There is no shortage of villains in Harry Potter, ranging from petty antagonists and bullies to world-dominating dictators. They all do their best to make the main characters’ lives difficult, which earns them the audience’s contempt, but not all Harry Potter villains were created equal. Many of them are just nuisances, while others are existential threats.
Harry himself faces the greatest number of villains during his time at Hogwarts. He battles Death Eaters, school troublemakers, and Voldemort himself. However, the Wizarding World is home to some other notorious villains, like Newt Scamander of the Fantastic Beasts series.
Updated on May 19th, 2021 by Svetlana Sterlin: As the Potterverse expands, the debate over who is the most powerful character – wizard, witch, villain, hero, creature – continues. Some Harry Potter villains are insidious, especially those who are convinced they are doing a good thing for the world, like Umbridge. Others are ill-intentioned but simply not fearsome or dangerous enough, like the Dursleys. So, how does Bellatrix Lestrange measure up against Credence Barebone or Lucius Malfoy? How does Grindelwald compare to Voldemort?
25 The Dursleys
For years, the Dursleys are the main antagonists in Harry’s life. They ignore him, mistreat him, insult him, and generally make him feel unwanted and unimportant. Even after Harry goes off to Hogwarts, he’s regularly subjected to ill-treatment at the Dursleys’ home.
Despite their importance early in the series, the Dursleys quickly become insignificant. Harry soon realizes he’s more powerful than them and that he has a new family in his friends. Although they’re the first villains Harry knows, they’re nothing next to the other threats Harry faces later on.
24 New Salem Philanthropic Society
The New Salem Philanthropic Society is a group of anti-magic people like the Dursleys, but much worse. Mary Lou Barebone raises the children in her care with an iron fist, subjecting them to abuse as she enforces her deep hatred of magic. Her strict punishment for anything related to magic suppresses Credence until he turns into an Obscurial.
Her authoritarian control gives her power over the defenseless children she adopts, but she’s no match to real magicians. She’s easily taken out by Credence when he loses control in Obscurus form. Tina Goldstein also attacks her, and Tina’s fear for her job is likely the only reason Mary Lou escapes so lightly.
23 Crabbe And Goyle
As far as henchmen go, Malfoy could probably find a more useful pair than Crabbe and Goyle. Draco likely fell in with these two because their parents are all Death Eaters, as the trio’s evil plotting seems to be the entire basis of the relationship.
Crabbe and Goyle provide Draco with some much-needed backup, but their muscle is the only thing they really contribute. In the wizarding world, physical strength isn’t of the highest value. Harry, Ron, and Hermione easily foil and escape them at every turn. They only cause a significant disturbance during the Battle of Hogwarts, and even that costs Crabbe his life.
22 Gilderoy Lockhart
Gilderoy Lockhart holds the distinction of being the least powerful Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, though somehow not the worst of the lot – he’s too incompetent for that. Everything Lockhart touches goes wrong; he tries to mend Harry’s arm only to completely remove the bone; he tries to teach his class about Cornish Pixies only to unleash chaos he can’t control.
His only real power is memory charms, which he only uses to polish his own shiny image, and even those spells backfire on him eventually. Though he’s a terrible role model and protector, he ends up being little more than a nuisance for 12-year-old Harry and his friends.
21 Professor Quirrell
Professor Quirrell is best known as a vessel for Lord Voldemort because he does very little to distinguish himself otherwise. He’s shy, quiet, and totally lacking in confidence. His purpose is to feel important and serve a cause, and he finds this in essentially resurrecting Voldemort.
His timidity gives him an advantage as Voldemort’s servant, as no one suspects him of trying to steal the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone. He manages a few feats of magic, but nothing that can’t be mimicked by a trio of 11-year-olds or quietly stymied by Professor Snape. However, this Harry Potter villain does get some credit for keeping Voldemort a living and present threat.
Delphini’s origin story is a sad one. Left alone and unloved after the Battle of Hogwarts, she’s expected to carry on the legacy of the infamous father she doesn’t remember. Unfortunately for her, throughout the Cursed Child, she doesn’t measure up to Voldemort’s power.
She enacts her plan mostly through manipulation, both magical and emotional. Albus and Scorpius do most of her dirty work while she lingers in the background. She does demonstrate skills in magic and dueling, including taking the life of a fellow student, but she only poses a threat to Harry when he’s wandless. Delphini displays little of her father’s dark powers.
19 The Gaunts
The Gaunts prove that wizarding families can be just as evil as magic-haters like Mary Lou Barebone, but they have more powerful tools at their disposal. Marvolo and Morfin Gaunt abuse and bully Merope until she can’t properly perform magic, but their villainy doesn’t end there.
Morfin attacks Muggles with magic but isn’t cunning or stable enough to hide his crimes and thus lands himself in trouble with the Ministry of Magic. Merope Gaunt isn’t excused from her family’s misdeeds, either. She bewitches Tom Riddle into marrying her, displaying a mastery of potions that ensnares Riddle long enough for her to conceive a child.
18 Draco Malfoy
Draco Malfoy is Harry’s constant antagonist, following Harry through his school years and bullying him any chance he gets. He and Harry are often evenly matched in duels and other magical clashes in their early years, which means their powers and abilities are almost equal.
However, when it becomes clear that Draco’s heart isn’t invested in Voldemort’s mission, he ceases to show the same skills that Harry does, allowing Harry to easily overpower him in their later encounters. His lack of power as a villain comes not from a lack of potential, but from a change of heart that doesn’t let him fully develop as a dark wizard.
Aragog is pure nightmare fuel, as one would expect of any humongous spider. His reputation precedes him, thanks to his enormous size. He also exerts social control over his colony of spiders, which effectively makes him, a single creature, as powerful as hundreds of giant spiders.
He dictates to his colony who they can and can’t devour. They only threaten Hagrid when Aragog is gone and no longer in command. He’s also reasonable and intelligent, able to form bonds with humans and provide information about the Chamber of Secrets. His intelligence, therefore, makes him just as dangerous as his physical attributes.
16 Corvus Lestrange
The Crimes of Grindelwald introduces the backstory of Corvus Lestrange, Leta Lestrange’s father. It’s revealed that in his time, he has a strong command of the Imperius Curse. He takes control of Laurena Kama, forcing her to leave her husband and son and marry him instead.
He likely keeps her under the Imperius Curse until she dies after giving birth to a daughter, Leta. Corvus’s dark powers fracture an innocent family and control a woman’s entire life. He compels her to marry him, a man she doesn’t love, and carry his child, which is one of the creepiest and most despicable acts committed by any Potterverse villain.
15 Salazar Slytherin
As one of the founders of Hogwarts, Salazar Slytherin must have been an extremely powerful wizard, but his pure-blood mania also cemented his place as a villain. Slytherin House may get an exaggerated reputation for villainy, but Salazar deserves it. He’s known for fighting other founders about the blood status of students at the school.
However, his darkest and most powerful legacy is the Chamber of Secrets, a trap that would send his Basilisk to hunt students he considered unworthy centuries after his departure. The fact that he causes problems for Harry hundreds of years after his final days marks him as one of the most dedicated villains of the Harry Potter franchise.
14 The Giants
The giants of Harry Potter are a force to be reckoned with, even though their numbers steadily dwindle through the Wizarding Wars. The giants who align themselves with Voldemort are violent and hated creatures, especially being hunted by Aurors during the First Wizarding War. Hagrid and Madam Maxime barely escape with their lives when they try to recruit them.
Spells tend to bounce off giants, making them difficult for wizards to take down. Voldemort seeks them out during both wars because he knows the power of having giants on his side, and he unleashes those fearsome soldiers during the Battle of Hogwarts to devastating effects.
Nagini is Voldemort’s real right-hand henchman. He places great trust in her, sending her out to complete important missions like capturing Harry Potter by herself. Her attacks are often fatal, and on the rare occasion that they’re not, they’re difficult to recover from. Arthur Weasley goes through several rounds of treatment before anyone can heal the wounds she inflicted on him.
As revealed in The Crimes of Grindelwald, she used to be a human who had the rare ability to transform at will, but she eventually lost the power to return to human form. Her greatest value lays in her being one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. As long as she lives, Voldemort can continue to live on as well.
12 Lucius And Narcissa Malfoy
Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy are two of Voldemort’s most important followers. Lucius masterminds many of Harry’s early troubles as he put Voldemort’s plans into effect. He controls the events of The Chamber of Secrets, from Tom Riddle’s diary to Dumbledore’s removal.
Upon Voldemort’s return, Lucius becomes a leader of the Death Eaters. Narcissa, too, is always quietly bolstering her family’s power from the background through her pureblood connections with the Blacks. However, their power quickly wanes when they fall out of favor with Voldemort. Their social standing is fleeting, and their magical powers don’t measure up to the enemies they face on all sides.
11 Peter Pettigrew
Peter Pettigrew is a coward who is loyal to nobody, but he shows off a certain degree of skill in avoiding imprisonment – or worse, death at the hands of Voldemort. He has the rare ability to transform into an Animagus, but he remains in rat form for over a decade until The Prisoner of Azkaban.
When he returns to Voldemort’s side, he manages to keep the Dark Lord alive in a weak corporeal form until Barty Crouch, Jr. delivers Harry Potter to complete the transformation. Wormtail must have an advanced understanding of magic, but he tends to use it only to save his own neck. Still, he is easily one of the most evil Harry Potter villains.
10 Vinda Rosier
Vinda Rosier is Gellert Grindelwald’s own Bellatrix Lestrange, a ruthless dark witch who stands at his side with complete loyalty. The Crimes of Grindelwald reveal few details about Vinda, including that she wouldn’t hesitate to murder a Muggle child.
Her position in Grindelwald’s ranks indicates that she is useful. He trusts her to manipulate Queenie and assist him in spreading his manifesto to the Wizarding World. Grindelwald wouldn’t appoint her as his lieutenant if she weren’t powerful enough to follow through with his plans.
