Slytherins are often thought to be evil in the Harry Potter series, but that's an oversimplification of the truth. More importantly, individuals sorted into Slytherin need to exhibit qualities such as cunning, resourcefulness, and ambition. These traits were highly valued by Salazar Slytherin, the founder of Slytherin house and one of the four founders of Hogwarts. Such qualities led students like Tom Riddle down dark paths, where he eventually became the wicked Lord Voldemort. They can also inspire others to follow someone like Voldemort and become one of his Death Eaters. Yet, there are plenty of Slytherins who used their cunning, resourcefulness, and ambition in unselfish and even admirable ways.
Whether they embraced the darkness or rejected it, many powerful witches and wizards came from Slytherin house over the years. Some were powerful because of the magic they wielded, particularly when facing formidable adversaries. Their power could manifest in many ways, several of which included emerging victorious or holding their own against a strong enemy, successfully concealing essential truths, withstanding torture, and manipulating their way into positions of prime authority.
It's time to take a trip into the Slytherin common room in the Hogwarts dungeon, because here are the 20 Most Powerful Slytherin Students, Officially Ranked.
20 Lucius Malfoy
Lucius Malfoy failed Voldemort in major ways, from being unable to secure the prophecy at the Department of Mysteries, to putting the Horcrux diary on a path that would lead to its destruction and letting Harry Potter escape from his clutches at Malfoy Manor. Yet, there was a time when Lucius was in Voldemort's inner circle, a position he partly earned through his power.
He was skilled at the Imperius Curse, which was shown when he placed the Unspeakable Broderick Bode under the Imperius Curse in an attempt to steal the prophecy. Lucius also tortured Muggles to great effect, which was something he did on many occasions, including at the 1994 Quidditch World Cup. Manipulating his way into positions of power was also a skill of Lucius. After evading imprisonment following the First Wizarding War, he went on to become a School Governor of Hogwarts and fostered close relationships with powerful government figures like Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, allowing Lucius to become dangerously influential.
19 Phineas Nigellus Black
Phineas Nigellus Black became a Headmaster of Hogwarts. While this was an important position, his real power was demonstrated as a portrait after his passing. As a patriarch of the Black family and as a former Headmaster of Hogwarts, Phineas had portraits at Grimmauld Place and in the Headmaster's office at Hogwarts. Despite being a traditional Slytherin who still used offensive words like "Mudblood," he helped pass messages and key communications for the Order of the Phoenix by traveling between his Hogwarts and Grimmauld Place portraits.
While camping and on the run, Hermione Granger had his Grimmauld Place portrait in her beaded bag. Phineas deduced where she and Harry were and passed this information along to Severus Snape. This enabled Snape to deliver the Sword of Godric Gryffindor to Harry, ensuring that he and his friends would at last have a weapon allowing them to destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes.
18 The Bloody Baron
The Baron had a tragic life story involving his relationship with Helena Ravenclaw, but his true power manifested in his demise, as he became known as the Bloody Baron, the ghost of Slytherin house. The Bloody Baron struck fear into the hearts of many students. Most importantly, he was the only known individual -- other than Albus Dumbledore -- who could control Peeves the Poltergeist.
Peeves disregarded most authority while performing his antics, but his fear of the Bloody Baron was one of the only things that could stop him. Hogwarts ghosts like Nearly Headless Nick would seek out the Bloody Baron to deal with Peeves, as the other ghosts were powerless to stop the mischievous Peeves from wreaking havoc.
17 Albus Severus Potter
Along with his best friend Scorpius, Albus Severus Potter created a lot of havoc with Time-Turners, but he also was powerful enough to ultimately help undo the damage. When Voldemort's daughter Delphini stranded Albus without a Time-Turner in 1981, along with the help of Scorpius, Albus was clever enough to figure out how to send a message through time via his father's baby blanket.
Albus wasn't as skilled with spells as most expected to be considering his parentage, but he became stronger over time. He successfully disarmed Cedric Diggory in one timeline, and more importantly, he helped his father duel Delphini and apprehend her. Despite his mistakes, Albus proved himself a true Slytherin by eventually succeeding in his ambition of winning his father's approval and helping those in need.
