Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why The Villain Of The Harry Potter Movies Wasn't Actually Voldemort

You might think you know who the real villain of Harry Potter is... but you would be wrong.

Throughout the Harry Potter film franchise, it seems like Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), the Dark wizard constantly hunting Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and trying to overtake the wizarding world, is the ultimate Big Bad of the series. But the real villain is even more powerful and insidious than Voldemort himself. 

In the second installment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry finds himself in hot water with magical authorities after a rogue house elf, Dobby (voiced by Toby Jones) uses a Levitation Charm in Harry's Muggle-run household, potentially endangering the secrecy of the wizarding community. Suddenly, Harry is introduced to the Ministry of Magic, and though he gets in some trouble with the Ministry, it's nothing compared to the strife he'll face at the Ministry's hands later on. Here's why the corrupt, poorly-run Minister of Magic — the final word in the wizarding community — is the real villain of the Harry Potter movies.

Why the Ministry of Magic is so sinister

Harry has a few brief run-ins with the Ministry of Magic during his early years at Hogwarts, but at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which chronicles Harry's fourth year, things take a serious turn. Despite the fact that Harry is telling the truth about Voldemort's full return to power, the Minister of Magic at the time, Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy) doesn't want to believe him, and rewards Harry for his troubles by turning him into a social pariah and branding him a liar.

To make matters worse, Fudge attempts to overtake Hogwarts and interfere with Harry's magical education by installing Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), a despot in frilly pink clothing, to "oversee" Hogwarts and keep an eye on Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Hogwarts' oft-subversive headmaster. During her time at Hogwarts, Umbridge denies Voldemort's very existence, prevents students from learning any actual spells, and even tortures the young people in her charge — thanks to her special quill that carves confessional lines into the writer's skin, Umbridge is the only person to leave a scar on Harry besides Voldemort — for which the Ministry never even apologizes.

Harry and his friends manage to run Umbridge out of the school when all is said and done, but in doing so, they break into the Ministry itself for a rescue mission, destroying half of its rooms in the process. In the end, Fudge must accept that Voldemort is back, but only after a year of dangerous denial.

The Ministry of Magic is no help against Voldemort

You might think that, after their mishaps during Harry's school years, the Ministry would want to help Harry in his final fight against Voldemort. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. When push comes to shove and Harry has to face off against Voldemort, hunting the Dark Lord's Horcruxes — pieces of his soul — throughout England, not only does the Ministry not help, they're an active hindrance.

After Fudge resigns in disgrace due to his mishandling of Voldemort's return, he is succeeded by the secretive and powerful Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy), a former Auror (Dark Wizard catcher). However, Scrimgeour, as it turns out, isn't much better. After Dumbledore's death, he arrives to give Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) the items Dumbledore left for them in his will, but questions them aggressively to try to get as much information as possible. Out of loyalty to Dumbledore, all three refuse.

From there, matters only get worse. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione break into the Ministry disguised as employees to try and find a Horcrux they know is in Umbridge's possession, they discover that she has recently been made head of a committee that hunts Muggleborn wizards and puts them on trial for "stealing" magic. Not only that, but Harry is advertised as the enemy, thanks to a quiet takeover of the Ministry by Voldemort's own followers, the Death Eaters.

Ultimately, the Ministry does absolutely nothing to aid Harry or the students of Hogwarts during the final battle, and on some level, their inaction is more insidious than anything Voldemort ever does, making the institution of the Ministry Harry Potter's worst overall villain.