Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is nearly as famous as its most popular pupil, Harry Potter. There isn't a Potterhead alive who didn’t await his or her letter inviting them to attend on their twelfth birthday. Every kid, and more than a few adults, want to go to Hogwarts. The allure of Harry Potter’s world is as strong of a pipe dream as there is. In reality, however, no one should want to go to Hogwarts, because its standards for education are shockingly low.
Putting aside the fact that none of the student body have been taught to read or write above a sixth-grade level, the professors of Hogwarts are, by and large, terrible. For every McGonagall and Lupin there are a half dozen inept instructors on the opposite end of the spectrum. Almost every Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is incredibly unqualified for arguably the most important job in the school. It’s almost impossible to flick your wand at Hogwarts and not hit a mediocre professor, but there are some who rise (or sink) to truly pathetic practices.
Here are the 15 Most Worthless Hogwarts Professors.
Arguably the most divisive character in the entire Harry Potter franchise, Severus Snape is inarguably a holy terror when it comes to his role as a teacher. Regardless of his other actions, in the classroom, Snape is a monster. There is a fine line between being tough and being abusive, and he crosses that line so far that the line is basically a dot to him.
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Snape uses his position as a teacher to bully and terrorize his students, never doing anything to inspire them in any way. It wasn’t just Harry who Snape was vicious towards, either, as he was equally as irresponsible and vile towards Hermione and poor Neville (neither of whom had a father who mercilessly bullied Snape in school, so he had no excuse).
The one thing that can be said of Snape is that when he was Headmaster, he did whatever he could to protect the students. And while teaching Defense and the Dark Arts, he toned down the abusive behavior and actually taught his pupils. This led to Hermione remarking that Snape’s lecturing was not that much different from Harry's teaching style in Dumbledore’s Army. We're not so sure about that one.
He might be the Head of Ravenclaw House, but it's hard to remember a single time that Filius Flitwick did anything of importance in the Harry Potter series, books or films. It doesn’t help that his subject is basically the social studies of Hogwarts. Charms appears to be a catch-all for everything else that wasn't important enough to get its own class. Since nearly every class but Potions involves casting spells, it's hard to feel that Charms is of vital importance to anyone’s magical education.
More than just a slightly lame subject, Flitwick has almost no impact on the plot or Harry’s journey at Hogwarts. At least Professor Sprout bred the Mandrakes that saved the petrified students in Chamber of Secrets and inspired Neville enough to find his true calling. Flitwick is just there, doing nothing.
The movies were at such a loss with what to do with him that they made him a bizarre choir director. It was a weird move, but it at least allowed Warwick Davis to do something on screen other than just exist.
The first Slytherin Headmaster of Hogwarts, Phineas Nigellus Black is known as the least popular Headmaster of all time. Granted, this description is coming from his great-great-grandson, Sirius Black, who hated his entire family, but the moniker might have nothing to do with Sirius’ bias. Phineas’ exploits as a professor aren't detailed much in the books, but a very clear picture (pun intended) can be formed of what he was like at school based on his portrait in the Headmaster’s Office.
The Phineas Nigellus Black that Harry meets in his portrait(s) has a disdain for nearly everyone and everything around him. Though Phineas does help out Dumbledore, and later Snape, in their duties, it's not without a lot of grumbling. It's easy to imagine that he approached his role as Headmaster in the same annoyed way.
The most damning thing about Phineas, however, is that he quite proudly admits to hating all children. If your profession centers on dealing with kids on a daily basis, you should at least check that you can stand to be around them before taking the job.
Charms might sound a bit silly as a subject, but Divination is utterly useless. Divination is a subject that is only useful to wizards and witches who are blessed with a gift of second sight. This is why Dumbledore seemed to have shoved every misfit needing asylum in Hogwarts into teaching the subject. It's certainly what happened to the centaur Firenze, who was given a teaching position after being banished from his herd from interacting too much with humans. It’s a sweet story and a moment of Dumbledore’s altruism, but as we see from Harry attending his classes, Firenze is an utterly rubbish teacher.
Firenze has no idea how to teach humans how to read the stars like he does, and doesn’t even attempt to learn. Firenze’s "lessons" are just him burning plants and everyone else being confused. He's basically your pothead roommate from college.
Barty Crouch Jr. did have a surprising effect on Harry as a student. It is because of this Death Eater in disguise that Harry was convinced that he should become an Auror later in life. Outside of his impact on Harry, however, BCJ was not that great of a teacher. Crouch did his job well as imposter Mad-Eye Moody, and he did successfully pull off Voldemort’s resurrection, but as a molder of minds, his role was more far negative than positive.
Barty Crouch Jr. was all shock and awe as a teacher. He was enough to wow the impressionable minds of his students, but his only real contribution to their education was teaching them the Unforgivable Curses, which is a highly illegal act. Not to mention the fact that he turns Draco Malfoy into a ferret at one point and bounces him up and down on the concrete. Some fans might think Malfoy deserved it, but that is still an outrageous bit of abuse.
