With the recent release of the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, muggles everywhere have been thrilled to revisit the Wizarding World for this sequel to the original seven books of the series. Part of that is due to the question you ask at the end of most stories: what happened next? (A question we've gone to great lengths to answer.) But another big part of the enthusiasm from fans is the opportunity to step back into this world that so many of them grew up with, or was even the first book series they read.
As readers are introduced to a new generation of witches and wizards in the offspring of Harry, Hermionie, Ron, and Draco, the new kids at Hogwarts will of course be compared to the ones we grew to love nearly two decades ago. People will be looking out for whether Harry or Draco has the more talented kid, but there’s already a pretty clear hierarchy of power in the Wizarding World that all new magic users will be measured against. And if the new blood wants to stack up against the best, they have some pretty big shoes to fill.
Check out our take on the 20 Most Powerful Witches And Wizards In The Wizarding World.
Yes, we're kicking things off with the boy who lived. Harry might be incredibly famous in the Wizarding world, but fame doesn't always equate to power. He makes our list, so he's not exactly some muggle off the street, but the fact of the matter is that there have simply been a lot of people with more ability with a wand than Harry. That doesn't take away from the impressive achievements that get him mentioned here, though.
There's the whole thing about surviving against Voldemort (twice). But more impressive is his bravery and resourcefulness -- he's been facing down Voldemort supporters like Professor Quirrell sunce he was a child. Basically every year he was at Hogwarts, he upped the ante on surviving certain death. Luck played a part, no doubt, but you don't just survive seven straight years of attempts on your life while simultaneously getting passing grades in school without a helping of talent. It was Harry who finally ended Voldemort, and while it wasn't due to raw strength alone, using your wits and some reliable friends is a means to power as well.
Easily the most skilled of the main trio we grow to know over the series actually isn't the famous Harry Potter, but his more ordinary friend Hermione. From her first year at Hogwarts, it was clear she took her schooling very seriously, and that she had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. In the beginning, this just made her the friend other students turned to for help in assignments. But as the years passed, her knowledge helped her excel beyond the concerns of children.
Even as late in the story as the Deathly Hallows, Hermione is shown to be the pragmatic one. While her, Ron, and Harry journey in search of Voldemort's horcruxes, she keeps them safe at night by having the forethought to place protective charms around their camp area. She gives them a base of operations with all the supplies she brought in her magically enlarged bag. She has the knowhow to whip up a polyjuice potion to get them into the Ministry of Magic. And that's just in that one story.
Time and again throughout the series, Hermione has been the one with an answer for nearly every situation. She doesn't have the defensive prowess of Harry, but her intellect has aided her in countless situations where she managed to circumvent fights instead. As they say, knowledge is power, and Hermione makes that abundantly clear.
While the most noteworthy fact about Remus was that he was a werewolf, itself a source of significant strength when the timing for it was on his side, he was no slouch as a wizard either. As the series progressed, we learned that Remus was once part of one of the more gifted groups of friends at Hogwarts during the prior generation when he, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, and James Potter all struck up a bond at school.
Even on his own, Remus proved he was a capable magic user. He had the skill to not only cast spells without speaking, but could even perform them without a wand. Sure, Remus wasn't the type of person who went looking for a fight, so his number of impressive victories is low, but he held his own during multiple battles in the series, and only fell during the climactic war at Hogwarts. And considering that attack included the most powerful Death Eaters alive, as well as Voldemort himself, that's nothing to be ashamed of.
Sirius Black turned out to be nowhere near as dangerous as many people initially believed before the events of the Prisoner of Azkaban. He wasn't a Death Eater, he wasn't the one who betrayed Harry's parents to Voldemort, and he didn't kill any muggles. Oddly enough, if he had been as evil as the public believed for so long, he would rank higher among the most powerful characters. As it is, Sirius was a pretty decent person, but he wasn't without significant power, albeit to a lesser extent.
He was a talented wizard at a young age, and managed to become an animagus while he was still in school. He never defeated or killed any powerful magic users, possibly because he never wanted to, but he was capable of holding his own against strong opponents. In magical duels, he held off powerful Death Eaters like Antonin Dolohov and Bellatrix Lestrange (although the latter did eventually claim his life). Even when not using his magic, he demonstrated a strong resilience against the Dementors based on his ability to escape Azkaban with his sanity relatively intact.
It’s always hard to judge the ability of people who were only around before the main story begins, hence why it doesn't make much sence to include the house founders at Hogwarts. The majority of what we could say about someone like Godric Gryffindor would be speculation, but at least with Harry’s parents we have seen and heard enough details through the accounts of others, memories in the Pensieve, and so forth to piece together some idea of what their ability level was.
