Bravery is a trait that is synonymous with the Harry Potter franchise. It’s the main signifier of the most popularized Hogwarts house, and yet it doesn’t only belong to characters clad in red and gold. Bravery doesn’t only come from the good guys doing the right things. It comes in many different forms. Several times in the Harry Potter films, characters truly surprised us with their bravery.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
1. Narcissa defies the Dark Lord in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
One of the most understated and unexpected moments of bravery comes from Malfoy’s mother Narcissa. After Voldemort’s killing curse hits Harry in the Forbidden Forest, Narcissa steps forward to ensure that Harry is dead. But at great personal risk, she decides to use this moment to ask Harry if Draco is alive. After Harry nods, she stands up and lies directly to Voldemort by pronouncing Harry dead.
2. Hermione lands a punch in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Although it is hard to condone violence, anyone watching the third Harry Potter film would be lying if they claim they didn’t cheer at least a little when Hermione sucker-punches Draco. Draco taunts Harry, Ron, and Hermione by joking about Buckbeak’s impending death, and Hermione surprises everyone with a thrust of her fist. Unlike the impulsive Harry and Ron, Hermione has always been thoughtful and calculated, so it is refreshing yet surprising to see her courage to take that swing.
3. “Not my daughter…” in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
When Bellatrix Lestrange casts a spell that nearly hits Ginny during the Battle of Hogwarts, it ignites a fury within Molly Weasley. A character often remembered for her wool-knit sweaters and kindness to Harry, Mrs. Weasley may not seem like the type to battle a Death Eater, but you can see her selfless courage as she springs atop a table and begins dueling Bellatrix.
4. Mrs. Figg testifies in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Known most for her passion for her cats, Mrs. Figg exhibits great bravery when she testifies on behalf of Harry in front of countless witches and wizards. Until this point, Mrs. Figg has seemed an insignificant character, but she is able to defend Harry and corroborate his statement about the Dementors, which allows Harry to win in court. Going before a court of high-powered wizards cannot be easy for Mrs. Figg, but she stands her ground.
5. Dobby disobeys his master in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
In Chamber of Secrets, it is surprising when a house-elf shows up to wreak havoc on the Dursley’s home and deliver a message to Harry, but what is even more shocking is how Dobby is actually going against his very nature as a house-elf. Bound to the Malfoy family, Dobby is indebted to serve them, so it takes tremendous courage for him to come to the Dursley’s home against the will of his masters and warn Harry of the dangers at Hogwarts.
6. Neville stands up to his friends in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
When Harry, Ron, and Hermione attempt to sneak out of the Gryffindor common room in the first film, Neville stands up to them and tries to defend Gryffindor from losing any additional house points due to Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s antics. Until this point, Neville has seemed quiet and complacent, but he overcomes any inhibitions and decides to fight for what he believes is right. Neville’s bravery is shocking, and Dumbledore even commends his unique bravery at the end of the film by giving him the deciding 10 points that allow Gryffindor to win the House Cup.
7. Cedric helps his opponent in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry and Cedric Diggory are competing against each other in the Triwizard Tournament, and even though the contest is every wizard for themselves, Cedric disregards his advantage in order to support Harry by telling him to open his Egg clue under water. Cedric does not benefit from sharing this information with Harry, and yet he decided to anyway. Cedric’s courage for the win.
8. Hermione makes her family forget in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Hermione is preparing to go hunting for Horcruxes with Harry and Ron, and she knows the risks and dangers that her actions could place on her family. In order to protect her parents, Hermione takes the difficult step of altering their memories. It is an emotional and surprising moment to see Hermione erase her existence from her parents’ minds, but it is a necessary precaution to protect them.
9. Professor McGonagall comforts a friend in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
When Umbridge is expelling Professor Trelawney from the Hogwarts grounds, Professor McGonagall steps forward to comfort and protect Professor Trelawney. Any challenge to Umbridge’s authority is met with a harsh reaction and/or decree, so it is refreshing and surprising to see McGonagall step forward into the spotlight and publicly show support for Trelawney in this moment.
10. Harry, Ron, and Hermione risk their lives for Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
As the duel in the Room of Requirement escalates, a fiery blaze cast by Goyle entraps Malfoy and his fellow Slytherins. Harry, Ron, and Hermione find brooms and fly above the raging fire, but Malfoy and another Slytherin are stranded. As Harry, Ron, and Hermione fly towards safety, Harry shouts, “We can’t leave them!” and turns back to rescue his enemies. Although Harry has often displayed courage, it is still surprising to see him exhibit compassion for Malfoy. To modify a sentiment Dumbledore made in the first film: it takes a great deal of bravery to risk your life for a friend, but a great deal more to risk your life for an enemy.
11. “After all this time?”... “Always” in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
In terms of unexpected moments of bravery, Snape’s long-term status as a double agent for Dumbledore remains the most shocking revelation in the Harry Potter films. The classic villain of the early films, who is always antagonizing Harry and his friends, is all along still harboring love for Harry’s mother Lily. When Snape shares his memories with Harry, we finally understand just how many difficult and brave things Snape has done, including having to kill Dumbledore.