Characters overcoming or, at the very least, coming to terms with their flaws, is a staple of a hero's journey and Harry Potter and his friends reckon with many. But, over the years, we've come to realize that some of those flaws are more glaring than others, and it's why we've decided to include the Harry Potter Franchise in our "Who's The Actual Worst Person" series. Remember, this game is played by acting as an unseen moral observer within the story, like a random student at Hogwarts who just wants to hang out and smoke whatever is the magical equivalent of weed. (Probably weed.) And with this vantage point, we find that Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all horrible to each other and everyone around them.
But who is the actual worst?
Note: I've decided to narrow our participants down to the core three for two reasons. One, because Harry Potter is a classic tale of good vs. evil meaning all of the bad guys are pretty damn bad. We can scrutinize all we'd like if "that one thing Hagrid said that one time was discriminatory against werewolves" but it's not going to sway our opinion much when Voldemort is "Wizard Hitler," Draco is "Wizard Hitler Youth." Even Snape, our morally gray character, is a murderer, abusive to children, and '80s teen movie levels of creepy. But I also eliminated all of the Hagrids and Professor Buttwicks and such because there are so many characters, that it might just bog us down.
The Case For Harry:
For an orphan that came from nothing, Harry certainly grows entitled the moment he gets rich. In The Prisoner Of Azkaban, he freaks out at Hermione when she suggests that his new broomstick might be dangerous because it was sent to him from Sirius Black, who at the time, was considered by them to be a mass murderer. Imagine being like, "So what Ted Bundy bought me this jet-ski? Look how sick it is!" Harry is time and again referred to as "the chosen one" (even referring to himself that way), and he certainly acts like it, possessing no empathy for anyone other than himself. Take this exchange between Harry and Hermione in The Half-Blood Prince:
"Oh, I've just escaped - I mean, I've just left Cormac," she said. "Under the mistletoe," she added in explanation, as Harry continued to look questioningly at her.
"Serves you right for coming with him," he told her severely.
It sounds like Hermione was just about to be sexually assaulted or, at the least, was put in an extremely uncomfortable, vulnerable position, and Harry's response was "serves you right." Harry doesn't care about others, not even his eventual wife, Ginny, and we know this because they named their children James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna. All of those names, even the middle names, are friends or family of Harry. Ginny's brother Fred died, but Fred doesn't even get real estate in the naming department over the guy who creepily hit on Harry's mom.
But all of this pales in comparison to Harry's use of the Cruciatus Curse, one of the Unforgivable Curses which is meant to torture the victim. It is revealed by Bellatrix Lestrange that to successfully use the Cruciatus Curse, "You need to really want to cause pain ... to enjoy it," and by Deathly Hallows, Harry uses it twice. It's a wildly sadistic trait for a hero to have, but then again, this is a person who've we also seen do this:
Yeah, Harry is a psycho.
The Case For Hermione:
Hermione is a lot of people's go-to example of a Mary Sue, and whether she actually is or not is a debate for another time, but she does happen to be almost impossibly talented and almost impossibly moral. That's why Hermione's ability to go toe-to-toe with Harry "I could have murdered my aunt and didn't give a magical shit" Potter in the awfulness department (particularly her savior complex) is so impressive.
It starts off with Hermione creating S.P.E.W, the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, as a means to grant liberation to House-Elves. It's a well-intentioned movement, but it also encapsulates activism gone awry (and, warning, we're about to get into the area where it's hard to tell where Hermione ends, and J.K. Rowling's weird-ass bullshit begins). Hermione hides socks and scarves and other items of clothing in an attempt to free the House-Elves through trickery (House-Elves are freed when presented an item of clothing by their master). However, she doesn't ever consult the House-Elves to see what they want. It turns out that many of the House-Elves prefer their lives of servitude. And while it's hard to tell what the hell J.K. Rowling was implying by including that bizarre detail, Hermione could have avoided any problems by speaking to the House-Elves directly and building the movement together.
But what truly damns Hermione is that she dicks around with time-travel, solely for the purposes of taking more classes. Wanting to better yourself is one thing, but creating a rift within one of the fundamental elements of our existence so that you can snark at your teacher is a level of narcissism reserved for greek gods:
Hermione manages to patch up the timeline every day after she uses the Time-Turner, but she easily could have messed it up or forgotten to do it for a day. Then we've got multiple Hermione's existing in one timeline, and suddenly there's an entire plane of reality that Butterfly Effects itself into dystopia.
The Case For Ron:
Ron's perhaps the most obvious answer as he's the comic relief, and sometimes being the comic relief means doing dumb shit. Ron has plenty of those moments. There's the epilogue in the Deathly Hallows where Ron reveals he used the Confundus Charm to trick his driving instructor to get his license. He mocks Moaning Myrtle for living in a bathroom, which is a decent burn, but it's also at the expense of a dead girl. He steals his dad's flying car and drives it straight into a tree without any remorse beyond the fact that he's going to get in trouble.
Ron's shitty nature, though, goes beyond a few comical moments. Ron abandons Harry right when Harry needs him most. It's a "bad friend move," for sure, but it's also a "bad human in relation to the rest of society move" because this was literally during a time where they were fighting all of the wizard Nazis out there for the fate of humanity.
To Ron's defense, he's wearing a magical amulet that makes his ass-cheeks clench with rage, but Hermione and Harry also have to deal with wearing the amulet, and it doesn't make them give up on saving the world. Ron's jealousy is something that manifests in ugly ways even without wearing a discount Ring of Sauron, like the time he berates Hermione for going to the Yule Ball with Victor Krum (a nice dude, who actually asks her out instead of being a wiener kid). He also has his fair share of bloodlust In Deathly Hallows, when Harry and Hermione are simply using disarming spells we hear from Tonks that Ron "stunned one of the Death Eaters, straight to the head, and when you're aiming at a moving target from a flying broom--"
It's a tough call. Harry's killed the most people, but they've all probably killed a significant number of "bad guys." Ron's the pissiest, Harry's the most entitled, and Hermione is the most arrogant, so I think personality-wise, it's kind of a draw too. My gut says it's Harry, if only because naming your kid Albus Severus Potter should be considered child abuse, but really I think you could call it for any of them.
Support Dan on Twitter and he will talk about his life with you in lieu of getting a therapist.
Top Image: Warner Bros.