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The Harry Potter timeline puts September 1, 2017 as the "19 years later" setting of the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We know how things turned out years later for some of our favorite characters, but what about the ones who didn't survive to make it to the epilogue of J.K. Rowling's beloved series? We've compiled a list of the most memorably loved or loathed characters from the Harry Potter books, who met their demise by series end...
This should go without saying, but obviously this article is brimming with major spoilers. So, if you haven't read the Harry Potter books yet, probably do that first. If you've only seen the movies, you should be ok. Except you won't know who Peeves is, but that doesn't come up here, so you're fine.
Fred Weasley's death had to be one of the most heartbreaking losses, as we can only imagine the impact his death had on his twin brother, George. Fred was killed during the Battle of Hogwarts, moments after delighting in the fact that his formerly-estranged brother Percy had made a joke. Born first, Fred often spoke on behalf of himself and his twin. He was very much one half of a hilarious, mischievous and lovable duo, and he was undoubtedly missed by everyone who knew him.
Peter Pettigrew was a worm, who got what he had coming to him. After betraying his old friends, and betraying Harry, he betrayed Lord Voldemort with just a flicker of hesitation when he tried to kill Harry in the cellar of Malfoy Manor. Whether intentional or not, that hesitation caused his hand to turn on him, and Wormtail ended up strangling himself. He was a rat who clung to power, and while he was crucial to Lord Voldemort's return, I doubt Voldemort missed him, or even cared all that much that he was gone.
Hedwig got a raw deal in the end. Harry's snowy owl had just spent a month stuffed away in a cage on Privet Drive, only to be zapped with a killing curse during Harry and Hedwig's escape. It was a heartbreaking loss for Harry, who could do nothing to save her. Hedwig was a good owl, and a good friend to Harry. RIP Hedwig.
The great Albus Dumbledore proved to be much more complex than the kindly father-figure Harry Potter knew him to be. He lived a long life, and died atop the tower at Hogwarts, by the wand of Severus Snape. Though his death started much earlier than that, when he fell to temptation by putting the horcrux ring on his finger. Severus Snape was able to prolong Dumbledore's death, and in the end -- as planned -- he was the one to carry it out. It was a heartbreaking loss, but there can be no doubt that Dumbledore left a rather large mark on the wizarding world. And we're grateful to have the opportunity to get to know him better in the Fantastic Beasts movies.
Colin wasn't supposed to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts, as he wasn't of age, and should have fled Hogwarts along with the rest of the younger students. But like a true Gryffindor, he put bravery ahead of the rules and snuck back in to join the fray. The eldest of the two muggle-born Creeveys, Colin left behind his younger brother Dennis.
The last of the Marauders, Remus Lupin joined the fight against Voldemort and the Death Eaters, and tragically lost his life at some point along the way. The only real consolation we had was knowing that he found love and happiness with his wife Tonks in the final years of his life. That happiness expanded with the birth of their son Teddy, before Lupin and Tonks both perished in the battle. (They should make a TV show or something centered on Teddy Lupin. I bet he turned out awesome.)
If ever there's an example of what goes around comes around, Vincent Crabbe is it. The dim-witted goon tossed around killing curses in his standoff with Harry Potter in the Room of Requirement during the Battle of Hogwarts. That in itself set him up for some major payback, but karma truly took its toll when the fiendfyre he'd set ablaze engulfed him. Sorry, not sorry to see you go, Crabbe.
The house elf was unapologetically unorthodox among his kind, refusing to accept the binds of slavery, and embracing his freedom when he finally got it. He was also willing to face his fear of the Malfoys in the end, by showing up at Malfoy Manor to help Harry and his friends escape the wrath of the Death Eaters. Dobby died a hero, taking a dagger to the chest courtesy of Bellatrix LeStrange. He was buried at Shell Cottage, a free elf.
Few deaths in the Harry Potter series were as glorious as Bellatrix LeStrange's. Voldemort's most faithful supporter did her fair share of carnage throughout the series. Her fatal flaw was trying to kill Ginny Weasley. Had Bellatrix known that Molly Weasley's skill with the wand extended beyond domestic duties, she might've thought twice about taunting the Weasley matriarch. Alas, hell hath no fury like a grieving mother who just saw someone take a shot at another one of her kids. Bellatrix had just a second to realize she'd been stunned to death before she collapsed to the floor. And as a bonus, we got the satisfaction of Voldemort's enraged reaction at the sight of it.
