Serious Harry Pottheads know that Hermione Granger is a top-notch witch, a loyal friend, and a strong advocate for good over evil. This muggle-born Gryffindor saved the skins of her cohorts in mischief more times than we can count. So how it is possible that Hermione could have been sent to wizard prison over a dozen times? For starters, morality and legality don’t always match up — even in the magical world of Harry Potter. Sometimes, Hermione’s fight for what’s right means bumping heads with magical law enforcement.
Are we saying Hermione deserves to be locked away and surrounded by dementors? No. But we are suggesting that Ms. Granger has done a few things in the name of good that could have landed her in Azkaban, and a few more that are far more questionable. Hermione has broken the law so many times, one could argue that it’s mostly luck that she never got arrested or sent to prison.
Here are the 15 Times Hermione Granger Could Have Found Herself In Azkaban.
15 Illegal Potion Making/Taking/Theft of Ingredients - Chamber of Secrets
Hermione was still relatively crime-free in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Of course, that didn’t keep her from being petrified by an evil basilisk, nor did it keep her from stealing potion ingredients from Professor Snape. She, Harry and Ron came up with the idea to pose as Slytherins in order to find out which one of them — probably Draco Malfoy — would turn out to be the true heir of Slytherin. For that, they needed to transform themselves into Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, and Millicent Bulstrode. After stealing the potion ingredients and letting them stew for a month, only two of the three planned transformations came to pass.
Even if Hermione got away with stealing from Snape’s stores and brewing a forbidden potion, surely Madame Pomfrey would have outed her when an errant hair made the polyjuice potion transform her into a giant human-cat hybrid (which is not nearly as awesome as it sounds). In the end, though, Hermione avoids punishment for her crimes. Probably not quite a prison offense, anyway.
14 Scarred Marietta Edgecombe permanently - Order of the Phoenix
When Harry and co. form a dark arts defense group called Dumbledore’s Army, Hermione takes steps to make sure their secret stays secret. She’s pretty handy with a wand. So when Hermione decided on what she deemed to be the perfect punishment for anyone low enough to attend DA meetings but still snitch on them — it was a doozy. The way Umbridge found out about the DA in the movie involved Cho Chang and veritaserum. Not so in the book.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Marietta snitches on the DA, ostensibly because her mum worked for the ministry. We know though, that many DA members had close family members at the Ministry of Magic. Thanks to Hermione’s spell, ratting out the DA made the word “SNEAK” appear in boils across Marietta’s face. We might all laugh at that at first, but when Marietta still has to cover her face a year later, we start to feel a little bad for her. Surely someone with a mum at the ministry would seek a comeuppance from the girl who permanently scarred her face, right? After all, Marietta is said to have carried scars from the incident forever.
13 Underage Magic (in Hogsmeade) - Chamber of Secrets
Prosecuting students for underage magic seems to be handled a little like muggles address underage drinking. No, they don’t like it, but they understand that it happens and it’s usually not a huge deal. We know that in wizarding areas, it’s unlikely that any student would be noticed performing magic. That’s probably why Hermione was so sure she’d get away with fixing Harry’s glasses (again) with a simple spell. But the Hogwarts Express and Diagon Alley aren't the same -- not at all.
Sure, Occulus Reparo is a standard, inoffensive spell. But we know that the Ministry of Magic is less than consistent in its application of the law. Sometimes, blowing up your horrible aunt like a balloon and giggling as she flies away is cool by the Minister. Other times, saving yourself and a muggle from dementors is cause for wand-snapping and expulsion. It’s totally possible that Hermione’s forays into underage magic in Hogsmeade could have landed her in Azkaban. Still, it would have been only a short stint.
12 Set professor Snape on fire - Sorcerer's Stone
We know that Hermione’s spellwork is generally done with the best of intentions. She’s highly confident in her own abilities and decisions, which can be dangerous. What if she’s working with bad information? What if she’s targeting the completely wrong person? In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry’s first Quidditch game is interrupted by a curse that tries to shake him off his broom. Hermione is sure that the culprit is Professor Snape. At the time, we think so too. (Spoiler Alert: it isn’t.)
When Hermione starts a fire in the stands, her intention is to save Harry by making Snape stop the spell. Her plan works because the wizard performing the spell was also nearby. But seriously, she set a Professor’s robes on fire — on purpose. How is that not a grievous crime, somewhere in between assault and attempted murder? Yeah, we get why she did it. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to go around setting people on fire because you suspect that they might be bad.
11 Misuse of Magical Artifact - Prisoner of Azkaban, Cursed Child
This is another one of those incidents where Hermione’s confidence and commitment to her studies could have been her ticket to life in prison. In her third year, Hermione wants to take more classes than there are hours in the day. To this end, Minerva McGonagall got special permission from the Ministry for Hermione to have a time-turner — an awesome necklace that lets wizards turn back time to relive short periods. McGonagall had to vouch for the fact that Hermione would never use it for any other purpose than continuing her studies.
