Many of the students and professors who have walked the halls of Hogwarts were beloved characters from the first Harry Potter book, but J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World expanded widely over six more books and a play. The world continues to expand in the Fantastic Beasts movies. A wide variety of characters, both loved and hated, have entered the series, leaving their mark on the story for better or worse.
Professors, students, Aurors, Death Eaters, villains, and magical creatures came into Harry Potter and Newt Scamander's lives. Many of these characters made indelible changes to the story, bringing new levels of suspense or meaning to the events of the Wizarding World. However, other characters were underused or misused, and their part in the story felt pointless. A few of them even undermined the profound discussions Rowling had already weaved into her plots.
Background characters like Luna Lovegood, Jacob Kowalski, Cho Chang, and Queenie Goldstein each played their distinct roles, but not all of them were good. The entrance of Gellert Grindelwald, Aurelius Dumbledore, and Newt Scamander into the plot changed the course of the Wizarding World, but how much did they really help the grand story of the Wizarding World?
Here are the 10 Characters Additions That Hurt The Potterverse (And 10 That Saved it).
20 Hurt: Leta Lestrange
Leta Lestrange was in the Fantastic Beasts movie, but that's about all you could say about her. She was built up over two movies only to be criminally underused, as she ended up sacrificing herself to buy everyone another minute to get away from Grindelwald. She spent the entire movie telling people that Credence was not her long-lost brother, and he was not. Her involvement in any part of that story was a giant red herring.
Her tragic backstory revealed her only real influence on the plot -- the fact that she accidentally switched her brother with a baby who turned out be Aurelius Dumbledore. Even then, it was only happenstance that Aurelius survived while her brother did not. Leta was only a tool to create tension between Newt, his brother, and Tina, and after she served that purpose, she was immediately fridged.
19 Saved: Newt Scamander
Newt Scamander was the unconventional protagonist that the Harry Potter franchise needed to shake things up. His story is as different from Harry's as possible, and it made for a refreshing change of pace. Far from being a Chosen One, Newt sets himself against Grindelwald entirely by accident while searching for his lost creatures and trying to help an Obscurial.
Still, he embraced his role and did everything within his power to protect Credence, even when it involved him in a brewing war. His tactics are unexpected compared to every other character's. He leverages his knowledge and kinship with magical creatures to achieve his goals, such as subduing Grindelwald with a Swooping Evil. Newt provides variety in a series that has otherwise become often repetitive.
18 Hurt: Delphini
Delphina was introduced in the controversial theater addition to canon, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as the child of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange. Delphini's existence confirmed the relationship that absolutely no one wanted and far too many people have uncomfortable questions about.
Voldemort's plan to have a child did not make sense with his obsession with personal immortality, and it's a stretch to think that he would sign up for a child as a backup plan. Delphini wasn't even effective as a villain. Most of her influence on the plot was indirect, merely convincing or Confunding people to get them to do things they already wanted to do. She was nothing more than a pathetic imitation of her truly formidable parents. She was forced into the story to provide a convenient antagonist.
17 Saved: Luna Lovegood
Luna Lovegood was the friend Harry needed when everything else spun out of control. In the later books, Ron and Hermione were often little help to him because of their own interpersonal drama. One of them was not talking to the other almost always. Throughout that time, Luna was a constant who could give Harry a reprieve from conflict even in his worst turmoil.
No matter what happened in his life, Luna never treated him any differently. She always showed up for a fight with Voldemort, and during peaceful times, she pursued her own interests that turned out to be useful for Harry on more than one occasion. She had a unique perspective and rare knowledge that she could leverage to provide outside-the-box solutions for Harry's problems. Luna was unapologetically true to herself, and that ended up being very valuable.
16 Hurt: The Giants
The Harry Potter series weaved in heavy discussions of racism and prejudice in the many forms it takes. The Wizarding World discriminated against muggle-borns, half-bloods, werewolves, centaurs, elves, and giants, just to name a few. In many cases, these stereotyped beliefs are confronted and subverted -- except in the case of the giants.
Hagrid and Madam Maxime are shown to be lovable, average people who happen to have half-giant heritage. However, when they went to meet the full-blooded giants, the giants are still treated as violent, unintelligent stereotypes. Even by Hagrid, they were spoken of as if they were simple-minded and animalistic. The portrayal of the giants undermines so much of Rowling's messaging about the Wizarding World's problems with discrimination.
15 Saved: Bellatrix Lestrange
Bellatrix Lestrange was a ruthless force of nature, and she was perfect for Voldemort's right hand. Voldemort planned out the long game, but Bellatrix was the one no one wanted to tangle with in a battle. Her unstable and unpredictable behavior combined with considerable magical ability made her nearly unbeatable in a fight.
Her unflinching loyalty to Voldemort ensured she would always work toward his overarching goals, but every decision she made beyond that was completely subject to her own horrifying whims. In the midst of other villains with complicated motivations, Bellatrix was a simple and pure evil who would take out her enemies without a second of hesitation. She gave Voldemort's far-off plans a more immediate and ever-present threat.