Things got real when Voldemort ordered Peter Pettigrew to "kill the spare" in the cemetery at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Cedric was a decent person, a Hufflepuff who only wanted to bring a bit of victory to his house. He was a casualty of circumstance, but if his death served any purpose, it was to demonstrate Voldemort's complete disregard for human life... and also just how dark things were about to get.
If Cedric Diggory served as an example of a decent --- albeit minor --- who suffered the wrath of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters, then Karkaroff was an example of what happens when you turn your back on those dark wizards. The Durmstrang headmaster's willingness to name names during the trials following the first wizarding war showed everyone that he was a coward and a traitor. After Voldemort returned, Karkaroff went into hiding and was killed about a year later.
Perhaps one of the -- if not the -- coolest Harry Potter characters, Tonks was a skilled and fearless auror, who also earned major points for seeing beyond the werewolf stigma enough to recognize what a good man Remus Lupin was. Tonks' death was one of the saddest things to come out of the Battle of Hogwarts. It's heartbreaking to know she wouldn't be around to see her son grow up, but we're grateful such an awesome character existed.
Few wizards were as tough as Alaster Moody. The esteemed auror lost a leg, an eye, part of his nose, spent nine months in a trunk getting chunks of his hair cut off, and refused to stop fighting the dark arts, right to the end. Moody lost his life during Harry's departure from Privet Drive. He was brave, tough as nails and a bit intimidating, but he was one of the good guys. Constant vigilance, Moody. RIP.
Despite being born to privilege and an old wizarding family, Sirius Black had a rough life. He was raised as an outsider among some viciously intolerant people, lost his best friends to murder, was blamed for it and spent the bulk of his adult life surrounded by dementors in Azkaban. He had a couple of brief years of "freedom," hiding from the ministry and occasionally scrounging for food, only to be blasted through the veil in the Department of Mysteries by his own cousin in Order of the Pheonix. Sirius deserved a much happier life, but tragically never really found it, beyond getting to form a bond with his godson Harry before he died.
Were any of us sad to see Nagini die? Doubtful. Not only because Voldemort's vicious snake had recently killed Severus Snape, but also because Nagini's death proved to be a true display of Neville's bravery and general awesomeness. Moments after standing up to Voldemort and having a burning Sorting Hat thrust upon his head, Neville Longbottom retrieved the sword of Gryffindor and used it to carry out the last order Harry Potter had given him. Kill the snake. Neville did just that, slicing off Nagini's head, and destroying the last remaining horcrux in the process.
Snape had his faults, but in the end, he redeemed himself by dedicating the years following the death of the woman he loved by working to protect Harry Potter and helping Dumbledore defeat Lord Voldemort. It cost him his own life in the end, but not before he used his dying breaths to give up some of his most personal memories, in an effort to help Harry Potter take down the Dark Lord. This war could not have been won without Severus Snape. He died with his eyes locked on Harry's, likely thinking of the woman he had always loved, whose eyes were just like her son's.
Harry Potter ended the Battle of Hogwarts with a bit of logic and a fast hand. Voldemort thought that by killing Severus Snape, he would become the master of the Elder Wand. However, Voldemort didn't know it was Draco who'd disarmed Dumbledore before Severus Snape killed him. Having disarmed Draco earlier in Deathly Hallows, Harry had become the master of the wand. Once again, the killing curse Voldemort attempted to cast at Harry rebounded, and this time, he was dead for good.
Tom Riddle dedicated his life to avoiding death. The lengths he went, and the lives he took in his efforts to achieve immortality truly drive home the overlying message of the Harry Potter series. The value of one's life is not defined by how long that life is, but by the moments that exist between birth and death. In that respect, Voldemort's life was a complete failure.
We left Lavender Brown off the list because I don't think it was ever officially confirmed that she died from her injuries by werewolf Fenrir Greyback during the Battle of Hogwarts. Regardless of whether she lived or died, Lavender's downfall was a brutal price to pay for being an annoying but otherwise innocuous character.
Honorable mentions go out to Barty Crouch'es Jr. and Sr, Quirrell, Ted Tonks, Rufus Scrimgouer, Florean Fortescue and all of the other named characters who died throughout the course of the seven books.
If you're itching to reread Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Amazon has it included in their KindleUnlimited program, or you can purchase it for $8.99. I also highly recommend the audiobook version of Deathly Hallows (and all the Harry Potter books for that matter). If you're a fan of these books and you've never listened to Jim Dale's reading of the series, it's an absolute must.