Not all wizards are good. This was something that Hagrid was sure to make clear to Harry in the very first Harry Potter book. The world isn't separated into good people and Death Eaters, as Sirius Black told his godson. Every single person has a balance between the light and the dark within them. Some of them favor one side over the other due to their upbringing, their fears and desires, and even their general environment. Therefore, there are a number of reasons why someone would join Lord Voldemort's army of followers.
Although some of the most famous Death Eaters, such as Bellatrix Lestrange, may have joined due to their prejudices and cult-like obsession with the powerful and wicked wizard, others did so out of fear or a feeling of loneliness. Generally, these motivations caused them to be fairly ineffectual as Death Eaters.
The truth is, not every Death Eater was as valuable to Lord Voldemort as we may have thought. In fact, there was definitely a hierarchy amongst his ranks. On occasion, this hierarchy shifted, usually depending on who fell out of favor with the Dark Lord. Even then, Voldemort knew who was the most valuable of his sycophantic followers. The Dark Lord used them to strike terror in the hearts of all of those who opposed him, but like all tyrannical leaders, he made sure to tell them where they stood in comparison to their vile colleagues.
Here are the 13 Strongest Death Eaters (And 7 So Weak They're Useless).
20 Strongest: Lucius Malfoy
Lucius Malfoy is one of the only Death Eaters to go through an actual character arc in the series. During this arc, we see him fall from Lord Voldemort's favor. This shattered his confidence, and thus impacted his magical abilities. However, beforehand, he was easily one of the Dark Lord's strongest and most talented servants. This, as well as his leadership skills and financial resources, is why was at Voldemort's side during the First Wizarding War and for much of the Second.
Lucius was a highly proficient duelist, completely unafraid to inflict the Unforgivable Curses on his enemies.
He did so with a level of elegance, as he held himself in very high regard. He was fast, agile, and an excellent tactician. However, after he failed to retrieve Harry's prophecy and was sent to Azkaban, all of this changed.
19 Strongest: Barty Crouch Jr.
Barty Crouch Jr. was immensely talented when it came to the Dark Arts. In fact, he's arguably one of the best on this list. First off, his dueling skills were enough to bring down Alastor Moody, who he convincingly impersonated for the better part of a year. During this impersonation, he even taught Defense Against The Dark Arts, proving that he had a great understanding of it. He was presumably skilled at Occlumency, as he would have wanted to shield his mind from Dumbledore while posing as Mad-Eye Moody.
Additionally, Crouch was proficient with the Unforgivable Cruses. Most famously, he used one of them with Bellatrix Lestrange on Neville Longbottom's parents, driving them into madness. In 1981, he also managed to occasionally slip out of his father's Imperius Curse.
18 Weakest: Stanley Shunpike
Casual Harry Potter fans may remember Stanley Shunpike as the Night Bus conductor from Prisoner of Azkaban. However, dedicated fans know that he actually became one of the Death Eaters. Originally, he was arrested for claiming to know inside information on them, even though he probably was joking.
When Voldemort released his allies from Azkaban, he placed Shunpike under the Imperius Curse and made him a formal Death Eater.
However, Shunpike's magical skills weren't worth the Dark Lord's time. He wasn't a skilled duelist, nor particularly talented at spells in general. Harry had no issue stunning him during the aerial Battle of the Seven Potters.
17 Strongest: Rodolphus Lestrange
You can't marry Bellatrix Lestrange unless you can keep up with her evil. Although the practically unseen Rodolphus Lestrange was no Voldemort, he was certainly a powerful dark wizard. He famously took part in the use of the Cruciatus Curse on the Aurors Frank and Alice Longbottom. This horrific incident gave the Aurors a fate worse than the loss of life.
Rodolphus was also a skilled duelist, comfortably taking on both Kingsley Shaklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks. Little is know about his personality, but it's safe to say that he had a similar taste for violence as his wife, even if he wasn't as formidable as the man she was truly in love with.
16 Strongest: Severus Snape
When it comes to powerful wizards, Severus Snape ranked pretty high on the list. A lot of his formidable abilities had to do with how well-read he was. There were very few subjects he was not an expert on, which was what got him so many positions at Hogwarts and allowed him the ability to master skills that some witches and wizards only dreamt of.
Snape was even capable of creating spells from scratch, such as Sectumsempra.
Perhaps some of Snape's dueling skills came from osmosis-- after all, he did spend a lot of time with both Albus Dumbledore and Voldemort. Snape also held up appearances while he dueled, making sure he seemed as though he had the intent to do harm to Voldemort's enemies even though he was restraining himself.
15 Weakest: Rabastan Lestrange
There isn't enough information on Rodolphus Lestrange's brother to suggest that he was completely useless. He did take part in the horrible event that drove Alice and Frank Longbottom into insanity. He was also present in all of the major battles after Voldemort released him, his brother, and sister-in-law from Azkaban prison during The Order of the Phoenix.
