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The Worst Decision Every Harry Potter Main Character Made

Watching the "Harry Potter" film series' eight feature-length movies, accounting for nearly 1,200 minutes of run time, takes almost 20 hours. That's nearly an entire day of spells and spirits, magic and muggles, witches, wizards, and wands. It may sound like a lot of time on the surface, but when you consider it tells a story that's seven years long, each film becomes more akin to a snapshot. Seven years is a long time for a story to last and, despite the fact that we're dealing with a group of highly talented and well-trained witches and wizards, it affords ample opportunity for them to screw up. 

Yes, even students trained at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — the best wizarding school in the world, according to Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) — make mistakes. Just think about how many times we've seen Seamus Finnigan's (Devon Murray) face covered in soot as a result of some kind of explosion gone wrong, given his particular proclivity for pyrotechnics. Or the time Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) tried to curse Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) with slugs but the spell backfired as a result of his dodgy wand. Or even the titular hero himself, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), made the mistake of losing his cool and inflating Marge Dursley (Pam Ferris), thereby risking expulsion from Hogwarts — fortunately they don't send people to Azkaban for blowing up their aunts.

These are all small potatoes over the course of the entire "Harry Potter"" timeline, of course; each character has blundered so much worse. Here are the worst decisions every "Harry Potter" main character made.

Harry Potter

We'll kick things off with our titular protagonist, Harry Potter himself. Chosen One or not, the son of James and Lily Potter makes a fair few flubs in his own right. There's the time he used the Sectumsempra curse on Draco Malfoy in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"; he very well could have killed him in a bathroom duel over his — well-founded or not — suspicions that Draco had hexed Katie Bell (Georgina Leonidas). It's unlikely he'd have used the curse — which was created by Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) — if he'd known what it could do, but that's exactly the point; he had no idea, outside the fact that his potions textbook said it was "for enemies."

But that's clearly not Harry's biggest mistake. What is, we'd wager, took place in the preceding film, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." After dragging his friends to the Ministry of Magic's Department of Mysteries — okay, they came willingly — intending to save his godfather, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), he finds out he was duped. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) had used their psychic connection to trick him into thinking Sirius was in danger, only to put himself and his friends in peril. When Sirius shows up to the rescue, he's killed by Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). Harry's biggest mistake was pursuing her through the Ministry's headquarters, seeking revenge. He didn't know his way around and he was chasing a witch far more powerful than him — one who was willing to kill. Harry then ends up in Voldemort's clutches after proving he doesn't even have the stomach to torture his godfather's murderer. He very well may have been killed.

Ron Weasley

Harry Potter's not alone in some rather poor decision-making skills. His best mate, Ron Weasley, is a bit of a bumbler as well. Recall, if you will, the aforementioned slug incident. It's not like Ron didn't know his wand was busted; why would he attempt such a spell if he'd already experienced subpar results using it? We get that it could have just been a protective instinct to stick up for his friends, but if he'd have stopped to think, it would have saved him a trip to the Hogwarts infirmary and experiencing what we'd guess is a rather nasty aftertaste.

Of course, a mouthful of slugs is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Later on, in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," Ron basically tells the wrong person "Fix it yourself." Of course, Ron isn't Ron at the moment; he's Reg Cattermole (Steffan Rhodri) and the person to whom he offers helpful but foolish advice is Corban Yaxley (Peter Mullan), the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. It's fair to assume that Harry, Ron, and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) have kept abreast of current events in the Wizarding World, given their quest to find and destroy the horcruxes, so we'd expect he should have easily known or recognized Yaxley. Regardless of Ron's ignorance to the fate of Reg's wife, Mary Cattermole (Kate Fleetwood), hanging in the balance, he should have hopped to any request such a powerful wizard had rather than simply offering a glib suggestion of an umbrella.