14 Hurt: Cho Chang
Cho Chang was less of a full-fledged character and more of a convenient love interest to create dramatic tension. Harry developed a crush on her based on nothing but her beauty, and his crush set him against Cedric Diggory when Cedric beat him to asking out Cho. After she loses her boyfriend at the hands of Voldemort, she decides to date Harry while she is still processing her grief and does little except bring up Cedric and burst into tears.
Her grief is natural, but it became her only character trait. She even indirectly causes the downfall of Dumbledore's Army and the rise of Umbridge because of her poor judgment in brining Marietta to the DA meetings, but she saw nothing wrong with Marietta's betrayal. Cho Chang deserved to be more than the stereotyped overemotional girlfriend who cannot see reason.
13 Saved: Dobby
Dobby made everyone love him the second he appeared in the story. Dobby was a pure force of good, if a sometimes misguided force who tried to harm Harry just enough to get him sent home. Harry never had a more loyal friend than Dobby. He was always willing to come to Harry's aid with elf magic, overheard knowledge, and the willingness to maim or seriously injure.
He had an inspirational character arc that his last battle brought to a close. Dobby grew from a submissive elf scared to speak against the Malfoys to a free elf ready to defy the Malfoys to their faces. Dobby's demise at the hands of Bellatrix may have been the most heart-wrenching moment of the entire series, which says a lot about how beloved Dobby was.
12 Hurt: Mundungus Fletcher
It's hard to say why the members of the Order of the Phoenix kept putting their trust in Mundungus Fletcher. Time and again, he proved that he could not handle the simplest tasks they asked him to do. Yet, time and again, he was invited back. He was in the Order because he was loyal to Dumbledore and knew the criminal underworld, which seems like a pretty low bar.
He left Harry unguarded long enough for him to be attacked by Dementors. He ditched Mad-Eye Moody in the middle of a battle, which allowed a fatal attack on Moody. He even stole Sirius Black's possessions, including a Horcrux, while he was at the Order's headquarters. Mundungus was occasionally useful, but his involvement in almost every task with the Order made all of the other members seem like terrible judges of character.
11 Saved: Jacob Kowalski
For a series where all of the characters have to deal with muggles all of the time, Harry Potter never did include many muggles, especially not in the main cast. Fantastic Beasts changed this up with Jacob Kowalski, a No-Maj who stumbles into Newt's search for his lost magical creatures and gets pulled into the cataclysmic wizarding conflict with Grindelwald.
Jacob provided the perspective of a muggle within the story. Such a large portion of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts involves wizarding relations with the muggle world, but Jacob was the first main character to show a different side of that relationship. He was also involved in the first on-screen budding romance between a muggle and a witch, which was long overdue since Harry Potter's entire conflict centered on blood purity.
10 Hurt: Yusuf Kama
Yusuf Kama was yet another interesting proposition that went nowhere. Yusuf prompted the first discussion of pureblood magical families from Africa, an opening to introduce more knowledge of wizarding communities scattered throughout the world. Instead, though, all of his time was wasted with his red herring subplot to take the life of Corvus Lestrange, who he presumed to be Credence.
Yusuf was there to tell his tragic backstory and throw up obstacles to delay Newt and Tina from getting to Credence in time. The Unbreakable Vow also made it difficult to sympathize with Yusuf and his father, as they decided to take the life of a child for revenge on the child's father. Perhaps later movies will give Yusuf a better role to play.
9 Saved: Remus Lupin
Remus Lupin was the moral nexus of every group he was involved in. He saw the good in everyone and reminded others of it. When Harry learned of his father's bullying, Remus reminded Harry that James grew into a braver, kinder person before the end. In the midst of Snape's worst scheming, Remus reminded Harry that Snape had helped manage his lycanthropy when he did not have to.
Remus faced hate and discrimination his entire life because he was a werewolf, and he refused to see anyone else as the sum of their worst qualities. His understanding balanced out other characters' tendency to jump to moral absolutes. Remus constantly guided Harry to see the humanity of others, a perspective Harry needed among the many imperfect but well-intentioned people in his life.
8 Hurt: Bunty
Bunty belongs to an unfortunately common class of female characters whose only purpose is to assist the male lead while staring at him lovingly. Her introduction into the story was presumably included to explain to fans how Newt manages to take care of the ever-increasing number of magical creatures he collects, just in case anyone was worried that the baby Nifflers would not be properly cared for while Newt was busy in Paris.
The idea of Newt having an assistant is logical, of course, but he did not need to have an assistant who was obsessed with him. Everyone knows Newt is lovable. Everyone also knows he eventually marries Tina. Newt shows nothing but polite professional feelings toward Bunty, so Bunty could just as easily be an assistant with entirely professional feelings of loyalty and respect for her employer.
