Intelligence can mean many things — especially if you’re a wizard. Magic spells, potions, and charms all take a certain kind of mind to master. And not every wizard is up to the task. Yet, some excel at not just mastering the magical arts but putting them to practical use as well.
When it comes to the smartest heroes in the Harry Potter series, there are many options to choose from. A lot of the witches and wizards who take on Voldemort and his Death Eaters are clever strategists and skilled magicians. We’ve narrowed that long list down to these 10 key characters. Here’s our ranking of Harry Potter’s smartest heroes.
10 FRED & GEORGE WEASLEY
Fred and George Weasley aren’t the characters that typically spring to mind when the subject of smartest Harry Potter characters is brought up. And it’s true that when it came to academic achievement the twins weren’t exactly at the top of their class. Yet, in other ways, Fred and George proved to be two of the most resourceful and entrepreneurial characters in the series.
Yes, they dropped out of Hogwarts, but they weren’t idle afterward. They opened a shop on Diagon Alley that was soon thriving, even as the Second Wizarding War was raging on. Plus, they invented many magical objects throughout the series, many of which were available for purchase at Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes. It was their ingenuity that enabled them to be so successful so young.
9 REMUS LUPIN
Remus Lupin is best known for being a werewolf. It’s a condition that plagued him and made his life exponentially more difficult. And it led him to be less confident and sure of his actions than he might have been otherwise. Because of that, it can be easy to overlook just how bright Lupin was.
He was by far the best Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor at Hogwarts during the Harry Potter series. And while the bar wasn’t that high, he showed himself to be genuinely skilled at the subject with a knack for sharing it with his students. Also, from the time he came to Hogwarts as a child, Lupin demonstrated a mature wisdom and an ability to understand people that was unmatched by many of his fellow wizards.
8 HARRY POTTER
Harry Potter may be the character the series is named after, but that doesn’t make him the know-it-all of the Wizarding World. Nonetheless, Harry doesn't lack for intelligence. While he was only an average student, throughout the series he displayed qualities that showed he’s above average in numerous ways.
Harry showed special talent in the areas of Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Especially when he was provided with good instruction, he flourished. In addition, even though The Boy Who Lived was a courageous character, that would have only taken him so far if he didn’t have the quick wits and sound judgment to back it up.
7 SIRIUS BLACK
Sirius Black was such a charismatic personality that his intelligence might be overlooked. Sirius himself often took his intellect for granted. When he was in school at Hogwarts, academics came easily to him. He never studied hard, yet he still got top marks. Even Professor McGonagall acknowledged that he was exceptionally bright.
On top of that, Sirius became an Animagus at a very young age — an achievement few wizards could ever pull off. He also escaped from Azkaban on his own, a feat that takes a remarkable force of will and also shows that, in addition to being academically gifted, Sirius was a clever strategist as well.
6 LILY EVANS
Harry Potter’s mother, Lily, is gone well before the series begins. Yet, despite her tragic end at the hands of Voldemort, Lily demonstrated impressive magical ability before her untimely demise. Even though she was born to a Muggle family, after arriving at Hogwarts she quickly excelled in several subjects.
Harry learned from Professor Slughorn that his mother was extremely talented at Potions. Slughorn even invited her to be part of his exclusive Slug Club, something he usually reserved for students with advantageous family connections. Lily was also skilled in Charms and Transfiguration.
5 LUNA LOVEGOOD
Luna Lovegood is often remembered for her oddball quirks and belief in conspiracy theories. Her nickname was “Loony” after all. However, Luna was also sorted into Ravenclaw, a house known for its intelligence. And underneath Luna’s peculiarities was a keen mind.
Luna was shown to be adept at solving riddles, something she had to do on a regular basis simply to get into Ravenclaw Tower. She was also shown to be a talented witch who could easily summon her Patronus. In addition, Luna fought in numerous battles as a member of Dumbledore’s Army and, more importantly, managed to survive them.
4 MINERVA MCGONAGALL
At Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall was a close advisor of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, and it’s easy to understand why. McGonagall was an extremely skilled witch, but her experiences also made her worldly and wise.
When she was still a student, she demonstrated particular skill at Transfiguration and became an Animagus. In fact, she was one of only seven people registered as Animagi at the time. Later, she not only became Hogwarts' Headmistress, but she also had enough skill to hold her own in battle against Voldemort for a time. Something lesser witches and wizards couldn’t hope to accomplish.
3 SEVERUS SNAPE
Many of the characters of the Harry Potter series are tragic figures, and Snape has perhaps one of the saddest backstories of all. When he was first introduced he seemed like an unsympathetic villain, but Shape also did his fair share of heroic things, even if they were often kept secret. Still, Snape’s story remains divisive among fans. On the other hand, his intelligence is never in doubt.
Even as a young student, Snape showed a unique talent for Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts. He invented numerous spells and curses that became well known in the Wizarding World. He could also heal magical wounds and cure curses. Most importantly, Snape was skilled at Occlumency, the art of hiding the inner-workings of one's mind from others. It’s a skill that kept him alive and in Voldemort’s good graces for years while he also worked for the Order of the Phoenix.
2 HERMIONE GRANGER
Even though she was the daughter of two Muggle dentists, Hermione Granger came to be known as the brightest witch of her age. It’s a label she consistently lived up to. The most obvious sign of Hermione’s intelligence was her academic achievements. While she didn’t grow up surrounded by witches and wizards, when she came to Hogwarts, she made up for lost time and excelled in all her classes. However, Hermione was much more than book smart.
Her precise mind allowed her to master spells and acquire magical knowledge that made her an invaluable ally to Harry in his fight against Voldemort. She repeatedly used her knowledge to help her friends, including by brewing Polyjuice Potion in only her second year to get important information from Draco Malfoy and by co-founding Dumbledore’s Army and keeping it hidden from Professor Umbridge.
1 ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
Throughout the Harry Potter series, Albus Dumbledore, the beloved Headmaster of Hogwarts, proved time and time again that he was the smartest hero of the Wizarding World. His magic was so strong and his knowledge so extensive that he was the only wizard Voldemort was said to be afraid of. Dumbledore demonstrated his magical genius early. He was not only a top student but he also started publishing papers showcasing his magical expertise when he was still in school.
Dumbledore was also accomplished outside the classroom. He defeated Grindelwald when it seemed no one could. And as the leader of the Order of the Phoenix, he was clever and calculated, creating plans that would play out over the years. Dumbledore’s long experience also granted him wisdom and perspective. When it comes to the smartest characters in the series, Dumbledore was the total package.