A few weeks ago, I started a probably misguided mission to rank some of the more important characters in Harry Potter. You can see part 1 here. As a reminder, this is a commentary on them as literary characters, not necessarily as people. It’s about how strong their character is, not if I like them.
This is part 2 and, if I had to guess, it will be far more contentious than the first part. This will discuss the characters that I have ranked in the “Kinda Mediocre” to the, probably unfairly named, “Might as well have not been in it” tiers. I’ll probably spend less time on each of these characters since there are so many of them.
Let’s get started. Don’t forget to tell me how much you disagree with me in the comments.
Reminders: this is about the books, I do not take the movies into account at all. Spoilers abound.
C Tier – These Are Kind of Mediocre Characters
Percy Weasley – Starting off with everyone’s least favorite Weasley, Percy! I actually thought this character was pretty interesting and if I were redoing this list now, I might bump him up a tier. I think his contrast with the other Weasley’s is an interesting dynamic. He doesn’t have the care-free attitude or likeability of a Fred/George or a Ron and he doesn’t have the almost whimsical, graceful ability of a Charlie or a Bill. He is talented, but he has to work hard to be talented, which we don’t see that often in the Weasley clan.
I think I ranked him low because he’s predictable and not all that important. He doesn’t do as much as the other Weasley’s (I mean, more than Charlie, but he barely counts) and his big redemption arc is predictable at best, though fun to read.
I’d have no problem ranking him B Tier, I think he just needed to do a little bit more to earn that. Almost, Percy. Almost.
Voldemort – Oh, this one is interesting. I’ve ranked him in C tier because, as a villain, he is entirely mediocre. He is evil and that’s it. Sure, he has the “blood purity” motivation but I don’t think that’s all that interesting and is a motivation that has been played to death. Which feels, frankly, insensitive to say. Because that villian motivation, in modern times, is largely based on Hitler and we could never talk about the evils of the holocaust enough. It needs to be remembered.
All of that being said, Voldy is a weak character. His motivations aren’t all that new or interesting. We cannot even get close to sympathizing with him. He doesn’t do much rising and falling. He’s just evil and that’s where it ends.
In the end, when we get to hear more of his pre-Voldy story, he takes on a new life. We sympathize, at least a little, with the kid Tom Riddle. But not enough to redeem five books worth of “Supreme Evil for the Sake of Evil” Voldy.
As a villain, he is weak. I think that might be a theme with Rowling. Her mean characters seem to only have one characteristic and that’s it. But we’ll get to that.
Arthur Weasley – Arthur is another interesting one that I could see being higher. His interest in muggle artifacts is a fun character trait, even if it gets a bit played out. I think his initial introduction as a bumbling father/husband figure, similar to a sitcom dad like King of Queens or Home Improvement, and how Rowling turns that into an actually competent wizard who is misunderstood but good at his job is a fun turn.
I ranked him lower basically because of Molly. Molly steps up and is an awesome mother figure for everyone in the story. I don’t see Arthur filling that role. He is tailor made to be a Harry father figure, but he doesn’t meet that. He is barely a father figure for his own children.
He also seems to be a passive part of the story for most it. He is around, but he doesn’t take a lot of decisive action. He’s a wallflower. I like his character, but I don’t know. Something about him screams C tier.
Tonks – At first she seemed to be a random filler character, but then Rowling took a liking to her and tried to force in a new narrative that I don’t think was necessary and I don’t think worked. I’ve never really understood her relationship with Lupin, it felt forced and weird. Seeing as that relationship is about the only time Tonks shows any real emotional depth, her character fell really flat for me.
There was a beautiful opportunity to show her mourning the loss of Mad Eye, but Rowling dropped the ball on that. So I am completely unimpressed with Tonks and I wouldn’t mind if people rank her a tier lower.
Mad Eye Moody – Oh, what could have been. I think having Mad Eye here might interest some people because he is such a unique and interesting character. His paranoia, his bullying of Malfoy, his magical eye, all of that endears him to people who want to watch the side-show. We loved seeing him as a teacher and how he interacted with the students.
But that wasn’t him. That was Barty Crouch masquerading as Mad Eye. And I think that has to be taken into account. The only real book where we see extended scenes with Mad Eye was book four when it wasn’t really him. After that, he isn’t involved in the story too much.
The promise of Mad Eye is so much stronger than we actually get to see, so I had to rank him lower. I think people might disagree with that, though, and I’m fine with it.
