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The Objectively Worst Decisions In The 'Harry Potter' Series

Updated October 25, 2019 73.4k votes 7.8k voters 196.3k views15 items

List RulesVote up the worst decisions that even a first-year wouldn't make.

Wands, spells, and potions can't always save the day in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter stories - brainpower is needed to defeat Voldemort, too. But the characters in Harry Potter make some pretty dumb moves that thwart their efforts. As with any major film or book franchise, the Harry Potter series has plot holes that don’t make a lot of sense, and lots of fan theories attempt to explain the inconsistencies. But even the most ardent fan can't explain away multiple occasions when the characters make decisions that defy logic. 

Whether it’s Harry himself, his two best friends, Ron and Hermione ("the brightest witch of her age"), or even the revered Albus Dumbledore, nearly everyone is guilty of a questionable choice. With so much bad judgment, it’s almost shocking Voldemort didn’t win in the end. 

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  • 1

    Harry Doesn't Use The Mirror Sirius Gives Him - And Sirius Perishes Because Of It

    In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sirius Black gives Harry a special mirror he can use to communicate with his godfather whenever they are apart. A stubborn Harry never opens the package, throws it in his trunk, and completely forgets about it.

    Later in the story, Harry receives a false vision from Voldemort that shows Sirius captured at the Department of Mysteries. Harry tries but fails to contact Sirius via the Floo network to confirm the vision. He rushes to the Ministry of Magic to save his godfather and falls into Voldemort’s trap, and the rescue effort costs Sirius his life.

    If Harry had just opened the package and found the magic two-way mirror inside, he could have avoided this loss.

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  • 2

    Harry Doesn’t Listen To Anyone When It Comes To Occlumency

    Like many teenagers, Harry occasionally displays stubbornness that borders on pigheadedness. He is especially defiant in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when he refuses the advice of nearly his entire circle of supporters when it comes to the art of Occlumency. 

    Harry lets his dislike of Severus Snape turn him away from Snape’s Occlumency lessons, even though he knows it will leave his mind vulnerable to Voldemort’s influence. Hermione, in particular, begs him to use Occlumency to prevent Voldemort from invading his mind. By the story’s conclusion, Voldemort uses that vulnerability to send Harry a false vision of Sirius Black being tormented to lure him to the Ministry of Magic - a trap that results in Sirius’s end. 

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  • 3

    The Potters Choose Peter Pettigrew As Their Secret Keeper

    Of all the bad decisions in the Harry Potter series, the very worst may have been made by Harry's parents. When Lily and James Potter are forced to go into hiding from Voldemort’s wrath, they need an official Secret Keeper to protect their magically hidden location. 

    Sirius Black turns them down due to his fear of the Dark Lord’s manipulation, so the Potters instead turn to Peter Pettigrew, a guy whose nickname is “Wormtail.” By choosing their sketchiest and most cowardly friend, the Potters seal their fate.

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  • 4

    Hogwarts Has Some Terrible Detention Policies

    In the film version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Draco receive a unique form of detention. They are sent into the Forbidden Forest late at night to find an injured unicorn. Part of the group is supervised solely by Hagrid’s dog, Fang - not the best protector on a journey to investigate acts against magical creatures. 

    In the end, it turns out the reborn Voldemort is the culprit, making it an especially perilous trip to the woods. But even without the Voldemort menace, it's still an irresponsible detention policy.

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