Ah, Dudley Dursley. Certainly no one’s perfect cousin.

Dudley and his concerned parents after Dementor attack
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

But perhaps he wasn’t really to blame for his greed, laziness or bad personality. He may have been a bit of a pig (literally!) and his behaviour, from stealing cake to playground taunting, was often unpleasant. But with parents like Vernon and Petunia, is it any wonder he turned out like he did? Here’s why we love to hate him so very much…

Oh, the tantrums

His tantrums were honestly quite epic. In fact, shortly after we learnt that his first word was ‘Shan’t’, we discovered that he had a gift for monumental meltdowns…

‘All right, thirty-seven then,’ said Dudley, going red in the face. Harry, who could see a huge Dudley tantrum coming on, began wolfing down his bacon as fast as possible in case Dudley turned the table over.

Aunt Petunia obviously scented danger too, because she said quickly, ‘And we’ll buy you another two presents while we’re out today. How’s that, popkin? Two more presents. Is that all right?’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Dudley is sick in a flower pot after Dementor attack.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

‘Ickle Diddykins’

His nicknames were as sickly as a Weasleys’ Puking Pastille. You have to feel a bit of pity for the poor lad considering the names his mother called him. Here’s just a small selection of the terrible nicknames Petunia inflicted on her son…

  • Duddy
  • Dudders
  • Popkin
  • Sweetums
  • Ickle Diddykins
  • Dinky Duddydums
  • Ickle Dudleykins

The Dursley family photo, Dudley is wearing his Smeltings school uniform
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Not the sharpest tool in the box

He was blessedly dim sometimes. Something of a gift for poor Harry, who often had only his brains to protect him against Dudley’s, sorry, Duddydums’, fists…

‘They stuff people’s heads down the toilet first day at Stonewall,’ he told Harry. ‘Want to come upstairs and practise?’
‘No thanks,’ said Harry. ‘The poor toilet’s never had anything as horrible as your head down it – it might be sick.’ Then he ran, before Dudley could work out what he’d said.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Doting parents or bad influence?

We reckon Dudley’s parents were on his side a little too much to be healthy. Vernon and Petunia were blissfully blind to any of their son’s shortcomings and indulged him way too much in all things.

The school nurse had seen what Aunt Petunia’s eyes – so sharp when it came to spotting fingerprints on her gleaming walls, and in observing the comings and goings of the neighbours – simply refused to see: that, far from needing extra nourishment, Dudley had reached roughly the size and weight of a young killer whale.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

A perhaps understandable phobia of magic

Dudley was traumatised by magic. First a pig’s tail courtesy of Hagrid, then a four-foot tongue thanks to Fred and George’s ‘dropped’ Ton-Tongue Toffee.

…his last fleeting glimpse of the living room was of Mr Weasley blasting a third ornament out of Uncle Vernon’s hand with his wand, Aunt Petunia screaming and lying on top of Dudley, and Dudley’s tongue lolling around like a great slimy python.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Learning from his father

Vernon bullied Harry shamelessly and he passed that behaviour on to his son. As a teenager Dudley never missed an opportunity to be as cruel as possible, and he did it well…

Dudley gave a harsh bark of laughter, then adopted a high-pitched whimpering voice.
‘“Don’t kill Cedric! Don’t kill Cedric!” Who’s Cedric – your boyfriend?’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

He was a measuring stick of despicableness

Harry compared his loathing of Malfoy to Dudley, measured the intelligence of Grawp to his dim-witted cousin, and even used him to size up the new Captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team…

The new Captain, Montague, was built along the same lines as Dudley Dursley, with massive forearms like hairy hams.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Dudley cowers against the wall during Dementor Attack.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

A glimmer of hope…

But despite all of that, we truly believe that beneath the nasty comments and fists was a boy with a heart struggling to get out.

‘I don’t think you’re a waste of space.’
If Harry had not seen Dudley’s lips move, he might not have believed it. As it was, he stared at Dudley for several seconds before accepting that it must have been his cousin who had spoken; for one thing, Dudley had turned red. Harry was embarrassed and astonished himself.
‘Well … er … thanks, Dudley.’
Again, Dudley appeared to grapple with thoughts too unwieldy for expression before mumbling, ‘You saved my life.’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry uses the Patronus spell against a Dementor to protect his cousin.
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