How did Crabbe and Goyle make it through their first year of Hogwarts, anyway?

Draco Crabbe and Goyle in dress robes for the Yule Ball.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

In a way, Crabbe and Goyle were Malfoy’s warped versions of Ron and Hermione. They were self-sacrificing, loyal and willing to risk it all in order to stay by the side of their mate.

There was just one thing that held them back from Hermione-style cunning and Ron-esque humour: their brains.

Swollen with stupor, lousy with laziness, they simply could not summon the smarts to find their way out of any complicated situation. Their time at Hogwarts was characterised by multitudinous acts of moron-hood, but here are their top failures in reverse order of intensiveness of stupidity.

5. Pretty much every single time they opened their mouths.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

When you think about it, it’s really an indictment of Hogwarts as an establishment that two boys can go through seven years of education and emerge possibly even stupider than they were when they arrived. Actions might speak louder than words, but when every single word to roll off your thick tongue was either a lie, a trick or a mistake, it’s not a great sign.

Goyle mispronouncing ‘disillusionment’ might not be on the same level as Crabbe causing his own death by conjuring uncontrollable fire, but still.

‘We was hiding in the corridor outside,’ grunted Goyle. ‘We can do Diss-lusion Charms now! And then,’ his face split into a gormless grin, ‘you turned up right in front of us and said you was looking for a die-dum! What’s a die-dum?’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

4. The time they ate chocolate cakes filled with Sleeping Draught

The Slytherin Common Room with Draco from the Chamber of Secrets
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

It’s no secret that Ron liked to eat – most conversations conducted with him were done around cheeks full of chicken. But even the most ravenous Weasley would have paused, just for a minute, before he sank his teeth into a chocolate cake that was poised on a banister in a public location. Not so Crabbe and Goyle, who were easier to trick than a memory-blasted Lockhart. They saw, they ate, they fell asleep.

‘How thick can you get?’ Ron whispered ecstatically, as Crabbe gleefully pointed out the cakes to Goyle and grabbed them. Grinning stupidly, they stuffed the cakes whole into their large mouths. For a moment, both of them chewed greedily, looks of triumph on their faces. Then, without the smallest change of expression, they both keeled over backwards onto the floor.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

3. The time they dressed up as Dementors

A swarm of Dementors arrive at the Quidditch Match.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

This idea, no doubt, sprung fully-formed from the malicious mind of Malfoy, but in going along with it, Crabbe and Goyle vigorously demonstrated their lack of critical thinking. You, in the same situation, might have paused to ask yourself: ‘Is it a good idea to dress up as a horrifying creature that has been banned from the school grounds by the most powerful wizard alive, and storm a Quidditch match? Might there not be some ramifications? Is there a possibility of death, probably, expulsion, probably, and embarrassment, likely?’

But they did not pause. They did not think. They merely allowed Malfoy to convince them, and hoped for the best.

‘You gave Mr Malfoy quite a fright,’ said Lupin.
Harry stared. Lying in a crumpled heap on the ground were Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and Marcus Flint, the Slytherin team captain, all struggling to remove themselves from long, black, hooded robes. It looked as though Malfoy had been standing on Goyle’s shoulders. Standing over them, with an expression of the utmost fury on her face, was Professor McGonagall.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

2. The time Crabbe conjured Fiendfyre

Draco Crabbe abd Zabini in the Room of Requirment
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

This one nearly tops the list, because you have to be a special order of addled before you conjure sentient-dragon-fire-beasts into life, with no knowledge of how to put them out. By casting this spell in the Room of Requirement, Crabbe gave himself a very good shot at murdering all of his enemies in a single triumphant moment. Instead, he nearly incinerated both of his besties. A ridiculous end to an error-riddled existence – and, somehow, a very sad one. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it was stupidity that killed Crabbe.

It was not normal fire; Crabbe had used a curse of which Harry had no knowledge: as they turned a corner the flames chased them as though they were alive, sentient, intent upon killing them. Now the fire was mutating, forming a gigantic pack of fiery beasts: flaming serpents, Chimaeras and dragons rose and fell and rose again, and the detritus of centuries on which they were feeding was thrown up in the air into their fanged mouths, tossed high on clawed feet, before being consumed by the inferno.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

1. The time they became friends with Malfoy in the first place

After Draco curses Hermione's teeth, Harry aims a pimple jinx at Malfoy, but it deflects onto Goyle.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

In a parallel magical world, Dumbledore is still alive, Moaning Myrtle is in a strange but satisfying relationship with Peeves, and Crabbe and Goyle are still stupid but also both still alive, having never taken on the position of Draco Malfoy’s matching moronic henchmen. Stupidity, after all, is harmless – it’s when it’s coupled with strength and a brain bent on cruelty that it all goes wrong.

‘Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle,’ said the pale boy carelessly, noticing where Harry was looking. ‘And my name’s Malfoy, Draco Malfoy.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone