Every generation has a fantasy series that really resonates with them. In mum’s case, it was the Chronicles of Narnia. In my case, it’s Harry Potter, which genuinely made me feel nervous each year I got older because it meant that I would be even further behind when my Hogwarts letter finally came (I’m in my 20s and it’s still coming damnit!)
Harry Potter may not be the best fantasy series ever written; His Dark Materials and the Discworld series have far superior world building. But still, It has a good sense of humour, a quirky imagination, a well-structured and gripping mystery and of course, a warm and likeable cast.
We all know Dumbledore’s awesome, Hermione’s genius is incredible and Snape (especially when played by Alan Rickman) is badass, tragic and looks cool in a cape. But they’re not the only great characters. In fact, it’s not just the leads, but the dozens of fun supporting characters that make Harry Potter what it is.
In this list, I’m going to leave out the leads (Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Hagrid and Snape) and look at my top 11 supporting characters.
11) Angelina Johnson
Angelina Johnson may only be a back ground character, but her presence was a breathe of fresh air in this series. I’m not going to rant about the problems I have with the way women were written in this series, but I will say that until Luna came along and Ginny became a tough character, most of the female students were portrayed as silly, less able to keep their head in a tough situation and/ or over emotional.
Johnson however felt like a well needed exception. Sporty, fun, brave and a great Quidditch player, she was one of the ‘cool kids’ and put herself forward to be the Quidditch captain and a contender for the Tri Wizard tournament. She was bold and active, the kind of girl I wanted to imagine myself as being when I was reading the books.
10) Professor Lupin
The calming element of James’ friendship circle and a man whose lessons were always brilliant, Remus Lupin is the teacher we all wish we had. Plus, even though his curse literally turns him into a savage, he’s kind, mild mannered and one of the least aggressive and domineering werewolves in fantasy fiction.
9) Horace Slughorn
Horace Slughorn was a much needed addition to the world of Harry Potter. The concept of Slytherin was that it was meant to be the ‘ambition house’ (or the ‘pure blood’ house), but it never seemed to be the case; the majority of the house didn’t really show that much drive, and they were so cartoonishly nasty that it seemed like the only requirement was being a massive dick.
Slughorn helped to fix some of that. He wasn’t evil and unpleasant, he was ambitious and affable. He also went to great lengths to escape Voldemort, showing that you can be ambitious and opportunistic without being genocidal, something that helped give the morality of the Harry Potter world a more adult and well rounded feel.
What can I say? everything about Dobby was adorable. Starting out as an abused servant who made a mess of things even as he tried to help, we saw him escape his vicious owners and strike out for himself and become his own , um, elf. Weird, sweet, unrelentingly loyal and not afraid to live his life how he wants to, Dobby is a truly memorable character.
7) Mad- Eyed Moody
A tough- no nonsense veteran badass who doesn’t mince words and knows how to take command, Mad Eye Moody is truly one of the cooler characters in the Potterverse.
6) Arthur Weasley
Arthur Weasley was just such a likeable character. A down trodden dad and one of life’s underdogs, Arthur was also a very loving father. Unlike his wife, who felt more like a caricature of well meaning but over protective motherhood than a real woman, Arthur was a well-rounded guy; his obsession with the Muggle world was adorable, and in spite of his goofy nature he could be capable, thoughtful and switched on when the situation needed it.
5) Sirius Black
Of course Sirius was going to be on here. As Harry’s godfather, he was another parental figure that Harry needed in his life. The injustice that he had to deal with made him sympathetic, and how bravely he bore those events for the sake of Harry was deeply moving.
He was also a fun trickster who was clearly flawed (as shown by his attitude to Kreacher and Snape), which only made him all the more real. Tragic and mischievous, Sirius was the first Harry Potter character to truly break our hearts.
4) Neville Longbottom
Increasing the prominence of Neville Longbottom was a smart move on Rowling’s part. While Harry Potter was clearly meant to be a relatable every man hero, after he suddenly became the chosen one, the youngest Quiddich player in over a century, the school hero, he could clearly no longer fulfil that role.
Neville Longbottom resonates more with the experience us geekier ones had in adolescence than Harry or Hermione; he was awkward, chubby, and inept at everything and felt like he was a disappointment to his parents. But he was never just a loser; right from the beginning he was chosen to be in Gryffindor, and always showed potential in small understated ways, whether through his prowess in Herbology or his willingness to stand up for what he thought was right.
In the final book, it was heartwarming to see how strong Neville becomes to the point where even Voldemort can’t help but acknowledge how impressive he is. Plus, Matthew Lewis taught us that there’s hope for the ugly duckling. What more can you want from a character?
Luna Lovegood is an 11th hour character whose charm needs no explanation. She was funny, weird, unique, and sweet and the advice she offered Harry in his darkest hour was one of the more touching scenes in the series. Luna is definitely my favorite female character in the series.
2) Dolores Umbridge
Dolores is such a great villain that even Stephen King, creator of a legion of monsters who have haunted the dreams of millions, had to acknowledge how brilliantly evil she is.
Voldemort was an impersonal big bad, but Dolores was our own personal Hitler. Petty, beaurocratic and manipulative, she was able to control every aspect of Harry’s life and make it hell. We’ve all had someone like that in our lives at one point, so add in an annoying personal tick (ahem) and we have a recipe for one of the foulest most horrifying monstrosities In the history of literature.
Her habits were so enraging, and her rule of Hogwarts was so tyrannical, that seeing her lose control in the most cathartic, glorious, epic way possible was one of the most emotionally satisfying moments I have ever experienced when reading. And because of that, Dolores Umbridge has to be one of JK Rowling’s most brilliant creations.
1) Fred and George
These two stole the series for me. I read with bated breath and a massive grin on my face, waiting to see what creative trouble they would cause. They were the characters with the most charisma in the series and stole every scene they were in. To top it off, in The Order Of The Phoenix they orchestrated one of the best, most cathartic and anarchic exits I have ever come across in fiction. This is why Fred and George will remain my two of my favourite characters of the series.