Even before he was unveiled as a Death Eater, Barty Crouch Jr. did more to terrorize and horrify his students than help them. Given his true identity as a villain, though, that makes much more sense.
Horace Slughorn is not an insidiously bad teacher. The atmosphere of his Potions classroom was more genial than what Harry’s classmates found at Snape’s hands, at least. But Slughorn is somehow even worse than Snape because he is so enormously neglectful and self-absorbed. He might not be as nasty, but he is just as detrimental to his students' self-worth.
The Slug Club might seem like a fun eccentricity of Slughorn’s character, but that's because it's viewed from Harry’s perspective. In reality, the Slug Club is something that would be incredibly damaging to a teenager. The negative effect of this exclusive group is seen clearly with Ron in Half-Blood Prince, as he develops an intense but understandable bitterness when his baby sister, his best friend, and his future wife are all inducted into the group, leaving him behind.
That’s just one way Slughorn ignores Ron. The average Hogwarts class is about twenty kids, according to Harry’s descriptions in the books. The advanced Potion making class that Slughorn teaches is even smaller. Yet when Ron is poisoned with a love potion in HBP, Slughorn doesn’t even know his name. Seriously, Horace?!
History of Magic would probably be the favorite subject of most Harry Potter nerds if they went to Hogwarts. (Seriously, J.K. Rowling - just write and publish Hogwarts: A History already!) Fans obsessively pour every detail of the wizarding world, but given the way he is described in the books, Professor Binns would likely stop the most hardcore of geeks in their tracks.
Binns is so incredibly boring that he died one day, and no one, not even himself, seemed to really notice. The only ghost professor at Hogwarts should be incredibly cool, but Binns is so boring that everyone but Hermione falls asleep in his every class. No matter how boring your subject is, you should at least care if half of your class is unconscious, but not Binns. Hermione taught Harry and Ron more about the history of magic thanks to her obsessive note-taking than Binns ever did.
Plus, the one time he did interact with the class in Chamber of Secrets, he was utterly flabbergasted at how to respond to his students. On top of that, he dismissed the Chamber as legend. If you’re going to be boring, at least be educated.
It’s true that we don’t get to see Quirinus Quirrell teach a lesson in either the movies or the books. The closest is a quick scene in the movie version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone where McGongall interrupts his class to retrieve Oliver Wood, and he is inexplicably holding an iguana. Yet it's pretty easy to guess what Quirrell is like in the classroom, even though we never see him.
Quirrell is completely committed to his stuttering crybaby act through Harry’s first year. There is almost no imaginable scenario in which he is teaching his students anything useful. Harry and the gang feel sorry for Quirrell, but they don’t respect him in any way.
The only person who approves of Quirrell and his teaching in the books is Dolores Umbridge. This should tell us everything we need to know about him.
In terms of basic human decency, this brother and sister duo are the worst that Hogwarts has ever seen. Described by Neville as making Umbridge look tame, Alecto and Amycus are two Death Eaters turned professors who openly torture their students in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The Carrows are vicious and awful people, and the only reason they aren’t higher on this list is because they aren’t pretending to be anything but horrible monsters.
Alecto and Amycus join Hogwarts’ staff when Voldemort takes over the school. Alecto ends up teaching Muggle Studies, which becomes a mandatory class that is basically some magical eugenics nonsense. Amycus, meanwhile, gets the job of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, rebranded simply Dark Arts. It should be painfully obvious what he teaches in that class.
The Carrows do incredibly evil work as Hogwarts professors, and they harm far more students than they help. In reality, of course, they're just doing the jobs they have been hired to do by Voldemort. Arguably, they do their job better than many of the other more morally upstanding Hogwarts professors - it’s just a job that no decent person would be doing.
There’s being an abusive jerk that terrorizes your students, and there's being so full of hate and malice that you end up infecting future generations for decades. Salazar Slytherin might be one of Hogwarts’ founders (and therefore, a major reason why the school even exists), but he is also the cause of most of the school’s problems. According to the Sorting Hat, the Houses of Hogwarts originally didn’t have such animosity between them. Like the Founders, they had different viewpoints, but ultimately lived in harmony. Salazar wrecked all of that peace.
Salazar Slytherin didn’t invent prejudice towards Muggles and Muggleborns, but he certainly normalized it within Slytherin House. Slytherin bred hate and anger in his house, and it's for this reason that so many Dark Wizards gravitate toward the House in the era of the Harry Potter series. Slytherin popularized the notion of purebloods and allowed this kind of racism to be taught to children at a very young age.
Slytherin is the reason that people like Voldemort ended up existing, and not just because Salazar is Tom Riddle’s direct ancestor. If Slytherin wasn’t such an enormous racist ass, maybe a lot less people would have ended up dead.
