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Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Why Hedwig Had To Die

The "Harry Potter" series may have started as a children's book, but the franchise grew more mature with its audience. By the time the final installment came out, it took the characters and plot in dark directions, featuring plenty of death. While many fan-favorite characters lost their lives in the battle against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, few demises were as tearjerking as Hedwig's.

Hedwig was Hagrid's gift to Harry shortly after he discovered he was a wizard. From that point, he was one of his most beloved companions, serving as both a friend and mail carrier. Unfortunately, during the final chapter of Harry's saga, Hedwig dies at the beginning of "Deathly Hallows." When Harry and his friends try to escape the Death Eaters, Hedwig suffers a fatal blow, plummeting to her death in what's surely one of the most paused moments in any "Harry Potter" movie. The exact sequence of events differs slightly from the book to the film, but the end result is the same, and author J.K. Rowling knew there was no other way to show audiences that this was going to be a dark climax to Harry's story.

Hedwig's death symbolized Harry's lost of innocence

In "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1," Hedwig's death occurs early in the film. It comes as a shock because a character who's been there from the very beginning is suddenly gone, and Harry Potter has no time to mourn her death. They have to keep moving, and J.K. Rowling is very aware that people may have been upset at that. But she did it for a good reason. 

In a 2007 interview with Rowling, the author was asked about Hedwig, to which she replied, "The loss of Hedwig represented a loss of innocence and security. She has been almost like a cuddly toy to Harry at times. Voldemort killing her marked the end of childhood. I'm sorry... I know that death upset a LOT of people!" It makes sense from a thematic perspective, but fans have also come up with their own fan theories as to why Hedwig had to perish.

In the scene, other wizards take Polyjuice potions to look like Harry so that they can thwart the Death Eaters' attempts to try to kill him as they get him to safety. However, Hedwig wouldn't have known about that plan, so she would've stayed by Harry's side throughout the journey. Snape, realizing this, killed Hedwig so that she wouldn't give away the actual Harry's location. It adds an interesting wrinkle to the sequence, and for anyone who already didn't like Snape, it provides another reason why that hatred may be justified.