The Potterverse has had no shortage of villains, ranging from petty antagonists and bullies to world-dominating dictators. They all did their best to make our favorite characters' lives difficult, and we all hated them to varying degrees, but not all Harry Potter villains were created equal. Many of them were little more than a nuisance, while others were an existential threat.
Harry Potter, of course, had the greatest number of villains to face during his time at Hogwarts. He tangled with familiar Death Eaters, school troublemakers, and -- of course -- Voldemort himself. However, Rowling's Wizarding World contains a number of other known villains. Newt Scamander has had no shortage of enemies and antagonists in the Fantastic Beasts series, and our small glimpses into the past of Hogwarts also revealed older villains whose names and deeds were carried down through the generations. When it comes to Potterverse villains across the years and centuries, who was the most powerful, the most fearsome of all?
How does the infamous Bellatrix Lestrange measure up to the Obscurial, Credence Barebone? Where does Lucius Malfoy fall compared to the hated Dolores Umbridge? Who was the more powerful dark wizard: Lord Voldemort or Gellert Grindelwald?
Thankfully, we've got you covered with The 25 Most Powerful Potterverse Villains, Officially Ranked From Weakest To Strongest.
25 The Dursleys
For years, the Dursleys were the main antagonists in Harry Potter's life. They ignored him, mistreated him, insulted him, and generally made him feel unwanted and unimportant. Even after Harry went off to Hogwarts, he was regularly subjected to ill treatment at the Dursleys' home.
Despite their central place at the first of the series, though, the Dursleys quickly became insignificant. Harry threatened them as a child with limited magical ability, and they cowered in fear of any real witch or wizard, even older students like Fred and George. Although they were the first villains Harry knew, they were nothing next to the other threats Harry faced.
24 New Salem Philanthropic Society
The New Salem Philanthropic Society were No-Maj magic haters similar to the Dursleys, only much worse. Mary Lou Barebone raised the children in her care with an iron fist, subjecting them to terrible abuse as she enforced her deep hatred of magic. Her strict punishment for anything related to magic suppressed Credence until he turned into an Obscurial.
Her authoritarian control gave her power over the defenseless children she adopted, but she was no match for real magic. She was easily taken out by Credence when he lost control in Obscurus form. Tina Goldstein had also previously attacked her, and Tina's fear for her job was likely the only reason Mary Lou escaped so lightly.
23 Crabbe and Goyle
As far as henchmen go, you could definitely find better than Crabbe and Goyle. Draco probably fell in with these two just because their fathers were Death Eater buddies, as their evil plotting seemed to be the entire basis of the relationship.
They provided Draco with some much-needed backup, but they mainly served as muscle. In a wizarding school, that's not the highest recommendation of their skills. Harry, Ron, and Hermione easily foiled and escaped them at every turn. They only caused a significant disturbance in Deathly Hallows during the Battle of Hogwarts, and even that cost Crabbe his life.
22 Gilderoy Lockhart
Gilderoy Lockhart holds the distinction of being the least powerful Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, though somehow not the worst of the lot. Everything Lockhart touched went wrong. He tried to mend Harry's arm only to completely remove the bone. He tried to teach his class about Cornish Pixies only to create a chaos he could not control.
His only real power was memory charms, which he used to make it look like he was good at everything else, and even his trusty memory charms went wrong in the end. He was little more than a nuisance for 12-year-old Harry and his friends.
21 Professor Quirrell
Professor Quirrell is best known as a vessel for Lord Voldemort, and that's because he did very little to distinguish himself otherwise. He was shy, quiet, and totally lacking in confidence. He sought a purpose that would make him feel important, and he found it in rescuing Voldemort.
His timidity gave him an advantage as Voldemort's servant, as no one suspected him of trying to steal the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone. He managed a few feats of magic, but nothing that could not be copied by a trio of 11-year-olds or quietly stymied by Professor Snape. However, he does get some credit for keeping Voldemort a living and present threat.
Delphini's origin story is a sad one. Left alone and unloved after the Battle of Hogwarts, she was expected to carry on the legacy of the infamous father she did not remember. Unfortunately for her, throughout Cursed Child, she did not measure up to the power of Voldemort.
She enacted her plan mostly through manipulation, both magical and emotional. She got Albus and Scorpius to do most of her dirty work while she stayed in the background. She did show skills with magic and dueling, including taking the life of a fellow student, but she only posed a threat to Harry when he was caught wandless. Delphini displayed little of her father's dark powers.
19 The Gaunts
The Gaunts proved that wizarding families could be just as bad as magic-haters like Mary Lou Barebone, but they had far more powerful tools at their disposal. Marvolo and Morfin Gaunt abused and bullied Merope until she could not properly perform magic, but their villainy did not end there.
Morfin attacked Muggles with magic, but was not cunning or stable enough to hide his crimes and landed himself in trouble with the Ministry of Magic. Merope Gaunt was not excused from her family's misdeeds, either. She bewitched Tom Riddle into marrying her, displaying a high skill with love potion to have kept him under for long enough to carry a child.
