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Why Fenrir Greyback was the creepiest villain in the Harry Potter books

Sure, Lord Voldemort and Gellert Grindelwald weren’t exactly the good guys, but there was something about Fenrir the werewolf that really got under our skin.

Concept art for Fenrir Greyback.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Once Voldemort had ascended back to power, we were ‘lucky’ enough to encounter some of the awful people who surrounded him. Wormtail, Bellatrix Lestrange and Barty Crouch Jr were particularly deranged, but there was one lesser-known follower of the Dark Lord: Fenrir Greyback, known as ‘the most savage werewolf alive’. Let us never forget just how awful he truly was.

While the likes of Voldemort and his followers were certainly evil, there was something awfully creepy about Fenrir that we just couldn’t shake off. Maybe it was his general disgusting demeanour. Perhaps it was his sadistic interest in attacking children, or his goal to transform as many witches and wizards as possible into werewolves. Or, of course, all of the above.

Whatever it was, the bedraggled and dirty Greyback got under our skin more than some of Voldemort’s vilest Death Eaters. Here are some of the dastardliest things he did.

He turned Remus Lupin into a werewolf

Remus always struggled with his ‘furry little problem’, but we were even more upset for the beloved Marauder when we discovered it was Fenrir Greyback who was responsible for his werewolf status. Remus was only four when he was bitten, and spent a difficult childhood coming to terms with what had happened. Even worse, Greyback only targeted Remus because his father, Lyall, had insulted werewolves. Lyall spent the rest of his life trying to find a cure for his son, while Greyback boasted about his actions. The lack of remorse made it so much worse.

Animated illustration of a young Remus Lupin

He had a horrible penchant for attacking children

Fenrir Greyback grinned, showing pointed teeth. Blood trickled down his chin and he licked his lips slowly, obscenely.
‘But you know how much I like kids, Dumbledore.’
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Greyback wasn’t just interested in Remus Lupin: the werewolf liked to target all children. As Remus explained to Harry, this was Greyback’s twisted plan to ‘bite them young’ and turn them against the wizarding community. On many occasions we see Greyback’s horrific desire to attack kids, and never any acknowledgement on his part of the consequences. Even worse, Lord Voldemort promised Greyback ‘sons and daughters’ in exchange for catching wizards and witches for him.

But he’d attack anybody

Again, according to Remus, Greyback ‘regards it as his mission in life to bite and to contaminate as many people as possible’. The sheer number of Greyback’s victims proved that the werewolf had not one scrap of regret for his wrongdoings, or the many lives he affected along the way. Seeing what Remus went through at Hogwarts illustrated just how far one bite could go in terms of both physical and emotional issues that lasted a lifetime.

Greyback carries a body through the forest with the Snatchers.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

And it didn’t even have to be a full moon

During a confrontation with Albus Dumbledore, Greyback revealed that he didn’t need it to be a full moon to enjoy the ‘taste for human flesh’. Yep, as if he couldn’t get any worse, Greyback didn’t even need the excuse of being a werewolf to attack people for his sadistic indulgences.

He really enjoyed hurting people

‘Reckon she’ll let me have a bit of the girl when she’s finished with her?’ Greyback crooned, as he forced them along the corridor. ‘I’d say I’ll get a bite or two, wouldn’t you, Ginger?’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Whenever Greyback spoke of attacking someone, his joy was really disgusting to hear. When Hermione was taken hostage at Malfoy Manor, for example, Greyback relished the opportunity to attack a Muggle-born.

Illustration of Bill Weasley from the second Order of the Phoenix infographic, after being mauled by Fenrir Greyback
Bill Weasley. © JKR/Pottermore Ltd.™ Warner Bros.

He mauled Bill Weasley

Greyback didn’t always succeed in turning people into werewolves, but he still took perverse enjoyment in making a permanent change to anyone’s life. However, when Bill Weasley was attacked by Greyback, he avoided the perils of becoming a werewolf because it wasn’t a full moon. Greyback simply left Bill significantly scarred and with a new appreciation for rare steaks.

He attacked Lavender Brown

Even during the chaos of the Battle of Hogwarts, Fenrir Greyback found an opportunity to savage fresh new victims. Poor Lavender Brown was seen falling from a balcony, with a ‘grey blur’ running to attack her. Hermione managed to throw Greyback backwards, but we never did find out if the ‘feebly stirring’ Lavender made it out alive.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince