Since his demise during the Battle of Hogwarts, Severus Snape has become a hero in both the Wizarding World and here in the real muggle world. But his time in the classroom was controversial to say the least, and his journey far more complicated than even Harry's.
It's fair to say that most characters in the Harry Potter universe have been up to no good at some point, but no one quite blurred the lines between good and wicked like Snape did. From tormenting students to killing headmasters, here are 10 Times Snape Should Have Been Fired (Or Imprisoned In Azkaban).
From the moment the already-infamous Harry Potter enrolled at Hogwarts, things were destined to become complicated for him. With that said, his first few days at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry should have been nothing but endless wonder. And for the most part it was, at least until one oily-haired, hook-nosed potions teacher decided to call Harry out in front of the entire class and humiliate him for his understandable lack of potions knowledge.
Of course, we all know why Snape targeted Harry and did so for years thereafter - he simply hated Harry's father, James Potter. But should this excuse humiliating an 11-year-old child whom Snape already knew had such a troublesome road ahead? Absolutely not. While being fired seems like an extreme measure for what appeared to be a one-off incident, it's not exactly the last time Snape did such a thing during Harry's time at Hogwarts.
Teenagers are annoying at the best of times, and in the adolescent-driven, Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire the students are certainly at their most annoying. And one can only empathize with a teacher when dealing with students who just won't shut up. During the classroom scene in which Harry, Ron and Hermione discuss the upcoming Yule Ball, Snape starts to lose his temper with the trio and ends up aggressively pushing Ron's head down so that he gets on with his studying.
When Ron and Harry continue to whisper, Snape swiftly returns and slaps them both over their heads with his book. Shortly afterward he returns and shoves both their heads down. Hogwarts might already be a ridiculously dangerous school, and the books and movies might be set back in the 90s when classroom punishment wasn't as frowned upon as it is now, but this is something Snape would definitely be fired for in real-world 2019!
In Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, we meet Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Remus Lupin, who, as we all know turns out to be a werewolf. Lupin and Harry quickly develop a solid friendship, which makes sense given that Lupin was one of James Potter's close friends. In fact, as they all bullied Snape back in the early days, it's surprising to learn that Snape had actually been helping Lupin throughout Harry's third school year to make sure his animal side was kept at bay.
However, the fact that Snape knew all along that one of his fellow faculty members was a werewolf (let that sink in for a moment) should really overshadow the fact that he helped to stop him from turning. Sure, Snape was doing a good thing here, but putting the lives of countless students at risk by knowingly allowing a werewolf into the school in the first place is a very, very bad thing indeed, and should have at the very least warranted a trip to Dumbledore's office.
In Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, we learn that Snape was perhaps even weirder as a student. This is evident from the fact that he secretly wrote the Advanced Potion-Making book. Sure, it might have shown just how committed he was to his education, but considering all of the home-made spells in the book were probably unsanctioned and therefore illegal, it's both downright alarming and indicative of just how messed up Snape really is.
While it remains a bit of a mystery as to why Snape left this book lying around, it still ended up in the hands of none other than Harry Potter himself. Understandably, Harry is later shocked to later learn that Snape was the Half-Blood Prince. Leaving your journal lying around is one thing, but when it contains seriously dangerous spells, it's reasonable to say that Snape should have been kicked out of Hogwarts for this one.
Regardless of the fact that Snape helped Harry from behind the scenes for years at Hogwarts, the Potions Master was a far-from-perfect human being. This, of course, makes him one of the most interesting and complex characters in Harry Potter by far, but to call Snape an outright hero is nothing short of an outright lie, especially considering how much pleasure he took in making the lives of every non-Slytherin a complete misery.
There are many examples throughout the books and movies where Snape terrorizes select students, from turning his exceptionally-large nose whenever Malfoy and his minions bully Harry to always taking points off Gryffindor for no real good reason. But perhaps the best example is Neville Longbottom's Boggart in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. While seeing Snape dressed as Neville's grandmother is pretty funny, it also highlights just how terrified the student is of the teacher.