18 Draco Malfoy
Draco Malfoy was Harry's constant antagonist, following Harry through his school years and bullying him any chance he got. He and Harry were often evenly matched in dueling and other forms of magic in their early years.
However, when Draco's heart was no longer in Voldemort's mission, he ceased to show the same advancement that Harry did, allowing Harry to easily overpower him in their later encounters. His lack of power as a villain came not from a lack of potential, but from a change of heart that did not let him fully develop as a dark wizard.
Aragog is pure nightmare fuel, as one would expect of any humongous spider. He gets high status just from being a spider that is bigger than a car, but he also exerts social control over his colony of spiders, which effectively makes him as powerful as hundreds of very large spiders.
He told his spider colony who they were and were not allowed to devour, and the spider colony only became unsafe for Hagrid when Aragog was gone and no longer commanding them. He was also reasonable and intelligent, able to form bonds with humans and provide information about the Chamber of Secrets.
16 Corvus Lestrange
Crimes of Grindelwald introduced the backstory of Corvus Lestrange, Leta Lestrange's father. Corvus Lestrange had a strong command of the Imperius Curse. He took control of Laurena Kama, forcing her to leave her husband and son and marry him instead.
He likely kept her under the Imperius Curse until her demise after giving birth to a daughter, Leta. Corvus' dark powers fractured an innocent family and controlled a woman for the rest of her life. He compelled her to marry and carry a child with a man she did not love, which is one of the creepiest and most despicable acts committed by any Potterverse villain.
15 Salazar Slytherin
As one of the founders of Hogwarts, Salazar Slytherin must have been an extremely powerful wizard, but his pure-blood mania also cemented his place as a villain. Slytherin House may get an exaggerated reputation for villainy, but Salazar deserved it. He fought with the other founders about the blood status of students at the school, possibly ending in duels.
However, his darkest and most powerful legacy was the Chamber of Secrets, a trap that would send his Basilisk to hunt students he considered unworthy centuries after he had departed the school. The fact that he caused problems for Harry hundreds of years after his final days marks him as an effective villain.
14 The Giants
The giants of Harry Potter are a force to be reckoned with, even though their numbers steadily dwindled through the Wizarding Wars. The giants who aligned themselves with Voldemort were violent and hated wizards after Aurors picked them off during the First Wizarding War. Hagrid and Madam Maxime barely escaped with their lives when they tried to recruit them.
Spells tend to bounce off giants, making them difficult for a wizard to take down. Voldemort sought them out during both wars because he knew the power of having giants on his side, and he unleashed those fearsome soldiers during the Battle of Hogwarts to devastating effects.
Nagini was Voldemort's real right-hand henchman. He placed great trust in her, sending her out to complete important missions like capturing Harry Potter by herself. Her attacks were often fatal, and when not fatal, difficult to recover from. Arthur Weasley went through several rounds of treatment before anyone could heal the wounds she left.
As Crimes of Grindelwald revealed, she used to be a human who had the rare ability to transform at will, but she eventually lost the power to return to human form. Above all of that, though, she was one of Voldemort's Horcruxes. As long as she lived, Voldemort could continue to live on, as well.
12 Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy
Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were two of Voldemort's biggest players. Lucius masterminded many of Harry's early troubles as he put Voldemort's plans into effect. He controlled the events of Chamber of Secrets, starting with the diary and leading to Dumbledore's removal.
Upon Voldemort's return, he was a leader of the Death Eaters. Narcissa, too, was always quietly bolstering her family's power from the background through her pureblood connections with the Blacks. However, their power quickly waned when they fell out of favor with Voldemort. Their social standing was fleeting, and their magical powers could not measure up to the enemies they faced on all sides.
11 Peter Pettigrew
Peter Pettigrew was a coward who had no true loyalty to anyone, but he had to be skillful to avoid Azkaban or demise at the hands of Voldemort for as long as he did. He could transform into an Animagus, already a rare ability, but he also kept his rat form for over a decade.
When he returned to Voldemort's side, he managed to keep Voldemort alive in a weak corporeal form until Barty Crouch, Jr. could deliver Harry Potter to complete the Dark Lord's transformation. Wormtail must have an advanced understanding of magic, but he tends to use it only to save his own neck.
10 Vinda Rosier
Vinda Rosier was Gellert Grindelwald's own Bellatrix Lestrange, a ruthless dark witch who stood at his side with complete loyalty. Crimes of Grindelwald revealed few details about Vinda, other than the fact that she would not hesitate to Avada Kedavra a Muggle child.
However, her position in Grindelwald's followers indicates she was useful to him. He trusted her to manipulate Queenie and assist him in bringing his message to the Wizarding World. Grindelwald would not have made her his lieutenant if she were not a witch powerful enough to follow through with his plans. There is likely much more to Vinda Rosier than we know yet.
