12 Major Deaths In the ‘Harry Potter’ Movies Ranked

in Harry Potter

Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Harry Potter franchise is full of many ups and downs, and most of those downs involve the deaths of major characters. While things in the series start out magical, they take a dark turn from the third act of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) onwards.

So we’ve decided to rank 12 major deaths from the Harry Potter film series, and not in order of how sad they are, but rather how well executed they are (no pun intended, of course). And this list isn’t just limited to Hogwarts heroes — even the likes of Death Eaters are welcome!

Remus Lupin and Tonks in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Credit: Warner Bros.

So, here are 12 major character deaths from Harry Potter ranked from worst to best.

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12. Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody

Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody in Harry Potter
Credit: Warner Bros.

Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody (Brendan Gleeson) might just be one of the strangest characters in the Harry Potter series, but this has less to do with his magical eye and questionable bedside manner, and more to do with the fact that when we first meet him, it isn’t actually him.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mad-Eye Moody is introduced as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, however, by the end of the film, we learn that it’s actually Death Eater Barty Crouch Jr. (David Tenant) who’s been posing as Moody using lots of Polyjuice Potion.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall) in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Credit: Warner Bros.

Though we see the real Moody sat at the bottom of a deep magical cabinet where he’s been held prisoner all year, Mad-Eye makes his official debut in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), and later returns in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 (2010).

Unfortunately, while escorting Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) to the Burrows by air in the 2010 film, Mad-Eye is killed by Death Eaters. But the reason this death is at the bottom of our list is because it happens off screen, which leaves next to no impact.

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11. Remus Lupin

Remus Lupin (David Thewlis) and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Credit: Warner Bros.

Yet another member of the Order of the Phoenix has made it quite low on our list. We first meet Remus Lupin (David Thewlis) in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), as he’s enlisted as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.

However, like Mad-Eye Moody, Lupin has a secret — he isn’t quite who he says he is, as it turns out he’s a werewolf. With that said, even his werewolf-persona isn’t half as awful as Barty Crouch Jr.! Nevertheless, when there’s a full moon, Lupin is a very dangerous magical creature.

Remus Lupin in Harry Potter
Credit: Warner Bros.

Despite leaving Hogwarts in the third film, Lupin returns in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 (2011).

In the final installment, however, Lupin is killed in battle, alongside his wife Nymphadora Tonks (Natalia Tena). But while it’s another off-screen death at the hands of Death Eaters, it’s emotional to see them both next to each other on the floor of the Great Hall with many other casualties.

Related: ‘Hogwarts Legacy’ Defies Haters With Epic Showcase Reveal

10. Fred Weasley

Fred and George Weasley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Credit: Warner Bros.

To no surprise whatsoever, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 claims the lives of many characters — some beloved, some not so much. One who falls into the former category is Fred Weasley (James Phelps), the twin brother of George Weasley (Oliver Phelps).

While many Harry Potter fans struggle to remember which of the twins meets their maker in the final Harry Potter installment, the fact that it’s one of the two is enough to leave us watery-eyed. Like many others, Fred is killed in battle while defending Hogwarts and its inhabitants.

Fred and George Weasley in Harry Potter
Credit: Warner Bros.

However, you’ll no doubt notice a pattern with the lower deaths on our list, as Fred Weasley, like Mad-Eye Moody and Remus Lupin, is killed off screen. With that said, off-screen deaths aren’t always a bad thing, and their impact can be felt just as much as those we see on screen.

And the aftermath of Fred’s death kicks you right in the guts. Though it’s obvious Fred is about to die, as we see his opponent gaining the upperhand during a montage, it isn’t until Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) embraces his dead brother that it becomes a sobering reality for fans.

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9. Hedwig

Harry Potter and Hedwig
Credit: Warner Bros.

It might seem silly to think of Harry Potter’s Snowy Owl Hedwig as a character per se, but his loyal avian companion is there for him through thick and thin, appearing in every single film up to and including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1.

Hedwig serves as great company for Harry during times of crisis while living at the Dursley residence between school terms — which, as we’ve all seen, certainly isn’t easy. But sadly, Hedwig is killed while flying alongside Harry to the Burrows in the penultimate film.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) wearing the Sorting Hat in 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'
Credit: Warner Bros.

As Harry is escorted to the Weasley residence, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Ron Weasley, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Mad-Eye Moody, Remus Lupin, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Bill Weasley (Domhnall Gleeson), and Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy) follow.

