Harry Potter: 20 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Snape

Severus Snape

One of the most complex characters to ever grace the pages and movie screens of the Harry Potter franchise has to be Professor Severus Snape. Equally good guy and bad guy, Snape is someone that often keeps fans scratching their heads. On the one hand, he seems like a horrible person, especially considering that he once pledged himself to the Death Eaters. On the other hand, he becomes a double agent and works with Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix to help them defeat Voldemort.

Snape's history is a complicated one, which becomes even more confusing when one considers that he was completely in love with Harry's mother, Lily. In fact, almost everything he does after her passing is because of her. But did he really love Lily, or was it just an infatuation that went way too far? This is probably why most Harry Potter fans get certain things about Snape completely wrong.

Was he a hero? Or was he always a villain who had his heroic moments? Was he a good teacher or was he awful at it? Was he devoted to Dumbledore or not? Was he a Death Eater till the end of his life or had he truly become a good man? What exactly did his final words mean? Was he ever truly capable of becoming a good man? Questions remain about Snape, although the answers and truth lie somewhere in between the pages of the original Harry Potter novels.

Here are 20 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Snape.

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20 Snape was a bully

Harry Potter Ron Snape and Harry

Harry got a sneak peek into the mind of Snape when saw the professor's memories , which showed Harry a young Snape at Hogwarts. In one particular memory, Snape was the victim of bullying, mostly by Harry's father. That scene earned the character of Snape some sympathy, but that still doesn't make him a good man.

The bullied Snape went on to become a bully himself.

He was an utterly cruel man and was so much of a bully to his students that Neville's boggart took the form of Snape. With everything that was going on at the time, why be such a horrible person to kids? Here's why: Snape was a bully.

19 Snape chose to be a Death Eater early on

Snape Deatheaters

One thing that many fans seem to forget is that, before Lily' passing, Snape was a real Death Eater. He chose that life before he ever became a double agent. As a student at Hogwarts, Snape loved the Dark Arts, so it only made sense that his path led to such a dark life. He supported Voldemort the first time around, and that was his choice.

He only became a double agent after Lily's passing, probably because he felt so guilty about it. But make no mistake: Snape once swore his allegiance to Voldemort and was as responsible for the end of Harry's parents as Voldemort. Sure, people change, but in his heart, Snape was always a dark man.

18 He was more obsessed with Lily than in love with her

Snape with Lily

Everyone seems to think that Snape was so in love with Lily that it changed him from an evil man into a good man. But Snape was not so much in love with Lily as he wasa utterly obsessed with her.

He was angry that she chose James and that anger bled into how he later treated Harry.

That is not how a man who truly loves someone behaves. In the scene after Voldemort takes out James and Lily, we see this obsession very clearly: Snape clings to Lily's body as the infant Harry, who is alive and well, wails in the background in his crib.

17 He’s a horrible teacher

Snape teaching

Some might think that Snape prepared the students of Hogwarts for the final battle against Voldemort, but the truth is that he was a horrible teacher. He spent more time belittling his students than actually teaching them. He also showed favoritism to Slytherins, many who were not very good students. Instead, the best student in the class, Hermione, got mistreated for actually knowing the answers to his questions.

What's sad is that Snape is good at potions and had the opportunity to be one of the best teachers at Hogwarts. His hatred and bitterness prevented that, and instead, his students learned more on their own than in his classes. That's just a shame.

16 Snape was prejudiced against Muggle-borns

Young Snape

Considering that Snape was half-Muggle, one might think he would not hold prejudices. He did, and he hated "Mudbloods," which is the slur for a witch or wizard with two Muggle parents.

Some fans might decry that because Snape was in love with Lily, a witch who was Muggle-born.

Snape, apparently, didn't love her enough, though, because he calls her a Mudblood at one point after he gets angry at a prank that James pulls on him. He still holds that prejudice as an adult, because why else would he treat Hermione so horribly? Hermione was also a Muggle-born, and she the smartest student in his class, but Snape refused to acknowledge that.

15 Why he hated Lupin

Remus Lupin

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, fans soon learn that the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher has a secret: he's a werewolf. This does not affect his ability to teach, and it's a secret he has lived with since he was a child. In that book, Snape has to take over teaching duties of that class one day, and instead of following Remus' lesson plan, he teaches the students about werewolves, almost telling them that their teacher is one.

Why would he give up Remus' secret so easily, especially when the two men were supposedly fighting for the same cause at the time? 

