15 Saddest Harry Potter Characters

Summary

  • Harry Potter characters faced tragedy and loss, but they were not defined solely by their suffering. They rose above their sorrows and were remembered for their heroism.
  • Albus Dumbledore had a tragic life, with the death of his sister shaping his future. Despite his carefree demeanor, he experienced horrible trauma.
  • Dobby, a house-elf, endured suffering and humiliation but still cared for Harry. His noble end showed his resilience and loyalty.


While Harry Potter was full of love, magic, and light, the story of The Boy Who Lived was always steeped in tragedy. A fight against evil meant that those who stood for good always faced pain, grief, and loss, and Lord Voldemort made sure to make people suffer for defying him. Even beyond that, characters like Luna Lovegood and Severus Snape had familial troubles and losses that they had to deal with.

Even with their tragic backstories and character arcs, the beauty of Harry Potter was that these characters were never defined solely by their adversities, no matter how much suffering they endured. In fact, very few Harry Potter characters have had perfect lives. And yet, many of them always rose above their sorrows and, in some cases, were remembered for their heroism in the series.

Updated on January 23, 2024, by Ajay Aravind: The first three Harry Potter books/movies were relatively lighthearted, but things started taking a turn for the worse with The Goblet of Fire. Tragedy had always been a part of Harry’s life, but he was far from the only character with a painful history. As such, we’ve updated this article with some more relevant information about the most tragic characters in Harry Potter.


15 Albus Dumbledore’s Origin Story Is Drenched In Tragedy

Albus Dumbledore reaches for his Pensieve in Harry Potter.

Occupation

Headmaster of Hogwarts

House

Gryffindor

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Albus Dumbledore’s introduction was so bright, happy, and bizarre that readers/viewers almost immediately fell in love with him. A quirky headmaster with even quirkier outfits and prone to hilariously weird statements was destined to be a fan-favorite. Dumbledore’s strength was also showcased pretty early in the series, as seen when he enchanted the Mirror of Erised to perform an extremely complex spell.

However, the first hint of Dumbledore’s tragic life was seen when he told Harry that he desired nothing more than a pair of woolen socks, which Harry found a tad suspicious. Dumbledore’s family history was eventually revealed, showing that even someone as seemingly carefree as he could have experienced horrible trauma. His sister Ariana was accidentally killed when a duel erupted between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, an event that would shape the rest of his life.

14 Merope Gaunt Was Abused Throughout Her Short Life

Merope Gaunt admiring Tom Riddle Sr in Harry Potter

Occupation

None

House

N/A

Some fans believe that Lord Voldemort doesn’t deserve all the hate he gets. This is because he was born under the influence of a Love Potion and, therefore, is incapable of feeling love. That said, his sins were far too great to be forgiven so easily. On the other hand, Voldemort’s mother, Merope, had a genuinely horrific upbringing. Raised by her father, Marvolo Gaunt, Merope’s early life was spent in a nightmare of constant abuse and shame.

She most probably never went to Hogwarts, presumably because Marvolo refused to send her away. As a result, Merope was trapped in a rotting household with nothing to do. Although she tricked Tom Riddle, Snr into falling in love with her, her love for him was real. And yet, the man immediately abandoned the pregnant Merope after the enchantment was lifted. Merope would ultimately die giving birth to her son.

13 Dobby Endured Great Suffering Before His Freedom

House-elves were rarely given a fair shake in Harry Potter, and Hermione was completely justified in supporting their basic rights. Although Harry never directly supported the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, his relationship with Dobby proved that he cared about at least one House-elf’s welfare. Dobby had already spent an unknown amount of time working for the Malfoys, where he was treated with zero respect and incessantly humiliated for no reason.

Dobby desperately wanted to escape this life of eternal drudgery, but even the fear of retribution didn’t prevent him from trying to help Harry. Even after being freed, Dobby spent a lot of his time supporting the Golden Trio. Unfortunately, he was killed by Bellatrix in The Deathly Hallows, a tragic but unquestionably noble end.

Occupation

Freed House-elf

House

N/A

12 Regulus Black Died Without Anyone Knowing About His Accomplishment

Regulus Black in Harry Potter.

Occupation

Death Eater (Former)

House

Slytherin

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When Sirius first spoke about his brother Regulus, it was with a distinct tone of bitterness. Sirius said that Regulus became a Death Eater after graduating from Hogwarts, going down a path so many other Blacks had taken. However, Sirius incorrectly assumed that his brother “was murdered by Voldemort.” The truth about Regulus shocked the Harry Potter fandom when it first came out.

Contrary to popular belief, Regulus willingly rejected Lord Voldemort and decided to hunt for his Locket Horcrux. Like Dumbledore, several years later, Regulus discovered that the Horcrux was in a cave. He solved the potion problem and sent the real Locket home with Kreacher. That said, Regulus never made it out of the cave alive. Even his only brother would never know of his accomplishments.