Rabastan was easily stunned by Harry in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.
In fact, it didn't seem like he stood much of a chance against the 15-year-old boy. He was also described as nervous, with darting eyes during his trail, unlike his brother, Rodolphus and sister-in-law Bellatrix. Rabastan seemingly didn't have his heart in it like his family did, which made him less formidable.
14 Strongest: Antonin Dolohov
Antonin Dolohov was freed from Azkaban Prisoner and took part in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries where he first showed his substantial dueling skills. During the fight, he managed to subdue Alastor Moody but was defeated by Harry and Sirius.
Even though he failed to retrieve the prophecy, Voldemort forgave him after he broke him out of Azkaban a second time. This was probably because Dolohov had taken out many of Voldemort's enemies in the First Wizarding War, including the Prewetts. Voldemort was even more thrilled with Dolohov during the Battle of Hogwarts, as he was the man who took out Remus Lupin. He also took on more than four people at once but was eventually taken down by Professor Flitwick, who was known as a master duelist.
13 Strongest: Thorfinn Rowle
Thorfinn Rowle appeared in multiple battles in the Harry Potter books. In each one of them, he showed his skills. Firstly, he held his own against Nymphadora Tonks during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower in the book for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. During this same fight, he managed to take on, Harry, Ron, and Hermione at the same time. He was only taken out by Harry who used his Invisibility Cloak.
He was also part of the attack on Bill and Fleurs wedding but was stunned in the later altercation in the diner. Rowle was also able to cast a successful silencing charm over Hagrid when the Death Eaters captured him in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
12 Weakest: Crabbe Senior
Crabbe Senior's son, Vincent Crabbe, was particularly untalented when it came to using magic. This is just one of the reasons why one would rank Crabbe Senior low on a list of the strongest Death Eaters. Crabbe was also unfaithful to Voldemort, which angered the Dark Lord. After Voldemort's downfall, Crabbe was acquitted of being a Death Eater and didn't seek Voldemort out like Wormtail and Barty Crouch Jr did.
It was clear that Voldemort didn't think very highly of him and just saw him as a weak follower.
After all, he did forgive Lucius Malfoy for his abandonment following the end of the First Wizarding War. He even gave Lucius special tasks. Crabbe, on the other hand, couldn't even take out a 15-year-old Hermione during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.
11 Strongest: Regulus Black
Sirius Black's younger brother, Regulus, was a skilled enough wizard to earn himself a place amongst Professor Horace Slughorn's favorite students. He was also an absolutely phenomenal Quidditch player. Clearly, he was agile and a quick thinker.
Regulus' abilities attracted Voldemort, who was happy to have him amongst his ranks.
However, Regulus lost faith in Voldemort before the end of the First Wizarding War. After an incident that harmed his his house-elf, Kreacher, Regulus renounced his Death Eater ways and sought to steal one of Voldemort's Horcruxes, the Slytherin locket. He not only knew what the Horcruxes were but, with the help of Kreacher, he also strong enough to get past Voldemort's defenses.
10 Strongest: Corban Yaxley
Corban Yaxley was one of Voldemort's favorite servants. He was often chosen to go on secret missions for the Dark Lord, including the attempt to convert Horace Slughorn. Yaxley was proficient at coercion, manipulation, and the Imperius Curse. In fact, he managed to have Pius Thicknesse under his spell throughout the entire war. This proved to be incredibly beneficial for Voldemort, who used Thicknesse to completely take over the Ministry Of Magic.
Yaxley was also a very skilled duelist, ranking quite high among the Death Eaters. During the Battle of Hogwarts, Yaxley took on famed duelist Filius Flitwick. The fight ended in a stalemate. Eventually, it took both Lee Jordan and George Weasley to take him down. He was also good at non-verbal magic, using it on Fenrir Greyback at one point.
9 Weakest: Travers
Travers wasn't completely useless. After all, Voldemort did task him with various missions. He also took part in a number, such as the attack on Xenophilius Lovegood's house.
Time and time again, Travers failed to accomplish his goals.
Although Death Eaters like Lucius Malfoy failed a couple of times, at least they succeeded occasionally. Travers was also easily convinced by Hermione when she turned into Bellatrix Lestrange in The Deathly Hallows. Not only that, but Harry put him under the Imperius Curse in order to break into Gringotts Bank. Having said that, he did manage to survive a fight with Kingsley Shacklebolt during the Battle of the Seven Potters.
8 Strongest: Igor Karkaroff
This reformed Death Eater was granted the rank of Headmaster at Durmstrang Institute after the downfall of Voldemort. Igor Karkaroff was originally captured by Aurors but gained his freedom after he sold out a number of other active Death Eaters, including Barty Crouch Jr. and Augustus Rookwood.
Instead of disappearing into the night, he became Headmaster, because he was a more than a talented wizard.
Before the downfall of Voldemort, Karkaroff was highly skilled with the Unforgivable Curses. He was also capable of evading the Aurors for six whole years. This last skill helped him greatly after the return of Voldemort as he remained hidden from him until his final demise.
7 Strongest: McNair
Walden McNair was a deranged psychopath, to say the least. He was one of Voldemort's first Death Eaters and happily fought alongside him during the First Wizarding War. However, he claimed to be placed under the Imperius Curse in order to avoid jail time at the end of the war. He then started work for the Ministry of Magic as an executioner. McNair was hired to dispose of Buckbeak after he harmed Lucius Malfoy's son. All of this clearly shows how manipulative and vicious he truly was.
Once Voldemort returned, McNair rushed to his side. During the Second Wizarding War, he showed that he was one of the Dark Lord's most agile and unyielding Death Eaters. During the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Harry and his friends didn't stand a chance against him.
6 Weakest: Avery
This dark wizard wasn't particularly strong mostly due to the fact that his heart wasn't truly in it. Of all the Death Eaters, Avery was one of the most disloyal. He didn't believe in his master or the promotion of blood purity. In fact, Lily Potter called Avery a "Death Eater" back in their Hogwarts days before the term became a thing.
The reason Avery was somewhat disloyal was that he was a coward.
Avery didn't search for Voldemort after his downfall. Instead, he hid amongst the rest of the Wizarding World. This angered Voldemort, who punished him with the Cruciatus Curse upon his return. To make matters worse, Avery was quickly stunned in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, causing him to be captured and sent to prison.
5 Strongest: Alecto Carrow
Alecto, as well as her brother Amycus, were selected by Voldemort to help Snape run Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry after they took over the Ministry of Magic. The two were among those who didn't search for Voldemort after his downfall, but the forgave them as he knew that they were of great value to him. Alecto was even chosen to take part in the mission to take out Dumbledore in The Half-Blood Prince.
When Voldemort placed Alecto at Hogwarts, she showed just how vicious she could be. She had no problem punishing children in the most awful ways whenever they fell out of line. Therefore, it's easy to believe that she was particularly skilled at using the Cruciatus Curse.
4 Weakest: Draco
It's not that Draco Malfoy was a weak wizard, it's that he was a completely useless Death Eater. That's because, as Dumbledore even said, his heart wasn't truly in it. Voldemort, as well as his parents, forced him into becoming one of the servants of darkness. Quite simply, Draco had no choice.
During his time as a Death Eater, Draco unsuccessfully attempted to harm Dumbledore multiple times.
In fact, his attempts were weak at best. When the time came for the two to face each other, Draco hesitated, allowing Snape to take his place. However, Draco did possess multiple skills that would have made him a good Death Eater in theory. These skills include Occlumency-- which his aunt Bellatrix taught him-- potion-making, and dueling.
3 Strongest: Augustus Rookwood
August Rookwood was a very talented duelist. He easily went toe-to-toe with Kingsley Shacklebolt, who was one of the better duelists in Harry Potter. The real reasonb Voldemort thought Rookwood was one of his most valuable Death Eaters was because he was a brilliant spy.
During the time of the First Wizarding War, Rookwood worked as an informant while working at the Ministry of Magic. He worked in the Department of Mysteries which meant he had to have been fairly knowledgeable in order to be hired. He also found out priceless information that helped Lord Voldemort in multiple ways. Unfortunately for Rookwood, Igor Karkaraoff exposed his true loyalties and he was sent to Azkaban. Rookwood then fought for Voldemort during the Second Wizarding War.
2 Weakest: Wormtail
Wormtail is a bit of an oddity when it comes to Voldemort's Death Eaters. He clearly did have some magical skills, including learning to become an Animagus before his fifth year at Hogwarts. This may have more to do with his persistence versus actual power.
He did hide as a rat for a total of twelve consecutive years, which showed that he was willing to do anything to survive.
These qualities come from fear instead of dedication and skill. This is why he ranked so low on the Death Eater hierarchy. In fact, Voldemort absolutely loathed Wormtail, as he was disloyal to everyone but himself. Wormtail also didn't have much in the way of dueling skills, which made him useless in battle.
1 Strongest: Bellatrix Lestrange
Everyone's favorite Death Eater was also arguably Voldemort's most talented. Although her dueling skills were of the most impressive of all of her colleagues, her unyielding support of the Dark Lord is what gave her edge. She wasn't afraid to put her life on the line for Voldemort. Bellatrix was also completely insane, which allowed her to go to any and all lengths.
Aside from being the only recorded Death Eater to block a spell from Dumbledore, Bellatrix was particularly skilled at Occlumency. She even trained her nephew Draco in order to shield his mind from Snape, whom she never trusted. Although she was skilled at using the final Unforgivable Curse, she was utterly brilliant with the Cruciatus Curse. Bellatrix was also proficient with non-verbal magic, which she famously used to defeat multiple Snatchers at once.
Who do you think is the strongest or weakest Death Eater in Harry Potter? Let us know in the comments below!