(Cover photo image by: www.francois-baranger.com)
There’s no lack of sad characters in the Harry Potter universe with Remus Lupin, Severus Snape, and Rubeus Hagrid running around being all morose. A werewolf unable to integrate into society, a man unable to escape his fate or be with the woman he loves, and a half-giant outsider who likes dangerous animals.
They’re the characters who we end up hearing about the most, reading about the most, and feeling the worst for… the most. They have some of the most tragic stories and backgrounds of all characters in Harry Potter, but there are some characters who deserve our pity too.
They aren’t exactly as well known as others, but with a little bit of digging you can learn quite a bit about them and why we should feel equally bad for them.
Anyway, here’s a whole bunch of super sad characters in Harry Potter.
Gilderoy Lockhart, at first, is probably one of the most irredeemable characters in the series. He’s a huckster, a fraud, a tramp, and pretty much just a huge jerk. He’s a wizard who used his memory charms to steal the accomplishment of others and he then turns those memories into book deals. He’s made himself a pretty good name by the second book with a large fan following, award-winning books, and being a three-time recipient Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile Award.
In The Chambers of Secrets, Lockhart is hired to be Hogwarts’ latest Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher, which is a job more cursed than a Horcrux. Anyone who has taken the job since Quirinus Quirrel has met a pretty sticky end and the school’s headmaster Albus Dumbledore definitely knows of this curse. Lockhart was hired, in essence, so he could be exposed.
Think about it, Lockhart couldn’t resist the urge to work at the legendary school. It’s his chance to be brought into the elite and it’s even more enticing now that he know Harry Potter is going to be one of his students. And taking care of young students isn’t a problem, right? They’re just kids! It’s not like Harry Potter and his best friend are going to end up facing off against a reincarnation of Lord Voldemort and a basilisk… right? RIGHT?!
When asked to take care of the basilisk by the school’s staff, who knew he was a fraud from the start, Lockhart tries to escape. He’s then stopped by Harry and Ron who hold him at wand point to help rescue Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets. He’s then thrown down a pit, tries to escape his captors, and has a faulty wand backfire on him erasing his memories. I don’t mean just his memories of the last few days, I mean all of his memories.
Lockhart’s fate is a troubling one. He’s destined to spend the rest of his life living in St. Mungos’ Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. No one visits him, not even his publisher. He’s left totally alone and seen as a bit of a joke by the staff at the hospital. Unlike the wizards and witches he’s attacked in the past, who might have recovered, Lockhart’s damage seems to be permanent. If it’s any consolation, in the film we see that he did end up publishing a book called “Who am I?”.
Gilderoy Lockhart isn’t the easiest character to empathize with, but the magical malady he ends up suffering from doesn’t really match his crimes. Well, actually they do quite appropriately considering the countless witches and wizards he’s attacked in the past. Maybe in hindsight, he isn’t actually that sad of a character…
Throughout the books, we hear tales of families being wiped off the face of the Earth by Voldemort. The first family that comes to mind is the Potters. James and Lily Potter were killed by Lord Voldemort leaving their only son as the sole heir of their name. Lily’s family is largely made up of Muggles who hate magic and James’s family died of Dragon Pox after he left Hogwarts. Harry’s left completely alone, but he isn’t alone when it comes to losing family.
Andromeda Tonks has lost the most during the Second Wizarding War. She married Edward Tonks, a Muggle-born wizard and was Black-listed (pun) by her family. She was a favourite cousin of Sirius Black, but they didn’t get to see much of one another after she married outside the family. Andromeda’s daughter, Nymphadora, eventually married Remus Lupin having a single child named Edward.
During the Second Wizarding War, Edward Tonks, Nymphadora, and Remus are all killed leaving Andromeda and her grandson as the sole-surviving members of their family. What’s worse is the people who are largely responsible for killing her family are directly related to her. Andromeda’s sister Bellatrix Lestrange killed Nymphadora, which seems to be Bellatrix’s modus operandi.
It’s a small consolation that her grandson will get to live in a relatively peaceful world, but if how people see so much of Lily and James in Harry then everyone will see Remus and Nyphadora in Edward Tonks. It’ll serve as a constant reminder of the loss she’s suffered and the parents he’ll never know, but will perhaps propel them to continue defying people like the Black family.
What’s even worse is that Edward and Andromeda Tonks’ story was totally scrubbed away from the films, so most people who only watched the movies probably don’t even know who they are.
Colin Creevey was a mousey-haired, super fan of Harry Potter who studied at Hogwarts. He was also freaking murdered at the Battle of Hogwarts despite him being underage and expressly told to go home before the fight.
What makes Colin’s death so tragic is how it happened. There’s no scene to show him dying, no foreknowledge that he was in the battle, and the last description used for him is that he was, “Tiny in death.”