The most obvious aspect of Lily’s power is from her final stand against Voldemort, where she protected Harry with her love. Of everyone Voldemort came across and destroyed despite their magical knowledge, maternal love was so powerful that he was nearly killed by it. It also doesn’t hurt that Lily was known to be a top student at Hogwarts and a very talented witch.
James Potter was bit more like Harry though: more of a middling wizard academically, but also talented in his defense against the dark arts skills. One of the biggest feathers in the cap of James Potter is that he was one of the wizards approached by Voldemort to join his Death Eaters. Obviously James refused, but it definitely says something when one of the most powerful wizards alive wants you on his side.
As you would guess by his being appointed the Potions teacher at Hogwarts, Professor Slughorn had a penchant for the subject. If nothing else, he seemed like a more fair, able tutor of the topic than Professor Snape. But probably out of necessity, one of the skills he showed the most aptitude for was mental defenses. In the Half Blood Prince, we learn of the memories Slughorn wants to repress, to the point that he alters his own memories so he won’t have a recollection of what he did to help Tom Riddle before he became Voldemort. It takes Harry the majority of the story to penetrate those defenses and finally learn the truth from Slughorn.
Beyond his defensive capabilities, Horace also demonstrated enough courage and talent to face down the Death Eaters when they invaded Hogwarts. Horace even engaged Voldemort in a showdown during that night, even though he had Professor McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt by his side to help take some of the pressure off.
He’s not the most talked about of Voldemort’s supporters, largely due to being overshadowed by big names like the Malfoys, the Lestranges, and others who have sunk to incredible depths of cruelty. That being said, Antonin Dolohov was a name that popped up again and again during the battles against the supporters of Dumbledore. He was a threat during the climactic moments in Order of the Phoenix, and basically all the way through the series from that point until he was finally beaten by Professor Flitwick in Deathly Hallows.
Regardless, Dolohov was in Azkaban for a reason. He took part in the deaths of multiple wizards before the events of the start of the series, and continued to do damage once he was free again. Probably his most significant contribution to the story, and his most heinous crime, took place during the battle of Hogwarts where he killed the beloved Remus Lupin.
The most significant testament to the power of Amelia Bones came on the day that she was killed. Voldemort himself did the honors, but this turned out to be a bit more of a fight than he anticipated (according to accounts of the incident). It’s unknown exactly what transpired since anyone who took part in the fight is now gone, but if the rumors of Amelia’s resistance are true, it definitely takes a lot of skill to be able to stand up against the most feared dark wizard of all time.
Even outside out her confrontations with dark wizards, her status as a witch was a clear indicator of the power she was trusted with. Before her death, she was the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. She also had affiliations with the Order of the Phoenix, leading to some of the members referring to her as one of the best witches of her generation. Of course, everyone is spoken highly of after they're gone, so it’s hard to tell how much of that is just talk, but she undoubtedly had the respect of many witches and wizards.
With Corneilus Fudge in the position of Minister for Magic for much of the series, you might assume people in that position aren’t the bravest of sorts. Throughout his time in office, Fudge demonstrated an attitude more of damage control for his own reputation than the characteristics of a strong leader. And while Rufus Scrimgeour wasn’t exactly selfless in his own ambitions, he proved to be quite a change of pace from his meeker predecessor.
Scrimgeour was used to being the hands-on sort, having prior experience as an Auror, and even rising to become the Head of the Aurors as his career advanced. In leadership, there is always doubts of ulterior motives behind someone getting their position, but it's an indisputable fact that Rufus was definitely someone who caught a lot of dark wizards. His skill wasn’t as highly spoken of as someone like Alastor Moody, but he was still undeniably proficient. And when he came face to face with Voldemort, Rufus even had the toughness to not aid his enemy despite being under torture before he was eventually being put to death.
On first impression in The Sorcerer’s Stone, Neville Longbottom comes across as a bumbling, insecure wizard with a lack of talent. But as the series goes on, we see his bravery surface more and more in times of need, and we learn he’s not the coddled kid that he appears. In fact, he has great reason to be brave with what he has to cope with in his home life. That of course being his two parents, who were driven insane by dark wizards while performing their duty as Aurors. And while taking care of his own parents has taught him to be tough, another factor is the legacy his parents left as excellent Aurors.