11 George Weasley Had To Endure The Death Of His Twin

Fred and George Weasley share a smirk in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Occupation

Co-founder of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

House

Gryffindor

It’s almost impossible to picture the Weasley twins as anything other than permanently cheery and joyous. Fred and George had spent their entire lives together, often in proximity, and their ability to bounce jokes off each other demonstrated their incredibly tight bond. In fact, even their mother, Molly, would picture the twins together in death while facing a Boggart.

As it happened, however, the Weasley twins were ripped apart during the Battle of Hogwarts. Fred was murdered when a Death Eater set off an explosion in the Hogwarts passageways, leaving George behind forever. Fans can’t even imagine how much the surviving twin must have suffered after this. George later named his newborn son after his dead brother, but he will forever carry this trauma for the rest of his life.

10 Cedric Diggory Wasn’t Actually Meant To Die That Day

Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory In Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire Pointing Wand

Occupation

Student

House

Hufflepuff

Young Cedric Diggory had everything going for him: he was a Prefect, Quidditch Captain, and had phenomenal grades. The young Hufflepuff student even had a great social life at Hogwarts, where he enjoyed quite a bit of popularity and had a beautiful girlfriend. Unfortunately, it was his achievements that led him to be picked for the Triwizard Tournament. In the final task, Harry and Cedric both agree to win the Cup together, completely oblivious to the fact that it was a secret Portkey.

After being transported to the graveyard in Little Hangleton, Cedric is murdered by Lord Voldemort, thereby becoming one of the first victims of the Dark Lord’s second rise to power. Cedric was subjected to the Killing Curse, thus extinguishing a bright flame at the age of seventeen. Despite his untimely end, the young man was remembered by his peers as one of the bravest Hogwarts students.

9 Luna Lovegood Has Endured A Whole Childhood Of Loneliness

Occupation

Magizoologist

House

Gryffindor

Initially painted as a kooky young girl, Luna Lovegood’s dark past only came to light when she was able to see Thestrals in Harry Potter. Little Luna had the misfortune of witnessing her mother’s death at the age of nine, which left her alone with her father, Xenophilius Lovegood. Her oddball nature earned her no fans at Hogwarts, where she was ostracized and made fun of for being herself.

Luckily, Luna found considerate friends in Harry and Neville, but her woes were far from over. She took great risks during the battle at the Department of Mysteries, being attacked by several Death Eaters. Before the Battle of Hogwarts, Luna was imprisoned at Malfoy Manor with Ollivander and likely subjected to inhumane treatment for months. It was her inner resilience that enabled her to stay joyful and dignified through her ordeals, but Luna did thrive later in life.

8 Rubeus Hagrid Has Experienced Injustices Since His Birth

Hagrid In The Forest in Harry Potter

Occupation

Hogwarts Groundskeeper

House

Gryffindor

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Since his birth, Hagrid had suffered through injustices. His mother, Fridwulfa, had left him at a young age, and he didn’t get much respect in the Wizarding World for being a half-giant. The greatest opportunity of his life was getting to study at Hogwarts, but he was falsely blamed by Tom Riddle for unleashing the monster in the Chamber of Secrets. This led to his subsequent expulsion.

Hagrid deserved a second chance because his name was cleared years after he had been (technically) stripped of his wand. Dumbledore made him gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, but it was menial reparation for what he had been put through. Hagrid also endured many trials and tribulations when the Death Eaters attacked Hogwarts in The Half-Blood Prince, including his home being burned down.

7 Moaning Myrtle Went Through Hell While She Was Alive

Moaning Myrtle talking to Harry Potter in her bathroom

Occupation

Student

House

Ravenclaw

Muggle-born Myrtle Warren, better known as Moaning Myrtle, was a pretty annoying character in her ghost form, but she had been through hell as a human. The young witch wasn’t too popular among her Hogwarts classmates, who often bullied her for her appearance. One such day, Myrtle made the mistake of running into the second-floor girls’ lavatory, which had the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets.

The Basilisk came for her, and she was dead with one glance into its piercing eyes. What made her death more melancholic was that she wasn’t found for hours because nobody except the teachers missed her enough to look for her. Unfortunately, the students at Hogwarts would continue to avoid Moaning Myrtle even after her death, which probably didn’t help her problems with self-esteem.

6 Severus Snape Lived And Died As A Villain To Save The World

Severus Snape cries as he holds Lily Potter in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Occupation

Potions Professor

House

Slytherin

Even for all his flaws, Snape was always a sympathetic villain in Harry Potter. Born to neglectful parents, he only found happiness when he went to Hogwarts with Lily Evans. However, that too was short-lived. Being sorted into Slytherin and the bullying he endured from James Potter and his cronies made him seek out the Dark Arts, which ultimately led to his becoming a Death Eater.