Hermione Granger

When it comes to the third member of the "Harry Potter" franchise's big trio, let's just say mistakes are few and far between — Hermione Granger is a perfectionist, after all. Still, it happens. How about the time she made Polyjuice Potion in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"? She, Harry Potter, and Ron Weasley intended to chat up Draco Malfoy while disguised as fellow Slytherin students Millicent Bulstrode (Helen Stuart), Gregory Goyle (Josh Herdman), and Vincent Crabbe (Jamie Waylett). Hermione's mistake lies in the fact that she accidentally used a piece of fur belonging to Millicent's cat rather than a piece of the witch's hair, as intended. The results were, um, interesting.

Hermione's biggest mistake, however, came in the form of a spell that was seemingly executed perfectly: hexing Cormac McLaggen's (Freddie Stroma) broom with the confundus charm at the Gryffindor quidditch tryouts in "Half-Blood Prince." While she meant well, trying to give her pal Ron the edge in their battle for the keeper position on the house quidditch team, his success had unintended and unforeseen consequences, consequences that manifested right after her moralistic debate with Harry, whom she believed had given Ron Liquid Luck to help win the match. He hadn't, of course, instead only inspiring Ron to believe in himself. But Ron's newfound stardom led directly to snogging and a relationship with Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave), causing a rift over Hermione's seemingly unrequited romantic feelings. Had she simply let McLaggen take the keeper spot, as he was seemingly destined to do without her interference, Hermione would not have set herself up for heartache nor risked damaging the trio's friendship.

Neville Longbottom

Oh, Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), what can we really say about you except that you always give it your best go? Just kidding! Neville certainly comes into his own in the later years of the "Harry Potter" film franchise, he is just a late bloomer. In his awkward earlier years, however, he did have some major problems. While not his worst mistake, Neville's own penchant for self-doubt hindered his abilities and growth. "I'm hopeless," he says in "Order of the Phoenix," when failing to get the disarming charm right. Neville's lack of belief in himself was a bummer. He may not have been the Chosen One, but he was the Other One; Professor Sybil Trelawney's (Emma Thompson) prophecy spoke of a boy born at the end of July, which also applied to Neville. Lord Voldemort essentially picked Harry as the Chosen One by attacking the Potters, but Neville certainly had the potential and the pedigree to play the part.

Neville's biggest biff came during the Battle of Hogwarts during "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2." Having developed a penchant for disobedience when leading a rebellion at the school while Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger were out hunting horcruxes, Neville goes a bit beyond the proverbial stiff upper lip; he gets cocky, as manifested in his decision to taunt the dark wizards that at temporarily held at bay by the protection spells cast over the school. "You and whose army?" he asks, mockingly. He gets his answer shortly and faces a legion of pissed-off dark wizards he just recently antagonized. Not smart.

Ginny Weasley

You've got to be a good friend to be cool with your best mate coupling with your little sister, because that's exactly what happened between Harry Potter and Ron's sister, Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright). Keep in mind, though, Harry wasn't the first place Ginny went looking for love. After all, she went to the Yule Ball with Neville Longbottom in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." A year later, she was dating Dean Thomas (Alfred Enoch), one of Ron's Gryffindor roommates, much to his dismay — though he did eventually come around, calling Dean "brilliant" after first referring to him as a "slick git." 

Ginny and Harry finally get together in "Half-Blood Prince" and she is totally devoted — he is the Chosen One, after all! She's so into him that when he goes after Bellatrix Lestrange and werewolf Fenrir Greyback (Dave Legeno) when they attack the Weasleys' home — the Burrow — she darts after him without a second thought. Harry's actions are reckless, but he's proven his abilities to fight and come out of a sticky situation relatively unharmed. Ginny, on the other hand, despite only being a year younger, is still vastly less experienced with magic and lacking the experience with fighting. In throwing herself into the mix, while intending to help, she may have made things worse for Harry because now he has to worry about her safety in addition to his own; it wouldn't exactly be a good look for him to rush out to fight two villains and end up losing his unofficial girlfriend who also happens to be his best friend's sister.