What's even worse is that he teaches the students that werewolves are monsters and not people with an unfortunate condition, which is what they really are.

14 Snape did care about his students

Snape protecting Harry Hermione and Ron

Here's where things get complicated: although Snape was an awful teacher, a bully, and just generally mean, he really did care about all his students.

He showed genuine concern when he first learned that a student had been taken into the Chamber of Secrets. Snape even created the Mandrake Draught that would heal the students that got petrified. He shielded Harry, Hermione, and Ron from a werewolf attack in Prisoner of Azkaban. In Half-Blood Prince, he took the Unbreakable Vow to protect Draco. He saved Katie Bell's life when she got cursed in that same book. In Deathly Hallows, he even told Phineas Black not to refer to Hermione as a Mudblood.

13 He was the best healer at Hogwarts, even over Madame Pomfrey


Although Hogwarts had Madame Pomfrey to do most of its healing when students fell ill, there were times when they needed someone even more knowledgeable about the art of making someone better. Believe it or not, Professor Snape was the person that Hogwarts usually turned to. When Katie Bell was cursed, Snape was the only person who could save her. It was Snape that Dumbledore sought out after he got cursed: Snape helped extend Dumbledore's life.

It seems that when it comes to potentially lethal injuries caused by Dark magic, Snape is possibly the only person who can heal someone stricken by such an affliction. Although he is well-versed in the Dark Arts, Snape is also an excellent healer.

12 He let Voldemort destroy Lily and James

Harry and Hermione at grave

Snape was a Death Eater through and through, and was very aware of Voldemort's plans. Snape was the one who delivered the prophecy to Voldemort, therefore allowing Voldemort to understand that a particular baby named Harry Potter could mean the villain's end. Although it took Snape a minute to catch on, he had every opportunity to stop Voldemort from attacking Harry in the first place.

Sure, once Snape learned of Voldemort's plans, he pleaded for Lily's life , but that's all he did.

He did not raise a wand to Voldemort even as He Who Must Not Be Named took James and Lily's lives. Snape had a chance to stop Voldemort from destroyed the love of his life, but he was too cowardly to do it.

11 He was always an avid student of the Dark Arts

Young Snape

As previously mentioned, Snape was already a Death Eater long before the events that took place in the first Harry Potter book. This is probably because he had a penchant for the Dark Arts, even when he was a student at Hogwarts.

This was something that Snape embraced even before getting bullied by James.

Snape was so good at the Dark Arts that he also began to create his own spells, something Harry learned about by reading the textbook that Snape used as a student. Snape was even the one who created the Sectumsempra curse, which basically skewers the person at the end of it with an invisible sword. Snape continued his studies of the Dark Arts well into adulthood.

10 Lily could actually have fallen in love with him

Lily and Severus

Considering how things worked out, fans might not realize that there was always a slight chance that Lily and James would not get together-- although fate meant that they had to so that Harry could be born. Lily and Severus were always close, having spent much of their childhoods together.

Even author J.K. Rowling says that their relationship was meaningful and that there was always a possibility of Lily returning Snape's love. She stated that Lily once had feelings for Snape, but it was his love for Dark Magic that eventually turned her away from him. Well, probably that and the fact that he called her a Mudblood. Lily also did not approve of the "loathsome" people he chose to hang around.

9 He was one of Hogwarts’ greatest wizards

Lily and Snape

Although it's barely touched upon, the truth is that although Snape is a horrible teacher, he was still one of the best wizards that ever graduated from Hogwarts. As a student, he was very diligent in his studies. He was more well-versed in spells, potions and the Dark Arts than any of his peers. In Half-Blood Prince, Harry finds a textbook that once belonged to a young Snape: that book is full of notes showing off spells that Snape created himself.

Even as a teacher, Snape was easily the best wizard around, especially after also considering how skillful of a healer he was.

8 Snape’s final words were creepy

A lot of fans romanticize Snape's final words, the thing he said to Harry as he drew his final breaths. Snape sacrificed himself for the cause, and said to Harry, "Look at me." Now that might seem that Snape wanted Harry to see him as a hero, as someone who loved Harry's mother and used that love to become a better man than he once was. But the truth is, those words were creepy.

He spent a lot of time telling Harry that he had his mother's eyes, and Snape was obsessed with Harry's mother. 

When he said "Look at me," he wanted to see Lily's eyes one final time. This seems bizarre because it's as if Snape is only seeing Harry as the woman he loved.

