Harry Potter might be the Chosen One, but true Potterheads know Hermione Granger is the real hero of J.K. Rowling's Potterverse. Yes, Harry takes out He Who Must Not Be Named, but he wouldn't accomplish anything without the help of his studious sidekick.
Throughout the series, Hermione is the only one who consistently proves herself to be a reliable friend and wizard. She is far more skilled than all her peers and always does what is right, no matter the cost. She is truly the voice of reason in a story full of confused adolescents. Not only that, but she is also essential to the success of the group from the first adventure. She saves Harry and Ron from the Devil's Snare in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, establishing herself as a necessary partner in every subsequent exploit.
But it's not just Hermione's best moments that shape her into such a standout personality. It's her inner character, which drives her to make the life-saving decisions that establish her as the true hero of the Potterverse.
While many characters in the Harry Potter series risk their lives to save the wizarding world, Hermione's sacrifices throughout the course of the series are particularly heartbreaking. Time and again, she proves she's willing to put the good of others over her individual well-being. She forces her parents to forget who she is in order to keep them safe, effectively giving up her family to help Harry save the world. Her decision comes at much personal cost, but she puts her own feelings aside and does what she can to keep those she loves safe.
Even more painfully, Hermione is tormented by Bellatrix Lestrange at Malfoy Manor. She endures the Cruciatus Curse again and again, and screams in pain as Bellatrix scratches "Mudblood" into her arm, but she never breaks. She refuses to tell Bellatrix anything she needs to know, at much personal cost to herself.
Many times throughout the series, Hermione takes on individual pain to fight for the greater good. She sacrifices more than most characters - her family, her home, and her body - to join the fight against Voldemort.
In founding Dumbledore's Army in Order of the Phoenix, Hermione demonstrates another heroic aspect of her personality - she knows her strengths and weaknesses. Although it's her idea to teach practical defensive magic to the students, she realizes she's not the best person for the job. Harry has more experience than any of the students using defensive and offensive magic in an actual fight. Hermione recognizes his knowledge and skill, and insists he has to be the one to teach the group. When Harry agrees, Hermione sits back and lets him take control, rather than claiming authority simply because it was her idea.
Hermione has a realistic perspective on her own abilities. She's confident in certain areas, but recognizes where she needs to improve. She doesn't have a false confidence that leads her to mistakes. Most people don't have a realistic view of their strengths and weaknesses. For Hermione, it's a natural character trait.
As a Muggle-born wizard who isn't well-liked by many of her peers, Hermione could easily fade into the background. To keep herself safe and happy, she could transform into a wallflower who generally tries not to make waves, much like Snape during his time at Hogwarts.
But in a school full of passive-aggressive teenagers, you can always count on Hermione to speak her mind. Whether it’s punching Malfoy in the face for his taunts, or telling Harry and Ron they’re being stupid, Hermione never shies away from controversy. She says exactly what she’s feeling without a hint of subtlety.
Her straightforward nature establishes her as a wizard you don't want to mess with. More importantly, it allows her to push both friends and enemies toward the right thing. Hermione doesn't dance around an issue. She embraces it head on and makes sure she's always fighting for herself instead of taking whatever is thrown at her.
Hermione gets little recognition for her contributions, and never fights for more acknowledgment. Ron, however, Harry's other sidekick, constantly expresses jealousy and insecurity regarding Harry's status as the Chosen One. The Triwizard Tournament is an excellent example. Ron refuses to believe Harry didn't put his own name in the Goblet of Fire. Jealous of Harry's success, he distances himself from his friend in a time of need. Ron always subtly competes with Harry, fighting to have his positive actions acknowledged along with those of his friend.
Even though Hermione is the mastermind behind most plans, primary credit often goes to Harry. Unlike Ron, however, Hermione doesn't care. She's not participating in the campaign against evil because she wants praise or popularity. She does the right thing simply because it's the right thing, without expecting any outside acknowledgment.