Draco Malfoy

Despite serving as an antagonist for most of the "Harry Potter" franchise, Draco Malfoy makes for a sympathetic villain. After all, he didn't choose to be born into one of the most powerful dark wizard families in the magical aristocracy. It's not his fault he was raised by such a worm of a father in Lucius Mafloy (Jason Isaacs) to treat those whom he sees as below his station like crap. Draco Malfoy is very much a product of his environment, but beneath that smug attitude and monochromatic wardrobe, on a human level, he's also just a scared boy. When it comes to his mistakes, it would be easy to say "choosing to become a Death Eater," but we're not exactly sure he had much choice in the matter; he was being groomed for dark wizard glory from birth and this was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Draco's biggest mistake, if we're playing devil's advocate, was not giving Harry up to Bellatrix when the snatchers brought him, Ron, and Hermione to Malfoy Manor in "Deathly Hallows 1." Harry himself even calls him out on it during the final film, saying Draco had to know it was him and asking why he didn't say as much. Perhaps Draco had gotten enough of the dark wizard life in "Half-Blood Prince"; prior to their bathroom duel and his subsequent dismemberment, Draco had a breakdown after seeing Katie Bell for the first time after hexing her. So he made the choice to do the right thing and not to give Harry up, something that easily could have come back to bite him and potentially put his family in danger. 

Albus Dumbledore

Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has made many mistakes. His hiring practices are questionable at best — read: Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh). Dumbledore's concern for members of his family is also lacking — read: sister Ariana (Hebe Beardsall) and brother Aberforth Dumbledore (Ciarán Hinds). He doesn't even do a good job looking after his own appendages, which is why the horcrux ring is already killing him by the start of "Half-Blood Prince." And his decision to ignore Harry Potter in "Order of the Phoenix," despite his claims that he didn't want to cause Harry any pain, ended up isolating a teenaged boy who's already had a tough life and doing exactly what he claimed to want to avoid.

But if we're pondering Dumbledore's biggest Dumbledon't, it has to be bringing a young Tom Riddle (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin) to Hogwarts in the first place. If he had just left the creepy little kid at the orphanage, literally none of this would have happened. Tom Riddle would never have risen to power to take on the mantle of Lord Voldemort because he would have lacked the teaching and training needed to develop his natural magical abilities. Sure, he probably would have burned the orphanage down at some point or taken to killing small animals, but he would never have started two magical wars and inspired thousands of dark wizards to commit untold murders and atrocities. Harry would have grown up with his actual parents instead of the Dursleys. Alastor Moody (Brendan Gleeson), Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), Nymphadora Tonks (Natalia Tena), and scores of other witches and wizards would still be alive. Need we say more?

Severus Snape

Pondering Professor Severus Snape's mistakes offers plenty of fodder as well, though likely far less than Professor Albus Dumbledore. We feel like falling in with the wrong crowd — read: Death Eaters — could be considered a pretty big whoopsie, though consider that Snape was bullied by the younger versions of the Marauders: James Potter (Robbie Jarvis), Sirius Black (James Walters), Remus Lupin (James Utechin), and Peter Pettigrew (Charles Hughes). Plenty of young folks make poor decisions when it comes to the company they keep as a result of bullying because being a part of something can be empowering. Consider this: Snape was pretty much driven into Lord Voldemort's arms by Harry Potter's father. Of course, Snape was also the one who told Voldemort about the prophecy, leading directly to Lily Potter's death, so that probably haunts him a bit.

We reckon Snape's biggest mistake could actually have been rather innocuous if things had played out differently. But they didn't, so he really should have been more mindful of what befell his old textbooks. We're talking, of course, about his copy of Advanced Potion-Making, the tome into which he scrawled all manner of notes. Sure, the book helped Harry become a potions ace, which aided in his quest to befriend Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent); that was pretty important. But the book also contained a curse of Snape's personal design — Sectumsempra — one which causes massive lacerations and hemorrhaging, bearing no warning or explanation of what it would do. Harry uses the curse on Draco Malfoy in their bathroom duel and likely would have killed him if Snape had not shown up to heal him.