Salazar Slytherin created the atmosphere that gave birth to Tom Riddle’s twisted views, and Armando Dippet facilitated and stroked Tom Riddle’s ego until he turned into Lord Voldemort. The Headmaster of Hogwarts before Dumbeldore, Dippet was utterly charmed by the young Dark Lord. While Dumbledore knew there was something off about Riddle from their very first meeting, when Riddle was just a small child, Dippet didn't catch on until it was way too late.
Dippet isn’t seen much in the books, and he is virtually nonexistent in the films. In his very few appearances, however, it's obvious that Dippet is quite taken with the evilest wizard of all time. Dippet rewards Riddle for falsely accusing Hagrid of being the Heir of Slytherin, he makes him Head Boy, and encouraged Riddle to teach at Hogwarts after he graduated.
Congrats, Dippet. You not only have one of the silliest names in all of Harry Potter, you also helped Wizard Hitler happen. It's no wonder that Rita Skeeter wrote a biography on him titled, Armando Dippet: Master or Moron.
Firenze might have had no idea how to relate to humans, but at least he knew his stuff. Trelawney, on the other hand, is 98% nonsense and 2% actual talent. She did accurately come up with two prophecies that are incredibly important to the universe of Harry Potter and Harry’s own life. Without Trelawney, Harry would have no idea of his destiny or that Voldemort was going to rise again soon after Prisoner of Azkaban. These are the only reasons she is not ranked higher, however, because otherwise, Trelawney is a charlatan and a complete hot mess.
Throughout Harry’s years of Divination lessons, Trelawney doesn’t teach him a single thing, and it doesn’t seem like she had impact on anyone else. She's the only teacher that Hermione doesn’t respect. McGongall openly criticizes her. The only people who are impressed by Trelawney are Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown, and not because they learn anything, but because they are drawn in by her mystical mumbo jumbo.
It certainly doesn’t help her case that as the series goes along, Trelawney becomes increasingly pathetic. Though it is never outright stated, by the time of Half Blood Prince, it's quite clear that she's an alcoholic that is running around drunk for most of her waking hours.
Dolores Umbridge might have briefly taken the title of Headmistress, but it certainly wasn’t because of her spectacular skills as a teacher. Except for maybe Voldemort, Umbridge is everyone's least favorite character, and with good reason. She is pompous, smug, insecure, and she spends most of her time making Harry literally cut into his skin.
Umbridge’s method of teaching is just forcing her students to read their textbooks in utter silence. Yet much like The Carrows, Umbridge isn’t really trying to be a decent teacher. She is simply trying to take control of Hogwarts, which she manages to do.
In a weird way, Umbridge being terrible benefits Harry in the long run. Umbridge’s uselessness inspires Harry to start Dumbledore’s Army, which is a very important step on his journey to ultimately defeating Voldemort. If Umbridge was a remotely decent teacher, Harry likely would have been even less prepared for his grand adventures in Deathly Hallows than he already was. Umbridge made Harry a leader, even if it wasn’t her intention.
Since the books never venture into Quirrell’s classroom, Gilderoy Lockhart serves as Harry Potter fans' first exposure to a Defense Against the Dark Arts class. No one who has seen or read Chamber of Secrets needs to be told that it doesn’t go well - at all. Lockhart is without a doubt one of the biggest jokes of the entire series, and a complete trainwreck of a professor.
Lockhart follows the same teaching style as Umbridge, basically reading his books out loud in the classroom. Granted, he does manage to do it a much more colorful way. Lockhart has one particular lesson where he unleashes pixies on the class, but does nothing in the way of telling his students how to fight them. The one test that Lockhart gives has nothing to do with knowledge about Defense Against the Dark Arts, but everything to do with himself.
Despite all that, Lockhart does manage to teach Harry a few things. For starters, he lets Harry know that just because an adult isn’t evil doesn’t mean they're trustworthy. Most importantly, however, Lockhart creates the Dueling Club, which teaches Harry the spell Expelliarmus, which he later uses to defeat Voldemort once and for all.
For all their many shortcomings, Harry, Ron, and Hermione never come to admire Umbridge or Lockhart. Both are exposed as frauds and are objects of scorn by the characters. The same thing holds true for nearly every other professor on this list that teaches the trio, but that's not the case for Hagrid. Because Hagrid befriends the group in the early books, they, especially Harry, are willing to completely overlook his incredible shortcomings as a professor.
In Hagrid’s first lesson ever, he actually does a pretty good job, introducing hippogriffs to his students. Yet the lesson ends with Draco Malfoy being attacked by Buckbeak, and from that point on, Hagrid’s entire teaching career goes downhill. The time that Hagrid doesn’t spend in his hut moping around in a state of deep and serious depression, he either greatly endangers his students or bores them to tears. Throughout the series, Harry spends more time trying to protect Hagrid than learning anything from him.
The saddest thing is that this isn’t a Defense Against the Dark Arts situation, where the position is cursed. Dumbledore has a perfect and capable substitute in the form of Professor Grubblyplank, but Hagrid, for whatever reason, holds the job.
Do you agree with these rankings? Who do you think is the worst professor from Harry Potter? Sound off in the comments!