Frank and Alice Longbottom stood against Voldemort on multiple occasions and were known to be highly talented. Throughout his time at Hogwarts, Neville has numerous people approach him to speak of the bravery of his parents. If they hadn’t been driven insane by Bellatrix Lestrange and her fellow dark wizards, there’s no doubt the Longbottoms would have played a big part in the climactic battle against the Death Eaters at Hogwarts.
At first glance, Professor Flitwick does not look like anyone to be intimidated by. In terms of stature, the majority of the students at Hogwarts are taller than Flitwick, who is said to be short due to having goblin blood. Fortunately, in the Wizarding world, conflicts are not as often resolved through brute strength, but by magical ability. And it just so happens that Filius Flitwick was an exceptionally talented magic user.
As any Harry Potter fan knows, he was the Charms teacher at Hogwarts and possessed an incredible knowledge of the subject. But even more impressive, he was quite capable of holding his own in a duel, and actually made his name as a famous duelist. You don't even have to take the word of history for it, because in the Deathly Hallows, we witnessed him take down numerous Death Eaters, including the powerful dark magic user Antonin Dolohov.
We've had one Minister for Magic on the list already, and not to take anything away from Scrimgeour, but a wizard who survives his encounter with Voldemort has to rank a bit higher than one who was killed. And Shacklebolt had the distinction of crossing wands with Voldemort not once but twice, and he still manages to live to tell the tale. That’s certainly an impressive feat for any opponent of the Dark Lord.
He obviously never defeated Voldemort or any of his biggest followers, but he did manage to take down numerous Death Eaters. He was involved in the biggest battles towards the end of the series and managed to escape unscathed despite tangling with the likes of Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort himself. Shacklebolt might not have been able to beat them, but he survived. And we’ve seen from Harry how remarkable it is to survive against a powerful dark wizard.
Since the heroes prevailed in the end, obviously many of them are going to occupy a lot of the choice spots on this list. But you can’t discount the work of the Death Eaters for managing to remain a threat for so long, and for doing so much damage in the time that they were in power. We’ve already mentioned heroes who were offered the opportunity to become dark magic users, but then it’s also interesting to wonder about how much of a force for good some Death Eaters could have been had they made different choices.
Barty Crouch Junior is a prime example of that latter category. His loyalty to Voldemort made him one of the strongest Death Eaters the Dark Lord had at his disposal. Once he finally slipped from his father’s control and was allowed to do the work of Voldemort, not only did he manage to outmatch Alastor Moody with the help of Peter Pettigrew, but he masqueraded as the renowned Auror for nearly an entire school year. That includes fooling some of the wisest magic users from the three wizarding schools who were gathered at Hogwarts at the time. His magical ability was such a good imitation of Moody’s that for the longest time, no one noticed the swap. Of all the ways Voldemort’s forces infiltrated the school, Barty Crouch Junior might have done the most damage of them all, especially since his work led to the death of Cedric Diggory, and the rejuvenation of Voldemort.
If a tyrant is capable of sharing power, then Bellatrix Lestrange would be one of the most powerful Death Eaters Voldemort had at his command. Many of Voldemort's followers, like the Malfoy family, are shown obeying him out of fear more than respect. Bellatrix doesn't seem to have any such hang-ups. She not only obeys her master without any hesitation, but carries out his darkest tasks with apparent glee.
Bellatrix killed one of the other entrants on this list, Sirius Black. She tortured Neville Longbottom's parents to the point of insanity. And she was even prepared to slay the Weasley family before Molly Weasley stepped up to protect her children. Some might ask why Molly is not on the list, seeing as she ended up killing Lestrange, but it seems safe to say that Bellatrix's defeat was (to a significant degree) just a case of underestimating her opponent and letting her guard down. Even the mighty can succumb to arrogance.
Poor “Mad Eye” Moody. He's first introduced into the story and gets a ton of screen time in the Goblet of Fire, but then it turns out that was just a polyjuiced Barty Crouch Junior. Just as we're finally getting used to seeing Moody perform his duties as an Auror, he gets struck down at the beginning of the Deathly Hallows by Voldemort. And yet, if the residents of the Wizarding World are to be believed, Mad Eye Moody was probably the most powerful Auror who ever lived.
It's unfortunate that we don't get to see much of Moody's prowess during the events that happen surrounding Harry, but this is a case where the history is not so unclear. Anyone who talks about Moody is quick to comment about the many Death Eaters he captured, to the point that half of Azkaban was supposedly filled up thanks to him. And if nothing else, his injuries certainly tell the tale of his battles. Even with one eye, one leg, and after being imprisoned for most of a year by Barty Crouch Junior, “Mad Eye” still struck fear into Voldemort's forces when they knew he was around.