Alastor Moody

Normally we'd think to call Alastor Moody "Professor Moody," but we're not sure he's every actually taught at Hogwarts — though he's taught many a dark wizard a lesson in his day, if you know what we're saying. It's tempting to joke that Moody accepting the job teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts was his biggest mistake, but as a former auror, he spent his entire life putting himself in harm's way as a force for good and, if he hadn't been waylaid by Barty Crouch Jr. (David Tennant) in "Goblet of Fire," we're sure he would have made a top-rate professor. 

Instead, we posit that Moody's biggest blunder was involving a sneakthief like Mundungus Fletcher (Andy Linden) in the plan to get Harry Potter to the safety of the Burrow. Dung was certainly a known quantity and that quantity is 100% cowardice. During the scene in "Deathly Hallows 1" at the Dursleys' house, when Moody tells Harry that all of his soon-to-be doppelgängers are of age and have agreed to take the risk, Mundungus puts forth that he's technically been coerced. That means Moody's plan involved putting a known coward and slimeball in danger against his will and he expected it to work out in the end? No, that was foolish and it got him killed. It's not like there's any shortage of Weasleys, seeing as how Bill (Domhnall Gleeson), Fred (James Phelps), George (Oliver Phelps), and Ron were at hand. Was Percy (Chris Rankin) already booked? What about Charlie, was he still wrangling dragons in Romania?

Sirius Black

Sirius Black may not have made a ton of mistakes onscreen in the "Harry Potter" movies, but he dealt with the effects of a lot of misfortune and betrayal. We're not sure you'd call his choice to see Harry off in person at the beginning of "Order of the Phoenix" a mistake, per sé, but it was certainly a barking-mad risk. Framed for the betrayal of Lily and James Potter and the death of Peter "Wormtail" Pettigrew (Timothy Spall), Sirius spent a dozen years guarded by Dementors and imprisoned in Azkaban. He eventually managed to escape, but was forced to live on the run, seeing as how he had no way of proving his innocence. Fortunately, when Remus Lupin came into possession of the Marauders' Map — which he helped to create along with Sirius, James, and Peter — he knew Peter was still alive and was able to begin helping Sirius arrange for his capture.

Perhaps Sirius' biggest mistake is taking his eye off of Peter when they're near the Whomping Willow, following the showdown at the Shrieking Shack. They had Wormtail in custody, Harry had dealt with Snape, and everything was going swimmingly until Remus saw the full moon and went into full werewolf mode. Sirius, of course, used his animagus abilities to transform into a dog so as to distract Remus and keep him from killing the kids. But in losing focus on Wormtail, he allowed him to escape, thereby losing any chance of clearing his name. 

Lord Voldemort

Rounding out our run-down of the rewards of being wrong in the Wizarding World is the Dark Lord himself, Voldemort, and we're really spoilt for choice when it comes to seeking out his biggest blunder. "Trying to conquer the world as a magical tyrant" feels a bit overly broad, despite being completely accurate. "Trying to kill Harry Potter as an infant" is more specific but perhaps not as egregious — though completely horrifying. "Trying to kill Harry Potter as a teenager" is certainly a contender, considering doing so destroyed his seventh horcrux and made him that much more vulnerable — and forced him to make a guest appearance as a barbecued chicken drumstick in Harry's mental train station.

By far, we think Lord Voldemort's biggest mistake lies in insisting on being the one to kill Harry. So many of his minions had the opportunity to take the Chosen One out — Bellatrix Lestrange certainly had the Boy Who Lived dead to rights in "Half-Blood Prince," until Severus Snape reminded her that "He belongs to the Dark Lord" — but he wanted to be the one. Had his arrogance permitted him to let Harry be killed by the hands of another, maybe he would have come to realize that the scar on the boy's forehead was an unintended horcrux. Maybe that knowledge could have helped him in his quest to rule over the world. We'll never know because Voldemort's insistence on killing Harry himself essentially caused his downfall and eventual death, owing to the fact that he was using the Elder Wand to battle the rightful wizard to wield it; Harry was as a result of disarming Draco Malfoy, who had similarly disarmed Professor Dumbledore to unwittingly become the wand's rightful owner.