But guess what? She did. Against her promise to McGonagall, Hermione not only went back in time for her own purposes (noble though they may have been), but she took Harry Potter with her. Great, there’s a killer on the loose, a random werewolf roaming the grounds, and Hermione decides that going back in time with a half-baked plan is a grand idea? It isn’t. It’s a crime, and should have at least brought about some discussion between Minerva and Ms. Granger. In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we learn that Hermione had another time-turner stashed away, which is also way illegal.
10 Theft of books from Dumbledore’s office - Half-Blood Prince
After Voldemort’s return, the Ministry of Magic kept a close eye on Albus Dumbledore — who he was talking to, where he went, what he knew. One might think they’d stop worrying about him after it turned out that Dumbledore a) was right, and b) wasn’t trying to take over the ministry and make himself Minister for Magic. But no. Dumbledore-hate went on for the rest of Fudge’s tenure, and right into Scrimgour’s. After Albus’ death at the hands of…well, you know, the Ministry was still highly concerned about Dumbledore’s possessions. Yet somehow, Hermione was able to wingardium leviosa a bunch of restricted books from Dumbledore’s office shortly after his demise. No one even seems to have looked for them.
This is one of those crimes that we don’t think Hermione should be consequenced for. But stealing is still a crime. Stealing from a dead person is generally frowned upon, even under the most permissive conditions. We’ve got to think that the ministry would have seized the opportunity to arrest and jail Hermione (and Harry and Ron too, depending) for this breach of law if they knew about it.
9 Robbed Gringotts Vault and Freed a Captive Dragon - Deathly Hallows
By Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it’s clear that law breaking and theft are now specialties of Hermione’s. This entry is about an activity that’s basically synonymous with crime: robbing a bank. Yes. Hermione, Harry, and Ron brewed still more polyjuice potion to disguise themselves so they could rob a particular vault in Gringotts, the wizarding bank. Sure, they were there to steal a horcrux, and horcruxes are evil objects that shouldn’t be in evil hands...
But come ON. She robbed a bank. During that robbery, a goblin was killed. In the muggle world, if someone dies during a crime you instigated — you're looking at life in prison. Not only did Hermione (and Harry and Ron) rob a bank and get someone killed, but they let a dragon loose without any supervision whatsoever. Who knows what that pasty ball of rage might do once it’s free.
8 Failure to Register as Muggle-born - Deathly Hallows
Sometimes, breaking the law is an act of resistance, even heroism. That’s how most fans interpret Hermione’s failure to register as a muggle-born in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Sounds right to us! The Ministry of Magic didn’t have anyone’s best interests in mind when they made it mandatory to “register” as a muggle-born. This happened shortly after the ministry was taken over by Death Eaters and other assorted racists. (As Sirius Black reminded us — the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters.) We learn that the lie they’re spouting is that muggle-born wizards have stolen magic that doesn’t belong to them. Umbridge and others go so far as to put these wizards on trial for their “theft.”
Hermione rightly points out that stealing magic is impossible. If it could be done — there likely wouldn’t be any squibs — which also means that Argus Filch may have turned out to be a much nicer person. We approve of Hermione’s choice not to register, even as we recognize that it could have gotten her thrown into Azkaban.
7 Organizing DA Against Expressed Wishes of Ministry of Magic - Order of the Phoenix
As we’ve pointed out, many of Hermione’s law-defying deeds are done with the best of intentions and have served the greater good. Helping to organize a defense-against-the-dark-arts class taught by legendary survivalist Harry Potter was a great idea. By “great idea,” we mean that it literally saved people’s lives during later battles with evil wizards. Being prepared can make all the difference when a bunch of racist killers break into a school.
Having said that, it stands to reason that Cornelius Fudge and his people would have loved to throw Hermione and Harry into Azkaban for their roles in forming the group. Their biggest fear, you’ll recall, is that Dumbledore was raising a wizard army to fight the ministry. The students wanted to fight back; Hogwarts castle wanted them to fight back; even Dumbledore encouraged this to some degree. We’re thrilled that the group was so successful, but it cannot be denied that Hermione knew she was playing with fire.
6 Use of Illegal Curses (memory charm put on her parents) - Deathly Hallows
We know that there are three curses in particular that can earn a wizard life in Azkaban. This isn’t one of them. But there are other illegal curses that, if discovered, can also land a person in prison for a shorter term. Certain medium or minor curses, for example. Then there’s Gilderoy Lockhart’s specialty: memory charms, which he used to steal people’s stories and publish them as his own. Hermione’s intentions with her memory charm were far more honorable, but it’s still against the law to steal someone’s past by deleting their memories.
Why did she do it? Because Hermione was about to go off with Harry and Ron to find the Horcruxes and she didn’t want her parents to be captured and tortured. After finding out what happened to the Longbottoms, who can blame her? JK Rowling has said that Hermione eventually went to France to find her parents and remove the spell. But it still gives us pause to know that the muggle dentists we know as the Grangers could have lost most of their memories forever — including the memory of having a child.
