I love Harry Potter. You love Harry Potter. We all love Harry Potter. But wow, Hogwarts would have been, like, 10 times more chill if Harry had managed to cool it for a minute. It’s not his fault that he was a constant target for suffering and death. However, none of the other students at Hogwarts were ever able to have an uninterrupted year while Harry was around. These are the ways in which Harry totally ruined Hogwarts for the other students who just wanted to learn magic and not constantly fear for their lives.
1. Sneaking out in the night and losing 50 points (each) with Hermione and Neville.
Imagine you’re a senior in high school and a few freshman bozos pull a stunt that gets prom or the final mathletic competition taken away from you (no judgment here). I imagine that’s how the older students at Hogwarts must have felt when baby first year Harry Potter lost the lead in the House Cup. Sure, he earned them back, but the resentment would last forever ...
2. Focusing his efforts on Malfoy in the Chamber of Secrets when, come on, it was not Malfoy.
PLEASE, Harry. If Malfoy could open the Chamber of Secrets he would brag about it constantly. Malfoy wishes he could talk to snakes. He’d probably keep a snake in his shirt pocket just to talk to it all the time. Malfoy, Heir of Slytherin … Alright. In the same vein, Harry tries to blame Malfoy for almost everything in the books. Malfoy is a rotten egg, but it becomes obvious very quickly that he’s not quite as evil as he tries to be.
3. Falling for Tom Riddle’s diary.
There are some instances where it’s understandable for Harry to mess up. This is not one of them. Come on, Harry! Don’t write to that weird journal! You would think that a year after he met Voldemort on the back of Quirrell's head that he might be a little more cautious. If Harry had just had a talk with his old pal Ginny or pretty much anyone else in the world (hey, maybe if Hogwarts actually had some of those student counselors it so definitely needs), then he might have realized that you should never trust a little black book, even if it’s telling you exactly what you want to hear.
4. Troll Fight.
The Golden Trio is smart, funny, and they’re also like moths to the glowing candle of danger. One of the first instances we see this is in Sorcerer’s Stone when Harry and Ron think the best plan of action to save Hermione from a troll is to not alert anyone that actually knows magic, but instead to head into that bathroom only knowing one charm. Swish and flick, indeed. Yes, I’ll admit that the whole debacle was Quirrell’s fault and we’re lucky to have a scene where a troll has a wand stuck up its nose, but this scene was one of the first signs that Harry, Ron, and Hermione are not great at asking for help.
5. Put your lighters in the air for the Whomping Willow.
Maybe I’m just a sucker for trees and history, but when Ron and Harry crashed into the Whomping Willow, they were hurting the tree and the entire magical community. Oh, am I dramatic? Harry Potter and I have that in common. When the boys crashed the car into the tree that once guarded Remus Lupin, they were so busy thinking about being late for the Sorting Ceremony that they didn’t even think about the memories they were losing by harming the tree. The other students lost the ability to say, “That tree tried to kill me” and “Wow, I hate that tree.” Consider that, Harry.
6. Didya put your name in the Goblet of Fire?!
Oh, it all worked out for Harry when Mad-Eye imposter Barty Crouch Jr. was revealed to have put Harry’s name in the running for the TriWizard Tournament. It’s TriWizard, not QuadWizard, but the goblet didn’t care. We all knew that Harry would end up in the games from the moment they were announced, but Harry really couldn’t see why people would be suspicious. Either way, the tournament could not have gone worse. This event may not have been Harry’s fault, but his presence made this seemingly innocent set of challenges into the Murder Games.
7. “Youngest seeker in a century.”
You’re about to start your fifth year at Hogwarts. All summer you’ve been training for that open seeker position on the Gryffindor quidditch team. Victory will finally be yours. That’s when you hear the news. Harry First-Year-Never-Touched-A-Broom Potter has been made the seeker with literally no training and no knowledge of the Chudley Cannons. And the worst part? He didn’t even have to try out, and you never got a chance to show off your skills.
Harry may have an unmatched natural ability, but let’s hear it for the kids who never got a chance. If Professor McGonagall hadn’t seen Harry flying by on his very first broomstick ride to help Neville, the Gryffindor quidditch team might have looked very different. But where’s the fun in that?