16 Scorpius Malfoy
Scorpius Malfoy made a number of costly mistakes involving Time-Turners in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but he also figured out how to undo the worst timeline. In this timeline, Voldemort destroyed Harry Potter and took control of the magical world, and Hogwarts was a dark place led by Dolores Umbridge. Harry's demise meant Scorpius's best friend Albus Potter was never born, which meant Scorpius was on his own to right this timeline.
With the help of Severus Snape, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, Scorpius figured out how to undo the frightening timeline and make things right again. By recognizing the Augurey tattoo from his experiences in that timeline, Scorpius was the one to figure out Delphini wasn't who she claimed to be. Though he was young, Scorpius was already decent at dueling, as he helped Harry duel Delphini and defeat her.
All Death Eaters performed the Unforgivable Curses, yet Mulciber was particularly talented at casting the Imperius Curse. Mulciber rendered many individuals powerless and victim to his control, much like Viktor Krum experienced under Barty Crouch Junior's Imperius Curse during the third task of the Triwizard Tournament in the picture above.
Mulciber's penchant for the Dark Arts was present from his time as a Slytherin at Hogwarts. It's unknown if he used the Imperius Curse, but he did use the Dark Arts to play cruel pranks on a friend of Lily Evans named Mary Macdonald. Mulciber was also friends with Severus Snape at Hogwarts, which helped to push Snape further down the path of becoming a real Death Eater before Snape switched sides.
14 Evan Rosier
Almost half the incarcerated Death Eaters in the First Wizarding War were put there by Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody. Though the famous Auror put away many of Voldemort's most powerful followers, he would take the lives of those he hunted if it became necessary. Despite knowing these facts about Moody's formidable nature, Evan Rosier dueled Moody when he was caught.
Rosier was powerful enough to blast off part of Moody's nose, something Moody would carry with him for the rest of his life. Unfortunately for Rosier, though, he paid the price for this deed, as Moody ended his life. Rosier was ultimately unsuccessful, but he came closer than anyone to defeating the Auror and Order of the Phoenix member Alastor Moody during the First Wizarding War.
13 Andromeda Tonks
Andromeda Tonks was strong enough to reject the pure-blood elitism of the Black family line. She married Muggle-born Ted Tonks because she loved him, no matter how much it would shock her parents and sisters Bellatrix and Narcissa. In terms of magical abilities, she was a gifted healer, as she healed all of Hagrid's injuries after the Battle of the Seven Potters.
She was also powerful enough to withstand the Cruciatus Curse and not let it drive her insane. Death Eaters tortured Andromeda and her husband Ted via the Cruciatus Curse for information about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Andromeda emerged sane and even went on to raise her grandson Teddy Lupin after his parents, Tonks and Lupon, perished during the Battle of Hogwarts.
12 Rodolphus Lestrange
As a Slytherin student at Hogwarts, Rodolphus Lestrange already aspired to become one of Voldemort's Death Eaters. Rodolphus took his dreams seriously, as he not only became a Death Eater, but also continued to wield his power even after Voldemort vanished and the First Wizarding War ended. Rodolphus used the Cruciatus Curse to a devastating extent, as he tortured Frank and Alice Longbottom for information until they were driven mad.
Years after the Second Wizarding War ended and Voldemort was defeated for good, Rodolphus proved his power and dedication to the Dark Lord by breaking out of Azkaban to inform Delphini that she was the child of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange. These acts show he was a powerful Death Eater, but he wasn't among the very strongest Slytherins, as his enemies sometimes got the best of him, such as when Nymphadora Tonks injured him during the Battle of the Seven Potters.
11 Draco Malfoy
Even though Draco Malfoy ultimately failed to assassinate Albus Dumbledore himself, he did prove that he had many powerful abilities along the way. He mastered Occlumency well enough that even Severus Snape was unable to read his mind. He was also proficient in the Unforgivable Curses, as he Imperiused Madam Rosmerta and used her to help smuggle lethal items like a cursed necklace and poisoned mead into Hogwarts.
