It’s time to stop the arguments and look at the stone-cold facts: who was the best Marauder?

The Marauder's Map
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The time has come to once and for all to compare the four Marauders and come to a logical conclusion. Who was the best: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot or Prongs?

While some of our decisions will have to be based in their actions in the books, we will have to look into their lives outside of them, too (otherwise James Potter would immediately be disqualified for, well, being dead during Harry’s time at school – awkward). We’ll pitch them against each other in terms of personality, achievements and finally their sheer level of ‘Marauderness’; otherwise known as their level of mischief managed. You can’t sign off your self-made map with it if you aren’t actually managing any.

Round One: Personality

Moony Padfoot Prongs and Wormtail at Hogwarts by the lake
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

We classify the ‘most Marauder’ personality traits to be excitable, mischievous and, above all else, loyal. These are traits – to an extent – that they all had. Even Peter was loyal to his friends in the beginning; he did learn to be an Animagus to help Remus, after all. But his ultimate betrayal – selling out the lives of his friends to the Dark Lord, when he had been entrusted as their Secret Keeper – went against everything it meant to be a Marauder. Sirius even called him out for it in Prisoner of Azkaban: ‘You always liked big friends who’d look after you, didn’t you?’ Peter was a sheep and a coward. And he bit Ron a lot as Scabbers. Not cool, Peter, not cool.

It almost goes without saying that James and Sirius both fulfilled the criteria of being excitable and mischievous. James was a bully when he was younger (though, arguably, sending Snape into the tunnel beneath the Whomping Willow on a full moon was worse, Sirius!) but he matured and became a protective father and husband until the bitter end.

Sirius was loyal to the point where he would rather go to Azkaban than argue his innocence because he suggested Peter become the Secret Keeper, which led to James and Lily’s deaths. And his Animagus form was a dog – how much more loyal can you get? Even though Remus originally believed Sirius to be guilty of murder, once he was able to talk to his friend he understood, and stood by him against Peter. More reserved than the others, but cheeky in his own right (giving Harry back the map once he was no longer his teacher, for one), Remus had his fair share of Marauder traits.

Considering Peter sold out his friends and joined the Dark Lord, he really has to lose.

Round Two: Achievements

Prongs, Padfoot, Moony and Wormtail in their transfigured animal forms.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

All four of the Marauders were certainly talented. Firstly, you’ve got the Marauder’s Map – which displayed an excellent use of the Homonculous Charm. But one of the best examples of their magical prowess was their mutual ability to transform as Animagi, a difficult skill to master, especially for young wizards doing it illegally. Because of Remus’s ‘furry little problem’, the remaining trio found themselves secret animal forms so they could keep Lupin company.

In terms of other skills, we know that James was an adept Quidditch player, a trait that his son would one day inherit. In his school days, Remus would often have his head deep in a book: no surprises that his smarts would later translate into him becoming a teacher. And arguably, Remus was the most helpful to Harry when it came to defeating Voldemort (and Dementors), and he offered him an insight into the lives of his parents (mostly his dad) that he never had before. After a while we saw Sirius in a similar role, but due to his fugitive status, he wasn’t able to be there for Harry as much as he wished, despite being a talented fighter of Dark magic himself. Between the two of them, they offered guidance and advice that was invaluable to Harry and his friends as they embarked on their missions. Their help was critical in bringing about the end of the Second Wizarding War.

Alas, James’s untimely death meant we couldn’t discover more about his achievements, which is why we must regrettably award him a bronze medal.

Final Round: Overall Marauder-ness

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

While the first association you may have with Remus Lupin is an image of a more sensible individual, there was plenty that he did that makes him a worthy Marauder and contender for the crown. Remus supported Harry throughout his time at school, and offered his services in finding the Horcruxes in Deathly Hallows. He might not have achieved the same levels of mischief as James and Sirius, but he continued to offer everything he could to help Harry – often filling a role that his late father couldn’t.

However, we’re not sure Remus can truly contend with Sirius when judged solely on Marauderness. Not only did mischief and mayhem follow Sirius wherever he went, but his friendships saw him disowned by his family. You got the impression that had Harry been able to live with him (once his innocence had finally been proven) they would have got up to no end of fun. His time with his godson was cut far too short, not only in the eyes of Harry, but most readers, too.

And so, based on this particular way of breaking it down, we have our winner: here’s to you, Padfoot.

Sirius as the big black dog with Buckbeak in the cave in Hogsmeade.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Of course, you might have better ideas…