8. Harry Potter and Seven Years of Destroying Magical Artifacts.
I’ll give Harry & Co. a pass for ruining the Hogwarts-artifacts-turned-Horcruxes, but were some of these necessary? I’m not sure if there’s a museum of magic, but if there is, those curators must have Harry Potter marked in their book as enemy number one. From time-turners to the cracked two-way mirror from Sirius, Harry doesn’t seem to have any regard for historical artifacts. Here’s a few of the other things Harry managed to destroy: Everything in the room of requirement, the Ravenclaw diadem, the Philosopher’s Stone, hundreds of prophecies in the department of mysteries, Slytherin’s locket, Hufflepuff’s cup, and the Resurrection Stone. Museum workers, make sure to keep this young man away from your artifacts, because he seems to have a penchant for destroying them.
9. Causing trouble when the nerds want to take final exams.
The climax of almost every book is near the end of the school year, which means that final exams were cancelled almost every year at Hogwarts. For a school apparently based on learning, how can we really be sure they were getting a proper education without tests? I imagine that students stopped studying for exams after Harry’s second year. “You want to study for that charms test?” “No, man. Potter’s been looking suspicious lately, and it’s that time of year so I just won’t bother.”
10. Ignoring Dobby.
After Harry’s first terrible summer at the Dursley’s, the last thing he wants is a tiny house elf begging him not to go to the only place he’s ever belonged. I get it. I get that Harry might have wanted to ignore the elf as he almost got Harry expelled from school and got him banished to his tiny room at the Dursley’s, but Dobby made some points. Dobby knew the Chamber of Secrets was going to be opened, and out of the goodness of his small heart he went to help Harry Potter, enemy of his master’s son. If Harry had at least warned someone, Dumbledore for instance, then the whole mess could have been avoided. Which leads me to my next point.
11. “We’ll take the lot!”
Harry’s generosity knows no bounds, and that’s obvious when he buys an entire supply of magic snacks from the Hogwarts Express trolley cart for his new friend Ron. The problem was that they took all of the snacks. Meaning that any other student would have to eat dry sandwiches from their mothers instead of a sweet chocolate frog or a sugar quill. Harry’s a generous boy, but he can certainly be a bit nearsighted in terms of his vision and his good deeds.
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By Half-Blood Prince, Harry’s slowed down on the demolition of Hogwarts in favor of sadness and death, but when he finds the potions book that used to belong to a certain rude professor, his judgment is clouded again. Hermione knows that the book can’t be any good from the start, but Harry is addicted to being great at potions. In another case of not asking for help, Harry explores some of the most violent spells seen in all seven books. Sectumsempra is no silent death like Avada Kedavra; it’s a bloody, painful mess that Harry uses to almost kill Malfoy. And Levicorpus may seem lighthearted, but in a real battle, finding yourself hanging by your ankles might be a little less fun. Lots of Harry’s mistakes are not his fault, but trying out these cruel spells is one hundred percent on him. Snape created the spells out of malice, and when Harry uses them it’s the first time we see a glimpse of unnecessary evil come out of his wand.
13. The Hero Complex.
For a boy with such a cheerful, normal upbringing, Harry Potter sure has some issues. Just kidding, Harry’s emotional problems are totally understandable. I’ll be angry at Dumbledore for leaving Harry with the Dursleys for the rest of eternity, but the real crime was not giving Harry any emotional help when he got to Hogwarts. No, an anonymous gift of an invisibility cloak is not the same as therapy. Because of the lack of support from adults throughout his life, Harry doesn’t even consider asking anyone for help when it comes to his many, many troubles. He’s been told he was a hero from age 11 on, and he’s never been encouraged to trust adults. If Harry had asked for help in every book, the story might have been less exciting, but it might have helped us avoid the travesty of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Here’s the thing. Harry Potter may have ruined some Hogwarts treasures, put people’s lives in mortal dancer, and taken away the glory of final exams, but Hogwarts wouldn’t have been as cool without him. In fact, reading about students who just go to class for seven books might have gotten a little bit boring. And even though Harry, Ron, and Hermione are to danger like cats are to birds in a tree, their hijinks are far more entertaining than a history lesson from Professor Binns. While Harry caused some ruckus at Hogwarts and ruined the sanctity of education for the thrill of it, I’ll still challenge any Harry Potter hater to a duel on the forbidden third floor.
Featured still from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" via Warner Bros.