7 Saved: Tina Goldstein
Tina Goldstein was a well-balanced counterpoint to Newt Scamander. Newt is a roaming free spirit who, however good-natured his intent may be, has a tendency to leave chaos in his wake. Tina balances him out with her passion and singular focus on the biggest crisis at hand and her ability to navigate the rules to keep herself and Newt out of trouble.
She is always a driving force within the plot. Her fierce protection of Credence Barebone allowed her and Newt to come close to saving the Obscurial from multiple parties with malicious intent. She continued her search for Credence in Paris, never giving up on him. Tina is invaluable as an investigator, a fighter, and ally for Newt.
6 Hurt: Nagini
In Harry Potter, Nagini was Voldemort's closest companion and last Horcrux, but Fantastic Beasts introduced her as a human maledictus cursed to turn into a snake. Nagini has potential as a human character. Fantastic Beasts may eventually explore the events that led her to become the loyal ally of a leader like Voldemort when she showed no love for Grindelwald, and her currently ability to turn into a snake at will could certainly be useful.
Unfortunately, though, the series has done none of those things so far. After Nagini was introduced, she simply followed Credence around the city and gave him pep talks about finding his true identity. Nagini's role may improve in further movies, but thus far the story has wasted a promising character.
5 Saved: Kreacher
Kreacher was a hateable figure when he was first introduced. He hated Sirius Black, even though he was beholden to serve him, and he betrayed Sirius to Bellatrix and Narcissa. Kreacher's betrayal was largely responsible for the demise of Sirius at the hands of Bellatrix. As the books progressed, though, Kreacher's marked character development was a profound subplot.
Sirius had treated Kreacher with disdain, as if he were less than a servant. Harry Potter did not ignore the uncomfortable realization that Sirius' cruelty toward Kreacher was not right, no matter how beloved Sirius was. When Harry treated Kreacher with kindness and understanding, he became as loyal a servant as Dobby had been, even assisting in the Battle of Hogwarts. Kreacher's subplot made Harry face the imperfections of those he loved and the effects of normalized oppression and cruelty.
4 Hurt: Queenie Goldstein
Queenie Goldstein was the first character the series introduced as a natural Legilimens, as she was talented at reading other's thoughts and feelings without purposeful effort. Despite her significant magical abilities, though, her legilimency helped very little at any point during the plot, mostly serving as a way to start conversation about how other character felt.
Moreover, Grindelwald convinced her to join his ranks by appealing to her desire to marry Jacob, but to be swayed, she willfully ignored his dangerous statements of thinly-veiled magical superiority over muggles that might later jeopardize that same relationship. Her legilimency did not allow her to see past the lies of Grindelwald and Vinda Rosier. Queenie could have easily been one of the strongest characters in the series, but she became a casualty to a storyline that had no use for her until she made the worst decision.
3 Saved: Nymphadora Tonks
Throughout most of the series, there seemed to be a rigid line between pureblood families that bought into pureblood supremacy and those who defended half-bloods and muggle-borns. The introduction of Nymphadora Tonks was a dose of realism, proving that there were deep cracks in the pureblood families over the issue.
Andromeda Black had went against her sisters Bellatrix and Narcissa to marry a muggle, making their daughter Tonks a half-blood. Nymphadora Tonks' entire existence created high tension with Bellatrix Lestrange and the Malfoys, especially after Tonks ignored another level of magical racism to marry a werewolf. Tonks as a character was an open defiance of everything Voldemort stood for, and it gave a heavy meaning to the grudge between Tonks and her pureblood family.
2 Hurt: Aurelius Dumbledore
When Credence Barebone was introduced as a powerful Obscurial who Grindelwald sought to win over, he made a strong, original character. His long survival as an Obscurial hinted at his extremely powerful magic, and fans were hoping his search for identity would tie him in with part of the complex established backstory of Harry Potter. Instead, though, Grindelwald revealed that Credence was actually Aurelius Dumbledore, a previously unknown brother of Albus Dumbledore.
While it's still an interesting twist, it makes absolutely no sense in the context of the larger Potterverse. Dumbledore's family and his relationship with Grindelwald was discussed extensively in Deathly Hallows with no mention of a third Dumbledore brother involved. History can ignore much, but it's a stretch of believability that fans are just hearing about Aurelius now.
1 Saved: Gellert Grindelwald
Gellert Grindelwald was the last great threat to the Wizarding World before Voldemort came along. The Harry Potter series alluded to Grindelwald's rise to power, sweeping through the whole continent and claiming lives. It was a story begging to be told. Fantastic Beasts delved into a different kind of rising evil from Voldemort.
Grindelwald's charismatic charm and silver tongue appealed to wizards seeking to change the world, pretending to seek change for the greater good while still secretly basing his message on the bigotry that Voldemort later made open. Grindelwald's insidious influence would shake up the world, give life to a violent movement of magical supremacy, and normalize the horrors that Voldemort would late unleash, setting the perfect stage for Harry Potter.
Are there any other character additions that hurt or saved the Potterverse? Let us know in the comments!