From the moment Harry first stepped foot inside Hogwarts until the moment he defeated Voldemort, Snape protected him, whether it was saving him from certain death during a Quidditch match when Professor Quirrell bewitched his broom or physically guarding him against Lupin's werewolf. In Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix, things get a little more up close and personal between the two, when Dumbledore orders Snape to train Harry in Occlumency.
Snape is tasked with training Harry to block mind-invasions by Voldemort, which involves Snape penetrating Harry's mind himself. But Harry - who isn't making as much of an effort as he should be - sees into Snape's past and witnesses some of the bullying Snape suffered at the hands of James Potter. Consequently, Snape cancels the lessons and bans Harry from returning, thus exposing the already-vulnerable teenager to a powerful mass murderer. Real hero.
This is easily the most controversial entry on this list, but it's also the most inevitable. However, there's a reason it isn't at the top, and that's because there is, of course, more to Dumbledore's death than meets the eye. In Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, having previously tried to destroy a Horcrux, the headmaster's mortality is compromised. As a result, he orders Snape to kill him at the right moment in a bid to convince Voldemort of his allegiance. And so Snape ends up casting the killing curse on Dumbledore atop the Astronomy Tower.
There's no doubt whatsoever that this is perhaps one of the most difficult things Snape is ever asked to do, not to mention how brave he is in the first place to stand alongside Voldemort and his followers when his cover could be blown at any minute. But if murdering the headmaster - whatever the reason - isn't enough to get fired and end up in Azkaban, then we really don't know what is.
In Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, it's revealed that Snape is the latter titular character - owner of the Advanced Potion-Making book, which Harry discovers in his sixth year. However, unbeknown to Harry at the time, a spell from the book that he casts on Draco Malfoy during a fight is a particularly nasty one. Sectumsempra slashes the victim repeatedly, and following Malfoy's horrific injuries, Snape even has the audacity to show anger towards Harry, despite having actually created the spell when he was a student at Hogwarts.
We also learn that Snape invented this spell, along with all the others in the book, in a bid to retaliate against his bullies during his time as a student. In other words, Snape effectively created weapons on school premises designed to cause harm to others. While there’s nothing to suggest in the lore that Snape actually used Sectumsempra himself, there’s something very wicked about the fact that he made it in the first place.
It's no mystery that Snape was a double-double (toil and trouble) agent who was an expert at both managing mischief and being up to no good. But things such as hitting students over the head, being a werewolf-enabler and even killing Dumbledore pale in comparison to the alarming fact that Snape was once a Death Eater. Yes - he was one of Voldemort's low-life, hate-fuelled supremacist followers, mask and all.
We also know that he turned to the good side once he learned of Voldemort's plans to kill the Potters, and ended up aiding Dumbledore in protecting Harry and infiltrating Voldemort's army. The trouble is that Snape never answered for his crimes - but then thank Merlin he didn't because things would have turned out a lot different. But nevertheless, it's a perfectly good reason to lose your post at Hogwarts and end up with nothing but Dementors as company for the rest of your miserable life.
The real issue with Snape turning to the good side is the fact that he had already done some pretty irreparable damage before doing so. After overhearing Professor Trelawney telling Dumbledore of a prophecy about an as-yet-unborn boy who would become Voldemort’s equal, Snape wasted no time in telling the Dark Lord about it, even if he was only able to report vague details.
Snape was later disturbed by Voldemort’s decision to target the Potters and so he switched sides and told Dumbledore everything. But Voldemort would later murder James and Lily Potter after deciding that Harry was the prophet. Not only were their deaths a consequence of Snape’s actions, he only showed concern for Lily Potter, having been in love with her since being a student at Hogwarts. In fact, Snape had even pleaded with Voldemort to spare her, showing no remorse for James and Harry.