J.K. Rowling's iconic story about the infamous young wizard made magic feel so real that Muggles everywhere still wonder why they never received their letter to Hogwarts. However, this amazing journey also included many hardships. Readers suffer through many painful moments, including a number of devastating deaths to beloved characters.
Death played a major role from the very beginning of the story, when we learned that Harry was orphaned after the death of his parents in Harry Potter, to the end, when Harry had to overcome death to save the entire wizarding world.
Throughout his life at Hogwarts, Harry witnesses many friends and loved ones-- almost all of them far too young-- pass away. This included many beloved characters who held a special place in readers and moviegoers' hearts (and not all of them did), making their demise especially difficult.
So, based on how important they were to the story, how much they meant to fans, and how sad their final moments are, here are the 16 Saddest Deaths In Harry Potter That Made You Cry Like A Baby.
16 Cedric Diggory
The pride of Hufflepuff was only 17 years old when he entered the final task of the Triwizard Tournament. After he and Harry Potter agreed to be co-winners, they were transported to the cemetery at Little Hangleton and the cup turned out to be a Portkey.
Waiting there was none other than Voldemort and his devoted Death Eaters, who had laid a trap for Harry. Cedric was immediately struck down by He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named with the Killing Curse, merely because he was a nuisance to Voldemort’s plan.
The coldblooded murder of a young person with a such bright future would be sad no matter what, but two specific factors make Cedric’s one of the worst in the series. The first involves his father Amos’s pained screams after his son’s body is returned-- a horrible moment witnessed by the entire school.
The second is how his murder was no different to Voldemort than swatting away a fly; Cedric was a small problem and his death was a handled without thought. Poor Cedric deserved better.
15 Ariana Dumbledore
Young, troubled Ariana acted as the wall between Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore. Unlike other many other characters, she didn't die in the course of Harry Potter's story. and her death was never seen in either a pensieve or flashback. However, the story Dumbledore tells Harry in The Deathly Hallows about her death is heartbreaking.
Aberforth and the infamous Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald began dueling over whether the sickly Ariana would go with Grindelwald and Albus when they tried to conquer the world. Defending his brother, Albus began dueling with Grindelwald too, and, during the fight, Ariana was accidentally killed. Professor Dumbledore never got over her death, and always carried guilt over what happened.
The impact of that night on the wizarding world lasted for decades, from Grindelwald’s reign of terror to the eventual deaths of Professor Dumbledore and Voldemort. Poor Ariana’s short, painful life remains the sad start of it all.
14 Charity Burbage
Readers didn’t officially meet Hogwarts’ Professor of Muggles Studies until her final moments, but her death was still an excruciating exercise in cruelty. She was captured by Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters for her positive views on Muggles, as well as her belief that the magical community should inter-mate with them.
Her colleague and friend Professor Snape, working as a double agent, entered a Death Eaters meeting at Malfoy Manor to discover her floating over a table, a hostage of Lord Voldemort. Professor Burbage pleaded with him to help her, saying, "Severus, please. We're friends." However, he was unable to help her. Not just because it would have been impossible, but because it would have given his real identity away, putting far more lives in danger.
Professor Burbage was killed by Voldemort with the Killing Curse for teaching tolerance and unity, and died begging in vain for her friend to help her. Hers was a horrible and sad end.
13 Harry Potter
Harry might seem like a curious choice since he is, in fact, still alive. However, he did die, and the sequence of events surrounding his death are some of the saddest in the entire series. This makes him deserving of a spot on this list.
As he walked off to sacrifice himself for everyone else, he whispered into the snitch Dumbledore had given him, “I am about to die.” It finally opened, revealing the Resurrection Stone. He was then joined by the ghosts of his lost loved ones, including his parents. They assured him they would remain with him until the very end. It was a beautiful, haunting moment, and was one of J.K. Rowling’s finest and most memorable scenes.
This, combined with having to see Hagrid, the man who had carried an infant Harry to Privet Drive, return his “lifeless” body to his grieving friends at Hogwarts is surrounded by genuine sadness. This was an intense moment, even if readers knew it was not the end of the story, which mitigated its impact slightly.
12 Colin Creevey
Colin Creevey was 16 when he was killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, but to Harry Potter fans everywhere he’ll always be the beloved little first year student running around with his camera.
His obsession with Harry was adorable, as Colin was fond of taking his heroes’ picture any chance he had. He wasn’t shy about asking for an autograph either, or of defending Harry to a jealous Draco.
