Fans of the Harry Potter series are some of the most passionate out there. It's been 11 years since the last book’s publication, and seven years since the final movie was released, but Potterheads are still just as enthralled with the series as ever. Online debates over whether or not Snape was a good person or which death was the saddest still occur. Another debate: Who was really Hogwarts’ best professor?
Hogwarts had a fairly eccentric staff, and the ever-changing position of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor meant that Harry and his friends had a slew of teachers—and many of them weren’t employee of the month material. This list is a ranking of the Harry Potter professors, from the worst of the worst all the way up to the best. And no, Dumbledore doesn’t count, so he is not on the list. Disagree? Tell us why in the comments.
13. Dolores Umbridge
Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Her pink outfits and her love of cats didn’t fool anyone into thinking Dolores Umbridge was a nice, innocent professor. When she showed up, it was truly the beginning of the end of the Hogwarts we all knew and loved. She was the pure definition of someone who took a power trip and went far beyond the bounds of her role. Umbridge is the worst professor on this list because her tyrannical role extended far beyond just Harry and his group of friends, and she affected everyone at Hogwarts. She also went over Dumbledore’s head many times, which is just not okay.
In addition to interrupting Dumbledore during a Great Hall Dinner (nobody puts Dumbledore in the corner!) Umbridge was also the one who abused Harry during his detention, by making him use a quill that etched “I must not tell lies” into the skin of his hand. She also had her students use outdated textbooks and eliminated magic in the classroom, which made it nearly impossible for them to learn effectively. She created a hostile teachers' lounge environment when she got Professor Trelawney fired and tried to mess with McGonagall. Umbridge was not only the worst professor during Harry's time at Hogwarts, she was also one of the worst villains in the entire series.
12. Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Placing Mad Eye on this list is tricky considering that the man hired for this position wasn’t actually the man who took it—thanks to a huge batch of Polyjuice potion. Surely, if the Real Mad Eye had been the one teaching at Hogwarts, he might’ve been the only professor to retain the position for longer than a year, since he’s perfect for it on paper. But then, it wouldn’t be a Harry Potter book if everything went according to plan, would it?
Fake Mad Eye definitely crossed a few student-teacher lines when he placed Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire (or, to quote movie Dumbledore, THE GOBLET OF FIYAH?!) to try to get him face-to-face with Voldemort. He also exposed Neville Longbottom—and the rest of the class—to the Cruciatus curse, the same curse that caused Neville’s parents to go insane, preventing them from being active in his life. Showing the equivalent of the three unforgivable curses in a classroom setting definitely wouldn’t fly in a regular high school, but for some reason, Moody was allowed to wreak havoc for the rest of the year, until Harry exposed him during a truly satisfying moment toward the end of the book.
11. Quirinus Quirrell
Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Like Mad Eye, Quirrell isn't really himself when we’re introduced to him in the first book, so it’s hard to rank him. But, he was a Voldemort supporter before he eventually became Voldemort’s physical host, so it’s safe to say that he probably wasn’t going to treat his students equally and might’ve given preferential treatment to the offspring of Death Eaters.
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In addition to allowing a murderous villain into Hogwarts, Quirrell also killed unicorns for their blood, tried to curse Harry off of his broomstick during a Quidditch match, and had a troll come in to try and kill Harry. Harry was 11-years-old during all of this, yet he still defeated Quirrell.
10. Gilderoy Lockhart
Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Lockhart was the classic pretty boy who skated through life on his good looks and charm. He was hired for the position based on the books he wrote about his encounters with dark creatures, which were all lies. He was only able to convince so many people because he was really good at Memory Charms, meaning he wasn’t completely underqualified. But, these memory charms turned out to be his ultimate demise.
Even though he was a pathological liar and he put his interests well above his students’, Lockhart isn’t even close to being the worst teacher on this list, solely because other professors did more unfavorable things.
9. Severus Snape
Potions Through Order of the Phoenix and Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Some Harry Potter fans now admire Snape for his undying love for Lily Potter, for secretly protecting Harry during his time at Hogwarts, and for taking on the dangerous role as basically a double agent for Dumbledore. What people seem to forget now is that Snape treated Harry horribly while he was a student by taking his long-standing aggression toward James Potter out on Harry. It is not fair for a middle-aged man to pick on a prepubescent student just because he is the son of a school bully, no matter how many nice things Snape did for Harry at the end. Rowling herself even said in an interview that the “worst, shabbiest thing you can do as a teacher is to bully students.”
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Snape embarrasses Harry from the start, by asking him the answers to difficult potions questions—as if shaming students in class is ever the right way to increase student participation. He consistently makes fun of Harry during and outside of class and holds Harry to a higher, unreachable standard than he does the other students. Snape does slightly redeem himself when he helps Harry with Occlumency lessons, but that ends in disaster when Harry glimpses Snape in a vulnerable moment.
8. Horace Slughorn
Potions in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Plain and simple: Slughorn was not a good professor. He played favorites by hosting meetings of the Slug Club for students he thought had the most potential and would do him favors after graduation. He also tampered with his memories to make himself look better when Harry was trying to figure out what horcruxes were (which, literally, was the only way to kill Voldemort).
A true example of a self-serving Slytherin, Slughorn put himself first. Slughorn did redeem himself in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when he recruited people to fight on Harry’s side during the Battle of Hogwarts, but this was unrelated to his position as a professor so his spot on this list stands.
