Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall in Harry Potter

The 3 Best, 3 Worst, and 3 Just Okay Women in ‘Harry Potter’

Even though it’s been over 16 years since a Harry Potter book was released and almost 12 years since the final film, the fandom remains strong. The book series has spawned several spinoffs, fan-fiction pieces, multiple films, a play, a theme park, tours and shops around the world, food, and anything else you can think of. But without its best (and worst) women, it would be nothing.

While many fans might agree that author J.K. Rowling is one of the worst women of Harry Potter because of her transphobic remarks, we’re going to stick to the characters. Harry is the center of the series, but the story follows his interactions with the wizarding world and beyond. 

Harry’s interpersonal relationships are the heart and soul of the greater story, with the theme of the entire saga being that love is the greatest magic of all. The women of Harry Potter are often overlooked, but it could be argued that aside from Harry himself, they are the most complex and exciting characters in the story. Honestly, even the “worst” female characters are still the most fun to read.

Best: Molly Weasley

Molly Weasley, aka Mrs. Weasley, will always be remembered fondly for her iconic line during the Battle of Hogwarts. As Bellatrix goes to attack Ginny, Molly counterattacks and shouts, “Not my daughter, you b-tch!” as she obliterates Bellatrix. It’s one of the greatest moments in the entire Harry Potter series, both book and film. However, Molly is more than her great one-liner. She was a maternal figure to Harry when he didn’t have his own, welcoming him right into the generous Weasley family. And she extended kindness to Harry with Christmas sweaters and family dinners. She also provided a guiding voice typical of mothers 

Worst: Dolores Umbridge

Almost every Harry Potter fan can agree that Dolores Umbridge is one of the worst characters to ever exist. She’s supposed to uphold law and order, but instead, she uses her power to create rules that support He Who Must Not Be Named. She’s one of those people who prefers power over morality even though she masquerades as a “good” individual. Add in Umbridge’s utter torture of Harry when she forces him to write, “I must not tell lies,” with his own blood, and she’s arguably the worst, most deplorable Harry Potter woman.

Just Okay: Hermione Granger

Yes, we love Hermione and she is a badass, but that’s expected of her! On Day 1 on the Hogwarts Express, she ingratiates herself into the main trio including herself, Ron, and Harry. Together, they defeat Voldemort time after time, and Hermione never wavers in her loyalty to the cause. It’s no surprise that when she grows up, she becomes the Minister for Magic since she is the smartest witch at Hogwarts. But she never surprises or delights us the way some of our favorite characters do.

Best: Luna Lovegood

Of all the girls who attend Hogwarts, Luna is by far the best. Ginny is a close second in the books, but her characterization in the movie falls flat as she becomes Ron’s soft-spoken sister who merely longingly glances at Harry. But Luna remains whimsical and intelligent. Played by Evanna Lynch, movie Luna is just as we imagined her in the books. She turns the “dumb blonde” trope on its head as a true Ravenclaw. She might appear ditzy, but in reality, she cracks the toughest riddles and has the most nuggets of wisdom. She’s one of the few people Harry can relate to, having also lost a parent. Plus, she’s a loyal friend who defies even her father to do the right thing and fight alongside Harry in the Battle of Hogwarts.

Worst: Rita Skeeter

Rita is the prototypical sleazy journalist, which we have to condemn. She twists every “story” she writes into unfounded sensationalism, for example, spreading a rumor that Harry and Hermione were “young lovers” during the Triwizard Tournament. But beyond that, she doesn’t even do her own work! She used magic to transform her quill into the equivalent of an AI-virality machine. This turned her into one of the most well-known journalists in the Wizarding World — but at the cost of every relationship she could have formed. In fact, she is so untrustworthy that Hermione had to keep Rita in her beetle form to stop her from spreading lies, or fake news as we call it today.

Just Okay: Fleur Delacour

Introduced in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Fleur is the part-Veela witch from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. She’s truly enchanting and every boy at Hogwarts is obsessed with her, especially Ron. She does break beyond her attractive exterior and prove that she’s dedicated to defeating Voldemort. Plus, marrying Bill Weasley is a pretty cool move. But we don’t know much about Fleur from her Beauxbatons life other than that she’s the prettiest witch there. All of this together makes her “just okay.”

Best: Minerva McGonagall

Minerva McGonagall (aka Professor McGonagall) may seem like a strict teacher, but she has a heart of gold. Maggie Smith brings the role right from page to screen as a leader, a talented witch, and a guiding figure for Harry. And she’s actually great at her job, unlike most of the people who work at Hogwarts (including Dumbledore, who laughably fails to stop Voldemort from getting past his security). McGonagall encourages Harry to chase his dream of being an Auror, giving him a purpose beyond Voldemort’s bait. She punishes him when it’s deserved and lets him off the hook when it’s needed, teaching him about real-world consequences. And of course, her undying love for Quidditch shows that you can be both a strict, intelligent woman and still love sports.

Worst: Petunia Dursley

You might have been expecting to see Bellatrix Lestrange on this list, and while she’s pure evil, she’s not particularly complex or surprising. We know that she’s going to kill and torture, and that she’s going to enjoy it. But Aunt Petunia has the capacity to be good. She could’ve been Harry’s maternal figure—she raised him after his parents were killed by Voldemort. But she let the jealousy of her sister, Harry’s mother, get in the way of her potential to be a good person. Instead, she complied with Uncle Vernon’s punishment of Harry. She forced him into the cupboard under the stairs, didn’t allow Harry to have any mail or friends, and truly neglected him. It’s honestly a wonder that Harry ended up as kind as he did! 

Just Okay: Bellatrix Lestrange

Here she is! Bellatrix is just okay. She’s just plain evil from the get-go, and her infatuation with Voldemort isn’t fleshed out enough to be interesting. We fully expect Bellatrix to stay steadfast to the Dark Lord, and she lives up to that expectation throughout the books and films. She kills Sirius Black, tortures Hermione, and does other unspeakable things. But why? Just because she’s evil.

About the author

Jamie Lerner

Jamie Lerner is a writer, comedian, and musician who’s been writing about television and movies since she reviewed Mean Girls for her fifth-grade school newspaper.