He was brave and worthy of being sorted into Gryffindor, so it was no surprise when he signed up for Dumbledore’s Army to help ready himself to fight against Lord Voldemort, especially since he had every right to be afraid of him. Colin almost died once before, when he was petrified after seeing the basilisk from the Chamber of Secrets through his camera.
He was a warm, friendly, noble young man who held a special place in fans' hearts for resembling an annoying kid brother you whine about, but still fiercely protect. This is what made his death on that fateful day so hard to accept.
11 James Potter
Harry’s father was unarmed when Voldemort killed him, believing that the location of his and Lily’s secret hiding place was safe in the hands of Peter Pettigrew. The unthinkable betrayal by his close friend made him ill-prepared to protect his wife and infant son from the most powerful dark wizards the magical world has ever known. James Potter never stood a chance, all because he put his faith in the wrong person.
As a young man he was an arrogant bully, picking on the shy and awkward young Snape. However, he grew up to become a loving father and husband. He was also brave, risking his own life by joining the original Order of the Phoenix to fight back against the rise of Voldemort.
Harry’s father was killed before the novels began, but readers experienced the horror of his final moments through visions and stories, making it as real as any other death.
10 Lily Potter
Like her husband James, Lily’s death was seen by readers long after she had died, in a flashback that showed her sacrificing her own life to save her son. This heroic final act was a very old type of magic that protected Harry long after she had passed away, keeping Harry safe for years to come.
A mother being killed in front of her baby would be painful under any circumstances, but Lily’s death only grew sadder when Harry saw Snape’s memories in the pensieve. He had told Voldemort about the prophecy of the child who would defeat him, leading the Dark Lord to seek out Harry. Snape begged Voldemort to spare Lily’s life, but when she steadfastly protected her son, he killed her anyway.
The image of a weeping Snape holding his childhood friend and the woman he loved, whose death he was partly responsible for, is an iconic one from the franchise. It will "always” bring a tear to Harry Potter fans' eyes.
9 Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody
Although audiences soon discovered that much of the time Harry spent with Mad-Eye was really Barty Crouch Jr. in disguise, this didn’t make the real death of the Auror any less sad, especially since he died helping Harry flee to safety.
Alastor Moody was killed by Death Eaters during the escape known as the Battle of the Seven Potters. It earned this name from the number of characters who disguised themselves as Harry using Polyjuice Potion, a plan Mad-Eye concocted to confuse any would-be attackers.
The fearless Mad-Eye was an experienced Auror who had survived many fights with dark wizards. As such, he appeared indestructible. This is what made it especially shocking and sad when he was the only wizard not to survive the attack by Voldemort and his Death Eaters in the skies above Little Whinging.
His death made the world feel a lot less safe, but at least he died the same way he lived-- as a hero.
The other innocent life lost the night of the Battle of the Seven Potters was Harry’s trusted snow owl Hedwig. The fearless bird was struck down by a Killing Curse, one that was probably meant for Hagrid, which saved him.
The intelligent Hedwig had been a gift from Hagrid for Harry’s 11th birthday. The brave bird was with Harry throughout his many difficult times at both 4 Privet Drive and at Hogwarts. Whenever Harry was isolated or in trouble, he could count on the dependable Hedwig to either deliver an urgent message, or just to provide comfort.
Beyond just the sadness of losing a dear pet, part of what made Hedwig’s death so painful was how unexpected it was. The members of the Order of the Phoenix were all willing combatants in the Second Wizarding War. Readers knew they might not survive. However, Hedwig was defenseless, an innocent victim of Voldemort and his death Eaters.
7 Nymphadora Tonks
Fans would have been crushed by Tonks’ death during the Battle of Hogwarts under any circumstances. However, her end was especially heartbreaking because she was killed alongside her new husband, Remus Lupin, and she had recently given birth to their son Teddy.
The brave Metamorphmagus with the ever-changing hair color had trained to be an Auror under Mad-Eye Moody, so she joined the new Order of the Phoenix during the Second Wizarding War. In this role she helped to rescue Harry and his friends from Death Eaters at the Department of Mysteries. She also was part of the team that helped Harry flee during the Battle of the Seven Potters.
Fans would have wept over the death of Tonks’ no matter what, but the brutal circumstances surrounding her death made it so much worse. Teddy would never get a chance to meet his two loving, brave parents.
6 Remus Lupin
There are some who think Remus Lupin is the single saddest character in the entire Harry Potter series, because, as a werewolf, he lived an isolated and difficult life. No matter where you rank him on that list though, his death is one of the hardest to accept.