He lost the woman he loved to James, and then his own devotion to the Dark Lord led to Voldemort killing the Potters. Since then, Snape dedicated his life to dismantling Voldemort’s reign of terror from the inside, living and dying as a villain so that he could save the Wizarding World. On a positive note, Harry insisted that Snape receive a post-mortem redemption for his role as a double agent. He even named his youngest son after both Dumbledore and Snape.

5 Neville Longbottom Grew Up Knowing His Parents Were Locked Away

Occupation

Herbology Professor

House

Gryffindor

Sybil Trelawney’s prophecy could have been about two young boys, one of whom was Neville Longbottom. While Neville wasn’t singled out to be killed by Voldemort, his family endured a fate as horrific as the Potters. Neville’s parents were accomplished Aurors, and Bellatrix Lestrange tortured them so extensively with the Unforgivable Curses that they were unable to recognize their own child.

Therefore, Neville was raised by his strict grandmother and bullied plenty at Hogwarts for his awkward and shy manner. He had to grow up while his parents remained locked away and went through even more cruelty at the hands of Voldemort’s followers. Neville was underestimated at every turn, but he eventually proved his courage and intelligence by extracting the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat.

4 Remus Lupin Was Distrusted And Condemned At Every Turn

Lupin aiming his wand in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Occupation

Former DADA Professor

House

Gryffindor

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Once just an ordinary little boy, Remus fell prey to Fenrir Greyback’s wrath when Lupin’s father insulted him one too many times at the Ministry. After the attack, Remus’ life revolved around the phases of the moon, and he was condemned from society as all werewolves were. The silver lining of the situation was that he found friends at Hogwarts, who all became Animagi to support and help him through his transitions.

Lupin denied himself a partner and a family because he was afraid of passing his “disease” to his child. Although he finally did marry Tonks and had a baby, he was tragically killed in the Battle of Hogwarts. Remus Lupin died beside his wife and would never get to see his son grow up in a new world. He could have easily turned evil, but he kept his goodness and morality intact to the very end.

3 Sirius Black Didn’t Even Get To Spend Enough Time With Harry

Sirius Black as he begins falling through the Veil

Occupation

Order of the Phoenix Member

House

Gryffindor

Born into a family of pureblood supremacists, Sirius Black always felt out of place in his own home. Still, he had the Black family name and riches, which gave him a comfortable life. Sirius led a rather cushy existence, and he took for granted the things that other wizards didn’t have. He was also guilty of bullying other students, like Snape.

Tragedy struck when he was framed by Peter Pettigrew for betraying James and Lily Potter, as well as murdering several Muggles with a magical explosion. Sirius spent the better part of his life in Azkaban, where he endured all manners of horror. His small sliver of happiness came when he was able to meet his godson. However, Sirius was killed by his own cousin Bellatrix before he could really enjoy his time with Harry.

2 Draco Malfoy Was Dragged Into A World Where He Didn’t Belong

Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter

Occupation

Independently wealthy

House

Slytherin

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Much like Sirius, Draco Malfoy was raised in a family that preferred the Dark Arts, but the difference was that Draco exposed the bigotry of the Malfoys. He longed to be a part of Voldemort’s forces, not realizing the consequences of being a Death Eater. In his sixth year, Draco was forced to let Death Eaters storm the castle and kill Dumbledore.

Thankfully, he was prevented from committing murder and staining his soul by Snape. The younger Malfoy was no saint by any means, and his bad choices tainted his reputation for his whole life. Still, fans do feel pity for him as he was inducted into a dark world too soon, and by the time he realized his errors, it was too late. Besides, he plays an important supporting role in The Cursed Child.

1 Harry Potter Was Expected To Save The Wizarding World

Occupation

Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement

House

Gryffindor

It was the heartrending story of Harry Potter that started the series, and his early life was plagued by dread, fear, and undue pressure because of a prophecy. Orphaned because of Voldemort’s actions, Harry was raised in an abusive environment by the Dursleys. His admission to Hogwarts was a magical lifeline, but he soon realized that he had been expected to take down the world’s most wicked wizard since he was a baby.

Harry’s life was constantly in danger, and he went through trials of the mind, body, and soul. He lost his godfather and numerous friends, all while carrying the guilt of putting them in danger. He was set up to be a pig for slaughter by Dumbledore, and it was only because of his inner strength that he was able to get through years of pain. Luckily, Harry finally managed to reach the other side where he could have a normal life.

Harry Potter 8 Movie Collector's Edition featuring all movie art

Harry Potter

The Harry Potter franchise follows the adventure of a young boy introduced a whole new world of magic, mayhem and darkness. Traversing the obstacles in his path, young Harry’s rise to heroics pits him against Lord Voldemort, one of the most dangerous wizards in the world and all his minions.

Created by
J.K. Rowling

First Film
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Latest Film
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2

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