During the Battle of the Astronomy Tower, Draco legitimately disarmed Albus Dumbledore, which, unbeknownst to Draco, made him master of the Elder Wand. Even though Dumbledore was in a severely weakened state from the potion he drank when retrieving the locket, it's still an impressive feat to disarm Dumbledore. Draco's strength when lying to his parents and his aunt that he didn't recognize Harry at Malfoy Manor demonstrated a different, albeit important strength that Draco also possessed, and he showed off this strength years later.
10 Narcissa Malfoy
While some individuals exhibit power throughout their lives, some have their power defined by a single moment. The latter is true for Narcissa Malfoy, who proved her power in a crucial moment during the Battle of Hogwarts. Wanting to know for sure if he'd finally taken Harry Potter's life, Voldemort forced Narcissa to check and see if Harry was still alive. Narcissa quickly realized that Harry was still alive. However, instead of revealing the truth, she quietly asked Harry if Draco was alive and in the castle. Harry nodded and Narcissa told Voldemort that his enemy had perished.
This changed the outcome of the Battle of Hogwarts and forever altered history as it lulled Voldemort into a false sense of security and victory. Harry and the defenders of Hogwarts used this to their advantage to defeat Voldemort and his Death Eaters once and for all, something that was only made possible through Narcissa being powerful enough to lie to Voldemort's face and have the lie go undetected.
9 Dolores Umbridge
Dolores Umbridge's true power came not so much from her magical abilities, but more from how she manipulated her ways into prime positions of power. She went from Defense Against the Dark Arts professor to Headmistress at Hogwarts in a single year, completely changing the nature of the school via numerous Educational Decrees and the Inquisitorial Squad. While she eventually lost all power at Hogwarts, Umbridge made herself an influential authority figure again when Voldemort and his Death Eaters took over the Ministry of Magic, as she headed the Muggle-Born Registration Commission.
She also had some notable magical abilities, as she created the quill that etched "I must not tell lies" into Harry Potter's skin every time she forced him to write the words with it. Umbridge also had control over Dementors, as she ordered the Dementor attack against Harry and Dudley Dursley and also used Dementors while conducting trials for the Muggle-Born Registration Commission.
8 Leta Lestrange
Albus Dumbledore remarked that Leta Lestrange was one of the cleverest students he ever taught, which is a praise that speaks volumes about her magical abilities. She proved the true extent of her power when she faced Gellert Grindelwald and rejected the opportunity to become one of his followers, regardless of how his agenda fit the traditional values of the Lestrange family and many Slytherins.
Leta quickly stunned Grindelwald's top lieutenant Vinda Rosier and, more importantly, held her own against the formidable Grindelwald. Standing her ground and pushing away Grindelwald's blue flames, Leta gave the Scamander brothers and other allies enough time to escape. Even though Grindelwald eventually defeated her, she proved she was powerful enough to fight him and that despite the traditional beliefs of Slytherins largely aligning with Grindelwald's mission, they would not all join him.
7 Regulus Black
Regulus Black initially followed the path of many Slytherins who wanted to earn their place in Voldemort's army of Death Eaters. Regulus did achieve his dream and became a Death Eater, something that his family was proud of and fully supported. As this was a fairly common trajectory for Death Eaters, what made Regulus a powerful Slytherin was how he uncovered one of Voldemort's greatest secrets and fooled the Dark Lord for years.
Through trying to use the Black family house-elf Kreacher to hide Slytherin's locket, Regulus came to realize that Voldemort had turned the locket into a Horcrux and that it was a source of his immortality, something that even Albus Dumbledore wouldn't uncover until years later. Regulus was powerful enough to create a fake locket, swap it with the real one, and drink a tortuous potion, fooling not only Voldemort but also Dumbledore and Harry Potter when they eventually came for the locket.
6 Horace Slughorn
Horace Slughorn was a brilliant wizard, as he understood all kinds of magic in theory and application. He could brew the most complicated and powerful potions and was even the one to truly explain Horcruxes to Tom Riddle. By preventing Albus Dumbledore or anyone else from taking the memory of explaining Horcruxes to Tom Riddle, Slughorn proved himself a strong Occlumens. He even had the power to modify memories, as he changed his own memories to make it seem like he hadn't helped Tom Riddle learn about Horcruxes.