But during the perilous journey, a Death Eater casts a Killing Curse at Hedwig while flying alongside Harry, who’s riding with Hagrid on his flying motorbike. He may have blown Harry’s cover, but seeing as he was protecting his master, this brave Snowy Owl’s death is not in vain!

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8. Sirius Black

Sirius Black in Harry Potter
Credit: Warner Bros.

After escaping Azkaban and the wrath of the Dementors, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) becomes a glimmer of hope in Harry’s life, seeing as he’s the only family he has left in the world (the Dursleys definitely don’t count, even if Aunt Petunia is Lily Potter’s actual sister).

Beyond Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius appears very briefly in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, but has a much larger role in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Sirius Black in Harry Potter
Credit: Warner Bros.

Unfortunately, that film also marks the end of the road for him. After Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), and Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, they encounter a group of Death Eaters.

A battle ensues between our heroes and Voldemort’s followers, but fortunately, the Order of the Phoenix comes to their aid. Unfortunately for Sirius, Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) fires a curse at him, knocking him into a mysterious stone archway that instantly claims his life.

Related: Upcoming ‘Harry Potter’ Installment Seemingly Changes Established Wizarding World Lore

7. Gregory Goyle

Gregory Goyle and Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Credit: Warner Bros.

Finally, we arrive at a character who’s fighting for the other side — or thereabouts, at least. Gregory Goyle (Josh Herman), friend of Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), appears in all eight Harry Potter movies, usually in the company of Vincent Crabbe (Jamie Waylett).

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, Harry is searching for the Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw in the Room of Requirement when Draco, Blaise Zabini (Louis Cordice), and Goyle show up, intent on getting Draco’s wand back from Harry.

Slytherin Harry Potter
Credit: Warner Bros

Being the lovely Slytherin that he is, Goyle tries to cast a Killing Curse at Hermione, and later ends up setting the Room of Requirement on fire, which only gets worse when the diadem, a Horcrux, becomes aware that Harry is about to try and destroy it.

Though Harry, Ron, and Hermione save Draco and Blaise and manage to escape, Goyle is engulfed by the flames. It’s difficult to say whether or not Goyle deserves his death, seeing as he’s not an actual Death Eater, but either way, he was playing with fire from the start!

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6. Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I
Credit: Warner Bros.

Bellatrix Lestrange is probably the most unhinged villain in the Harry Potter movies, and Helena Bonham Carter steals the show whenever she’s on the screen. But, as is always the case with great villains in the Wizarding World, she winds up on the wrong side of a Killing Curse.

While duelling with Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) in the Great Hall during the final moments of the Battle of Hogwarts, Bellatrix seemingly gets the upperhand, blasting her opponent with several spells, while pushing her towards the edge of the table on which they’re fighting.

Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Credit: Warner Bros.

However, determined not to let another one of her children die, Molly hits back even harder, and ultimately obliterates Bellatrix. But while it’s a punch-the-air moment, it’s also a little confusing for many viewers, as it isn’t entirely clear how Molly kills her.

It’s obviously a Killing Curse — that much is clear — but at the same time it also looks like Molly uses Petrificus Totalus on Bellatrix as she freezes, before blowing her to bits possibly with the Exploding Spell Confringo. Either way, this is one of the best deaths in the Harry Potter movies.

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5. Cedric Diggory

Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Credit: Warner Bros.

The death of Hufflepuff nice guy Cedric Diggory made waves long before it hit theater screens, and it no doubt resulted in countless copies of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire books being ruined by floods of tears.

Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) only ever appears during Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts, in which he winds up becoming a Triwizard Tournament champion. Unfortunately, though, while many suspect that it’s Harry who will be in danger during the challenges, it’s Cedric’s fate that’s sealed.

Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Credit: Warner Bros.

During their time in the Hedge Maze, Harry and Cedric find a Portkey, and, thinking it’s the way out, they both grab hold of it. However, they wind up in a nightmarish cemetery where Harry finally comes face to face with Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

But before he does, Voldemort orders Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall) to kill Cedric, and so the ratty servant raises his wand and says “Avada Kedavra”. Poor Cedric hits the ground as blue as a Patronus, but it’s really his father Amos’ wails of anguish later on that hit us right in the feels.

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4. Severus Snape

Severus Snape in Harry Potter
Credit: Warner Bros.

Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is the most complex character in the Harry Potter franchise, and also the bravest. Serving as a double-agent to Albus Dumbledore, Snape has long infiltrated Voldemort’s close circle of Death Eaters, leading them to think he’s their double-agent. Genius.

However, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, Snape’s luck finally runs out, as Voldemort, thinking that he must kill his most faithful servant in order to acquire full ownership of the Elder Wand, slits Snape’s throat, before ordering his snake Nagini to “feed” on him.

Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Credit: Warner Bros.

Fortunately, Snape still isn’t quite dead, which gives Harry, Ron, and Hermione time to collect his tears and use them in the Pensieve to discover the professor’s enormous secret; that he’s been protecting Harry all this time, and is in love with his late mother Lily Potter.

Snape’s death is the most impactful, as the montage also reveals that Harry Potter is the final Horcrux. Ultimately, though, discovering that Snape has been protecting him all this time is what has us crying so much that our own Pensieves start to overflow!

Related: Ralph Fiennes Open to Returning as Lord Voldemort In Next ‘Harry Potter’ Installment

3. Dobby

Dobby the House Elf in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Credit: Warner Bros.

Dobby the House Elf (Toby Jones) is quite annoying in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) — at least when we first meet him at the Dursley’s house. After all, he’s the reason Harry Potter winds up in so much trouble with the Dursleys and has to make his own way to Hogwarts.

But by the end of the film, we learn that Dobby was simply trying to protect Harry from the deadly Chamber of Secrets. It’s also great to see a slice of justice served to Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) when Harry manages to free Dobby from slavery at Malfoy Manor.

Dobby in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Credit: Warner Bros.

We don’t see Dobby again until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1, when he returns to Malfoy Manor to rescue Harry, Ron, and Hermione after they were kidnapped by Snatchers, as well as Luna Lovegood, Garrick Ollivander (John Hurt), and Griphook (Warwick Davis).

Unfortunately, rescuing so many characters comes with a price. Just as they’re about to disapparate, Bellatrix Lestrange throws a dagger at them, and when they all appear on a remote beach moments later, they find that Dobby has been hit in the heart, which hits us right in ours.

Related: Did ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ Create a Wizarding World Multiverse?

2. Albus Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) in Harry Potter
Credit: Warner Bros.

Albus Dumbledore was played by two actors in the Harry Potter movies — Richard Harris in the first two installments, and Michael Gambon in the last six. It seemed unlikely that anyone would ever replace Harris’ wisdom and warmth, but Gambon pulled it off and then some.

In fact, the deeper you get into Gambon’s run, while he makes the role his own, it’s easy to forget that he took over from the late Harris, which could be due to the fact that he captures the spirit of the character so incredibly well, just as his predecessor did.

Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter
Credit: Warner Bros.

Unfortunately, Dumbledore, despite already being struck with a fatal curse after destroying a Horcrux, meets his maker in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1. From the get-go, we learn that Draco Malfoy has been ordered with assassinating the Hogwarts headmaster.

However, in order to protect Malfoy, and to prove to Lord Voldemort that his loyalty is unquestionable, Snape casts a Killing Curse at Dumbledore, sending him falling from the Astronomy Tower. While a necessarily evil, this death is one of the most tragic parts of the series.

Related: 5 Things The ‘Star Wars’ Movies Could Learn From ‘Harry Potter’

1. Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort

Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Credit: Warner Bros.

And so we arrive at the top of our list of Harry Potter deaths. Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort wants nothing but the power of immortality, and so there is no living soul in the Wizarding World who fears death greater than this dark wizard does.

Voldemort fears death so much that he split his soul into a number of different pieces, binding each of them inside objects of his choice, which are known as Horcruxes. The Horcruxes wind up becoming the ultimate MacGuffins, as Harry and his friends set out to find and destroy them all.

Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Credit: Warner Bros.

What’s particularly fascinating about the demise of Voldemort is just how inevitable it was. From the moment he hunted Harry Potter down when he was just a baby in Godric’s Hollow, and left him with the lightning-bolt scar upon his head, Voldemort sealed his fate without question.

In trying to kill Harry, Voldemort unknowingly turned him into a Horcrux, and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, when he casts a Killing Curse upon Harry, he ends up destroying that Horcrux, making things much easier for his nemesis later on.

And with Harry being the Master of Death (as he owns all three Deathly Hallows), he’s able to come back to life and have one last duel with the dark wizard. Then, when the last Horcrux, Nagini, is finally destroyed, Harry disarms Voldemort and watches as he turns to dust.

Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Credit: Warner Bros.

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Which Harry Potter death do you find the saddest? Let us know in the comments down below!

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