Although the Boy Who Lived had plenty of reasons to be a testy child, there is no denying that Harry Potter could be a bit of a jerk sometimes. One could argue that every teenager–and every person, for that matter–is a sniveling little twit every once in a while, and most of the times that Potter exhibited jerk-like behavior were due to his adolescence. J.K. Rowling simply demonstrated her incredible talents when she depicted a teen wizard battling both He Who Must Not Be Named and puberty. Part of her successful world-building depended on the accurate portrayal of wizarding youth. Even so, plenty of fans lament having to wade through his angst book after book, particularly as he ages, and there are a select few times when he lay it on pretty thick.
Whether his pouty whining merely made readers grumble with irritation or his cocky behavior and refusal to just listen for once resulted in true bodily harm, here are 15 Times Harry Potter Was Just A Jerk.
15. When He Blew Up Aunt Marge
Everyone has a relative that seems unbearable, making Thanksgiving across the nation one of the most beloved yet dreaded holidays of the year. But most people don’t get to blow their bully aunts or racist uncles up into air-filled human blimps. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry decided that he’d had enough of Large Marge’s drunken rambling about his father being a lazy layabout and comparing his mother to a dog. He used his magic to blow her up into a sloshed, bigoted balloon. As hilarious as her punishment seemed to readers and film viewers alike, altering anyone, magically or not, is not the answer to anyone’s problems. Had Lily Potter been able to raise her son, she certainly would not have approved. While James Potter may have chortled over the incident, he too would have advised his young son to use his words lest he be expelled from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Luckily for Harry, his expulsion from Hogwarts never occurred, thanks to the the Ministry of Magic’s preoccupation with his safety after the escape of Sirius Black. How many other children at Hogwarts could say the same after practicing underage magic?
14. When He Took The Snark Too Far
Most teens give lip to their elders every now and then, but Harry Potter makes smarmy remarks to everyone, including his own best friends. His habit, although a normal one for an adolescent boy, worsens as he becomes a teenager. Fans can only imagine how much more incorrigible he would have been had he been allowed to live with his godfather, the notorious Sirius Black, who was also known for his sharp tongue and rash decision-making skills.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he demanded to know if Ron thought he would be staying at a luxury hotel when Ron complained about his leadership. Harry retorted, “There’s no need to call me sir, professor,” to Snape in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when his teacher corrected him. In all fairness, sometimes people deserved his catty retorts, like in Goblet of Fire when he answered Rita Skeeter’s question, “I wonder if you could give me a quick word?” with a terse, “Yeah, you can have a word. Good bye.”
13. When He Was The Boy Who Lied
Although the monstrous Dolores Umbridge unfairly punishes Harry for telling the truth, calling him a liar and forcing him to torture himself with a bloodletting quill, the fact remains that Harry has told lies that resulted in harm in the past. During Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, his lies could have cost Ginny Weasley her life. He refused to tell Dumbledore about the voices he had been hearing throughout the book, endangering every child (and ghost and cat) who became petrified.
While he clung to his decision for selfish reasons–to simply not look like an insane person– more people continued to get hurt throughout the book. Had Harry spoken up, he could have provided Dumbledore with the knowledge he needed to solve the mystery sooner and prevent further harm from being done. Given that Harry was only 12 years old and did not know Dumbledore nearly as well as he did by the time the wizard died, it is somewhat understandable that he kept his secret.
12. When He Smelled Like Teen Angst
When Harry had to spend the summer with the Dursleys after his fourth year, he became sullen and sulky, acting obnoxiously toward his friends who only wanted to help him. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, he royally chewed Hermione and Ron out, making them feel guilty about protecting him. Harry’s rage was palpable on the page: “So that’s it, is it? Stay there? That’s all anyone could tell me after I got attacked by those dementors too! Just stay put while the grownups sort it out, Harry! We won’t bother telling you anything, though, because your tiny little brain might not be able to cope with it!” Only Ginny Weasley, his future wife, dared to talk back when he insisted that Voldemort was possessing him.
Harry also resented his two best friends for being chosen as school Prefects over him in the book. Later, when Dumbledore reveals that it is because he is, in fact, the Chosen One and has a lot more on his mind than monitoring first years and common room time, he has a “Duh” moment. Harry is redeemed by his loyalty toward his friends, feeling guilty over his resentment and having to suffer through everyone in the wizarding world not believing him regarding Voldemort’s return… but he was still a jerk-face for a bit.