Slughorn was also accomplished at dueling. Alongside Minerva McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt, he dueled Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts. He held his own against Voldemort and even survived the duel, something that few witches and wizards can say.
Not much is known about Merlin or his accomplishments in the Potterverse, but he is known to be one of the most powerful wizards to ever live. The Order of Merlin is named after the famous wizard, a distinction granted to witches and wizards who achieve outstanding acts of bravery, extraordinary accomplishments, and significant contributions to magical knowledge and entertainment.
Merlin's chocolate frog card refers to him as the most famous wizard of all time and as the Prince of Enchanters, a title that refers to his exceptional gifts when it came to casting charms. He was also immortalized via the common phrase "Merlin's beard!" Many fans speculate that given the medieval timing, Merlin might've been taught directly by Salazar Slytherin, the founder of the house Merlin was sorted into.
4 Bellatrix Lestrange
Bellatrix Lestrange became one of Voldemort's most powerful Death Eaters. She was gifted at casting all the Unforgivable Curses, but was particularly adept at the Cruciatus Curse. She most famously used the Cruciatus Curse to torture respected Aurors and Order of the Phoenix members Frank and Alice Longbottom, driving them to the point of insanity.
Few witches or wizards could survive a duel against her. In fact, Bellatrix took the lives of Sirius Black and Nymphadora Tonks while dueling them, both of whom were powerful Order of the Phoenix members and relatives of Bellatrix. She was also the only Death Eater wise enough to question Severus Snape's true loyalty during the Second Wizarding War, knowing deep down that Snape wasn't the perfect Death Eater and double-agent loyal to Voldemort that he claimed to be.
3 Salazar Slytherin
There would be no Slytherin without the founder himself, Salazar Slytherin. Under the noses of the Hogwarts founders, he created the Chamber of Secrets and hid a frightening Basilisk within it who he was able to communicate with via Parseltongue. The founders and even the powerful likes of Albus Dumbledore would be unable to find Salazar's parting gift. Even though Hogwarts wasn't what Salazar envisioned it to be, the school forever lived in the shadow of the threat he left behind via the Chamber of Secrets, a threat that would go on to be unleashed twice by the Slytherin heir Tom Riddle.
Despite being the original Slytherin, Salazar is still not the most powerful, as he ultimately failed in his greatest ambition. He failed to make Hogwarts a place for pure-blood students who all exhibited cunning, resourcefulness, and ambition. The other founders ensured there was a more diverse student body of young witches and wizards.
2 Severus Snape
Severus Snape is an excellent example of a powerful Slytherin who used cunning, resourcefulness, and ambition in a largely positive way. As a double-agent, Snape was a powerful enough Legilimens to make Voldemort believe he was loyal to him, even after Snape's demise. After slaying Albus Dumbledore at the Headmaster's behest, Snape fooled everyone -- including the Order of the Phoenix -- into believing he was on Voldemort's side. Yet, every step of the way, he continued to take actions to defeat the Dark Lord.
As a student, Snape was also powerful and a true Slytherin. The Half-Blood Prince textbook Harry discovered in his sixth year proved Snape was a genius at potion-making, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and the Dark Arts even in his youth. He knew how to brew potions in creative and brilliant ways that even surprised Horace Slughorn. He also invented Sectumsempra, a spell that attacks an opponent from a distance as if they've been slashed by an invisible sword, leading to deep-cut wounds.
Tom Riddle took the core qualities of Slytherin to new heights, as he became arguably the most powerful dark wizard of all time. He learned how to split his soul and create numerous Horcruxes, thereby making himself immortal as long as the Horcruxes existed. Voldemort's sheer power and the threat he posed to the magical and non-magical world caused both the First and Second Wizarding Wars.
He amassed an army of witches and wizards known as Death Eaters, along with Dementors, werewolves, giants, and Inferi, who were all dedicated to serving him and his quest for ultimate power. Few individuals who ever faced Voldemort lived to tell the tale, as he swiftly cut them down, and few were able to outsmart him as he was a master Occlumens.
Who do you think are the strongest Slytherin students in Harry Potter? Sound off in the comments!