7 He had a sense of humor

Snape Sarcastic

One word that most people don't often use in describing Snape is "funny." But when looking back at some of the things he says, it turns out that Snape was, in fact, absolutely hilarious.

His special brand of deadpan sarcasm often got lost on his students, but many of his lines would leave most readers rolling in the aisles.

For example, when Harry states the obvious, about ghosts being transparent, Snape chimes in with: "Yes, it is easy to see that nearly six years of magical education have not been wasted on you, Potter. Ghosts are transparent.” It's also pretty funny when he refers to his previous students as "dunderheads." Believe it or not, Professor Snape was not always serious.

6 He was more important to Harry’s story that Harry himself

Snape and Minerva

Sure, readers thought the most important person in Harry Potter's story is Harry, but the truth is that Snape was far more important in both the books and movies. It was Snape, not Harry, that almost every single event in the story revolves around.

Snape is the one who overheard the prophecy about the boy who would end Voldemort. That prophecy defined the entire lives of both Harry and Voldemort. That prophecy also led to the eliminsyio of Lily, which also significantly affected Harry's story. Lily sacrificed herself so that Harry could live. Snape was the instigator of everything that happens in the books and movies, and without him, Harry would never have become the hero.

5 Snape wasn't middle-aged

Snape teaching Draco

Some Harry Potter fans might not realize is how young Snape was. This probably has to do with the fact that the actor who portrayed him, Alan Rickman, appeared as an older man in the movies. Many fans think he was in his 50s or 60s, but Snape was born in 1960, the same year as Lily.

With the books set in the '90s, this means that Snape was only in his 30s when he taught Harry and his friends at Hogwarts.

When Snape became headmaster at Hogwarts, he was the youngest wizard to hold that position. When he lost his life in 1998, he was only 38 years old.

4 Why he was mean to his students

Harry Ron Hermione doing homework at Hogwarts

Maybe Snape was an awful teacher, but then again, maybe he wasn't. Perhaps his teaching methods were far from normal, but in the end, it was his teaching results that were most important. It's no secret that Professor Snape was downright mean to most of his student, but there was a method to this madness: Snape was mean to them because he was trying to prepare them for what lay beyond the walls of Hogwarts.

Mean people exist in the real world.

Here's the thing: Dumbledore knew that Snape was mean to the students, but the headmaster still allowed it. It's likely that he did this because he believed that his students needed life lessons, including how to deal with mean teachers.

3 He knew Lily before Hogwarts


From reading the books and seeing the movies, most fans think that Snape did not meet Lily until they were students together at Hogwarts. It seems that they knew each other well before that. According to Pottermore, the village of Cokeworth was the place where both Snape and Lily grew up. That means that they lived in the same town, probably close to each other before they received their acceptance letters to Hogwarts.

More than likely, Snape fell in love with Lily long before they both attended Hogwarts. The two were childhood friends. It also makes sense that Rowling believes the two would have become a couple had Snape not become so involved with the Dark Arts.

2 He and Harry were a lot alike

Harry and Snape

Many fans believe that one of the reasons that Harry and Snape did not get along was because they were so different from each other, but were they really all that different? The truth is that the two had a lot in common and were more alike than most might believe.

Both were half-blood wizards who grew up among Muggles. Both grew up in abusive families.

Although Snape wore second-hand clothes because he was poor, Harry's family made him wear second-hand clothes because they didn't like him. They both grew up lonely, with few friends. Both suffered from bullying at Hogwarts. Both of them fell in love with a redhead: Snape fell for Lily, while Harry fell in love with Ginny Weasley. The key difference, of course, is that Harry chose to be kind, even after all that.

1 He was the only Death eater with a Patronus

Doe Patronus

A Patronus results from a difficult spell called Expecto Patronum. It is a being of pure energy that can protect a witch or wizard from a dark force, such as a Dementor. The spell requires positive feelings to cast it. Perhaps that is why Death Eaters are not capable of having one. The exception, of course, was Severus Snape, whose Patronus mimicked the shape of the Patronus of the woman he loved, Lily.

His Patronus was a doe.

That makes sense because Lily was the only happiness that Snape ever really knew. Unlike the other Death Eaters, Snape had at least one pure memory that allowed him to cast the Expecto Patronum spell.


What are some other common misunderstands about Snape from Harry Potter? Let us know in the comments!

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