There are so many characters in Harry Potter who are easy to love. There are side characters that we wish we knew more about, as well as more major characters that we know plenty about but still have questions because they are simply so intriguing. It was difficult to narrow this list down to just five characters, but here are my top five favorite Harry Potter characters.
1. Tom Riddle
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It’s difficult not to see Tom Riddle as a completely different person from Lord Voldemort. After all, Voldemort’s younger self is distinctly his own person, with his deceptively calm and charismatic nature that differs so much from his outwardly cruel older self. What I find interesting about Tom Riddle is how adept he is at hiding his evil nature, fooling everyone around him except Dumbledore into believing he is a well-mannered and good-natured student. Tom Riddle’s character demonstrates how easily an evil person can trick others into admiring and respecting him, allowing him to get away with evil deeds. In addition, Tom Riddle seems to have been born evil, which makes it easy to pity him. Even as a child, he shows no remorse for others. Also, unlike Harry, he is not willing to trust others and chooses to go to Diagon Alley by himself to buy his school supplies at age eleven. From birth, he is destined to be a villain, and this makes him a serious threat to the wizarding world, making the stakes in the story high. His secretive nature, paired with his lack of remorse and unwillingness to trust others, makes him a remarkable villain.
2. Minerva McGonagall
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Who doesn’t love Professor McGonagall? The best characters always have contradictions within their personalities, and McGonagall’s contradiction is that she is both stern and caring. She knows when to be strict with her students and command their respect, but also when to bend the rules and show a more nurturing side. McGonagall’s character provides necessary conflict for the story by not giving in to everyone’s demands, due to her compulsion to follow rules and logic. However, she gains the reader’s affection by being flexible and breaking rules when necessary. Her conflict with Umbridge in the fifth book is one of the most entertaining aspects of that book, as it lets us see a more rebellious side of McGonagall that isn’t afraid to challenge authority when necessary. Despite being strict with Harry and advising him to keep his cool around the new defense against the dark arts professor, McGonagall eventually goes against her own advice by engaging in heated arguments with her new colleague. This is what makes McGonagall a character that readers both love and respect.
3. Remus Lupin
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Lupin is a character with contradictions of his own – willing to be Harry’s mentor, but also adamant about keeping his distance from him. Lupin spends time helping Harry fight off dementors in book three, as well as assuaging his fears and providing encouragement for him. It can be argued that, in this way, Lupin is the first consistent parental figure that Harry has ever had. But after book three, we barely see Lupin having a close bond with Harry anymore. He is absent throughout book four when Harry is placed into a deadly tournament, for instance. He never even sends one letter to Harry to provide guidance or check in on how he is coping with being in the tournament. This adds mystery to his character, as we don’t know the reasons for why he doesn’t take an active role in Harry’s life after the third book. Perhaps he is preoccupied with other matters, or maybe it is too painful to be around Harry, as he is a reminder of Lily and James, the friends that he misses dearly. All we can do is speculate.
4. Albus Dumbledore
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What’s intriguing about Dumbledore is that it’s so easy to see him as a perfect, all-knowing character, since that is how he is presented to us in the series from Harry’s point of view. Dumbledore seems to have all the answers in each book. His dialogue typically consists of long paragraphs in which he relays insightful wisdom and knowledge to Harry. His plans are never faulty. For example, he outsmarts ministry officials in book five in order to save Harry from being in trouble for breaking one of Umbridge’s rules. However, as we learn more about Dumbledore, we can see that he is a flawed person who has made mistakes. In book five, for example, he keeps plenty of crucial information from Harry about Voldemort’s plans, which eventually leads to Sirius’s untimely death. In addition, Dumbledore is not as close to Harry as he could be. He maintains a friendly relationship with Harry and has at least one deep and meaningful conversation with him in each book, but Dumbledore never once reveals anything about his past to Harry, leading him to feel betrayed in the end. To summarize, Dumbledore is a brilliant character with certain flaws, and that’s why we enjoy reading about him.
5. Severus Snape
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Lastly, my favorite character in the series is Snape. What fascinates me the most about him is how he never changes and never lets go of the unreasonable grudge he has against Harry. Even after Harry finds Barty Crouch, Sr. at the edge of the woods and needs Snape’s help, Snape wastes time and pretends not to believe Harry, purely to spite him. Even in serious situations, Snape cannot get along with Harry. This is clearly a character who will never change, and that in itself is a compelling concept for a character. At the same time, it’s strange to see how Snape seems to have a strong curiosity about Harry throughout the books, despite his hatred for him. For example, in book six, at Slughorn’s Christmas party, Snape makes a comment in response to Harry telling Slughorn about the classes he is taking, deducing from the conversation that Harry wishes to be an auror. This shows that he does seem to take note of what is going on in Harry’s life. He is a dynamic character, both curious about and filled with hatred for the son of his old rival.
The Harry Potter world contains a plethora of complicated characters that fans could spend forever analyzing. These are just a few of my favorite characters that keep me turning the pages each time that I read the series.