- Some of the deaths in the Harry Potter movies were sadder because of the deceased’s age, significance to the story, and the impact their death had on the other characters.
- Lily and James Potter’s deaths shaped the entire story and set the tone for the struggles and heartache Harry would endure throughout his life.
- Both Deathly Hallows installments saw many lives lost, but Hedwig and Fred Weasley’s deaths were the saddest between these two final films.
While plenty of innocent lives were lost throughout all eight Harry Potter movies, each movie featured a death that was especially sad for a number of reasons. Most of these deaths were at the hands of Lord Voldemort and his disciples, the Death Eaters, who sought to wipe out all Muggle-born and half-blood wizards and witches and their allies. Though the first few films saw little bloodshed, as Voldemort grew more powerful over the course of the series, the number of deaths increased with every Harry Potter movie.
Multiple beloved characters were killed off in the same Harry Potter movie, especially in the Death Hallows installments, but some of these deaths were sadder than others. The way a character’s death is portrayed onscreen contributes to the tragedy of their passing, but some of the most major deaths in Harry Potter happened off-screen and are even more heartbreaking than those that the audience witnessed. Other factors that contribute to how sad a character’s death was include their age, their significance to the events of the story, and the impact their deaths had on the other characters (especially Harry).
8 Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone – Lily and James Potter
The tragic death of Harry’s parents was the catalyst for the series’ events
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- Release Date
- November 16, 2001
- Daniel Radcliffe , Rupert Grint , Emma Watson , John Cleese , Robbie Coltrane , Warwick Davis , Richard Griffiths , Ian Hart , John Hurt , Alan Rickman , Fiona Shaw , Maggie Smith
Possibly the two most consequential deaths in the whole Harry Potter film franchise took place right before the events of The Sorceror’s Stone. In an attempt to revert the Lost Prophecy, Voldemort set out to kill baby Harry. However, Lily Potter’s sacrifice protected Harry and caused Voldemort’s initial downfall, turning Harry into Voldemort’s final Horcrux. Harry still would’ve been the Chosen One had his parents survived, but their deaths ended up shaping the whole story and informing all the events to follow.
The implications of Lily and James Potter’s deaths were monumental, not only to how the story played out but to how Harry turned out as well. Raised by his aunt and uncle in an abusive environment, Harry was forced to spend the next ten years of his life growing up unloved. Harry losing his parents as a baby cast a pall over the rest of his life and set the tone for all the heartache and struggles he’d have to endure until the evil was finally defeated.
Everything Lily’s Sacrifice Saved In Harry Potter
Lily Potter died before the events of Harry Potter, but her sacrifice still resonated throughout the series and saved many witches and wizards.
7 Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets – Moaning Myrtle
The weepy ghost actually died long before the events of the movie
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Release Date
- November 13, 2002
- Emma Watson , Rupert Grint , Kenneth Branagh , John Cleese , Robbie Coltrane , Warwick Davis , Richard Griffiths , Richard Harris , Jason Isaacs , Daniel Radcliffe , Alan Rickman , Maggie Smith
Though many were being petrified by the Basilisk left and right, no notable deaths actually took place during the events of The Chamber of Secrets. However, the film did mark the introduction of Moaning Myrtle, the ghost who’s been haunting the bathroom where she was killed ever since, which also contains the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. While it may not have occurred in the film’s present day, the “dreadful” story of how Myrtle became Tom Riddle’s very first victim when they were both Hogwarts students in the 1940s, long before he changed his name to Voldemort, is revealed in Chamber of Secrets.
The tragic circumstances of Myrtle’s death and afterlife are particularly sad because of what her life was like before she died. Myrtle was already lonely, bullied, and neglected, and after her young life was cut short so suddenly, the same became true of her death. Myrtle was cursed to spend eternity crying and dwelling on her misery as new generations of Hogwarts students continued to tease and mock her.
Harry Potter: 10 Ghostly Facts You Didn’t Know About Moaning Myrtle
In Harry Potter, Moaning Myrtle is the ghost that haunts a Hogwarts bathroom, but there may be more for fans to know about this whiny phantom.
6 Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban – Buckbeak
The misunderstood creature’s “death” was more of an illusion
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Release Date
- May 31, 2004
- Gary Oldman , David Thewlis , Daniel Radcliffe , Emma Watson , Rupert Grint , Robbie Coltrane , Timothy Spall , Maggie Smith , Michael Gambon , Richard Griffiths , Fiona Shaw , Alan Rickman
Like The Chamber of Secrets, few characters actually die in The Prisoner of Azkaban, especially notable ones. However, the moment in which it appears that Hagrid’s pet Hippogriff, Buckbeak, has been slaughtered is still chilling, even though the truth of Buckbeak’s fate is later revealed. After attacking Draco Malfoy during Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class, Buckbeak is unfairly sentenced to death by the Ministry of Magic at Lucius Malfoy’s insistence.