9 Barty Crouch, Jr.
Barty Crouch, Jr. doesn’t get nearly enough credit for what he manages to pull off. He abducts Mad-Eye Moody and impersonates him unuspected for an entire school year.
He also coaches Harry through the Triwizard Tournament, planting information he may need in secret, and sets up an unauthorized Port Key under the noses of Tournament officials, which delivers Harry Potter to Voldemort. Voldemort’s plan in The Goblet of Fire should be impossible, but Crouch has the skillset to pull it off.
As far as magical creatures go, Dementors are the worst of the worst. It’s no wonder that Dementors are chosen to guard Azkaban, home to the most dangerous magical folk in the world. They are difficult to escape and impossible to ignore. Sadness and cold follow them wherever they go, sucking the happiness out of everyone and everything in the vicinity.
Wizards must produce a Patronus Charm, an advanced magical skill, to banish them. When permitted, Dementors seem only too eager to remove a criminal’s soul with the Dementors’ Kiss. As soon as they abandon the Ministry, their free reign casts a cloud over the entire country.
7 Severus Snape
Severus Snape always seems to know what to do. No matter what happens or who he’s working for, he always has a magical fix for the problem at hand. However, very little of his power is geared toward villainy. He’s more of an obstacle than an ally for Voldemort, though he doesn’t always know it.
Snape is, however, an antagonist to Harry. He makes his life difficult at every turn for no reason other than hatred for his father. He captures Sirius Black and tries to have his soul sucked out because of an old grudge. Snape’s plans usually work out, but his power as a villain is tempered by his divided loyalties.
6 Credence Barebone
Credence Barebone starts as an unintentional villain in the Harry Potter world. Mary Lou Barebone’s abuse turns him into an Obscurial. In Obscurus form, he wreaks havoc on New York City, targeting and dispatching anyone he sees as an enemy.
Since Obscurials usually do not survive as long as he does, he can be seen as a powerful wizard. He even survives the attack by Aurors that Newt Scamander thinks will be the end of him, and he continues to use his Obscurus form afterward. When he learns of his true identity from Grindelwald, he displays catastrophic magic at will – and he’s only getting started.
5 Dolores Umbridge
Dolores Umbridge is the most universally hated villain in Harry Potter, and for good reason. Through her Ministry connections, she worms her way through the ranks at Hogwarts until she becomes Headmistress. She invents new magical devices for discipline that physically and emotionally abuse students who disobey her.
She’s also talented with magic, including Dark magic and forbidden Curses. She has no trouble casting whatever charm she needs to with absolute confidence, even when her life is in danger. Only the Centaurs are able to remove her from Hogwarts, and even then she pops up again at the Ministry and continues to cause problems in The Deathly Hallows.
4 Fenrir Greyback
Fenrir Greyback’s twisted history reaches back decades. While most werewolves stay away from people during their transformations, Greyback always tried his best to maximize casualties. He turns Remus Lupin as a child, forcing him to live as a werewolf for the rest of his life.
When he works for Voldemort, he attacks families, racking up horrifying body counts. He destroys countless lives with his lycanthropy, either attacking or turning people, and he exercises that power with malicious abandon. Greyback’s attacks are the stuff of nightmares, and even Dumbledore fears him.
3 Bellatrix Lestrange
Bellatrix Lestrange is a right hand worthy of Voldemort. She demonstrates incredible skill in the Dark Arts, as she’s infamously adept with the Avada Kedavra and Cruciatus Curses. Her fierce loyalty to Voldemort and her pure-blood mania make her the Dark Lord’s most committed henchperson.
Bellatrix would rather fight to her own end than abandon Voldemort’s mission. She defeats a number of highly accomplished duelists and takes the life of Sirius Black, who is powerful in his own right. Out of all of Voldemort’s Death Eaters, Bellatrix is a true force to be reckoned with, and the only one who poses a solid threat to Harry’s allies by herself.
2 Gellert Grindelwald
Gellert Grindelwald ascends to the level of a magical dictator with his magnetic charisma and his mastery of magic. As a leader, he inspires confidence and trust, bringing followers to his side by cleverly crafting his message and persona for mass appeal.
Throughout Fantastic Beasts, he accomplishes a number of difficult magical feats, including his human transfiguration into Percival Graves, accurate Divination to manipulate his plans, elemental magic, and Darks Arts that allow him to destroy countless lives. His talent in magic is enhanced further by mastery of the Elder Wand. Grindelwald has no equal in the Wizarding World besides Dumbledore, and he does everything he can to ensure that Dumbledore can’t get to him.
1 Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort brings a significant portion of the Wizarding World under his control, surpassing even Grindelwald in his effectiveness as a dictator. Voldemort’s deep knowledge of the Dark Arts inspires fear in a way that no other villain can hope to achieve.
Even when he’s thought to be dead, wizards still fear his name, doubting that he could really be defeated for good. His Horcruxes make him almost indestructible, invincible, and immortal, tools that few other Harry Potter villains are willing to abuse. He may be the most powerful and feared wizard of all time, but this comes at the cost of his humanity.
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