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The Most Terrible Things Harry Potter Has Ever Done

J.K. Rowling's seven Harry Potter novels—and the eight movies they inspired—are loved by millions worldwide. For good reason, too—it's a tremendously imaginative, richly detailed series about a world of wizards, witches, and magical creatures that is, at its core, a story about the triumph of good over evil. 

Harry Potter is, of course, the hero of the Harry Potter series, but he's hardly a white knight. Like a real person, Harry may have heroic qualities, but he's also a flawed, complicated character. Throughout the books and movies, Harry isn't always a paragon of virtue—as with any teenager, he was often moody, arrogant, self-centered, and ungrateful. In addition to being just kind of generally cocky and never really trying very hard in his classes at Hogwarts, here are the worst things Harry Potter ever did.

He throws his cash around like a jerk

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry becomes a show-off almost immediately after his first taste of Hogwarts life. While riding the Hogwarts Express to his magical school for the first time, Harry winds up in a compartment with Ron Weasley, his future best friend. He happily enjoys his reputation and celebrity among wizards and witches, eagerly showing Ron the lightning-bolt scar on his forehead when asked. Then the Honeydukes Express treat cart comes around. 

Ron, coming from a large and subsequently cash-strapped family, sadly declines to buy any candy because he's got some kind of boring snack in a plastic bag. Harry, however, fresh from a trip to Gringotts and flush with coin, buys up "the lot"—the entire cart's worth of treats. Squandering cash like that is like throwing around dollar bills in a strip club—arrogant and crass. Nor is it very sensitive to Ron's economic plight. One could argue that it's generous to Ron, but really, doesn't Harry just want to make himself look like a big shot? Also, it's very thoughtless of Harry to buy out the cart—a lot of other kids on that train probably wanted some magic candy, and had probably been looking forward to it all summer.

He uses unforgivable curses

Certain spells are so dangerous, so nasty, so downright wicked that only the darkest of wizards would even consider using them. They are the three Unforgivable Curses: the Killing Curse, the Cruciatus Curse, and the Imperius Curse. They're magical tactics reserved for figures such as Voldemort, his cronies, and maybe the occasional Slytherin. But who also tosses off an Unforgivable Curse with relative, and shocking, regularity? The "chosen one" himself, Harry Potter. 

After Bellatrix Lestrange uses a Killing Curse on her cousin (and Harry's godfather), Sirius Black, Harry retaliates with a Cruciatus Curse, a spell that delivers unbelievable physical pain; it's "the torture curse." (He misses.) During the Battle of the Astronomy Tower, Harry uses it on Snape—his teacher—only for the professor to block it before he can finish. Harry successfully uses the Cruciatus after emerging from beneath the Invisibility Cloak to take action on Amycus Carrow after the Death Eater spat in Professor McGonagall's face. He also lands the Imperius Curse, which places the victim under the command of the wizard who uses it, several times while trying to break into Gringotts in order to steal one of Voldemort's horcruxes. He had a good reason, but still, this all demonstrates a behavioral pattern in Harry: a blatant disregard for the rules. This is the same kid who sneaks around Hogwarts at night with the Marauder's Map, and uses the Invisibility Cloak to sneak into Hogsmeade when he can't get permission.

He's a total jerk at the Yule Ball

It's in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the book as well as the movie, where the series truly takes a turn for the teenage dramatic. One of the centerpieces of the action is the formal Yule Ball, held around Christmas and featuring a performance by the Weird Sisters. Harry wants to ask the girl he's been crushing on for a while, a Ravenclaw named Cho Chang...only to learn she's going with sixth-year Hufflepuff named Cedric Diggory. (He just so happens to be competing alongside Harry in the Triwizard Tournament in Goblet of Fire). Things go similarly for Ron, who, after running away from asking the visiting Fleur Delacour under the influence of a charm, thinks maybe he and Harry could ask (their future wives, as it would turn out), Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley, respectively. They've already got dates, so they begrudgingly ask twins Parvati and Padma Patil, but instead of having a fun time at the dance with the Patils at the Yule Ball—the first time they've had one at Hogwarts in more than 100 years, by the way—Harry and Ron sulk on the sidelines. Parvati and Padma justifiably wind up bored, frustrated, and embarrassed that their dates are so lame and rude.

He ignores Snape's lessons in Occlumency

During Harry's fifth year, Voldemort chillingly ramped up his slow, insidious assault on Harry by invading his thoughts. This was quite alarming to Harry's allies, such as Professor Dumbledore and Professor Snape, both of whom told him he needed to be trained in the art of Occlumency to block Voldemort's attempts. 

But no—young, inexperienced wizard Harry thought he could figure out how to prevent the most powerful and evil wizard of all time from invading his mind, and didn't even take Snape's Occlumency lessons all that seriously. Snape warned him that Voldemort would enter his dreams and even plant false images and information to manipulate him, but Harry didn't listen. Winning dominion over Harry's thoughts ultimately increased his power and reach—and further solidified his dangerous following.

He's kind of responsible for the death of Sirius Black

An immediate ramification of Harry not bothering to learn Occlumency: the death of Sirius Black, dashing rogue wizard, Order of the Phoenix member, best friend of Harry's father, and the godfather who'd forever free him of summers with the Dursleys.  

Harry gets a vision of Sirius being tortured in the Ministry of Magic's spooky Department of Mysteries. While this is clearly a trap set by Voldemort's ability to place fake information in Harry's head, Harry still runs off to the Department. His friends come along, and Harry's impulsive action immediately puts them in danger when they're met at the Department of Magic by evil Death Eaters. Fortunately, Sirius shows up to bail Harry out of trouble...and that's when Bellatrix Lestrange kills him. To recap: The bad guys easily lured Harry to an ambush, which drew Sirius, who was then killed. Good job, Harry.

He hooked up with his best friend's sister

When it came time to settle down, get married, and start a family, Harry could have chosen from hundreds of thousands of eligible bachelorettes in the wizarding world. True, the heart wants what the heart wants, but Harry wound up living happily ever after with Ginny Weasley. 

Ginny is objectively great—she's a kind, sharp, talented witch who went on to play quidditch professionally and then enjoy a career as a writer covering the sport. She certainly brought great pride to her family. And therein lies the problem: She's Ginny Weasley. Yeah, Ron was cool with Harry taking Ginny to the Yule Ball once upon a time, but this is marriage here. Harry Potter got together with his best friend's little sister. At best it's a flagrant violation of the bro code; at worst, it's kind of skeevy.