After Dumbledore was killed, it was really no surprise that Professor McGonagall stepped up to become the new headmistress of Hogwarts. Of all the professors, she was the one who exuded the best combination of power and heart. It was always clear she would make a capable leader if need be, and that the students respected her (and maybe feared her a bit too).
Like many of the residents of Hogwarts, her true power was put to the test during the Second Wizarding War, when Voldemort led his attack on the school of Hogwarts. During the battle, McGonagall was one of the few who managed to hold her own against Voldemort. Sure, she didn't defeat him, but seeing how many wound up dead at his hands, facing the Dark Lord and living to tell the tale is no small accomplishment. She was a leader during that period, and she led many students to safety.
People are conflicted on a lot of things when it comes to Snape. Was he a good guy in the end, or did his sins outweigh his good deeds? He undeniably looks petty in his relentless bullying of Harry and the other Gryffindors throughout the series, but Snape certainly knew his stuff. He was an excellent potions master, repeatedly proved his prowess with a wand when it came time for the spells to fly, and he demonstrated a lot of willpower in obeying Dumbledore's request for him to be a double agent.
Snape's loyalty was so great, that whether he wanted it or not, he possessed the distinction of being the wizard who killed the mighty Dumbledore. That alone would be huge in elevating his status among the Wizarding World. A little too great, actually. Voldemort falsely believed that feat had granted Snape control of the Elder Wand, so he unleashed Nagini to end that ownership. But his death helped Harry, and us fans, understand the other strength that drove Snape and kept his allegiance pure—his love for Lily Potter.
Before there was Lord Voldemort, there was Gellert Grindelwald. It's widely acknowledged in the Wizarding World that Grindelwald is one of the most powerful dark wizards to have ever lived, and that the only reason he might not be considered the most powerful is because of Voldemort himself. Still, Gellert's placement on this list is quite debatable since he never actually got a fair fight against Voldemort, instead being killed by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named when he was unarmed and in prison.
We know Dumbledore was the more powerful of the two from the way he bested Grindelwald in a duel for the Elder Wand. What's more surprising is that we also learned of the horrific ideals of Grindelwald, ideals that Dumbledore not only agreed with to an extent, but even led to Albus falling in love with him. Grindelwald didn't want the Wizarding World to have to hide from muggles. He believed power was something to be flaunted, and he did so repeatedly by defeating and killing those who opposed him and tried to preserve the secrecy of witches and wizards.
There is an argument to be made that Tom Marvolo Riddle, aka He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, aka Lord Voldemort, should own the top spot on this list. And while interpretations will certainly vary, number two is not too shabby, either. The guy was so terrifying that for decades, people were afraid to even whisper his name. The atrocities he committed and the fear he had instilled was unparalleled, and it's no exaggeration to say that he was essentially the Hitler of the wizarding world. He was not a good person by any means, but with power like that, it's easy to understand why he amassed so many followers.
Of course, the greatest irony in the series is that this big bad sorcerer was brought low by no more than a baby protected by his mother's love. That was a big blow to the ego of the dark wizard, but he demonstrated some enormously strong willpower in addition to his incredible spell power by refusing to settle into his weakened state. With the help of his loyal followers and the little power he still had, he rejuvenated himself into his full glory, and very nearly conquered the wizarding world once again. Voldemort likely would have succeeded if not for the last entrant on this list, and the pupil that man inspired.
And to the surprise of no one, the headmaster of Hogwarts rounds out the most powerful characters in the Wizarding world at number one! You knew he was going to be on here, and you probably saw this top ranking a mile away, but this one is just unavoidable. The closest contender for the spot was of course Voldemort, but since a constant theme of the books and movies is the triumph of love over hatred and darkness, Dumbledore winds up with the edge since he continually represents those positive qualities.
But even before he became headmaster, Dumbledore exuded those traits quite readily, along with an aura of power that made him feared by Death Eaters and dark magic users in all corners of the world, even Voldemort himself. In fact, the only way that Dumbledore was even defeated was by his own self-sacrificing hand. He bested his friend, the enormously powered Grindelwald, and he held his own against Voldemort during their every encounter. Among all the Wizarding World, we can’t think of anyone who's been shown to be more powerful. That said, this list might need to be quite a bit longer when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them comes out later this year, so be sure to check back with our rankings then!
Do you have a different opinion on how powerful some of these witches and wizards are? Put your Harry Potter knowledge to good use by sharing your thoughts in the comments!