The Harry Potter series is notable for characters who are neither fully good nor evil. They live in a gray moral world instead of a black-and-white one. Sometimes, fairly obvious villains in the series show a softer side, and the heroes commit actions that can be seen as villainous. No character in the series is a saint, and Harry Potter heroes and villains can be ruthless at times.
These characters who qualify as the most ruthless demonstrate how the worst can come out of them if they are pushed a certain way.
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Who She Is: Undersecretary to the Minster for Magic and briefly the Headmistress of Hogwarts. Dolores Umbridge has a deep hatred for anyone who isn't human or doesn't have magical lineage, even though she's a Half-blood with a Muggle mother. Umbridge makes Harry's life unlivable during her stay due to her constant antagonism of him as part of the Ministry's smear campaign.
Why She's So Ruthless: Umbridge has no qualms about placing children in harm's way, threatening Harry's life with Dementors, and hoping Centaurs take his life when they're in the forest. She also has a sadistic taste for holding power over other people and aligns herself with whatever regime offers her such power.
Her Most Ruthless Act: Umbridge sends innocent Muggle-borns and Half-bloods to Azkaban. Many people she sentences perish in prison under the Dementors.
Is She Secretly A Softie? No. Umbridge has zero care for anything other than establishing herself above others.
- Photo: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 / Warner Bros. Pictures2416 VOTES
Who He Is: The darkest of Dark Lords. Voldemort takes countless lives in his quest for immortality, including innocent people so he can create multiple Horcruxes. Voldemort's goal is to end all Muggles and Muggle-borns, and he ushers in two of the deadliest Wizarding Wars.
Why He's So Ruthless: Voldemort is incapable of understanding love and takes the lives of his own followers if it suits him. He finds it amusing to cause harm simply because he considers it a form of entertainment. His fear of death is such that he's known to curse cadavers to use as his undead army.
His Most Ruthless Act: His attempt to take the life of a baby. Voldemort commits many atrocious acts, yet his total willingness to look an infant in the eye with the intention of taking his life is unforgivable. In fact, Voldemort considers his failure to end baby Harry to be his biggest regret.
Is He Secretly A Softie? No. Voldemort sneers at the idea of love and manipulates his followers' loyalties to use them as his pawns.
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Who She Is: Voldemort's greatest lieutenant, who is endlessly loyal to the Dark Lord. Bellatrix hails from the Black family and grows up with views of pure-blood supremacy that she isn't afraid to violently defend.
Why She's So Ruthless: Bellatrix's stay in Azkaban prison turns her into a maniacal person who derives pleasure from the suffering of Muggle-borns and Half-bloods. Her go-to maneuver is the Cruciatus Curse, bolstered by the fact that she enjoys causing pain.
Her Most Ruthless Act: The torture of Alice and Frank Longbottom. The couple is mercilessly tormented, so much so that their brains are permanently addled with no hope of recovery. Bellatrix considers this one of her crowning achievements.
Is She Secretly A Softie? Surprisingly, yes. Bellatrix is truly in love with Voldemort and shows her tender side whenever in his presence.
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Who He Is: Feared Death Eater who is implicitly loyal to Voldemort's cause of pure-blood supremacy. Dolohov is a specialist in the ranks, assigned to complete tasks that involve inflicting pain and torment to Voldemort's targets.
Why He's So Ruthless: Dolohov is without any comprehension of mercy. He rains down extreme suffering to those in his way and racks up a long list of targets.
His Most Ruthless Act: He nearly causes the demise of Hermione Granger. Dolohov uses a spell of his own creation that slashes across Hermione's chest, which results in internal hemorrhaging. Dolohov could have slain her painlessly, but chooses a painful alternative instead.
Is He Secretly A Softie? No. Even Dolohov's facial features are described as "twisted."
- Photo: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 / Warner Bros. Pictures5261 VOTES
Who They Are: Pair of twin siblings who are part of Voldemort's followers. The Carrows are notable for their cruelty and the pleasure they derive from engaging in gruesome activities.
Why They're So Ruthless: The Carrow twins seek to impart their taste for cruelty to others, particularly children, to mold them in their twisted ways.
Their Most Ruthless Act: Encouraging students to cast the Cruciatus Curse on their classmates. The Carrows are installed at Hogwarts as teachers under Voldemort's regime and gather evil students like Vincent Crabbe to torment children who rebel against them.
Are They Secretly A Softie? No. The Carrows' primary role in the story is to portray the evilness of Voldemort's followers.
- Photo: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire / Warner Bros. Pictures6310 VOTES
Who He Is: One of Voldemort's most loyal followers. He sees the Dark Lord as a replacement father figure when his real father doesn't pay attention to him. Crouch is willing to do whatever he's told to fulfill Voldemort's wishes to become close to him like a son.
Why He's So Ruthless: Crouch has no qualms about hurting anyone if it pleases Voldemort or aids him in his mission. A short list of people he harms includes Harry Potter, Cedric Diggory, the Longbottoms, Mad-Eye Moody, and Viktor Krum.
His Most Ruthless Act: Taking the life of his own father. He holds no love for Crouch Sr. once he accepts Voldemort as his surrogate father. He finds his father in a weak state near the Forbidden Forest and proceeds to end his life, which he claims to be the greatest achievement he's ever accomplished.
Is He Secretly A Softie? No. Crouch's actions are misguided attempts to gain notice of fatherly figures.