Dudley Dursley – Big D. The character we all love to hate. He’s a predictable character. He does exactly what we would expect Harry’s rival/bully to do. He’s the anti-Harry at the beginning and Rowling sets us up to not like him, which we don’t. And that’s my problem. With a lot of the nastier characters, Rowling wears it on her sleeve. She wants us to hate Dudley (until his redemption), so she makes him mean and vicious. Nuance goes out the window. Depth and different dynamics are forgotten. Dudley is a jerk and a jerk he shall be. All the time.
I wish we saw other sides of him before the very end. But we did eventually see another side, unlike his parents, which moved him up to the C tier. Without that, he’d be bottom of the pack for sure.
Cho Chang – This one probably isn’t all that controversial. She’s a crush, that’s almost all of her character.
Again, I think Rowling missed an opportunity. We did see a bit of her struggle with Cedric’s death and how that impacted her schooling and relationship, but we didn’t go super deep into that. Granted, Harry struggles to deal with how to help her through that and we are following Harry’s perspective, so I guess it makes sense. I just think more could have been done with Cho and we missed it.
Dean Thomas – Honestly, I’m not even sure why I ranked Dean. He isn’t that important of a character. I don’t think many people have opinions on Dean in either direction. So, I guess he belongs in C.
Dean did have a larger role in the last book than some of the other Hogwarts fillers, so he deserves a little more notice. He plays a role in helping Luna and Ollivander. He is there to bury Dobby. He escapes and hides in the woods. All of that is fun, but it comes late. So it isn’t enough to make him a strong character throughout the series.
I think him and Seamus are fascinating in idea, though. They are around Harry, they are closer than other random Hogwarts students, but they aren’t in the inner circle. That’s an interesting dynamic, but it isn’t explored all that much.
Fleur Delacour – Without her relationship with Bill, she wouldn’t be ranked. Because her primary story happens in book 4 and there wasn’t a whole lot to that. So I don’t think she’s an important character.
But I really like the dynamic between her and Molly when she marries Bill. I think that is a lot of fun and I liked watching them both come to terms, using each other, with Bill’s injury. That got her ranked in C tier, but I wouldn’t complain if she’s ranked lower because there isn’t a ton of depth to her.
Viktor Krum – I think I can just say “Ditto” to Fleur’s section. His big interest is his relationship with Hermione and what that does to Ron. Without that, he isn’t all that interesting of a character and I don’t care about him.
He seems like a good guy from a school that is supposed to be seen as dark and mean, so that is interesting. But there isn’t a whole lot to Krum. He doesn’t get a lot of screen time, so it isn’t his fault.
Kingsley Shacklebolt – Kingsley suffers from the “lack of screen time” issue. Sure, he is an awesome character. I always love when Kingsley is in the scene, but that isn’t super often. He is such a cool wizard, I want to see him be awesome and epic, but we don’t get enough of that.
Kingsley doesn’t have the time or space to develop. He doesn’t deepen, he doesn’t have any arcs. He basically is cool and stays cool. I think if we see a future world, Kingsley could play a really cool part in that, but in the series we have he is a mediocre character.
Moaning Myrtle – Myrtle is such an interesting character, both for her potential, her backstory, and her actual role within the story. I think she is definitely the most interesting of all the Hogwarts ghosts. Even though she has such an annoying personality, that is part of her charm. I love it.
She could be moved up a tier. Her backstory alone and what that implies is so fascinating. She was in school with Tom Riddle and was one of his earliest victims. She saw a past Hogwarts that we all want to experience. She saw an early Voldy. I love that implication.
But she doesn’t go anywhere. I guess that is an inherent issue with ghosts – they are stuck where they are. She doesn’t grow, she doesn’t develop. She feels like a plot device. She is there to move the characters along in key moments, but that’s it. Most of the time, she doesn’t feel like a character in her own right, she feels like a part of the setting.
Narcissa Malfoy – I’ll admit, I think I’m wrong on this one. The more I’ve thought about this list, I think I ranked her incorrectly. But the screenshot was taken and I can’t change it now. I think she should be moved down a tier and I think her husband should be moved up.
Originally I had her in this tier because she does show some change and development at the end of the series when she turned on Voldy and lied, but the more I thought about it, that wasn’t development. That was completely in line with her character.
Narcissa loves Draco. That is her personality. That is all she has. Even in the end, when she pulls her biggest stunt, her shinning moment in the series, it’s to stop the fighting to save Draco. It wasn’t because she had a change of heart or anything, she just wanted to save Draco. That is basically her entire character and she doesn’t change. So I’d move her down a tier if I could.