The whole situation is devastating, from the injustice of Buckbeak’s execution order to Hagrid’s defeated acceptance of his pet’s impending death. Although the Hippogriff was just out of their field of view, Harry, Hermione, and Ron could hear the “chop” after the executioner swung his axe, creating the illusion that Buckbeak’s execution had been successfully carried out. The trio’s shattered reactions to what sounded like Buckbeak’s killing are heart-wrenching.
However, it is later revealed that Buckbeak was never actually killed. With the use of the Timeturner, future Harry and Hermione were able to help Buckbeak escape his execution and survive. While Buckbeak’s “death” is infinitely less sad considering it never actually happened, the scene where it seems the misunderstood creature has been slaughtered is still a tearjerker for a first-time viewer.
Harry Potter: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Buckbeak
The Harry Potter franchise features tons of timeless characters, but how much do fans know about the relatively unsung hippogriff, Buckbeak?
5 Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire – Cedric Diggory
The Hufflepuff hero was a casualty of Voldemort’s rebirth
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Release Date
- November 16, 2005
- Daniel Radcliffe , Emma Watson , Rupert Grint , Tom Felton , Robbie Coltrane , Ralph Fiennes , Michael Gambon , Brendan Gleeson , Gary Oldman , Timothy Spall , Alan Rickman , Maggie Smith
There were several close calls and brushes with death in the Triwizard Tournament, but the only casualty didn’t occur until the very end of the competition when Voldemort’s official return in The Goblet of Fire resulted in Cedric Diggory’s death. Cedric represented Hufflepuff for Hogwarts in the Triwizard Tournament, an opportunity that ended up costing him his life. After he and Harry both grabbed the Triwizard Cup, they discovered that it was actually a Portkey that had transported them to the cemetery where Voldemort’s parents were buried.
Voldemort ordered Peter Pettigrew/Wormtail to “kill the spare,” prompting the ever-obedient servant to “Avada Kedavra” Cedric. For the duration of the scene, Harry was pinned against a stone statue while his friend lay dead on the ground a few feet away. After duelling with Voldemort, Harry managed to escape the graveyard and transport Cedric’s body back to Hogwarts.
Upon their return, the crowd celebrated before realizing Cedric was dead. Cedric’s father crying out, “That’s my son! That’s my boy!” in agony as the crowd sobbed was enough to make anyone burst into tears. Cedric’s death would be sad regardless, but the fact that he was killed with such flippancy and disregard makes it so much more devastating. Poor Cedric was the epitome of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he became collateral damage in the process.
4 Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix – Sirius Black
Harry was never the same after his godfather was killed
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Release Date
- June 28, 2007
- Daniel Radcliffe , Emma Watson , Alan Rickman , Ralph Fiennes , Rupert Grint , Helena Bonham Carter , Robbie Coltrane , Warwick Davis , Michael Gambon , Brendan Gleeson , Richard Griffiths , Maggie Smith
Of all the terrible deaths in the Harry Potter movies, Sirius Black’s death feels uniquely cruel, especially towards Harry. For years, everybody believed Sirus had betrayed his friends and gotten them killed, a false claim that he had to suffer for in prison. Harry finally learned the truth about his godfather in Prisoner of Azkaban, but because Sirius was still a wanted man, he had to go into hiding. Though they were still able to get to know each other and communicate discretely, they were never able to live together as they’d hoped.
During the Battle of the Department of Mysteries between the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix, Sirius duelled with his cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange. Suddenly, she fired a curse that caused Sirius to fall backwards into the Veil, killing him. After being framed for murder and spending twelve years wrongfully imprisoned in Azkaban and the remainder of his life in hiding, Sirus’ story coming to an end like that was beyond unfair.
The tragedy of Sirius’ death was compounded by Harry’s reaction and the effect it would go on to have on him. The sound of Harry’s screams cutting out as Lupin held him back made the moment even more impactful. Harry and Sirius lost years of potential bonding time to the myth of Sirius’ betrayal, and they barely got to spend any time together or build a proper, long-term relationship once Sirius was free.
Harry Potter: 7 Times We Felt Bad For Sirius (& 7 We Hated Him)
Sirius Black was Harry Potter’s godfather and an unquestionably good man, but he definitely had his occasional problematic moments.
