Severus Snape is a rather controversial character from Harry Potter. While reading the books, it’s easy to dislike him as everything is seen from Harry’s perspective, but in the end, he’s given a redemption arc. Even with this arc, however, many fans felt that his overall actions still made him a bad person while others argued that he was a good guy overall despite having some flaws.
Whether you're a fan of Snape or not, there are some things he did that weren’t very redeemable and some he did that were. So, we’ve put together a list of the five worst things he’s done and five that redeem him.
Much of the plot of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone revolves around Harry thinking that Snape is a bad guy. He believes it’s Snape that is trying to steal the sorcerer’s stone, so when it’s revealed to have actually been Quirrell, it’s quite a twist. It’s also revealed at the end of the book that Snape actually tried to save Harry’s life earlier that year in the Quidditch match when Quirrell was trying to kill him.
Even though Snape might have turned from the Death Eater side to actively fight against Voldemort, this doesn’t change the fact that he was just a mean person. He treated other people around him poorly in general, and this is especially true of most of his students.
He was a huge bully, and he picked favorites. He was especially brutal to Neville, even though Neville clearly just needed a little bit of guidance. He also made fun of Hermione’s appearance.
Early in the series, fans are introduced to the idea that Snape is rather complicated. Yes, he’s a jerk, and he’s definitely not someone you’d want to have as a professor. On the other hand, he also goes to great lengths to protect the stone and keep Quirrel away from it. He goes above and beyond to watch Quirrell and seems really disgusted by his actions. This goes to show he’s committed to the good side.
Some of Snape’s worst actions have to do with the fact that he’s rather vindictive and can’t let go of childhood grudges. This is very obvious in his treatment of and attitude towards Lupin. He is openly disdainful, and at the end of the school year, he reveals that Lupin is a werewolf out of spite. This is a rather awful thing to do, as prejudice against werewolves makes it so Lupin has to resign. This impacts his career and ability to make money, and Snape doing this is just sad and petty.
While Snape might be a rather cruel professor, there was one that was way worse than him. The way Dolores Umbridge treated students made Snape look rather nice in comparison. So, when Umbdige tried to use veritaserum to interrogate students, Snape did his best to prevent this.
He liked to Umbridge and was sneaky about not helping her. This goes to show that he at least cared more about the students then she did.
This is truly one of the worst things about Snape. While he might have had a rough childhood and might have eventually switched back to the good side, he still supported Voldemort at one point. This means he believed in his ideals including torturing and killing Muggles and Muggle-borns. This is an extreme and horrible thing to do, and it’s hard to redeem Snape for this no matter what he does later in life.
This is another one of Snape’s actions from the Harry Potter series that definitely can be considered good, even if his motivations for doing so might be complicated. While he likely did this only because of Dumbledore's orders, he still had to put himself at risk to do so. If it wasn’t for Snape, Harry never would have gotten his hands on the Sword of Gryffindor and wouldn’t have been able to get rid of all the Horcruxes and defeat Voldemort.
Snape and Lily were good friends for years before they ever went to Hogwarts, so Snape’s treatment of her in this instance is even worse. Mudblood is considered to be an awful slur in the wizarding world, so calling anyone that name is rather gross. So, when Snape calls Lily that, it’s shocking and disgusting. She is understandably upset and decides not to be friends with him anymore, and Snape definitely deserves this.
This might be one of the most selfless things that Snape does. While Draco definitely is a messed up character, in some ways he never stood a chance. So, when Voldemort tasks him with this horrible thing, Snape does everything he can to save Draco.
With Dumbledore’s help, they orchestrate Snape killing Dumbledore so that Draco can have a chance to live and also save him from the fate of having to kill another person.
While Snape's love for Lily is often cited as one of the best things about him, his love for her was always very selfish. He ignored her wishes and could never really let go of her which is rather creepy. On top of that, he was only interested in saving her. He had no issue with Voldemort killing her husband as well as her child who was not even a toddler yet. This is a horrible thing to do, and it’s hard to imagine anyone being alright with this.