D Tier – I Need More From You
Bill Weasley – Starting out this tier with the last Weasley on the list. Bill, out of the Weasley’s I’ve ranked, is clearly the least developed, right? Charlie is worse, but we barely see Charlie, I didn’t even feel like ranking him. Bill played a larger role in the story, but not as a character. He’s kind of like Moaning Myrtle, he exists to move the plot along.
The injury adds a certain level of development to him that I appreciated. Also, his wedding and seeing how that worked with his injury was a cool plot line. Other than that, didn’t see enough from Bill. He seemed like a really cool guy, I wish I saw more from him.
Cedric Diggory – Everyone loves Cedric and I get it. He seems like a nice guy and his life was tragically cut short. But he isn’t a super great character. And here’s why.
For one thing, he’s barely in the story. The idea of him is in the story far longer than he is. He is a martyr, and that is interesting, but that doesn’t add depth to his character. He is dead at that point. From what we see of him, he’s just a popular, good dude. And that’s no enough to be an interesting character.
Granted, I feel bad putting him in a tier titled “I Need to See More From You” when, well…we can’t.
Kreacher – Again, he just isn’t in it that long.
I think we get to see a cool part of Kreacher’s character in the last book. Seeing his loyalty to Regulus and then to Harry after the trio show him any kindness. As a sort of anti-Dobby, he’s fascinating. But any character who is only interesting because they aren’t another character isn’t all that interesting to begin with.
Lucius Malfoy – Like I said earlier, I’d switch him with Narcissa if I could do it over again. And not because he changes or redeems himself at all. He’s an arrogant, snobby jerk at the beginning and that is where he stays. He doesn’t learn anything. He snivels up to whoever is in power and that stays the same.
But seeing how he deals with being humbled is a turn that I enjoyed. For one thing, he is incredibly easy to root against and that is a great character trait in a semi-villain. Like Umbridge, we want him to get what is coming to him. And then we see that happen, which feels fulfilling and I enjoy watching that happen.
But because he doesn’t develop, he doesn’t change, and we don’t see a whole lot of nuance to his character, I couldn’t put him above C Tier. I don’t think he belongs in D, though. He’s more interesting than that.
I do love the Malfoys as the anti-Weasleys though.
Rita Skeeter – She was fun for what she was. I don’t think she was ever intended to be a huge part of the series, and she wasn’t, but I liked her in the fourth book. The 4th book is my least favorite of the series, though, so I’m probably more inclined to not like characters who had their shinning plot in that one (see Cedric).
We don’t see her grow or change, but I don’t think we’re supposed to. She’s not meant to be a deep, nuanced character. She’s a side character. For what she is, she’s completely fine and adequate. But in order for me to call her a good character, I’d need to see more from her.
Seamus Finnegan – I mean…do I need to justify this? Seamus is Dean, but less interesting. His one shining moment was not believing Harry in the fifth book and that might be the only reason he’s not in F Tier.
Sybill Trelawney – I’ll be honest, this might be a casualty of me finding her character extremely annoying. If someone were to put her in C Tier, I’d get it. I wouldn’t complain about that. For me, she doesn’t rank that high. Plus her name is just ridiculously annoying to spell. What’s with that?
For one thing, we don’t see growth. The only real growth out of her character doesn’t change her. We think she is a fraud and then it is revealed that she might not actually be that fraudulent, at least when it comes to two predictions. But, like, so what? She doesn’t think she’s a fraud, so that knowledge (that she doesn’t even know) doesn’t change her character in the slightest.
I guess the only redeeming thing about her character is that she’s a poor teacher. Hogwarts doesn’t have many bad teachers. Sure, Snape sucks as a teacher, but he knows his subject. Trelawney doesn’t. So she has that going for her, but it isn’t enough to make her anything special. D Tier feels right.
Colin Creevey – Off. Still hurts to see his name, because how unnecessary was that death?
Sure, it was fun to see what a proper Harry Potter fan would look like. After all, Harry is like the most famous wizard to attend Hogwarts and other than a few comments, no one seems to care. Until Colin. And that was cool for a bit. But then he just disappears. So I can’t justify putting him higher.
F Tier – Might As Well Not Be In the Series
Vernon Dursley – Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that this Tier title is not a good one. Because while I don’t think Vernon is a good character, you can’t write him out of the story. He’s too important from a plot perspective, and that’s true of quite a few people in this tier. But from a character perspective…
Think about the opening lines to this whole series. We learn that Vernon and Petunia are ordinary, normal, and like it that way. We learn that they are opposed to any semblance of non-coformity. Now think about Vernon at the end of the series. Has he changed at all, or could that still be said of him? Is there any deeper motivation to him?