The last living Marauder and the best Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor during Harry’s time, Remus Lupin was a mentor and friend to the Boy Who Lived. He was also a brave wizard, a member of the original Order of the Phoenix, and a key part of its second iteration.
His death was especially hard due to the circumstances of his life right before he died. He had finally accepted Tonks’s love and the two had married. Plus, their son Teddy had just been born. When he was killed at the Battle of Hogwarts, he was truly happy for the first time in years, making the death of him and his wife, and the orphaning of their son, even more excruciating.
5 Fred Weasley
Throughout the novels it was unfathomable to imagine George and Fred Weasley without the other. The two mischievous brothers did everything together. From pulling pranks on fellow students at Hogwarts, to undermining Dolores Umbridge when she was headmaster, to opening their own joke shop together, the two were always side-by-side.
Both were imminently lovable, which is why Fred’s death during the Battle of Hogwarts hurt so much. The close-knit Weasley family (who had an emotional reconciliation with Percy right before the fight started) played such a meaningful role in Harry's life that losing one of them was completely devastating. Knowing that George would have to continue on without his twin made it worse.
If all of this wasn’t enough, Fred died the way he lived-- with a smile on his face. This is yet one more reason why his death will always make fans well up with tears when they think about losing him.
4 Severus Snape
As one of the most complicated and troubled characters in the series, Professor Snape’s death at the hands of Voldemort didn’t seem especially painful in the moment. He was a secret Death Eater who had betrayed and killed Dumbledore. It was only fitting he died because he trusted his Dark Lord.
However, once readers learned the truth about his life-- how he had been responsible for Lily’s death and had been protecting Harry ever since-- this all changed. Snape had made terrible mistakes, but he had devoted his life to atone for them. He had treated Harry horribly at Hogwarts out of long-held animosity for James Potter, but all that time he had bravely been trying to keep Harry safe.
Only when he was gone did Harry learn who Professor Snape had really been, making his murder truly crushing.
Will the death of Severus Snape forever make Harry Potter fans cry? “Always.”
3 Sirius Black
The infamous criminal Sirius Black was one of the great victims of the Harry Potter series, and his death stands as one of the most heartbreaking. He was framed by one of his closest friends, Peter Pettigrew, for both betraying his best friend James Potter and killing 12 Muggles.
As a result, Sirius, who had also been estranged from his family since the age of 16, spent much of his adult life suffering at the terrible Azkaban prison. Even when he managed to escape, he had to live in hiding, which kept him largely apart from his godson Harry.
Sirius was brave, and was an original member of the Order of the Phoenix, who arrived at the Department of Mysteries to rescue Harry and his friends from Death Eaters. During the massive fight he was struck down by his own cousin Bellatrix Lestrange. Seeing him fall lifelessly through the Veil in the Death Chamber right in front of Harry was one of the most brutal, saddest, and unexpected deaths in the books.
2 Professor Dumbledore
Readers eventually learned that Dumbledore’s death, from a fatal curse, was imminent anyway, and that his final moment was really a brave attempt by the beloved professor to save Draco Malfoy’s soul.
Yet this didn’t change the awful sadness we experienced when Severus Snape answered Dumblore’s “please” with “Avada Kedavra.” In the moment, it felt like the ultimate betrayal. No one knew that two dear friends had just acted heroically under the most impossible of circumstances, which added yet another level of sadness after the fact.
Harry’s mentor and protector had represented all that was wise and good in the wizarding world, and seeing him fall to his death from that tower was arguably the lowest, darkest point in the entire series.
Both Harry and fans would find comfort in one final, unexpected encounter with Hogwarts’ headmaster in the afterlife. This didn’t change the pain they felt the night he died, however; a scene that still can result in a good cry when rereading or rewatching The Half-Blood Prince.
No character in the entire franchise was more pure of heart than Dobby, the brave little Malfoy house-elf who risked his evil master’s scorn to look after The Boy Who Lived. He was an innocent soul in a dark world who took it upon himself to protect Harry Potter, an allegiance that eventually cost him his own life.
Dobby first entered Harry’s life in The Chamber of Secrets, when he tried to keep Harry from Hogwarts because he knew the young wizard was in grave danger there. After this, the bond between the two only grew stronger, with Dobby coming to work at Hogwarts (with a paid salary) where he was able to be near his closest friends.
He died at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange while saving Harry one final time. If there is any question of whether his death deserves the top spot among the saddest of the series, just say these words to any Harry Potter fan and watch the tears come: “Here lies Dobby. A free elf.”
Can you think of any other Harry Potter deaths that had you crying? Which of these was the hardest to witness? Let us know in the comments.