While Harry Potter was full of love, magic and light, the story of The Boy Who Lived was always steeped in tragedy. A fight against evil meant that those who stood for good always faced pain, grief and loss, and Lord Voldemort made sure to make people suffer for defying him. Even beyond that, characters like Luna Lovegood had familial troubles and losses that they had to deal with.
Even with their tragic backstories and character arcs, the beauty of Harry Potter was that these characters were never defined by their adversities. They always rose above their sorrows and, in some cases, were remembered for their heroism in the series.
10 Cedric Diggory
Young Cedric Diggory had everything going for him: he was a Prefect, Quidditch Captain and had phenomenal grades. The young Hufflepuff student even had a great social life at Hogwarts, where he enjoyed quite a bit of popularity and had a beautiful girlfriend. Unfortunately, it was his achievements that led him to be picked for the Triwizard Tournament.
In the final task, Cedric was murdered by Lord Voldemort, becoming the earliest victim of his second rise to power. Cedric was subjected to the Killing Curse, thus extinguishing a bright flame at the age of sixteen. The young man still showed extreme bravery in the face of Voldemort’s pure terror.
9 Luna Lovegood
Initially painted as a kooky young girl, Luna Lovegood’s dark past only came to light when she was able to see Thestrals in Harry Potter. Little Luna had the misfortune of witnessing her mother’s death at the age of nine, which left her alone with her father, Xenophilius Lovegood. Her oddball nature earned her no fans at Hogwarts, where she was ostracized and made fun of for being herself.
Luckily, Luna found considerate friends in Harry and Neville, but her woes were far from over. Before the Battle of Hogwarts, Luna was imprisoned at Malfoy Manor with Ollivander and likely subjected to inhumane treatment for months. It was her inner resilience that enabled her to stay joyful and dignified through her ordeals, but Luna did thrive later in life.
8 Rubeus Hagrid
Since his birth, Hagrid had suffered through injustices. His mother, Fridwulfa, had left him at a young age, and he didn’t get much respect in the Wizarding World for being half-giant. The greatest opportunity of his life was getting to study at Hogwarts, but he was falsely blamed for unleashing the monster in the Chamber of Secrets, which led to his expulsion.
Hagrid deserved a second chance because his name was cleared years after he had been stripped of his wand. Dumbledore made him gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, but it was menial reparation for what he had been put through.
7 Moaning Myrtle
Muggle-born Myrtle Warren, better known as Moaning Myrtle, was a pretty annoying character in her ghost form, but she had been through hell as a human. The young witch wasn’t too popular among her Hogwarts classmates, who often bullied her for her appearance. One such day, Myrtle made the mistake of running into the second-floor girls’ lavatory, which had the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets.
The Basilisk came for her, and she was dead with one glance into its piercing eyes. What made her death more melancholic was that she wasn’t found for hours because nobody except the teachers missed her enough to look for her.
6 Severus Snape
Even for all his flaws, Snape was always a sympathetic villain in Harry Potter. Born to neglectful parents, he only found happiness when he went to Hogwarts with Lily Evans, but that, too, was short-lived. Being sorted into Slytherin and the bullying he endured from James Potter and his cronies made him seek out the Dark Arts, which ultimately led to his becoming a Death Eater.
He lost the woman he loved to James, and then his own devotion to the Dark Lord led to Voldemort killing the Potters. Since then, Snape dedicated his life to dismantling Voldemort’s reign of terror from the inside, living and dying as a villain so that he could save the Wizarding World.
5 Neville Longbottom
Sybil Trelawney’s prophecy could have been about two young boys, one of whom was Neville Longbottom. While Neville wasn’t singled out to be killed by Voldemort, his family endured a fate as horrific as the Potters. Neville’s parents were accomplished Aurors, and Bellatrix Lestrange tortured them to insanity with Unforgivable Curses, so much so that they were unable to recognize their own child.
Therefore, Neville was raised by his strict grandmother and bullied plenty at Hogwarts for his awkward and shy manner. He had to grow up while his parents remained locked away and went through even more cruelty at the hands of Voldemort’s followers. Neville was underestimated at every turn, but he eventually proved his courage and intelligence.
4 Remus Lupin
Once just an ordinary little boy, Remus fell prey to Fenrir Greyback’s wrath when Lupin’s father insulted him one too many times at the Ministry. After the attack, Remus’ life revolved around the phases of the moon, and he was condemned from society as all werewolves were. The silver lining of the situation was that he found friends at Hogwarts, who all became Animagi to support and help him through his transitions.
Lupin denied himself a partner and a family because he was afraid of passing the gene to his child. When he finally did marry Tonks and had a baby, he was tragically killed in the Battle of Hogwarts. Remus Lupin died beside his wife but couldn’t see his son grow up in a new world. He could have easily turned evil, but he kept his goodness and morality intact to the very end.
3 Sirius Black
Born into a family of pureblood supremacists, Sirius Black always felt out of place in his own home. Still, he had the Black family name and riches, which gave him a comfortable life. Sirius led a cushy life, and he took for granted the things that other wizards didn’t have. He was also guilty of bullying other students like Snape.
Tragedy struck when he was framed by Peter Pettigrew for betraying James and Lily Potter and for his own murder. Sirius spent a better part of his life in Azkaban, where he endured all manner of horrors. His small sliver of happiness came when he was able to meet his godson, but Sirius was killed by his own cousin, Bellatrix, before he could really enjoy his time with him.
2 Draco Malfoy
Much like Sirius, Draco was raised in a family that preferred the Dark Arts, but the difference was that Draco revealed the bigotry of the Malfoys. He longed to be a part of Voldemort’s forces, not realizing the consequences of being a Death Eater. In his sixth year, Draco was pushed to let Death Eaters storm the castle and kill Dumbledore, which he was saved from doing by Snape.
The younger Malfoy was no saint by any means, and his bad choices tainted his reputation for his whole life. Still, fans do feel pity for him as he was inducted into a dark world too soon, and by the time he realized his errors, it was too late.
1 Harry Potter
It was the heartrending story of Harry Potter that started the series, and his early life was plagued by dread, fear and undue pressure because of a prophecy. Orphaned because of Voldemort’s actions, Harry was raised in an abusive environment by the Dursleys. His admission to Hogwarts was a magical lifeline, but soon enough, he realized that he had been tasked with taking down the world’s most wicked wizard since he was a baby.
Harry’s life was constantly in danger, and he went through trials of the mind, body and soul. He lost his godfather to Voldemort and numerous friends, all while carrying the guilt of putting them in danger. He was set up to be a pig for slaughter by Dumbledore, and it was only because of his inner strength that he was able to get through years of pain to reach the other side where he could have a normal life.