The Harry Potter movies were a key part of many people’s childhoods. People became enchanted by the story of the teenager who attends Hogwarts, learns magic, and manages to defeat the biggest of bad guys in the form of Lord Voldemort. While the films somewhat skimmed over elements of the books, they did a brilliant job at bringing J.K. Rowling’s tale to life on the big screen.
So good were the movies, that some characters were even enhanced by their time on the big screen more so than in the actual source material. Here are 10 characters we believe were better on camera than they were on the page. Of course, we’ll be explaining our decisions as we go along.
10 The Fat Lady
While the Fat Lady has a very little role in the Harry Potter movies, she was still a character who made audiences laugh. She comes across as stony-faced when we meet her in the Sorcerer’s Stone; however, The Vicar of Dibley's Dawn French won the role for the Prisoner of Azkaban and instantly made the Fat Lady far more memorable.
In the books, she often quips with the boys but French gives the character a new dimension. She’s amusing when she sings to ‘smash’ the cup in her hand and she nails the emotional trauma experienced by the character when Sirius Black slashes her portrait and attempts to gain entry to Gryffindor tower. It’s a shame, though, that we didn’t see more of her as the series went on.
9 Amos Diggory
In the books, Amos Diggory comes across as a somewhat pompous individual, one who dotes on his darling son Cedric and becomes intolerable when he fails to give credit to any of the other Triwizard Tournament contestants during the Goblet of Fire. Only when his son tragically passes away at the hands of Lord Voldemort do readers ever feel a sense of sympathy for the character.
But in the movies, Amos comes across as a likable man. He loves his son dearly and audiences feel genuine, gut-wrenching sadness when he screams into the night after Harry returns from his showdown with Voldemort holding Cedric’s body. We never see the character again but he’s definitely more likable on the big screen than he is in the books.
8 Argus Filch
Argus Filch in the books rarely prompts feelings of amusement or humor. He’s a nasty, bitter old man who clearly resents the students of Hogwarts due to his own inability to conquer the art of using magic. But in the movies, he becomes a comedic figure, who the bigwigs at Warner Brothers definitely dumbed down as a result.
And it works, too! Filch is responsible for some of the funnier moments during the darker films of the franchise. Who can forget both his boil-ridden face and bizarre running style in the Order of the Phoenix and Goblet of Fire respectively? The fact he comes across as softer in the movies than the books, while a tad out of character, is something that ultimately enhances him.
7 Remus Lupin
Don’t get us wrong: We’re big fans of Remus Lupin in the books and were crushed when he meets his end during the battle of Hogwarts during Deathly Hallows. However, in the final book of the series, he changes. He becomes selfish, confrontational, and downright out of line as the pressures of bringing up a child amid a huge wizarding war begin to suffocate him.
However, thankfully we never see Lupin’s personality change on the big screen. He’s nice to Harry at all times and Warner Brothers chose to completely omit the majority of his relationship with Nymphadora Tonks and their decision to have a child. This works for the better because Remus’ transformation in Deathly Hallows always felt a little off for a character who was consistently good throughout the years.
6 Bellatrix Lestrange
Again, Bellatrix was a character who was truly brilliant in both the Harry Potter books and movies. She’s horrific in both, performing acts of malice with consummate ease, unflinchingly following every command that Lord Voldemort gives her and taking great pleasure in the pain and suffering of her enemies. But, because of Helena Bonham Carter, she’s even better on the big screen.
The actress is known for her quirky look and personality in real life and these two traits are perfect for Bellatrix. She comes across as even more unhinged than in the books, with her wild appearance showing audiences she isn’t to be trifled with. Our one complaint is that her death at the hands of Molly Weasley doesn’t feel as big of a deal in the movies as in the source material.
5 Gilderoy Lockhart
We didn’t think anybody would be able to top the book version of Gilderoy Lockhart, the charismatic yet fraudulent Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher who replaces Professor Quirrell in the role during the second book and movie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Then, Kenneth Branagh came along.
They nail everything about the character but the reason he’s better in the movies is that his stupidity is made far, far more obvious. The way he looks ruffled as Cornish Pixies wreak havoc in his classroom shows his ineptitude, while he also looks a downright idiot when Professor Snape disarms him in front of the entire dueling club. Both of these things happen in the books but they’re significantly enhanced for the movies. And we certainly love it.
4 Draco Malfoy
Draco Malfoy is, for the most part, equally captivating in the source material and the movies. The reason he makes this list is because of the Half-Blood Prince, where Malfoy undergoes a transformation and begins working for Lord Voldemort to plot a means of murdering Albus Dumbledore.
In the books, we see everything from Harry’s perspective, with the Boy Who Lived noticing several changes in his old rival. In the movies, Tom Felton really nails the sense of hopelessness and inner conflict the character possesses. This is made clear through shots where he’s both in the background and center stage, meaning Malfoy gets the sympathy he well and truly deserves. In the source material, we really don’t feel that way; if anything, because of Draco's behavior in previous years, he deserves it.
3 Horace Slughorn
The release of 2009's Half-Blood Prince saw Jim Broadbent cast as Professor Horace Slughorn, who returns to Hogwarts in order to reprise his role as Potions Master. Albus Dumbledore has another reason for his old friend coming back, though. The headmaster charges Potter with extracting an old, gut-wrenching memory that the Potions guru has long tried to bury in the back of his mind.
Slughorn in the books is egocentric and self-indulgent but none of this is ever touched on by the movie, making him come across as a substantially more likable character as a result. This means we feel sympathy towards him when he gives up the memory and his warmth is apparent as he aids Harry and the rest of Hogwarts in their final fight against Lord Voldemort in Deathly Hallows - Part 2.
2 Sybill Trelawney
The reason we love Sybill Trelawney more in the Harry Potter movies than the actual source material is simple: Emma Thompson. The Nanny McPhee, Men in Black: International, and Love Actually actress absolutely nails the eccentricity of the character and does a brilliant job of bringing her to life on the big screen.
In the books, Trelawney is weird but rather unlikable due to the fact she often picks on Harry Potter and clashes regularly with Hermione Granger during the Prisoner of Azkaban. But it’s different in the films, with the character displaying none of her combative characteristics and appearing funny and good-intentioned. We feel especially sorry for her when Dolores Umbridge tries to get her booted out of Hogwarts. Our one albeit minor complaint is we never saw her throwing crystal balls at Death Eaters during the showdown against Voldemort in Deathly Hallows - Part 2.
1 Dolores Umbridge
Dolores Umbridge is truly horrifying in the books. She takes control of Hogwarts and subjects the students to various rules as her and the Ministry of Magic try and take control. While she's a real villain, Imelda Staunton's portrayal means that, on the big screen, she's even nastier.
Staunton shows how much Umbridge likes being bad. We see for ourselves how much pleasure she takes in boring the students during class, throwing Sybill Trelawney out of the school, torturing Harry Potter and other members of Dumbledore's Army, and also insulting centaurs in the Forbidden Forest. We also see in Deathly Hallows - Part 2 that she laps up the suffering of muggles and we feel genuine happiness when Harry knocks her out during a tense scene in the Ministry headquarters.