7. Sybill Trelawney
Professor Trelawney got a higher ranking on this list than she otherwise would have, solely because everyone felt a bit more sympathetic to her after she was fired by Umbridge. Also, her prophecies in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban seemed ridiculous at first, but everyone ate their words when they all turned out to be true.
Though her method of teaching was eccentric, to say the least, Trelawney was definitely knowledgeable in her subject. She also never treated Harry as the chosen one, like other professors did. She challenged Hermione academically since Hermione didn’t have a proclivity for the subject matter. But, in the books, it was often mentioned that she smelled like sherry, and after her suspension, she was seen taking cooking sherry from the kitchen. Alcohol and teaching don’t mix well.
6. Filius Flitwick
Flitwick was neither the best nor worst professor, but he was a supportive mentor to his students and deserves a high(ish) ranking on this list. He went to Quidditch matches with other professors, so he clearly spent his off-the-clock time supporting the school. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, he taught the students the Wingardium Leviosa spell, which led to the iconic movie scene in which Hermione bosses Ron around by telling him he’s not pronouncing it correctly. That, in and of itself, warrants a good ranking.
Though generally pretty even-keeled, Flitwick’s best moment was when he showed his excitement after Fred and George Weasley set off fireworks during exams, upsetting Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Also, his chorus concerts seemed pretty good, from the few times they were shown during the movies.
5. Rolanda Hooch
Hooch taught one of the most valuable skills any wizard or witch can learn: to fly. She’s like the driver’s ed teacher of the wizarding world, except flying is way cooler. She was also a Quidditch referee—a brave task, considering it may have made her somewhat unliked among students who had gripes with her calls.
Hooch would be ranked higher on this list, except for the fact that she left her first year students alone on their first day of lessons. All teachers should know to grab a sub or another adult to look after students because havoc always ensues after the person in charge leaves a class. Though she was caring for Neville after he got injured, she left her other students at risk, which led to Harry and Draco having a flying contest.
4. Rubeus Hagrid
Care of Magical Creatures Professor
Hagrid proved that he was a caring professor when he brought Harry his first-ever birthday cake when Harry turned 11. He also persevered in finding Harry when Harry’s aunt and uncle tried to prevent him from going to Hogwarts AND he took Harry all around Diagon Alley to get him the right school supplies for his first year. He saw the best in everyone, which sometimes got him into trouble—for instance, in his friendship with Aragog, who ultimately tried to eat Harry and Ron.
Hagrid is one of the few teachers on this list who risked his life for Harry and other students at Hogwarts. He rode with Harry in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Harry was moved from his family’s house to the Weasley’s, which was undoubtedly dangerous for him (even though there were decoys). Considering the fact that Hagrid lacks true magical abilities, he was still able to show students how to look after and interact with unique creatures.
3. Pomona Sprout
Herbology and Head of Hufflepuff
Whenever Sprout was featured in the books, she seemed to be teaching a useful lesson that the characters would need to know later on. She would bring some of her plants with her to the basement of Hufflepuff House, which led to many Hufflepuff students being proficient at herbology. She got her students interested in the subject matter, which is really the goal of teaching in the first place. Her lessons proved to be integral in helping Harry, Ron, and Hermione through the Devil’s Snare in the first book, and the fact that they remembered what she said shows that they were paying attention to her lessons.
Professor Sprout became a mentor to Neville Longbottom and made him feel important, which we all know Neville needed. He eventually took over her position, which is one the most beautiful storylines in the entire series.
2. Minerva McGonagall
Transfiguration and Head of Gryffindor
In McGonagall’s classroom, students knew not to mess around. Her disciplinarian persona did have some cracks in it, and it was clear that she always had a soft spot for Harry. When Harry flies around against orders during Madam Hooch’s lesson, instead of expelling him, McGonagall takes him to see the Gryffindor Quidditch captain. This bending of the rules made us love her for Harry’s sake, but this was probably frustrating for other students to see. She was very protective over her students and was one of the first to encounter the troll in the bathroom in the first book.
McGonagall might be the second closest thing to a mother figure that Harry gets in the series—after Molly Weasley, of course. She offers Harry her classroom to practice for the third task in the Triwizard Tournament in the fourth book, and she advises Harry not to go against Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix. She also looks after his safety when she pleads with Dumbledore to take his name out of the Triwizard Tournament and she expresses her happiness at his return in the last book.
1. Remus Lupin
Defense Against the Dark Arts in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Lupin was the best professor at Hogwarts, and here are a few reasons why. First, he showed up to Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express, which showed that he was trying to fit in with his students and be economical about getting there. He also fought off Dementors on the train, and protected the train filled with kids, which he didn’t have to do considering he wasn't even on the clock yet. Then he bought the students chocolate, because they were all rattled by their Dementor encounter. Again, this was all before he even began teaching!
Lupin taught his students about Boggarts, which kept them entertained and let them deal with their biggest fears. His classes allowed the students to get hands-on magic experience. He knew Harry was going to have to learn about Patronuses sooner rather than later, and Lupin taught him how to protect himself in private lessons. Lupin's final exam was an obstacle course that demanded that the students implement what they learned during the class. His only true downfall was, of course, that he was a werewolf, but he even managed to keep that mostly under control during his year of teaching.
When Lupin left, Harry personally asked him to stay, saying that Lupin was the best Defense Against the Dark Arts professor that he ever had. This isn’t saying too much, considering that Harry’s previous professors were Quirrell and Lockhart, but it is still clear that Lupin left a strong impression on his students.
For those reasons, he's #1 on this list—and in our hearts.
Featured still from "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" via Warner Bros.