3 Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince – Albus Dumbledore
The Hogwarts Headmaster’s death was not what it seemed, but it was still a major loss
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Release Date
- July 7, 2009
- Daniel Radcliffe , Emma Watson , Rupert Grint , Michael Gambon , Tom Felton , Alan Rickman , Jim Broadbent , David Thewlis , Maggie Smith , Robbie Coltrane , Julie Walters
Albus Dumbledore’s death may have been set up from the very start of The Half-Blood Prince, but that didn’t make it any less powerful when it ultimately happened. After Malfoy failed to fulfill his assignment of killing Dumbledore, Snape, who had pledged to finish the job with an Unbreakable Vow, put an end to Dumbledore’s life as Harry watched on. It was a shocking moment, as Snape was presumed to be a double agent simply feigning his allegiance to Voldemort up to that point.
Of course, that turns out to be true, as Dumbledore’s death was all part of the cunning and calculated Headmaster’s elaborate plan. Dumbledore knew the Peverell Ring Horcrux had cursed him to death, so he asked Snape to kill him should Malfoy fail. However, none of this is revealed until Snape’s final moments in Deathly Hallows: Part 2. When Snape killed Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, it was meant to be understood as a betrayal that showed Snape’s true colors.
Most of the saddest deaths were at the hands of enemies, but Dumbledore’s death was compounded by Snape’s perceived betrayal. Not only was Dumbledore’s death a paramount loss to the Wizarding World, but the circumstances of his death made it all the more infuriating for the viewer and Harry. He may have known and accepted that he was going to die, and Snape may not have betrayed him after all, but the Headmaster’s absence weighed heavy on Harry and the rest of Hogwarts. Dumbledore’s death made for one of the saddest moments and greatest losses in the Harry Potter movies.
2 Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – Hedwig
Harry never got to mourn the loss of his beloved pet owl
The first part of the final installment in the Harry Potter film franchise took many lives, including Hedwig, Mad-Eye Moody, Minister Rufus Scrimgeour, and Dobby. Almost every Harry Potter character who died in Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was a force for good, but the loss of Harry’s pet owl hurt the most. During the Battle of the Seven Potters, while Hagrid was transporting Harry from the Dursleys to The Burrow, Hedwig tried to protect Harry from the Death Eater chasing them and ended up getting caught in the crosshairs.
While most would agree that it was heartbreaking when Hedwig was killed off in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, many would argue that Dobby’s death was the saddest in the film. Harry helplessly holding Dobby on the beach was one of the most emotionally gripping scenes in the series, but Harry was at least able to mourn the loss of the kind and loyal elf and give him a proper burial. Because the owl was struck down from the sky, Harry never got to lay Hedwig to rest or honor her life in a meaningful way.
Hedwig was Harry’s closest companion who kept him company at his loneliest moments. The event was more than just the loss of a pet — Hedwig’s death represented the loss of Harry’s childhood, which he hardly ever got to enjoy in the first place. The owl took a piece of Harry with her when she died that he could never get back.
1 Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – Fred Weasley
George lost his other half during the Battle of Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
- Release Date
- July 7, 2011
- Daniel Radcliffe , Rupert Grint , Emma Watson , Helena Bonham Carter , Robbie Coltrane , Warwick Davis , Ralph Fiennes , Michael Gambon , John Hurt , Jason Isaacs , Gary Oldman , Alan Rickman
In Death Hallows: Part 2, Voldemort’s reign of terror culminated in the famous Battle of Hogwarts that caused the most deaths of all the Harry Potter movies. While the final film saw the most casualties, not every Harry Potter character who died in Death Hallows: Part 2 was sorely missed. Although many Death Eaters survived the Battle of Hogwarts, villains like Bellatrix Lestrange and, of course, Voldemort didn’t make it out alive.
For every evil character’s demise, though, there were just as many good characters, like Lavender Brown and Colin Creevy, who were taken too soon. The sight of beloved Order fighters and new parents, Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, dying side by side with their arms outstretched to one another makes them a strong contender for the saddest deaths in Deathly Hallows: Part 2. However, Fred Weasley’s death still hurts the most.
Nothing was more heartbreaking than Ron’s face as he entered the Great Hall after the Battle of Hogwarts and discovered that not all of his family members made it out alive. The rest of the Weasleys gathered around the body as Ron burst into tears and collapsed at Fred’s side, a poignant depiction of the sacrifices made in the fight against Dark Magic. Splitting up the inseparable Weasley twins by killing off Fred was just wrong, and the hole left in the Weasley family by Fred’s death in Harry Potter could never be repaired.