9 Barty Crouch, Jr.
Barty Crouch, Jr. doesn't get nearly enough credit for what he managed to pull off. He abducted the famous Auror Mad-Eye Moody and impersonated him under Polyjuice Potion for an entire school year. No one even suspected the switch until the plan was already done.
He also coached Harry Potter through the Triwizard Tournament, leading him to any magic or information he might need, and he set up an unauthorized portkey under the noses of tournament officials and delivered Harry Potter to Voldemort. Voldemort's plan in Goblet of Fire should have been impossible, but Crouch had the diverse skill set to pull it off.
8 The Dementors
As far as magical creatures go, the Dementors are the worst of the worst. It's no wonder the Dementors were chosen to guard Azkaban, home of the most dangerous wizards. They are difficult to escape and impossible to ignore. Sadness and cold follow them wherever they go, sucking the happiness out of everyone in the vicinity.
Wizards require the Patronus Charm, an advanced magical skill, to defeat them. When they are allowed, they are more than happy to remove a criminal's soul with the Dementors' Kiss. As soon as they abandoned the Ministry, their free reign cast a cloud over the entire country.
7 Severus Snape
Severus Snape always seemed to know what to do. No matter what happened, no matter who he was working for, he always had a magical fix for the problem at hand. However, very little of his power was geared toward villainy. He was more likely to be an obstacle than an ally for Voldemort.
However, he was an antagonist to Harry, of course. He made his life difficult at every turn for no reason other than hatred for his father. He captured Sirius Black and tried to have his soul removed because of his old grudge. He was usually effective in his plans, but his power as a villain was tempered by his divided loyalties.
6 Credence Barebone
Credence Barebone started as an unintentional villain. Mary Lou Barebone's abuse turned him into an Obscurial. In Obscurus form, he wreaked havoc on New York City, targeting and dispatching anyone he saw as an enemy.
Since Obscurials usually do not survive as long as he did, he was presumed to be a powerful wizard. He even survived the attack by Aurors that Newt Scamander thought was the end of him, and he continued to use his Obscurus form afterward. When he learned of his true identity from Grindelwald, he displayed catastrophic magic at will... and he's only getting started.
5 Dolores Umbridge
Dolores Umbridge is the most universally hated character in Harry Potter, and for good reason. Through her Ministry connections, she wormed her way through the ranks at Hogwarts until she became Headmistress. She invented new magical devices for discipline just to physically and emotionally abuse students who disobeyed her.
She was also talented with magic, even dark magic and forbidden curses, as she would effortlessly cast whatever charm she needed with complete confidence. Only the Centaurs were able to remove her from Hogwarts, and even then she popped up again at the Ministry and continued to cause problems.
4 Fenrir Greyback
Fenrir Greyback had a twisted history reaching back decades. While most werewolves kept themselves away from people when their transformation was imminent, Greyback made sure he would maximize casualties. He turned Remus Lupin as a child, forcing him to live as a werewolf for the rest of his life.
When he worked for Voldemort, he would attack families and thus racked up horrifying body counts. He destroyed countless lives with his lycanthropy, either attacking or turning people, and he exercised that power with malicious abandon. Greyback's attacks were the stuff of nightmares, and even Dumbledore feared being turned over to him.
3 Bellatrix Lestrange
Bellatrix Lestrange was a right hand worthy of Voldemort. She had incredible skill in the dark arts, as she was infamously effective with the Avada Kedavra and Cruciatus Curses. Her fierce loyalty to Voldemort and her pure-blood mania made her the Dark Lord's most committed henchmen.
Bellatrix would rather have fought to her own end than abandon Voldemort's mission. She defeated a number of highly accomplished duelists and took the life of Sirius Black during a duel. Out of all of Voldemort's Death Eaters, Bellatrix alone was a true force to be reckoned with, the only one who posed a solid threat to Harry's allies by herself.
2 Gellert Grindelwald
Gellert Grindelwald ascended to the level of magical dictator with his magnetic charisma and his mastery of magic. As a leader, he inspired confidence and trust, bringing followers to his side by cleverly crafting his message and persona for mass appeal.
Throughout Fantastic Beasts, he accomplished a number of difficult magical feats, including human transfiguration into Percival Graves, accurate divination that could direct his plans, elemental magic, and darks arts that allowed him to destroy countless lives. His talent in magic was enhanced further by mastery of the Elder Wand. Grindelwald had no equal in the Wizarding World besides Dumbledore, and he ensured that Dumbledore could not attack him.
1 Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort brought the Wizarding World under his control, surpassing Grindelwald in his effectiveness as a dictator. Voldemort's deep knowledge of the dark arts inspired fear that most villains could only dream of.
After he was gone, wizards still feared to speak his name, certain he could not really be defeated for good. His Horcruxes brought him immortality and allowed him to return to life and resume his reign of terror years after he was thought to be finished. He grew in dark power until he became the most feared dark wizard of all time, but in return he sacrificed what was left of his humanity.
Who do you think is the most powerful Potterverse villain? Let us know in the comments!