5 Impersonating a Ministry Official - Deathly Hallows
Much of Hermione’s law breaking happened during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. At a time when Hermione has failed to register as a muggle-born, skipped school when attendance was mandatory, and while she was still on the ministry’s most wanted list...Hermione decided to brew up still more polyjuice potion and impersonate Mafalda Hopkirk. Note that Mafalda is the ministry official who sends owls to wizard children when they’ve done magic while underage and/or in view of a muggle. Ms. Hopkirk wasn’t always right, though.
Impersonating a ministry leader is bad enough, kind of like dressing up as a police officer or someone else of authority. But along with Harry and Ron, Hermione interrupted a trial, stole jewelry from Delores Umbridge, and helped a prisoner escape (albeit an innocent one). Hermione was doing this to look for a horcrux, so we know that’s a worthwhile goal. But surely there were less dangerous, more legal ways to do some of these things?
4 Criminal Trespass on the Ministry - Order of the Phoenix, Deathly Hallows
A list of Hermione Granger’s illegal shenanigans wouldn’t be complete without mention of the times she broke into the ministry. We’ve just covered the polyjuice-fueled break-in from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. So that leaves the break-in perpetrated by Hermione, Harry, Ron and a handful of other DA members. They broke into the ministry to…well, it depends on who you ask. Some say they broke in because Sirius had been captured by Death Eaters. But he hadn’t been. One could argue that they broke in the get the prophesy, since that prophesy is pretty important to both Harry and you-know-who. Hermione is right though, when she points out that Harry has a “saving people thing,” meaning that he seems to think he’s the only one capable of righting any wrong in the world.
This particular break-in ended with the prophesy being smashed, Sirius dead, Harry temporarily possessed by Voldemort, and every DA member present walking away with various degrees of serious injuries. It wasn't their best outing by a wide margin.
3 Aiding and Abetting Known Fugitive Criminal - Prisoner of Azkaban
We did mention that most of Hermione’s crimes were committed in the later stories. But as early as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione blasts open doors, misuses a magical object, curses a professor, steals a condemned hippogryff, and helps a convicted murderer escape from a school where he was due for a dementor’s kiss. Again, we know why Hermione is considered in the right for doing these things. But imagine you’re an HR director, or say, the new Hogwarts headmaster/headmistress. Would you really hire someone with all that on their record, even if they didn’t go to jail?
So yeah, Hermione went back on her word to McGonagall by using the time-turner to take Harry back in time to fight dementors — all so they could help a guy who, as far as anyone else knows, murdered over a dozen people in the middle of the street. Still, as long as she’s doing all that, it might have been nice if they’d caught Wormtail too.
2 Set Delores Umbridge up to be assaulted by Centaurs - Order of the Phoenix
This is a tricky entry, and one we’re tempted to put a trigger-warning on. It deals with a sensitive topic, and one that JK Rowling took great care to strongly imply without saying outright. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Delores Umbridge is, to put it mildly, a terrible person. Eventually, Hermione tricks her into a trip to the dark forest where she thinks the centaurs will help them (in the movie, it’s more implied that Hermione was leading Umbridge to Grawp). Umbridge is rude to the centaurs, and they carry her off. Yay for Harry and Hermione, right?
But wait. Centaurs are legendary rapists. Their main thing is carrying women off to...have their way with them. Again, this is more implied than stated outright. But it makes that scene all the more chilling, not to mention the scene where Umbridge is in the hospital wing and starts freaking out when Ron makes clip-clopping noises as if the centaurs are coming back. Did Hermione know that would happen? This is a matter of opinion. We can probably all agree that no matter how awful someone is, setting them up to be assaulted by half-men, half-horses is way over the top.
1 Kidnapping and Unlawful imprisonment of Rita Skeeter - Goblet of Fire
Speaking of terrible people, Rita Skeeter is a stereotypical faux-journalist who pretends that her take-down pieces are relevant news. They aren’t. Throughout Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Skeeter takes time to ruin (or attempt to ruin) the public reputation of Dumbledore, Hagrid, Harry, and Hermione among others. Hermione is furious as the crapstorm of hate mail she gets thanks to one of Skeeter’s article is positively Twitter-esque.
So what does Hermione do? In the movie, not much. But in the book, she captures Rita Skeeter in a jar (Skeeter is an unregistered animagus who turns into a beetle) and keeps her there for over a year. As Hermione puts it, "until she can learn to stop writing horrible things about people." Sure, we understand Hermione’s anger. But imagine how you’d feel if your friend told you they kidnapped someone and was holding them captive until they learned not to be such a jerk? That’s what a psychopath would do. We’d almost support Hermione going to Azkaban over this one.
Did we miss any grievous crimes by Hermione Granger? Want to tell us why we’re totally wrong and should be in Azkaban ourselves? Tell us all about it in the comments.