Despite running up against an entire world of magic and mystique, he doesn’t change one single bit. He’s the same jerk from the start of the story. He hasn’t learned anything, he hasn’t deepened, he hasn’t developed. He’s just a jerk. At least with Petunia we get some of her backstory with Lily, Vernon doesn’t have a backstory. It’s as if he grew from the garden to be mean to Harry and that’s it.
Plus from a strictly believable standpoint, his character doesn’t make sense. It’s hard to even imagine someone being as mean to their orphaned nephew as he was. Vernon is F Tier all the way.
Peter Pettigrew – Okay, I might have been wrong about this one as well…
I could move Wormtail up a tier and be fine with it. I think his backstory is enough to make him at least somewhat developed and interesting. I just don’t think we see that play out enough. I was itching for one more confrontation between Wormtail and Lupin/Sirius that we never got. I also wanted Wormtail to show any signs of growth or remorse, which he didn’t do. It’s almost like after Goblet, Rowling didn’t know what to do with him. Which is a shame because he could have been an interesting semi-villain.
Crabbe and Goyle – Again, I don’t think I need to justify this one.
These guys exist to make Malfoy more intimidating, because on his own Malfoy isn’t scary. Throw a couple of bigger kids behind him and suddenly he is a bit more menacing. But that’s where their characters stop. They don’t have nuance, they don’t have depth, they don’t grow or change. They are the hired muscle from any superhero comic. They are a decorative picture in a hotel lobby: something that needs to fill space.
At the end Rowling tried to throw a bit of character development at them and show them as stepping up as school bullies in the absence of Malfoy, but it felt forced and weird.
Honestly, these guys could have been trolls in Hogwarts robes and it would have been more interesting.
Gilderoy Lockhart – Honestly, I loved Lockhart in book 2. I think he was the prototype Umbridge. He was a character where Rowling started to show off her chops with creating these sort of bad guys for Harry to deal with while we all knew Voldy is the real bad guy. He showed serious promise in that role.
And then he was gone.
She tried to put him into later books where it was convenient, but he was basically Quirrell without the death. Outside of book two, he’s entirely insignificant. And I can’t rank him higher than this if he was barely even in the series. Sure, his role in 2 was incredibly important, but he didn’t exactly carry the story.
I don’t know, I think I’m bitter about this one. I wanted so much for him and instead Rowling just wrote him out of the story. He could have been so much more.
Mundungus Fletcher – Yet another character who is the exact same at the end of the book as he was in the beginning and we know nothing about him to justify the way he is. He fills a need in the plot and that’s about it.
We don’t even really know what happened to him. Almost like Rowling decided she was done with him and didn’t want to bother trying to redeem or nuance him. A shame because I kind of liked him. There was something charming about that little rat.
Fenrir Greyback – He’s menacing and dangerous, I’ll give him that. But, outside of his danger, what does he have going for him? The fact that he actually acts like a werewolf? So what? The more interesting aspect of werwolves in this series is the fact that Lupin doesn’t act like one. So throwing in a character who does act like a stereotypical werewolf is just…lame.
Pansy Parkinson – Do I need to defend this choice?
She exists to be a love interest for Draco when that was wholly unnecessary. I think she’s supposed to be this snobby, vicious anti-Hermione or even anti-Luna, but I never got that impression. She was just annoying. I was never threatened by her, never scared of her, I found myself saying “Oh my god, Pansy, give it a rest” whenever she talked.
I think when Rowling realized that setting her up as the Draco lovestory didn’t work, she had no idea what to do with Pansy. So we were stuck with this obnoxious filler.
If you want to create a bully, I don’t think that’s the reaction you want. You want to feel at least a little bit of anger or resentment toward them. I didn’t get any of that with Pansy.
And then, on top of that, we don’t see her change in any way. She starts a snobby kid and ends a snobby slightly older kid.
Filch – Ah, last but not least, everyone’s least favorite caretaker.
I guess I wouldn’t mind moving him up. After all, a squib working at Hogwarts is fascinating, but doesn’t make a lot of sense. If he hates the students so much. why work there? If he resents the fact that he can’t do magic, why surround himself with it day in and day out? He doesn’t make sense.
And he is the definition of the title of this tier. If I took him out of the series, I don’t think it looses anything at all.