World can be a scary place. There are strange creatures, creepy characters and petrifying places to deal with. Not to mention going to a school full of ghosts, trolls and three-headed dogs.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Here are some of the most frightening incidents from the stories.

Is that dog looking at me?

‘Lumos,’ Harry muttered, and a light appeared at the end of his wand, almost dazzling him. He held it high over his head, and the pebble-dashed walls of number two suddenly sparkled; the garage door gleamed, and between them, Harry saw, quite distinctly, the hulking outline of something very big, with wide, gleaming eyes.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

We’ll start off with one of the nicer ones.

There are few more unsettling things than feeling like you’re being watched. When Harry caught the Knight Bus from Magnolia Crescent, he thought he could discern a mysterious (‘but massive’) dog skulking in the shadows. Back at Hogwarts, Ron unhelpfully suggested it might have been a Grim, which would have resulted in Harry’s immediate death. Thanks, Ron!

Later, during a game of Quidditch, he almost came off his broom when he saw ‘the silhouette of an enormous shaggy black dog’ in the otherwise empty top row of seats in the stand. As it happened, a pitch invasion of about a hundred Dementors made sure of that. The dog later dragged Ron into a gap of the roots of the Whomping Willow, breaking his leg in the process. Although it is soon revealed as Sirius, the sightings of the giant black dog provide the unsettling undercurrent throughout Prisoner of Azkaban.

Give us a kiss

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

We get introduced to the wraith-like Dementors, guardians of Azkaban, in Prisoner of Azkaban. But it’s actually the opening of the Order of the Phoenix where they make their most frightening intervention. Up until this point, you might have been under the impression that Little Whinging was a relatively safe – positively boring - haven for Harry. But after a bitter altercation with Dudley, in which Harry threatened him with his wand, something strange happened.

The balmy evening was suddenly piercingly, bitingly cold. They were surrounded by total, impenetrable, silent darkness, as though some giant hand had dropped a thick, icy mantle over the entire alleyway, blinding them.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The sound of ‘long, hoarse, rattling breaths’ can only mean one thing and the pair are swiftly ambushed by two Dementors. The smell of the Dementor’s putrid breath filling the air, his head a confusion of shrill laughter, all his happiness leaving him, it took all of Harry’s resolve to cast his Patronus to save Dudley from the Dementor crouched over him, preparing to kiss.

Harry Potter is full of deadly creatures – but the thought of having your soul sucked out is scarier than all of them put together.

When the Inferi made us never want to go back into the water

Inferi being fought off with Dumbledore's flames in Horcrux Cave
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Hordes of zombies can be disconcerting, at the best of times. Early on in Half-Blood Prince, when Dumbledore explained the origins of the Inferi to Harry – that they are dead bodies bewitched to do a Dark wizard’s bidding, and that Voldemort had killed enough people to make an army of them – perhaps we should have taken that as a strong warning of what was to come.

A slimy white hand had gripped his wrist, and the creature to whom it belonged was pulling him, slowly, backwards across the rock. The surface of the lake was no longer mirror-smooth; it was churning, and everywhere Harry looked, white heads and hands were emerging from the dark water, men and women and children with sunken, sightless eyes were moving towards the rock: an army of the dead rising from the black water.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

In this climactic sequence in the cave, Dumbledore was prostrate on the floor having drained a cup of potion one too many times. As Harry desperately tried to revive him, he was helpless to repel the numbers of Inferi climbing out of the icy water that surrounded them – he tried numerous ineffective spells in the process (in fact, you could say he had an Inferi-ority complex). Even Sectumsempra was useless when the assailants had no blood left to spill. Luckily, Dumbledore snapped out of it in time to unleash a huge ring of fire, which consumed the Inferi and led to their escape – but the mere memory of them still sends icy chills.

That time Bathilda failed to keep her head together

Close-up film still of Bathilda Bagshot holding candle
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

Following one of the most moving sequences in the stories, where Harry visited the grave of his parents, so cruelly murdered by Voldemort, the visit to Bathilda Bagshot’s cottage came as a huge shock. Maybe Harry and Hermione should have read the signs of the bad smell, or the poor state of Bathilda’s skin, or the fact that she doesn’t seem to be up for a chat. And certainly Bathilda’s seeming insistence for Harry to go upstairs with her, just the two of them. When he thought she had led him directly to the sword of Godric Gryffindor… Well, you know the rest…

And in the instant that he looked away, his eyes raking the tangled mess for a sword hilt, a ruby, she moved weirdly: he saw it out of the corner of his eye; panic made him turn and horror paralysed him as he saw the old body collapsing and the great snake pouring from the place where her neck had been.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry encounters a baby Lord Voldemort at Kings Cross station

He recoiled. He had spotted the thing that was making the noises. It had the form of a small, naked child, curled on the ground, its skin raw and rough, flayed-looking, and it lay shuddering under a seat where it had been left, unwanted, stuffed out of sight, struggling for breath.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

There is no more surreal and disturbing scene than when Harry awoke in a white space full of cloudy vapour – at some strange point between life and death. The place, it transpired, was King’s Cross, with its glittering glass roof high above him. It seemed empty, apart from the ‘thumping and whimpering noises’ coming from the horrible creature he then encountered, which he instinctively wanted to comfort, but it repulsed him too much.

Dumbledore appeared in this dream-like space to explain how Harry was Voldemort’s seventh Horcrux and to relate his own history with Grindelwald, during which Harry has to ignore the creature whimpering behind them. It is a revelatory moment in the stories, but the creature’s presence makes it a strange and horrifying pause before Harry finally fulfils his destiny.

Lavender’s horrible sweetheart necklace

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

‘It’s from Lavender,’ said Ron, sounding revolted. ‘She can’t honestly think I’d wear…’
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

One for all you lovers out there… sometimes the scariest things can come in strange forms. Never mind giant spiders, Ron’s Christmas present from Lavender Brown in Half-Blood Prince had the power of nightmares, and the essence of bad dreams for many teenage boys. The thick gold chain might have been bad enough, but the large gold letters spelling the words ‘My Sweetheart’ certainly sealed the deal. We’re sure Lavender meant well, but the level of saccharine is too much to handle.

What are some of your favourite (or least favourite) scary moments? Let us know on Twitter.