A contested debate among Harry Potter fans is whether James Potter — and by extension the Marauders — were the villains during their time at school or whether it was Severus Snape. While Snape was the victim in the early days, the Marauders were the ones who went on to join the Order of the Phoenix.
There’s a lot of gray area over who was morally in the wrong here, but we’ve figured both sides were equally to blame and to sympathize with. So, if you’re a Marauders fan or will always be loyal to Snape, check out these 5 points that question the morality of either party.
10 Had: They Attacked Him First
James and Sirius were pieces of work right from the get-go, as was seen in Snape’s memory during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. On the train ride toward Hogwarts, Snape innocently implored upon Lily to be in Slytherin, which he was certain he would be getting sorted into.
Overhearing this, Sirius and James instantly took to insulting Snape for favoring Slytherin, and proceeded to mock and belittle both Lily and Snape for their preference. Neither of the two had done anything to warrant this behavior, and so began James and Sirius targeting Snape as their victim in school.
9 Didn't: He Knew Dark Magic First
Perhaps James and Sirius had a point in them not wanting to be in Slytherin, considering Snape turned out to do just what they claimed Slytherin was known for. Despite being the son of a Muggle and a meek witch, Snape somehow was knowledgeable of dark magic right from his first year at Hogwarts.
It was said that his knowledge of this brand of magic was such that even seventh-year students didn’t know as much as Snape did. This was most evident when he made horrible spells of his own such as the “Sectumsempra,” which doesn’t make Snape out to be such a good boy at Hogwarts, does it?
8 Had: Sirius's Fatal "Joke"
Snape developed an obsession with the Marauders and their exploits in order to catch them in an illegal act and cause their expulsion. Sirius, having caught wind of this, devised a plan where he let slip to Snape that there was something significant inside the Whomping Willow — you’ll recall there was a werewolf in there at the time, ready to devour any unsuspecting prey.
While Snape and Sirius hated each other, at least the former never tried to get the latter killed. This doesn’t even qualify as a prank, seeing as Snape would’ve most likely been torn to shreds. None of the Marauders even seemed to regret this joke, and James only “saved” Snape because he was worried he’d get caught.
7 Didn't: He Wanted To Be A Death Eater
When Lily was breaking off her friendship with Snape, she confessed she had no idea why she ever considered him a friend in the first place, as Snape’s gang comprised of notoriously dark wizards.
He enjoyed hanging around this group, who would all go on to become Death Eaters — Bellatrix, Malfoy, Avery, and Rosier were among this band of misfits. When he himself became a Death Eater, Snape was proud to serve under Voldemort. Meanwhile, at least three of the Marauders were selfless in laying down their lives for the good of wizardkind.
6 Had: When They Bullied Him For Fun
Although he had a gang of future Death Eaters, there’s nothing to suggest that Snape brought them in tow to bully the Marauders. The Marauders themselves were merciless in doling out this treatment to Snape.
We saw in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix how James proceeded to remove Snape’s trousers in broad daylight, where every O.W.L. student was present, just because he and Sirius were bored! James went so far as to say that his justification for bullying Snape was just because Snape existed.
5 Didn't: He Held Prejudice Against Muggle-Borns
Lily was the sole exception of Snape’s prejudice, and the former resisted for years to call Snape out on this form of hypocrisy. Having been lured into the prejudicial thinking the Death Eaters were known for, Snape openly spewed these ideals while at school.
In a moment of rage, Snape called Lily a Mudblood, purely because it would enrage James. For all their flaws, the Marauders never had this brand of hatred to dole out on anyone, even though it appears as if they were all pureblood themselves — let's wait until Rowling confirms it in the future, like other "announcements" she's made
4 Had: When They Judged Him Even As Adults
The fact of the matter is that bullying is wrong no matter who the victim is, and the Marauders were no doubt the bullies in the scenario of their school lives. For some reason, though, they held onto their hatred of Snape well into adulthood.
As evidenced by Sirius’ attitude, he still considered Snape an idiot and a nuisance, and mocked him to “play with [his] chemistry set.” because Lupin became the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher over Snape. Lupin himself didn’t consider Snape much of anything, claiming he didn’t like or dislike him; Sirius stooped so far as to calling Snape “Snivellus” when they were both in their 30s.
3 Didn't: He Was A Bully Himself
Was Snape any better than the Marauders, though? He was chiefly responsible for Neville being such a horrible student initially, and Snape bullied Harry and all of the Gryffindor House when he was supposed to be a teacher.
Sirius and Remus were very nice to people in general in adulthood, but Snape became a person who had a problem with everyone and treated them with vitriol. He would regularly insult the parents of his students, physically harm them, and regularly imply he might even poison them. This guy was a nightmare for any student, and nobody did anything to him to garner such treatment.
2 Had: Potter Stole His Curses And Used Them Against Him
It’s one thing to bully someone, but to use their own work against them is another level of despicable. James Potter somehow found out about Snape’s spells, and had no problems using them to conduct his bullying activities.
We saw this when James used “Levicorpus” on Snape, which was confirmed to be the latter’s creation in his Half-Blood Prince book. Most likely, the rest of the Marauders also followed suit with this, meaning they were coming across as magical geniuses while, in reality, they were using the spells their victim had devised.
1 Didn't: He Had No Problem If Baby Harry Died
When you’re willing to let an infant child die, then you’re truly a disgusting person. Dumbledore said this almost word-to-word to Snape, when he realized the latter had sold out the Potters to Voldemort, with the request that the Dark Lord spare Lily.
At the very least, the Marauders (sans Pettigrew) didn’t ever give us any indication to believe they would be willing to let someone murder a baby; and yet, Snape fanboys and fangirls seem to forget he had effectively sentenced a baby to death. Even after he happened upon the remains of the family, Snape didn’t so much as glance at the crying Harry in the crib and only held Lily’s body in his arms.