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The Deaths of 'Harry Potter'
J.K. Rowling's seven beloved Harry Potter books made their way to the big screen in the form of eight blockbuster movies, and with them came some seriously heart-wrenching on-screen deaths. From Severus Snape to Albus Dumbledore to Sirius Black, a spoiler-filled retrospective on the movies' saddest deaths, ahead.
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10 and 9. Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 saw the loss of two fan-favorite characters – Lupin was by far the best professor Harry and friends ever had, while Tonks brought some much-needed spunk to the Order of the Phoenix. So, regardless of circumstances, it was going to be sad watching them bite the dust. However, said circumstances were disappointing – instead of giving Lupin and Tonks poignant last moments like so many others on this list had, Rowling simply shows us their dead bodies laying among others. They deserved a better send-off.
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8. Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
Another death that we are informed of, instead of shown. Plus, though it was a bummer to bid gruff old Moody goodbye in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, the emotional impact was lessened by the knowledge that the “Moody” we thought we knew from Goblet of Fire was actually Barty Crouch, Jr. in disguise. We didn't ever spend that much time with the real Moody in the end.
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In the book version of Deathly Hallows, Hedwig is struck dead by magical crossfire during a high-speed broom chase. In David Yates’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, however, she is more than just an innocent casualty; she flies into a Death Eater’s face and distracts him long enough for Hagrid, Harry, and co. to speed away. Cue the John Williams theme and salute fiction’s most iconic owl.
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6. Albus Dumbledore
Naturally, Dumbledore’s death comes just after we’ve spent an entire book getting to know him better, because J.K. Rowling is a cruel manipulator of our emotions. The death of the series’ most powerful good guy in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince signaled the beginning of the end, but while it was hard to say goodbye to all his quirky mannerisms, in retrospect the fact that Dumbledore planned his death himself slightly lessens the emotional impact.
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5. Severus Snape
We spent Deathly Hallows unsure whether Snape was a dastardly traitor in need of reprisal or the ultimate double agent. His brutal Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 death by snake bite, and the flood of memories that followed, provided a definitive end to both that debate and a tragic life spent atoning for a few unfortunate mistakes.
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4. Cedric Diggory
Cedric was only in one installment of the series, but his periodic appearances throughout Goblet of Fire established him as a hard-working good guy. Because Rowling is cruel, this of course made him the perfect sacrificial lamb to signal the series’ transition to a darker mindset. That burst of green light ended a whole generation’s innocence. Perhaps even more importantly, we hear from Cedric’s ghost shortly afterward (via Priori Incantatem) and all he wants is for Harry to return his corpse to his father – establishing that even in a world full of magic, there’s no reversing death.
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3. Fred Weasley
We should’ve known, as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 reached its climax, that no one was safe. Rowling had broken all the rules of children’s literature by that point. We’d seen mentors, important family members, and even lovable minor characters die. We should’ve been prepared for anything. But no one expected Rowling to strike at the heart of the series’ comedic relief. Even in the series’ darker installments, Fred and George Weasley always managed to lighten things up. Offing one of them, just as Fred was making up with prodigal brother, promised there would be no happy endings here.
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2. Sirius Black
It’s one thing to kill off a relatively minor character like Cedric, but taking away the only family Harry had left was, quite literally, kicking an orphan while he’s down. Further adding to the emotional power of Sirius’ death was the way Rowling refused to play it for shock value. The last chapters of Order of the Phoenix provide an in-depth look at the anger and sadness of grief. Harry angrily demanding answers about Sirius’ death from Dumbledore (when there are none) is one of the most intense scenes in the series.
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As many of the other items on this list demonstrate, J.K. Rowling is a cunning artist of sadness. She knows exactly what to play up and how to arrange events for maximum emotional impact, and Dobby’s death is her masterpiece. As a more morbid version of Stefon might say, this death has everything: from Dobby dying to save Harry and friends from his former slave masters, to Harry insisting on digging the grave himself.