Throughout his years at Hogwarts, Colin proves to be a lot like most Muggle born wizards. He has a lot to prove, a family eager to see him succeed, and he’s amazed by everything magical. He’s lucky to have been placed into Gryffindor where most witches and wizards are accepting of him as they are of Hermione Granger. He and his brother come into the spotlight during the fourth book in the series when they join Dumbledore’s Army, but after that they disappear.
As part of the club, they’re given magical coins that let students know of the next meeting. It’s this coin that let Colin know of the battle that was to take place at the school as he had been pulled from enrolment by his parents who knew how dangerous it was to be a Muggle-born wizard. You can just imagine Colin sitting at home looking at his coin, blood bubbling red like a true Gryffindor knowing that his fellow students were about to fight the war to end all wars.
He sneaks back into Hogwarts, goes into the courtyard, and dies. It’s not said whether his little brother Dennis followed him into battle, but we can hope he stayed home, which is actually even more tragic if you think about it. They are oddities in their family, two brothers who ended up having magic within them. Now there’s only one left, not that both of them dying is any better.
Every creature owned by Hagrid
Almost every magical creature owned by Hagrid, including his brother, end up living pretty stressful lives despite the care he supposedly gives to them.
First off, there’s Buckbeak the hippogriff. The hippogriff was owned by Hagrid and used in demonstrations at the school. Due to Hagrid’s inability to teach his course safely, Buckbeak was sentenced to death by the Ministry of Magic. Only through some time travelling shenanigans was he rescued and then taken into the care of Sirius Black… who ended up using Buckbeak as his replacement motorcycle. Buckbeak was returned to Hagrid following Sirius’s death and renamed Witherwings. If Hagrid had taken better care of Buckbeak and prevented Draco Malfoy from being attacked by the creature in the fourth book there’s a good chance it could have lived those years on the run in comfort at Hogwarts.
Fluffy is a three-headed dog owned by Hagrid and used to protect the Philosopher’s Stone, which was being kept at Hogwarts. The dog served mostly as a trial for Harry, Ron, and Hermione although it was Quirrel who figured out it could be easily lulled to sleep with music. After Fluffy proved to be a pretty inept guardian, he was turned loose into the Forbidden Forest on the grounds at Hogwarts. Now, Fluffy was eventually returned to Greece, but the Forbidden Forest must have been a pretty scary place to live for those few years. It’s filled with centaurs, Thestrals, giant spiders, and all kinds of aggressive creatures. I can only imagine that time spent in the forest would be pretty hairy for a giant, aggressive dog.
Aragog was an acromantula owned by Hagrid and god knows why the half-giant decided to keep him in Hogwarts. In the second book in the series, we learn that Aragog was accused of being the Chamber of Secret’s monster and chased into the Forbidden Forest. There he met up with his spider wife, who Hagrid also raised, and began a colony. Now, I don’t know if Acromantula are native to the Forbidden Forest, but their reputation of being evil seems to be wholly based on the presumption they caused the death of Moaning Myrtle. It’s no wonder that they end up joining with the Death Eaters who take advantage of creatures shunned by society like the giants. If Hagrid had not kept Aragog in Hogwarts, the spider wouldn’t have been accused of being evil and maybe the acromantula’s would have helped during the fight.
Now before you start throwing popcorn at your screen, hear me out.
Fawkes is a Phoenix who served Albus Dumbledore for over 59 years, according to some sources online. Aside from a few characters like Aberforth Dumbledore and Elphias Doge, Fawkes knew Dumbledore the longest. He was one of the wizard’s most faithful companions who fought a freaking basilisk for him and even died for Albus at the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.
However, the Phoenix is also the source of a lot of the world’s woes. In 1938, one of the Phoenix’s feathers was used to create the twin wands that would one day be owned by Tom Riddle aka Lord Voldemort, and Harry Potter. Fawkes is not the only Phoenix to have given up a feather for a wand, but perhaps its the only creature of its kind to have its wand used for such evil purposes. Perhaps the fealty and proximity to Dumbledore made his feathers a little more potent than most, but the first wand couldn’t have been given to a worse person.
To know that its feather was used for such destruction must be horrible and Fawkes is certainly aware of the events around going on around him as Dumbledore’s death caused the Phoenix great sadness. The Phoenix’s lament after Dumbledore’s death is the last thing anyone hears from Fawkes as he disappears forever.
For a character who played such a large role over six book, I think it’s quite sad that Fawkes suddenly leaves. He’s a symbol of hope and defiance as the mascot for the Order of the Phoenix, but he’s also a symbol of destruction. Fawkes will likely never swear such fealty to another human ever again knowing that they have the ability to be so evil.
That’s five-ish characters in Harry Potter who have pretty tragic stories, but I’d love to hear you tell me about more characters. Feel free to leave a note down in the comments. Also might be worth mentioning the news lately that the University of Waterloo in Ontario has just started up a Harry Potter course.
If you’re there, take it and tell me all about it!