The Harry Potter movies concluded back in 2011, bringing an eight-film adventure to an end with Deathly Hallows: Part 2. In the years since they’ve been widely regarded as a series that grew increasingly dark as the story progressed amid Lord Voldemort’s quest to take over the wizarding world and stop Harry Potter from preventing him from doing so.
With that in mind, we now take a look back at every blockbuster the franchise released, picking out the darkest moment from every movie and explaining our choices.
8 Sorcerer’s Stone: The Two Faces Of Evil
Harry Potter’s time at Hogwarts begins during the Sorcerer’s Stone book and movie. And if you think he’d spend his first year at the institution keeping his head down and focusing on work then you’re sorely mistaken. The Boy Who Lived instead spent much of his time focusing on acquiring the Sorcerer’s Stone.
The darkest moment comes at the end of the movie, where it’s revealed that Professor Quirrell, rather than Severus Snape, is the one helping Lord Voldemort. He hauntingly undoes his turban to reveal the face of his master at the back of his head, giving countless children nightmares across the globe. It was also proof that those Harry trusts don’t always warrant it...
7 Chamber of Secrets: Ginny Weasley Nearly Dying
We’d met Ginny Weasley in the Sorcerer’s Stone but, in the Chamber of Secrets, she starts at Hogwarts herself. And, like Harry, her first year doesn’t go to plan with the youngest of the Weasley clan instead assisting Voldemort in attacking muggle-horns within the school, albeit inadvertently.
It’s something that nearly costs her life with Voldemort, in his previous form of Tom Riddle, draining her life in order to return to full power. The sight of her small body lying motionless is enough to make audiences feel terror at the prospect of losing her but Harry, with a little help from Fawkes the Phoenix, is able to come to her rescue at the last minute.
6 Prisoner of Azkaban: The Dementors Attack
Harry spends the bulk of the Prisoner of Azkaban desperately trying to find a way to prevent Dementors, the guards of the wizard problem, from effecting him so badly. The Boy Who Lived faints on the Hogwarts Express when they get up close to him, hearing the screams of his dying mother in the process.
And at the end of the movie, Harry, and godfather Sirius Black are subjected to a powerful attack. Dementors attack the duo in their droves, attempting to suck out the souls of both men and render them nothing more than a barely living shell. Fortunately, the time-turner allows a future version of Harry to rescue both himself and Sirius from such a horrible fate. But, nonetheless, it’s an act of utter cruelty from the Azkaban guards.
5 Goblet of Fire: Cedric Dying
Prior to the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the series had been relatively devoid of death. We’d seen a flashback of Lord Voldemort slaying Lily Potter in Godric’s Hollow and witnessed Professor Quirrell crumble to ash when she tries to steal the Sorcerer’s Stone but, by and large, things had stayed relatively light.
But the fourth movie changes that all. Audiences watch on in horror as the lovely Cedric Diggory is needlessly murdered by Peter Pettigrew in the graveyard of Little Hangleton. To make matters worse his father wails into the night when his son’s body returns to Hogwarts, rendering viewers an emotional wreck in the process.
4 Order of the Phoenix: Umbridge Punishments
We nearly went with the death of Sirius Black but Harry Potter’s godfather dies in battle, with his head held high, rescuing the boy he loves. There’s no shame in that and while it’s emotional it’s what happens in war. Sirius dies the death he would have wanted, doing the right thing as he did for all his life.
So that means Professor Dolores Umbridge's cruel punishments make the list instead. The Hogwarts headmaster is barbaric in the way she inflicts such bloody and ruthless sanctions on the students of the school, taking great pleasure in the pain Harry experiences when he cuts his own hand clean open. Given she’s in such a position of authority, it makes it the darkest moment of the movie. Teachers and authoritative figures, in general, shouldn’t act in such a way.
3 Half-Blood Prince: Sectumsempra
Despite facing death on many occasions, Harry never embraces a battle looking to inflict pain on opponents. Even when going up against Lord Voldemort in the Goblet of Fire he duels to disarm and when Bellatrix Lestrange murders Sirius Black in the sequel he performs an Unforgiveable Curse without any conviction whatsoever.
But the Half-Blood Prince movie - one devoid of virtually any scenes of sunshine at all - shows Harry getting it wrong. The bleakest scene is when he uses the ‘Sectumsempra’ spell on Draco Malfoy, seeing blood pour from his enemy and nearly killing him. It is the first, and only, moment we see Harry come close to murdering anyone.
2 Deathly Hallows Part 1: Hermione Tortured
The wizarding world is an extremely dark and dangerous place to be during the first Deathly Hallows movie, with Lord Voldemort on top and his enemies faltering in the line of fire. Amid the situation, there were always going to be some brutal scenes and top of the list is when Bellatrix Lestrange tortures Hermione Granger.
Voldemort’s most-devoted Death Eater carves the word ‘Mudblood’ into Hermione as she attempts to find out how they have Godric Gryffindor’s sword. It’s similar to what Dolores Umbridge does to Harry during the Order of the Phoenix with the blatant evil on show unsettling for some viewers. If it wasn’t for the intervention of Dobby the House Elf, Hermione would most likely have been killed.
1 Deathly Hallows Part 2: Greyback Eating People
Like the previous movie, the second part of Deathly Hallows was destined to be dark. It’s the moment where Harry Potter makes his final stand, battling Lord Voldemort with casualties falling all around Hogwarts and two sides of the wizarding world meeting in one, final, conclusive battle.
There are some harrowing scenes, whether it be the sight of the fallen soldiers in the Great Hall, the backstory of Severus Snape and even the death of Lord Voldemort himself. But making the cut, by a mile, is the scene of werewolf Fenrir Greyback feasting on the corpse of Lavender Brown. Even for a movie with as high stakes of this, it’s unsettling to see him biting the Hogwarts pupil while her eyes stare blankly and was a moment that showed the sheer evil of the Death Eaters.