For a series that starts with the death of the protagonist’s parents, Harry Potter originally weaves an enchanting light-hearted tale full of joy and magic. Even Harry’s confrontations with his nemesis, Lord Voldemort, don’t change that, as Harry inevitably prevails over his enemy, assisted by his friends and the secret support of his mother’s love.
But Harry Potter has its fair share of tragedies. The tone of the series significantly shifts as Harry matures, and many characters encounter dark fates. In some cases, they more than have it coming, and they receive punishments suitable for their crimes. Others, however, would have deserved better.
10DESERVED BETTER: Sirius Black’s Death Takes Away Harry’s Last Parental Figure
Sirius Black is perhaps one of the most tragic characters in Harry Potter. Imprisoned in the Wizarding prison Azkaban for a crime he didn’t commit, he spends practically one-third of his life surrounded by Dementors, plunged into insanity and desperation. His friends don’t give him the benefit of the doubt, and he never even receives a trial. When he finally escapes, it is only through Harry and Hermione’s efforts that he isn’t kissed by a Dementor. Even then, he is forced to remain hidden in Grimmauld Place, the family home he hates.
Things finally come to a head when Voldemort lures Harry to the Department of Mysteries. Sirius and the rest of the Order of the Phoenix come to the aid of Harry and his friends. Following a confrontation with his cousin Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius falls through the Veil of Death and is lost forever. It’s notable that in the movies, Bellatrix uses Avada Kedavra on her cousin, while in the books, she hits him with an unknown red spell that causes him to fall into the Veil.
9GOT WHAT SHE DESERVED: Bellatrix Lestrange Finds Her Death At Molly Weasley’s Hands
Lord Voldemort’s most terrifying Death Eater, Bellatrix is a sadistic witch who revels in torturing her victims and fulfilling her master’s orders. At Voldemort’s command, she commits numerous atrocities. Alongside Barty Crouch Jr. and Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange, she tortures the Longbottoms into insanity.
When Harry and his friends are captured by Snatchers, she also tortures Hermione and carves the word “mudblood” into her arm. Sirius is only one of the many names on her list of victims, as she also kills her niece, Nymphadora Tonks, and Dobby the House Elf. She finally finds her fitting end at Molly Weasley’s hands, during the Battle of Hogwarts.
8DESERVED BETTER: Dobby Dies As A Free Elf And Harry’s Friend
The House Elf Dobby may have gotten Harry in trouble with his original attempts to protect the boy-wizard, but after he is freed, the two become great friends. Dobby helps Harry more than once throughout Harry’s years at Hogwarts, as he begins working at the famous school of magic, this time receiving payment.
After Harry and his friends are captured, Dobby is the one who intervenes and helps them escape. Unfortunately, Bellatrix throws her knife at him seconds before he and Harry can flee Malfoy Manor. He dies in Harry’s arms and is buried with the words “a free elf” as his epitaph.
7GOT WHAT HE DESERVED: Peter Pettigrew Is Killed By His Own Prosthetic Hand
One of James Potter’s school friends, Peter Pettigrew is the Secret Keeper of the Potters’ Fidelius charm. He betrays them to Voldemort, leading to their deaths. After he is pursued by Sirius, he makes his escape in his rat animagus form, framing Sirius for both his death and the Potters’ betrayal. Years later, Sirius comes after him again, but he escapes with his life due to Harry’s intervention.
This turns out to be his undoing. He assists in the revival of Lord Voldemort, cutting off his hand for the potion that brings him back. Voldemort gives him a silver hand as a prosthetic replacement. When Harry is caught, Peter attempts to strangle him, but Harry reminds him of the life debt he owes. Peter’s grip slackens, and as a result, his own silver hand kills him.
6DESERVED BETTER: Lavender Brown Is Viciously Mauled By Fenrir Greyback
One of Harry’s classmates, Lavender isn’t exactly the most likable character in the series. She isn’t ill-intentioned, but she can come off as obnoxious and insensitive. Her relationship with Ron Weasley doesn’t really help, as she is almost obsessive in her affections for him.
But despite these flaws in her character, she certainly deserved better than the fate that befell her. During the Battle of Hogwarts, she is caught and viciously mauled by the werewolf Fenrir Greyback. Hermione attempts to save her and blasts the beast away, but Lavender eventually dies from her injuries anyway.
5GOT WHAT SHE DESERVED: Dolores Umbridge Is Sent To Azkaban After The War
Harry’s Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in his fifth year, Dolores Umbridge is easily the most hated character in the series. Intent on silencing Harry on the orders of Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, she orders a Dementor attack on Harry at his Muggle home in Little Whinging. When this fails, she persecutes him throughout his schooling and tortures both him and other students using a Black Quill.
After she becomes the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, she institutes draconian rules that forbid any kind of social gathering. At the end of her Hogwarts tenure, she runs afoul of the centaurs but miraculously escapes with her life. She is happy to assist Voldemort during his rise, working within the Ministry of Magic to hunt down Muggleborns. After the war, she is finally punished for her crimes and sent to Azkaban.
4DESERVED BETTER: Fred Weasley Remains One Of The Series’ Most Painful Deaths
The Weasley twins are easily among the most likable characters in the series. Never apart, Fred and George are truly an iconic duo and bring magic and humor wherever they go. That just makes Fred’s final fate even sadder. He is killed in the Battle of Hogwarts, presumably in an explosion caused by Antonin Dolohov.
His brother Percy angrily rushes after the culprit, intent on avenging him. George never fully recovers from the loss of his twin. After he marries Angelina Johnson, he names his son Fred in honor of his dead brother.
3GOT WHAT HE DESERVED: Gilderoy Lockhart’s Fate Is So Appropriate It’s Karmic
Another case of a terrible Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart is notable for the sheer incompetence that causes numerous funny moments throughout his tenure. But Lockhart isn’t completely without skills. His popularity stems from his mastery of the Forgetfulness Charm.
He Obliviates others and claims their successes as his own. He attempts to use Obliviate on Harry and Ron Weasley. As he is using Ron’s broken wand at the time, the spell backfires, giving Gilderoy severe magical damage. His permanent amnesia is so appropriate, it’s karmic.
2DESERVED BETTER: Severus Snape Never Finds Any Kind Of Happiness
The most divisive character of Harry Potter, Severus Snape dances the line between good and evil. Bullied by the Marauders during his Hogwarts years and fascinated with the Dark Arts, he becomes a Death Eater. He is the one who gives Voldemort the prophecy that ultimately seals James and Lily’s fates. His love for Lily makes him change sides, but it is too late to save Lily. After Voldemort’s fall, he becomes the Potions Teacher at Hogwarts, but his bitterness makes him a terrible instructor.
His anger at James makes him lash out at Harry throughout Harry’s school years. But in the end, Severus also makes the ultimate sacrifice. He becomes a double agent for the Order of the Phoenix and is brave enough to kill Dumbledore. He ends up giving his life to ensure the victory of the forces of good. As controversial as he may be, he deserved better.
1GOT WHAT HE DESERVED: Voldemort’s Own Avada Kedavra Ends His Reign Of Terror
Throughout the two Wizarding Wars, the Dark Lord causes countless casualties, both among magical folk and Muggles. His viciousness and sadism may have been caused at least in part by his numerous Horcruxes, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a terrifying threat.
By the time he confronts Harry, he presumably only has an infinitesimal part of his soul left and can barely be considered human. He is killed when the Elder Wand rebels against him, making his own Avada Kedavra hit him. It’s more than well-deserved and practically merciful