11. When He Was A Green-Eyed Monster
During Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry roared internally like some savage beast every time he saw Ginny hanging out with another guy. Harry even toyed with the idea of maiming his friend and fellow Gryffindor, Dean Thomas, at the sight of the fellow snogging Molly Weasley’s only daughter. “Hot blood seemed to flood his brain,” the text reads, “so that all thought was extinguished, replaced by a savage urge to jinx Dean into a jelly.” Harry also could barely contain his elation at the thought of Ginny breaking up with Dean, much to Hermione’s amusement. Had he really cared for her– especially “like a sister,” as he continually told himself– he would have wanted her happy, even if it was not by his side.
Although lots of fans giggled over these scenes, that doesn’t change the fact that Harry was jealous without even bothering to tell Ginny about his feelings, acting like a big, dumb animal. In his defense, those are just teen hormones at work.
10. When He Was The Worst Date Ever
Ginny was lucky that Harry didn’t return her feelings initially, or else she would have been stuck with him as a bumbling, inconsiderate date during the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire. When Harry took Parvati Patel to the ball, he had absolutely no interest in being a decent date. Not only did he neglect Parvati during the entire ball, but he also spent his time mooning over Cho Chang, the girl he had wanted to attend with in the first place. The one dance he shared with Parvati was a disaster of epic proportions, but much of it was just Harry’s reluctance to be her date.
Even his approach to finding a date was a bit on the jerky side. Ron and Harry doubted their ability to lock in a date for the dance and made a pact to simply find a date sometime by the end of the day, not knowing or caring who their respective dates might be.
9. When He Blamed Draco For Everything
Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy have been mortal enemies since they first laid eyes on each other. If there was ever a character who deserves a list of examples of his jerkiness, it is Draco Malfoy. Even so, there were times when Harry nearly outperformed Malfoy in the cocky and cruel department. During Chamber of Secrets, Harry was so convinced that Malfoy was Slytherin’s heir that he was willing to break dozens of school rules, steal from a teacher, and brew up some Polyjuice Potion with his BFFs, risking all three of their educations in the process.
Although Harry’s suspicions about Malfoy proved to be true in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, his baseless accusations against him in Chamber of Secrets were completely false. His only evidence was his own sheer loathing of the pure-blood wizard, yet he was still hell bent on proving that Malfoy was the villain in question.
8. When He Took Advantage of Hagrid’s Grief
Some might consider Hagrid’s strange, tipsy funeral for Aragog during Half-Blood Prince laughable. Aragog, after all, was an enormous spider who intended to devour both Harry and Ron at one point, so it makes sense that Harry would never be interested in paying the creature his respects. That does not mean, however, that it was okay for him to use Hagrid’s grief about the arachnid’s demise for his own gain. Not only did Harry manipulate Horace Slughorn during the funeral, enticing him with the thought of acquiring some of the creature’s venom, but he also pretended to care about a spider that he was more than happy to see dead.
While Harry was following Dumbledore’s instructions to get a critical memory from Slughorn, he still acted like a jerk to the first friend he had ever made. After everything that Hagrid had done for Harry, it seems like a particularly low blow, especially considering that the half-giant would likely never do something similar to Harry.
7. When He Took Candy From A Longbottom
In the film version of Prisoner of Azkaban, when Harry first sneaks into Hogsmeade he steals Neville Longbottom’s sucker while under the protection of his invisibility cloak. This is such an absolute jerk move for several reasons. Not only was there no call for the gesture, but Neville is the kid at school who has it just as bad, if not worse than, Harry. His caretaker, his cantankerous grandmother, scares the stuffing out of him and his parents may be alive, but they have also sustained such bad brain damage from the first Wizarding War that they are confined to St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. They have no idea Neville is their son and they will never recover. Neville is accident-prone, has low self-esteem, is bullied by Snape, and has no friends to support him during many of the books. Neville is already an easy target, and having Harry literally steal candy from him puts the titular hero at the same level as the mean peers he claims to despise.
Harry swiping Neville’s lollipop is nothing short of nasty and it is also the one thing on the list that does not have a decent excuse behind it, either. There is no reason behind it, it turns Harry into a thief and a bit of a bully for nothing. Harry done this in the book readers would have loudly cried foul.
6. When He Was A Lousy BFF
Harry and Ron are inseparable for the most part, joining at the hip on the Hogwarts Express when they meet in Sorcerer’s Stone and maintaining that friendship presumably to the death. When the going gets tough, the two might duke it out, but they normally stay reasonable about their differences. Still, there was that one time in Deathly Hallows when Ron, completely under no obligation to do so, followed Harry to the ends of the earth while the Chosen One worked on his horcrux-destroying mission and Harry rewarded him with petulance and anger instead of appreciation.
Sure, Ron was a Debbie Downer during the trio’s long, long, long foray into the woods, but he was away from his family and worried for their safety, recovering from a pretty serious wound, and putting all of his trust into a guy who pretty much had no idea what he was doing. Harry could have been a little more sensitive to Ron rather than chasing him away.
5. When He Ditched Buckbeak
Harry let both Hagrid and Hermione down when he failed to assist with Buckbeak’s appeal during Prisoner of Azkaban. Watchers of the film missed out on the scenes in the novel where Hermione tirelessly worked to help Hagrid appeal the ruling for the hippogriff’s death sentence while Ron and Harry did nothing to help. Ron and Hermione might have been wrapped up in a bitter battle because of their pets (perhaps not the best precursor for a happy marriage), but the two still neglected their friend Hagrid and an innocent creature when they were needed most.
While it is true that Ron and Harry would likely have not been as much help as Hermione in terms of research, writing, and interpreting wizarding laws, they could have at least attempted to assist with the creature’s case for the sake of their friends, especially after Harry explicitly promised to help Hagrid in the first place.
4. When He Ignored Common Sense
During Prisoner of Azkaban, while every grown wizard focused on Harry’s safety, Harry scoffed at the danger he was in and ignored every single school rule possible. Remus Lupin, Severus Snape, Rubeus Hagrid and just about everyone else kept warning him about the dangers of Sirius Black, and even if those were unfounded, Harry didn’t know that. Instead, he disregarded the rules and the sacrifices made for him in order to do as he wished, even with the threat of Dementors looming around Hogwarts. Once again, Harry put his own personal agenda ahead of everyone else.
Harry was also a jerk to Hermione yet again in the third book, when she expressed concerns over his mystery broom. While correct about its source but wrong about its benefactor’s intentions, she only had his best interest at heart. Any person, wizard or not, should be wary of a mysterious gift from an unknown source in the first place, especially one as expensive as a Firebolt. Harry should have had the idea to have Professor McGonagall check it himself and not selfishly protested Hermione’s idea.
3. When He Trashed Dumbledore’s Office
Once Harry lost Sirius in Order of the Phoenix, he also lost control, thoroughly destroying Headmaster Albus Dumbledore’s office in the process. As soon as Dumbledore told Harry that he knew how he felt about his loss, Harry went on a berserk childish rampage; trashing Dumbledore’s stuff, throwing a table, and putting every childhood tantrum he’d ever missed into his grief and rage. Dumbledore, at least, responds in calm, paternal fashion, acknowledging that his property is only things and that Harry’s misery is entirely warranted. He also explains that his lack of contact with Harry, part of the fuel behind Harry’s rage, was in order to protect him.
As understandable as the scene is in terms of Harry’s age and suffering, it is also one of the most ironic scenes in the entire series, since not only does Dumbledore know a thing or two about loss, but had Harry listened to him and completed his Occlumency lessons, this loss could have been averted in the first place. Dumbledore also blamed himself for Sirius’s death, but that comes a little later in the list.
2. When He Spied on Snape’s Shame
Peeking through Snape’s worst memories was one of the worst things that Harry has ever done. During Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore orders Harry to take Occlumency lessons with Professor Snape. Both are obviously reluctant to follow the order, but Harry especially fails to really make an effort. When Snape leaves the room for a moment to deal with a Draco Malfoy issue, Harry takes the opportunity to peer into Dumbledore’s Pensieve and, although not meaning to do so, stumbles upon a humiliating memory that Snape has stored there.
Not only does Harry remain in the memory to witness Snape’s complete mortification, but he also witnesses his father and godfather being bigger jerks than he has ever been as they bullied his potions professor. Snape caught him in the act, yanking him out of the Pensieve and sneering, “Amusing man, your father, wasn’t he?” He bellowed for Harry to leave the room, thereby ending their lessons together.
1. When His Attitude Had Deadly Consequences
While Harry did not pull the trigger on his godfather, Sirius Black, he definitely had a hand in his demise. Harry refused to focus on his lessons in Occlumency per Dumbledore’s instructions, which led to Sirius Black’s death. Plenty of people blamed themselves for the ex-con’s death, from Dumbledore himself to Sirius’s cousin Nymphadora Tonks, who had been fighting with Bellatrix Lestrange, Black’s true murderer. While fans maintain that it was Sirius’s choice to fight in the first place, the battle at the Ministry of Magic would never have occurred had Harry simply followed Dumbledore’s orders, learned Occlumency, and saw Voldemort’s “visions” for the manipulation tactics they were.
Harry should have also taken better care of the mirror Sirius gifted him, which would have allowed him to check on his godfather without rashly running off to start a worthless battle in the Ministry that cost the wizard his life. As with every decision that made Harry look like a big jerk, it was made by a scared teenager, not a seasoned diplomat who knows better. Still, not learning Occlumency is probably one of the Chosen One’s biggest regrets.